The original brief was "Imagine everyone from your school was going on the pilgrimage to Canterbury. What titles might you give to the teachers and to your fellow pupils, and what kind of tale do you imagine them telling? "

This was in the context of an RPG, so quite a number of the character sketches won't have a lot of meaning: there are one or two universal stereotypes though...
A few small changes have been made to the original to disguise its source

Ye Schoole-Trippe Tayles


When passeth by the feast of Valentine
The Godly unto pilgimage doth incline
For thereby to gain a heav'nly bounty
When maken we the journey outwith this county,
A merry companie, boistress and bold
With many a tale then to be told:
The Equestrienne upon her ass
Outwith she talked sayings most crass.
We setted forth in spryngtyme sun
Entertained allwhiles by groansome pun
By one of us of laughing mien
That saith she was an Antipodean.

Full fell the showers from the sky
While we the School Pilgrims did hie
Mayhap the showers were most swoot
but they madeth it most boggy underfoote
Therefor pressed unto us a fine solution
An Ale-Wife with American constitution
That we should adjourn most quickly and lustily
To the snug-bar of the nearest hostelry.
The Ale-Wife and Potter pints deeply did sup
At lengthen collapséd deep into their cups.

Our party wends onwards by two now depleted
While endlessly, tediously were were thus entreated:
"A word to the wise should always suffice"
The Obsessed Old Woman would say in a trice,
If ever the chance arose in discourse
For her to mount up on her own hobby horse.

Ahead went the Equestriennne on her fat ass
Until it was luncheon, for time it had passed.
A Cook was amongst us and saith the adage
'Boil the liver and much stew the cabbage'
Full well she doth whacketh with large wooden spoone
So that all of the kitchen maids dance to her tune.

"Fabet indulcet fames" intoned the Patrician
(which, by the way, is Latin, not Grecian)
"But for myself I will have something more
A large dish of," (most appropriate), "roast boar."

"Food in the dining hall, not in the dorm,
And eat it, not throw it is the behavioural norm."
In a voice oh so strident she scared us to death
The Fish-Wife did bellow without pause for breath.

"Do such things here happen? I can scarcest believe it!"
The haughty Praetorian could barely conceive it.
"Oh yeh, they's oinimals" in accents strangulated
The Costermongeress screeched in speech modes outdated.
To better herself was her life's one great quest
But with voice most teeth-grating the poor girl was blessed.
No-one could mistake her but as scrubber and mopper
When even her slang and cliches aren't used proper.

As luncheon was set with much froing and toing,
The Star Crosséd Lovers were billing and cooing
It's on and it's off, it is love, it's despair
Oh what an idiot and moonstruck pair.
"Better by far to just take things easy,
Calm and recumbant, life's like a spring breezy."
There came a voice from the rear, as she picked at an entrée
And languidly spoke, our relaxed Dilettante

"Nonsense, nonsense, live for sport
For above it ranketh naught!
Play up, play up and play the game!
Strive to win the cup of Fame!"
Thus did did rant with wild eyes
The Woman With Enormous Thighs.

"Sport is with noble qualities imbued,
But so is the enormous uptake of food.
And this I've practiced, for my part
And raised it to a noble art.
For what's a meal but crumbs for birds,
Unless you have consuméd thirds?"
Pearls of wisdom for our band
From the lips of our Gourmand...

I have sketchéd but a few
Of our motley shambling crew
But there are so many more:
Perhaps I'll mention three or four...

First there is the Alchemist
Bodies, spells - you get the gist.
Dissecting all our functions inner
Putting us all off of our dinner.

There's the Scribe now elevated
Perhaps her talent's over-rated?
Once did typing, took dictation
Now dictates to our small nation.
Strange how the eliglitarian flower
Wilts when socialists come to power.

A Cabin Boy of pluck and wit
Ends up looking like a nit
Blown by hapless circumstance
Beguiled by girlfriend, victim of chance.
He sees himself as hero or knight
But ends up in some dreadful plight.

Lonely is the Long Distance Runner
Who's run again, now that's a bummer.
Who knows where she's run this time
In search of adventure most fine.

Absent also is the Frog
Lost in distant Channel fog
How foreigners must choke and cough
When by the weather they're cut off.

A Puritan Maid, of righteous totality
Is known to us all as Mistress Morality
She addresses morals by the seat of the pants
And belongs not with us but with the Flagellants.

Riding up front as she feels is her due
The Little Princess is with blue blood imbued
Everything's BEASTLY, a SWIZZ or a CHIZ
And over her trifles she gets in a tiz.
What fate does await you as life rolls t'ward senility
Do you secretly lust for the lash of humility?

