Lucy Vickery

Out with the auld

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In Competition No. 3079 you were invited to supply a new anthem to welcome 2019, starting with the first line of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and continuing in your own way.

‘Is not the Scotch phrase “Auld lang syne” exceedingly expressive?’ wrote Robert Burns to his friend Frances Dunlop in 1788, referring to the words of an old folk song that he had heard, written down and later sent to James Johnson, who published it in the Scots Musical Museum. These days, of course, they are sung with gusto by the in-ebriated the world over on New Year’s Eve — an expression of fellowship and nostalgia.

Not much of that in the entry, needless to say. Though the occasional sliver of cheeriness (C. Paul Evans, Tim Raikes) leavened the gloom, the mood was mostly waspish and weary. The winners pocket £25 each. Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind,

Twenty-eighteen’s anither year

It’s guid tae leave behind.

They talked Brexit in parliament,

Six hundred folk and a’,

And gin they talked til kingdom come,

It wouldnae gang awa.

A parcel of befuddled rogues!

Naebody kens for sure

How much and when we’ll a’ be screwed,

And whit’s it all been for.

The cup has got nae kindness in’t,

The brose is awfu’ cauld.

I’ll bet that eftir Hogmanay

The new year’s like the auld.

Brian Murdoch

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

Each year we ask the same:

should we from habit send a card

to every listed name?

They send us one each year, so we

for fifty years or more

have done the same, with cheery words

while wond’ring what it’s for.

You went to school with him, while I

have never met the guy.

I, briefly, worked alongside her

(and always wondered: why?)

But if we drop them, will they think

we’ve died/remarried/worse?

That ‘auld acquaintance’ Christmas list

hangs round us like a curse.

D.A. Prince

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

It may be for the best.

Some friends are magic, some are not,

And some are just a pest.

It is not cruel or unjust

To purge the old, dead wood.

As Stalin did it, so we must

For our and their own good.

This New Year let us all confound

Each wretched faux-ami

Who never, ever bought a round,

Or bored us endlessly,

Or badmouthed us with lying lips,

Or bogarted the bong —

To all those dud relationships

Adieu, farewell, so long.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

’Twould be a waste of time.

We’ve things far better to forget

In the year two-oh-one-nine.

Forget the warming of the globe;

Forget the rising seas.

Forget the US president

Has a brain like cheddar cheese.

Forget that vicious autocrats

Flout democratic rules.

Forget the bone saws Saudis use

In their journalism schools.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

Perhaps you’ve lost your mind,

Which might not be an awful choice

In the year two-oh-one-nine.

Max Gutmann

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Why, yes, they should, and quickly if

They’re of the German kind,

Or French or Spanish, Dutch or Greek}

Or even Portuguese

We’ll find alliances elsewhere

And trade with whom we please.

We’ll give a hand to friendship in

The far-off land of Oz

And be the Brits of former days

Composing our own laws.

So let us drink to sovereignty

And hail the coming year

With shouts of joy as we return

To be the way we were.

Frank McDonald

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

As mony since have been,

For memory is fading fast

An’ age has dimmed our e’en.

We twa hae sown our youthful oats

But that was lang ago

When winter winds blew gentler notes

An’ Christmas aye brought snow.

So gie’s a hand to help me up,

Come close so I can hear,

We’ll raise anither brimmin’ cup

Tae one more bloody year.

Alanna Blake

No. 3082: happy talk

You are invited to take as your first line  ‘Happy the man, and happy he alone’ (John Dryden/Horace) and continue for up to a further 15. Please email (wherever possible) entries to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 16 January.