Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3676 Set by Stan Knafler

A soothsayer approaches the PM . . .

Report by Ms de Meaner

I liked Michael Cregan's "Beware of Indians bearing passports" and John O'Byrne's faultless prediction: "In 2002 there will be a problem concerning the Palace." No! I just didn't have the space. £20 each; vouchers to the Silver Man.

Mark, Anthony, the warnings of thy wife

Who, only yesternight, as in a dream -

Oh, horrid apparition! - did behold,

So hateful to her eyes, the countryside!

But this not all, for she of Wessex stood

Trouser-besuited, speaking words of woe.

A weirder sister never spake more ill,

For: "Hail to thee, President Blair," quoth she,

And: "Hail to thee, thou Mayor of London, Hail,"

"All Hail, O Ken, that shalt be King hereafter,"

And: "Blair is foul and foul is Blair" - and worse -

"A Hague! A Hague in both your houses!" Then:

"Thrice horrid art thou," quoth the baneful hag,

Then disappeareth she into the fog

From whence she came, and ne'er was seen again.

Yet still those disembodied trousers spake,

And whisper'd in her frighted ear: "Beware!

"Beware, and thrice beware the strides of starch!"

David Silverman

Soothsayer: PM! PM! Beware, PM, of PM! O listen, PM! Beware PM! Beware of PM, PM, on PM! And Today! And Frost! Heeza cummin ta gitcha, PM! Is PM! When the spin rolls crusty off the cloud formations across GB, PM! Beware GB! Beware GB of GB! Beware his HBGBs! When the one lone eye squints across the polished parquet, and it meets your palpitating pupil! GB! And PM! And GB on how GB of the US and GB of GB do not see the same wild kites in the red-raw sky! How the bullet spins in the chamber! How the nozzle is full of BP! Beware GB, BP and the GNP! Remember HW! How he had to beware of GB! That's GB of the FO, not GB who was beaten by BC, or who beat BC, nor GB, though beware of GB! And beware PM! Who has a coal eye and a lizard look! Beware! I see blood! I see AB negative! Remember GB and his IOU PDQ? Beware the soothsayer! And the fetid fox with the euro between his creaming teeth! GB! GB! PM! Me! Me! Me!

Will Bellenger

Sooth: Tony Blair, tomorrow you face a triple test. You will succeed - and fail.

Standing before the gates of parliament will be a man dressed as an Arabian sheikh. You decide he is an asylum-seeker, a selfish, greedy man, not content to be executed in his own country. You hand him over to Constable Straw for immediate deportation. You have passed the first test - you are not a soft touch.

The man returns. His pockets are full of money. He must be an eastern potentate who wants to buy a passport. You tell Prescott to make your speech while you negotiate an above-the-board deal involving the Dome and Westminster Abbey. You have passed the second test - you are not corrupt.

The man has a passport. You realise he is a News of the World reporter. You refuse to share your innermost thoughts with him, referring him to Alastair Campbell, who thinks for you. You have passed the third test - you are not stupid.

In fact, he is a newly elected Socialist Alliance MP, dressed like this to be filmed by Mark Thomas. You have won the election, but the enemy within is not defeated. Memento mori.

Ian Birchall

Sooth: Woe, woe will come to thee, PM, rightly named since thou art in the late afternoon of thy power, for a terrible scourge awaits thy new ministry. Beware Mandy the Muffer. This time the rot is within thy party not without. Beware Prescott the Precipitate. The plagues of Egypt were as nothing compared to what is to be: the air will fill with the bacteria of Serious Solecisms; the rivers will flow with blood spilled by Unpolitical Incorrectnesses; thy Cabinet will be infected with the viruses of Bungling and Botching. Beware Cook the Cock-upper. Let not thy acolytes make speeches to the press: cartoon bubbles packed with germ-laden indiscretions will issue from their lips. Beware Brown the Boo-hooer. Gag thy backbenchers lest they spread Clangers and Howlers. Yet, do whatever thou might, thou canst not help thyself. Thou shouldst have undertaken a pre-emptive cull, but nothing can save thee now: thou art doomed to fall in a veritable epidemic of foot-in-the-mouth disease.

Barbara Daniels

PM: Who is it in the press that calls on me?

Sooth: Yo! It is I, Yelland. If thou be'st not immortal, watch thy back; thy next-door neighbour's bent on treachery. Thy s'posed best buddy loves thee not. Nay, even though he quit his flat for thee, thy sprogs and fair Calpurnia. Though Brutus is an honourable man, beware of poisoned pork-and-pickle pies, proffered in tea-rooms at the Capitol. Be on thy guard. Drink no champagne with sheikhs; consort not with backbenchers, party hacks, nor with thy ministers, but hold thyself apart. Call not so much upon Campbellicus. Thou hast wronged Mandala. Maffman and Falconer for sure deserve the boot. Slobgobber Prescott hateth well thy guts, and Bremner hath got thee mimicked to a T. Speak not so poncily upon Today. No more: "What I am saying to you is . . . ", "It's very simple . . . ", or "I'm glad you asked me that . . . er . . . John." If thou briefest me, and regular, before the paper's put to bed, then thou mayest yet survive.

Anne Du Croz

No 3679 Set by Leonora Casement

Following the brilliant April Fool spoof in the Independent on Sunday ("How We Met" by Ann Widdecombe and Eminem), we want even more unlikely pairings. Max 200 words by 10 May.


This article first appeared in the 30 April 2001 issue of the New Statesman, How new Labour wrestled with a world it never made