Wrappéd in veils and silks so fine
Sipping at Madeiran wine
She stands aloof, ignores our banter
The dark-eyed, sultry, moody Infanta

Now I've named full twenty two
And for the moment that must do
If I am to outline the glories
Of their individual stories.
Though two and twenty could relate,
Some we must eliminate..........

The Frog was stuck down by some strange maladie
And took to his bed, away far o'er the sea
Which in turn leaves twenty one
To tell their tales 'till dawn of sun..

Now at the Inn at end of day
We ate and drank the e'en away.
What tales were told by these travellers merry
Uplifted with the Spirit and a bit too much sherry..?

The Long Distance Runner began to tell
Of glorious journeys cross the swell
Of the rolling ocean tide, -
But scarcely had we got inside
She could no longer here abide
Took to her heels and pressed the spur
Which was the last we heard of her!

The Ale-Wife and the Potter both
Began a boistrous tale with jokes
Both loud and lewd and rambling round
And then it lost coherent sound
Then it collapsed in fits and starts
For they were both as pissed as farts.

The Cook's Tale, alas, did not enthrall
For when the turn on her did fall
Despite our heartfelt desparate pleas
She just read out her recipes.

It being then the natural thing
To let the Gourmand loudly sing
the praises of gargantuan feasts
that she had had, and eaten beasts
of every known exotic kind,
boiled and fried and braised in wine.
At length she stopped, by our suggestion
For we had aural indigestion.

No food, no food, I promise this
Upspake the Antipodean miss.
She told us of her native land,
But how thrilling is so much sand?
And, frankly, we really could not bother
When she talked of Wogga-Wogga.

I'll tell a tale of noble Troy
Said the knob-kneed Cabin Boy.
So he spake of the success
Of quest for a beauteous princess.
We fain did tell him in a trice
Such quests exact a fearful price....

The Little Princess herself did share
A tale of derring do and dare
And clutching at her bosom (small)
Did loud declare to one and all
That her Prince needs must make a quest
And sim'lar hazards he must best
If he was her hand to win
And, forsooth, come feel her.. gracious favours fall upon him.

After such wild flights of fancy humungous
We looked for tale from the simple Costermongress
It was polish, not volume her tale it did lack
And the accent it caused all the glasses to crack.
Apparently it was a tale somewhat flirty
Concerning 'er and 'er mate 'oo's called Gerty
And what they got upta wiv some lads dahn the tahn.
- We stumbled to follow and the lingo to lahn.
What she talked of that night I could not say rightly
So we just looked glass-eyed and we nodded politely.

And then because of our ear-frayed condition
We called for a tale from the upright Patrician.
Our faith was well founded for he gave discourse learnéd
Of the great Alexander and whence he had journeyed.
And being most uplifted by battles and strife
We then called for tales from the strident Fish-Wife.

She banged on the table and roared for some hush
And yelled at the Lovers their giggling to hush
She called for some more ale and wanted it straight-up:
She quaffed at it deeply and well smeared her make-up,
Then told us a tale about some disaster
Which came when one man could not ride much faster
Because of a nail that fell from a shoe
Resulting in commotion, mayhem and to-do.
'Twas tale dull and leaden and, on reflection
Not improved by her insistance upon an inspection
Of collars and cuffs and contents of pockets
With ranting and raving and giving of rockets
"Just to make sure" as she said with a frown
"That in these small details you're not falling down."

"Enough now, enough now," the Dilattente said,
Idly mopping her gravy up with her bread,
"It just doesn't do to be seen trying too hard:
Why win by a mile when will suffice just a yard?"
"I'll tell you a tale which this point it will prove,
I just to that comfortable chair now will move."
But e'en as the beginning she hardly had spake
'Twas clear to all there that she was no longer awake.

So we turned then and left her in quiet repose
And askéd the Equestrienne, who duly arose
And spouted a tale of her best hunting meet
Which was enabled by her truly most extensive seat.
We applauded politely, but at the end of the day
We could take only so much of that brash horsey bray.

The lot now did fall on the moody Infanta
And we hoped for a break from all gallop and canter.
Her voice it was sultry with musical lilt,
As she told of a tale of the knights at the tilt,
Practicing without cease as they prepared for the wars
To drive from their country the vile heathen moors.
Her voice was beguiling, it wrapped us in ease.
But as she progressed she talked Portugese!

To sharpen our senses and wake up our eyes,
Next spake the Woman With Enormous Thighs.
She struck up a pose, stuck her hand in her shorts,
Twirled her moustache and told us of sports.
Scoring the hockey goal in last secs. of play
Somehow resulted in saving the day
And the School and the Empire and Lord knows what more
- in the armchair the Dilettante began to snore -
But this was the moral, or so we are told
You always must play and you must strive for gold.

