In Competition No. 2367 you were invited to supply an imaginary extract from the libretto of the flop musical Oscar Wilde. ‘I am going to stand my ground and fight,/ The things you two do just can’t be right,’ sang the Marquess to Bosie in that ill-starred production. Criticised for his lyrics, the author, Mike Read, loftily retorted, ‘Rhyming couplets didn’t do Shakespeare or Gilbert and Sullivan much harm.’ There was a tricky contradiction in my request for something that would both amuse readers and make them squirm with embarrassment: some of you were too polished to embarrass and others too clumsy to entertain; still others offered lyrics that it was hard to imagine being sung. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, and the Cobra Premium beer goes to Ray Kelley.

Lord Alfred Douglas, solo:
When I read your sonnet,
I shed salt tears upon it
To find you hymned my slim gilt soul
And red rose-leaf lips:
Phrases meant for Bosie
And not for parkers nosy,
The sort who have the face to launch
A thousand coarse quips.
When the pure and good
Are misunderstood,
When morality’s banality,
Debasing your art, seeks to keep us apart,
Just ignore the parsons,
Never mind the Carsons,
And know your own boy holds for you
A place in his heart.
Ray Kelley

Bosie: Ah, Oscar!
Oscar: Bravo! Tango!
Bosie: Let’s dance the night away!
Oscar: If you just knew how I felt, sir,
You would down your hock and seltzer —
Bosie: And never mind the Queensberry bouquet!
Oscar: Dearest, hold me —
Bosie: As in Earnest?
Let us bunbury for fun!
Oscar: I shall be your Aunt Augusta,
And with all the wit I muster —
Every wag shall know you are the Chosen One.
Both: We’re as solid as a sandbag, and as happy as a handbag,
We have nothing but our genius to declare.
Though the Marquess is a heckler, we are fans of fin-de-siècle:
Salomé! Beaujolais! Baudelaire!
Bill Greenwell

I am Oscar, a man about town.

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