The Greedy Centipede
Rachel (Parkinson) Fortescue-Pheede
is rather a tiresome centipede.
Since having inherited Grandpa’s wealth
she thinks of nobody but herself.
Now prior to Grandpa Pheede’s departure
into the world of centipedeafter,
Rachel was quite a decent kid
though now from that stable rock has slid!
For at the funeral, a little light lunch
was served to the guests, or should I say brunch?
When glasses were full of Merrydew Wine
and the family lawyer had come to dine
he banged as hard as he ever was able
and dented the polished mahogany table,
He aah’d and hmm’d and coughed and said:
‘It is high time this will was read! ’
‘And to this end, if I might mention
I’d like to have your full attention.’
Everyone stopped and grabbed a seat
for gastronomically they were replete.
So the family lawyer on his duty bent
commenced the Last Will and Testament.
‘By the power invested in me
I hereby lawfully do decree,
that only one legacy has been made
(though unto the gardener is bequeathed a spade) .’
There followed a shuffling and huffling of boot
as the family wondered who’d got all the loot.
‘Well as I was saying’, the lawyer re-started
‘Old Pheede changed his will before he departed
and left his estate and money and all
(on condition the legatee must give a ball
in honour of Grandpa Pheede and his life…’)
’Can’t you get on with it! ’ bellowed somebody’s wife.
‘Well quite, ahem, aha, oh hell!
He’s left the lot to young Ra-chell! ’
The oohs and aahs about the place
were stunned to see on Rachel’s face,
a smile as wide as the River Grines
and in her eyes were huge pound signs!
‘I’m rich! I’m RICH! ” cried Rachel Pheede,
that aristocratic centipede.
The weeks went by and winter came
and Rachel, never the same again,
removed herself from Old Pheede Hall
and went to the Cote d’Azure for a ball,
forgetting relations as poor as church mice
(I think she sent them a postcard twice) .
While sleet and snow froze over her rellies
Rachel dined out with up-market bellies:
In Rome and Florence and Pisa as well
and then she went on to Paree for a spell.
She spent lots of money and said ‘what the hell! ’
As she slithered in evening gowns made by Chanel.
And hats from Dior! Over shoes she went barmy!
And once bought some gloves from Alberto D’Isarmy.
She stayed in hotels with the jet setting hordes
and danced the fandango with princes and lords.
One offer of marriage followed another:
Carlos, Rodruigez, Lord Soames and his brother,
but Rachel was just having too much fun
to tie herself down to just the one.
And so it went on, week after week,
wining and dining, she danced cheek to cheek,
with Count Centipedro and Prince Philip Eade
‘till one night she met Arturo del Greede!
Well it hit her so sudden, this falling in love,
she saw stars above her, pink hearts and a dove,
and this count among counts, so ro-man-ti-cly
Said, ‘come now my darling, you must dance with me! ’
Well who could resist him, this tall handsome creature,
so swarthy of skin, and gallant of feature!
The Viennese Waltz hadn’t even supposed
before Arturo del Greede went down and proposed!
‘Oh yes! ’ said Rachel, now under his spell,
‘and can I have twenty four bridesmaids as well?
And I must have the biggest cathedral in town
and spider-spun silk and pearls on my gown!
And a carriage that’s pulled by fifty white mice
And I think that a daisy bouquet would be nice.’
She wrote her relations that soon she’d be wed;
‘you can’t come along, I’ll send photos instead –
well it’s such a long way and you’ll be too harassed
and frankly, my dears, I’d be awfully embarrassed!
I’d prefer to avoid all those daft revelations
and bandy around one’s poorer relations.’
Well everything went according to plan,
she went on a sun bed to get a good tan
and on the grand day she did look amazing,
the crowds they were cheering, admirers were gazing.
The service was nice, not a simple affair
and Rachel wore Zinnia buds in her hair.
The guest list consisted of those on the scene
and several had featured in “Bye! ” Magazine!
Then after the service, all off to Daridges,
(the hotel that does those celebrity marriages.)
And while their guests danced in the high afternoon
Rachel and Hubby went on honeymoon.
He’d promised to show her the sights of the world!
On cruise liner decks ‘neath the stars she was twirled.
One hot blistering day on their Most Private Beach,
where food of all kinds was quite out of reach,
Mrs Arturo gave out a loud squeal:
Said Hubby, ‘my darling, is it ill that you feel? ’
‘Well no, not exactly. I’m starving my sweet,
will you be a darling, find something to eat? ’
‘But my chicken! My pride! My joy and my love!
You’ve just had your breakfast my wee turtle dove! ’
‘I know that I’ve had it, but please watch my lips:
go fetch me a sandwich, a coke and some chips!
And be quick about it you lazy fat slob
run to the chalet, get on with the job! ’
Arturo he turned and went off to obey
his wife’s instructions, without further delay.
And filling his arms with this excessive snack,
went down the beach path, back on the track
that led from the chalet way down to the sea
where a hungry wife would, undoubtedly, be:
Upon the hill top, with his wife down below,
Arturo tripped over and banged his big toe:
The rock it was hard, the pain was immense,
and dropping the food, he crashed over the fence.
Head first he flew, his mouth opened wide
he reached his wife and a warning he cried:
But it was too late, she stared up and said:
‘Arturo! Be careful! Don’t fall on my head!
And where is my food, don’t say that you’ve dropped it? ’
‘I’m sorry my dear, I’m afraid that I’ve copped it! ’
As selfish as ever, the wife stood her ground,
not budging an inch, she eventually found
that her husband’s jaws had swallowed her whole
hands and feet, mind, body and soul.
And thus, eventually, Rachel Pheede
was completely consumed by her love of Greede.
Comments about this poem (The Greedy Centipede by Sharon Jane Lansbury )
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