Lucy Vickery rss

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Spectator competition: ‘Come friendly bombs, and fall on those/ Who clip their nails or pick their nose…’ (plus: pets dish the dirt on their owners)

25 July 2015 9:30

Transport for London’s efforts to use verse to encourage Tube users to mind their manners produced poems whose rhyme and scansion would have made William McGonagall blush. So it was… Continue reading

August 1966:  A member of the International Society of Girl Watchers uses the ploy of wiping his shoulder in order to leer unnoticed at a passing woman. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a lecherous poet gets his come-uppance (plus: Gove’s rules)

18 July 2015 9:47

Given the kerfuffle caused by the recent publication of Craig Raine’s ‘Gatwick’ in the London Review of Books, I thought it might be interesting to invite competitors to compose their… Continue reading

New balls please. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Anyone for tennis? (plus: poems on the underground)

4 July 2015 9:30

To mark the beginning of Wimbledon, competitors were invited to take as their first line ‘There’s a breathless hush on the centre court’ and continue for up to 15 lines… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: Is that ‘Well Spanked’ or ‘Disappointing Sandwich’?

29 June 2015 17:45

A spoof Farrow & Ball paint-colour chart doing the rounds on social media was the inspiration for the latest challenge. Competitors were invited to see if they could outdo the… Continue reading

Len Hutton and  Cyril Washbrook coming out to bat for England at a Test Match, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Spectator competition winner: The poetry of cricket (plus: can you see a rainbow?)

20 June 2015 11:40

In Competition No. 2903 you were invited to supply a poem incorporating a dozen cricketing terms. English poets love cricket: Housman, Betjeman, Chesterton and Sassoon all wrote about the game.… Continue reading

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Spectator competition winner: nude giant girls and Georges Pompidou’s innards (plus: anyone for tennis?)

13 June 2015 9:30

The latest comp was inspired by Stephen Spender’s notorious poem ‘The Pylons’, which he likens to ‘nude giant girls that have no secret’. Spender wasn’t praising pylons on aesthetic grounds… Continue reading

(Photo by John Pratt/Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Spectator competition winner: saucy short stories

6 June 2015 9:30

The American writer Richard Brautigan fulfilled his ambition to end a short story with the word ‘mayonnaise’ in his 1967 novel Trout Fishing in America. Actually, strictly speaking, he didn’t.… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: Poems for Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (plus: the poetry of cricket)

30 May 2015 10:12

The poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s failure to pen a poem commemorating the birth of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge prompted us to invite you to do it instead. You stepped… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: An update on Belloc’s kiddie delinquents (plus: write a poem celebrating a modern-day blot on the landscape)

23 May 2015 9:30

The call for an update on one of the children in Cautionary Tales who lived to tell the tale attracted a large and excellent entry. Belloc’s gallery of kiddie delinquents… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: ‘I have my own gun and a mind sufficient cold to master the arcane philosophies of your payment protection insurance’: Cormac McCarthy applies for a telesales job (plus: write a saucy short story)

16 May 2015 9:30

Inspiration for the latest comp came from a young Hunter S. Thompson’s characteristically unorthodox pitch for a position at the Vancouver Sun. An unflattering portrait of his relationship with a… Continue reading

Nicola Sturgeon, as depicted by Morten Morland on the cover of this week's Spectator (with apologies to Delacroix)

Spectator competition: a poem for the victorious Nicola Sturgeon

9 May 2015 12:10

In a 1985 interview with the New Republic,  Mario Cuomo famously said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Last week, we asked competitors to put their own twist… Continue reading

Geoffrey Chaucer. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Nando’s with Chaucer (plus: what became of Belloc’s Lord Lundy?)

