Warren Clements


The Day Noel Coward Dropped By

Welcome to the manor house,
Where manners are hard to discern.
For you see, we haven’t got any,
But we have bad manners to burn.

In the common room, we act common.
In the vestibule, we divest.
In the closet, we get our claws out.
In the guest room—you’d never have guessed.

In the ensuite, we’re beyond sweet.
In the basement we’re terribly base.
In the library, we lie, lie, lie
Till we’re practic’ly blue in the face.

In the anteroom, no one’s auntie is safe.
In the drawing room, we draw a crowd.
We’re beyond reproof, till we get to the roof.
That’s when things get rather loud.

In the parlour, things get parlous.
On the doorstep, we’re roundly adored.
What we do on the floor—well, there’s no time for more.
Just as well, since you’d all have been floored.

Warren Clements was for many years a writer and editor with the Toronto-based newspaper The Globe and Mail. He co-wrote The Globe and Mail Style Book, was for 17 years the compère of the weekly Challenge column (which began two years before the similar Washington Post Style Invitational), and produced the comic strip Nestlings (about birds and worms) for more than a decade. His column on language, Word Play, ran in The Globe for 16 years. He has twice placed second in the Toronto Fringe Festival’s 24-hour playwriting contest, and has written 15 ten-minute musicals based on Shakespeare’s plays. He lives with his wife in Toronto.