Magazine article The Spectator

The Morning After

Magazine article The Spectator

The Morning After

Article excerpt

In Competition No. 2696 you were invited to submit a dialogue in verse between two body parts, composed on the occasion of a hangover.

Kingsley Amis described the opening of Kafka's Metamorphosis as the best literary representation of a hangover, though many might argue that the crown belongs to Amis himself for his hilarious account of Jim Dixon's self-inflicted wretchedness. My favourite is Ogden Nash's opening to 'They Won't Believe, on New Year's E ve, That New Year's Day Will Come What May': 'How do I feel today?

I feel as unfit as an unfiddle, / And it is the result of a certain turbulence in the mind and an uncertain burbulence in the middle.'

Your evocations struck a chord, too - especially W.J. Webster's, which earns him the bonus fiver. His fellow winners, printed below, get £30 each.

'Oh, seat of all wisdom, how do you explain

That time after time you groan, "Never again!"?

Why won't you refrain from the grape and the grain

When all they deliver is nausea and pain?'

'What liverish spite! Your words make it plain

That production of bile is your natural domain.

It grieves me to hear lower orders complain

And show scant respect for their master, the brain.'

'Master! Disaster! You're more brother Cain,

Destroying my tissues with vile toxic rain.

My regenerative skills will all be in vain

If you don't heed this warning and learn to abstain.'

'Such bilious effusions I treat with disdain --

If you weren't mindless already I'd call them insane.

But once my head clears, I know I'll regain

The power to converse on a far higher plane.'

W.J. Webster

I'm furred and feeble. Feel as if

I'm made of ash or ember.

And I am throbbing, cold and stiff:

But why? I don't remember.

It feels as if a stream of acid

Turned me rank and rotten.

And I'm in pain where often placid,

But why? I have forgotten.

Perhaps I tasted sour gunge

As from a sewage tank?

Possibly. But I'm a sponge,

And yesterday's gone blank.

I'm grey and green, where formerly,

My buds were in the pink.

Aha, dear friend: well, normally,

This means we need a drink.

Bill Greenwell

A knotty problem this one, but a problem we can

share,

A tough conundrum simply solved by working as

a pair.

Unlikely when you fiddle so and fumble like a fool,

You're always shilly-shallying. …

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