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Spectator competition winners: politically correct nursery rhymes

24 September 2016

9:45 AM

24 September 2016

9:45 AM

For the latest competition you were invited to filter popular nursery rhymes through the prism of political correctness. Some years ago, CBeebies came under fire when it took all the fun out of ‘Humpty Dumpty’ by changing the words to give it a happy ending. And it wasn’t just Humpty; Little Miss Muffet and the spider lived nauseatingly happily ever after too.

Now that this culture of avoidance has well and truly taken hold, with the explosion of safe spaces and trigger warnings, it felt like high time to invite you to recast other favourite rhymes into a format that will be acceptable to the offspring of Generation Snowflake.

The first five winners printed below earn £20; the remaining seven nab a tenner each.

Frank Upton
Solomon Grundy
Born on Monday
Named on Tuesday
Entered into a mutually-supportive non-patriarchal non-binary relationship on Wednesday
Took ill on Thursday
Grew worse on Friday
Got better on Saturday
Tweeted inappropriately on Sunday
And that was the end of
Solomon Grundy

Robert Schechter
Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Way above the world so high,
As what do you identify?
Twinkle twinkle little star,
You are just what you say you are!

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, but what’s it to you?
She gave them some broth without any bread,
but gluten-free, organic rice cakes instead.


D.A. Prince
Three visually-impaired mice,
three visually-impaired mice.
Let’s celebrate their skill at running;
let’s marvel at how they are running.
As a team they run behind the woman
who is in equal partnership with a farmer
and who removes their tails (allegedly)
with a sharp kitchen implement.
Have you ever encountered a similar sight
to these three visually-impaired mice?

Frank McDonald
Mary had a little lamb
Its colour an irrelevance;
To say that it was white is but
A piece of racist arrogance.
This animal was by design
Inclined to be unwary,
So it should not surprise us if
The lamb ran after Mary.
And being but a quadruped
With no respect for rules
It was completely ignorant
That sheep don’t go to schools.
In spotting disregard for laws
In Mary’s troubling diary
Her teachers rightly set about
A social work enquiry.

Max Ross
Polly Flinders wasn’t privy
To elements of health and safety
And thus her childish innocence
Fell prey to mother’s negligence.
It happened that said Polly Flinders
Settled down in dirty cinders;
Therefore, as you’ll swiftly guess,
She made a rag of her new dress.
Her mother came upon the scene
Expecting Polly to be clean
But seeing her, she soon reflected
On all the lessons she’d neglected.
Her mother was consumed with guilt
And said: ‘My dear, it’s all my fault.’
To make amends she went and bought a
Cuddly toy to please her daughter.

Chris O’Carroll
As I was going to St Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Though I am no polygamist,
I certainly would not insist
That everyone should live like me.
I greeted him with courtesy.

Jenny Lowe
Ding dong bell;
Pussy’s doing well.
Who took her in?
Little Tommy Green.
What a lovely boy was that
To adopt a rescue cat.

Katie Mallett
Georgie Porgie puddin’ and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
But a teacher got the school to form a
Counselling group to help their trauma.

Truman Murphy
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Their parents were glad that the family had
Such a helpful son and daughter.

Storm Hutchinson
Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ and Pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
He was charged with Sexual Harassment
And publicly humiliated on Social Media.

Nicholas Stone
I know an old lady who swallowed a fly;
I don’t know why she swallowed a fly — but I’ve
called the RSPCA and they’re prosecuting
her.

David Strachan
See-saw Marjory Daw
Johnny has got a new master
He shall get but a penny a day
Because he’s on a zero-hours contract.

Your next challenge is to submit a poem about autumn in the style of the poet of your choice. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 5 October.


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