A limerick a week #213

Tiers of a clown…

So, Boris Johnson and his UK government continues with its impersonation of a headless chicken trying to grasp at straws whilst dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. His ‘world beating’ test and trace system has risen to the giddy heights of having had only “a marginal impact” unlike, say, Germany’s which has been much more successful.

And now we have a new flagship policy by way of a tiered approach to local lockdowns. It’s a policy that has set the north of England against the south and one that northern leaders are refusing to support or communicate to the affected populations; indeed, Manchester’s mayor has stated that he will not let the region’s people be canaries in the coalmine.

So much for a flagship policy! It may prove to have beneficial attributes, but the way that it has been developed and enacted has been counter-productive to say the least. Conversely, it may have an unfortunate historical resonance with Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose. It sank with the loss of hundreds of lives. Only time will tell.

Johnson’s policies all at sea?

I think a limerick is called for…

A sagely scientist appears
To have confirmed the worst of our fears.
He said with a shriek
“We’re all up s**t creek
And it’s bound to end up in tiers!”

Postscript: Having left this week’s limerick to the last minute, I am obliged to Firstborn for suggesting ‘tiers’ as a theme around which it could be based. Parental acclamation radiates from me 😆

A limerick a week #212

The Traveling Dogburys

I can’t abide dog owners that don’t clean up their dog’s mess and I really cannot understand those that do bag it up, but then leave the bag lying around or even hanging off a bush. I mean, why?

{start virtue signalling}
All of which explains why I took a 34 mile round trip to retrieve a bag of doggy-dos that I had inadvertently left behind after one of @calliebordeaux‘s agility classes. I’d put it down by the side of my van while I gave her some water and then promptly forgot about it until I arrived home. Cue a return trip to recover it.
{end virtue signalling}

As well as not understanding some dog owners, there are times that I don’t understand my pup either. She loves to get out and about, but always pretends not to whenever she sees me with her lead and harness.

And then there are her, erm, toileting habits. Most dogs seem to leave a single pile of muck, but not mine. Oh no. She goes walkabout and leaves a trail of messages, each of which needs to be spotted if they’re to be bagged. Still, it has inspired this…

There once was a young puppy who
Had bowels that were somewhat askew.
So she ‘held on’ until
She couldn’t stand still
Then set off on a travelling poo.

A limerick a week #211

Reddy, Steady, Go!

My earliest childhood musical memories stem mainly from three sources:

    • my Geordie grandmother’s record collection (Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, The Seekers, and Frank Ifield yodelling!);
    • my other grandmother, a pre-war refugee, poignantly singing Doris Day’s Que Sera Sera;
    • and my dad’s bass baritone renditions of John Peel’s Echo (“The horn of the hunter’s now silent…”).

During my early teens, this was overwritten by the glam rock of Marc Bolan’s T. Rex, the leather-clad Suzy Quatro (due more to an adolescent hormonal response than an appreciation of her music), and Roy Wood’s Wizzard. However, when my Geordie-born, but Australian-wed, aunt visited the UK in 1976 (’twas the first time that I’d met her), she brought with her three vinyl LPs that she thought we’d like.

The first was Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan’s late-1960s diversion into country music. I think she chose this for a gift as her son was a big Dylan fan and she simply assumed that we too would appreciate it.

The next was Mike McClellan’s 1974 album Ask Any Dancer. His name was new to me along with his folk-pop and country tunes.

Ordinarily, I’d consider it a bit too country-ish for me, but  surprisingly, I rather liked it and when I was thinking of my retirement message to former colleagues (nearly two years ago now!), I did wonder about using a few lines from one of its tracks, Song & Dance Man, as my professional epitaph. It would have been a metaphor rather than something to be taken literally and my rationale for considering it was that when people retire, they are mostly forgotten a lot sooner than their egos would wish!

I won’t ask much of your time
Or that you recall my name.
Fame is just a momentary curse
But if you recall a song or two
That lingers when I’m gone
Then I guess a song and dance man could do worse.

In the end, although true as a metaphor, I thought it was far too pretentious even by my standards and I settled for a more literal epitaph: The lad did little harm.

