Undeterred by the embarrassing success of his ridiculous four-volume verse epic The Limerickiad, award-winning cartoonist Martin Rowson continues to lower the tone with a series of metrical rants and cautionary tales about contemporary political and literary life. Accompanied by the ghosts of Chesterton, Shelley, Burns and Browning, Rowson casts his gaze across the satirical spectrum from governments, gammon-faced racists, class war, nationalism and the harsh realities of child rearing to the world of literary festivals, international book fairs, best-sellers, book-launches, holiday reading lists, bottom lines, liggers, bloggers, blaggers, book-signings and book-burnings.
Cover image: Martin Rowson
Author portrait: Martin Rowson
Pastrami faced racist Basted in baseless Hatred for faceless Natives of nameless Faraway places Your hatred embraces Haitians and Thracians, Laotians, Croatians With your animadversion For Persians and Asians Even Bellarussians Plus all non-white faces. Uppercase Statements Fill all blank spaces On newspaper pages Embracing your rage And deftly showcasing The in-your-face shamelessness Of sub-standard statesmen’s Pasty embracing Like game for the chase Of hatreds you baste in Which in your case has Achingly made Your furious face As red as Pastrami. But Pastrami faced racists All know their places Embracing their station So show no aversion To faces more gracious From faraway places Wreathed in fine laces Whose soft hands clutch maces For Kings, Queens and Aces Need grovelling abasement Though this self-effacement Frankly disgraces The baseless race hatreds Of racists with faces Of a hue that’s as red as Pastrami. So what is the ratio Between racist passion And base genuflection? Is knowing your station The fuel for reaction, To make sure your place is Not quite as basic and Beastly and graceless As the gays and the races And the reds who write plays And the women whose place is To not ever gainsay Your baseless race hatreds? But tell me, how loud Would be your hip-hoorays If some auto-de-fés Finally saw off the gays And those Muslimic Beys And the benefit cheats Who are worse than the Krays And the strays and the General habitués Of an England betrayed By not being au fait With what you think’s OK Which is just to portray The Pastrami red-faces Of hatred filled racists Like you? Be prepared for your fate. For if Britain gets Great Like you want it to – Mate, There’ll be no one to hate And no one to rate As debased, a disgrace, Lower down in their place Because of their race Or the look on their faces Unreddened by basting In baseless race hatred To look red as Pastrami. Like yours. So, Pastrami-faced racist If that is the case is It worth being basted In dark baseless hatreds? Just take up macramé Or try origami And ignore the barmy Seductions of smarmy Fascistic swami Swim with the tsunami Of races all chasing a place Close to Grace. Though if you can’t face The notion that nations Can fashion elation Without your impatience For fullscale obeisance To crass racist hatreds Of the kind that make faces Go red as Pastrami – If you want our adherence To a general clearance Of all that’s divergent From you, then I urgently Gently thus phrase it, As you’re basted in hatred So deep that your face is As red as Pastrami, If you’re after the lot of us Then it’s you and whose army? Pastrami-faced racist Basted in baseless Hatreds for faceless Natives of nameless Faraway places Back off Then calm down And with our assistance And your own acceptance To give up resistance To our co-existence Your face’s tumescence As red as Pastrami Will gradually fade to, Say, Danish Salami.
I dived into Deep England Into the Village Green, Diving down full fathom five, Diving in between The fag butts and the condoms, Smashed beer mugs from the pub, Tinnies, tyres and bailer twine, A deathwatch beetle grub, Some teeth kicked out on Friday night, Worm-eaten lengths of wicket, An old school tie worn as a lie By some chap at the cricket. I dived into Deep England By the churchyard, through the dead, Through ground down by coffins Of the leaders and misled, The bones of squires’ younger sons’ Aborted sons and daughters Like buried murder weapons. Further down The earth’s three-quarters Crammed with milkmaids, ploughboys And peasants generations deep, Lied to, lying dying, That they were just going to sleep, An ossuarial estuary That sweated ire and toil Committed to be eaten To be shat into the soil Shat out in that rich dust concealed By microbes lavatorial Their thin blood soaking Pastoral mud Beneath the War Memorial. I dived into Deep England, Rural as a dying hare, Where centuries of history Lurks in a broken chair. I dived down to Deep England, Rustic as a lichened tomb But not for them’s were driven out And then chained to a loom. I dived down to Deep England Owned by classes who won’t budge But accordingly Arcadian When flogging bags of fudge. I dived down to Deep England Where the countryside’s so pretty And a country cot costs such a lot To a shit big in the City. I dived down to Deep England Where the birds sing in the trees And the fauna are all vermin And a Pop Star makes some cheese. I dived down to Deep England As bucolic as the plague Where titled deeds and ownership Are often left quite vague. I dived down to Deep England Long since subject to Enclosure With a maypole left for shelter To guard you from exposure. I dived down to Deep England Where the rules are rudimentary And the land is simply landfill To oblige the Landed Gentry, Where if your labour’s casual And times are getting hard Be pathetically grateful You can watch Changing the Guard. I dived down to Deep England Cos if strawberries get picked By Poles in pollytunnels There’s still tenants to evict. Yet if you’re not from round these parts Nor wedded to the earth What exactly is your value? What precisely is your worth? For this is Deep Deep England As authentic as a stoat, As English as a Norman Castle, With a dark green moat, As genuine as German bankers Blasting at the grouse, As real as asset strippers In a Tudor peasant’s house. This is Deep Deep England, Where real England’s reeled in By real and proper Englishmen And women, kith and kin, Who voted leave as they believe Down to their English roots We need to take Deep England back, Amidst these rotting fruits, Deep Deep Deep Deep England! If it’s lost we’ll be bereft At losing this sweet monument To a thousand years of theft. I dived down to Deep England Where the poor man’s at his gate And the rich man counts his profits From the new trading estate. The land’s there to make money, Its harvests made for scoffing, Its creatures made for blood sports And its caps all made for doffing. I dived down to Deep England Where the smocks are made of nylon To dress the modern peasants when They’re polishing a pylon. I dived down to Deep England Where they think their Queen’s Titania, The Land of Cockeyne’s our Cocaine And we all live in Narnia. I dived down to Deep England So far down I got to Hell And glanced over my shoulder: And saw nothing left to sell. I was drowning in Deep England Which is deeper than it seems, Though shallower than the head on Warm flat beer of which she dreams. I was drowning in Deep England; Hit the surface; gasped for air And choking looked around and saw Somewhere that wasn’t there. I sank into Deep England For the third and final time And a church clock stuck at ten to three Did not proceed to chime.
Leave means Leave And Yes means Yes And East means East And West means West And Leave means Leave And No means Yes And Leave means Leave And More means Less And Leave means Leave And Day means Night And Leave means Leave And Black means White And Leave means Leave And Left means Right And Leave means Leave And White means White And Leave means Leave And Might means Right And Leave Means Leave And Night means Night And Leave means Leave And Less means More And White means White And this means War So leave it out What Brexit means Is Leave means Leave And Heinz means Beans.
‘although the rhymes can sometimes make you groan, they’re meant to, and they delight you with their inventiveness.’
Ian McMillan, Yorkshire Post
'He writes as well as he draws... a riot of literature and laughs.'
‘wears its erudition like a drunk the suit he’s slept in.’
Mistress Quickly's Bed
‘a must-have for the bookish, the cynical and gourmets of deliberately dreadful verse.’
‘Those on the receiving end of his “metrical rants” should be honoured to be subject to such incisive lyrical attention.’
‘He writes as well as he draws... lots of laugh out loud moments as he rips into the people and the attitudes – and there are lots of them – he loathes.’