In Competition No. 3187 you were asked to provide a sea shanty on a topical theme.
This challenge was an invitation to follow in the slipstream of Nathan Evans, the postal worker and TikTokker whose rendition of the 19th-century whaling song ‘The Wellerman’ went viral and gave rise to #ShantyTok.
Among the multiple variations on ‘What shall we do with the unused Pfizer!’, Hugh King, Richard Spencer and Alanna Blake stood out, as did John Priestland’s homage to Handforth planning committee’s magisterial Jackie Weaver (‘There’s Councillor Brian disrupting the meeting,/ Way aye, kick him off Zoom!’) and Alan Millard’s to Captain Tom. The winners take £30 each.
“What can we do with our Scottish shellfish,Sitting on the quay, turning grisly smell-squish?Dump the lot on London as a meal-from-Hell dishOutside Number 10, ho?Heave-ugh, nowhere to store it,Heave-ugh, we’ll have to floor it,Heave-ugh, there’s nothing for it,All on Number 10, ho.What can we do with our back-logged mussels,Build a giant catapult that’s aimed at Brussels?Pile them up in Westminster — they caused these tussles,Outside Number 10, ho.What can we do with our dying lobstersAnd our clams and cockles now they’re rotting blobsters?Stick ’em ’neath the noses of those Brexit mobsters,Grouped round Number 10, ho.D.A. Prince
“As I were a-sailing off Galloway shore,Way aye jab the man’s arm!A hapless blonde mermaid declared Vaccine War.Give me some time to jab the man’s arm!She wanted the vials I had in my hold.Way aye jab the man’s arm!I said to her ‘Ursula darling, they’re sold.’Give me some time to jab the man’s arm!She said, ‘That’s a border I’ve drawn in the sea.’Way aye jab the man’s arm!It looked like the wake of a flounder to me.Give me some time to jab the man’s arm!‘Your vaccines are useless, I’m soon sixty-three.’Way aye jab the man’s arm!‘This muck’s for the British, I’ll use Sputnik V.’Give me some time to jab the man’s arm!Nick MacKinnon
“Ho my lads, and away the jibAnd we shift your sheep and your alcoholOne for the rum and two for the ribIt’s the Northern Ireland ProtocolHo for the paper trail, me dearsAnd its folderol with your aerosolSign here lads with a hundred cheersFor the Northern Ireland ProtocolHo as we wait, let your fresh food perishAs we dance a jig fit for InterpolHere are the forms that our lubbers cherishIt’s the Northern Ireland ProtocolHo as we sign that our freight’s in orderWith a tot and a paracetamolWhat shall we do with the Irish border?Hail the Northern Ireland Protocol.Bill Greenwell
“What shall we do with a sunk Australia,Oceans full of plastic paraphernalia,Planet looking doomed to total failure —Earl-eye in the morning?Way, hay! The mercury rises;Way, hay! It’s a climate crisis;Way, hay! The earth’s demise isComing in the morning.What shall we do if it turns much wetter?Looks like it isn’t gonna get much better:Maybe we should have listened up more to Greta:Her Cassandra warning.Heave, Ho! The hatches batten!Before the flatlines flatten,Way, hay! We’re off to SaturnFirst thing in the morning.David Silverman
“If to the Olympics we must go, stand away, hugs away,The risk’s our own at Tokyo, bound for the Olympics.They don’t insist vaccines be had, sneeze away, bugs away,But mask up for Olympiad, bound for the Olympics.We’ll wave our flags and banners bold, hip hooray, hip hooray,no virus stops us going for gold, bound for the Olympics.Do not cheer but clap your hands, hip hooray, hip hooray,to make up for half-empty stands, bound for the Olympics.When Florida said ‘hey Tokyo, USA, USA,We’ll host instead’, Japan said ‘No, we’re keeping the Olympics.’The athletes had to wait a year, train away, strain away,their medal thirst is in top gear, bound for the Olympics.They shout, ‘Olympics, here I come,’ sneeze away, cough away,‘You’ll see me on the podium, winning the Olympics.’Cheer them on but distantly, hip hooray, hip hooray,in fact, best watch them on TV, ’21’s Olympics.Janine Beacham
No. 3190: first and worst
You are invited to supply the first paragraph of your least favourite type of novel. Please email entries of up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 10 March.