So, you ask, what was the third of my aunt’s gift albums? Well, again, it was a name that was new to me, but not to the awakening feminist movement of the early 1970s. It was Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits, a compilation album released in 1975 that included the 1971 song I am Woman, a song that had already become an iconic anthem of the feminist movement. Of course I didn’t know that at the time. To me it was just one from a collection of songs that I listened to quite a lot – I was not ‘in’ to analysing lyrics any more then than I am now – at least not consciously.

But there must have been some subconscious analysis going on. In 2017, when a BBC Four documentary chronicled Carly Simon’s late-1972 No Secrets album (the one that included You’re So Vain and turned her into a global star), it heralded her as that era’s feminist voice in popular music. On hearing that, my first impression, correct or otherwise, was that such a mantle belonged to Reddy.

Anyway, this week’s news in the showbiz world was that Helen Reddy had died, aged 78.

So  guess what? Here’s a limerick…

A singer whose voice in the heady
Days of her youth held steady.
But the path that will take her
To now meet her maker
Is here. So, Helen, are you ready?

A limerick a week #210

There’ll be bluebirds over, er, Carlisle!

I’ve always been amazed just how far bird wallopers will travel within the UK to see a rare bird, even if it’s nothing more than a ‘little brown job’.

Don’t get me wrong, I like birds (except those that steal your chips or cr@p on you) and I’ve seen a few that twitchers would love to tick off their lists, including the Guácharo (oil bird) nesting in caves in Trinidad, the rare Jacquot (St Lucia parrot), and a pair of Waved Albatross on Isla de la Plata (the poor man’s Galapagos) off the Ecuadorian Coast. Nevertheless, the Bill Oddies of this world would describe me, pejoratively, as a Dude: “a bird-watcher who doesn’t really know all that much about birds”.

The Jacquot, or St Lucia parrot

Actually, I’m not even a Dude as I’m not a bird-watcher and all my sightings have been incidental rather than targeted, which, I imagine, may upset those in the birding community that have spent a small fortune in their endeavours to see them – and failed. (‘Management’ and I saw the Jacquot on a forest walk whilst holidaying in St Lucia; it astonished our guide who had ‘regulars’ from North America that had tried and failed on several occasions to see a single one – we saw three!)

Anyway, no-one had previously seen the blue and black tropical migrant that was found in Carlisle last week … except it wasn’t. Somehow a gull had been ‘painted blue, although whether it was an intentional act is unknown. I think that merits a limerick, don’t you?

Carlisle’s rarely seen blue gull, Larus argentatus subsp glaucuscumbrii

So here’s to Cumbria’s astonishing birdlife:

There once was a pitiful zoo
Whose birds were a monochrome hue
In an aviary so sparse
‘Twas a bird-watching farce
So they painted a herring gull blue.

Postscript: And that makes four years of A limerick a week without any being missed! One or two came out a day or two late, some were crap, some were ordinary and some turned out well. The ‘context’ and occasional rants were too often too long (JCK pers comm) or, as Firstborn would have it, TL;DR. ‘A prophet is without honour’ as they say, but there’ll be another year of them before I ‘downsize’ to occasional limericks only!

A limerick a week #209

Thanks a brunch!

Regular readers will know that I’m a great fan of the Hatton Locks café on the Grand Union Canal as it approaches, er, Hatton, a small village just west of Warwick. In particular, its bacon rolls and mega-breakfast are to die for (probably literally if you overindulge).

And you get the mega-breakfast for less than a tenner. I make it a ‘must have’ treat whenever I’m in the English Midlands (especially on those days when you can sit outside, enjoy the view, and watch the narrowboats cruise slowly by).

I also rate the various breakfast options closer to home at Aberdeen’s Inversnecky Café – I recommend the breakfast muffin – and I’m a mug for Stonehaven’s Waterfront Café as well. Both are rather old-fashioned, traditional value-for-money establishments, but there’s nowt wrong with that!

