Magazine article The Spectator

Role Reversal

Magazine article The Spectator

Role Reversal

Article excerpt

In Competition No. 2668 you were invited to submit a poem that contains advice from young to old.

Several of you took as your starting point Robert Southey's po-faced 'The Old Man's Comforts and how he gained them' - or Lewis Carroll's much more enjoyable parody of it as recited by Alice in chapter five of her Adventures In Wonderland.

Michael Birt, Tim Raikes, Katie Mallett and Josephine Boyle impressed but were squeezed out by the winners, printed below, who earn £25 each. Brian Murdoch bags the bonus fiver.

You are old, F ather William, though threescore and ten I s not the top whack any more, And everyone tells me (though heaven forfend! ) You might live to a hundred and four.

And so my advice is: remember your age, There's plenty you needn't now do, Like spending your savings (that's my heritage, And that of the grandchildren too! ) So don't squander your pension and fritter the lot On world cruises promoted by Saga.

You won't enjoy them if you're losing the plot, Or if you're entirely gaga.

Vieillesse ne peut pas, Papa, that is the truth, And the lusts of the flesh too soon pass.

Stop slurping away at the fountain of youth, And maybe check out Dignitas.

Brian Murdoch

Please don't go droning on about how long It's been since they released a decent movie, And don't use hip-hop slang; that sounds as wrong As we'd sound saying 'fab', 'far out', or 'groovy'.

In conversation, try not to forget How many times we've all heard you recite Your tales of life without the internet, Of television shows in black-and-white.

We don't want your opinions of our hair, Cosmetics, clothing, piercings, or tattoos, And we'd appreciate it if you'd spare Us updates on your organ-failure news.

Don't kid yourself we see you as a sage, A mentor Yoda-like, serene, and wise.

Delusion on that scale just proves that age Has dulled your mind, not merely dimmed your eyes.

Chris O'Carroll

This is the touch screen, Dad - no, wait.

Don't put your card in yet.

You see the menu? Choose the date.

Tomorrow, don't forget.

Dad? Dad?

It just timed out. What bliss.

Okay, let's start again And see if we can finish this Before I burst a vein.

Just read what the instructions say:

The touch screen, then the card.

No, put it in the other way.

Christ, can it be that hard?

Now Dad, don't hyperventilate. …

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