The Obssessed Woman spoke like a woman obssessed
Berating us soundly and scratching her vest.
Her tale was of historic times
And she droned on, ignored the chimes
Of the insistant ticking clock
Dragging time out, drop by drop.
Labouring over minute points
As she moved her creaky joints.
We could scarce keep ope our eyes
Even at these words for the wise.

The Star-Crosséd Lovers now took the stage
And said how love blighted brings down heaven's rage.
Their theme was Romeo and, of course, Juliet
And their passion for each that was most upset
She spoke of the beauty of love unrequited
Of break-up and make-up and tokens slighted
Of misunderstandings that create a wall.
And he then upspoke and he mused on football....

We left them to argue about this strange twist
and called for a tale from the slick Alchemist.
She related a story from far Transylvania
Or perhaps it was closer - the key point's the mania
Of the scientist who around life did invent
To animate dead clay was his final intent.
No failure would stop him, as in former time
A bad brain had doomed the Baron Frankenstein.
The Alchemist talked proudly of the sucess that had come
And we felt that she knew more than she would let on...
The night came when the lighting crashed,
Sparks arcing flew and rain down it dashed
"Live, oh live!" the scientist cried
And voltage to the clay applied.
The lumpy creature stirred and moaned
And slowly upright sat and groaned
And stumbled out into the night
And shuffled off in clothes o'er tight
To live unseen with mortal man
And get by as best it can.
The scientist called after the golem
"Oh by the way, your name's Mo Mowlem."

"A likely tale!" We cried most bold
But greatly shivered in the cold
That sudden was upon us laid
But then upspoke the Puritan Maid.

"Immoral tale of o'erweaning pride!
The righteous, this cannot abide.
I'll tell a tale, and tell it swift
Of something that will us all uplift."
The story was of Matoaka
Later christened as Rebecca
But you can call her what you want as
She's better known as Pocohontas.
We heard how she did bring the peace,
Between the settlers and chiefs
And fell in love and travelled more
And landed upon England's shore.
We all agreed we felt uplifted
- The Dilettente in her sleep she shifted,
And agreed, shaking her locks,
"She married well....and died of pox."

And now the sands are running fast
Into the bottom of the glass
And yet another takes her feet
The Praetorian begins to speak...

"My tale recalls the feats of arms
Midst rocky mounts or desert palms
Fight 'till victory or be dead
In our noble coats of red.
From these small shores they sailed away
Round horn and cape to foreign bay,
To bring to peoples of the world
Peace under Union Jack unfurled.
So oft there stood the Thin Red Line
Embodiment of courage fine."

She told a tale of six score men
Trapped in kraal or earth bagged pen
Facing sixteen thousand foe
Massed around them toe-to-toe
Through two hot, long and awful days
They fought under the beating rays
Of the pitiless sun on high
Back to back and fight or die.
Discipline, it saved them then
Each relying on other men
To do their part, fight all as one
And so it was their lives were won.
Thus we strive our strengths to pool
All for one and all for School!

Our cheers to this we all addressed
Even the Dilettente was faint impressed.
And thus it was to the last of our number
Before we retiréd at last to our slumber.

The Scribe spoke briefly, and as was her wont
She asked if we knows it and we said that we don't.
(I think it was wine causing upset spectacular,
to hear her thus slip into Suffolk vernacular)
The tale she spun concerned the Parcae of mythology
As related in De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii
Written by the poet Martianus Capella
Who, as you know, was a fifth century fella.
And why do these Parcae make the Scribe merry?
Why because they are known each as Gods' Secretary.
Three there are do all the tasks
And the first she must the Gods then ask
'What decreest thou?' and speak them aloud
To the second waiting (on a cloud?)
To write them down and pass them on
Unto the third who swift is gone
To see that they are carried out
Backed up by the the Gods' stern clout.
'Thus' said the Scribe "I am three in one
I decide what needs doing and say it's to be done
And then round the school, without further ado
I make sure it's done, and it's all done by you!"

Our tales for the even' they thus were now ended
And all from the tap room to their rooms they had wended
Leaving me here - have I no tale to tell?
Well in truth I have many, but they say I do smell.
They don't want my company so I just sit by the wall
In clothes old and ragged and listening to all
I make my own notes of the company's chatter
And dine well enough of the left-overs platter
My hair might be matted, my teeth stained and yellow
But really you know, I ain't such a bad fellow.
They grumbles enough when I ain't there to write
So I know that they wants me despite all their slights.
So adieu from Narrator: I'm a tired old bogger.
Goodnight and farewell then from me, it's ChaucLogger...


For poetry and other miscellaneous writing click the 'Poetry' link on the home page, or click here to go to the poetry index page.

Click here to go back to the home page