A limerick a week #261

C’est ça

Last September I mentioned that I’d completed four years of A Limerick A Week (ALAW) and that I’d give it another year before downsizing to Occasional Limericks Only (OLO).

Well, today’s ALAW marks five years of The Good, The Bad and The Indifferent. No week was missed and, although one or two were a day or so late, there were several bonus limericks to make up for that (including today!).

I would have liked my last ALAW to be a perfect blend of clever word play, intelligent bawdiness and anapestic correctness, but although I’ve given you two to finish with, sadly neither is that…

It’ll never ever be orthodox
For ‘gateaux’ to be pronounced ‘gattox’
Which just goes to show
Why we don’t say ‘bolleaux’
When he’s told that his lim’ricks are ‘bollox’!

A limericist tried hard to coax
A rhyme that’s so pure it invokes
The most noble of verse,
But his oeuvre got worse
So he quit, saying “That is all folks!”

… for now!


Postscript: there are two limericks that I came across over the last five years, written by others, which, I really, really, really wish I’d written myself. But I didn’t. So, with full acknowledgement that these are the work of others…

… the first, by Mick Twister (@twitmericks), uses clever word play and was contemporaneous with the event that inspired it. In this case, it needs context to be fully appreciated (see pic, below):

A Rotterdam artist’s creation
Prevented a train conflagration
On leaving the rail,
It stopped on the whale,
Which wasn’t its scheduled cetacean.

As good as that is, if I’d only ever written one limerick, I’d wish it was as clever and inventively bawdy as this one (NB, you have to pronounce the name the American way, ie,  ber-NARD rather than the British way, BER-nud):

A cross-dressing monk called Bernard
Dropped dead when crossing the yard.
Post-mortem inspection
Revealed an erection.
It seems that old habits die hard!

(Author unknown to me, but I doff my cap regardless – reply in comments for credit.)

A limerick a week #260

Juiced-up MPs and the bewhiskered nature of scientists…

I once met Austin Mitchell a former Labour MP, who died recently. He had travelled to Aberdeen’s Marine Laboratory soon after the Millennium as a member, I think, of the UK Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on some sort of fisheries fact finding mission. We met with the Committee in the afternoon after it had earlier held talks with leaders of the Scottish fish catching and processing sectors.

Austin Mitchell – described by at least one pundit as the MP for lost causes

The Marine Lab commonly hosted such gatherings in its net store where there was room to set up display panels and examples of different fishing gears. After my presentation I meandered to the back of the room to observe the rest of the event from a distance. Soon after that I became aware of a distinctly inebriated presence sidling up to me. It was Mitchell who, in the vernacular of the day, ‘had enjoyed a good lunch’.

The Marlab net store where its research vessel fishing gears are rigged and repaired

As the presentations continued at the front, he quietly asked me about fishery discards and what did I think of the Norwegian fishery discard ban; could such a thing work in European waters? I whispered that I’d recently reviewed the Arctic Fisheries stock assessment working group report in my guise as the UK member of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management and told him it made clear that its catch data were quite uncertain due to unreported (illegal!) landings and an unknown quantity of discards despite the discard ban.

I explained that the true discard rate was unknown because the Norwegians had no means to measure it. Their logic seemed to be that discarding was not allowed, ergo it wouldn’t happen, ergo there was no need to monitor it (they do prosecute a handful of cases each year, but inspection and monitoring are quite different activities with differing requirements and processes).

(To be fair to the Norwegians, the discard ban is accompanied by a package of permanently or seasonally closed areas, and some real-time area closures when the likelihood of catching undersized fish or exceeding legal by-catch limits is beyond some specific threshold criteria.)

Anyway, I finished by telling Mitchell that the Norwegian scientists knew as well as I did, and as did many others, that when it came to disposing of any unwanted or illegal catches “in Arctic waters the nights are long and the waters deep!”.

Mitchell guffawed loudly and exclaimed merrily (and just as loudly) “Ah, not just a scientist, but a poet as well!”.

After that he nodded towards a couple of scientists and engineers at the front, and jovially asked “Do you have to have a beard and be bald to become a fisheries expert?”

Some famous bearded scientists. Can you name them?

As I also had a beard, but had not yet started to thin ‘on top’, I told him a beard was mandatory, but that baldness was optional (like integrity in politicians, but I lacked the courage to say that).

There once was a drunken MP
Went to a marine lab to see
If all scientists were weird
And bald with a beard
And they were, I’m sure he’d agree!

Postscript: I found an interesting quote on the current status of Norwegian fishery discard estimates. The relevant paper explicitly includes unknown discard rates in the estimation of total unreported landings; an acknowledgement that Norwegian fisheries and their management are not as virtuous as their sanctimonious political headlines would sometimes have us believe!

Clegg, T.L., Kennelly, S.J., Blom, G. et al. Applying global best practices for estimating unreported catches in Norwegian fisheries under a discard ban. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 31, 1–23 (2021).


A limerick a week #259

It’s Tina Sparkle!

There can only be one candidate as the subject of this week’s ALAW…

The Fruity Rumba, a dance second only to the Bogo Pogo.

Yup, Michael Gove, a UK Government Minister and former ‘stardust’ devotee, has found a new way to relax after a hard day in the office by dancing his own steps on an Aberdeen techno-club dance floor.

Here’s the limerick…

A Minister once set out to prove
That when dancing he’d cut quite a groove,
But a gauche hedonist
When outré and pi**ed
Is nowt but a tw*t on the move.

A limerick a week #258

The rhythm section…

Although I can’t take part in my regular tap dance class while I’m out of town, I still see its WhatsApp group messages.

