Drinking partner

28 May 2016

9:00 AM

28 May 2016

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 2949 you were invited to submit a poem about sharing a drink with a famous writer.

I suspected this might be a popular comp and so it proved. I was spoilt for choice winner-wise, so heartfelt commiserations to the many who came within a whisker of making the final cut, especially Alan Millard, Martin Parker, Roger Theobald, Chris O’Carroll and Siriol Troup. The entries that survived the painful and protracted cull are printed below and earn their authors £25 each. Bill Greenwell pockets £30.

I’m sitting sipping cider with Bill Bryson,
And listening to his monologues take wing:
How Iowa, he claims, was full of bison —
But, sotto voce, adds ‘And Here’s The Thing’:
He says he knows the facts behind the lingo;
He knows his stormy petrels from his fulmars;
He knows the calls they rattle out at Bingo —
He knows we’re tasting Gaymer’s and not Bulmer’s.
We’re at the seaside, by a peeling bandstand;
He knows the sewage limit. What a whizz!
He knows the bus fares (now he starts to grandstand) —
He knows what causes apple drinks to fizz.
Our pints are cloudy. In the dowdy tap room,
He strokes his sabled beard, and downs his third.
The best he’s drunk’s from orchards down by Batcombe —
And cider — it was once a Hebrew word!
Bill Greenwell
If you ask me whence this pallor,
Whence these bloodshot orbs, the eyeballs,
Also why I’m talking funny,
It’s because I met a poet
In a bar where we were drinking,
And I said, read me your poem,
So he started reading to me
Of some bloke called Hiawatha
While we drank more firewater,
Then he read another chapter,
Full of loony names and suchlike,
But we drank till we fell over,
And I woke up in the morning,
Found that I could only speak in
Four-beat lines of bloody trochees,
Pounding at me like a hammer…
Brian Murdoch
I’ll never go for drinks again with Dante —
You can’t keep up with Signor Alighieri.
You buy a pint, but then he ups the ante:
Begins with a martini or a sherry,
Proceeds to mix prosecco with some Pernod,
Then when he gets a little bit too merry
Starts loudly quoting chunks out of ‘Inferno’ —
Whole verses from the sixth and seventh Canti —
Then, knocking back a glass of Tuscan Merlot,
Followed by a bottle of Chianti
Starts singing ‘Jesus Thou Art My Redeemer’,
Some thirteenth-century Florentine sea shanty,
A version of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’
And ‘Nessun Dorma’— all in terza rima!
David Silverman
I raised my glass to Burns, beguiled
By his bright eyes. The poet smiled.
Outside a storm raged rough and wild;
It didn’t matter.
The man I worshipped as a child
Was here to chatter.
It seemed he wanted to express
Some woe, some strand of happiness,
The story of the grey mare, Bess;
His features shone.
Then, like the touch of a caress,
The bard was gone.
Numb in a haze of alcohol
I glanced above me at the wall,
And Burns stared down as if to say
I’ve felt what you feel, many a day.
Frank McDonald
The church clock is ticking to teatime
As we sit on the stile by the stream.
It’s teatime with Betj and it’s me time,
A summery afternoon dream.
I think it’s most awfully scrummy
How the butterflies dance with the bees.
I can lie in the grass on my tummy.
I can do what I jolly well please.
His thermos is filled with Darjeeling,
And a bottle of Tizer is mine.
He knows that I think he’s appealing.
I know that he thinks I’m divine.
Now the cows are all plaintively mooing
Where the bindweed entwines with the vetch,
So there’s nothing I’d rather be doing
Than sharing a drinkies with Betj.
John Whitworth
Can I have been drinking with Jeffrey Bernard?
I’ve an inside-out wallet, a head throbbing hard,
A racing tip scrawled on a torn playing card
And foreboding: I don’t know the worst.
Can I have been drinking with Jeffrey Bernard?
I recall Norman bellowing ‘Both of you — barred!’
My right sock is history, left knee oddly scarred
And my entrails feel likely to burst.
Can I have been drinking with Jeffrey Bernard?
I’ve two pickled eyes and my tongue has been tarred,
I’ve this rash that’s a mark of female disregard
And a loss that can’t be reimbursed.
Can I have been drinking with Jeffrey Bernard?
I’ve a zag-zigging memory and hair badly charred.
In Jeff’s fabulous Low life I briefly co-starred
And to do so again I’ve a thirst.
Adrian Fry


No. 2952: nonsensical

You are invited to submit nonsense verse of up to 16 lines on the subject of the EU referendum. Please email entries to by midday on 8 June.

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