In Competition No. 3129 you were invited to submit a poem entitled ‘’Twas the Night Before Brexit’. That seasonal classic ‘A Visit From St Nicholas’, more usually known as ‘The Night Before Christmas’, was published anonymously in 1823 and written by Clement Clarke Moore — or at least he claimed it was. The family of the gentleman-poet Henry Livingston Jr later contended that he was the author, and the controversy rumbles on. Space is short so I will use what remains to thank you all, veterans and newcomers alike, for your terrifically witty and well-made entries over the past 12 months. I look forward to many more in the year ahead.
This week’s prizewinners, printed below, earn £30 apiece. Merry Christmas!
’Twas the night before Brexit, and all through the land
The leavers strung bunting, and primed their brass band,
With The Gover in Dover, his snook cocked and sterling,
And Boris in Morris gear, hanky unfurling,
While weaseler Gisela dreamed of saving the groat,
And Farage was massaging Old Stoat in his throat —
As Jacob the Mogg gave his sprogs British bangers,
And Truss drove the bus while she juggled some clangers.
But in Sunderland, thunder; in Hartlepool, hail;
In Boston and Spalding, a hurricane gale;
In Barnsley and Harlow, a new plague of frogs;
In Bolsover, ice storms; in Fenland, fresh fogs —
There was blood in the rivers, and bile in the sea,
And a voice full of brimstone roared ‘Did you ask ME?
Your plans are as brainless as locker-room banter!’
For God’s a Remainer (and so too is Santa).
’Twas the night before Brexit and, plagued with a stoop,
Old Boris, though ninety, was all cock-a-hoop.
After decades of wrangling, despair and dismay,
The affable rogue had at last got his way.
Jo Swinson, now wizened and withered with age,
No longer could muster derision or rage,
While Corbyn, inclined to the Zionist way,
Was set on becoming a rabbi one day.
The Nation, despondent and down on its knees,
Unable to fathom the wood from the trees,
Was sick to the back teeth of outcomes delayed
And couldn’t care less if we left or we stayed.
’Twas the night before Brexit with nothing to dread
But settling with Europe in years still ahead
And Britain predestined for doom or delight —
‘Happy Brexit to all, and to all a good night!’
’Twas the night before Brexit and all through the House
The MPs were sitting as still as a mouse
Not daring to speak, with their mouths open wide,
And some showed a terror their eyes couldn’t hide,
For a figure appeared and he glanced all around
At the Parliament gathered that made not a sound,
And he lifted his hand and began with a roar:
‘There’s no cause for panic. We’ve been here before.
We’ve fought on our own and we’ll do it again.
You have no need of Italy, Sweden or Spain,
Nor Germany, Denmark or Belgium or France.
Our own sterling efforts made Britain advance.
Tomorrow, I tell you, will bring back the power
That once I made use of in our finest hour.’
Some fancied they heard, as he vanished from sight:
‘I bid you a bountiful Brexit. Goodnight!’
’Twas the Night before Brexit in a house sorely riven
Where sides had been taken when the choice was first given:
One spouse chose to stay in the safe status quo,
The other said, ‘No, let us cast off and go!’
In arguing over the ins and the outs,
They had now and then some full-bore verbal bouts,
And each of them joined fellow inners or outers
In groups of the faithful who suffered no doubters.
But this was the Night to put that in the past,
Since the false starts had stopped, with the die truly cast.
Battle won, then — or lost — at last it was done,
So the couple themselves reunited as one.
And they realised too, as they came to reflect,
While the Channel divides it does also connect:
So, Europe becoming neither farther nor nearer,
They wished one another a Happy New Era.
’Twas the night before Brexit… — a curious feast,
Of traditions the one that we understand least!
The date that we celebrate now seems immutable
But historians think that it used to be movable.
Its origins lie many centuries past,
And it calls for no action, except in Belfast,
Where for reasons obscure, but traditionally,
People shout out ‘snow-boarders’ at the Irish Sea.
Beyond that, in Bognor we’ll have once again
The great lettuce-race (between ‘Leaf’ and ‘Romaine’).
Etymologists wonder what ‘Brexit’ might mean
Maybe ‘breakfast’, ‘relaxing’, or something obscene?
We’ll wish ‘Happy Extension’ to all that we meet
As we set off to work on the Eurojet-fleet,
And although its true meaning no one can recall,
On Brexit day nothing must happen at all.
No. 3132: bizarre books
You are invited to provide an extract from one of the following books (these are genuine titles): Noah Gets Naked: Bible Stories They Didn’t Teach You at Sunday School; The Joy of Waterboiling; Ending the War on Artisan Cheese; Versailles: The View from Sweden. Please email entries of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 15 January.
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