Sunday, 19 April 2015

Another Political Hymn

(To be sung to the “Rocking Carol”).

If there is to be a “we,”
It must come from you and me.
Not by edicts from King Vulture,
Not by race, or birth, or culture,
But from values that we share;
Peace, abundance and what’s fair.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Neil's Foibles: No. 1 - King Cuss

(Neil's Note: Apparently from nowhere, a brand new short story just came out of 't mill.
The first of many on similar themes, I hope. Enjoy.)

Neil’s Foibles: No. 1

King Cuss

Long ago, so long ago that most people considered writing to be a tremor in the hands, there was a king called Cuss.

And I hope you don’t find it hard to work out why he was called by that name.

Be that as it may; Cuss came from the family of Truss, the first king of his dynasty. Truss had been a despotic ruler, as evidenced by what our good friend Mr Webster says of his name:

“1 a : to secure tightly : b : to arrange for cooking by binding close the wings or legs.”

But Cuss fancied himself as a progressive king. He preferred crooking his people, rather than cooking them. Indeed, a theory posits that today’s phrase “Cusstoms and Excise” owes part of its derivation to his name.

So, Cuss surrounded himself with advisers. By this, he hoped to gain enough knowledge to defeat neighbouring kings, and so to expand his kingdom. One of these advisers was called Muss.

If you ask why every name in this fable so far ends in “uss,” the answer is: nepotism. Surely, there were families in Cuss’s kingdom called Oof and Ug and Crit and Shap and... But Cuss would only accept advisors from his own family, the Uss.

Now Muss was an intellectual, and a dreamer. He convinced Cuss to go on military expeditions. And, at first, the strategy worked. Cuss quickly subjected the kings of Bog and Brownstuff, and excised their people.

Side note: The Brownstuff people, experts tell us, were a great loss to humanity. For they were, at that time, the best linguists on Earth. They had been the first to invent two syllable words! The Vietnamese, so I’m told, haven’t managed that even to this day. Furthermore, the Brownstuffs had a better (e)scatological understanding than any of their rivals.

But then Cuss, on Muss’s advice, attacked Dong, the king of Bel; generally known to those he had conquered as “the man of iron, who sings.” It was a close battle; but Cuss was defeated. So, Cuss had Muss killed.

On the counterstroke, the enlightened Dong, in contrast to normal practice of the time, ordered killed only those men that had actually fought in the war. And he had his warriors Ding most of the women of Cuss’s tribe, particularly the belles. In less than a year, they would no longer be a nation.

Cuss, now in hiding, wanted to justify himself to his people. And he had heard that there was a new skill called “writing,” which could preserve his sayings for days, weeks or more. The inventor was another family member; his name was Suss. So Cuss called Suss to his hide-out.

Cuss said to Suss, “Write me the story of Muss and his wrongdoings.”

Suss replied (and he sang the reply in his tenor voice, as Cuss permitted for those within his family who could sing well):

“Bring me a leaf large and light green,
Bring me a feather with a point,
Bring me bull’s blood, a big tureen;
Soon, I will write what you appoint.”

It was done. There were many arcane procedures before Suss was ready to write; but eventually, all was finished. Then Suss took the feather in his right hand, dipped its point in the blood, and moved it slowly over the surface of the leaf. The pattern it was tracing became clear.

“Marvellous!” exclaimed Cuss. “But what does it mean?”

Suss cleared his throat. “It says:

There once was a young man called Muss,
Played a trick on the great, good King Cuss.
Muss took us to war;
He was wrong, and we’re sore.
But now he’s up his own Anuss.”

At that moment, Dong entered the room, iron sword in hand and followed by several of Cuss’s personal guards who had defected to Dong.

Time out... Our charter does not allow the depiction of violence or killing. So, we’ll be back after these messages from your local station.

Dong turned to Suss, and asked: “What does your writing really say?”

Suss looked into Dong’s face, and saw a friend. So he replied with the truth. “This is what it says:

Here lies Uss Muss,
Murdered by bad king Cuss;
No fuss, no Muss.”

To which Dong replied, singing loudly in the deep bass which fitted his name so well:

“Dong dinged Cuss’s womenfolk,
And soon there’ll be young Ding Dongs!
I won’t put you under yoke,
As long as you have sing songs!”

Fortunately, Suss was an excellent singer, so he was able to pitch correctly the long, slow words which go with the next part of this beautiful melody.

Dong was very pleased with Suss, and appointed him Vice Regent as well as his Master of Writing. And so, even today, there is still a region of Dong’s former empire which goes by the name of Sussex.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

What is a statist?

By the Darn-Poor Rhymer

(After the model of “What is a communist?” by Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer)

What is a statist? It’s one that has yearnings
For pogroms, and witch-hunts, and wars, and book-burnings;
While all the time spouting forth lies fear-instilling,
And trashing rights, stealing our earnings, and killing.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

More Limericks by the Darn-Poor Rhymer

There once was a metaphysician

There once was a metaphysician,
Who asked, in time-honoured tradition,
“Is the Universe real?
Or just something I feel?”
He couldn’t prove either position.

