Mother is earnestly saving the world.
(Though her kids sneak to MacDonald’s when their mother cannot see).
Before drinking down this diet with a six-pack beer.
With synthetic sausage and microwave stew.
And just eat in moderation what we damn well like.
And everyone’s laughing at Newt.
3. Jonathan Hurd
Who spent his childhood playing with computers.
Jonathan Adolphus Hurd
Became a young Computer Nerd.
His Parents noted, early on,
A certain Oddness in their Son
For John, unlike the other boys
Who scatter almost all their Toys
Conveniently round the house,
with the P C Mouse.
There was, within a year or two
But nothing that John could not do;
He’d simply sit from dawn ’til dawn
And scan the internet for porn
(Despite controls his Father had
to try to save the lad) -
Young Jonathan just carried on.
He hacked into the Pentagon
And launched a Missile ( luckily
It only landed in the sea).
He electronically sold
His Father’s shares in Tin and Gold
And bought a Laptop which, he said,
Enabled him to surf in Bed.
(For punishment, this naughty Geek
Had Virtual Meals for one whole week.)
John’s Parents started to despair
And sought Assistance
Their son was placed high on the list
Of every Top Psychiatrist;
But their prognoses, every one,
Said, “Sorry – nothing can be done:
There’s no point in denying it,
a little Twit.”
John’s formative and teenage years
Confimed his parents’ Deepest Fears.
The only friends he ever met
He found in chat-rooms on the net –
The only Peers that he could face
Were those who lived in Cyberspace.
It happened that this little fool
Who Failed in everything at School
Devised a scheme where people bet
On Horses via the Internet.
He patented the scheme, they say,
And sold it in the USA.
Sir John now opulently sits
In his own Penthouse at the Ritz,
Where no-one scolds or calls him names
For writing new Computer Games.
It is the Centenary of the publication
of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Verses
I called for her after I meant to
I was quite a bit late)
I said I would meet her at seven
But got there at twenty past eight.
I’d had to put oil in the engine
So my fingers bore traces of grease,
And when I looked down at my denims
I saw there was more on my knees.
The flowers that I took weren’t pretentious -
I collected them up in a trice;
I couldn’t afford gladioli,
But the dandelions looked very nice.
long, I got the car started -
It took almost no time at all -
And she didn’t have that far to push it
Before I drove into the wall.
The cod and the chips were delicious
Though some ketchup got
spilt on her frock:
So when she said, “Get lost, you Wally,”
Well, it came as a bit of a shock.
I like the sonnet form. It has to be disciplined and the rhyme scheme must appear to flow naturally. It can be used for every occasion from an expression of love, or a polemic, or light entertainment.
It deals with one topic and comes to a conclusion about it.
As a teacher and a historian, I was appalled to read about Michael Gove’s proposed new history curriculum for schools. He had ignored all advice from historians, and proposed a
narrow, nationalistic programme based on rote learning and facts and figures selected by him. Exams would no doubt be geared to how well pupils could regurgitate officially approved material. Nowhere was there the possibility that pupils should be taught to
think rationally after examining all the material available, and be able to come to an informed opinion.
It seemed to me that the situation deserved a serious sonnet!
A Question of History
Should History be just remember’d dates
Of famous British people, worth a quote
And eulogise our famous men of note?
the glories of our state?
Perhaps, too, we could justify our hate
Of foreign things (that’s always worth a vote),
Insist the young learn rigorously by rote
By which we raise examination rates.
Or, should this subject
teach our vibrant youth
To scrutinize the folk of many a clime
For how development has taken place,
Distinguishing the fantasy from truth –
So forming reasoned judgments for our time,
Explaining them with clarity and
A perennial leader in the nation’s favourite poems is Kipling’s ‘If’, which sets out to illustrate
all the worthwhile character traits that make up a decent human being. I have used his exact form, and some of his same words, to satirise by contrast all the shallow and worthless sides of talentless ‘celebrities’, who are merely famous for being
famous, and need to live increasingly bizarre and outrageous lives to remain in the lucrative limelight they crave.
The Price of Fame
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and ridiculing you,
If you can sell yourself when all men doubt you,
Then cash in on their stupid doubting, do;
And if you cannot wait for fame to find you,
Get married several times to worthless guys:
hated, get an agent right behind you
And make sure you look good and don’t talk wise.
