Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Movie: A Washed Up Poet

inOnce a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Movie Spotlight is “Reuben, Reuben” (1983):

National Poetry Month is coming up in April. So here’s a reminder to read a few poems during the month, the movie “Reuben, Reuben”. It’s charming and it’s funny and it has romance. The Reuben in the title is not the poet. It’s the supporting character dog in this small movie comedy. A very important supporting character.

Tom Conti is a washed up Scottish poet Gowen McGland. He has a huge case of writer’s block.  In his younger days, he wrote poems that became taught in college classrooms everywhere, though nobody seems to know what they mean. He has become more famous for his drinking and womanizing than for his poetry.

Julius J. Epstein wrote the screenplay. He adapted it from Herman Shumlin’s play “Spofford” which in turn was an adaptation of the Peter DeVries novel, “Reuben, Reuben”. There is a good chance that Dylan Thomas was a model for Gowen McGland.

Gowen makes his living travelling around, speaking to women’s clubs, small colleges and any other organization that pay a stipend. His latest destination is an affluent Connecticut suburb. There’s enough bored housewives there for him to seduce to make it worth the pittance of a stipend he’ll receive. But he doesn’t really do much seduction. A number of the bored are throwing themselves at him. After all, he has that Scottish accent.

Little does he realize that his life is about to change and it will be a Connecticut suburb that does it. He might even break through that writer’s block.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 7: If there’s an itch, it must be scratched

In which two gentlemen at The Club tete-a-tete. A bit of foreshadowing.

Previously Lord and Lady Dunnie’s honeymoon was a bust. And on Gibraltar too. Lord Dunnie collapsed in a bowl of soup.

Two middle-aged gentlemen, one a regular of The Club, one a not-so-regular, were enjoying the aroma of the cigars filling the Smoking Room. Regular spotted his irregular friend through the haze of the tobacco smoke.

“I say, Bottoms.” he said. “Is that you, old chap?” He approached the irregular gentleman.

“It most assuredly is, Topsy,” Bottoms said. They both smiled. The old friends were indeed glad to see each other.

“Why haven’t we seen you at The Club recently?”

“Why don’t we have a sit while we chat? My bottom is about to kill me.”

The gentlemen, whiskey snifters in hand, retired to two very large, comfortable chairs. Each chair was so large a gentleman could sink for days into its softness, only to have to come up for a spot of air before returning to the comfortable safety of the lushness.

“Don’t tell me you’re actually doing your job as Home Secretary?” Topsy adjusted himself into the chair and relaxed.

“One does take one’s work seriously.”

“You don’t say. Isn’t that what the Bureaucrats are for?”

“But you are the Chancellor of the Exchequer?” Bottoms said. “Aren’t you pursuing your duties?”

“I haven’t a head for numbers. Don’t you know that we’re here for Show. Prime Minister needed a very pretty face for the Dog and Pony Show that is Society. I was he, being the best looking member of Commons.”

“As you can tell, dear boy,” Bottoms went on, “my face couldn’t get me into anything. It’s been the hard work I do that has led to my advancement into the P.M.’s circles. And I know just who’s bottom to pucker up to.”

“So what have you had on your plate at Home?”

Bottoms’ voice dropped into a whisper. “It’s very hush-hush in a shush-shush sort of way.”

Topsy leaned over to hear his fellow Cabinet Member. “Yes?”

“We’re afraid the Wah-Wah League has been rehabilitated.”

“You don’t say, old sport.” Topsy always enjoyed a spot of gossip. “I thought the Tsar had put the blinkers on the thing.”

“Not so, old chap, not so. And these Wah-Wahs have recruited that Iranian Cubist fellow.” Bottoms’ voice was even softer than before.

Topsy couldn’t believe his good fortune. No one ever confided in him, being a pretty face and all. “Iranian Cubist fellow?”

“Yes, rumor has it that he is a cubist painter who failed at cubism. He couldn’t find his way out of a circle and into a square, you see. He was so hurt that he’s taken to assassination.”

“Do we have anything to worry about then?” Topysy’s voice showed the kind of concern he might have had if he looked in the mirror and saw a pimple to mire his perfect reflection.

“Our men are on the job and have it under complete control. But Portugal. That may be a different story.”

“Not Portugal.” Topsy was worried. After all, he remembered the prophetic monologues, The Prophecies of Madame Woozy-Oozy. He had been a long believer of the Woozy-Oozite Persuasion. But he did not want it to get out. It could be the downfall of him. There had been a ban on Oozy-Woozydom in Britain for quite some time.

“Yes, Portugal. But no worries. Home has a very competent man on it.”

