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Spectator competition winners: ‘Hail to thee black pudding’ – odes to a greasy spoon

4 July 2016

7:31 PM

4 July 2016

7:31 PM

The invitation to supply an ode to a greasy spoon was prompted by a recent column that Melissa Kite wrote bemoaning the rise of independent cafés and the consequent demise of the decent, non-locally foraged fry-up. In my neck of the woods, certainly, you can’t move for avocado and buckwheat while options that pack that satisfying fat-carb-combo punch are thin on the ground.

Most of your odes were to a caff, but a few chose to address a greasy piece of cutlery instead. I liked Josh Ekroy’s spin on Keats’s ‘Ode on Melancholy’ and there was nice work, too, from Nick Campailla and John Priestland. The winners take £25; Brian Murdoch pockets £30.

Brian Murdoch
Thou spreadst a breakfast in my sight,
Thy filling grease bestoweth,
O transport caff, such pure delight,
My tea mug overfloweth!

Embryos of a farmyard fowll
Fried in the oil, and shining,
With strips of swine-flesh cheek-by-jowl,
Well crisped, by them reclining,

Fat tubes of offal, fungi too,
And bread of heaven grillèd.
Pulses in sauce of ruby hue,
Plates with black pudding fillèd.


It breaketh fasts and maketh whole,
Full English faileth never.
O grant me thy cholesterol
Upon my plate for ever!

Alan Millard
Small wonder that in verse I show respect
To you sweet spoon whose wretched shame I
      share,
Washed up in filthy water through neglect
By slipshod students famed for lack of care.
Yet, when you’re dipped in soup, your smeary
      touch
Against my slimy bottom thrills me so,
I long for friendly fingers that could clutch
Your slippery form and never let you go.
Dear spoon, though squeaky clean we’ll never
      be
For lack of Fairy Liquid in our lives,
I feel convinced that you were made for me
In just the way that forks were made for knives.
When cows jump moons and cats on fiddles play
And little canines laugh to see such fun
Perchance with me, your dish, you’ll run away
And we in greasy bliss shall be as one.

Martin Parker
When, plagued by commonsense and rational
      thought,
I contemplate the weight of rancid grease
I have consumed in years of breakfasts bought
In Tattooed Brenda’s Caff I never cease
To sense the kiss of death in every plate
Of saturated-fat-fried egg and chips
And all those bits, well past their sell-by date,
Of sausage made from sphincters, ears and lips.
And though her greeting call may sound alarms
      —
Fuck me, it’s you again! today’s selection —
The LOVE HATE knuckles on her black-inked
      arms
Suggest perhaps a half chance of affection.
So, though I know her food is to abhor,
May God tomorrow grant me one plate more;
For nothing else can make a day seem rosier
Than Tattooed Brenda’s greasy fried ambrosia.

Frank McDonald
O fat, greasy spoon whom nobody loves
Why did I touch you without wearing gloves?
The substance you ooze when I’m holding you
      lingers
Annoyingly, cloyingly over my fingers.
The ghost of your greasiness somehow remains
Resistant to water, like gunge got from drains.
Although you look innocent, knowing no care,
Steeped in your filthiness, all unaware
Of how you repel me, defiled and obscene,
Unfit to be used until you’re scrubbed clean,
You’ll shine like an angel, with sweet cherub face,
When soap suds have pardoned your present
      disgrace.
O fat, greasy spoon, debased by our dinners,
Perhaps you resemble humanity’s sinners
Who find themselves soiled, and outcasts from
      heaven,
Until they are washed — and then all is forgiven.

John Whitworth
We’re at some place for fashionable nosh.
We huddle on a fashionable bench.
The food is scanty, messed-about and posh.
The menu is extensive and in French.
The wine is house carafe, the purest piss.
You wouldn’t feed such stuff to a baboon.
Dear God. I can’t take any more of this.
Will someone take me to a greasy spoon?

I want their all-day breakfast just for starters:
Three eggs, three sausages, three streaky rashers,
A fried slice, maybe two, mushrooms, tomatoes,
Bliss for the belly, comfort for the gnashers,
Strong milky tea with sugars, lots of those.
I need my sustenance. I need it soon.
Before sheer famishment turns up my toes,
Will someone take me to a greasy spoon?

Chris O’Carroll
Hail to thee, black pudding!
Hail, hog (as thou wert),
Through my innards rooting,
Blood and oats and suet,
Plotting further padding of the chambers of my
      heart.

Hail, young or older waitress —
With two sleeves of tattoos,
Or tight hair, a sedate dress
And thick-soled comfy shoes —
Serving me and other patrons all the fry-ups we
      might choose.

Hail, bubble and hail, squeak!
True veg, let none deny it.
May thy hot-grease mystique,
All-day full breakfast diet,
Bless all the wayfarers at all the caffs that fry it.

Keats wrote a sonnet ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’. Your next challenge is to provide a poem of up to 16 lines entitled ‘On First Looking into [you choose]’. Email entries to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 13 July.


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