Lucy Vickery

A bad lot

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In Competition No. 2999 you were invited to supply a poem which takes as its first line W.S. Gilbert’s ‘A policeman’s lot is not a happy one’ but replaces ‘policeman’ with another trade or profession.

Although this line doesn’t come until line eight in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Policeman’s Song’, it was the opening I prescribed and so it was with a heavy heart that I had to disqualify some excellent entries that veered off piste. A competition-setter’s lot is not a happy one, then, but it does have its consolations and I was entertained — and informed — by your parade of teachers, lawyers, coroners, morticians and hitmen.

The bonus fiver belongs to David Silverman; the rest earn £25.

An Archbishop’s lot is not a happy one:

When you think you’ve got the Devil on the run,

You get War and Plague and Famine

And the people worship Mammon

And you find that flipping mitre weighs a ton.

Then your Canterbury duty’s to be done:

To defend those Ten Commandments, one by one.

What would Jesus do? Best check it.

Just don’t end up like Tom Becket —

Better let the Prince of Wales have his fun.

And the people? Well, when all is said and done,

They’ve more time for Ant and Dec than God the Son —

And their idea of religion?

Do they have faith? Just a smidgen —

If you count a chocolate egg and hot cross bun,

And The Snowman and the Christmas No. 1.

David Silverman

A soap star’s lot is not a happy one;

Your private life is always in the news

(And by ‘the news’ I really mean ‘the Sun’),

Your difficulties with divorce or booze

Are picked apart in public. If your baps

Are briefly bared when changing on the sand,

It’s more than likely that some sleazy pap’s

Observing, telephoto lens in hand.

Perhaps you always dreamed of treading boards,

Essaying Lady Percy at the Swan,

But thanks to all those TV Quick awards,

Whatever hope you might have had has gone.

You might get written out at any time,

And then you’re only fit for pantomime.

Rob Stuart

A witch’s lot is not a happy one.

Though burning at the stake is now old news —

Thank Hecate! — they keep us on the run

With endless calls for gourmet witches’ brews.

Today, it’s homemade soup that people crave.

Can you imagine all the horrid stuff

We have to handle? Witches must be brave

To rip out living organs. Yes, it’s tough

To get a ‘tongue of dog’ or ‘eye of newt’.

Dear greedy soupies, guess who pulls them out?

You want ‘birth-strangl’d babes’? You heartless brute!

Political correctness rules them out.

And riding wooden broomsticks makes us yelp;

They chafe the thighs, and snag the pubic hairs.

Perhaps a leather trouser suit would help;

I’m told that’s what our witch-in-chief now wears.

Sylvia Smith

A Civil Servant’s lot is not a happy one

Now that Brexit (which means Brexit) has begun.

We’ll brace ourselves for tussles

With the Eurocrats in Brussels

While our work back home in Britain goes undone.

Liam Fox had us mug up on EU law —

It’s all in Foreign, badly written and a bore.

Red tape not of our making

Is one biscuit we hate taking

But unpicking every Treaty is a chore.

We’ll be decades at the table without pause,

Going over every paragraph and clause

As it’s absolutely vital

We win power back for Whitehall

Where Theresa May will get all the applause.

A Civil Servant’s vote was likely for Remain,

So, as we make the best of Brexit, feel our pain

As we all puff up like Jingo,

Mock their cultures and their lingo

And prepare for war with France, Germany, Spain.

Adrian Fry

A PM’s lot is not a happy one,

Especially when Brexit’s on the table,

With verbal battles to be fought and won

Whilst keeping the economy quite stable.

At night sleep comes and goes like English weather,

Tossing, turning through till break of dawn

It would be good to turn off altogether,

To stay indoors and simply yawn and yawn,

But doorsteps must be visited and voters

Must know that you’re the fittest for the job,

You have to look your best, so even floaters

Admire your smartness and your brand-new bob.

And when each voter’s snared, and still remembers

The promises you made, it isn’t fun

When you have to fight with your own party members,

Yes, a PM’s lot is not a happy one.

Katie Mallett

A hitman’s lot is not a happy one.

It’s true a talent for assassination

May win both gold and fearsome reputation,

Yet killing for a living’s not much fun.

To murder those who personally annoy you

Is bound to be a source of satisfaction,

But of that joy you’ll feel only a fraction

When snuffing foes of strangers who employ you.

Just as a call girl finds sex less than thrilling

Because it’s a profession, not a hobby,

When any man does rub-outs as a job, he

Will get a lesser kick out of the killing.

‘My son, you’ve quite a knack with knife and gun’,

A young thug might hear from his doting mother,

‘But when your prey’s selected by another,

A hitman’s lot is not a happy one.’

Chris O’Carroll

No. 3002: a song for europe

You are invited to provide lyrics to the European anthem ‘Ode to Joy’. Please email (wherever possible) up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 7 June.