So, having recently said ‘cheerio’ to our previous instructor, Gillian, we have now welcomed Chloë as her replacement.

Some of the class had seen my farewell limerick to Gillian and wondered if I’d manage a rhyme for Chloë. That’s my kind of challenge…

Don’t shush me! I’ll make all the noise I wanna!” – Daffy Duck

There was once a young man called Joey
Who wanted to tap dance and so he
Put on his new Blochs
And some music that rocks
And ball-changed with a lassie called Chloë.

A limerick a week #256

Oh look – it’s raining

Some words that came to mind on a fleeting visit to the English Lake District where it started lashing it down on first sight of the fells…

Nuff said!

The Lake District has what it takes
For holidays, trips and short breaks
But try not to frown
When it’s pi***ng it down
Cos it’s the rain that makes all the lakes


Postscript: the ‘Bergen’ joke (also applicable to the English Lake District):

Tourist. Hey, tell me, does it always rain in Bergen?

Bergen resident: I don’t know, I’m only 35

A limerick a week #255

🎶…Leaving on a jet plane…🎶

Long story short, my 93 year old mother has been stranded at my sister’s home in Europe for the best part of a year due to Covid travel restrictions.

Brexit, of course, means that Brits cannot remain within the continent’s Schengen zone for more than 90 out of any 180 consecutive days, which is why it’s a surprise to me that the Matriarch has been allowed to stay post-Brexit for 218 days (and counting).

Anyway, she has now been ‘asked’ to leave by the end of August, which is why I’ll soon be travelling south from Aberdeen to meet her at Edinburgh airport, before taking her on to Kendal and assuming residence there myself for a couple of months (or more) to help her settle back in. Fortunately, recent relaxations in the Covid guidelines mean that she will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days on her return, nor me with her.

All of which loosely (incredibly loosely) has inspired this…

There once was an expat felt thwarted
When his ‘leave to remain’ wasn’t sorted
And as things then got worse
He soon started to curse
The ba****ds that had him deported!

Postscript: Talk about ‘boomerang’ kids. Here’s me, retired yet soon to reoccupy my childhood bedroom whilst once again living with my mum. Je suis a boomerang boomer!


A limerick a week #254

🎶Raindrops keep falling on my head🎶

My young border collie doesn’t like getting wet and is certainly not a fan of heavy rain (despite being a four seasons breed!). She was distraught this week when the fine weather broke and the heavens opened.

Why does it always rain on me…

That’s when you discover how irksome it can be that an energetic, outdoor-loving and highly active pooch can prefer to remain indoors when it rains, but refuses then to adopt the altogether less-wearing persona of a calm and peaceful companion dog.

Anyway, despite her protestations, needs must, so she was walked in the rain and has, no doubt, been plotting her revenge ever since.

A young dog once thought it remiss
Of its owner to simply dismiss
Its pleaful refrain
To stay out of the rain
When ‘il pleut comme une vache qui pisse!’

A limerick a week #253

Ear, ear, what’s all this then?

I’ve had an ear-worm for the last three days and, “no”, you won’t find it on any online list of the 100 or more most difficult songs to get out of your head.

It’s a song that I first heard as a pupil at Kendal Grammar School a long time ago. My first year class was 1T. The ‘T’ stood for Talbot as Bob Talbot was its registration teacher. He was better know to the pupils as ‘Greb’ (no, I don’t know why either) and, in that first year, our music lessons comprised us caterwauling to the words of a school songbook.

Now, Bob was a young teacher and a nice bloke, but, in a sign of the times, he had us sing along to songs such as Jamaica Farewell and Mango Walk in a pseudo-Caribbean accent. That wouldn’t be acceptable now, quite rightly, but I’d take issue with folk that said it wasn’t acceptable even then. Greb and his pupils were complete innocents in those days and the pernicious and unintended consequences of that kind of thing were wholly unknown to us.

Anyway, my current ear-worm is neither of those tunes, but it was in the same book as them and is a song adapted from Jacques Offenbach’s operetta Geneviève de Brabant by Henry Farnie (thank you, Wikipedia, for that info). I’m not sure that younger folk would know it these days, but the song is The Gendarmes Duet.

It came back into mind earlier this week as I was watching the 1991 film Hear My Song, a comedy about the Irish tenor Josef Locke. I googled Locke while watching the film (as one does these days) and came across a recording of his version of The Gendarmes Duet.

In remembrance of my less-than-musical youth I then rather foolishly listened through every other recording of the song that I could find; hence the ear-worm. IMHO Locke’s version is by far and away the best. It is sung with Rose Tynan which is unusual as it is scripted as a duet for two men.

So, I guess I’ve only myself to blame for my 3-days-and-continuing ear-worm! Still, it has inspired this…

There once was a fellow who said
“I’ve a song on repeat in my head!
That ear-worm seems,
To have messed with my dreams
Becoming a nightmare instead!”

Postscript: I have tried to  reinterpret the lyrics of The Gendarmes’ Duet from the perspective of my dog, Callie Bordeaux. Here is Callie Bordeaux’s “Chanson de Deux Chiots Chien de Berger”

A limerick a week #252

An uncivil serpent

There was a widely reported story this week of a 65 year old Austrian gentleman who sat on his loo only to have his naughty bits ‘nipped’ by a albino reticulated python. The snake had apparently escaped from his neighbour’s reptile collection.

Crushed nuts, sir?

Pythons aren’t venemous, they constrict their prey, so perhaps the chap was lucky that anything that dangled was only nipped and not crushed!

‘Tis surprising the fate that befalls
An unwary chap in the ‘stalls’
‘Cos what can he do
If he sits down to poo
And a snake sinks its fangs in his b***s?