England without the English

Hackpen White Horse by Martyn Pattison is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

England without the English

A strange village, this.  But why ?
The pub is near the village hall,
The church is near the school.
The pear trees over-reach the wall,
Beside the milking stool.
So where precisely does the oddness lie ?

I think it’s in the accents heard –
But not of locals, rather Poles,
They say “howzat” and “’pon my word”
And land the choice Mikado roles.
No reason why they shouldn’t, true,
But still…they’re more than quite a few…

A strange village this, no doubt.
There’s thatch as far as one can see,
And rolling downs for views.
So why do folks from Italy
Fill Church-of-England pews,
While Argentines keep bees and run the scouts ?

Speaking English, fishing pike,
Or growing leeks and supping beers,
And naming local landmarks
Like they’d known them all their years.
No reason why they shouldn’t, though,
Yet change round here is often slow…

A strange village this, alright.
As mentioned in the Domesday Book
And in the Civil War
Where Indians have found a nook
Behind the stable door.
With a hint of local brogue, but only slight.

And Caribbean morris-men,
And Russian gardens with a gnome,
And Chinese shepherds down the fen –
And yet, so very much at home.
No reason why they shouldn’t, Ma’am –
They’ve asked me round for tea and jam.

You can tell this poem is out of date by its use of ‘Ma’am’.

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