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Spectator competition winners: ‘A PM’s lot is not a happy one’

28 May 2017

10:00 AM

28 May 2017

10:00 AM

The latest challenge was to supply a poem that takes as its first line W.S. Gilbert’s ‘A policeman’s lot is not a happy one’ but replaces ‘policeman’ with another trade or profession. Although this line doesn’t come until line eight in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Policeman’s Song’, it was the opening I prescribed and so it was with a heavy heart that I had to disqualify some excellent entries that veered off piste (Judith McClure; Hilary Cooper; Charles Clive-Ponsonby-Fane; Carolyn Beckingham; Bill Greenwell).

A competition-setter’s lot is not a happy one, then, but it does have its consolations and I was entertained — and informed — by your parade of teachers, lawyers, coroners, morticians and hitmen.

Paul Evans, Paul Carpenter and Nigel Stuart shone but the bonus fiver belongs to David Silverman while the rest pocket £25.

David Silverman
An Archbishop’s lot is not a happy one:
When you think you’ve got the Devil on the run,
You get War and Plague and Famine
And the people worship Mammon
And you find that flipping mitre weighs a ton.

Then your Canterbury duty’s to be done:
To defend those Ten Commandments, one by one.
What would Jesus do? Best check it.
Just don’t end up like Tom Becket —
Better let the Prince of Wales have his fun.

And the people? Well, when all is said and done,
They’ve more time for Ant and Dec than God the
      Son —
And their idea of religion?
Do they have faith? Just a smidgen —
If you count a chocolate egg and hot cross bun,
And The Snowman and the Christmas Number One.


Rob Stuart
A soap star’s lot is not a happy one;
Your private life is always in the news
(And by ‘the news’ I really mean ‘the Sun’),
Your difficulties with divorce or booze
Are picked apart in public. If your baps
Are briefly bared when changing on the sand,
It’s more than likely that some sleazy pap’s
Observing, telephoto lens in hand.
Perhaps you always dreamed of treading boards,
Essaying Lady Percy at the Swan,
But thanks to all those TV Quick awards,
Whatever hope you might have had has gone.
You might get written out at any time,
And then you’re only fit for pantomime.

Sylvia Smith
A witch’s lot is not a happy one.
Though burning at the stake is now old news —
Thank Hecate! — they keep us on the run
With endless calls for gourmet witches’ brews.
Today, it’s homemade soup that people crave.
Can you imagine all the horrid stuff
We have to handle? Witches must be brave
To rip out living organs. Yes, it’s tough
To get a ‘tongue of dog’ or ‘eye of newt’.
Dear greedy soupies, guess who pulls them out?
You want ‘birth-strangl’d babes’? You heartless
      brute!
Political correctness rules them out.
And riding wooden broomsticks makes us yelp;
They chafe the thighs, and snag the pubic hairs.
Perhaps a leather trouser suit would help;
I’m told that’s what our witch-in-chief now wears.

Adrian Fry
A Civil Servant’s lot is not a happy one
Now that Brexit (which means Brexit) has begun.
We’ll brace ourselves for tussles
With the Eurocrats in Brussels
While our work back home in Britain goes undone.

Liam Fox had us mug up on EU law —
It’s all in Foreign, badly written and a bore.
Red tape not of our making
Is one biscuit we hate taking
But unpicking every Treaty is a chore.

We’ll be decades at the table without pause,
Going over every paragraph and clause
As it’s absolutely vital
We win power back for Whitehall
Where Theresa May will get all the applause.

A Civil Servant’s vote was likely for Remain,
So, as we make the best of Brexit, feel our pain
As we all puff up like Jingo,
Mock their cultures and their lingo
And prepare for war with France, Germany, Spain.

Katie Mallett
A PM’s lot is not a happy one,
Especially when Brexit’s on the table,
With verbal battles to be fought and won
Whilst keeping the economy quite stable.
At night sleep comes and goes like English weather,
Tossing, turning through till break of dawn
It would be good to turn off altogether,
To stay indoors and simply yawn and yawn,
But doorsteps must be visited and voters
Must know that you’re the fittest for the job,
You have to look your best, so even floaters
Admire your smartness and your brand new bob.
And when each voter’s snared, and still remembers
The promises you made, it isn’t fun
When you have to fight with your own party
      members,
Yes, a PM’s lot is not a happy one.

Chris O’Carroll
A hitman’s lot is not a happy one.
It’s true a talent for assassination
May win both gold and fearsome reputation,
Yet killing for a living’s not much fun.

To murder those who personally annoy you
Is bound to be a source of satisfaction,
But of that joy you’ll feel only a fraction
When snuffing foes of strangers who employ you.

Just as a call girl finds sex less than thrilling
Because it’s a profession, not a hobby,
When any man does rubouts as a job, he
Will get a lesser kick out of the killing.

‘My son, you’ve quite a knack with knife and gun’,
A young thug might hear from his doting mother,
‘But when your prey’s selected by another,
A hitman’s lot is not a happy one.’

Your next challenge is to provide lyrics to the European anthem ‘Ode to Joy’. Please email (wherever possible) up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 7 June.

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