Bottoms’ bottom had developed an itch. He did not want to stand up and scratch. That would be the embarrassment of embarrassments. Instead he took another drink of his whiskey and let his bottom sink in deeper. His posterior found a scratchy crack in the cushion. Ever so slowly he pursued his strategy of moving his rather large bottom against it. There was a struggle. Who would out in the end? The crack or the itch? Finally, the crack won much to Bottoms’ relief. He released an audible ahhhh.

Topsy noticed the ecstasy on his companion’s face but did not say anything, fearing the worst.

“By the by, old sport,” Bottoms changed the subject, “when are you to tie the proverbial knot?”

“Haven’t found the right young lady yet.” Topsy had been looking for years. Thus far, no eligible young woman seemed to come his way. At least, one that fit his criteria. He wanted someone with a certain amount of decorum–and cash–but was not better looking than he was. It would destroy his image.

“I think you may now have the perfect opportunity,” Bottoms offered, finishing his drink. “The Times says Lady P. P. has just become eligible. She could very well be the very one to give your swizzle some stick.”

“Yes,” Topsy said out loud. And then to himself, “Never happen. Way too pretty. Way too pretty.”

Next week: A body goes missing

Mr. Squirrel is out and about

My, my, what a nice sunny day. I would like to repeat that. What a nice sunny day. Wish all days were this sunny and nice. Of course, rainy days are nice too. It’s those cold, cold, and I’m talking cold here, cold days of winter that aren’t so nice. That’s why we save up our nuts and other stuff and put them away for winter. So we don’t have to go outside. But a day like this. It’s really nice. Mrs. Squirrel and I got up early this morning. We looked out at the world in all its glory and we said, “It’s going to be a nice day.” And here it is. Nice.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Mister Rogers

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Mister Rogers:

If you look up kindness and goodness in the dictionary, you may not find a picture of Mister Rogers. But you should find him there. Of all the celebrities and great names of our times, we find few like Mister Rogers. That’s very very unfortunately. When we realize this, it makes us wonder, “Why not?” Why do we honor those who bring out the worst in us. If we went looking for the Mister Rogerses of the world and made them our role models, we would see a much better world. Then we would have the courage to let our lights shine in the most unlikely places. If Mister Rogers proves anything, he proves that nice guys do finish first. Thank you, Mister Roger, for all the kindness you gave us, and for seeing the best in us.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 6: Gibraltar Or Bust

In which our heroine repairs to her honeymoon

Previously Mary-Mary became Marye. All London turned out for her wedding to Lord Dunnie. And they took the Grand Tour of London but missed the Queen. It was Thursday.

It was a cheeky day in Londontown when his lordship the Lord Mayor met Lord and Lady P. P. on the bridge of the ship of the Britannia Line, the Queen Victoria, Empress of India. He presented the newlyweds with the Keys to the Tower. “Just in case,” his Lord Mayorship mumbled, giving the old wink and nod to Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypottt. He wished the two a happy bon voyage. Then they were off to honeymoon on Gibraltar where the Great Dane Prissypott had a relative or three.

The voyage was uneventful. No stormy seas. No rotten weather. A rather pleasant sea trip it was. One evening her ladyship left her betrothed snoring away in their state room, happy in the knowledge that he and his estates were cared for. Marye found herself on the deck, looking out at the sunset colors traipsing across the sky, dreaming of a life that might have been but would never be. Standing there looking out to sea, she overheard the conversation of a nearby couple.

“May I have an advance,” the quite elderly man said, “on my allowance?”

“You’ve had three advances already.” There was frustration in the woman’s voice. She was in her mid-thirties.

“But you do love me, do you not?” His voice sounded almost like a prayer in his pleading.

“Not particularly. I do love your title, dear. But the unfortunate thing is that you had to come with it. That’s an earl of a different estate, you know.”

Marye thought how sad, and under such a lovely sky on show for the world to see. And that sky was completely free. Right then and there, she made a determination. She would not become “that woman.” She had made her bed; now she would lie in it happily. No more Dilly, no more dallying. She made up her pretty little thing of a mind to be the best ladyship to her lord she could be. She walked quickly back to the state room.

“Dear Dunnie, awake,” she said, shaking Lord P. P. out of his slumber.

“What? What?” his eyes opened, his monocle popped out.

“Dear, get up and get dressed. Your new bride wants to go dancing. There’s a lovely orchestra, and I love to dance. Time’s a-wasting.”

Sad to say, her ladyship was still a virgin when the ship docked at Gibraltar. No matter the effort P. P. put in, he just couldn’t get it up. His get-up had got up and gone quite some time ago.

