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!

A limerick a week #203

Make mine a Corona

So, we ventured south from Aberdeen to see the Matriarch in Kendal.

We did so a day before details of the Scottish city’s booze-enabled coronavirus outbreak emerged and we head back there in a couple of days to a city that is now in lockdown.

Aberdeen’s Rabelasians and homonyms don’t mix!

And it’s all because some folk are selfish enough or arrogant enough or ignorant enough (or all three) to dismiss infection controls as irrelevant to them. Meantime, they (and others) forget or don’t care that drinking alcohol lowers inhibitions and leads to bad decisions about the need to maintain social distancing. So they crowd together in queues or head off on pub crawls.

Well, who’d have thought it?

Punters queuing at Prohibition in Aberdeen

There once was a virus that spreads
So fast that everyone dreads
To see in the news,
The crowds and the queues
Of some socially clustered p**sheads.

A limerick a week #202

Ain’t that the dog’s bollocks!?

Lines inspired by a regrettable but necessary visit to the vet…

Today has been quite a shocker
For Rolo, the chocolate-brown cocker,
‘Cos the unhappy mutt’s
Lost both of his nuts.
No wonder he’s gone off his rocker!

Postscript: a similar fate previously befell my ice-cream buddy’s rabbit, Kratos. You can read about it here.

A limerick a week #201

Wor Jack’s deed

As my Kendal-based Geordie mother is the nonogenarian Matriarch of the British side of my family, I have, in recent years, had to accompany her to a number of funerals in her native Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as those of her generation have died before her (‘before’ as in ‘pre-deceased’ not ‘in front of’). Consequently, I know the area around the Whitley Bay and West Road crematoria rather better than I would wish, particularly as I hardly know the rest of the city.

On such occasions, once I’d met up with the Matriarch in Kendal we had a 100 mile drive to Newcastle, so we usually set off in good time, which, on an early trip to the West Road crematorium, is how we discovered what became for us a modern tradition: a pre-funeral ‘greasy spoon’ lunch and cuppa in what is now Margaret’s Café in Fenham. A seemingly unprepossessing little place, but I rather like it, and it has a 5 star food hygiene rating to boot!

Anyway, the reason for this funereal discourse is that I read in Newcastle’s online daily, the Chronicle Live, that the recent funeral service for the Leeds and England footballer, Jack Charlton, was held at the West Road crematorium. I suspect there were no takers for a pre-service cuppa at Margaret’s that day, but as a widely-revered and down-to-earth ‘local boy’, it strikes me as much the sort of place that he may have frequented, if only very occasionally.

High intensity training circa 1970…

The Leeds United of Charlton’s era was, in today’s terminology, an ‘uncompromising’ team (if they couldn’t stop ’em, they’d chop ’em) and due to his stature and elongate neck he was often baited as a’ big dirty giraffe’. He later proved to be a hugely successful manager of the Irish soccer team where his success and ‘man of the people’ persona endeared him to the nation.  Unlike his famous uncle, ‘Wor Jackie’ (Jackie Milburn – a three times FA Cup winner with Newcastle in the 1950s), Charlton never turned out for the Toon, but it was still nice to read of him being remembered in the north east as ‘Wor Jack’.

Here’s the limerick:

There once was a tall centre back
Who cut-down his opponents’ attack
Fans said, with a laugh,
“He’s a dirty giraffe”,
But full-time has now blown for Wor Jack!

Postscript: ‘Tis a little known fact that Wor Jackie was actually Wor Jack’s first cousin once removed, not his uncle as usually stated.