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Spectator competition winners: Boris Johnson in trochaic tetrameter

12 January 2020

9:30 AM

12 January 2020

9:30 AM

The latest challenge invited you to add to Sam Leith’s lines about Boris Johnson, written in the metre of Longfellow’s ‘The Song of Hiawatha’: ‘Mayor of London Boris Johnson/ Much admired the lady’s pole-dance/ Mentored well her start-up business…’

Though Longfellow has long fallen out of fashion, in his day he was a poet celebrity, imitated by Baudelaire, parodied by Lewis Carroll and outselling Browning and Tennyson (he was also the first American to be honoured with a marble bust in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey). The poet J.D. McClatchy, writing in the New York Times, noted that on Long-fellow’s 70th birthday it was proclaimed that ‘there is no man living for whom there is so universal a feeling of love and gratitude, and no man who ever wore so great a fame so getly and simply’.

What we’ll all be saying about Boris when he hits 70 remains to be seen but in the mean-time, here are some reflections, in your best trochaic tetrameter, on how he’s doing so far. The winners earn £25.

Basil Ransome-Davies
It was Boris’s charisma,
His sulphuric look of power
Shooting from demented eyeballs,
That dissolved elastic waistbands
In so many ladies’ knickers,
Caused the strongest ones to perish —
Perish like the stricken bison!
Followed by their other clothing,
Shed like falling leaves in autumn,
Overcome by Bojo’s mojo,
Thus he also conquered Corbyn,
Feeble relic of Old Labour,
And his creepy gang of cohorts
In the general election,
Arming him to lead his country
To the desert of its future.

Bill Greenwell
Now canoodling with his public,
Tempting them as King Farouk did,
Boris flashed his very hot pants,
Pink and floral, from Hawaii,
Burning k-cals by the hour
Though he dashed towards his breakfast;
As the ladies gushed his praises,
So he held aloft his bacon,
Bacon which was soft and salty,
Bacon rich in pollster protein,
Favoured high by Sur-Jawn-Kurtis,
Statistician whom he worshipped,
Never dreaming Mikigovas
Took his tomahawk to practise,
Took it to his wigwam nightly,
Gazing at his own reflections…

Brian Murdoch
Boris had a mind to travel
Far across the big-sea-water,
To the Mighty Chief, the Donald,
But he found him in the prison,
Locked up in the jail, the Cho-Key,
Since the warpath, the Im-Peach-Ment.
Sadly he returned to London
To his wigwam at Ten-Dow-Ning,
But he found the front-door bolted,
Found the keys no longer working,
Found his clothing in a bundle
Made of plastic, called the Bin-Bag,
Lying on the chilly pavement,
With a note from new squaw Kar-ri,
Who had talked with the pole dancer,
Said that he must leave the tepee,
Go and move in with Prince Andrew…

Nick Hodgson
Swiftly he declared his interest
For this child of the Arcuri,
(Blonde she was, which pleased him greatly);
Chose her for a foreign mission,
Chose her as a business envoy —
More attractive than Prince Andrew.
Came the media asking questions;
Though unanswered went her phone calls,
Her admirer she defended:
‘He’s a guy you want to hang with;
He’s a guy to lead his country’;
Yet in spite of all the questions,
Not confirming or denying
What’s of interest to the public:
(Never mind the public interest)
Did they ….? (choose your euphemism).

Chris O’Carroll
What flamboyant Boris dancing
Did he do to entertain her?
Did he, polewise, gyrate for her?
Did she then return the favour?
Or was all the public money
In her purse hard won by merit?

Can one trust his statements thereon?
Speaking true is just one option,
Often not the PM’s first choice,
So the public feels entitled
To discount the way he spins it
When he touches on the spinning
And the other acrobatics
That may not or may have happened
When he visited her flat and
They got strictly down to business.

Nick MacKinnon
Boris Johnson rode a zipwire
from the peak of his Olympics,
crossed the River Thames at Greenwich
in an Emirati podule,
saw the bridgeless gap at Temple,
spanned it with Joanna’s garden,
grabbed a BorisBike at Woolwich,
rode it through the virgin tunnel
bored by engineers at Crossrail
to the ditch he’d dug at Heathrow
where he rammed a big bulldozer
with a moth-balled water-cannon,
hopped aboard a new Routemaster,
flashed a grin at the conductor,
asked her if she’d blip his Oyster,
wondered if she fancied transport.

There are many memorable meals in literature. Your next challenge is to provide a passage about food written in the style of a well-known author. Please email entries of up to 150 words/16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 22 January.


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