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Posts Tagged ‘Harry Graham’
What brings a smile to the face of this cigar-toting stranger? Rubber feet, it turns out. Gangster Pete has rubber feet. If this sounds faintly ridiculous, you are at one with the judges of the Ruthless Rhyme competition. Some of the entries, they decided, while not ruthless, were memorable for their oddity or absurdity.
To celebrate the solstice and all things summery, head to the Riviera ‘And there upon the sunny sands’ relax with a good old laugh, courtesy of Harry Graham. We guarantee the health benefits of When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat. As luck would have it, it’s 50 per cent off this month.
If you admit that men should be permitted to be men, at least on one day of the year, we suggest a late lie-in for the head of the household and a politically incorrect gift: a volume of humorous verse by the charmingly callous Harry Graham.
The judges in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition were surprised to see illustrations accompanying some of the entries, including one of a man with knitting needles through his head. What could have led him to such a plight? Was this a case of true ruthlessness?
The judges have announced the 12 poems short-listed in the Ruthless Rhyme competition. All are now published, along with audio readings, profiles of the writers and judges and a selection of rhymes that deserve mention for being creative or ridiculous.
The runner-up in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition is Rosemary McDougall with her Good Intentions. She scored 20 points, just one behind Angela Perkins with George’s New Year’s Resolution. In third place is Elizabeth Francis with A New Year’s Hobby and a score of 13 points. You can read all three rhymes in our Blog.
A New Year’s Hobby
Margot declared, ‘new year, new me!’
Her new interest? Taxidermy.
She caught and stuffed her children’s rat,
Posed on a plinth the family cat.
Their guinea pig she slit in half;
Her husband lowered his Telegraph.
‘You’re making quite a mess, my dear.
Perhaps just join the gym next year?’
Aunt thought she’d make a contribution
to uncle’s New Year resolution.
She put his bottles out of reach
amongst the polish, soap and bleach.
How on earth could she have guessed
that in his alcoholic quest,
without his specs his sight was dim.
It was the bleach which finished him.
The winner of the Ruthless Rhyme Competition is George’s New Year’s Resolution, written by Angela Perkins. George’s dream was to buy a little place in France, but Mavis stood in his way. A coup de something or other was required. To see how George resolved this petit problème, click here.
George’s New Year’s Resolution
New Year, he thought, was just the chance
To buy a little place in France.
When Mavis once again said no,
George knew that she would have to go.
His beating heart was all a-quiver,
As George pushed Mavis in the river.
And as she floated down the stream,
George shrugged and muttered, ‘Vive la dream’.
After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes
The contestants in our Ruthless Rhyme Competition have reached the last fence. After a process of ruthless elimination, ten judges have reduced a big field down to a short list of 12. Only the finishing post lies ahead.
For the past two months we have been running a competition to find the best short poem in the style of a Ruthless Rhyme, a humorous verse form invented by Harry Graham. By the time the competition closed at midnight GMT on Sunday 4th March, we had received 65 rhymes from nine countries, including Australia, Germany, India, Nigeria, Romania, Spain, France, the UK and the US. The last entry came in at eight minutes to midnight.
Are you a budding writer or a keen poet? Would you like to see your work published on-line? We are running a competition to find the best short poem in the style of a Ruthless Rhyme, a humorous verse form invented by Harry Graham.
For your entertainment, we have just posted sample couplets by Harry Graham in our Preview of When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat. Whether your subject is dining, dancing, motoring, bathing or bee-keeping, we believe you will find something here to trigger your schadenfreude. Try this:
When Mrs Gorm (Aunt Eloise)
Was stung to death by savage bees,
Her husband (Prebendary Gorm)
Put on his veil, and took the swarm.
He’s publishing a book, next May,
On “How to Make Bee-keeping Pay.”
The humorous verse of Harry Graham was an early hit with several 20th-century literary figures, including W. H. Auden, George Orwell and Agatha Christie. The hilarious rhymes they adored as children remained with them, popping up unexpectedly in their heads during their writing careers.
W. H. Auden
When asked by The Paris Review whether reading poetry had influenced his decision to write, Auden responded that as a child the only poetry he had been interested in was the ‘sick’ kind, including Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes. Here is his favourite:
Into the drinking well
The plumber built her
Aunt Maria fell;
We must buy a filter.
Orwell was struck by an anecdote in Salvador Dali’s autobiography which described how Dali had kicked his sister in the head as a child. This reminded him of something: ‘What was it?’ he asked himself. ‘Of course! Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes, by Harry Graham.’
Poor little Willy is crying so sore,
A sad little boy is he,
For he’s broken his little sister’s neck
And he’ll have no jam for tea.
A reader of murder mysteries asked Agatha Christie about the origin of four lines of poetry quoted by one of her characters. Had Christie written these herself? Christie admitted she had not, nor could she remember where she had heard them. The reader then started to investigate. She wrote to everyone she could think of to try to find out the source of the mystery rhyme but no one recognized it. Except, that is, for the crime writer Ruth Rendell. Yet she too struggled to recollect who had written the troublesome fragment.
The days passed slowly, one by one;
I fed the ducks, reproved my wife,
Played Handel’s Largo on the fife,
Or gave the dog a run.
Eventually, it was Miles Kington who saved the day. He discovered the lines in When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat and was able to solve the case of the missing rhyme.
When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat is the only comprehensive anthology of Graham’s humorous verse, compiled with the help of his daughter, Virginia. It contains not only the best of his Ruthless Rhymes but also a selection of longer poems, and it is in one of these, Creature Comforts, that Agatha Christie’s quotation can be found.
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