In Competition No. 3007 you were invited to submit a poem about Larry, the Downing Street cat. Larry came to No. 10 in 2011 from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home during David Cameron’s premiership. He was left behind when the family moved on, though Mr Cameron denied that this was because he hated cats. Although he has been less than impressive in his role as Chief Mouser — apparently spending more time kipping than hunting down rodents — the ten-year-old tabby has inspired a book, a cartoon strip and has accrued 136,000 followers on Twitter. Honourable mentions go to Sylvia Fairley, Frank Upton, Basil Ransome-Davies, Paul Carpenter, Frank Osen and John O’Byrne’s Emily Dickinson-inspired entry. The prizewinners, printed below, are rewarded with £30 apiece and Max Ross pockets the bonus fiver.
Much have I travelled in the realms of men, And lots of homeless mutts and moggies seen; In many a city dustbin have I been To tell of which would tax a poet’s pen. Hopeless and crazed with hunger was I then, All skin and bone, a thing unwashed, unclean; I lived a life unbeautiful and mean Till I was saved and brought to No. 10. Then felt I like a pauper made a king Dumfounded by my rich inheritance; Now every morning I hear angels sing Of paradise, of pomp and circumstance. Ah, here I have the best of everything, A life of ease no wizard could enhance. Max Ross Larry says, her garb is odd The colours loud and louder She never purrs, but praises God And others of His clowder He says she likes a kitten heel Or crazy-angle-necks Larry likes her sex appeal Respects her leather keks Larry says, her stroking hand Is very sure and stable She’d kill a mouse, if it were planned, Or wore a designer label But lately she has hissy fits And clips him with a Vogue Her visitors hate cats to bits And sport an Irish brogue Bill Greenwell With the spryness of a puma, with a wicked sense of humour, With a satirist’s demystifying eyes He patrols the Whitehall railings itemising human failings.