The Times Literary Supplement Crossword, number 957: 11 across — Drayton’s blackbird in grouse location.
The woosel near at hand, that hath a golden bill …
Which was a direct rip from what ol’ Bill Shakespeare wrote for Bottom to sing in Midsummer Night’s Dream (III.i.118):
The Woosell cock, so blacke of hews,
With Orange tawny bill.
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill..
O.K., Titania: wakey! wakey!
Now, here’s a low thought …
How did Great Literature go from there to the bus, circa 1966, carrying Stockton Rugby Club‘s II and IV teams back from Newcastle City Colleges? It had been a bitterly-cold day, and Malcolm a particularly useless wing-forward. Anyway, the bus was redolent with Newcastle Brown and entr’actes of The Wild West Show —
We are off to see the Wild West Show
With the elephants and the kangaroo [Chorus interposes: … Cor blimey!].
No matter the weather
As long as we’re together,
We’re off to see the Wild West Show.
Recitative: And in this cage we have the Ousel-Woozle Bird …
Amazed audience: The Ousel-Woozle Bird?
Recitative: Yes! Indeed! Yer actual Ousel-Woozle Bird!
These birds fly in a single line.
The biggest bird leads in front, followed by the next largest and so on down to the smallest at the … err … rear.
At the first sign of danger, the smallest bird flies up the behind of the bird in front.
And so on up the line.
The single remaining bird then flies round and round, faster and faster, in every decreasing circles until it disappears up its own fundamental orifice …
From which advantageous position,
It continues to pour life-giving nutriment
Upon the earth beneath.
Ladeez and Gennelmen!
We give you the ousel-wousel bird’s after-life … the Liberal Democrat Party!