In Competition No. 3180 you were invited to submit a Belloc-esque cautionary tale featuring a high-profile public figure.
Cautionary Tales for Children, published in 1907 and ‘designed for the admonition of children between the ages of eight and fourteen years’, featured such cruel and hideous comeuppances as being eaten, feet upwards, by a lion and being burnt to a crisp. Yours were generally rather less grisly, but props to Chris Ramsey for his pay-off to the sad story of Dom, who ended up whacked like a mole: ‘The moral is: for all their dash,/ All Spads, like spuds, end up as mash.’
No one drew a parallel between weepy Matt Hancock and Belloc’s incurably lachrymose Lord Lundy, destined to be the next prime minister but three, who fell from favour because ‘A hint at harmless little jobs/ Would shake him with convulsive sobs’, though the Secretary of State for Health does appear in the winning line-up.
Those poems printed below earn their authors £25 each.
“O children, heed my words today:Beware the fate of Donald J!He learnt when he was but a youthThat lies work better than the truth;He found his ends were best achievedBy telling lies that all believed.‘I’m smarter than George Washington!’Declared mendacious Donald John.‘If I’d chopped down that cherry-tree,I would have sworn it wasn’t me!’He lied until his face turned blueAnd he himself believed them too.He lost the vote, yet lied and lied.‘I’m still the President!’ he cried.So, children, tell the truth hereon
Lest you end up like Donald John.Brian Allgar
“Young Matthew Hancock’s Chief DelightWas giving harmless folk a Fright:Appearing nightly on TVHe Prophesied CalamityAnd Terrified the people tillA lot of them became Quite IllAnd duly featured in the GraphsOf two men, Wise but Short on Laughs,One called Vallance, one named Whitty(Members of the Sage Committee),Which proved if you Defied the BanOn Mixing, you would Kill your Nan.Alas, a Warning so SevereInstilled such Universal FearThat Everybody stayed insideSo couldn’t help as Matthew Died.J.C.H. Mounsey
“Rish Sunak had a winning Grin:Whatever Depths they dunked him in,He came up with the broadest Smirk.They pinched him hard. It didn’t work —They stole his Pencils, Marbles, Chips,But still he kept his Twinkling Lips.One day at School, a Prefect quit,And Rishi, who was Up For It,Was elevated, and apace.The Smile grew wider on his Face.They sent him — it was like a Dream —To run the Tuck Shop’s income stream.Within a Week, the Shelves were bare,Its Tables all in Disrepair.The Head Boy wailed ‘You Stupid Child!’But Gracious! how Rish Sunak smiled.Bill Greenwell
“Now heed the tale of JonathanWho ran a metaphorathon.He thought we’d all feel better forOne long extended metaphorOf yoghurts, goals and trains to catchUntil, one day, he met his match.When sharing podia with Boris,Steeped in Pericles and Horace,They traded figurative speech:Analogies, a dozen eachUntil BJ and JVTLost all touch with reality.Then JVT said VARHad ruled BJ had gone too far:Beware lest, due to words mis-spoke,The truth itself goes up in smoke.David Silverman
“When Alexander Johnson erred,Was vile in deed or crass in word,A Johnson with his middle nameHe’d fabricate to take the blameAnd so it was this ‘Boris’ whoSlathered the Pater’s chair with glueOr pinched the buttock of a maidWhile guzzling stolen lemonade.Young Alexander took it hardThat ‘Boris’, now the family card,Got more attention than himselfAnd feeling he was on the shelfAllowed his alter id and egoTo duet as the ‘Boris’ we know,Prone to bluster quip and quarrelIf never to evince a moral.Adrian Fry
“Of all the boys I’ve ever seenThe greediest was Master Green:He’d help himself to all the toysThat should have gone to other boys,Made sure he got the biggest shareAnd watched it grow beyond compare.Alas, he always wanted more,And carelessly he would ignoreAdvice to little children whoWould have their cake and eat it too.And so it was, one fateful dayThey came and took his toys away.Pray, listen to these words of caution,Do not take the largest portion:Boys who want to have it allGet what’s in store: decline and fall.Sylvia Fairley
No. 3183: adverbial
You are invited to submit a short story entitled ‘My Year of Living [insert adverb of your choice here]. Please email entries of up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 20 January. We pay winners by cheque, unless you state on your entry that you would prefer to be paid by bank transfer.