In Memory of Nelson Mandela

I remember old Nelson Mandela,
I thought him a rather strange fella.
But the reason, one fears,
Was the twenty-seven years
That he spent locked away in a cellar.

The Poet who could Only Defame

There was once a young man I won’t name;
His verses were totally tame.
He said, “As a poet,
I’m poor – and I know it!
For all I can do is defame.”

Descartes and Ayn Rand

Descartes said, “I think, so I am.”
Ayn Rand said, “Descartes, you’re a sham.
It’s ‘I am, so I’ll think.’”
Such talk drives me to drink;
So, who’s going to buy my next dram?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Selected Limericks by the Darn-Poor Rhymer

There was once a computer at Hadley

There was once a computer at Hadley,
Which forecast the weather so badly,
That they gave it more pop.
But with each teraflop,
It became still less accurate, sadly.

King Canute

There was once a young king called Canute,
Who said to his witangemoot,
“See? I sit in this chair,
And the sea won’t come here.
If it does, you can give me the boot”.

On Temperature Trends

Now let’s see if I’ve comprehended
How temperature data gets “mended.”
They make the past cooler,
Then they take a ruler,
Et voilȁ! The warming’s not ended.

In Memory of Chris Huhne

There was once a politico, Huhne,
That fiddled an anti-car tune.
Yet it drove, in its car,
Far too fast – and too far!
But from justice, it wasn’t immune.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Political Hymns

(Neil’s Note: Here are three of the Darn-Poor Rhymer’s more recent offerings. Each is to be sung to a well-known hymn tune.)

England and Britain

(To be sung to the tune “Bemerton (Caswall)”)

England is a nation,
Britain is a state.
England’s past redemption,
Britain’s out of date.

On “My” Member of Parliament

(To be sung to the tune “Franconia”/“Blest are the pure in heart”.)

My MP’s name is Hunt,
I think that he’s a prat.
A better word would rhyme with “punt,”
But no, I can’t say that!

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales

(To be sung to the tune “Innocents”/“Conquering kings their titles take”)

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales,
When the state that rules them fails,
They won’t sink into the sea!
They’ll be ours, and we’ll be free.

Friday, 20 February 2015

In Praise of Capital and Free Enterprise

(Neil's Note: This was the début of the Darn-Poor Rhymer's versifying. It was written over a long week-end in France in September 2001. As it happens, I was on-line making the booking for that week-end when 9/11 happened.

But there's a backstory to this one too. In 2001 there was a movement called "Walk for Capitalism." It was started by a Greek/Australian guy called Prodos (what happened to him?) The idea was, that in a hundred or more cities around the world, people who like capitalism and business would meet together and do a walk. With a placard or two on display if we felt like it, but not as a demonstration or a protest. I got involved in this; and this was my small contribution to publicizing the event. On the day, I believe I was the only individual to Walk for Capitalism in two cities on the same day - Bath and London.

There was a poet,
Who didn’t know it.
So he made rhymes
About his times,
With each new verse
Just slightly worse.

Began our scribe
His diatribe:
Two-thousand One,
It ain’t much fun.
We’re highly stressed,
And deep depressed.

The nation-state
Is out-of-date,
(Thus wrote our sage
Upon his page),
Religion, too,
Is down the loo.

Meanwhile, deep Greens
Behind the scenes
Are killing the
And in the mists
Lurk terrorists.

The governments
Have lost all sense.
Their politics
Are dirty tricks,
Their bureaucrats
They breed like rats.

And parliament?
Completely bent.
They never pause
From making “laws”,
Most of them bad.
Hey – we’ve been had!

Those on the left
Like simple theft.
Those on the right
Prefer more sleight.
But both know how
To milk the cow.

It may seem strange,
But every change
Just leaves as leaders
The same old bleeders.
Don’t bullshit me.

We’ll never fix
Damned politics;
It only works
For crooked jerks.
So, loose that fetter!
Make something better!

Now, Capital
Is like a pal
Who helps you do
What’s right for you;
It lets you build
A dream fulfilled.

If every pound
Went round and round,
And, as you serve,
What you deserve
Came back to you –
Yes, that would do!

And if you’re poor?
Just put in more!
Improving skills
Will cure your ills
And you will see

When what you do
Returns to you,
Then you’ll know what
Is good, or not,
And so you’ll learn
From what you earn.

And when you spend
For any end,
Your friends, it foll’ers,
Will get your dollars.
Meanwhile, the thief
Gets nowt but grief.

Free enterprise
Can realize
A world of peace
That will not cease;
And progress, too –
Get up and do!

Increasing wealth,
Improving health,
Advancing free -
Can’t get enough?
Yes, that’s the stuff.

And what of Earth?
Contain your mirth!
There won’t be waste
In our fast-paced
And affluent

So, what to do?
December Two
(So say the ditties),
A hundred cities
Will see a scene
There’s never been.

Each guy, each gal
Will walk – but quiet!
For we won’t riot.
December Second,
Walk, and be reckoned.

These words so terse
May seem perverse,
But they’re no con;
Come, join us on
December Two!
Over to you.

The Darn-Poor Rhymer
September 19th, 2001