6 NOVEMBER 1999, Page 82




IN COMPETITION NO. 2109 you were asked for some octosyllabic couplets in the ingeniously rhyming style of Samuel Butler's Hudibras.

Life's too short to read the whole of Hudibras, but I've dipped into it in my day and enjoyed the contortionist antics — the rhyme ode, on — black pudden' for some reason specially pleased me. Despite my caveat about politics last week, some of the best entries were fired by faction, the other popular subject being Tracey Emin's slut- tish bed ('Where's the talent? Where's the craftwork/ In such a boring, trite and daft work?' asked Basil Ransome-Davies.) He, Paul Griffin and Alanna Blake are unlucky this week. The prizewinners, printed

belqw, take £25 each, and the bottle of the Macallan Single Malt Highland Scotch whisky goes to Ralph Rochester.

When Nato leaders spurned Defence, Peeved that they'd let slip their Chance To prove how Missiles and smart Bombers Could save the Western World from Commies, And, firm resolved to try Aggression Against some none too friendly Nation, They set their sights on bad Behaviour In what was left of Yugoslavia, Where, having made Pretence of Barter And issued canting Ultimata, They flew into their righteous Rages And bombed into the Middle Ages

A sorry State they might have bought

For half the Monies they gave out.

And here's the Rub: we who afford them Are now expected to applaud them.

(Ralph Rochester) As Deputy, that standard token, They put Old Labour's favoured bloke in: Bluff John it was, a man whose talents A row of beans would counterbalance. But hardly had he been installed Before his bluff was truly called.

He'd earned his rise by keeping mum, Yet when he spoke he seemed more dumb. However much he huffed and blustered He clearly couldn't cut the mustard,

And pleas that all his plans were thwarted Left no one moved, far less transported. Half-baked soundbites were his chef d'oeuvre, And making jams was his preserve.

All conservation meant, in fact, Was how to keep his job intact.

(W.J. Webster) Released from icy, long suspension, You stun our boggled comprehension.

Some lucky herdsmen, tending reindeer, Deduced your carcass still remained here From one gigantic tusk projecting, That mutely begged its resurrecting.

Now, should your matted hair prove dryable, And permafrosted sperm yet viable, Girl elephants, with stolid patience, Shall wait their turn for impregnations;

Or, cloned by scientists more subtle,

Your feet again on earth may scuttle; Once more your voice, so wild and won- drous, Which terrorised surrounding tundras, Will ring, from Yucatan to Yarmouth, With echoes of our woolly mammoth.

(Godfrey Bullard) Young Hudibras would wax impassioned 'gainst everything he deemed old-fashioned. To left and right he swung his sabre With cries of born-again New Labour Like 'young' and 'new'; and he could say 'em With all the fervour of a Graham.

Alternately he'd scourge and please us; You would have thought he was New Jesus.

At fetes and functions he would mingle and Allay the fears of middle England.

They lapped it up; he could bamboozle 'em From Brave New World to New Jerusalem.

But to appease the lower classes, He kept one tribune of the masses, Rotund of jowl and broad of waistcoat, His sturdy Sancho Panza, Prescott.

(Noel Petty) The aim of our supreme magician Is simple: power is his ambition. He's a past master of illusion; His sleight of hand creates confusion. If things go wrong, he's no apologist: He's an accomplished escapologist. His minions study polls and focus And all the arts of hocus-pocus, But one thing's sure, he's not to blame: There's always someone else to frame. Avoiding parliamentary scrimmage, He concentrates upon his image. His final trick is to disarm Opponents by his boyish charm.

An expert prestidigitator, He hopes to be our first dictator.

(Geoffrey Riley) When civil faction, running high, Inflamed each heart to do or die, Sir Mandy donned his trusty armour, But hardly made the waters calmer.

The media he trounced in rare style (Even deployed his leader's hairstyle) And showed a really quite sans gene itch To see his fame enshrined at Greenwich.

But scandal rose, and, to his woe, Sir Mandy's arms were deemed de trop.

Ten months he sat with brooding, fell eye, Awaiting some new cams be& But — just to show how Fortune's box is Piled high with quirks and paradoxes - This eagle, near a year unfed, Became a dove of peace instead.

(Chris Tingley)

No. 2112: Molto serioso

For a change you are commanded to keep straight faces and write a serious poem with the title 'Childish Fears'. Maximum 16 lines. Entries to 'Competition No. 2112' by 18 November.