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Lay for the Day
11th May

A song for St Gengulf’s day. Gengulf was an eighth-century knight of Burgundy whose wife had taken a lover. At first he refused to credit the witnesses who accused her, but eventually he decided to challenge her. She protested her fidelity, and he asked her to undergo a test, by plunging her arm in the water of a well. As soon as she did so, the water began to boil, and he knew he was cuckolded. Rather than kill her on the spot, according to his right, he retired from her company to another of his castles. The wife then plotted with her lover to kill Gengulf, and he was duly assaulted and hacked to pieces.
St Gengulf is the protector against marital infidelity and unhappiness in marriage generally.

Fighting Upstairs

Though they were happy being bride and groom,
They fit together like a knife and spoon.
Now there’s yelling and tears
And the grinding of gears
As they’re driving the hearse
Of love in reverse
And the violence flares
Of fighting upstairs.

Once I could hear him love her
With a feeling;
Now only harsh words come down
Through the ceiling.
Once I could hear someone moan-
ing ‘My darling’;
Now we turn our music loud
To cover their snarling.

She used to think he had a touch of class,
He used to think she had the cutest arse.
Now’s there trouble in store
Behind their bedroom door
And the life that they share
Takes the shape of a pear
And two grizzly bears
Are fighting upstairs.

Once there was sweetness and light
In their kitchen;
Now in the shadows they write
Silence fiction.
Once when she woke up she’d bring
In some breakfast;
Now when she wakes up she thinks
Of breaking his neck first.

I hope the neighbours underneath our feet
Will never hear us beating love’s retreat.
God make the virus
Of discord pass by us,
Cause they’ve struck the mismatch
And the whole block could catch.
So we’re sending up prayers:
Stop fighting upstairs.


Words and music by The Children,
from Rockingham Street


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar

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