11 APRIL 1998, Page 58




New directions


IN COMPETITION NO. 2028 you were invited to take the first line or two of a nursery rhyme and add your own untradi- tional further lines.

The practice of disrespectfully altering nursery rhymes is long-established. My mother, an American, regaled me early with 'Mary had a little lamb/Whose fleece was white as snow./She took the lamb to Pittsburgh,/And now look at the damn thing!' Later I came across Carroll's 'Twin- kle, twinkle, little bat!/How I wonder what you're at!/Up above the world you fly/Like a teatray in the sky.' And only last month I discovered that Housman, too, had been at it: 'Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet/ Opening her mouth very wide./There came a great spider; she opened it wider;/And the spider ran down her inside.'

This week's entries were of such a high level that I stand aside to make room for the maximum number of prizewinners (printed below), who get £20 each. The bottle of The Macallan The Malt Scotch whisky goes to Giles Ewing for his tragi- comic offering.

There was a little man and he had a little gun And his bullets were made of lead, lead, lead; He was feeling rather cruel, so he went into a school — And the blood of little children was shed, shed, shed.

There was another man and he had a power gun And he drove to the town shooting wild, wild, wild; So everyone that day became his luckless prey There were men and there were women and a child, child, child.

Now we hear that little boys are treating guns like toys And shooting little girls through the head, head, head; They fall, like in a game, but they don't get up again - And their families all mourn because they're dead, dead, dead. (Giles Ewing) Sing a song of sixpence, A pocketful of rye,

I bought it in a Health Shop I thought I ought to try.

I could have made some biscuits, I could have made some bread, But 'I'll make pumpernickel,' I most unwisely said.

Even the birds refused it! Well, Dr Johnson won; 'Never do things', he used to say, 'To prove they can't be done.' (0. Banfield) Old King Cole was a merry old soul And a merry old soul was he, Until the attack by a ravening pack Of militant bourgeoisie. Monarchism, they said, is outmoded and dead, Its cost is a public disgrace; To curtsy and bow is unthinkable now, A nod must suffice in its place. And so it went on till all grandeur was gone And, demoted to plain Mr Cole, He lives with his mate on a council estate And campaigns for a rise in the dole.

(Philip A. Nicholson) Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross To see a fine lady upon a white horse With rings through her nipples, Her tongue and her nose, Tattooed on her shoulder Two skulls and a rose, A stud in her navel, Six more in each ear. It's amazing her horse Hasn't bolted in fear. (Rosemary Fisher) Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard To fetch her poor dog a bone, But a neighbourhood snout, lurking about, Put through a call on the phone.

'Re Hubbard, Inspector — I strongly suspect her!

The fragments the canine's dispatching Support my belief that she's harbouring beef With portions of ribcage attaching.'

So they called CID, MI5, 4 and 3, And the Minister too, with his driver, And the courtroom was booked, but they'd quite overlooked That the dame was a sly old survivor.

When they raided the place, there wasn't a trace—

It was barer than Lady Godiva. (Michael Lee) Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Certain not to miss a trick, Jack the Ripper, Jack of Hearts, How you polished off those tarts! Tumbling on the hill with Jill, Or trying to find a giant to kill, Shinning up a beanstalk now, Sprinkling frost on every bough, Over supper eschewing the fat, ' Leaving it for Mrs Sprat, Jack of All Trades, Jack the Lad, Part folk hero, part folk cad. (Esdon Frost) Fire! Fire! said the town crier; Where? Where? said Goody Blair; Down the town, said Goody Brown; It's against the law, said Goody Straw; It's just a racket, said Goody Beckett; I'll go and look, said Goody Cook; Where is my waistcoat? said Goody Prescott; I'll put my sandals on, said Goody Mandelson; We mustn't funk it, said Goody Blunkett; I'm sure we can bowl 'em, said Goody Mowlam; It's a doddle with knobs on, said Goody Dobson.

(E.F. Bradford)