The True Tale of 'Maha' Tuck

I tell a tale of Dereham, that little Norfolk town
Where John Tuck kept the Cherry Tree an inn of some renown
It stands there on the corner, not far from the Market Square,
A pleasant little place to visit, anytime you're there.

Now John, he met the vicar "Mr Armstrong, sir*" he said
"My wife's just had a little boy, the first since we've been wed
We wish to have him christened with a proper bible name;
'Tis true we're seldom seen in church, but we want it all the same

We know our bible both of us, better than some who go
Each blessed time they hear the bell, and wish you please to know
We've studied well the Holy Book, and now that's in our mind
To have him christened UZ, the shortest name that we could find:

"UZ Tuck! UZ Tuck!", the vicar cried. "You really mean your wife
And you have both made up your minds to name him THAT for life
It's wrong and foolish of you both, it's utterly absurd
UZ may be short but it's just about the ugliest name I've heard:

"No Mr Tuck: do think again, think of his future do;
For if  I name the baby so, he won't thank me or you.
I counsel you to change your mind. UZ Tuck won't do that's flat;
The two of you can surely find a nicer name than that."

Three days went by. The parents both had pondered deep and well
And once again the father stood ringing the Vicarage bell.
"Come in, come in", the vicar cried, "You've brought your new suggestions;
On second thoughts you must admit, that UZ was out of the question.

Yes that I have Sir, that I have. This time it's not a wrong one;
The little name it would not do, so here's a good and long one;
You'll find it in Isiah, Sir, in chapter eight verse three,
A proper good well sounding name that would have suited me.

Perhaps you won't like this one Sir. You'll say it's much too long.
But this is what we are set on, and we'll have it right or wrong.
The longest name in the bible Sir, that ought to bring him luck;
Our son shall bear the name of MAHERSHALALHASHBAZ Tuck.

The story's true the boy grew up and took a wife;
As landlord of the CHERRY TREE, he lived his busy life.
At fifty-four he died; and there's a grave all plain to see
'Tis there in Dereham - with the date on, eighteen ninety-three.

Poem written by Stanley Willis and appeared in the East Anglian Magazine in April 1972

*The Rev. B.J. Armstrong, vicar of Dereham 1850-8811

Back to Cherry Tree