So I was interested to read this week that London’s Savoy Grill is promoting Gordon Ramsay’s ‘amazing’ Full English Breakfast. A snip at only £19. Its launch has attracted a lot of flak, not only for its exorbitant cost, but also due to the paucity of product on the plate. I suppose the price is understandable if the Savoy wishes to keep out the great unwashed, but the lack of scran means it ain’t for me anyway.

Perhaps the pic shows a child’s portion?

Still, I remain a big fan of the Full xxxxx Breakfast (insert English, Scottish or Irish, I don’t mind – I’m a great internationalist), but would want something a bit more substantial than Ramsay’s Savoy offering even at half its price (for which you can get the Hatton Locks Café’s extra-Mega-Breakfast). However, as a long-term Anglo exile en Écosse I am also aware of the rather gruesome drink and diet related health statistics that concern Scotland (a sweeping generalisation, I know, but grounded in truth), so, all good things in moderation please!

Here’s the limerick…

An Aberdeen lassie called Becky
Cooked meals at the town’s Inversnecky
Café on the beach
And it’s where she could teach
The Savoy how to make a braw brekkie!

Postscript #1: On the subject of Full xxxxx Breakfasts, when sneaking a peak at Management’s Facebook account (with permission, of course – I’m no longer on it myself), I was intrigued to see this and scrolled through the comments…

I don’t know if the result of the poll was pro- or anti- tomato, but oh boy, most of the comments reflected very strong views on the other constituent ingredients. Clearly breakfasts are things not to be trifled with, but with one eye on my concern over Scotland’s health statistics, the following comment drew a wry smile…

Postscript #2: ‘Scran’, of course, is an old naval term for food, but I never knew until recently that scran spanners refer to cutlery.

A limerick a week #208

How low can you go?

‘How low can you go’ used to be the audience chant at limbo dance competitions. Now it is the astonished proclamation of the less-sociopathic politicos and media outlets in the UK as it appears, from this week’s news, that Boris Johnson, Donald Trump’s wannabe ‘Mini Me’ and the yes men and press men of the UK’s right wing cabal think it’s okay to break international law in pursuit of their nationalistic political ends. 

The Conservative party has been more than willing to garner votes through nationalistic and xenophobic ‘populism’, but there have been honourable exceptions, like this (that I’ve quoted before), from the former conservative government minister, David Gauke:

“A willingness by politicians to say what they think the public want to hear, and a willingness by large parts of the public to believe what they are told by populist politicians, has led to a deterioration in our public discourse.”

“Rather than recognising the challenges of a fast-changing society require sometimes complex responses, that we live in a world of trade-offs, that easy answers are usually false answers, we have seen the rise of the simplifiers.”

“In deploying this sort of language, we go to war with truth.”

Well, it seems that we are now at war not only with the truth, but also with legality and judicial oversight.

Not only is the current UK government seeking to limit the scope of judicial review over its actions, simply as a result of the UK Supreme Court ruling that the Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament for five weeks in 2019 was unlawful, but it is even willing to acknowledge in Parliament that it is putting forward legislation that it knows is in breach of international law.

I’d like to think that most British people would be horrified by this prospect, but as with nationalistic pursuits through the 20th century and into the current millennium, it seems there some, too many, who are more than happy to dispense with any veneer of decency that would otherwise coat them.

That it is happening in the UK now is down to those right wing politicians and their media taskmasters who choose to point the finger of blame for any of the public’s woes at minorities and immigrants instead of at their self-interested pursuit of political dogma-dressed-up-as-austerity since the 2007-2008 financial crisis (itself a product of the business and financial deregulation propounded by the Voodoo economics of Ronald Reagan).

When a government knowingly puts forward unlawful legislation, when it seeks to deny judicial oversight, and when its public accepts it without demur because of entrained and xenophobic nationalism then  at that point, society has become diseased.

Albert Einstein experienced it personally and it led him to say that “Nationalism is an infantile thing. It is the measles of mankind”. It truly is. Unfortunately Johnson and his cronies are now no more than the vectors and political ‘anti-vaxxers’ for this particular disease.

When you thought that it couldn’t get worse
The Tories, it seems, aren’t averse
To breaking the law
With a ‘screw you!’ guffaw.
Those f**kits are wholly perverse!

