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The First Sending Off?

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 The digger, which was driven by Alec,
Struck something shiny and metallic.
The foreman [name of Joseph Smith]
Called a sudden halt forthwith.
The workmen then all gathered round
And pulled the object from the ground.
Eight feet long and three feet wide,
Enamel-glazed on its outside.
A hollow had been carved therein,
Quite like a long waste-paper bin.
At one end, stood two metal taps.
Said Joe, “Is it a bath, perhaps?
And what’s this square-shaped piece of card,
So red of colour and so hard?”
Each man looked and scratched his head,
“I haven’t got a clue,” each said.
Eventually the overseer
Came up with quite a good idea.
“I think we maybe should enlist
A noted archaeologist.”
And so he phoned one James McPhee,
Well versed in archaeology,
And asked him to express his thoughts,
In khaki socks and khaki shorts.
McPhee arrived with great élan,
A large and mostly hairless man,
And photographed the builders’ find
From top, from side and from behind.
And as the sunshine turned to drizzle,
He took a hammer and a chisel,
And very slowly chipped away
At all of the surrounding clay.
When he had done, the object stood,
Devoid of bits of rock and mud,
Quite proudly on the concrete path.
“Ha!” said Joe, “It is a bath!”
“Quite right,” the great McPhee intoned,
“I’m very glad you telephoned.
According to the hist’ry pages,
This bath is from the Middle Ages.
In fact, I’d be inclined to guess
The thirteen hundreds, more or less.”
“Good Lord!” said someone, “Are you sure
They used this bath in days of yore?”
“Oh certainly,” McPhee replied,
“They found one up in Malahide.”
“But what of the red card?” asked Joe.
“What is it for? I’d like to know.”
McPhee paced up and down the yard,
Examining the square red card.
He held it up, he turned it round,
He dropped it blithely on the ground.
And then he took his fingernail
And scratched the surface of the shale.
And as a sweet perfume arose,
He breathed the fragrance up his nose.
“What is it?” all the builders cried,
As James smiled wondrously and sighed.
“What is it?” they all asked once more,
As James stared at the card in awe.
At last he spoke and answered, “Well,
I’m sure that you all got that smell?”
And as the workmen meekly nodded,
Around and round the bath he plodded.
At last he paused upon the path –
“It’s scent,” he said, “for an early bath.”

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Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-first-sending-off/