ISLE OF I
IN COMPETITION NO. 1998 you were given a rhyme-scheme and invited to write a poem about 'Crime'.
My little joke was that the rhymes came from The Faerie Queene (Book VII, canto vii, stanzas 51 and 52), where the crooks are not people, not even shepherd's equip- ment, but 'tricks'.
Bill Greenwell went for Ronnie Biggs, who 'lost his luck and his loot and his looks;/Stayed the most self-effacing of crooks', whereas Chris Tingley chosen an ancient war crime, Henry V's brutal behaviour after the siege of Rouen. 0. Banfield, Frank McDonald, Geoffrey Riley and Basil Ransome-Davies were edged out by the prizewinners, printed below, who get £25 each, and the bonus bottle of Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch whisky goes to Giles Ewing for his unex- pected criminal.
Though I dislike it here, it would appear That I have landed quite an easy one. Already I've been fixed up for a year, Got my supplies of pills and snout and gone Into the records as a paragon.
I find my little chances every day, Especially when they let me work alone. Fostering their illusions, that's my way To cause them no dismay. The petty regulations are the most Annoying, so I break them and then square Some of the bendy screws. Equipment lost Can soon be fenced. I'm saving up the fare To Rio when I'm out, for prisons are An opportunity: I cook some books, Doctor reports, but it's hard graft, so spare A thought for me, the Governor, who looks After the bloody crooks.
(Giles Ewing) In published crime statistics, I appear As the exception, the unlucky one: Car broken into six times this past year; Last Tuesday morning both the front wheels gone.
The plumber whom I thought a paragon Drove off with my PC the other day.
Yes, serves me right for leaving him alone.
Down at the crossing — I had right of way - Some fool crashed into me. To my dismay,
I must pay more insurance now than most Of my acquaintances who subtly square Their consciences. I never claim I've lost Anything extra, always pay my fare On bus and train, check that transactions are Not in my favour, take back library books, Turn vigilante when I've time to spare. So why do I get such suspicious looks And feel I'm being numbered with the
crooks? (Alanna Blake) While watching for a punter to appear They sip their coffee, play at twenty-one.
Trade has been rather at a low this year; The Brits are short of cash, the French have gone.
The waiter at the Hotel Paragon, Their friendly fence, is banged up for the day, Which means they'll have to work their schemes alone.
But ingenuity will find a way; They view the prospect with concern, but not dismay.
They sit it out for half an hour at most, And then a tourist wanders through the square. He has that vacant look of one who's lost. Cringing Ruggiero begs 'for my train fare' While confreres note where cards and wallet are, Then later, with their pornographic books, Slyly approach. The john has time to spare; They deftly clear his pockets while he looks. He's just a mug, my friend, and they are merely crooks. (Gerard Benson) However straight strangers appear, you should not trust a single one: in every season of the year what's left unguarded will be gone.
This caller seems a paragon, offering to help you through the day, but, noticing that you're alone, he finds that he can have his way and leaves enriched — to your dismay.
You'll find that what you miss the most, when he outwits you fair and square, is not the money you have lost (you do not grudge him Charon's fare) but all the things you think you are, as mirrored in your favourite books tough hero with brain-power to spare.
Learn not to judge them by their looks: most charming visitors are crooks.
(Sydney Giffard) Fings is not quite as they appear Of truisms, truth number one. I'm serving out my seven year,
But four of 'em's already gone. I weren't no bloomin' paragon Daft-like I cracked a crib by day, And what was dafter, all alone The busies come every which way 'Owlin' to fill you wiv' dismay.
I feels it when I sorrow most Like Tennyson, that old-type square - It's better to have bust and lost And end your days on prison fare Where all the liveliest felons are.
The library has some smashin' books - I reads now, I got time to spare!
One Visitor keeps Giving Looks ...
And half the screws is part-time crooks!