If you can dream – make dreams of wealth your master;
If you can think, make infamy your aim;
you have met with triumph or disaster
Then use these gifts to publicise your fame;
If you can bear to hear the tripe you’ve twitted
Twisted by knaves to rouse the tabloid press,
Then read those things that prove you are half-witted
And sue for the emotional distress.
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on glamour, glitz and gloss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings –
Publicity can minimize your loss;
If you can force your heart with nerve and sinew
To seek exposure when you only bore
Then just hold on, for there is nothing in you
Except the Will which only asks for ‘More’.
If you work crowds to keep
your name before them,
Or meet with Stars, nor lose the common touch;
If foes or friends say you’re just sad, ignore them-
What matters is, you love yourself so much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
seconds worth of press control-
Yours is your World, and all the tat that’s in it;
You’ll have celebrity, but not your soul.
Silly Verse for Sensible Kids 1.
I’ve written a number of poems for children. I like the bizarre, the strange
and the outrageous almost as much as they seem to.
the Witches Charm Club
Roll up to our stand at the Halloween Fair,
There’s a welcome for one and for all.
Join our Club!
Such a chance is uncommonly rare -
You can park your brooms free by our Stall.
In the past, all us witches have got a bad name
For the magic we use on our foes,
Like making them sick, or go bald, or get lame,
Or have chilblains on some of their toes.
We have de-railed train-sets and
lost Barbie dolls,
And frightened young children with bats
Or giants or goblins or spectres or trolls,
And alarmed them by wearing black hats.
We’ve made times of darkness seem terribly scary,
Cut pumpkins with frightening faces
And conjured up beasties both long-leg’d
Which go ‘BOO!’ in unusual places.
What’s more, we’ve been always presented as though
We are ugly, bad-tempered old crones
With straggly hair turned as white as the snow
And our bodies like bags of old bones.
WE ARE FED UP with this!
The new image we seek
Is to CHARM our way into society,
And do good to our neighbours each day of the week.
We’ll use magic with total propriety.
We will dress ourselves tidily, shampoo our hair
And we’ll speak in the gentlest of tones;
smile, and with grooming and cosmetic care
We could look like the young Zeta Jones.
We will cheer up a brother or sister who’s crashing
Or chucking your toys down the pan,
And by magic we’ll either stop anything smashing –
Or mend it again, if we can.
And we’ll BANISH all
ghosties and ghastly faced ghouls
Who can cause quite unwarranted fears,
Along with the realm that the Goblin King rules,
And the pixies with long pointed ears.
And we’ll magic each meal so that children will say
That they LIKE what they’re given for dinner-
So the small ones will flourish; the rest, by the way,
Who have lived on just crisps, might get thinner.
And we’ll even help Grown-Ups, especially these
For whom memory only gets worse –
We’ll find out by magic where Dad put his keys
Or what Mummy
has done with her purse.
So – THAT’S our new Club. Slogan?
LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
For the wrong way can only cause hitches.
From this moment on, we’ll be good and polite –
Join our Charm Club for Modern Young Witches.
Poems for Places 1
I like writing about places, but instead of just describing them or attempting an 'evocation' I like to use the nature of the place to make some general point - I thought of calling
this 'Progress'! I'm using the same form as You Eat What you Are, which suits this theme.
The Road to Bath
Galloping down from the northern perimeter
Straight across country on well-mettled road,
Comes a Centurion, telling of victory
Over an enemy covered in woad:
Speeded on his course by a frequent change of horse,
Ignoring Aquae Sulis and a taste of home,
Reporting to Corinium, headed for Londinium,
the glory of Imperial Rome.
Trotting at leisure by way of the turnpike,
Wary of highwaymen, armed just in case,
Come the nobility, clergy, gentility,
Dressed a la mode and trimmed richly with lace:
beat a steady path to the pleasure spa of Bath,
For a fashionable season flaunting fashionable cash -
The humble and the haughtier, courtesan and courtier,
Praying for approval from the great Beau Nash.
convoy the length of the motor-way,
Bumper to bumper in unending line,
The children are car-sick, or bored and obstreperous,
Everyone programmed like gadarene swine:
Hoping they can pass just an hour or two of class,
ancient culture and the aura it assumes -
Then, purchasing a present with a view of Royal Crescent,
They’ll head for home, surrounded by monoxide fumes.
