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Britain’s out of date.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

Friday, 13 February 2015

Mr. Cheese's Cabinet

(Neil's Note: This is a political piece, but it's fiction too, so it qualifies for this blog rather than "Honest Common Sense." It dates from a few days before the 2010 UK general election.)

Mr. Cheese's Cabinet

By Wensleydale Cheese MP

(This speech was made by Mr. Cheese shortly after his election as British prime minister on 7 May 2010).

You, the British public, asked for change. You have got change. You have elected ME, Wensleydale Cheese – The Big Cheese, as I prefer to be called – as Prime Minister.

My first job is to announce my Cabinet. That is, to name my cronies who will be lying to you, oppressing you and ripping you off for the next five years. So here goes.

My Chancellor of the Exchequer will be Rob Steal. I can safely say that he will be very good at screwing tacks out of you.

My Home Secretary, who will take special delight in criminalizing anything you enjoy, will be Mr. Petty. He will be closely assisted by the Minister for Constant Surveillance, Mr. Pryer.

The Department of Organized Crime (DOC) and the Seriously Fraudulent Office (SFO) will be amalgamated under the shared leadership of Mr. Bent and Mr. Crook.

The Minister of Education, with particular responsibility for Very Bad Verse, will be Mr. Doggerell.

My joint Ministers of Health, who will minister to the health of my joints, will be Dr. Quack and Mrs. Nostrum.

Four Ministers will be responsible for the climate. The Ministers for Cold will be Mr. Snow and Mr. Frost, the Minister for Heat will be Mr. Power, and the Minister for Rain will be Mr. De Wet.

The Minister for Exclamations will be Gordon Bennett.

The Minister for Losing Data will be... what was his name again? He will also be the Minister without Portfolio, having left it in a taxi.

Mr. White will run the Department of Racial Discrimination, and Mr. Mann will be responsible for sexual discrimination.

The Minister for Getting Drunk will be Mr. Tippler.

The Minister for Children’s Games will be Haydn Sikh.

The Minister for Ogling Young Girls will be Mr. Totti.

The Minister for Making You Angry will be Mr. Madden, and the Minister for Complaining will be Mr. Grouse.

Mr. Gaff will be in charge of the Department of Mistakes, and Mr. Balding will head the Department of Hair Loss.

The Minister for Lies, Spin and Propaganda will be Mr. Bull, assisted by Mr. Wittering.

I will announce tomorrow the remaining three Cabinet posts: the Minister of Hypocrisy and Double Standards, the Minister for Hare-brained Schemes and the Minister for Forgetting What He Was Going to Say Next.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Another Decision

I’m not writing any fiction at the moment. Virtually all my effort is going into my “serious” philosophical and political work, which you can find at my other blog Honest Common Sense (

So I’ve decided to broaden the scope of this blog a little. Here, I’m going to place those parts of my creative output which aren’t suitable for Honest Common Sense. That includes the extremely bad verse, which I on occasions publish under the pseudonym of the Darn-Poor Rhymer (I picked the name in honour of Ebenezer Elliott, the 19th-century Corn-Law Rhymer). On very special occasions, the Rhymer’s rhymes may be set to music by the Tippling Philosopher. I may also publish here any short stories, or essays of general interest, which I write or have written.

Soon, I shall be trawling my archives and placing some of the gems (ahem) on these pages. Meanwhile, if the fiction bug should hit me again, you’ll see the results here first.