The Spanish Armada

By Dave Boulton

I’ll tell thee a sea-faring story
As told to me by my grandfather
Whose great great great great great great great granddad Tom
Helped Drake thrash the Spanish Armada

Down at Plymouth Sir Francis were playing at bowls
With the weather as fair as you’d like
Walter Raleigh were with him, now he’s best known to fame
As the man who invented the bike

Now Queen had give Francis a new set of bowls
He was trying out on the crown green
All in gold they’re inscribed with lions rampant
And “To Frank, love and hugs from the Queen”

Frank had just thrown little black mat onto t’ green
And were crouched to set bowl on its course
When a man from the Queen dressed in doublet and hose
Rode up the the double on horse

“Sir Francis! Sir Francis! Armada’s in Channel”
But from target Drakes eyes never stray
And in gentlest of tones as befitting a knight
He says “Get that bloody horse out the way.”

“But Sir Francis! Sir Francis! The Queen does command!”
At this Drake impatiently rose
He says “I tell you, Sir Walter, Queens’ not a bad wench
But sometimes her gets right up me nose!”

“I s’pose I’d best go,” he says, packing his bowls
“Though I don’t think we need all this fuss.
I mean, if they’re out there and spoiling for battle
They’re not going to start without us.”

“Tell thee what though”, says Francis, “you hang on here Walt
While I nip and put Spanish to flight.
I’ll come straight back, we can finish the game
And then go for a pie and a pint.”

So as the ships set their sails, Drake shouts orders from bridge
Like “Clew up your fores’l mainsprit!
Two points to the port! Three sheets to the wind!”
That’s all sea talk for “Go left a bit!”

Well they hadn’t been out half an hour
When from crow’s nest a cry comes so bold:
“Spanish Armada abaft starb’d beam!”
And then: “Can I come down now, I’m cold?”

“They’re miles off.” Says Drake with the glass to his eye
When he sees where Armada is resting
And when bosun points out glass is wrong way about
Francis says “Alright smartarse, just testing.”

“Make signal!” cries Drake in his captain-like tones
“Say: Course and intentions requested of you.”
But there weren’t enough flags to say all that there
So they ran out: Ay up, what’s to do?

Now “Ay up, what’s to do” must mean summat in Spanish
For their flagship replied in a trice
And by the way that the guns opened up on Drake’s ship
It’s a fair bet it weren’t very nice

So the Brits had to sail into action
For an hour shot and shell fell like rain
But lucky for Brits Spanish shooting were off
And the rain from Spain fell vainly in the main

So when head gunner announces they’d run out of shot
This news gets Drake all of a mither
And his first words to gunner I couldn’t repeat
Nor most of next sixty five either

“All is lost!” cries Sir Francis, “O woe and thrice woe!”
Gunner says “Frank, a word in thy ear.”
And as he speaks a smile creeps all over Drake’s face
And he says “By gum, that’s an idea!”

And down in his cabin he gets out his bowls
At sight of ‘em gunner’s eyes gleam
‘Cos in gold they’re inscribed with lions rampant
And “To Frank, love and hugs from the Queen”

With the first bowl loaded the gunner takes aim
But when smoke clears his spirit falls flat
“It’s no wonder you missed,” says Sir Francis
“You weren’t stood on the little black mat.”

So with his foot on the mat and the cannon well primed
With his last shot the gunner takes aim
And when smoke clears the bowl had just pruned the mainmast
Of the barge they’d sent over from Spain

Then curling around on the bias
It pierces a man o’ war’s poop
Quickly turning to chips twenty crack Spanish Ships
Of the Line and a couple of sloops

In ten seconds Armada were routed
And Spanish weren’t heard of no more
And the battered old bowl headed off at great speed
In direction of old England’s shore

Drake went straight to the green when he landed
He spies Walter sut down by a fence
“I’m sorry I kept thee” says Francis
“Come on lad, let battle commence.”

“But game’s won.” Says Sir Walter arising
Startled, Francis says “How can that be?”
And smiling a picking bits of grass of his cloak
He says “Come on to t’ green and you’ll see.”

Right next to the jack there lay a scarred bowl
With gold writing quite clear to be seen
All in gold it’s inscribed with lions rampant
And “To Frank, love and hugs from the Queen”

©1998 His Worship and the Pig

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