A limerick a week #181

Dr L Rouge, PhD

And in today’s news it was announced that Nottingham Trent University is to carry out a study on the effect of vehicular traffic on hedgehogs. Given the number of flattened specimens that litter the nation’s roads, I suspect someone might be in line for a PhD thesis that simply comprises a statement of the bleedin’ obvious!

I’m rather fond of hedgehogs because of a familial connection. You see my paternal grandmother was one. More precisely, she was a Ježek, that is she was born in what became the country of Czechoslovakia and her Czech surname  translated into English as ‘hedgehog’.

They even brew hedgehog beer there, at the Pivovar Jihlava (Jihlava brewery). As a hedgehog is the symbol of Jihlava, a town found between Prague and Brno, its Ježek lager represents the soul of the brewery.

Another Ježek is the hedgehog in the cage, a Czech puzzle that comprises a small sphere with protruding spikes of various lengths contained within a cylinder perforated with holes of different sizes. The challenge posed by the puzzle is how to release the sphere (the hedgehog) from the cylinder (the cage).

The Trent research isn’t, of course, as trivial as the puzzle or even observing the effects of a 4×4 on an individual hedgehog, but a broader study on the cumulative impact of traffic-induced mortality on the demographics of localised hedgehog populations and whether there is a way to mitigate that through developments in road engineering (ie hedgehog tunnels) or by defining hedgehog-friendly ‘best practice’ in town and country planning. (According to the BBC news website, a study from 2016 estimated that around 100,000 hedgehogs are killed each year on UK roads.)

Nevertheless, rather than await the outcome of the academic research, here is my five-line thesis as a statement of the bleedin’ obvious that tells you all you need to know…

The impact on hedgehogs of traffic
Is to screw up their whole demographic
‘Cos a sickening SPLAT
Soon renders them flat
In a scene that is gruesomely graphic!

Will it qualify me for a PhD d’you think?

Postscript: The eagle-eyed will have noticed that the current ALAW and its predecessor, both have splat and flat as the rhyme in the third and fourth lines albeit in a different order. This purely coincidental and, as a former collegue once stated “Coincidences are the most paradoxical of things – they should never happen, but they always do!”.

A limerick a week #179

On relationships going south…

Mid-february in Aberdeen is not the ideal time to have a new boiler installed. My strategy for dealing with the inevitable disruption and the loss of central heating and hot water was to order in some extra logs and coal.

Management’s solution, along with The Tall Child, was to book flights to Australia and leave me to it.

I’ll leave you to decide who was the wisest!

A chap was once given to wonder
If he’d made an almighty blunder,
‘Cos he stayed on his own
In a cold Scottish home
Whilst the others bu****ed-off Down Under! 

Worth another look…


I was apalled to see Nigel Farage wearing an over-sized poppy in the run-up to Rememberance Day. His were not the values that so many lost their lives for.

So, why not click on the headlines, below, for a reminder of the life of a man who served in two world wars, a peace-loving, true gentleman and internationalist; a man that was the polar opposite of those whom the Scottish actor Brian Cox has described as “The opportunistic clowns of Brexit, Gove, Johnson and the little Englander Farage and the feudalist Rees-Mogg”.

The eleventh of the eleventh

The eleventh of the eleventh plus one

A limerick a week #103

TopGran vs the POTUS

A short verse* inspired by the family’s nonogenarian Geordie matriarch who has crossed both the Atlantic and the American continent to holiday in California (with a cautionary note to their President given her penchant for challenging gabshite Americans to a fight).

Howay man, I’m gannin awaw
To the distant American shore,
And I’ll gan proper radgie,
Wi’ that tangerine gadgie. 
Whey aye , man; I’ll give him ‘what for’!

TopGran and her wingmen! (Pic courtesy of the Joneses.)

best read while effecting a Geordie accent. 

Quotes that made me laugh #49

When I was a kid my dad used to take me to watch Kendal United play football. That was because a doctor had told my folks that, as an ill child, I needed lots of fresh air.

I was probably about six when I came home after one game and asked mum “How old do you have to be before you can swear?”. Her reply was “You’re never old enough!” and that was when I ratted on him: “But daddy swore today!”. (I think he’d said ‘bloody’ – serious stuff, eh?)

Karma came back and bit me on the a**e many years later when I momentarily forgot The Tall Child was in the car when, in complete exasperation at the antics of a lorry driver, I less-than-silently mouthed “Oh, for f**k’s sake!”. It didn’t take long before I was ratted-out in turn when we returned home: “Mum! Dad said the F word!”.

And that is why I laughed out loud when I read the BTL comments that followed the online Graun’s review of Harlequins’ poor showing in rugby’s Aviva Premiership this year. It’s the last line that made me chuckle …

A limerick a week #85

33,000 not out!

The Matriarch was 90 at Christmas, but we couldn’t all make her ‘do’ in Baden Baden, so we arranged a get-together at Whinfell Center Parcs to celebrate her 33,000 days-old anniversary on 29 April.

And thus the Aberdeen branch of the family got together with her over the weekend along with her Geordie relatives. The lodge we stayed in came with a chalk board and chalks. Here’s the results…

Actually, the party was swell!

