29 SEPTEMBER 1984, Page 37

No. 1337: The winners

Jaspistos reports: Competitors were asked for a tribute, in verse or prose, to grace the memorial to a departed pet.

A huge entry, proving that foreigners are right either way: we are the most animal-loving, or animal-hating, nation in the world. Ruthlessness and sentimentality ran riot. There were a lot of Harry Gra- hamish verses in which 'cat' rhymed with 'flat' or even laundromae. Crocodile tears were shed for a piranha. Two fleas were deeply lamented. On the sloppy side, the `walkies' and `dinns' school of sensibility provided memorial matter which would have looked quite at home in Waugh's Happier Hunting Ground where, you will recall, the stricken owner of a pet barbary goat was comforted with a card reading: 'Your Billy is remembering you in heaven'. The prizes go to those who chose not to abandon feeling entirely in favour of wit. Eight pounds apiece to the first five win- ners and five to the other three.

I pitied you, poor little bird, With your chatter so absurd, Copying each foolish word,

As you, unwilling celibate, To soothe your solitary state Peered in your mirror for a mate.

Now, though you lie beneath this stone, To avian Paradise you've flown, No longer captive and alone.

But I live on within the cage Of loneliness and crippling age No word or mirror can assuage. (O. Smith) He was a cat, take him for all in all, And had a cat's proclivities. He purred, Ate, fought and slept, responded to my call Or not, as took his fancy. For a bird He'd shed a thousand years in one tense bound; To shocked young eyes I'd plead that, though a pet, His nature was his own, not to be found In human attributes. And yet . . . and yet He had a sense of humour, that I'll swear, And tolerated love. And so Amen: Though other cats may occupy his chair I shall not look upon his like again.

You barked when I wanted quiet, You gorged when I wanted diet; You teased when I wanted servility, (Noel Petty) You bred when I wanted sterility; You cocked when I wanted dry, You slumped when I wanted spry; You fouled when I wanted beauty, You lapsed when I wanted duty;

You took when I wanted giving,

You're dead when I want you living.

(Tim Hopkins) 0 Rover, you've wolfed down your last piece of Pal, Which your long, active life so prolonged, And your basket is bare, and there's no neighbour shall Be around with some bitch which you wronged.

And stilled is the switch of your vigorous tail, As you lie buried deep with your bone; Now the maudlin old man who delivers the mail Isn't prone to a mid-morning moan.

You were all over town with a bound and a bark, And the sausages strung from your jaw; Now your whole whirling world has gone dreary and dark, And you'll be a wild Rover no more.

(Llewellin Berg) To the Memory of Tristram A Deeply-Loved and Exemplary Tortoise Whose Deliberate Gait throughout a Long and Tranquil Life Proved often Cautionary to Hosts Otherwise Undone by the Fatal Precipitancy Of the Human Condition; Whose Carapace offered a Salutary Reminder Of the Value of Hard Indifference To the Beguilements of a Deceitful World; And Who enhanced the Blest Spirit of Hospitality By his Practice of Hibernation Whereby He regularly relieved his Hosts of his Presence For a Certain Tactful Term in every Year.

(John Digby) My goldfish, I'm sure, should have belched Just afer he'd been overfed.

I squeezed him a bit, but he squelched, And now, sad to say, he is dead.

I can't raise a monument yet Although I intend to, one day.

They've banned me from keeping a pet And Matron has flushed him away.

(Mary Ann Moore) I remember and am glad For the happy walks we had, Your wild bliss at being out, Scents for which you rushed about In an ecstasy of nose With the world a wine or rose. (George Moor) Our tabby exercised her guile, Caught him, and played a cruel while.

Now here he lies, and need not cheep Between the kindly paws of sleep. (Paul Griffin)