In Competition No. 3225, you were invited to provide a version of the Lord Chancellor’s ‘Nightmare Song’ from Iolanthe for any member of the British cabinet.
Long Gilbertian lines mean there’s space only for me to applaud stellar contributions all round, but especially from D.A. Prince, Katie Mallett, Rachael Churchill, Janine Beacham, George Simmers and Bill Greenwell, who imagines what might rob the levelling–up secretary of his rest. Here’s a snippet:
When you’re lying awake and it feels like a snake
Is adjusting your weak moral compass
Then you groove to ‘Le Freak’ as an elderly geek
Throwing shapes in an Aberdeen rumpus…
The winners below net £35 each.
When you’re lying awake and you shiver and shake, as you’ve done for the whole of the evening,
And you can’t stand the fuss about you and Liz Truss over which of you ought to have Chevening,
Well, you’re sleeping at last, but it proves a disaster, as nightmares begin to take over,
And you have to admit to an MPs’ committee you didn’t know trade came through Dover.
And now you’re in Calais, rehearsing a ballet, and putting your two best feet forward,
But you stumble and cough and your tutu falls off and you’re savaged by Craig Revel Horwood;
And a voice booms out ‘Raab! Have you had your tenth jab?’ and you’re trying to plead and to wheedle,
But Vallance and Whitty, who don’t look too pretty, approach with a 20-foot needle;
Then you fall in a trance, someone’s starting to dance: you! The Member for Walton and Esher,
Now there’s nowhere to hide as you’re trans-mogrified to a mad fundamentalist preacher;
And you’re stuck in Kabul in a prison that’s full, and the jailers are all trying to fleece you,
And you’re starting to moan because no one will phone and demand that they’d better release you,
But you’re tied to a post and they tell you you’re toast, and there’s no way you’re going to be leavin’,
In your pink and green tights you demand human rights, (yes, the ones you’ve refused to believe in);
And you’re feeling so numb as the Taliban come and condemn you for what you’ve been wearing,
But you don’t give a fig, so you throw off your wig and awake with a shudder despairing…
Nicholas Hodgson/Dominic Raab
When you’re lying awake, in need of a break and mopping your forehead with tissues,
When you worry and fret and your mind is beset with a thousand intractable issues,
When nothing turns up as the planet burns up and environment matters are pressing,
And cheaper air fares only add to your cares in a budget that offers no blessing;
When the populace sighs as food prices rise and the plight of the poor never ceases
And asthma runs rife as you’re gasping for life while the carbon dioxide increases,
When a Minister’s call is to please one and all and resolve each unsolvable riddle.
How you long for the charm of life on a farm like your dad in his calm Cornish idyll.
When laden and lumbered and always encumbered with onerous cabinet cares,
And you ponder and brood on Environment, Food and intransigent Rural Affairs
Not knowing at all if you’ll rise or you’ll fall as you can’t see the wood for the trees,
Then the minister’s lot is most certainly not a ‘walk in the park’ or a ‘breeze’!
So, tired and troubled, confused and befuddled with countless conundrums to fix,
You’re unable to see what the outcome will be from the fallout of COP 26.
But rising from bed with problems ahead, after dressing and shedding your nightwear,
With all that’s in store, you know that for sure, the day will be more of a nightmare!
Alan Millard/George Eustice
When you’re lying awake with a fiscal headache and a nightmare has tangled the bedsheets:
All the columns were plus but a Routemaster bus had just driven a hole through your spreadsheets.
Now you’re longing to snore but the people next door are engaged in protracted relations,
so instead of some sheep you are counting the heap of the debts that we owe to all nations.
But your calculus slips with the weight of the chips that the Wykehamist shoulders for Eton,
for the don’t-give-a-toss of your dissolute boss leaves uxorious husbandry beaten.
You’ve decided it’s cuts and with no ifs-or-buts when your dreams fall apart without warning
as zoogamous howls and Churchillian growls tell the world and his wife that it’s morning.
Nick MacKinnon/Rishi Sunak
When you’re lying awake, you’re in need of a break,
So you search for the right destination:
The venue’s unique and decidedly Greek,
It would seem an idyllic location.
By the Aegean Sea you can set yourself free
Of the chattels of responsibility,
So, ignoring the news, you have a short snooze,
As you’re lulled in a state of tranquillity.
Yet your sleep is invaded, you dream you’re downgraded
With talk of an investigation,
The voice in your ear makes you shudder with fear,
There’ll be questions about your vacation.
You’ll be toeing the line and you’ll have to resign —
Yet the outcome is never so sinister,
For when you awake, you’ve a slice of the cake,
You’re deputy to the Prime Minister!
Sylvia Fairley/Dominic Raab
No. 3228: small minded
You are invited to recast an extract from adult fiction (please specify source) rewritten for inclusion in an anthology of children’s literature. Please submit up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 1 December.
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