Lucy Vickery

Drinking partner

In Competition No. 2949 you were invited to submit a poem about sharing a drink with a famous writer.

I suspected this might be a popular comp and so it proved. I was spoilt for choice winner-wise, so heartfelt commiserations to the many who came within a whisker of making the final cut, especially Alan Millard, Martin Parker, Roger Theobald, Chris O’Carroll and Siriol Troup. The entries that survived the painful and protracted cull are printed below and earn their authors £25 each. Bill Greenwell pockets £30.

I’m sitting sipping cider with Bill Bryson,
And listening to his monologues take wing:
How Iowa, he claims, was full of bison —
But, sotto voce, adds ‘And Here’s The Thing’:
He says he knows the facts behind the lingo;
He knows his stormy petrels from his fulmars;
He knows the calls they rattle out at Bingo —
He knows we’re tasting Gaymer’s and not Bulmer’s.
We’re at the seaside, by a peeling bandstand;
He knows the sewage limit. What a whizz!
He knows the bus fares (now he starts to grandstand) —
He knows what causes apple drinks to fizz.
Our pints are cloudy. In the dowdy tap room,
He strokes his sabled beard, and downs his third.
The best he’s drunk’s from orchards down by Batcombe —
And cider — it was once a Hebrew word!
Bill Greenwell
If you ask me whence this pallor,
Whence these bloodshot orbs, the eyeballs,
Also why I’m talking funny,
It’s because I met a poet
In a bar where we were drinking,
And I said, read me your poem,
So he started reading to me
Of some bloke called Hiawatha
While we drank more firewater,
Then he read another chapter,
Full of loony names and suchlike,
But we drank till we fell over,
And I woke up in the morning,
Found that I could only speak in
Four-beat lines of bloody trochees,
Pounding at me like a hammer…
Brian Murdoch
I’ll never go for drinks again with Dante —
You can’t keep up with Signor Alighieri.

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