Lucy Vickery

Competition | 1 August 2009

Lucy Vickery presents the latest competition

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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.

Frank McDonald/Tennyson

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.

Brian Murdoch/Shakespeare

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