An Arctic blast came rasping
through my squalid little home,
carving gelid pathways
through my brittle little bones.

It tore the sheeting from my roof,
and scalped me as it raged:
now I sit here naked-pated
in my empty little cage.

Overhead, I see the stars
— they seem frozen just like me:
just how squalid does it get
in God’s awful axletree?


The poet & his neighbours

He sits around at home all day,
staring into space,
wearing silk pyjamas
and a scowl upon his face.

— It’s true I don’t go out much,
I stay in my own place,
but I don’t wear silk pyjamas
on my face.

The little kids are scared of him,
they call him ‘Bugaboo’,
and of course he lives alone,
odd as a boot and a shoe.

— I used to have a beldam
who shared my hearth and home,
but you won’t know what odd is
until you’ve met that crone.

He doesn’t have a TV,
doesn’t use the internet.
I’ve heard he reads a lot of books,
so what would you expect?

— Most people’s lives are not like mine;
I sometimes wish they were.
Then they might start to understand
why I just do not care.

How to grow old

Oh I do like reminiscing
about everything that’s missing
from life today compared with yesteryear.

Them was the Good Old Days, them was,
we was poor, but we was pos
— thinking back, I often shed a tear.

Everyone was happy,
from the hangman to the chappie
who worked all day for breadcrumbs and warm beer.

I remember my dear mother
— can there ever be another?
how she loved the pain of childbirth, every year.

My old Dad jumped from Vauxhall Bridge
— endless debts and endless kids,
but still we always wallowed in good cheer.

The Vicar told us God above
looked down on us with burning love,
so we grinned all day like morons, ear to ear.

I feel sorry for the kids today, in the ‘Information Age’,
cos if you can’t delude yourself, you’ll never reach old age.


Absolute crackers

Cheese and crackers make a snack,
but can they fill a void?

— Depends on its dimensions:
how big is it? How woide?

I have in mind an average void,
measured lengthways, soide to soide.

—  In that case, cheese and crackers
can surely be deployed.

But then, which cheese and crackers
are best to fill a void?

— Always go for gluten-free,
the doctors haven’t loid.

Bath Olivers or Grahams?
How would you decoide?

Should a tangy plum-based chutney
be served up on the soide?

Should the cracker pierce the Stilton
as the bridegroom does his broide?

— There are some conversations
that it’s better to avoid.



Let’s turn to Herman Honeypot
and ask if he has thought a lot
about the plight of lemurs
in Lahore:

‘Don’t talk to me of lemurs,
those Devils of Lahore!
I’ve thought of nothing else
since I was four.’

‘When I was four, in Lahore,
my nana said to me
‘See the cutesy lemurs,
now ain’t they fun to see?’

‘Just then a mangy lemur
leaped right on top of me,
grabbed me by the twemlows
and sneered with vicious glee!’

‘Since then I can’t come eye to eye
with lemurs in Lahore.
Imagine being twemlowed
at the ripe old age of four!’

Oh the dangers of the talkshow!
We’ve touched a painful spot!
Let’s leave it now, and thank our guest,
Herman Honeypot. 

Spring is sprung

Professor Delmar Delagrange did something really very strange
last time he snuck in here for cakes and ale.

He said ’Now that spring is coming and the hedgerows all are humming,
why don’t we stop pretending that we’re sane?’

‘Why don’t we just come out and say that we’re as mad as Hogmanay,
or (better still) those scholars from Louvain?’

Then Delmar rose to his full height, and bidding Biddy bring a light,
he strode up to the bar and grabbed the rail.

With one prodigious leap — like a dolphin from the deep —
he stood up on the bar and wagged his tail.

‘I’m as mad as any zany from the land of Cockamamie,
and now that spring is sprung I’m off the scale.’

Then Delmar did a drunken dance, dropped his drab scholastic pants,
and cartwheeled off the bar — to no avail.

The floor rose up to meet him (as if it were to greet him),
and he cracked his skull against a metal pail.

Then Delmar, overwrought, crept like an afterthought,
across the floor and out, like a snail.


The poet bemused

Leonora Casteneda
has been on the phone once more,
looking for more syllables
to add to her rich store.

I said ‘Leonora, Ma Tresora,
don’t you think you have enough?
Imagine if your moniker
was Dee or Dolly Duff?’

‘Don’t syllabalise to me, young man!’,
said Leonora, tartly.
‘If you do, you’ll lose your Muse,
and I don’t mean partly.’

Ok, Mizz Casteneda,
anything you say!
I’ll try to find more syllables
to bedeck your sobriquet.

And so the search continues
in the Land of Logopeda.
Who’d want to be a poet,
with a Muse like Casteneda?

Up and down the shelves I squint
from A to Zarzaroma.
Who’d want to be a poet,
with a Muse like Leonora?


Folly whacked

Whack fol-de-dido,
whack fol-de-day,
whack fol-de-diddle-o,
and whack fol-de-day.

These and similar diddly-doos have been foisted on us for centuries, especially by purveyors of traditional folk music, aka sheep-shaggers.

So it falls to me, your humble servant, to whack the folly from such metrical inanities, and to restore propriety, decorum, and seemliness to our musical lineage.

So here goes:

With a rinky-dinky-do
and a rinky-dinky-day,
come all ye lads and lassies,
and listen to my lay!

[Catweazle has left the building.]

Captain Tandy addresses his crew, Portsmouth Harbour, 12 May AD 1846.

