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Hidden talent

2 August 2014

9:00 AM

2 August 2014

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 2858 you were invited to imagine that a well-known figure from 20th-century history was a secret poet and to submit a recently discovered example of their versifying.

Politicians featured prominently in the entry: there were poignant lines from the pens of Edward Heath and Michael Foot, and here is Adrian Fry’s John Prescott, just getting into his stride: ‘Don’t call me unsophisticated, I’ve been to Villanelle,/ I know me assonance from elbow, I’ve a cracking tale to tell…’

The winners earn £25 each and George Simmers takes this week’s bonus fiver.

No, I must never let this menace
My relationship with Denis
(Such a help-mate, though at times alas a bore),
Yet sometimes I am able
Underneath the Cabinet table
To play footsie with a man who’s much much
Norman Tebbit! Norman Tebbit!
My emotion will not ebb — it
Floods my being and it rages like a storm.
Darling polecat, my heart’s yearning,
And I might just be for turning,
Oh my lovely Chingford Superman, my Norm!
George Simmers/Margaret Thatcher
It’s always been my wish to be a poet.
OK, I published stuff like ‘The Waste Land,
But that’s pretentious twaddle, and I know it!
I want to write things folks can understand.
They say I’m up there in the avant-garde, but
You can’t fool all the people all the time.
To write in metre I’d be pretty hard-put,
Besides, I’ve never really got the hang of rhyme.
An evening’s like a patient on a table?
Come on! And all that guff in Prufrock’s Song!
I know my images are pitiable;
You can make that stuff up as you go along.
I wish I could do daffodils, or seasons!
What kind of poem needs annotations to it?
I wish I could do things with rhymes and
I’d really like to be a proper poet.
Brian Murdoch/T.S. Eliot
I’m Tony Blair the winner.
I’m Tony Blair the tops.
I’m Tony Blair. I float on air
And sell in all the shops.
I’m succulent and sexy.
I’m never namby-pamby.
I’m fresh and fair and debonair,
I’m cuddlesome as Bambi.
This one-time special offer
Can never be repeated
I’m keenly priced. I’m Jesus Christ
And cannot be defeated.
So hurry, hurry, hurry
And buy me while you can,
Full guarantee and odour-free,
I’m Tony. I’m your man.
John Whitworth/Tony Blair
How do I love me? Let me count the ways:
With admiration knowing I’m the guy
To earn a nation’s gratitude and praise;
With wonder at my power to prophesy,
For one day I’ll make Labour something new,
A cosmic force of which I am the centre;
I love the modest way I’ll join the few
Who changed the world — a genius, an inventor.
I love me with the knowledge that my God
Diverts my steps from all things sinister;
I love me for the way folk will applaud
When Fate ensures I am Prime Minister.
And as a youth invested with a power
To rise above the evils of despair,
I love the way I march towards the hour
When all the world will welcome Tony Blair.
Max Ross/Tony Blair
Some say we’re ruled by providence,
But that’s a stupid word
For human life, which makes no sense.
A better one’s ‘absurd’.
You roll that rock right up the hill.
The stone rolls back again.
It’s rock ’n’ roll non-stop, a drill
To drive a man insane.
And that’s the crap I daily face,
Small wonder my malaise;
While Jean-Paul Sartre’s on my case
Re ‘Algérie Française’.
Sometimes I wish Jean-Paul would shut
His existential gob.
I try to be authentic, but
It’s not an easy job.
G.M. Davis/Albert Camus
From Huddersfield I hail and, determined not to
I shot to fame and fortune like a rocket.
Being wily and astute — an economist to boot,
I’m sounder than the pound that’s in your pocket.
What a poet I’d have made for I call a spade a
With a pipeful of tobacco and a pen,
If I had to write a sonnet you can bet that I’d be
on it
And I’d finish it before you’d count to ten.
It’s true, I envy Mary. She can make her verses
Writing villanelles or pastorals at will,
But she’ll always be my guide and I’m certain, if
I tried,
I could write an Ode or Elegy to kill!
With the Scillies as my muse, I’d be headlines in
the news,
Have a plaque in poets’ corner on display,
Be the bard of Number Ten, as I might be if and
This poem ever sees the light of day.
Alan Millard/Harold Wilson


No 2861: Misinformation

This is an oldie but I haven’t set it this way round before. Given that the holiday season is upon us, you are invited to provide misleading advice for British tourists travelling abroad (up to 150 words). Please email entries to by midday on 13 August.

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