Friday 15 March 2024

Richard Byrt, "The Trouble with Carruthers"


Richard Byrt has tried to improve and develop his poems since completing an MA in Creative Writing at De Montfort University, following his retirement from his day job in 2011. He has published poems in his collection, Devil's Bit (2015), in several co-authored collections and in Glitterwolf LGBTQ+ magazine. Richard facilitates Creative Writing at SoundCafe Leicester, a charity for people with many talents and abilities, who have experienced homelessness or insecure housing. He is actively involved in Pinggg...K!, a monthly poetry event in Leicester, and occasionally reads / performs his work. 

You can read a review on Everybody's Reviewing of Devil's Bit here. Below, you can read one of Richard's more recent poems, "The Trouble with Carruthers."

About the Poem "The Trouble with Carruthers," by Richard Byrt 
This was the fourth poem I drafted on a long railway journey on 24 November, 2023 - immediately after working on some rather depressing poems on artificial intelligence, war and terrorism. I often write funny poems after drafting more serious stuff. I think I wrote "The Trouble with Carruthers" as a bit of light relief, and as a contrast to the previous three poems.  I did some revisions after the first draft, but not a great deal. The poem is probably influenced by my reading of the P. G. Wodehouse stories about Jeeves and Wooster and the Blotto and Twinks comic detective stories by Simon Brett, set in the 1920s. Part of me wonders whether I should just write comic poetry, but I also enjoy including grim humour in some of my more "serious" poems.   

The Trouble with Carruthers

The trouble with Carruthers was that none of the chaps 
Knew who he was, or where he was from.
Some of the chaps rumoured that his people 
Were – well – not quite from the top drawer.
It was said, though no one could remember by whom,
That Carruthers had an uncle who owned a manufactory, and that his pater 
Had even – horror of horrors – attended a polytechnic.
It was noted by some of the chaps that Carruthers
Vulgarly chewed gum and failed to hold his fork properly when dining
In the way chaps should.  Naturally, none of the chaps could speak to him.
But what a relief when the chaps discovered that the rumours about Carruthers
Were about a different Carruthers, and that the Carruthers this poem is about  
Was the eldest son of the Duke of Malmesbury.
And so, the chaps concluded, it could not be vulgar for Carruthers
To chew gum and hold his fork differently.
After all, as the chaps remarked, he was an aristocrat, so what he did must be tickety-boo.
And very soon, after the chaps discovered who Carruthers was,
They all started chewing gum and holding their forks
Just like he did.

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