Fiction

The Local District Arts and Crafts Guild Tontine


Members of the Local District Arts and Crafts Guild
Had ten thousand pounds saved in a tontine pot.
If you’re not familiar with a tontine, let’s say
Simply that the last one standing gets the lot.

Summer came. The Local District Arts and Crafts Guild
Had a trip to Blackpool to enjoy the coast;
Halfway there they lost poor Mrs Abercrombie
Poisoned by a truckstop café’s beans on toast.

When they got to Blackpool, on the pier Miss Marshall
(Health and Safety officer for HMG)
Looked over the railings at the swirling tides and
Leaned a bit too far and toppled in the sea.

On the sands an unsafe – frankly vicious – deckchair
Led to the demise of Mrs Undercross;
Mrs Francanoli was the next to follow,
Smothered by a pillow’s worth of candy floss.

Mrs Merryweather said the dice were loaded
When she met some gamblers and they won her cash;
Gamblers took offence at this and gave her nice new
Concrete boots with which she made a massive splash.

Suddenly at lunch Mr McLeod keeled over:
Choked upon a fishbone and he’d had his chips.
In the bookie’s Mrs Frost got too excited,
Clutching at her chest with winning betting slips.

Crossing – drunkenly – the Golden Mile Miss Webster
Badly mistimed traffic lights and white van’s wheel;
Mr Lamb’s sea-fishing line caught boat propeller,
Dragging him with startled look beneath the keel.

Mr Banks and Mr Mead and Mr Pickering
Vanished after screams in fortune teller’s tent;
Giant knickerbocker glory felled Miss Armstrong;
Roller-coaster ride put paid to Mrs Trent.

Mr McIlvanney was the next to cark it:
Vigorously pulling at a fruit machine,
Pulled the damned thing over and it fell upon him;
Arcade owners kept his jackpot, which was mean.

Laughing at a Punch and Judy show, Miss Marley
Unexpectedly expired upon the beach;
Mrs Maiden on a donkey kept on trotting
Out of sight and out of town and out of reach.

Mr Green fell from the Tower’s viewing platform,
Tragically landing on poor Mrs Cramm;
Mrs Bond went in the Fun House – never came out;
Mrs Sykes was run down by a speeding tram.

Of the Local District Arts and Crafts Guild members,
Only one survived and that was Miss Fontaine.
She, for whom an empty coach-ride home awaited,
Realised she had ten thousand pounds to gain.

Ordering the coach to take her to the bank she
Dreamt of sun-kissed holidays on distant shores;
Sadly, going in the bank she stumbled and was
Crushed to death in faulty automatic doors.