Competition winners: Clerihews on Spectator contributors

25 April 2020

9:00 AM

25 April 2020

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 3145, to mark the 10,000th issue of The Spectator, you were invited to submit clerihews (two couplets, AABB, metrically clunky, laconic and humorous in tone) on the magazine’s contributors.

My predecessor Jaspistos was a popular subject. Clerihews should contain biographical truth and D.A. Prince assures me that the incident described in her entry, a pre–internet judge’s worst nightmare, really did happen. If indeed it did, Jaspistos was not alone; entries to a New Statesman comp once flew out of the judge’s bicycle basket down High Holborn, and were lost for ever. Commendations go to G.N. Crockford, Nick Syrett, Sid Field, Robin Gilbert, Jeremy Carlisle and Peter Greystone, but now seems a fitting time to thank you all, compers present and past, for your witty, erudite and technically accomplished submissions over the years. The winners earn £8 per clerihew printed.

Kingsley Amis
had many fans who may miss
him terribly, but at least they can hearten
to know we still have Martin.

Auberon Waugh
is hard to adore,
but it takes no effort to revel in
Robert Schechter

Mary, as in ‘Dear Mary’,
Is not hairy,
And could probably advise the nation
On posh methods of depilation.

Our own Wordsworth, Dot,
Is obviously not
Indifferent to a word’s origin,
So she knows a porringer’s not for putting porridge in.
Hugh King

Jeffrey Bernard,
Finding sobriety very hard,
Got legless
More literally than most Coach & Horses reg’lars.
Adrian Fry

Mr Johnson, whom we all call Boris,
Studied Tacitus, Virgil and Horace,
But now, in these dark days of Covid,
He reads Ovid.
David Silverman

Alice Thomas Ellis
Knew exactly where hell is —
Where Satan touches his forelock
To Archbishop Derek Worlock.
Bill Greenwell

Auberon Waugh
Thought his given name rather a bore.
‘Perhaps my parents suffered from Shakespeare mania,
But I feel a right Titania.’
Brian Allgar

Bernard Levin
First got his engine revvin’
In this very paper
As Taper.
W.J. Webster

once suffered a terrible loss
by leaving all the entries sent in by us
on a London bus.
D.A. Prince

Rod Liddle
Can play woke folk like a fiddle,
And he’s not a person who shrinks
From saying what the man on the Clapham omnibus thinks.

Noel Petty
Had the grace of a gazelle on the Serengeti.
Again and again he dominated competitions
With brilliant submissions.
Frank McDonald

Jaspistos (alias James Michie)
Set competitions that were tricky,
But winning one utterly dispelled the blues
(And in those happy days the top prize was booze.)
George Simmers

Dear Mary
As a dinner companion would be quite scary.
One would worry about being thought an oik
Using the wrong knife and foik.
Max Ross

Knows a high-life lark. He
Packed his cocaine
And headed for the plane.
Graham Greene

Judged Shirley Temple on the silver screen
More than age-appropriately cute.
Her studio filed suit.
Chris O’Carroll

Rod Liddle
Possesses a griddle
To cook the mincemeat
He makes of the liberal elite.

‘Evelyn Waugh’
Rhymes with ‘Bernard Shaw’.
So why ‘Shavian’,
But not ‘Wavian’?
Basil Ransome-Davies

The hardest crosswords were those
Set by Dumpynose.
I don’t know if it’s a her or a him,
Only that it’s an anagram of ‘pseudonym’.
Brian Murdoch

No. 3148: selfie

Some famous painters are thought to have slipped small self-portraits into their other work. What if a well-known novelist had done the same with an added minor character? You are invited to submit the resulting extract (up to 150 words and please specify author). Email entries to by midday on 6 May. NB. We are un-able to accept postal entries for the time being. 

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