Fan food

Not for me the curried goat
or even roasted grebe.
I’m a strictly veggies man
— I only eat dried weeds.

Seasoned with paprika
and the dillweed aromatic,
dried weeds indeed can surely feed
a Bedlam of fanatics.

The convert

Ali Aqbar Flanagan
was weary night and day,
for all his herd of camels
would stray, and stray, and stray.

‘Come back, yis blasted hump-backs’,
was Ali’s constant cry.
‘Don’t run in all directions
beneath this endless sky’.

‘Amn’t I bendin’ over backwards
to give yis a good home,
with every creature comfort
bar th’electric telephone?’

‘Ungrateful shower o’ feckers,
and blackguards of renown,
I should’ve stuck to horses,
for they never let me down.’


Conquering love

They say that true love conquers all,
though I have my reservations.
And so would you if shared with you
my beldam’s consummations.

We’ve all seen horses in the act
and mostly wish we hadn’t.
Imagine that with layers of fat
and reams of thermal cladding.

Now tell me true love conquers all,
and doesn’t make you ill.
If my beldam doesn’t turn you off,
then nothing ever will.

Territorial twitchings

A fully-grown caddow can easily overcome and kill a chough or a magpie, but such contests are extremely rare in nature. Laplace cites only one instance (near Bruges, in 1911), and even then, experts doubt that it was really a caddow, but more likely a jackdaw, or perhaps even a burl-chough.

Of course, Laplace was known to be ‘a bit of a drinker’, and he had a whiskey nose that glowed at night, sending flocks of birds to panicked flight. He wouldn’t know a caddow from a burl-chough if they presented their business cards at the door. But I digress.

The jackdaw (Jackus dawus) is very territorial, and will defend its genetic investment to the death. In contrast, the burl-chough (Chuffus burlus) is not so tough and won’t engage in physical stough, though it has been known to mock the caddow’s tail in a good-humoured way. According to Pilbeam’s Birds of the Copse & Glade, the element “burl” in the name derives from the adjective “burly”, but this is juvenile and ridiculous.

You see, like Laplace, Pilbeam struggled for years with alcohol and drug abuse, and was often heard imitating the call of the woodspurl in the undergrowth at Balmoral. Allegations of pederasty against him were unproven at the time of his death (though there’s no smoke without fire). But I digress.

Bird fanciers are a race apart, united by a inexhaustible passion for ruffling feathers.


A night out

So there I was in Lisson Grove,
no money for the bus,
my mobile out of juice
and fairly fit to cuss.

No friend was near, nor stranger,
past midnight, all alone,
I crawled the hapless pavement
in search of hearth & home.

Just then a flashing light appeared,
white and blue in hue,
and then my hand descended
on a size-twelve leather shoe.

The policeman was a friendly chap,
we shared a joke or three;
when I woke up my sorry butt
was locked in Cell Block C.

The right thing

I try to do the right thing
if the right thing can be done,
but knowing what the right thing is
bepuzzles everyone.

For instance, when my beldam slips
and falls in snowy weather,
should I laugh my ass off,
or run out to try and help her?

Cos if I run I might slip too,
— aye, there’s the rub! —
No, it’s best to laugh my ass off
from my seat inside the pub.

Peace & jelly

Jebsen’s Juniper Jelly
is a jelly of renown.
Don’t leave home without it,
or you’ll let your tastebuds down.

Now a disappointed tastebud
might seem trivial to you,
but it has been implicated
in the start of World War Two.

If only we’d had Jebsen’s
at the Palais de Versailles,
we might well have avoided
all that nasty brigantaille.

Each time you witness mayhem
and destruction on the telly,
you may be sure that someone
has forgot the Jebsen’s Jelly.

So don’t leave home without it,
or we’ll know who to blame
when all the world collapses
into Satan’s searing flames.


Nothing nouveau

Would you like a cooling sherbet
or a tangy ginger pop?
Just let me know your preference
before we leave the shop.

— I’d like a lemon twemlow
with a pecan glaze on top.
What chance of such a dainty
in this here common shop?

— You won’t find any twemlows here
(the shopman speaking now).
Sherbet and pop is where we stop
— twemlows is too highbrow.

— Oh let’s go elsewhere, Mater,
What an odious little man!
Let’s pootle round to Harrods
in our nouveau riche sedan.

And so la mere et fils depart
leaving shopman in perplexion:
‘Fie upon your twemlows,
and your nouveau riche confections.’


Move along

Move along now, hoi polloi,
there’s nothing to be seen:
the poet is composing
an Ode to Ballantine’s.

Move along, unlettered throng,
let the poet pen his song,
while you hustle with your bustle ordinaire.

