matt's notebook

biscuit/Empire

Here the rambled hands of shipwrights, misters,
mates and men. The tide gives head. Captain Cook
plots the course to his sister's chambermaid,
puts the chart in his pocket.

Tippety-tippety down the dockside
looking for tucker. Ladies, the South Sea
brims with mermen, 3-breasted girls who take
it from behind. Gentlemen, those islands
are udders, and all hands have milking stools.
All hands are baking a pudding of blood
squeezed from slaves to sell for sovereigns. Mate says:
'All hands get up by the biscuit barrels.'
Rather take a boiled egg for my lover,
nap off the mizzen, dream of beer and milk,
or go down on the bilge pumps, join the hands
on the tackle.

Tippety-tippety down the dockside
nice rice pudding, served with tea and lemon.
Table manners? Don't have them mister, have
a man who sings Penblywydd Hapus i chwi,
have an Enfield lad who knocks up 3 pipes
on his pillow.

Tippety down the docks, ginned and jigging
for trade. Rats. This frigate, this spick willy
of a ship gets frisky. Time, gentlemen
please!

Press-ganged for captains, rigged for chambermaids,
all these streets (Stowage, Longshore, Watergate)
and wharfs (Convoys, Borthwick, Paynes) are hands shook
and parted.

Matthew John Williams
2004


Footnote
The Deptford Riviera is a name coined locally for a half-mile stretch of waterfront that has thus far escaped the "tyranny of the bland" that has destroyed much of riparian London. stretching from the 18th century Rum Warehouses in the west converted and woven into 1960s Pepys Estate. To their east Convoys Wharf contains not only the listed Olympia building but the unprotected, except as an archaeological feature, filled in Great Double Dry Building Dock and the again filled in 13th century Basin. Currently being restored the listed early 18th century Master Shipwrights House and offices are the oldest surviving above ground buildings of the Royal Dockyard established by Henry VIII in 1513. Immediately adjacent are the Upper Watergate Stairs (shown on Sir John Evelyn's map of 1623) under threat from the proposals to redevelop the listed Paynes Wharf (six mighty Italianate arches facing the Thames) along with Borthwick Wharf.
Memorandum by The Creekside Forum (HIS 16), Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence