The Geste of Lord Dougie and vassals John & Pete


Fytte the First: Of Dougie in the Greenwood

Attend and listen to my tale
of a most crafty lord
and the bold, heroic deeds he plans:
his name is Dougie Ford.

Forth to the greenbelt Dougie drove
one merrie morn in June,
leading his troop of crony-men
and whistling a cheery tune.

Deep satisfaction Dougie felt
throughout his generous girth;
his hefty presence set a-tremble
the surface of Mother Earth.

His reign had brought the realm great blessings:
a few bland dollar beers,
bitchy stickers on some gas pumps,
and freedom from COVID fears.

As he descended from his carriage,
little bells on his shoestrings rang.
He hearkened to their sweet silver chime
and “tirra lirra” he sang.

The imperial crown that he seldom doffed
burned in the bright sunshine.
He gazed at the wide unspoiled lands
and said, “All this be mine.”

He looked upon this grand estate
with its trees and grass so green,
but his brow furrowed at the sight
of this fragile natural scene.

“Here is much money to be made,”
said Dougie to himself,
for he was fondest of politics
for profit and for pelf.

He thought of sky-scraping condo towers
and expressways running through,
bringing development and its treasures
(though not to me and you).

Yes, eco-fools may complain,
but the wise underling knows:
while commoners have indignation,
Dougie has Em-Zed-Ohs.


Fytte the Second: Of Dougie and King John

Dougie Ford, that puissant lord,
lived every day in clover;
but to be a lord in full, a lord
needs lords to be lord over.

Know too that when we speak of kings,
one size does not fit all.
Some kings (in rank of power) are large,
and some are rather small.

King John ruled as a middleweight.
He reigned in Hogtown City,
but he was not a mighty lord,
just the head of a committee.

John was a modest, cautious fellow
who didn’t like to shout.
He didn’t have many big ideas
in his mental bank account;

He didn’t care much about homeless folks;
and he didn’t want to pay
for anything but roads raised high in the sky
to give commuters free way.

John had some friends on the Hogtown council;
others he truly did hate:
those bad ones, they talked on and on
and did not cooperate.

King John wasn’t fond of Dougie either,
whom he found loud and crude,
till Dougie offered a proposition
to brighten John’s sulky mood.

Dougie would wave a magic wand
(he owned more than a few)
that would banish half of the city committee
and make John puissant too!

All the Emperor asked of John
was to be a friend to his cronies;
and if ever John had a scheme of his own,
Dougie might find him monies.

(Neither man needed to say aloud
that to Dougie, John would now grovel,
and when the pig shit needed shifting,
John would wield a shovel.)

But as boss and vassal hatched their plan,
to tragedy turns my song:
for the best-laid plans of pigs and lords
sometimes go all wrong.

{Here beginneth the tragic bit of the fytte.}

Some still remember those evil days
when plague ravaged the land,
and all wore masks against infection,
and gatherings were banned.

To spare our colleagues from disease,
many of us worked from home;
but faithful, dedicated John
in his office toiled . . . alone?

Well, though he should have been alone
as at kinging he persisted,
with certain crucial kingly tasks
he needed to be assisted.

John’s aide was a young and comely lass,
gracious in all she did.
Bewitched by her propinquity,
into Sin he slid.

Not the first was our King John
to fall because of Woman.
Knowing much of history,
its spirits I now shall summon:

There’s Adam, Samson, Agamemnon,
Parnell (the list goes on),
and our kinglet’s Biblical namesake,
poor old Baptist John.

(I could also paint the scene,
for I know the graphic details;
but as balladeer, not pornographer,
I’ll keep drawn all seven veils.)

Yet, secrets like John’s cannot be kept;
they’re bound to be revealed.
Gossips, reporters – they sniff about –
and of course some tipster squealed.

John’s wife was far from happy
when she learned about his fling.
Humiliation both public and private
can be too much for a king.

And so, to Emperor Dougie’s horror,
King John opted to quit.
His reign did end in ignominy,
and here endeth this fytte.


Fytte the Third: Of Dougie and Hogtown Place

Mourning the exit of (ex)-King John,
Dougie gazed at the harbour,
contemplating the water and ships
from a shady wisteria arbour.

A grand new project to take his mind
off the wreck of his plan –
that was what Dougie sought this morning,
as the waterfront he did scan.

He enjoyed wide views from his scentful
perch. He almost felt devotion
for this spot where Nature still claimed a place
at the edge of Hogtown’s commotion.

This park on an island in the lake
had a stage, and art, and trails;
his subjects came here to escape
the city’s loud travails.

Dougie had sat but an hour or two,
I’m sure it was not three,
when an idea flashed into his brain
and he slapped his thigh with glee.

A smile spread o’er his imperial face,
for he felt that surge of joy,
that mix of greed and vulgarity
he’d known since he was a boy.

He could transform this backward isle
and shape it to his vision
of a moneymaking tourist magnet,
a Mecca without any religion.

