John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Poet's Corner: From Mrs. Henderson Presents

From Mrs. Henderson Presents

[N.b.: The Lord Chamberlain, concerned about the large number of people gathering on the street every night following the last performance, has ordered the Windmill Theatre in London to close its doors for the duration. The owner disagrees...]

May I introduce myself? I'm Mrs. Henderson. You might see my name on the billboard over there, "Mrs. Henderson Presents." Well, I am that Mrs. Henderson, and I have presented the Windmill for four years now. Now, let me tell you why.

The was a war before this one. It was meant to end all wars. I lost my son in that war -- my only son Alec. He was twenty-one. He perished from poison gas, I believe, on a field in France.

After... some time after, I went to his room to clear away his things, and I discovered the most amazing thing -- what I believe you call a French postcard. A photograph of a naked woman. He'd been hiding it. And I realized that Alec had probably gone to his death without ever... seeing a woman naked in real life. Well, I thought that was the most... awful thing.

When you lose a son in the war, you do know, no matter what anyone might say... that his death has been in vain. It won't stop others from following -- other wars, other young men.

Years later, after my husband had died and I was on my own, I decided to buy a theater and put on a nude revue so that boys like Alec would never be in the same predicament. As long as the Windmill exists, there's no need for a sad little postcard stashed underneath a bed, is there?

Sometimes... my feelings toward our young men in uniform... have led me to foolish actions, which I do, in my very soul, regret. But I do know this: that my desire to present this gift to our young men had not been wrong. If we are to ask our youth to surrender their lives... then we should not ask them to surrender joy... or the possibility of joy.

And if along the way we cause too many people to congregate in the street... who gives a fiddler's fuck?

Martin Sherman (born 1939)

Trust me when I tell you that you have not heard the word "fuck" until you've heard it spoken by Dame Judi Dench.

Tags: poet's corner
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