Poems for Places 2.
Sonnets can also be used in a much lighter vein. This is part of a collection of twenty four sonnets I wrote about the people and places in the Cotswolds. There is a certain rugged individualism about about Cotswold folk which is often more impressed by
the things that matter locally rather than those in remoter corners of the world.
Chipping Campden is an ancient Cotswold
Wool Town, and amongst its hearty country traditions is the Dover's Hill Games - a sort of local olympiad featuring such traditional sports as Shin-kicking.
Let other people range abroad and seek
A world-wide stage to try and make
Let Hellenes hold their Pan-Hellenic Games
And let the world enthuse as Greek meets Greek -
We have no wish to
occupy a peak
On Mount Olympus to observe the shames
Of foreign failures, or the counter-claims
Which say the victor was
a drug-raised freak.
Away with them! Good Cotswold folk can go
To Chipping Campden's Games on Dover's Hill,
And care about who loses and who wins -
It's better far to settle matters so.
And if you really wish your neighbour ill -
No problem: go and kick his bloody shins.
I have written a number of verses for children, and some of them have been illustrated in pen and ink. Unfortunately, I can't reproduce the illustrations in
this format (unless anyone can suggest how I can do this) so you'll just have to make do with the copy.
Silly Verse for sensible Kids 2
Trouble in the Channel
The fishes in the Channel
Were in a mood for play
For the breeze was warm and gentle
And the sun had shone all day
And the ferries going out to France
Were scarcely late at all
So the passengers weren’t seasick
To the great relief of all.
But suddenly, a Hake sped up
And said, “Just East of Sark,
As I came by today I saw
A blooming Great White Shark –
He’s heading up this way. LOOK OUT!”
The Hake could hardly speak,
But a wise old Crab just commented
second one this week -
It must be Global Warming
Or something of the sort;
The stupid shark thinks it can come
Much further than it ought.
Something must be done,” it said,
then there was a pause,
And when a Sole said, “Yes – but WHAT?”
The Crab just waved its claws.
The fish were justly terrified
For later or for sooner
The Shark would come and feed on
From Sardine up to Tuna.
But then a Dolphin had a thought,
And Dolphins, you may see,
Aren’t really fish at all, but more
Advanced like you and me.
The Dolphin said, “You
know, a Shark
Will not allow a rival.
It seems to think another Shark
Will threaten its survival.
I know a wreck where I have seen
A great big Mirror lying –
If we can lift it up, I have
A plan I think’s worth trying.”
They found the mirror, stood it up
And waited for the shark
Who didn’t come the whole day through,
And then it got too dark.
day saw the Shark appear.
It was of ‘NORMOUS size,
It had a hungry look and Malice
Glinted in its eyes.
The Dolphin swam right up to him
And said, “NER NERNY-ER
YOU ARE A FLAT-FACED
GREEDY GIT –
THE FISHES ALL CONCUR.”
Behind the mirror then he sped.
The Shark, all FURIOUS,
Began to charge, when all at once
His eye saw something curious –
he saw a RIVAL Shark
Approaching him at speed.
He wasn’t having THAT, and thought,
“A challenger, indeed.
I can’t have that. I’ll stop him dead
And never let him pass.”
He reached top speed, and then
His nose crashed into glass.
His face was flattened, teeth knocked out,
His eyes began to pop-
He was concussed, and his great fin
Went wobbly at the top.
“These waters are too dangerous,”
The fishes heard him say
As he shook his head and turned his tail
And sadly swam away.
The fishes cheered like anything
And none of them forgot
That Dolphins are quite clever
But the Great White Shark is NOT.
It’s been a long day. Somehow, I believe
I’ve done more good than harm, where I’ve had scope;
But forcing me to look for a reprieve
Is just a cruel, pointless sort of hope.
I only hope to die.
I cannot live
In any way that’s meaningful to me -
Can’t move, can’t talk, can’t eat, can’t laugh, can’t give,
Can’t read, can’t hear, can’t write, can’t walk, can’t see.
The pain that racks my body I can take -
Relief is quick, well-meant and coldly kind
And sometimes works; but nobody can break
The unremitting anguish of my mind.
It’s very late. I’m not afraid of night,
So, if you love me, please turn out the light.