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

24 January 2015

9:30 AM

24 January 2015

9:30 AM

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 Duffy’s poem ‘22 Reasons for the Bedroom Tax’, ‘Because the badgers are moving the goalposts’, is, of course, a reference to environment secretary Owen Paterson’s unfortunate attempt to explain the government’s failure to reach cull targets.

A congratulatory slap on the back to Adrian Fry, who managed to wring an entertaining poem out of the Chancel Repair Bill. Commendations, too, to Mike Morrison, Virginia Price Evans, Max Ross and John Whitworth. Alan Millard takes the bonus fiver. The rest get £25 each.

Alan Millard
’Twas legislation heaven-sent,
A spark of pure enlightenment,
That glorious Act of Parliament
Which crowned the days of yore:
Austerity throughout the land,
Delights denied, indulgence damned,
The ecstasy of Christmas banned
In 1644.

O Cameron, follow Cromwell’s lead
And have us all from Christmas freed
By legislation which, indeed,
Would fervently be backed!
We’ve had our fill of Christmas fare,
The annual frenzy drives us spare,
Restore the law, be Cromwell’s heir
And reinstate the Act!

Brian Allgar
We, Henry, have a scheme to fill the coffers
Of our estate, impov’rished by the greed
And profligacy of disloyal scoffers
Possessing chambers far beyond their need.
The Queen herself hath but a single
       bedroom,
The ceiling low, which causes her to stoop.
(Yet soon enough, she’ll have no need for
       headroom;
That pretty neck outstretched, her head
       shall droop.)
Henceforth, an imposition shall be raised
On all who have more bedrooms than
       required.
Our Chancellor, good Cromwell, is amazed:
‘Your Majesty, the notion is inspired!’
The Act is just, for we ourselves did frame it,
And now decree ‘The Sleeping-Chamber
       Tax’.
But those who would dishonor or defame it
Shall have a sev’rance payment — from the axe.

Frank McDonald
A stranded sturgeon when it’s seen
must be surrendered to the Queen
and then what happens to the fish
depends upon the royal wish.
But what, one wonders, should one do
if Nicola comes into view
sunbathing on some British beach
believing she is out of reach?
Should she be ferried from the sands
to London, as the Law demands,
or thrown back, by those who caught her,
into the ocean’s oily water?
No doubt she’d make a dainty dish,
a first-class fighter of a fish,
which, served with haggis to impress,
would have her Highness screaming: ‘YES!’


Martin Parker
It’s silly to hoard your pension pot;
annuity rates are diddly-squat.
Now the government’s letting you blow the lot
on the latest vote-catching scheme they’ve got.

So, empty your pension pot. Don’t go gently
into retirement. Go by Bentley,
Rolls, Bugatti or Maserati
courtesy of the Tory Party.

Or swap the lot for women and song
and a month in the sun on Necker.
Just blow the lot. You can’t go wrong,
says The Chancellor of the Exchequer

who quick as a flash will snaffle the lot —
the reason he’s keen to commend it —
by charging you Tax when you cash your pot
and VAT when you spend it.

W.J. Webster
Green, green the promises
Enshrined in statute law;
No time for Doubting Thomases
In this new holy war.
Let fossil fuel be left to lie
Untroubled in its bed:
In future we’ll use sun and sky
To give us power instead.
No matter that the sun may dim,
Air be as often still,
We’ll cater for that interim
By force of faith and will.
In pious penance as a nation
We’ll snare the carbon snark
And in our proud self-abnegation
Leap into the dark.

SEG Hopkin
My dearest one, you know I would adore you
To be my princess and my queen some day;
I’d love to see the people bow before you,
But the Act of Settlement is in the way.

If your divorce were all, we’d be in clover,
Since Grandpa Charles has triumphed in the
       fray;
The bigamy is easily got over,
But the Act of Settlement is in the way.

Your prison record wouldn’t scare the nation,
A PR firm would find that children’s play;
Your husband well deserved his immolation,
But the Act of Settlement is in the way.

If you had only offered goats to Brahma,
It’s no one else’s business how you pray;
But since you are a Catholic, my charmer,
The Act of Settlement is in the way.

You are invited to submit a poem in praise or dispraise of beards. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 4 February.


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