Elizabeth Botham's Secret

or "Botham's: The Beginning"

(with a little poetic licence...)

by Chris Percy

In Whitby Abbey's heyday, when Caedmon was a lad,
he wrote a rap in Anglo-Saxon about his Cosmic Dad.
His "Hymn of Creation" was indisputably a first,
but when he'd finished singing it,
boy, did he have a thirst!

It was late at night and the refectory was closed
(he lived in the stables - he couldn't even make a toast),
going out was forbidden, but he could hear his belly call,
so, after a genuflection, he nipped over the wall.

He'd descended the church stairs in less than a trice
when he met some Viking tourists playing runic dice.
"Excuse me, gents, but where can I get a brew -
a nice pot of tea, maybe a buttered scone too?"

One of them rose, scratched himself and yawned:
he was eleven foot six, twelve foot when horned,
"We don't speak English - we don't like your verbs -
and Mr Hardrada don't wanna be disturbed!"
"No problem -" said Caedmon, "I was just on my way.
Well pax vobiscum and have a nice day!"

Half way down Church Street, a vision made him stop:
all the figs and dates of Heaven in the "Shepherd's Purse" shop!
"Oh, let them be open!" Caedmon begged in tears.
"I will," said a voice, "in about thirteen hundred years..."

Now the poor, hungry father of Saxon rap and hip-hop
couldn't twitch a toe in his monastic flip-flops.
Crossing the bridge, he was reduced to a shuffle,
when, in his mind's eye, he saw a rum truffle
and, to its left, a whirly cream horn -
then Caedmon knew that he'd been reborn!

There were pies and flans and choux pastry cases
all served by maids with angel's faces -
Chelsea buns, meringues, parkin and baps
squelchy trifle and chocolate japs.
There was joking and talking and laughter in wails
and dogs outside drooling with wagging tails...

Caedmon followed his nose in a mystic state
almost to the end of Baxtergate.
A light cam on in a bedchamber high,
wherein Caedmon the young Lizzie Botham did spy.
He'd hear of her fame and she of his -
he knew nobody could bake like Liz...

Now she's seen Caedmon stacking hay
last Annual Abbey Open Day.
She hadn't let on - she was pretty shy -
just sent him an anonymous blackberry pie...

She was trying not to look at her Romeo below,
Where the pool of light made a yellow glow,
when she heard a sound that she couldn't resist,
that made her feel as if their lips had kissed:

there was a back-beat thumping and a high-hat kicking,
a mega-bass woofing and a cymbal licking...
Lizzy went dizzy and the room was dissolving -
Caedmon was rapping, his habit revolving:
he was singing his song, the one about Creation.
She couldn't help smiling at this Saxon sensation!
Today it was Whitby: tomorrow the nation!

She joined him on the street. She started gently rocking;
she didn't feel the cold, though she was only in her stockings.
They rapped, be-bopping until they both dropped,
then Caedmon told Lizzie about his vision of her shop.

He'd tell her all the details of his celestial dream -
could they just discuss it over apple pie and cream?
"OK," said Lizzie, "you've won my heart.
Come in for a slice of Dutch apple tart."

Just then, alas, confirming Caedmon's fears,
"There is the slight matter of twelve hundred years -"
a voice proclaimed inside his head,
"better write it down on some parchment instead,
then bid farewell to Pātisserie's Queen -
St.Hilda will be wondering where you've been!"

What did Caedmon write - what made his secret great?
The answer's in Lizzie's on Baxtergate...

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