2 May 2015 9:30

The title of a poem by Anthony Brode, ‘Breakfast with Gerard Manley Hopkins’, prompted me to invite verse submissions describing a meal with a well-known poet. Sylvia Fairley tucked, somewhat… Continue reading

Sculptor Lady Yarrow checks her model for a one third lifesize bronze statue of champion racehorse Red Rum against the real thing, 6th December 1974. (Photo by Ian Tyas/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a paean to Red Rum (plus: famous writers’ job applications)

27 April 2015 18:45

Thanks to David Pearn, who suggested that I invite competitors to write a paean to a famous racehorse and drew my attention to Right Royal, John Masefield’s 1920 fine narrative… Continue reading

Nigel Farage. No prizes for guessing what his desert island luxuries might be. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: Nigel Farage’s Desert Island discs (plus: a politician’s take on Kipling’s ‘If’)

18 April 2015 9:30

The latest challenge was to suggest suitable Desert Island discs for a historical figure, living or dead. Your choice of castaways was somewhat narrow — Richard III, Henry VIII, Tony… Continue reading

Headshot of American country singer Johnny Cash (1932 - 2003) singing on stage in a still from the film, 'Johnny Cash - The Man, His World, His Music,' directed by Robert Elfstrom, 1969. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: When Ogden Nash met Johnny Cash (plus: brunch with Byron?)

11 April 2015 9:30

The latest brief was to submit irregular quatrains that bring together two people from the world of the arts and finish on a couplet describing the consequences. Popular couplings included… Continue reading

Richard Desmond of the Northern & Shell company at the headquarters of Express Newspapers in central London

Spectator competition: laments for lost newspapers (plus: historical characters’ desert island discs)

28 March 2015 9:30

In his 2004 book The Vanishing Newspaper Philip Meyer predicted that the final hard-copy newspaper will plop through someone’s letterbox in 2043. So who’ll be the first to go? In… Continue reading


Spectator competition: female chauvinist pigs on men behaving badly (plus: when Damon Runyon met John Bunyan…)

21 March 2015 9:30

There are man-haters everywhere, it seems, from children’s telly to high culture. Charges of sexism have been levelled against the creators of the Daddy Pig character in Peppa Pig —… Continue reading

John Betjeman. Image: Getty

Spectator competition: poets’ acrostics (plus: great bores of today)

14 March 2015 9:30

The most recent test of competitors’ skill, wit and ingenuity called for acrostics in the style of a well-known poet, where the first letters of each line spell out the… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: lines on Heaven and Hell (plus: compose a lament for a defunct newspaper)

7 March 2015 9:30

Nietzsche famously said that in Heaven ‘all the interesting people are missing’. To judge by the entries for the latest competition — which asked you to describe your idea of… Continue reading

Circa 1670, English diarist and reformer of the navy, Samuel Pepys (1633 - 1703). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Spectator competition: a Pepys’-eye view of the 21st century (plus: female chauvinist authors)

28 February 2015 12:19

It was Samuel Pepys’s birthday this week and for the latest competition you were invited to imagine him let loose on the streets of 21st-century London and to provide a… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: ‘Shall I compare thee to a camembert?’ — new ways with Sonnet 18 (plus acrostic poets)

21 February 2015 9:30

The challenge to put a fresh spin on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 was the most popular competition for ages. The brief was to replace ‘summer’s day’ with a trisyllable of your… Continue reading


Spectator competition: pogonophobe or pogonophile? (plus: lines on heaven and hell)

15 February 2015 10:28

The beard has come a long way since the dark days of Mr Twit, Jimmy Hill and The Joy of Sex. As Ekow Eshun points out in his insightful essay… Continue reading

I see his face in every flower. Images: Getty

Spectator competition: ‘I really like Ed Miliband. Am I normal?’ Agony uncle Dan Brown responds (plus: a Samuel Pepys’-eye view of 21st-century London)

7 February 2015 8:30

The Japanese novelist-turned-agony uncle Haruki Murakami is currently dishing out advice to fans on topics that range from cats and hate speech to parenting and infidelity. The call to cast… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: Ed Miliband’s bacon roll blues (plus: new ways with Sonnet 18)

31 January 2015 9:22

The most recent challenge asked for blues songs from well-known politicians contemplating the forthcoming general election. In a small but accomplished entry the Lib Dem leader dominated the stage. John… Continue reading

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Spectator competition: Henry VIII’s bedroom tax (plus: poems about beards)

24 January 2015 9:30

In Competition No. 2881 you were invited to take your lead from Carol Ann Duffy and provide an amusing poem about a piece of government legislation. The first line of… Continue reading