Welcome aboard, men! We’re about to cast off on our great adventure! But before we do, remember this:

A ship without men is like a dog without a tail. A dog can’t wag its tail if it hasn’t got one, and a man without a ship…. I mean a ship without a sail can’t wag the dog, in either direction. No! A voyage like ours calls for loyalty, paternity, lobotomy, deuteronomy — all the things we’ve cherished since boyhood, all those years ago, when we were callow lads up to no good behind the….  And just as a boy loves his dog, even if it has no tail, a sailor loves his ship, even if it has no boy.

And remember this too, men: The sea is a cruel mistress. Oh, by G—d, she is cruel! She grabs a man by the twemlows and never lets go. Yes men, it will be a long voyage and a hard one. That much is self-evident!  But we must never forget…. never forget!…. that victory is the handmaid of hard work, and hard work maketh the man, and the man is mightier than the sword that launched a thousand ships that pass in the night. In the words of Ebeneezer Squeeze of Yarmouth….

We’re losing the light, Captain. 

Thank you, Mr Pilbeam. That’s right: Boozing at night will not be permitted on board, at any time! Any man found innoculated will be hanged from the topgallant, and any man who is not hanged will be incarcerated by the light of the silvery moon that passeth all understanding. Yes, very soon, by the light of the moon, we’ll cast off upon life’s great ocean, like a dog without a pail…. a boy without a tail…. a pale moon shining on the silvery sea, so bring back my bonny young lassie to me. In the words of Philip the Flippant of Flanders….

Cast off! Cast off!

….and all who sail in her.


Music in time

The moon is a boon
when you croon a tune,
but you lose the boon
if you croon at noon. 

You see, a boon may be said to arise
from the confluence of moon and croon,
whereas the confluence of noon and croon
gives rise to no comparable boon.

In short, while the Boon-Croon Hypothesis
is accurate as far as it goes,
the non-confluence of moon and noon
limits its application, as everyone knows.

All together now:

The moon is a boon
when you croon a tune,
but you lose the boon
if you croon at noon. 


Old friends

Who remembers Giltrap,
with his coat of emerald green?
Who remembers Carson,
the Rogue of Aberdeen?

Who remembers Twemlow,
the Bozo of Belize?
and who remembers Pilbeam,
with his pants around his knees?

They’ve all gone into the solving dark,
and I’ll come shuffling after.
Soon we’ll gather round Hell’s fire,
and kill ourselves with laughter.



Benny Gorgonzola
(yes, like the cheese)
has brought the Metropole Hotel
crashing to its knees.

Not content with crackers
and a range of zesty dips,
he now demands Marsala grapes
— at his fingertips!

Six waiters and a pageboy
are searching high and low:
One has gone to Trapani,
another to Bello.

‘I know the grapes I’ll give him,
if he comes round here again:
The grapes of wrath will sear a path
through Benny’s abdomen.’

So be careful what you order
when you’re at the Metropole:
Just eat the goddam crackers
and cheese-parings in a bowl.



Honeyfritz Belmondo has escaped the old plantation!
Shield your dams and daughters and send warning to the nation!

When Honeyfritz is on a blitz (like Mankovitz before him),
he rages like a cariboo — no mortal can ignore him.

He’s armed to the teeth from top to neath with mail and bristling armour.
If he spies a beldam, he’ll be ravage-bent to harm her.

Searchlights sweep the darkening air, seeking out Belmondo’s lair.
Snarling dogs and barking men comb the byways and the fen.

Honeyfritz, oh Honeyfritz! why must you with your cunning wits
cause havoc, wild dismay, and devastation?

— I just like the exercise, bracing air and open skies,
plus I’m out of rose hip tea at the plantation.


Tell you what

A frowsy dratchell meets a drab fustilugs in Fosdyke Drive.

— Awright?

— I could just as well be a feather duster.

— Yes, and I could just as well be a dried fig.

— We’d be better off on Delmar’s Freeway, where the morning sun caresses and soothes the harried hag.

— Not just the harried hag, but the bespattered beldam too.

— Tell you what: you be a frowsy fustilugs and I’ll be a drab dratchell. Then we could head over to Fermor’s Fields, or even the Dreyfuss District.

— Or…. you be a harried hag and I’ll be a bespattered beldam. Then we could trip the light fantastic either at Holden Hall or in Busby’s Boulevard.

— Oh, the horror of choice!

— Tell you what: we’ll have a word with Catweazle. He needs all the help he can get today.


I was fossicking for fennel
when I fell into a floe,
fifty feet below the fen
and filled with freezing snoe.

‘’Sno use’, I felt, ‘to fulminate
against my f—ing luck:
I’m fated now to die here
like a friendless f—ing schmuck.’

Just then a voice from far away
and from across the years:
‘If you use that word again,
I’ll fustigate your ears!’

’Twas the voice of my dear mother,
from the long ago.
She’s the one who sent me out
for fennel in the sno.

The calculated life

I’ve always been artistic
and really quite refined.
My tea is sweet verbena
and my socks are satin-lined.

One likes to nibble fruitcake
while one reads the New York Times,
starting with the book reviews
— their critics are sublime!

They tear an author’s work to shreds
in calculated prose,
while I nibble on my fruitcake
and scratch my knowing nose.

It’s not an easy life, of course,
the life of the aesthete,
but it helps to nibble fruitcake,
and wear satin on one’s feet.