Postscript: Worrying, isn’t it, that the Brexit nationalists wanted to do away with legal oversight from the European Court of Justice so they could get back ‘our sovereignty’, only to call out British judges in the UK’s (sovereign) Supreme Court for meddling in politics whenever they simply uphold UK domestic law that is inconvenient to the nationalist agenda. Subsequently to seek to prevent future judicial review of governmental actions is Trumpian hubris writ large – precisely the same sort of hubris that interpreted a non-binding referendum on EU membership to be binding and that now sees a treaty signed under international law to be non-binding. 

Not worried yet? You should be!


A limerick a week #207

Hot under the collar

All elective veterinary procedures were in abeyance when my pup was due to be spayed earlier this year. That meant we’d have to live with her going through a second ‘season’ before she could be neutered and, lo and behold, that season is well and truly upon us now.

Several dogs have made overtures but you could tell it was getting serious when she was pursued by an elderly and extremely overweight labrador in the park yesterday.

Marley in hot pursuit…

Marley, for it was he, pants even when walking slowly, so the sight and sounds of him struggling to catch up with a young border collie that was intent on giving him the elbow was something to behold as well as a coronary concern for the adipose old canine.

Anyway, there will be no more off-lead encounters for now and ‘walkies’ at quiet times only. Her ‘young dog’ training class might be fun for the next couple of weeks though!

Here’s the limerick:

A dog was once heard to intone
That she’d rather stay home on her own.
The obvious reason?
She’s come into season
And the boys wouldn’t leave her alone!

A limerick a week #206

Let’s see who this really is!

I bet you wouldn’t know who I was talking about if I name-dropped Norville Rogers.

You may have a better idea if I also told you that he knocked about with Fred Jones and Daphne Blake. No?

OK, another clue: Velma Dinkley was also part of the gang.

For anyone that is still in the dark (surely not), Norville had a pet, a Great Dane, and the four humans comprised a group of ghost-hunters by the name of Mystery Inc and drove a psychedelically-painted van, the Mystery Machine. That’s right, Norville is ‘Shaggy’, the gang of four are ‘those pesky kids’ and the dog is Scooby-Doo!

The cartoon series that feature the foursome and the eponymous dog, first aired in 1969 and is still around along with a host of spin-off productions. However, one of its co-creators, Joe Ruby, is no longer around as his death at the age of 87 was announced yesterday. That’s sad for him, his family, friends and fans, but silver-linings and all that, it gave me a theme for this week’s ALAW…

Young Fred will be feeling quite blue
So will Vilma and, I guess, Daphne too,
‘Cos they’ve just put the skids
Under ‘those pesky kids’.
Shaggy’s gone and so’s Scooby-Doo!

A limerick a week #205

Saving her bacon…

West Berlin fans of Elsa, the wild boar that featured in last week’s ALAW, are aghast at the Grunewald forestry authority’s concerns that she poses a threat to the public and may need to be ‘withdrawn’  (or ‘shot’ for the less euphemistically inclined).


“Hogwash!” say her supporters. Elsa has co-existed peacefully with visitors to the Teufelssee over a long period and they argue that she poses no threat to bathers or picnickers in the area.

They have even mounted a petition to save her. You can sign it here.

Meantime, she’s still making headlines!



I hope it doesn’t end like this:

There once was a sow felt forsaken
When she heard the decision they’d taken,
‘Cos they told the wild boar
That her days were no more
And that soon she’d be turned into bacon!


A limerick a week #204

A twist in the tail…

I was highly amused by media reports of an overweight German naturist who ran nakedly through a picnic site while chasing a wild boar that had run off with a bag holding his laptop.

The accompanying photographs made me laugh out loud…

The runner is a practitioner of Freikörperkultur, FKK (free body culture) whose adherents are apparently known as FKKers…
… and this FKKer eventually got his laptop back!

Here’s the limerick:

A wild boar once tried to elude
A corpulent teutonic dude
Who, strangely enough,
Chased the swine in the buff,
‘Cos he liked to hang out in the nude!