Lucy Vickery

Right-on rhymes

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In Competition No. 2966 you were invited to filter popular nursery rhymes through the prism of political correctness.

Some years ago, CBeebies came under fire when it took all the fun out of ‘Humpty Dumpty’ by changing the words to give it a happy ending. And it wasn’t just Humpty;-Little Miss Muffet and the spider lived-nauseatingly happily ever after too. Now that this culture of avoidance has well and truly taken hold, with the explosion of safe spaces and trigger warnings, it felt like high time to invite you to recast other favourite rhymes into a format that will be acceptable to the offspring of Generation Snowflake.

The first five winners printed below earn £20; the remaining seven take £10 each.

Solomon Grundy

Born on Monday

Named on Tuesday

Entered into a mutually-supportive non-patriarchal non-binary relationship on Wednesday

Took ill on Thursday

Grew worse on Friday

Got better on Saturday

Tweeted inappropriately on Sunday

And that was the end of

Solomon Grundy

Frank Upton

Twinkle, twinkle little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Way above the world so high,

As what do you identify?

Twinkle twinkle little star,

You are just what you say you are!

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, but what’s it to you?

She gave them some broth without any bread,

but gluten-free, organic rice cakes instead.

Robert Schechter

Three visually-impaired mice,

three visually-impaired mice.

Let’s celebrate their skill at running;

let’s marvel at how they are running.

As a team they run behind the woman

who is in equal partnership with a farmer

and who removes their tails (allegedly)

with a sharp kitchen implement.

Have you ever encountered a similar sight

to these three visually-impaired mice?

D.A. Prince

Mary had a little lamb

Its colour an irrelevance;

To say that it was white is but

A piece of racist arrogance.

This animal was by design

Inclined to be unwary,

So it should not surprise us if

The lamb ran after Mary.

And being but a quadruped

With no respect for rules

It was completely ignorant

That sheep don’t go to schools.

In spotting disregard for laws

In Mary’s troubling diary

Her teachers rightly set about

A social work inquiry.

Frank McDonald

Polly Flinders wasn’t privy

To elements of health and safety

And thus her childish innocence

Fell prey to mother’s negligence.

It happened that said Polly Flinders

Settled down in dirty cinders;

Therefore, as you’ll swiftly guess,

She made a rag of her new dress.

Her mother came upon the scene

Expecting Polly to be clean

But seeing her, she soon reflected

On all the lessons she’d neglected.

Her mother was consumed with guilt

And said: ‘My dear, it’s all my fault.’

To make amends she went and bought a

Cuddly toy to please her daughter.

Max Ross

As I was going to St Ives,

I met a man with seven wives.

Though I am no polygamist,

I certainly would not insist

That everyone should live like me.

I greeted him with courtesy.

Chris O’Carroll

Ding dong bell;

Pussy’s doing well.

Who took her in?

Little Tommy Green.

What a lovely boy was that

To adopt a rescue cat.

Jenny Lowe

Georgie Porgie puddin’ and pie

Kissed the girls and made them cry

But a teacher got the school to form a

Counselling group to help their trauma.

Katie Mallett

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Their parents were glad that the family had

Such a helpful son and daughter.

Truman Murphy

Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ and Pie,

Kissed the girls and made them cry.

He was charged with Sexual Harassment

And publicly humiliated on Social Media.

Storm Hutchinson

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly;

I don’t know why she swallowed a fly — but I’ve

called the RSPCA and they’re prosecuting her.

Nicholas Stone

See-saw Marjory Daw

Johnny has got a new master

He shall get but a penny a day

Because he’s on a zero-hours contract.

David Strachan

No 2969: autumnal

You are invited to submit a poem about autumn in the style of the poet of your choice. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 5 October.