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Spectator competition winners: Coleridge’s wedding guest

9 April 2017

8:06 AM

9 April 2017

8:06 AM

The call for a response from Coleridge’s Wedding-Guest attracted a bumper entry with lots of clever nods to his ballad of sin and atonement. Some of you were more charitable than others to the gimlet-eyed seadog with verbal diarrhoea. In a hotly contested week, Brian Allgar, Chris O’Carroll, Max Gutmann, Graham King and Mike Morrison came close to glory but were pipped by the winners, below, who take £25 each. Basil Ransome-Davies nabs £30.

Basil Ransome-Davies
My mates and me were larging it,
As pissed as several newts.
Three wedding guests, we was all dressed
In Jasper Conran suits.

This geezer came up — ponged a bit,
Well hairy, bleedin’ old —
With ‘No offence, excuse me, gents,
My tale has to be told.’

His style was not just roundabout;
You wouldn’t call him sane.
His story’d veer from there to here
And halfway back again.

But yeah, one single fact stood out:
His bird caused his despair.
Long story short? The clingy sort.
Poor sod. We’ve all been there.

Nicholas Hodgson
The wiser, sadder Wedding-Guest
Arose the morrow morn
And sought the ancient Mariner
To pay back yawn for yawn.

He then described a round of golf,
Each shot, both hit and miss;
The Mariner grew wearier,
Until he came to this:

‘It was the best drive of my life,
Struck long and straight and true;
I then chipped in from forty yards:
A par five, holed in two!

About your wanderings far and wide
I could not give a toss;
You’re not the only one, you see,
Who’s shot an albatross.’


Bill Greenwell
Water, water everywhere!
The wine had all been drunk,
The best man and the bridesmaids had
Already done a bunk.

The speeches and the vol-au-vents
Lay cold upon the trestle —
And all because I heard it out,
His nightmare on a vessel.

‘I know you were a mariner
In Foo Chow, hot from Frisco,
But more important, you’ve ensured
I missed the dreaded disco.’

I kissed his ancient, fishy lips,
Slipped coin inside his coat —
‘Your albatross — it brought you loss —
But sir, it wins my vote.’

Alan Millard
It is an irate wedding guest
Who, in that selfsame week,
Beholds the Ancient Mariner
And says, ‘Now I shall speak.’

‘Best man was I with speech well-made,
Each phrase and nuance duly weighed,
But being late, by thee delayed,
My talk was never heard.

Composed with wit and seemly taste,
My discourse shall not go to waste
And thee, though thou wouldst leave in haste,
Shall hear it, every word.’

The mariner must listen long
And learn at costly price
He wins men’s hearts who least imparts
And keeps his tales concise!

David Silverman
It is a merry Wedding-Guest
And he snoggeth one of three.
The Bridesmaid’s eyes are opened wide:
‘Now wherefore snog’st thou me?

Hold off! Unhand me, greybeard loon!’
Efstsoons he turneth pink.
‘There’s cheap Prosecco everywhere:
I’ve had a lot to drink.

It seems there’s been an awkward scene.
I shot the Deejay dead,
For he replaceth ‘Dancing Queen’
With ‘Albatross’ instead.

Alas, the curse of Fleetwood Mac
Lieth heavy on my soul.
I’ve shot the Groom and Best Man too:
Methinks I’m on a roll.’

Anne du Croz
I feared thee, Ancient Mariner,
I feared thy skinny hand;
But, now I’ve heard thy grisly tale,
I think I understand

The curse you suffered when you shot
The sacred albatross.
Go well, my friend, and may you thrive;
Forget thy pain and loss.

Eat well, sleep well too, dance and sing,
With others of goodwill;
And do not hide thyself away
For loneliness can kill.

Try yoga, zumba, martial arts,
To make thee feel alive;
And throw away that vile crossbow:
Let all God’s creatures thrive.

Your next challenge is to submit ribald limericks as they might have been written by a well-known poet (please specify), living or dead. Please email up to four entries each to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 19 April.

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