When they landed, his lordship and his virginal young bride were greeted by the Governor-Commissioner of the Island, Sir Hackle Loopsey. He watched Lord Wimpleseed-Prissypott waddle off the ship with his new bride, then turned to his youngest son, Quilip, and said, “I say, Ducks, there’s a bride for you. I must pack you off to America.”

“But, Father, dear Father,” the twenty-five-year-old Quills, as Quilip was called, disagreed, “I am simply not interested.”

“Oh, Quills,” his father said, “don’t be such a fop.”

“Don’t you mean rake, old man?”

“I most assuredly do not. You’re a fop. Your brother is a fop. And your sister is a fop’s sister.”

Straightening his tie, the youngest son said, “Then that means you’re a fop’s pops, doesn’t it?”

The Gov ignored his son and escorted Dunnie and Marye back to the Government House with a British propriety that would have made Wellington proud. At the ceremonies welcoming the Distinguished Gentleman from Haggismarshe and his new wife, an immense and very big banquet was served, befitting a visit by such a Class A Dignitary. Toasts were toasted by all the bigs of the island. Soups were souped and served by a dozen or so retainers who had been retained for the occasion. Chicken soup, turtle soup, kidney pie soup, and best of all, soup soup.

As the speakers persisted with their speechifying, P. P. listened with one ear turned toward the speeches and the other, his right one to be exact, toward the slurping sucking sound of the Governor-Commissioner scooping his soup from his bowl. Colonel Chowder of Her Majesty’s Hussars was giving a chatty little talk about how he had spent so much time in the East, and how he longed for dear old England, and how Britannia ruled the waves.

“Here, here,” several of the others spoke up agreeing that Britannia did indeed rule the waves. Dunnie poured a bit of kidney pie soup into his saucer. He raised the saucer to his schnauzer of a nozzle and whispered to himself, “Rather delightful odor.” He lowered the saucer to the table. Then he slurped and he sucked and he snorted and he slurped some more as he scooped a sip of his soup with his soup spoon from his saucer. Quite suddenly, the happy marriage …


Lord Dunnville Percival Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe dropped his face into his saucer of soup. His schnauze buried itself in the soup in the saucer. He was deceased. That is another way of saying that his lordship was cold, stone dead.

Doctor Mannville Mannvile from the island’s Surgery commented later that the good lord had not been able to withstand the anticipation of a night of sexual delight with Lady Marye.

“He’s gone and made himself into a corpus delicti!” his lady wailed. “The dear man.” Then she did what was expected. She feinted a faint, sliding under the table and onto the floor. In those days, that was what respectable wives did no matter how they felt about their husbands. It was the thing to do to keep themselves in the good graces of Society.

The Gibraltarians hovered around her ladyship. Doctor Mannvile gave her smelling salts to smell. As she awoke, she muttered to herself, “Now I will never know the passionate embrace of a man. I will have to remain a virgin to the end of my days.” She began to sob.

“My lady,” the governor said, “you have our deepest sympathies. Remember even though you are a widow, you don’t have to take it lying down. You’ll make it through this. You’re sired from a hardy stock, as hardy as this soup. You’re an American. Besides that, you’re British. So keep your upper lip stiff. Remember the sun never sets on the Empire, even though it most assuredly did set on dear old Dunnie, poor chap.”

Such is life, and a run of good luck for her ladyship, I’d say. Wouldn’t you, dear reader? However she did not take it that way. None of us ever do, though fortune drops onto our head like a ton of bricks. All we want to do is worry about the broken neck. We don’t look at the good thing that comes out of this. That we’re getting six weeks off from our employment. No, she blamed herself for his demise. Her only consolation: he died happy, with a smile and a bowl of soup on his face.

Chas. Cheslewick, the foppish fop of an elder son of Loopsey, flopped down adjacent to her ladyship  and said, rather cavalierly, “He was a real pip, your husband.”

“Chassie,” Sir Loopsey said to his ill-timed son, “don’t be such a quimby.” Then he turned to Marye and explained, “Quimby’s our dog and he’s a real pisser. I have the pants to show for it.”

“Such a horrible waste of soup,” the very Mrs. Chowder interjected. A thrifty Scot of a woman if there ever was one. Otherwise all in the room were stunned as silence waded its way through the Government House like an icy wind coming off the sea.

After a duly noted amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Colonel Chowder offered his services to the widow. Still a virgin, she shined with a virginal glow as she thanked him copiously. She refused any assistance from him, the governor or his foppish fops of wastrel sons who kept fopping about foppingly. Instead she removed her dead husband’s dried-up prune of a lordly baronial body and loaded it onto the next ship back to England.

Next week: You just never know who you’ll meet in a Gentlemen’s Club