That was the year that was

4 January 2014

9:00 AM

4 January 2014

9:00 AM

In Competition 2828 you were invited to submit a retrospective verse commentary on 2013. Reasons to be cheerful are, apparently, somewhat thin on the ground. Alanna Blake’s opening couplet captures the general mood of the entry:

The year is past, it’s maybe best
To let the poor thing lie at rest.

The arrival of a royal baby injected a more positive note, albeit leavened by a healthy dash of cynicism. Here’s Jerome Betts:

Yet still, you welcomed young Prince George,
A howling future Head of State,
Then let the media-vultures gorge
On shots of —Wow! — unweighty Kate

Commendations to Trish Davis and Chris O’Carroll, who were unlucky losers. The winners take £25 each and the bonus fiver belongs to Alan Millard. Happy New Year!

Firstly the weather (according to Twitter):
‘From bitter to better then wetter to bitter’;
In Westminster more of the same: caterwauling,
With all of the usual booing and bawling;
In Europe, resentment, with Britain backtracking
And Merkel embittered by telephone hacking;
In Royalty, annus mirabilis — joy
With Kate spared the Tower by bearing a boy;
In Olympics, a legacy ceasing to matter
With few of us fitter and most of us fatter;
But gays can be gay, with no reason to tarry
They’re able, at last, to be merry and marry;
And, soon to be girded in gaiters with crosier,
Women in collars face futures far rosier.
Cameron is premier, Francis is pope,
‘Heaven’s tomorrow,’ they promise. Let’s hope!
Alan Millard

Bitcoin rose, the Pope resigned,
Assad clung on, but Morsi fell,
George VII was born refined,
The Co-op nearly went to Hell,
The US government was stalled,
A nightclub burned up in Brazil,
Lady Thatcher’s name was called,
Tie Rack, Comet shut their till,
They found a deadly Sars-like virus,
Ukip graced opinion polls,
Twerking hyped up Miley Cyrus,
Ronaldo reached 300 goals,
Microsoft acquired Nokia,
One Direction found more fandom,
Lance confessed on Oprah, cockier:
These events are truly random.
Bill Greenwell

Farewell, then, to thirteen-and-twenty,
Not a year one could call a success,
With famine still shadowing plenty
And death and disaster no less.
Brute Nature wreaked global disaster
Through earthquake and tempest and flood;
Mankind, learning well from this master,
Found causes to let yet more blood.
In Britain there wasn’t much mayhem,
With ‘bombshell’ a journalists’ trope;
But a gale did disrupt things one a.m.,
Giving mongers of doom some more rope.
The political war was still phoney —
Yah-boo head-to-head, tit-for-tat.
The country stayed broke, but not stony,
So let’s all be grateful for that.
W.J. Webster

How went your year? Our summer turned out
Murray won Wimbledon; King Richard’s bones
Went on display; the House of Windsor’s line
Was added to (boy, George);  more housing loans
For those with mega-wads; the C of E
Thought women bishops weren’t so bad, at last;
MPs approved gay marriage; Grayson P
Gave the Reith Lectures a refreshing cast.
The South saw growth, so everything’s all right.
The Chancellor can beam and smirk: all’s good.
Austerity? — that’s for the poor; the light
shines on the City (as, of course, it should).
The North? well, nothing’s doing much up there
where out of sight’s securely out of mind.
They’ve nothing much to celebrate. Unfair?
Just ask the government, if you’re inclined.
D.A. Prince

Some skyscrapers won’t have a floor thirteen,
Yet every single century has the year.
Triskaidekaphobia is a foolish fear
Since every year’s a horror magazine.
Twelve months, twelve stories, each a grisly tale,
The winning formula ‘more of the same’ —
The same old gang playing the same old game,
The same old serpent swallowing its tail.
The usual suspects and the usual lies,
The scandals that disgust yet still amuse,
‘Still wars and lechery’ (and drugs and booze);
Sensations by the ton but no surprise.
Good fortune, then, to those who won’t keep quiet
Or scatter when the bullshit hits the fan,
The free and brave who stand up to the Man.
Let’s hear it, everyone, for Pussy Riot.
Basil Ransome-Davies
2013 was quite a boring year —
Bankers and such are still corrupt, we hear,
But Prince George joined the queue (it’s rather
To be our king (in sixty years or so).
Thank God all that Olympics stuff had gone,
Though when the Murray chap won Wimbledon
They called him the first Brit to make the grade
Since Perry, airbrushing Virginia Wade.
Still, feminists in orders may rejoice,
Now bishoprics are not jobs for the boys.
Professor Higgs then got the Nobel p.
For postulating something you can’t see.
There were some anniversaries, it’s true:
Wagner and Verdi, Britten, Dr Who,
Though next year’s lot will not be so much fun,
With Bannockburn, alas, and World War One.
Brian Murdoch

No. 2831: Essence of…

You are invited to compose what might be a quintessential opening paragraph from the pen of one of the following: Graham Greene, Franz Kafka, Tolkien, Jane Austen (150 words max.). Please email entries to by midday on 15 January.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

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