Magazine article The Spectator

Just Supposing

Magazine article The Spectator

Just Supposing

Article excerpt

In Competition No. 2327 you were invited to write a light-hearted poem of 16 lines in a given rhythm, each octet beginning with a different fanciful supposition.

This was a far cry from Kipling's 'If. The germ of the competition was a poem by Thomas Hood junior, beginning, 'If you were queen of bloaters/ And I were king of soles . . . ' An incurable eccentric like his more famous father, he had the cheek to follow 'soles' with 'joles', which a trawl through my dictionaries revealed to be 'sturgeon or ling'. Among your own fanciful suppositions, I specially enjoyed S.E.G. Hopkin's 'If I were in the imperative mood/ And you were an active verb,/ I'd join us up with a negative/ So we'd spell 'Do not disturb'.'

I was delighted by the humour and variety of the entry. The six best of a good bunch, printed below, get £25 each, and the bonus prize of Cobra Premium beer goes to Ted Thompson.

If you were a Whip in the Commons

And I was a backbench MP,

I'd do all I could to make certain

You found no displeasure in me.

I'd vote as and when you might tell me,

My appearance would daily grow sleeker;

I'd be top of the list for attendance

And for catching the eye of the Speaker.

If you were the head of the household

And I was your Swedish au pair,

Your children would surely be happy,

But your pleasure would be my main care.

Bid me dress as a nun, nurse or housemaid

In microskirt, fishnets or basque;

Your children would learn the best manners,

But from you that is not what I'd ask.

Ted Thompson

If you were a hand-knitted bedsock

And I was an ice-cold foot,

I shouldn't ask members of Medsoc -

I'd know where you should be put.

Inside you I'd joyously wriggle,

Till blood in my calves unfroze,

And we'd both delightedly giggle

As it pulsed through, heating my toes.

If I was a horse chestnut sapling,

And you were a garden seat,

I'd quiver to make the light dappling,

I'd speckle the ground at your feet.

My candles would surely astound you

Each spring, but in autumn I'd bust

To drop five-fingered leaves around you,

And shower you with conkers in lust.

Anne Du Croz

If you were a maker of trousers

And I was a pair of legs,

Such times we'd enjoy together,

We'd drain our sweet lives to the dregs;

You with your lithe tape measure

And I with my lissom knees -

But since we are merely neighbours,

Lend me some sugar, please. …

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