Hard work

Text settings

In Competition No. 2373 you were given Gilbert’s line ‘A policeman’s lot is not a happy one’, and asked for a poem beginning the same way but with some other worker replacing ‘policeman’ and (if you like) using ‘lot’ again for ‘one’.

Unhappy is the lot of the comper and competition-setter, of course, but I was impressed by the range of your other unfortunate toilers — gorillagram-deliverers, apostles, toddlers, wheel-clampers, goalies, newsreaders, pedants, backbenchers, porn stars and greengrocers (spelling problems). God bless us every one, as Tiny Tim said. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, and the Cobra Premium beer goes to Martin Parker.

A poet’s lot is not a happy one,
As he tries to make a living from his verse.
There’s no recognition, income, fame or fun,
For his chance of publication can’t be worse.
Too few publishers will help a living poet
By enabling him to get his new work read.
Though the sods may like his work they seldom show it;
They much prefer their poets to be dead.
It’s the late ones who bring in vast sums of money.
You can earn a better living once you’re dead.
For the struggling current poet it’s not funny
That it’s corpses who are earning all the bread.
So to make ends meet what I should now be doing
Is to buy a knife and go and cut my throat.
Then my royalties will surely start accruing
When they posthumously publish what I wrote.
Martin Parker

A fisherman’s lot is not a happy one,

As the EU cuts his quota, ton by ton,
For the stocks of fish are falling
In a manner so appalling
That if action isn’t taken, there’ll be none.
A fisherman’s life is getting very fraught,
For French and Spanish craft of every sort
Come and sweep the ocean floor
Till there won’t be any more,
No, there won’t be any fishes to be caught.
soon they won’t be fishing in the sea,
For it seems the Royal Commission
Is going to stop them fishing
In the places where the fishes used to be, used to be,
In the places where the fishes ought to be.
Tim Raikes

A performer’s lot is not a happy one.

You start in boyhood with a wild ambition
To reach, as all celebrities have done,
Some splendidly pre-eminent position.
You dedicate yourself to years of sweat,
Determined by this drudgery to nourish
Your very special talents, till they get
The light of recognition — and can flourish!
And then suddenly you’re sixty, not so agile
In the physical requirements of a part,
While your memory’s embarrassingly fragile
When it comes to learning speeches off by heart.
But so long as such rewarding roles are written
As Man In Pub, Third Waiter, Gormless Friend,
That awful yen with which you first were smitten
Will keep you acting to the bitter end!
Godfrey Bullard

A liftman’s lot is not a happy one:

To be trapped inside a box
Smelling other people’s socks
From dawn to dusk is not exactly fun.
It’s a frantic, up-and-down job in the main:
One moment elevation
To a high, exalted station,
Then a drop towards rock bottom once again.

The liftman must, at all times, know his place

And announce the different floors —
‘Level seven, mind the doors!
Going up (or down),’ as best befits the case.

And when, at last, the liftman’s day is done

Will anyone at all
Rue the rapid rise and fall
Of the man whose lot was not a happy one?
Alan Millard

A tourist’s lot is not a happy one:

You think you’ve bought a bit of sand and sun,
But the operator’s houris
Have orders that your tour is
A chance to sell you lots of extra fun.

So, since you’re not a chap to make a fuss,

Each day that dawns you’re climbing on a bus
To visit sad locations
And ogle rock formations,
With sangria (lukewarm) the only plus.
Your via dolorosa not yet run,
A night of ethnic culture must be done,
But the culture that you find
Is rather of a kind
To have old Goering reaching for his gun.
No, a tourist’s lot is not a happy one.
Noel Petty

A hooker’s lot is not a happy one;

One can’t pretend that it’s a life of leisure.
To be forever on the job’s no fun,
And what, pray, does a doxy do for pleasure?
She sits at home and reads improving books
Like Smiles’s Self-Help, Character or Duty —
Distractions from the thought of ravaged looks
And what were once the lineaments of beauty.
All men of decency should therefore feel
A pang of pity for the ageing strumpet
Still marketing her tenuous sex appeal,
Her tea, her sympathy, her piece of crumpet.
What motivates the craft of the cocotte?
A sense of public duty, one supposes.
And so I say again, the hooker’s lot
Is very far from being a bed of roses.
Jeremy Lawrence

No. 2376: My first

First kiss? First job? First crime? You are invited to describe autobiographically or quasi-autobiographically a memorable ‘first’ in your life. Maximum 150 words. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2376’ by 20 January.