In Competition No. 3155 you were invited to supply a poem entitled ‘The Picnic’.
This challenge was prompted by a tweet from picnic-hater @edcumming inviting people to nominate their single worst picnic item. Suggestions included stale warm dry carrot batons, hummus with a skin, supermarket Scotch eggs and gin in a tin that’s been slowly boiled by the sun. So as we face a summer of outdoor socialising, should we all just face the fact that picnics are much nicer in the imagining?
There are clearly fans out there, judging by the entry, which was large and tremendous. The winners, especially tricky to choose this week, take £25 each.
“Oh look! Another glossy supplementbabbling away about how meals al frescoare easy — only half an hour well spentand there’s your picnic! Oh, hey-bloody-presto!What Austen slyly dubbed ‘the apparatusof happiness’ (such irony!) is there:plates, napkins and, to magnify your status,a ziggurat of matching Tupperware.This quivering quiche; what frantic kitchen working —indoors and hot and frazzled — shaped your beauty?Who sourced the freekeh and each cherished gherkinand every picnic’s must-have, a clafoutis?I wish you well; green grass, the perfect view —no nettles, thistles, cowpats, ants, to blightall this repast deserves. Meanwhile I’ll chewmy bread and cheese and apple out of sight.D.A. Prince
“We spread our blankets on a lawnBeside an autumn wood,And underneath a happy sunUnpacked our picnic food.John looked around contentedlyAnd praising fruitful treesEnthused on autumn’s luxury,Composing lines with ease.We toasted with a cooling wineAnd ate in open airWhile John pronounced the fruit divineIn words beyond compare.His lovely hymn, that picnic grace,His praise for autumn’s spreeWould surely take an honoured placeIn a golden treasury.Frank McDonald
“Do you remember the day, Alana?Do you remember the day?And the sun, and the fun when we picnicked as oneUnited, excited and oh, so delighted,Under the boughs of the oak; and the smokeFrom the barbecue’s smouldering coke; and the callsOf the children all dashing and thrashing and splashingAs though they were bathing in sunny Havana,Do you remember the day, Alana?Do you remember the day?And the cooling breeze in the shade of the trees,And the hours we lazed, amazed as we gazedInto each others eyes, Alana,Do you remember the day?And the bliss of the kiss we’ll never forget or regretThat bound us together then and binds us yet!Alan Millard
“Birthday picnic, fête champêtre!Sceptically I scan this bunch,Less Manet’s ‘Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe’,More William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.Lolling on the verdant heathlandUndownlocked now, free at last;Hamper, chill box, Styro cups butWhere’s the bloody corkscrew? Blast!Jill bollocks Bill, Di disses Dai,Vivien slags off Vivian;Smug-bug Reggie, TT, veggie,Smirks his sweet oblivion…Pack the Renault, load the Volvo,Take the line of least resistance;Homeward bound in seething silenceSafe, our antisocial distance.Mike Morrison
“We had the most glorious day for the spectacleUp on the Sapouné Heights,With our rugs and our parasols, every receptacleBrimming with local delights;‘No battle today,’ said the Duke with a smile,But our gentlemen cheered and hallooed all the whileAs the miniature soldiers formed column and fileAnd presented themselves for the fightThe Highlanders held and the Heavies defendedOur lines against terrible odds,But then some instruction was misapprehended:The Lights were all thrown to the gods;There were certainly less of them there than before,But by then I’d grown weary of watching the war,And the clouds had rolled in, which was rather a bore,And the picnic was more or less ended.Nick Syrett
“We spread the blanket and arranged the goodies,Mouths watering, and soon to be delightedBy salmon, lobster, creamy little puddies…A family arrived, quite uninvited:The parents, three young girls, a pair of babiesThat rapidly grew smellier and damper,A mangy dog that made us think of rabies,Who, having peed against our picnic hamper,Made off with half a leg of roasted chicken,Then bounded back for more, obscenely drooling.Their youngest daughter managed to be sick inThe bucket where our Bollinger was cooling.Grabbing her twins, their mother set them teating;The others started chewing something rancid.‘Bon appetit!’ they said, but we weren’t eating;We’d lost our appetite for what we’d fancied.Sylvia O. Smith
No. 3158: watching the detective
You are invited to supply an extract describing a well-known fictional detective who finds themselves catapulted into an unfamiliar milieu. Please email up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 15 July.