Her birthday meal was booked for 8.30, but she mis-remembered and thought it was for 6.30. Fortunately we all got there at the right time, but not before it inspired this rhyme (based on an original idea of The Tall Child). The rubbing-out and inserted text demonstrate something of the limerick writer’s thought processes…

And here is the group photo (sadly missing the cousin who took the pic) with the family surrounding its Matriarch in the centre…

A limerick a week #81

Pogonophobia? It’s infantile!

Firstborn had her nose put out of joint last year when we were together in a café and a baby at another table kept smiling at me and not her. After last week I now know how she felt because it was then, along with the tall child, that she was the focus of my one year old great-niece’s attention when the best that I got from our extended family’s latest arrival was a look of sheer puzzlement.

Even that was a temporary blip; a minor departure from the infant’s contemplative looks that opined “What is that? Can I trust it? Hmm, I’d better steer clear of it!“. The consensus view was that the little one was a wee bit uncertain about a bloke-with-a-beard (okay, very uncertain!).

My own dear mother once looked at me and said that she saw a wolf’s head, so perhaps my beard and the little one’s upbringing in the shadow of Germany’s Black Forest psychically brought to mind the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, and with it a fear of all things lupine. Who knows? But it was kind of cute, if a little demoralising, to a clearly not-so-great-uncle.

Meantime, Management suggested the experience could inspire the next ALAW, so here goes:

There once was a baby that sneered
When her bristly great-uncle appeared.
Which led him to infer
That she seemed to prefer
Her playmates to have less of a beard.

Postscript: According to the Massive Phobia website it’s a real thing:

“Pogonophobia (po-go-no-fo-be-ah) is the irrational and persistent fear of beards. Its opposite is Pogonophilia, a love of beards or bearded persons.

While beards are often viewed as a sign of ruggedness or manliness, they are also sometimes associated with illness, misfortune, homelessness, etc., leading fearful individuals to think of bearded men that way.

The root word ‘pogono’ is Greek meaning ‘beard’ and the word ‘phobia’ comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning ‘fear.'”

A limerick a week #68

Words spoken, but not quite in jest

A recent Graun review of Jon Richardson’s comedy and our own escalating plans for a kitchen renovation came into conjunction this week.

Richardson’s comedy is often based on his obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hypothesizes two types of people: Putters and Leavers. Putters, as the name suggests, put away things that are left out (compulsively in Richardson’s case) and Leavers are, of course,  the folk that leave things hanging around until a Putter comes along.

Richardson’s partner, the comedian Lucy Beaumont, is a Leaver and this conflicts with him domestically and is where a lot of his comedy arises. In our family we reverse the rôles, with me the Leaver and Management the Putter (Me: “Where’s my [insert any item that was left lying around]?” She:I moved it!“).

Meanwhile, on the kitchen front, our plans include provision for a dog bed in the utility room, and this reflects our continuing conversation about getting a dog when I retire, which is where things crossover into Richardson’s world of Putters and Leavers. Discussions about how a dog would fit into the reshaping of our kitchen moved on to it being trained properly and that made me think: Is it possible to train a Leaver to be a Putter and vice versa?

I speculated that to avoid domestic disharmony, I could try to train Management to be a Leaver or she could try to train me as a Putter. In fact, it would be quite funny if we both tried successfully to train the other and managed to reverse our rôles. Her response was cutting: “Just you train the dog and leave me to train you!

I know my place!

A puppy’s most likely to chew
A slipper, a sock or a shoe
But as you are slovenly
 I’ll tell you (quite lovingly)
“You train the dog; I’ll train you!”

A limerick a week #67

Veni. Vidi. Vinum! I came. I saw. I drank!

My sister has a labrador retriever called Benjo. I was mulling this over the other day as I am 18 months into a two-and-a-half-year conversation with Management whether we should get a dog when I retire.

Labradors (retrievers or otherwise), spaniels (springer or cocker), trail hounds (a Cumbrian speciality), beagles and border collies have all come under consideration and a collie is now favourite.

We saw one, a real character, at the local rehoming centre the other week; an eight-year-old called Sam. Sadly I was still too far off retirement to try for him, but we were pleased to see that he didn’t have to wait long to be rehomed by someone else.

So what have dogs got to do with the header for this post? Well, Firstborn returned from my mother’s 90th birthday celebration with this pic of my sister laying into some wine …

Run out of rosé? Easy – just try equal parts of red and white!

… which, firstly, inspired this week’s ALAW:

An artist of sorts she just shrugs
When told to use glasses not mugs
“I’ve got the capacity
To drink with rapacity”
She said as she showed off her jugs!

and then it made me think. She shouldn’t have a labrador retriever. What she really needs is …

… a Bordeaux collie!

A limerick a week #66

Happy birthday (tomorrow), mum!

A few lines of verse in appreciation of nonagenarian matriarchs …

We have fathers and sisters and brothers,
Uncles and aunties and others
But now mine has reached ninety
We think it’s a mighty
Good thing we’ve especially got mothers!

Grandma K who is 90 years old tomorrow (or 1,079 months or 4,696 weeks or 32,872 days). On 29 April 2018, she will be exactly 33,000 days old!