{Here is rendered ye vision.}

The Ford Casino, drenched in gold, its
parking lots filled with cars untold;
a world-class science museum
(and perhaps a nearby arboretum,
Nature being so pleasant, and all);
a theatre; a lecture hall;
courts for croquet and volleyball;
a retractably roofed water park;
a laser show to illume the dark;
a Hall of Mirrors, as at Versailles;
a great wheel, like the London Eye;
a wetland, stocked with alligators;
a guillotine, for the Empire’s traitors;
a marina, a spa, a golf course too,
and the relocated Hogtown zoo.
Every kind of exciting show
where all will pay great sums to go!

{As quick as it did come, ye vision fadeth.}

Dougie’s vision left him dizzy:
it had shown him quite a lot,
and he might need to refine it some
and to give it further thought;

In general, though, he loved the scheme
and its promise of heaps of money;
for to him and his cronies, money was sweet,
sweeter than dates or honey.

Yet the sweetest bit of his mystic dream,
despite all he dreamt before,
was this: a statue of himself
erected on the shore.

He towers over the city by day,
and beacons in spotlights at night,
a developer’s hammer in his left hand,
a moneybag in his right.

On his pedestal these words appear,
carved for all to see:
‘Bring your greed and your toadying, friends,
and your credit and cash to me.’

Dougie was helped to his limo as
his body felt weak in the knees; his
spirit was lost in the prospect of
the Colossus of Profitries.


Fyte the Fourth: Of Dougie and Amalgamation

Late, late in the silent night
and everyone else abed,
Dougie, alone at a conference table,
scratched his imperial head.

He had laid aside his golden crown
and put on his thinking cap
so that he might focus his brainy power
on a most troubling map:

A map showing all the lands of his realm
and the zones of his various vassals,
and showing also why he faced
such constant political hassles.

The land was crosshatched with boundary lines
in a jumble of jurisdictions;
some of these borders were in dispute,
some were legal fictions,

And many of them overlapped
in a bureaucratic tangle
so confused as to make no sense
from any viewing angle.

The map displayed in a different shade
every locality,
like a chaotic patchwork quilt
infected with leprosy.

Poor Dougie: he’d asked for a simple map
that indicated places
where he and his cronies could turn a profit
from vacant or underused spaces,

Where on symbolic moneybags
the scribe, artistically,
would paint a label:          Heere there bee
                                        financiall opportunitie.

But now, at last, he sees the problem:
his power is broken and scattered
by little people debating issues
as if their opinions mattered;

Little people in each little town
and littler neighbourhood
jabbering, stalling, and obstructing
his cronies’ greater good.

And as on this revelatory map
Emperor Dougie broods, he hears
a voice, as sometimes happens in
his foul and anxious moods.

What he hears is the passionate cry
of his own frustrated soul,
pained by its lack of godlike power
despite the imperial role.

Attend my words: our Emperor
has a creative mind
(though certainly not a pleasant one,
nor generous, nor kind),

And inspiration will often come,
almost before he’ll know it,
and transform Dougie from angry monarch
to strange and furious poet!

The voice in his ear said this,
in a nasty, venomous hiss:

Little people – I hate their guts,

stuffed like sausage with ifs and buts
rather than simply agreeing with me and
saluting and saying yessirree! Little
people, they squabble and natter, bawl
and squawl and chitter and chatter,
mumble and grumble, growl and howl,
grouse and gripe, snark and snipe,
and all this stupid pointless fussing,
sniveling, driveling, drooling, and fooling
is what those idiots call “discussing”
which is simply their getting in the way
of our progress and profits, and causing delay –
delay, delay, and still more delay . . . .

The voice did fade, just as dawn
lightened the eastern sky;
lightened as well was Dougie’s mood,
and brightly sparkled his eye.

For a way through his troubles was opened now
by his righteous, fiery wrath
as a magic charm, by wizard chanted,
through thorn-hedge clears a path.

Amalgamation was the key!
“O great imagination,”
he said, “I bless thee for that word,
that sweet amalgamation.”

He will break down the little burgs,
restructure and refashion
to a very few, much larger zones
obedient to his passion.

Over each new zone he’ll place
a loyal subordinate king,
a flunky who’ll agree with Dougie
on, well, everything.

On his map, with a Sharpie, happy Doug
new lines started to scrawl –
districts looking like giant amoebas
gobbling up the small.

But while he drew and hummed a tune
of gleeful gratification
and envisioned a future free of cares
thanks to amalgamation,

A troop of cronies fresh from the city
burst into the room
bearing news of grave import
and countenances of doom.

“Hogtown,” they said, “hath replaced King John,
and oh, such a sorry scene:
the new monarch is no friend of thine,
and this king . . . is a queen!”

When Dougie heard her name, he was
of his senses nearly bereft, he
could scarce believe Hogtown was ruled
by a woman – and a leftie.

His song in an instant became a lament,
a keen both high and shrill:
“May God help Hogtown,” he cried, and then,
“Yes, indeed. I will.”

Ah, gentle listener, learn from this tale
how sudden is Fortune’s turning. While
you gaze ahead at a fair prospect,
behind, your bridge is burning.

Will Dougie regain his cheerful faith
that rifts in his realm may mend?
Time – and further fyttes – can tell,
but here this fytte must end.


[Author unidentified]

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