Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3630 Set by H J Barker

You were asked for verses on old age.

Report by Ms de Meaner

A tragedy has befallen me. I left the comp folder - which I had taken home for the weekend for a final perusal - on a train. Thankfully, the winners were already on page (although I now can't check them against the originals). Even worse, I have lost the page and a half of excellent comp suggestions from John Crick. So, if you would kindly send them in again, I would be fawningly grateful. I also no longer have the addresses of Raymond Harris, Tom Bowling and Adrian Fry to hand - so if you want your cheques, my darlings . . .

This week, a lot of you sent in parodies of famous poems, but only one entrant paid homage to his muse. Well done, young Raymond. Hon menshes to Michael Swan for his last lines on loss of memory ("Second, and equally sovereign/As a cure for embarrassment,/ You forget what you were going to say/And remain mercifully silent./And third") and D A Prince, also for her finale ("I know our country's safely in the hands/Of our Prime Minister, nice Mr Heath./Those doctors all forget his name - what cheek!/They have to ask me every flaming week!"). £15 to the winners; the bottle goes to Raymond Harris.

(With apologies to Jenny Joseph)

When I am an old man I shall wear brown in town

With a blue cap which doesn't go and doesn't suit me

And I shall spend my pension on cigars and taxis and good wine

I shall avoid shopping, especially in supermarkets

And carry my umbrella belligerently.

I will not take the dog out in the rain, but when I do,

And she leaves a deposit

I shall only pretend to pick it up.

I will wear old shirts and not shave

And no longer order two pairs of trousers with a new suit.

Indeed, I will no longer buy any suits, but will wear old jeans and cords.

I have started to practise now

So people who know me are not too shocked or surprised

When suddenly I am old and start to wear brown in town.

Raymond Harris

Some time after

threescore years and ten

is when the road forks.

One gives up women, wine and country walks

in no special order,

rises late, in some disorder,

snoozes longer after lunch.

Then comes the dreaded moment when

the weary body sighs, "Enough!"

It's time for leaving off that fancy stuff

like eating, drinking,

talking, thinking -

even breathing.


Tom Bowling

When happiness is a chocky bicky dunked in tepid tea

When you can't recall last week so well as 1943

When the tick-tock theme for Countdown is tolling loud for thee,

Then you've got the old age blues.

When you shuffle round in slippers in the middle of the day,

When, bored by your war stories, even Mormons shy away,

When people smile insultingly no matter what you say,

Then you've got the old age blues.

When you find yourself becoming indefensibly right-wing,

When your wit grows blunt, your reasoning slack, your vision poor and dim,

When you've got more pains than working body parts to feel them in,

Then you've got the old age blues.

Adrian Fry

I grow old, I grow old,

Gordon's spared a few quid against the winter cold.

Can I afford to eat a peach? Fresh veg? My pension lags behind.

My old coat's threadbare, a new one's out of reach.

I have heard the politicians singing each to each

I do not think they will sing to me.

My only company's the box - oh that Ali G!

Snooker, soaps and game shows! I have seen them all -

I have seen them evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with advert tunes.

Long have I lingered in the channels, following the call

Of presenters wreathed with lipstick, and now my soul,

Awaits its summons from the Great Remote Control.

Sara Williams

The aged do not need to hide

A smile inside their cheek;

The mouths may open walrus-wide

All day, perhaps all week.

And if they'd rather laugh than speak,

There's no one there to chide:

The world may paddle up a creek

Before their whoops subside.

Their years have earned the right to scoff,

To titter fit to choke;

And all the young had best sod off

If they miss jest or joke -

The aged, like the mynah bird,

Know all too well that life's absurd.

Will Bellenger

No 3633 Set by Ms Anne Thrope

We want poems against children. What fun. Entries to be in by 15 June.


This article first appeared in the 05 June 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Driving back to happiness