I must remind old Millipede
that I won’t be here for tea:
I’m dining with the Duchess,
my car arrives at three.
I must remind old Shagpile
to put cushions underneath:
at my age being tossed about
could cost me all my teeth.
I must remind old Catflap
to fill the tyres with air:
at my age being tossed about
could cost me all my hair.
And I must remind the Duchess
I’ll be staying till next week:
at my age being talked about
is all the fun I seek.
Though musket and ball upon me fall
I know no fear or terror,
but I am a little rattled
that I got called up in error.
Billy Bob the barber
should be here instead of me;
I’m Bobby Bill the banker,
and I’m nearly 93.
My butler, Buttocks, came to me,
he coughed, he hemmed, he waited,
and when I’d finished Tatler
I said ‘You intoxicated?’
— Oh no M’Lud. You rang, M’Lud?
I didn’t ring.
— I heard the bell, M’Lud.
I didn’t ring.
— Ding ding, M’Lud, as clear as duty.
Time to retire?
— Oh no, M’Lud! I’m fit as a snail!
Ooze away then, Buttocks,
and wait until I hail.
I’ve sat on Buttocks all my life
— devoted, cringing chap.
He’s really quite supportive,
but sometimes needs a slap.
1. What famous actor won gold at the Fox Tossing in Ulan Bator in June 1987?
2. Who said ‘Not now, Sylvia — the scallops aren’t fresh’?
3. In Palaeobathymetry, what is meant by the term ‘now and then’?
4. Who had a Number 1 hit in 1976 with ‘Always the Bridegroom, Never the Bride’?
5. If I have five stoves and two dishes, how many has Rev. Horace Carter of 13 Hanford St, London SE3?
6. Who was Head Chef at the Waldorf Hotel in Zurich during the Great Sandwich Boom of 1911?
7. Why is water so wet?
8. How many sides has an umbrella?
9. According to ‘The Ballad of Stillwater County’, how many goats did Chesapeake Nolan meet at Ottomanopotomac Bridge on his way to the courthouse in Smallweed?
10. Who was the first postman to deliver a baby?
My innards are quite ill today,
my outards not much better:
I rolled back home at 4am,
I tried not to upset her.
But she was lurking by the door
a saucepan in her hand:
early morning practise
for her Me Too Ladies Band.
Christmas is coming
like a Special Bus
for pilgrims to the shrine
of Saint Wayne the Inane
Saint Reese the Obese
Saint Matulent the Flatulent
and Saint Marty the Drunken Party.
Bring me back a souvenir:
an ounce of blessed solitude
to get me through next year.
Let’s see if Captain Manson
has the sense to keep his pants on
when the ladies come for tea and macaroons:
Oh there he goes again!
Captain Manson! when oh when
will you learn to stir the teapot with a spoon?
— It’s how we did it in the war,
no fancy silverware,
and it helped to galvanize the whole platoon.
The ladies aren’t impressed
by your military prowess,
now please reinstate your khaki pantaloons.
— O very well, Mein Führer,
I bow to your command
— but you didn’t say that on our honeymoon.
Oh leave your door ajar for me,
I so adore your jars!
Oh won’t you pour a jar for me
in this, your jarry bar?
But we’re so alike, you and me:
we both like me and I like both,
so won’t you bide a while with me?
I can’t abide your jarring note.
Why come across so cross tonight,
and why be so aloof?
Why not cross the bar-room floor
and pour me a vermouth?
— I won’t leave my door ajar for you,
you’re barred from this day out!
It jars with me to look upon
your jargonizing snout.
How say you ‘jargonizing’,
my barry jarry man?
I’ve seen you bargainizing
with drug dealers and their clan.
— We have a quite extensive range
of beers and fine elixirs:
please take your time to choose one,
and I won’t charge for the mixer.
You’re such a jarry barry man,
as jarry as the rest.
And now it’s time to name the game:
a writ for your arrest.
The ladies love my kiss-curls
and the dimple in my chin.
I’ve only got to smile at them
to know that I am in.
Patience please, dear ladies!
Control yourselves, my loves!
Now who’ll give me ten dollars
for these gorgeous oven gloves?
I’d sell my five Picassos
and my Silver Cloud Mark II,
I’d even sell my grandma
just to rid myself of you.
I don’t need to see your bitter face,
or hear your vicious sneers;
I don’t need you in my life at all:
I need an auctioneer.
