In Competition No. 2606 you were invited to imagine Gordon Brown taking some tips on style from a writer of your choice and submit an extract from the resulting speech.
I thought more competitors might have steered the Prime Minister in the direction of Milton or Dryden, given their spin-doctoring credentials. As it was, Shakespeare was the most popular mentor. Drawing on a more modern influence, Basil Ransome-Davies chose as the PM’s template ‘Spain’, Auden’s ‘dishonest’ poem, rhetorically powerful but morally bankrupt — which struck me as appropriate to the times we live in. Thanks to Susan Therkelsen and D.A. Prince for conjuring up the image of Gordon Brown, dub-poet-in-training, channelling Benjamin Zephaniah. One to savour. The winners, printed below, get £25 each. The bonus fiver is Alan Millard’s.
I give you, voters, this dream. Hush. Only you can
the come-to-heel, Bercowian barks above the dog-
cat-calling, ding-donging Common’s cacophony;
only you can hear the silk-soft, pussy-purring snores
of the ermine-swaddled, mollycoddled Lords in the
next door. It is a Big Ben Bonging noon in the
basting heat of another Wednesday’s grilling. Look.
You can see the forked-tongued, lily-livered hotheads
honing their knives keen as cockle shells, hell-bent on
carving me up as I turn on my spit. Listen. You hear
baying ‘Butcher bully boy Brown’ but I spit back
as blinding bright as shooting stars on a slump-deep,
bank-black night. Only you, in your feather-bedding
are certain that I, this granite-hewn, manse-reared
can alone hold back the duck-bobbing, buck-robbing
and recover your honey-sweet gold at the rainbow’s
Alan Millard/Dylan Thomas
In hard times when your luck is out, don’t give an
inch to Fear and Doubt, put on a smile and don’t
look blue — your Government will see you
through. We’ll still have growth to some extent,
perhaps as much as nought per cent. It didn’t
start here, by the way, it started in the USA.
So cast aside those Ifs and Buts and steer well
clear of Tory Cuts. We will not Cut, though may
Invest a bit less than you might have guessed.
Prudence and thrift is what we need to purge the
world from bankers’ greed. One final message –
did I say it started in the USA?
Noel Petty/Wilhelmina Stitch
It little profits that your Premier
Should leave his task undone; I’ll stay the course
As bringer of new things, new strategies
To meet the cruel calamities that wreck
Man’s best designs. My watchful Cabinet,
The goodliest fellowship of Labour knights,
Will work with me in bringing Britain back
To what she was. Though much is taken, much
Abides; and though we are not now that strength
Which in my Chancellor days moved heaven and
To serve the state, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts;
Though weakened by recession, strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.
Friends, backbench MPs (but not countrymen,
For they are SNP and love me not!)
Lend me! Er, lend me anything that’s left.
All prudence spent, and all our ducats gone,
Rough winds did shake our Darling’s funds in May,
By August they’ll have risen nought percent!
Whoops. Er. Naught for your comfort’s what I
The Leader of the Opposition says —
And he’s a fairly honourable man,
So are we all (unless we’re on the take), —
That I should go, and go at once. But no!
Soon shall our country’s wintry discontent
Be spun to summer by Lord Mandelson,
So I’ll not break my staff (nor they break me)
But seek from up the creek a new direction,
Every third thought shall be my re-election.
Be kind to yu MPs dis parliament
Cos MPs dey more dan jus crap;
MPs got global financial controls on da agenda
An every MP has a grasp of neo-endogenous growth theory on dey map.
I got lotsa friends, dey are MPs
An dey scared of da smears in da press.
Dey real int’rests are medium-term quantitative easing
Not getting out of da expenses mess.
MPs jus wanna work on marginal capital at aggregate levels
An make up da laws real good.
Dey are seriously brainy on understanding IMF loans and the UK budget
An always does things like dey shuld.
Be nice to yu MPs — dey special.
Dey dun take a whole loada knocks.
Let dey get on with a major review of constitutional reform for both
Dey ain’t such a shed-load of crocks.
D.A. Prince/Benjamin Zephaniah
It has been hazily bleared by a quondam wisecracker that I, Bygmester Browneoghan of the Clannocking Feist, the Subprime Leader of the House of Commons and Environs, am jittery of misdiagnosing through eustacetube the Mutt of the Brutish Publican. It is interdum preposted that this sigla homogenius man, the arkitech of postneoclersical endodgynous gouterrory, has transmugrified into Mr Makeall Gone, oftwhile stambouling haround wetmister in leaky sneakers for muppeting up the Bunk Macavity. As the unfacts surroundering the Notional Debit, did the Carpbidet possess them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude, I have desiderated to upset a sacred comity, under the Prankquean’s cheermanship (well-met behind closseted dours) to make exagmination round our factification for incamination of work in progress. Meanweal, I caligulate little loco difficulties to yiz buckroters who wist to install a sackcessor. Alonely His Curmudgeonlish Eminence, not Al the happygojaunty Post, can onionise the Nebula Puerity.
P.C. Parrish/James Joyce
No. 2609: Against the grain
You are invited to provide an excoriating review of a work that is generally deemed to be a literary masterpiece (max. 150 words). Entries to Competition 2609’ by midday on 12 August or email email@example.com.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.