Cheerful Whistling Permitted


Sometimes it’s good to
Let things go, even if in a
Public Lavatory.

When the composer
Eric Coates happened to be
Caught short in London

He found a public
Convenience. In the stand-ups
A man was whistling.

Coates recognized it.
The tune was his ‘Knightsbridge March’,
But with one note wrong.

Coates interrupted
To whistle it correctly.
This was a bad move.

“It should sound like this,”
He snapped imperiously, then
Dug himself in deep

By whistling the tune
From the beginning to end.
‘So what’s it to you?’

A rough voice called out –
Needled at this intrusion
By a nerdy spoilsport.

‘Because I wrote it!
Coates said pompously .
‘And ‘The Dam Busters’

And the theme music
For ‘Desert Island Discs’. Mine.’
‘Well, this is yours too’

A philistine fist
Felled the hapless Eric Coates;
His assailant left

As Coates’ bygone hits
From a forgotten era
Fell briefly silent –

The jaunty French horns
From the land of lost content
Consigned to memory

While poor Eric Coates
Lay unloved on a wet floor,
His head full of stars.

The moral being
If someone wants to whistle,
It’s best to let them.

It’s their joy of living,
So they can be out of tune
Whenever they want.


Heathcote Williams
Artwork: Nick Bleasel



By Heathcote Williams

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One Response to Cheerful Whistling Permitted

    1. Would you mind placing a credit on your use of my artwork “Cheerful Whistling Permitted”?

      The artwork is copyright 2001, Nick Bleasel

      Thank you.

      Comment by Nick Bleasel on 15 April, 2020 at 11:03 pm

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