Magazine article The Spectator

House Rules

Magazine article The Spectator

House Rules

Article excerpt

In Competition No. 2394 you were invited to supply a rhymed poem offering four parental vetoes on children's behaviour, followed by four juvenile vetoes on parental behaviour. Exhausted and sleepless, back two days late due to botched air travel, I shall cut the cackle. The prizewinners, printed below, get £20 each, except WJ. Webster, who takes £30. Bon voyage, this summer!

Don't spend a lifetime watching screens -

There is another world outside.

And music's best not amplified

Until you can't hear what it means.

Self-cleaning rooms aren't Nature's trick,

So don't leave litter to decay.

And 'like' is a word you shouldn't say

When it's just like 'you know' a tic.

Don't think you get away with jeans -

If looks could kill, they're suicide.

And if you still have any pride,

Don't ever dance alongside teens.

A movie isn't called a 'flick' -

Those words you use have had their day.

And just accept you're going grey:

You know that hair that's dyed looks sick.

W.J. Webster

The bathroom is for all. Thou shalt not stay

Self-titivating there for half the day.

Thou shalt not, either, play thy ghastly pop

As loud as a bombardment and non-stop.

At breakfast-time thou shalt not sit there mute

Or only speak to stir up a dispute,

Nor shalt thou ever, although short of cash,

In search of ganja raid thy parents' stash.

Thanks for the no-nos. Here are some for you:

Don't stereotype the young the way you do.

Don't diss the music you don't understand;

We don't diss Lennon, Dylan or The Band.

Don't pry, don't spy, don't lecture and don't nag.

A sanctimonious parent is a drag.

But most of all - this is the golden rule -

Don't always be so desperate to seem cool.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Your pimpmobile must not block in our Saab

Till you get up and clamour for bicarb;

You can't use this address when making bets,

And squash our credit rating with your debts;

Don't dump old sofas on us for repairs,

(Or desks, or orthopaedic backless chairs);

Don't tax your dad for funds when you are low:

Supposedly, you left home months ago.

Don't rabbit on about my health: how much

I drink, my smoker's cough, beer gut, and such;

Don't ridicule each stress-avoidance scheme:

'Just buckling down' would sap my self-esteem;

Who cares about the Sixties any more?

Don't reminisce: it makes you such a bore;

Don't make me feel that I'm 13 again

If you want me to come back now and then.

Anne Du Croz

Don't abuse the language, never

Answer questions with 'whatever'.

Scum around the shower's taboo,

Scattered towels and clothing - you

Can't treat home as a hotel! …

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