Tuesday 8 November 2011

Byng's Bit of Cake

Just now I was reading about Douglas ('Bawdy but British') Byng - pantomime dame, camp cabaret act and master of the saucy comic song - when I discovered that he had composed his own epitaph. Finding himself living out his declining years in an Actors' Charitable Trust home, he wrote these lines, which I think show a fine spirit:
'So here you are, old Douglas, a derelict at last.
Before your eyes what visions rise of your vermillion past.
Mad revelry beneath the stars, hot clasping by the lake.
You need not sigh, you can't deny, you've had your bit of cake.'


  1. Reading this I have a sudden memory of seeing my Mother in a play about old folk in a nursing home - 'Waiting in the Wings' it was called.
    A few lines of a song just popped into my head. I can see my mother sitting at the piano on stage. (She learnt to play the piano specially to do the part) She's singing with gusto -
    'Waiting in the wings, waiting in the wings,
    Strutting about the garden like a lot of Douglas Byngs.'
    Surely I can't have got that right? Sounds too bizarre.

  2. That seems very likely, Tricia - he was pretty well known/notorious in his day.
    Here's a bit of Byng, from Mexican Minnie -
    'Come where the heat from the sun's burning rays
    Gets you so gaga you tear off your stays!
    I'm Mexican Minnie, all jolly and ginny,
    I loll in the mountains all day.
    Though I'm well off the map, I'm just covered in slap,
    Luring brigands to come and play ha'penny nap.
    But they get very reckless, and will stay to breakfast
    Then go off refusing to pay.
    I say, "Well you can go,
    "I'm sick of the gang, so
    "You shan't see my tango today!"

  3. Thank you for introducing me to a new hero Nige!