In Competition No. 2898 you were invited to give an update on one of the children in Cautionary Tales who lived to tell the tale.
Belloc’s gallery of kiddie delinquents suffered particularly unpleasant comeuppances — being eaten, feet upwards, by a lion, and so on. Of those who did escape with their lives, weepy Lord Lundy and Algernon (who narrowly missed killing his sister with a loaded gun) were the most popular subjects in this comp.
Max Ross’s entry, in which Algernon grows up to be a jihadi, had a chilling topical twist: ‘Thus, in the best religious fashion,/ Al-gee indulged his boyhood passion’. Both Mae Scanlan and Chris O’Carroll saw a glittering future for Franklin Hyde, digger of dirt, as a member of the press. And Mark Lemmon thought that Godolphin Horne (‘He held the Human race in Scorn’) might make an excellent Newsnight presenter.
The winners, in a large and excellent entry, take £25 each. Noel Petty nets £30.
Lord Lundy lived for decades yet,
His eyes still obstinately wet.
He lived through wars and slumps and such
And didn’t like them very much.
One day, though, he was called to share
The nuptials of a Royal Pair.
There in the Abbey with his peers,
Lundy broke down in joyous tears.
It was a gift: the Press went wild —
grandee in touch with inner child!
This New Age fashion grew with force
And dry-eyed males were deemed quite coarse.
He died, redeemed, in tears of bliss,
A single stone declaring this:
‘Lundy, the weeping earl, lies here.
Traveller, pause and shed a tear.’
Charles Augustus Fortescue
Continued all his Life to do
Those Things that he believed were Right.
Alas! His unquenched Appetite
For Greasy Morsels made him fat;
One day, he burst, and that was that.
Detectives searching for Remains
Found nothing but some rancid Stains.
This Moral should be understood:
However Nice or Kind or Good
You are, try never to indulge
In Food that makes you Bloat and Bulge,
And clogs your Arteries and Veins,
For Bodies wax when Reason wanes.
While Mutton-Fat is not a Sin,
Obesity will do you in.
You will recall young Sarah Byng
Who would not learn to read a thing.
Illiterate, but yet no fool,
She found, escaping from that bull,
That girls might gain some useful knowledge
Without the bounds of school or college.
She trawled through Wikipedia
Then conquered social media.
The cognoscenti all agog
Would follow Sarah’s daily blog.
Nor must my tale omit to mention
How Sal secured her future pension:
Identifying techies’ gaps
And marketing ingenious apps.
For girls concerned with getting on
The need for books has long since gone.
‘The Devil take you, Algernon,
For what you’ve managed with that gun!
You missed your sister, mild and sweet,
By six or even seven feet!
What utterly appalling aim!
How can a father bear the shame?’
At this the boy essayed again
And put a bullet in her brain.
‘Bravo!’ said Father, ‘Good for you!
Now pop a cap in Mother too.
Let’s wipe out all the household scum
Before the Black Marias come.’
And later on in court that day
A learned judge was heard to say
‘To Strangeways with this wretched pair!’
For all I know they’re both still there.
Lord Lundy, who was lachrymose,
And scarcely ever Blew his Nose,
Was readying to Set to Sea
To rule the Convict Colony,
When on the Quay, he kicked a stone
And very nearly Cracked a Bone.
While Lundy had a Frightful Blub,
The Servant of a Soccer Club,
Who chanced to see the Stone take Flight
Signed Lundy up, and overnight
His Weeping kept the Crowds enthralled.
When their ‘Lord Luzza’, sent off, bawled,
The fans, a most Surprising Mob,
Cheered every single sorry sob.
‘A millionaire?’ the old Duke growled,
At which Lord Lundy simply howled.
But boys grow up. Godolphin saw
If blacking boots is what he’s for
Then Life is nasty, brutish, short
And not as good as he’d once thought.
He eyed his comrades, read some Marx,
And pondered work was not all larks
But deeply serious. More, their chains
Could be cast off and down the drains.
More pay! Equality! He roared
And terrified the Savoy Board.
A boot-boy strike? The hotel quailed.
The rich and well-shod wept and wailed.
Godolphin won; he seized the day,
Knew Workers’ Power was the way.
He spread Red Flag Philosophy
And now he runs the TUC.
No. 2901: Future perfect
Stephen Spender wrote a poem celebrating pylons as symbols of progress. You are invited to submit a poem in praise of another modern-day blot on the landscape. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 3 June.
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