Chester Field is very old,
as old as Otto Man,
dust beshrouds old Chest O’Drawers
and Con Sole leans on old Di Van.
Patti O’Table’s looking gaunt,
as gaunt as E.Z. Chair.
Davin Port is bowed with age,
but Sy D’Board props him up with care.
There’s camaraderie in old age,
as the heartwood turns to dust.
Arm-in-armoire, on we go:
sofa, so good — but only just.
Let’s see if Boris Johnson
has answered my email:
I asked him if he might prorogue
my time in Durham Jail.
No reply from Boris,
but there’s one from Lady Hale:
‘Beware the long-legged spider,
catchy by the tail’.
I gave my all to Lulu Small,
I couldn’t have been greener.
She said she was a nymph du pave,
I thought she meant a cleaner.
Heavenly bodies up above,
please attend and hark:
I like your sense of duty,
but I also like the dark.
So thank you, Sun, for rising
— your timing’s really ace —
but if you don’t go back to bed
I’ll slap your stupid face.
And thank you, Moon, for rising
— your timing is top-notch —
but if you don’t put out the light,
I’ll kick you in the crotch.
I’d like to buy the world a scarf
and tie it real secure,
then tighten it another bit
until I’m really sure
that the world and all its crudity
can never more spit boorishly
in the face of peaceful angels, like me.
Oh baby, how I love you,
as a horsefly loves a turd.
Only you could tempt me
to use such a word.
Oh baby, how I love you,
as a hammer loves a nail.
Only you could tempt me
to prefer to be in jail.
I’m just strumming on life’s banjo
(I didn’t write the score).
It’s a pretty little ditty,
but I hope there’s no Encore.
I used to fear my future
would be miserable and dark,
an endless coal-black journey
through an endless coal-black night.
I should’ve put some cash on it,
cos it turns out I was right.
There once was a film from Japan
that ran and ran and ran.
It was based on King Lear
(by Shakespeare, my dear)
so no wonder it ran — it was Ran.
See the handsome schooner
as it schoons across the tide:
I’d like to schoon beneath the moon
my beldam at my side.
But soon the moon will sink right doon,
and now it’s bright as noon,
and I can see my beldam
has a face like Sly Stalloon.
I’ve loved you from afar,
for your sub-cutaneous scars,
and the pustules that adorn your
Dermatology is my game,
clear complexions is my aim.
My love for you will always be
I’d love to prick your acne
on a late-night bus to Hackney;
we’d stay on board until we reach the
Then we’d get off the bus
— just the two of us —
and guzzle down a skinful
at the Olde Pig and Pimple.
The Doc asked me if I’d had any contact with frogs recently.
— What you mean?
— You know, frogs.
— Yes, frogs. Ribbit, ribbit!
— Green chaps. Slimy.
Then he starts jumping up and down, skinny legs flexing like an Olympian. Across the floor —ribbit, ribbit! — onto a filing cabinet — ribbit, ribbit! — back to his desk — ribbit, ribbit!
— See? Frogs.
— No, I mean how recently is ‘recently’?
Insert flange A into runnel B, as far as C.
Noting the orientation, slide the top of D into groove E, as far as F.
Join G to H using sprocket I, ensuring a snug fit.
If necessary, re-align runnel B with groove E, to compensate for any shrinkage of flange A.
— I still think making a family was a lot more fun before IKEA.
Blissful coma, be my homa,
keep me safe and warm.
Shield me from that beldam
whose face is like a storm.
Her voice is like a foghorn
that blasts me from a coma,
and I must confess, without duress,
that I prefer the coma.
Wrap me in your pitch-black wings,
I never more will roma.
Just keep that hag away from me,
till I end this silly poma.
Let’s see if Nell Tardelli
has the gall to call again,
after calling Kelly’s Deli
fifty times since half past ten.
‘Must be our beetroot jelly
makes her call continu-elly’,
said the owner
of that busy deli store.
‘Or perhaps our vermicelli
— it sells velly velly welly.
Maybe that’s why Nell Tardelli
calls for more.’
‘Trace the call’, says PC Small,
‘and then we’ll nab Tardelli.
Wait until she calls again,
do nothing illeg-elly.’
And so they wait with ears agape,
patient-elly to sieze her.
The phone rang only once again:
‘I’m in the fff—ckin’ fffreezer!’
from old Hanoi.
