Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: ‘Alex Salmond/has been grilled, gutted and gammoned…’: clerihews about contemporary politicians

Spectator competition winners: ‘Alex Salmond/has been grilled, gutted and gammoned…’: clerihews about contemporary politicians
Text settings

Everyone loves a clerihew, its seems. The request for ones about contemporary politicians drew an enormous and excellent entry — from veterans and newbies alike — and even included a couple of limericks for good measure.

For the avoidance of doubt, the clerihew is a comic four-line (AABB) poem characterised by metrical irregularity and awkward rhyme. Here’s an example from — who better? — the form’s inventor, E.C. Bentley:

Sir Humphry Davy

Abominated gravy.

He lived in the odium

Of having discovered sodium.

Popular rhymes included ‘charmer’ and ‘Starmer’; ‘Boris’ and ‘Horace’; ‘Sturgeon’ and ‘burgeon’; ‘Corbyn’ and ‘absorbing’. Putin likes to ‘put the boot in’, apparently, and that David Davis is, by common consent, a ‘rara avis’.

Dr Bob Turvey and Jerry Emery submitted strikingly similar clerihews — one about Donald Trump; the other Diane Abbott — whose third and fourth lines ran roughly as follows: ‘When he opens his mouth/ his brain goes south’.

There was much to admire and it was tricky to sift the best from the merely good. Those that made the cut are printed below and earn their authors £8 each. Commiserations to the rest.

Frank McDonald

Alex Salmond

Has been grilled, gutted and gammoned

And got porridge poured over his wee bit of glory

By a big evil Tory.

David Silverman

Ed Balls

Rises and falls:

They say he’s a Blairite

Fred Astaire-ite

D.A. Prince

Angela Merkel

is one of the (small) magic circle

whose country rates ’em

as statesmen.

Nicholas Stone

Ian Paisley

Ranted crazily.

But is Ian Paisley junior


Iain Morley

Theresa May

No longer holds sway —

For seeing off Corbyn and his iffy cult


Chris O’Carroll

Justin Trudeau

Looks like a great North American leader, although,

To be fair, the guy next door

Has made that easier than it was before.

Brian Murdoch

To where has Diane Abbott


‘No idea’, said Theresa,

Glancing at her freezer.

John Oxley

Lady Nugee

Is far richer than me,

But to seem ordinary,

She goes by Thornberry.

Adrian Fry

Yvette Cooper

Made not a single blooper,

In the election campaign, reckoning it wiser to be


Than risible.

Alex Galloway

Ben Gummer

Couldn’t be glummer.

It’s not much fun

Being John Selwyn’s son.

Bill Greenwell

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Is a Thunderer sprog:

But his manner is less irate

And he lives in 1798.

Frank Upton

Mike Pence

Is considered in the future tense

Should Trump

Go bump.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Donald Trump

Resembles a lump

Of misshapen fat

Topped by an overweight bottle-blond rat.

W.J. Webster

Angela Merkel

Squares a circle by producing a squircle:

As her party trick

It seems to click.

Tim Raikes

Angela Merkel’s

Inner circle

Would never choose

Theresa’s shoes.

Carolyn Beckingham

‘Should I dye my hair auburn?’

Asks Jeremy Corbyn,

‘Or should it be red


Rob Stuart

Nicola Sturgeon

Is a would-be political surgeon

Who’d gladly affect a wee


Nick Hodgson

Mike Pence

Waits in suspense,

Hoping that they’ll dump


Brian Allgar

Emmanuel Macron

Wears suits made of dacron.

OK, I made that up, but President Macron’s chief


Is that he doesn’t rhyme.

Sylvia Fairley

Nicola Sturgeon

Thinks that Scotland needs purgin’,

She can’t wait to see the backs

Of the Sassenachs.

Your next challenge is to submit a sonnet that takes as its opening line Keats’s ‘Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell:’. Please email entries, wherever possible, to by midday on 5 July.