24 OCTOBER 1998, Page 74


Double troubles


IN COMPETITION NO. 2056 you were quoted the lines, 'The trouble with gerani- ums/is that they're much too red./The trou- ble with my toast is that/it's far too full of bread' and invited to write a poem in the same metre detailing other 'troubles'.

The quoted lines are from A Book of Nonsense consisting of poems and drawings by the late Mervyn Peake, just published by Peter Owen (paperback, £7.95). I recom- mend it as a tiny Christmas present.

The trouble with competitions is, they're so damned hard to judge. Just out of the frame were Paul Brummell, Nicholas Hodgson, W.J. Webster and Mike Morri- son, whose last misanthropic quatrain gave me a pleasant frisson:

I'm up to here with decent people, Sick of sound advice;

The trouble with the human race is Most of it's too nice!

The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, and the bottle of The Macallan The Malt Scotch whisky goes to Patrick Smith.

The trouble with a hat is that it sits upon your head.

The trouble with alternatives is that they are instead. My trouble with excess is that I have to have too much.

I'm troubled by the Netherlands — it's just that they're too Dutch.

The trouble with a cat is that it's too feline by far.

The trouble with phenomena is simply that they are.

What troubles me about a horse (its equine quality) is like the trouble with myself — it's far too much like me. (Patrick Smith) The trouble with a mirror is What stares you in the face; The trouble with the sky is that It takes up so much space. The trouble with a baby is It's only just begun; The trouble with a shadow is It's lost without the sun.

The trouble with the songbirds is The birdsong that they sing; The trouble with the winter is It always ends in spring.

The trouble with a memory Is what it can't forget; The trouble with the future is It hasn't happened yet. (Godfrey Bullard) The trouble with Will Shakespeare is His plays are crammed with quotes, And Mozart never could resist A plethora of notes.

Apiaries and aviaries Just swarm with bees and birds, And has the OED not tried Economy of words?

Television fare is spoilt By far too many cooks; The British Library's late on-stream Through keeping all those books.

The trouble with the ocean is It's always full of seas.

So, those who wish to see the wood Should overlook the trees. (Esdon Frost) The trouble with Australians is Their speech is too Australian. To other English-speakers their Diminutives sound alien. The trouble with position is Its length: you pick a possie To sprawl and tan on Bondi beach Clad in your swimming cossie. The trouble is that hospital Can tongue-tie an Australian, And as for hysterectomy — Far too sesquipedalian!

The trouble for benighted Poms: Interpreting the Aussie Who tells us that his missus had A hyssie in the hossie. (Ray Kelley) I've had today the kind of day When nothing will go right. I rose to find the sky too blue, The sun uncouthly bright. The water, when I ran the shower, Was dreadfully aquatic; My sponge was holed, my aftershave Barefacedly aromatic.

On foot, I found that gravity Sucked me towards the ground, And when I took a cab its wheels Seemed lamentably round. And so it went; even my nip At bedtime turned out faulty: The ice too cold, the glass too clear, The stuff inside too malty. (Noel Petty) The trouble when the sun shines through Is that there's so much light.

The trouble with the moon is that It will come out at night.

The trouble with a mixer is Its irritating stirring.

Regular meals? The trouble is They just won't stop recurring.

The trouble with a hammer is It hammers down so hard.

The trouble with a yardstick? Hell, The bugger marks a yard!

The trouble with a foaming pint Is all those rising bubbles.

The trouble with my Prozac is — Well, you run out of troubles. (Chris Tingley)