Ahoy, my boy,
now don’t be coy!
Don’t ’stroy our joy
and make it cloy!
— I hate to be a killjoy,
(invoys a special envoy)
but I got a message for ya
from the hoi-polloi:
You’re a really lousy poet
and ya really needta know it.
When I go, I don’t want people to mourn. I’ve had a good life, and death is a natural part of that great, mysterious adventure.
Most of all, I don’t want people erecting statues of me in London or New York or anywhere else. They never capture the true likeness, anyway.
Also, no official period of mourning, please. Let everyone remember me in their own private way, how I touched the hearts of millions and brought joy to countless people from all walks of life.
Schools should remain open: the kiddies are too young to appreciate the significance of my passing. They can read about me when they are older, in their history books.
Public transport should run as normal, and all national and regional airports should remain open. Likewise, the Stock Exchange and McDonald’s.
The funeral itself should be simple and modest: just a horse-drawn carriage to Westminster Abbey, followed by an inter-denominational service by the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and Simon Cowell. Heads of State on the left, former colleagues at Harry’s Bits ‘n’ Bobs on the right.
And finally: I don’t want a 21-gun salute by the 4th Artillery Unit at Chelsea Barracks. That would be far too militaristic for someone whose life has been devoted to promoting peace, harmony, love, goodwill, unity, flowers, scented candles, and cuddly toys.
Gone are the days when you could apply a stress-proof sealant to your wife and kids, and leave them for months on end with no worries. Back in the day — before “Government Regulation” — I could spend six months a year in Malibu, lying on the beach, and not worry for a second about my family. That was because of ‘Daddygon’, the stress-proof sealant that “feels like a deal as it seals”. I even got a discount for volume over at Zeb’s Hardware.
But like I say, gone are the days. They took ‘Daddygon’ off the market years ago, when some idjit in the government started going on about “paternity” and “responsibility”. Yeah, right.
So now I get back from Malibu and my family is a real mess, I tell ya. Takes me six months to restore them to their natural condition, by which time I’m bound for Malibu again. It’s a vicious circle and a crying shame.
I went to gloomy Père Lachaise
to mingle with the dead,
to ponder all the books they wrote
and that I should have read.
Oscar Wilde is buried there
(I’ve got his Wisdom of).
Molière is also there,
and Herbie (‘Klutz’) Labov.
Lying in their marble vaults
or under leafy sod,
I like to ask them (for a laugh)
‘Any sign of God?’
I do find graveyards funny,
like a cancer with no cure.
It’s hard to be in earnest
when just one thing is sure.
Let’s see if Ernest Trimble is still as fit and nimble
as he used to be in nineteen twenty-two:
Ernest, can you raise your arm?
— Not since Adolf bought the farm.
Ernest, can you turn your head?
— Not since Lennon was shot dead.
Ernest, can you bend your knee?
— Not since phones were as big as me.
Ernest, can you tie your shoes?
— Not since they cancelled Hill Street Blues.
Ernest, can you… please your wife… somehow?
— Not since 2 o’clock. What time’s it now?
At our local Booz-a-teria
you’ll find Friday night hysteria,
though some of it’s not fit
to put in print.
So if I mention coiffured sheep,
and powdered pigs in corsets,
I hope that you can simply
take the hint.
We’re simple godly folk round here,
‘cept Friday night’s shenanigans.
If you can’t take off your hat to that,
there’s baseball on in Flanagan’s.
‘What more for you can a sweetheart do?’
said Twemlow to his wife.
‘Five times this week and counting,
and more on Friday night.’
But still his eager beldam
can’t get no satisfaction:
‘I need another fifty grand
or I’ll take legal action.’
‘Dash it all’, said Captain Wall,
‘I think I need a snifter.
I spent last night with Glossy White,
then found it was her sister.’
‘It’s alright’, said Glossy White,
‘Pearl and me are kin.
But next time maybe take a look
and see what it says on the tin.’
Bob Dylan won a Nobel prize,
so why’s there none for me?
I’m sure I’ve written more than him,
and I’ve got mel-o-dee.
Why does that prize elude me,
where all my hopes are pinned?
The answer, my friend…
There sat down once a thing on Twemlow’s heart,
all motion ceased,
a little cough somewhere, an odour.
It seemed that death prevailed.
He was woken by the wagging
of his German shepherd’s tail.
(with apologies to John Berryman)