House rules

House rules

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In Competition No. 2394 you were invited to supply a rhymed poem offering four parental vetoes on children’s behaviour, followed by four juvenile vetoes on parental behaviour. Exhausted and sleepless, back two days late due to botched air travel, I shall cut the cackle. The prizewinners, printed below, get £20 each, except W.J. Webster, who takes £30. Bon voyage, this summer!

Don’t spend a lifetime watching screens —

There is another world outside.
And music’s best not amplified
Until you can’t hear what it means.
Self-cleaning rooms aren’t Nature’s trick,
So don’t leave litter to decay.
And ‘like’ is a word you shouldn’t say
When it’s just like ‘you know’ a tic.
Don’t think you get away with jeans —
If looks could kill, they’re suicide.
And if you still have any pride,
Don’t ever dance alongside teens.
A movie isn’t called a ‘flick’ —
Those words you use have had their day.
And just accept you’re going grey:
You know that hair that’s dyed looks sick.
W.J. Webster

The bathroom is for all. Thou shalt not stay

Self-titivating there for half the day.
Thou shalt not, either, play thy ghastly pop
As loud as a bombardment and non-stop.
At breakfast-time thou shalt not sit there mute
Or only speak to stir up a dispute,
Nor shalt thou ever, although short of cash,
In search of ganja raid thy parents’ stash.
Thanks for the no-nos. Here are some for you:
Don’t stereotype the young the way you do.
Don’t diss the music you don’t understand;
We don’t diss Lennon, Dylan or The Band.
Don’t pry, don’t spy, don’t lecture and don’t nag.
A sanctimonious parent is a drag.
But most of all — this is the golden rule —
Don’t always be so desperate to seem cool.
Basil Ransome-Davies

Your pimpmobile must not block in our Saab

Till you get up and clamour for bicarb;
You can’t use this address when making bets,
And squash our credit rating with your debts;
Don’t dump old sofas on us for repairs,
(Or desks, or orthopaedic backless chairs);
Don’t tax your dad for funds when you are low:
Supposedly, you left home months ago.
Don’t rabbit on about my health: how much
I drink, my smoker’s cough, beer gut, and such;
Don’t ridicule each stress-avoidance scheme:
‘Just buckling down’ would sap my self-esteem;
Who cares about the Sixties any more?
Don’t reminisce: it makes you such a bore;
Don’t make me feel that I’m 13 again
If you want me to come back now and then.
Anne Du Croz

Don’t abuse the language, never

Answer questions with ‘whatever’.
Scum around the shower’s taboo,
Scattered towels and clothing — you
Can’t treat home as a hotel!
After 10, don’t ring the bell
And next time you lose your key
You’ll be charged a hefty fee.
Dress your age, no daft trend-setting;
Know our friends, don’t go forgetting
Who they are, and no name-botching.
Monitoring telly-watching
Counts as human rights’ infringement —
Cut it out. Avoid estrangement,
Don’t be prejudiced and stroppy,
Or you’ll find we’re quick to copy.
Alanna Blake

You’re almost 11 and nearly a man,

It’s time you accepted some rules if you can.
Don’t sulk after football whenever you lose.
Don’t trample indoors before wiping your shoes.
Don’t act like a saint when your father’s about
And behave like the devil as soon as he’s out.
Don’t mumble ‘I promise’ and then disobey.
Agree to the rules and accept what I say.
Agreed, but on spotting a few grubby streaks
Don’t spit on your hanky and scour my cheeks,
Don’t ruin my morning outside the school gates
By making me kiss you in front of my mates,
Don’t greet me by saying, as soon as I’m home,
‘Your shirt’s hanging out and your hair needs a comb,’
Don’t tell me I’m grounded for pulling a face.
I’m almost 11, so give me some space!
Alan Millard

Please don’t choose Granny’s visit

To sneak boyfriends into bed.
Quit bare midriff and belly studs.
Wear a nice frock instead!
Going shopping with my credit card
Is taking things too far!
And don’t leave the tank empty
Next time you use the car!
Do you always have to ask me
What I did at school all day?
Please, when I bring my boyfriend
Put the Mickey rug away.
Don’t show him baby pictures
Of me starkers, cute and brown.
And, Dad, please don’t chat up my friends
And eye them up and down!
Shirley Curran

Do not, in any circumstance,

Subject us to a rapper’s rants;
Do not come home with local thugs
Who sell you non-prescription drugs;
For goodness’ sake, do not play ball
In bedroom, kitchen, lounge or hall;
And do not think that there are laughs
In all our family photographs.
Then do not, for they are the pits,
Sing medleys of the Beatles’ hits;
Do not indulge in folderol
When you’ve been drinking alcohol;
Do not hurl curses to the breeze
When you have lost your set of keys;
And please don’t ask us where we hang
Or chill: please stick to adult slang.
Bill Greenwell

No. 2397: Mal voyage

You are invited to supply an acrostic poem, the first letter of each line to spell out travel troubles. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2397’ by 16 June.