I had the great pleasure at one point in my life, in meeting one of the most impatient, grumpiest, cheekiest Glaswegians ever. A man with, in my own words, and to his face, a limp that could take someone’s eye out. He imparted knowledge to me that helped me in my chosen career at that time and in return I gave him banter, stories that frustrated him and face to face honesty. He loved it. One day working just the two of us I started to tell this story, a story that lasted about eight hours’ in-between customers and culminated in this particular Glaswegian gent looking at me stony faced, before saying, ‘You’re a prick!’ and limping away in a pretend huff.
Frank my man, this is for you.
The Bacon Tree
I turned up to my work, one beautiful Glaswegian day.
Pushed the door, ‘Good morning Frank’ was all I had to say.
‘What’s good and by the way you’re late’ was Frank’s pleasant reply.
And limped away and up the close, ‘look out he’ll have your eye!’
Now Frank he was a grumpy chap, a legend in this city.
He could easily, become annoyed, and irate.
Throw a look or a word, or a sigh without pity.
Glance at gold and then tell you the weight.
Could tell that zirconia ring was not diamond,
Your bracelets were plated and brass.
Could push you away but of him I grew fond,
Even though he was a pain in the arse.
'Where wur you anyway that kept you so late,
Away for yer bacon roll?’
'Don’t mention bacon, I’ve told you that mate!
Reminds me of my papa poor soul'.
Now that stopped our Frank and he turned and he looked,
Cause he owned both a limp and a heart.
‘I’m sorry he said.’ And I knew he was hooked,
And I knew that my story could start.
I told you Frank how my papa was killed,
How I can’t get it out of my brain.
A family destroyed and a life to rebuild.
That bloody North African Campaign!
Frank looked beleaguered and started towards me,
And said that I hadn’t told him.
I said I’d explain that it may even relieve me,
I’d enjoy this fantastical whim.
See my papa Frank was a good man it’s said,
And believed in his regiment true.
But when lost in the battle and left there for dead,
He did, what a good man should do.
He summoned his troops and he stood to his feet,
And he vowed on the name of his daughter.
That he would go forth and find food now to eat,
Find them nourishment, and clean fresh water.
All around him was baron and covered in sand,
And he breathed deep and picked his direction.
'I won’t let them die, not my merry band!
My efforts will be their protection.'
For two days he wandered up and down dunes.
The sun shining high in the sky.
For sanity inside his head, he played tunes,
Vowing that these brave men won’t die.
On the third day my papa though worn and unwell,
Climbed a dune that then lifted his heart.
As he ran to the top as he took in the smell,
What he saw, caused his dry lips to part.
He fell to his knees and he thanked the whoever,
And who’s strength had led him to this place.
He didn’t give in, nor will he now ever.
This thing, was his saving grace.
The smell he savored went around his heart.
A memory of home at his tea.
In this place where the end, looks the same as the start,
He had found a big Bacon Tree!
Down that dune he ran with new life,
As the smell of the cooked bacon grew.
He’d live once again to see daughter and wife
He was saved, in his heart this he knew.
Now my papa was far from a greedy man,
But his strength knew he had to regain.
As the sun cooked the bacon and the juice from them ran,
He reached up through his tiredness and pain.
With hands to a branch he reached up, and he tore,
At the bacon meat just growing there.
And he ate till the poor soul could just eat no more,
Then fell into a sleep without care.
The sun beat down and the sand it blew,
Though his slumber did not last too long.
When he opened his eyes to that Bacon Tree,
His mind played his victory song.
To his feet he did rise and they started to run,
In the direction that he had just come.
Through the heat and the dust and the blistering sun,
Relief, to his troops he’d bring some.
For two days he ran with a quickening pace,
With the life of his men in his soul.
Till he came to their camp at the end of his race,
Pronouncing I’ve just saved us all!
His troops although weary and tired and thin,
Rallied round and all shouted and cheered.
We must gather our strength and this journey begin,
Things are not quite as bad as we’d feared.
No far from here just a walk of two days,
There’s enough food for you and for me.
Then he paused, and looked at their expectant gaze,
I’ve found a big bacon tree!
Shoulders slumped and pack bags dumped,
The soldiers looked sullen and scared.
My papa just stood there, his thoughts quite stumped,
It just seemed like nobody cared.
'It’s not we don’t care Sarge,' said one voice alone,
'And we know how tough this has been.
And you’re hungry and thirsty and tired to the bone
It’s a mirage that we think you have seen.'
I take your point and I thought the same,
When I saw it and smelled it out there.
Thought it couldn’t be real, when upon it I came,
Bacon Trees just don’t grow anywhere.
But trust me my men and rise to your feet,
Don’t let me stand here all forsaken.
There are branches out there all covered in meat,
A tree with no leaves and just bacon.
The camp sat in silence until one fellow spoke.
'You’re a good man and true to your will,
We’re few men in tatters all tired and broke,
But for one time we’ll follow you still.'
As they set off that day with their hearts filled with sorrow,
And tramped through the sand and the dust.
Trusting my papa and willing to follow,
Him knowing that follow they must.
Sand dunes came and sand dunes went,
As the men fought the night and the day.
Till they climbed that last dune all broken and bent,
And cried as my papa did say.
He pointed and shouted, 'men open your eyes
Believe it is real what you see.'
And they did and not one of them hid their surprise,
When they all saw the big Bacon tree.
Dumping their packs and their guns and their worry,
They ran through the sand and their pain.
Battle weary men, each one in a hurry,
To taste some sweet food once again.
The smell of the bacon cooked well in the sun,
The sight of that tree and its meat.
Caused legs now to waken and boots now to run,
No doubt now or need for retreat.
One hundred yards from that Bacon Tree there,
Smiling faces that had to be fed.
Gun fire rang out like a scream in the air.
Every fellow amongst them lay dead.
Frank never spoke but just looked at me.
I arose from my chair with a push.
'It turned out Frank, to be no Bacon Tree.
It was actually just a big Ham Bush.'