Move along now, teeming masses,
rabble of the working classes,
and allow the poet to create his ode.

With your dull concerns and common cares,
you’ll never understand
why the poet has to sleep all day
with a bottle in his hand.



Let’s see if deep-fried macaroons
can tempt the bunman down.
He’s been holed up in the pantry
since he rampaged through the town.

‘Has all passion been exhausted?
Have you vented all your cream?
Must the inoffensive townsfolk
hide behind protective screens?’

— Just bring the goddam macaroons
and then I’m outta here!
And back off with the cochineal:
you’ve ruined my baking gear!

And so our tale draws to a close
(and not a jot too soon)
a tribute to the toothsomeness
of deep-fried macaroons.


The shed

My money has all gone
and the beldams have all fled,
but I’ve still got my hearing aid,
my crutches, and my shed.

My shed looks out on Dover Beach,
I watch the lapping tide.
The summer sun embraces me
like a faithful bride.

For company, the seagulls
and the rhythm of the sea;
for memory, the beldams
who all abandoned me.

In company

I was polishing my veneer of respectability when the phone rang:

— Hey, are you free tonight?

— Why?

— There’s a party at Twemlow’s, 8 till late. Come and join us.

— Who else is going?

— The Chief of Police, two High Court judges, a slew of MPs, maybe some future bishops. Oh, and that guy who does children’s television.

So I figured, ‘I’m almost out of polish anyway, so….’

London landscaping

The jaconelles are blooming on the lawn,
while festal fermels frolick neath the fay.
And high above, the carlous galders hum,
and yelms of boisome redferts join the thway.

So now I have decided that the jaconelles must go,
and the festal fermels just get in the way.
Brand-new tarmacadam, from the doorstep to the road
— I could rent it out for sixty quid a day.


Dog days

Let’s see if Selwyn Cardew
can do any better:
Can he imitate a greyhound
or an Irish setter?

Oh dear, that’s not convincing,
and his lips were seen to move.
Lock him in the dog house
till his canine riffs improve.

We might have to go with Pimlico Joe
and his hairy Belgian beagle,
or use a pre-recording,
though it’s not entirely legal.

‘I can do a Catahoula cur,
if that’s any help,’
pleads Selwyn from the dog house,
but no one hears the whelp.


Travel talk

While travelling among the Mahoutis of Nyasaland, I picked up a rich vocabulary of terms relating to goats’ milk.

Their ‘eerggect’ is similar to the Eritrean ‘aergget’, though the second vowel is unstressed. Macauley has ‘earget’, but this is spurious. Among the Popadoms of the southern region, the term is applied to the inner skein that remains in the lacteal gourd after primary lactation in the beazer (or bezoar) goat.

Be sure to tune in next week when I’ll be discussing the vocabulary of masturbation among the early Phumblings of Phoenicia.


The poet in port

On my visa application it says ‘Occupation: Poet’, so the Immigration Officer said:

— Oh yeah? Wot you wrote then?

Well, ‘The Ballad of Elmer Twilb’ is one…

— Seriously? You wrote ‘The Ballad of Elmer Twilb’? Oh my God, I love that poem!’

Then he turned to a colleague at the next counter and shouted: ‘Oi, Ralf, this is the guy that wrote ‘The Ballad of Elmer Twilb’! No kidding!

His colleague hurried over, saying, ‘The Ballad of Elmer Twilb’! Oh my God! You wrote that?

Very soon a small but noisy crowd had gathered around me: handshakes, smiles, selfies.

Then the first Officer said: ‘I don’t mind telling you this: I cried…. like a baby!’

The second Officer began reciting from memory: “The burnished urn that holds the hallowed clay” —‘ God, I love that — ‘burnished urn’ — marvellous!’

1st Officer: So, where do you get your ideas from?

Self: Well, it’s very hard to say, they just… I can’t really say.

1st Officer: You must know where they come from. Can you be more specific?

Self: Not really, no. They just sort of, you know…

1st Officer: Evasive, Ralf?’

2nd Officer: Failure to disclose.

Long story short,
I got myself deported.
Leaving on the next plane,
‘Application unsupported’.

The casting

Let’s see if Twemlow’s grasp on life
is tenuous or firm:
just aim between his eyeballs
and then we can confirm.

Ok, that went fairly well,
confirming what I thought:
the scumbag just lay down and died
— of courage not a jought.

Try poisoning him with strychnine
(though the method’s antiquated):
once again the spineless wuss
has just capitulated.

He seems to have no will to live
but yearns for the beyond,
and so it’s clear that Pilbeam
must be the new James Bond.