Leap Year

When the New Year was approaching
There were planets in a line
That they said was some dark portent
Of events, long lost in time,
This position of the heavens
Brought back atavistic fears,
Though it only happened once, they said,
In just a thousand years.

There were comets drifting trails in the
Immensity of space,
Though the boffins said they'd pass us,
Wouldn't harm the human race,
Still the winter storms were violent
Beating sea on every shore,
When Rob had turned to Jane and said:
‘Let's head out, and explore! '

He had got them both a ticket
For a holiday in Spain,
They would dance the wild bolero,
‘And soak up the sun, ' said Jane,
Robert laughed, and said he doubted
That the sun's rays would appear,
‘It can get quite cold in Spain, you know
At this time of the year.'

They arrived in time for New Year's Eve
The streets had overflowed
With the people madly partying
And dressed in party clothes,
Robert wore a black sombrero,
Jane a Spanish Farthingale,
And she sipped on ice-cold sangria,
While he drank Spanish ale.

A minute before midnight
All the street lights flickered out,
There were howls of consternation
As the crowd milled round about,
Then a sudden, awful silence
Had found Rob and Jane alone,
On a dirty, muddy cart track
Lined with buildings they'd not known.

In the distance was the flicker
Of a line of moving lights,
While they clung close to each other
In the darkness of that night,
Men on horseback riding past them
Holding braziers up on high,
‘Those guys look like Conquistadors, '
Said Jane, ‘I wonder why? '

Behind them, a sedan chair carried
High a blazing cross,
With the name of ‘Torquemada' on the front,
But raised, embossed,
And in passing they had seen the grim
And hated countenance,
Of Spain's first Grand Inquisitor,
Who spared them both a glance.

‘For God's sake, ' muttered Robert,
‘I confess, I'm at a loss,
Reminds me of the Mummers Plays
Put on at Badgers Cross.'
‘Well Jesus Christ, ' said Jane,
‘If this is fun, you've got me beat! '
Then soldiers seized the two of them
And dragged them through the street.

They heard the cry ‘heretic' then
Repeated down the line,
The soldiers had dismounted and
Came milling round their find,
When Torquemada raised one hand,
His thumb was firmly down,
They heard him say, ‘auto-da-fé, '
It had a chilling sound.

An English tar that lay in chains
Looked up as they went in
To the squalid Spanish dungeon
And he said, ‘You're caught in sin!
Confess at once, or you will burn,
At least you'll live, in chains! '
‘We haven't done a bloody thing, '
Said Robert then, to Jane.

‘You're English! Well, they love to burn
We English in the square,
It's little use to tell them that
You don't think that it's fair! '
‘Is this a New Year's joke, said Jane,
The tar replied, ‘It's true,
They'll burn you in the Lord's Great Year
Of 1482! '

29 December 2012