In Competition 2823 you were invited to submit a school essay or poem written at the age of eight by a well-known person, living or dead, entitled ‘My Pet’ .
Those of you who chose to step into the childhood shoes of well-known writers faced the tricky challenge of pulling off an element of pastiche while at the same time producing something that could plausibly have been written by an eight-year-old. Emily Dickinson, a famously precocious child, was a popular choice.
Gordon Gwilliams’s entry revealed the stirrings of educational-reformist zeal in the young Michael Gove, while Richard Hayes’s brought to life Russell Brand, budding Narcissus. I also liked Susan McLean’s already-jaundiced Boy Larkin.
The winners take £25 each. Max Ross scoops the extra fiver.
O’ a’ the beasties in ma hoose
The one I love’s a bonnie moose.
I caught him stealing bits o’ bread.
Now I make sure that he’s well fed.
He used tae run when I cam near
But I would tell him: ‘Dinna fear’
And now I think he understands
He winna suffer frae ma hands.
I’m just a kiddie, so is he,
He’s wee and timid, just like me,
But I’m his brother and his mate,
We dinna ken what lies in wait.
Ma faither laughs whene’er I fret
If something happens tae my pet.
‘Ah, Rabbie, son,’ he’ll aye exclaim,
‘A moose will never bring ye fame’
Max Ross/Robert Burns
I wish I was my bulldog.
He’s good and gruff and grim.
He won’t be bossed or bullied.
I wish I was like him.
He’s been like that for ever,
Well, since he was a pup,
When he has something that he wants
He’ll never give it up.
He’d be a brilliant leader
And win a million fights
If I was like my bulldog
I’d put the world to rights.
I’d love to have his toughness,
A stern mouth and chin
And then I’d shout to all the world
‘We’re NEVER giving in!’
Frank McDonald/Winston Churchill
My pet is a dog that my family calls Grip, but he is known as Hu by the fairies that live in our garden and Growrg by the wicked wolves. I don’t know his real name because he won’t tell me. My brother says there are no fairies or wolves in Birmingham but I have heard the fairies whispering and the wolves howling at night yet I am not frightened! That is when Grip goes out to fight the wolves and though Mama scolds him for being a bad dog and getting into fights I know he is a noble warrior. My dog has a coat of darkest sable and eyes like the Moon when she gazes through storm-wrack. I believe he is really a prince among dogs. There is much more I could say but I only have 150 words so I must stop.
‘You should have pets!’ was Daddy’s cry,
‘And I will help you choose a name’.
The pet shop had a good supply
And my stik insect ‘Karl’ became.
Now David, after much deep thought,
Had set his heart on a piraner,
But when this idea came to nort,
He made do with an iguaner.
Karl settled in, happy and good;
He liked disguys — you couldn’t see
At any one time where he stood
(This seems a good idea to me).
But then one day Karl was no more,
By iguaner swalowed whole,
And David just said, ‘Nature’s raw’.
Revenge on D is now my goal.
Roger Theobald/Ed Miliband
Father inton’d — a Pet thou needst —
In Dread I quiver’d — Why —
The Options thus — a Pussy-Cat
Or Puppy — I pick’d Fly
Wrath bandag’d him — I trembl’d taut —
My Choice — deeply denied —
Mind knew its Mind — Musca alone
Would buzz me — satisfied
Fly seeks not close — Companionship
No Toys nor Exercise
Hopes Nothing — disregards the Life —
Aspires but Heav’nwise
Daughter – betake thee to thy Room —
In Joy I trod — to Bed —
Wish there fulfill’d — pale-Pillowcas’d —
One bright Bluebottle — dead
Mike Morrison/Emily Dickinson
If I had a mousie pet,
He might be eaten by a cat.
If a kitty were my pet,
An omnibus might squash him flat.
A fish would be a boring pet,
Just swimming round his bowl all day,
And a budgie, if the window’s
Left ajar, might fly away.
Even though some say a doggie
Is the perfect kind of pet,
I don’t think I’d like it if he
Licked my face and got me wet,
And I know I wouldn’t like it
If he messed the nursery floor.
So I believe the best pet is
My teddy, Archie Ormsby-Gore.
Chris O’Carroll/John Betjeman
No. 2826: winter’s tale
You are invited to submit a piece of nonsense verse on a wintry theme (up to 16 lines). Please email entries, wherever possible, to email@example.com by midday on 27 November.
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