24 AUGUST 1985, Page 36


Queer trades


In Competition No. 1383 you were asked to provide two additional stanzas to the song which the White Knight sings to Alice in Through the Looking-Glass.

A popular competition but not an easy one, for Carroll's insouciant looniness is well-nigh inimitable. Most of you dogged the Master's footsteps pretty closely, some of you almost galling his kibes. Although, when I checked with the original, I found to my surprise that not all the stanzas featured four different rhymes, in choosing the winners I inclined towards those who did it the harder way. Good Dodgsonian efforts came from Frances Rhodes, E. L. Bellwringle, D. A Prince, A. J. Wyborn and Mary Holtby. The most haunting quatrain was offered by Philip Nicholson:

I fashion clockwork clergymen And gyroscopic cats, And sell them off to lonely souls Who live in high-rise flats . .

The winners below get £8 apiece, and the bottle of Veuve Clicquot Gold Label 1979 Vintage Champagne (the gift of NERA) goes by a dyed green whisker to D. B. Jenkinson.

He said, 'I boil up rhubarb seeds And make a cleansing soap To shave the bearded men from Leeds Who join the Band of Hope.

I undo patchwork quilts and put The pieces into bags And then I walk to town by foot To sell them off for rags.

Or then again I may see fit To cure a hand of pork By weaving daisies over it And dusting it with chalk.

But if the daisy-chain should snap I mend it with a splice Or else consult a railway map.'

I hit the old man twice. (D. B. Jenkinson) 'I cultivate cork billiard cues,' He said, in porridge mines, And weave from them stout walking shoes In which my landlord dines.

I have a little side-line in Second-hand rhubarb leaves And from such cast-offs neatly spin Nets to catch marrow thieves.' But I was forming an idea To build a steam-fed rocket, And so, by travelling less dear, To save somewhat my pocket.

I cuffed him with a peevish jerk To rouse his aged brain:

'Look here, my man, what is your work?

I won't enquire again.' (Charles Mosley) I gather up street-hawkers' cries And stew them, mixed with simples And pumice-stone — which brew supplies A sovereign cure for pimples.

I unexploding bombs design, And flightless planes, and handy Ways of turning turpentine To choice Napoleon brandy.

I plan to pave the Grand Canal With paisley-printed lino Or — if you think that too banal — To ride a howdahed rhino Through Cheltenham and Bath to sell Nouns of the third declension, And present participles as well, To swell my meagre pension. (Jonathan Femside) He said, 'I comb the icy deep Of subterranean lakes To gather wool of mountain sheep And bake it into cakes.

Some say 'tis good for falling hair And some for housemaid's knee. Pray buy some, sir; six pence the pair Or five for one-and-three.'

But I was working on my scheme To rid the earth of moles By pouring strawberries and cream Down vacant rabbit holes.

I seized him roughly by the ears And gazed into his eye, And asked again in rage and tears, 'What is the trade you ply?' (Noel Petty) He said, 'I fish for floppy discs In garbage chutes and bins, Preserving them in North Sea oil, And packing them in tins.

I export these to foreign lands For roubles, marks or yen; And when I'm short of Krugerrands, Why, I begin again.

I manufacture kedgeree By shredding bowler hats.

It sells so well because it's free From saturated fats.

And this is why I can afford My annual package tour, And why I am extremely rich, While evidently you're . .

(W. S. Brownlie) 'I melt a snowball down,' he said, 'And fasten it with wire, Then balance it upon my head And let it out for hire.

I sometimes speak in village halls In Mandarin Chinese, And when in time my lecture palls, They pay me off in cheese.

But I am thinking of a plan To get a small advance By teaching judo in Japan, Or selling frogs to France.

Or else, I'll preach that greed is sin And God loves those who give, Then watch the cash come flooding in, And that is how I live.' (Roger Woddis)