You might recall that I wrote a slanderous and cynical poem about Mary Poppins some time ago. On a whim I submitted it to what turned out to be the INK Festival in Newcastle, and – though I have no evidence to support this – apparently it was performed on stage. I hardly dare think it, but maybe it even raised a smile, if not an eyebrow. Not exactly the Hay Festival, as the thriftily wrought programme attests, but exciting for me all the same.
Here’s the poem, as originally posted.
I recall writing (here in fact) a warning not to get me started on Mary Poppins. Well, someone did, and I have:
When comes the time to find a nanny
And you have searched in every cranny,
But failed to find a trusted ward
To raise and nurse your little horde,
Unto the heavens you cry, ‘Oh please!’
Then who should blow in upon a breeze,
Assuring you she’ll quiet the din
It’s Mary Poppins proper and prim!
A fun kind-hearted, caring sort?
Who conveniently travels by weather report?
But she flies an umbrella… and I have an itch,
A tickling suspicion that she might be a Witch!
Immediately she sets about
(Before her contract’s been drawn out)
Conjuring tricks and song and dance,
The goggle-eyed children are rapt in trance
Pulling a lampstand from a carpet bag?
Behaviour like that should raise red flags
On a CRB check, should one have been done
But I fear Mr. Banks was too over-run.
As if witch-craft weren’t quite enough
Poppins weans them on to harder stuff,
She takes them to visit some silly ass
Who’s off his face on laughing gas,
And I beg to question nannies who keep
Company with a common Chimney Sweep.
He leads them (like Pied Piper) to a fantasy place
Where merry-go-round horses up and race
Dancing penguins? The local hunt?
This Cockney fella’s pulling quite a stunt!
None too soon the madness abates
And sage Mr. Banks quite rightly dictates,
That the children must learn and the children must tarry
For a while at Fidelity Fiduciary.
A prestigious London investment bank
Where he occupies a senior rank.
Meeting the board of directors no less
Michael and Jane are advised to invest.
But the little dears have been brainwashed
By Poppins’ liberal musical tosh,
For an uppity governess is not much cop
When advising one where to cast their lot.
Not prudently in a respected bank,
No, spend it on nuts bought from an old tramp!
It waters the eyes to see such a deed
A children’s trust fund turned into bird seed.
As chaos ensues, Banks gets fired then re-hired,
And the dancing faux-Cockney that Poppins admired,
Arrives at the house with a troupe of his goofs
Who put the kids up the chimney and dance on the roof.
Then somehow they all wind up in the park
Gaily flying kites as if it all were a lark,
And away slinks Poppins when nobody’s looking
But alas, for the Banks family, the rot has now set in.
The Walt Disney story neglected to mention
The outcome of Poppins meddlesome intervention.
Vilified for quitting the Suffragettes
Mrs. Banks turned to gin to douse her regrets.
The run on the bank had caused national recession,
George Banks, now director, resigned with depression.
Then become disillusioned with being unemployed,
And ran away with his mistress to live in Hanoi.
On her sixteenth birthday Jane also chose to elope
With Bert from the dancing Chimney Sweep troupe.
Michael traded for Fiduciary, clever and slick
But to shake the Banks legacy changed his name to Leeson, Nick.
He was sacked in due time for insider sharing
And of course he’s now infamous for bringing down Barings.
Inspired, of course, by Roald Dahl.