Teddo Wells, Deceased [poem by John O’Brien]

[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]

Teddo Wells, Deceased

Times I think I’m not the man —
Must be some mistake.
Me among the also ran?
Cute and wideawake!
Old and beat and crotchety —
Sixty-five, at least —
Knockin’ round the presbytery,
Groomin’ for the priest,
Choppin’ wood, and ringin’ bells,
Dodgin’ work and takin’ spells!
Me all right, one Ed’ard Wells
(Late Teddo Wells, deceased) —
Wheelin’ barrows round the yard,
Gammon to be workin’ hard,
A-groomin’ for the priest!

Trainin’ prads was Teddo’s game;
Made a tidy bit.
Everybody knew the name,
Teddo Wells was “It,”
Bought that bit of property
(Value since increased),
Gettin’ on tremendously,
Married by the priest.
Papers full of Teddo Wells
Trainin’ horses for the swells;
Since redooced to ringin’ bells
(Teddo Wells deceased)
Shinin’ boots and learnin’ sense,
Nailin’ palin’s on the fence,
A-groomin’ for the priest.
Lost that bit of property,
Ended up in smoke —
Too much “Jimmie Hennessy” —
Down, and stony-broke.
Used to think he knew the game
Till they had him fleeced.
“Mud” is this ’ere hero’s name,
Workin’ for the priest —
Unbeknown to sports and swells;
They’ve no time for Ed’ard Wells.
Up the spout and ringin’ bells
As “Teddo Wells, deceased”;
Never noticed up the town,
Never asked to keep one down —
Groomin’ for the priest.

Times I stops a cove to chat,
One as gamed and spieled;
Chips me in the curate’s hat,
“Six to four the field.”
“What-o! Teddo Wells,” sez he,
“Him that horses leased,
Owned that bit of property,
Groomin’ for the priest?”
“Guessin’ eggs and seen the shells;
Brains,” sez I, “and breedin’ tells,
This old gent is Ed’ard Wells,
Late Teddo Wells, deceased.
Ringin’ bells is Ed’ard’s game,
Openin’ doors and closin’ same,
Called ‘groomin’ for the priest.”

Never see a horse nohow,
Just an old machine;
Always in a tearin’ row
With this Josephine.
Got an eye that makes you feel
Well and truly p’liced,
Follerin’ out upon your heels,
A-goin’ to tell the priest.
“Can’t smoke here now, Ed’ard Wells,
That old pipe offensive smells;
Go and smoke outside,” she yells.
So Teddo Wells, deceased,
Him that once was in the boom,
Wood-heap has for smokin’ room —
A-groomin’ for the priest.

Times I says it’s all a joke
Someone’s puttin’ up;
Me dead-beat and stony-broke,
Me that won a cup,
Owned that bit of property,
Them good horses leased!
Kickin’ round the presbytery
A-groomin’ for the priest!
Choppin’ wood and ringin’ bells,
Curby-hocked and takin’ spells!
Me it is, one Ed’ard Wells,
(Late Teddo Wells, deceased)
Smokin’ hard and talkin’ free
Of the man he used to be,
And groomin’ for the priest.

Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

Editor’s notes:
prads = horses
presbytery = in this context, the priest’s residence; a presbytery can also be the eastern part of a church in which the high-altar is placed; or the space in the eastern end of a church reserved for higher clergy; in Presbyterian churches the presbytery is the court composed of ministers and representative elders of a district

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