Afternoon Tea



By John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
   As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
   And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
   The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
   And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
   But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
   So do come and take some with me.

Now here is a fork for your pastries
   And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
   Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
   I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
   With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.