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Spectator competition winners: 50 ways to leave the White House

27 October 2019

9:30 AM

27 October 2019

9:30 AM

This week’s assignment was to write the lyrics to a song entitled ‘50 Ways to Leave the White House’.

While the brief steered you in the direction of Paul Simon’s 1975 hit (the inspira-tion for whose distinctive chorus was a rhyming game played with his infant son), I didn’t specify that you had to use that as your template and competitors drew inspi-ration from a variety of other well-known songs.

Honourable mentions go to David Shields, Katie Mallett and Rachael Churchill. The winners below earn £30 each.

Ian Barker
The problem is all about having a legacy.
You need to be sure they will remember you, you
      see.
When it comes down to it I think you will agree,
There must be 50 ways to leave the White House.

Once you’ve left office there is something they’ll
      all know,
Whether you’re Lincoln, Cleveland, Garfield or
      Monroe.
One thing that you’re famous for, a legend that
      will grow,
One of the 50 ways to leave the White House.

A new nation you forge, George.
Make sure you’re well liked, Ike.
No need for a trick, Dick,
Or impeached you will be.
For JFK it’s a real boon,
If we can go to the Moon soon.
See the Soviet Bloc gone, Ron,
And its people set free.

Mike Morrison
At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Take it from me there will be plenty more like you
No matter if you’re full of fake or full of true
There must be fifty ways to leave the White House

What you became you couldn’t know it at your birth
We voted you to host the greatest show on earth
Until you realised exactly what it’s worth
To be the loner and the loser in the lighthouse


Shoulda snuck out the back, Barack
Just gone for a walk, Polk
You needed the push, Bush
Your days were all done

Time came to rub ya, Dubya
We didn’t trust a word, Bird
Oh boy were you daft, Taft
Now each of you’s gone.

Max Ross
And did those feet in former times
Walk proudly through the White House doors?
Did Lincoln, Wilson, Eisenhower
And Reagan know these famous floors?

How did they leave, these powerful lords?
Bequeathing us some famous phrase?
Do echoes of their acts remain
Today in half a hundred ways?

How did they leave their hallowed halls
Who wore a crown of thorny fame?
With gladness, sadness, and renown?
With sorrow, with regret or shame?

With gentle humour, hope or hurt?
With cruelty, kindness, blame or praise?
The whisper of their last goodbye
We sense perhaps in fifty ways.

Bill Greenwell
Well, why not die pneumonic’ly, although it is
      embarrassin?
That was the studied exit plan of William Henry
      Harrison —
He briefly sneezed to death, a chief with fine but
      fatal quality.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White
      House and its polity.

Or take a bullet in the gut, and wait till it is
      gangrenous —
(The man who shot McKinley said, ‘Dear Sir, you
      have been ang’rin us’) —
He died inside a fortnight in a small Niagara
      snuggery.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White
      House’s skulduggery.

Or eat raw cherries, bag yourself a case of general
      cholera —
Like Taylor (known as Zachary), a very careless swallerer —
He also drank some freezing milk, which gave a
      chilly lactic hiss.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White
      House and its practices.

Or feed the world some fibs until it’s filling to
      capacity,
As Richard Nixon did, since he was porous with
      mendacity –
When he flew out, Columbia was torchless and
      wore tattered hems.
There must be fifty ways to leave the White
      House and its stratagems.

Paul Freeman
‘Jobs in the Oval Office can lack longevity,
Some folk leave on their hands and knees,’ Trump
      said to me.
‘And others end up in the penitentiary —
There’s more than fifty ways to leave the White
      House.

‘It’s very easy when you work for me to fail,
“SAD”, exclamation point, coz you may be facing
      jail.
The best you can hope for is a pardoning or bail,
There’s more than fifty ways to leave the White
      House.’

Get fired by a Tweet, Pete,
More time with your spouse, Klaus,
Just fall on your sword, Maude
And your penance is done.

Give the whistle a blow, Joe,
No need to confess, Jess,
Zip your lip when in court, Mort
And your penance is done.

Your next challenge is to compose a clerihew about any date in the calendar. Please email entries (up to three each) to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 6 November.


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