In Competition No. 3122, to mark the demise of the 178-year-old travel company, you were invited to submit a poem about Thomas Cook. The firm may have hit the buffers, but many entries featured its eponymous founder’s original offering — railway travel and Temperance tours — which would be just the job in our clean-living, climate-change-challenged times.
In a large and excellent crop, the six below stood out and earn their authors £25.
James Cook explored, and met the end
But Thomas Cook began the trend
For organising tours.
He was dynamic, fired with hope,
And thus the business boomed,
Though nonetheless its moral scope
Was tragically foredoomed.
They started out as Temperance jaunts,
Those earnest early treks.
Now low, disreputable haunts
Draw mobs for drink and sex.
That Spanish coast which once for some
Was vividly romantic
Is foreign-yahoo playground from
Cebère to the Atlantic.
When Thomas laid on special trains
for groups who spurned the demon drink,
he said, ‘there must be greater gains,
the world’s my oyster, now I think
I’ll take more people for a ride’ —
he saw a chance and so he took it,
‘Here’s to tourism,’ he cried,
then said, ‘Don’t book it, Thomas Cook it.’
With happy hols, the profits rose,
no hint of hopes that would be dashed,
but when old Tom turned up his toes
the firm was sold; in time it crashed.
Said all the fat cats (getting fatter),
‘Stranded passengers who’ve booked,
and loyal staff, you scarcely matter,
screw you all, your goose is Cooked.’
Like crocuses the brochures came,
A sign of winter’s loosening grip,
And starter of the annual game
To book ourselves a summer trip.
Pictures and words so glossy bright
They made a dazzling sunlit scene,
A winking promise of delight
With nothing dull beneath the sheen.
In store, brisk Mandy claimed to know
Just what we wanted, worked the phone,
And clinched things in a way to show
We could not manage on our own.
And so we travelled out and stayed
In search of little more than sun,
With Cook’s our holiday nursemaid,
The sort that helps you walk, not run.