Sometimes described as the literate cousin of the Limerick, the Clerihew has attracted and inspired writers from GK Chesterton and Gavin Ewart to Craig Brown. WH Auden once wrote an entire book of Clerihews. Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956), the Clerihew is a childish anti-panegyric, flat-footed, Hudibrastic, eponymous quatrains designed to lower the tone and cut everyone down to size. The Call of the Clerihew brings together fifty contemporary exponents of this ridiculous form, including Ian Duhig, WN Herbert, Jacqueline Saphra, Katy Evans-Bush, Michael Rosen and Tim Turnbull, cocking a snook at the great and the good, the important and the self-important, the religious and the royal, despots and detectives, poets, philosophers and politicians.
Kim Jong-Un Bit of a wrong ’un, Though being the subject of a personality cult could prove To be a good Korea move. Andy Jackson ‘Bashar al-Assad. Is the man good or bad?’ Is an examination question Designed to ruin your digestion. George Szirtes Benito Mussolini Had a teeny-weeny Thingy, so in spite of all that lamppost stuff you may recall, He actually wasn’t well hung at all. Mark Totterdell Francisco Franco Cleaned his uniform with Blanco, In the hope it would appeal To the Guardia Civil. Tom Deveson King Farouk Issued a rebuke: ‘Politics? Not in the mood – Just more women and more food.’ Tom Deveson Baby Doc Duvalier Was known for his esprit d’escalier. All the arguments he felt he’d lost Were later analysed for smart ripostes. Jim Lindop Louis Seize and Marie Antoinette Would drink champagne and, later, for a bet, (Not that they were short of dosh) Would force the peasantry to eat brioche. Jim Lindop Colonel Gaddafi Was never heard to laugh. He Ruled Libya with an iron fist But isn’t much missed. Andy Jackson Jim Jones (God curse his bones) Didn’t intend to be cruel, Though the Aid he administered was not Kool. Andy Jackson Napoleon Bonaparte Watched the Imperial Guard at Waterloo get blown apart. He stopped, stood stunned, staggered and stared, And said O merde! Tom Deveson Gnaeus Julius Agricola Was an Imperial stickler. He said: ‘Caledonia’s too big to police So I’ll make it a wilderness and call it peace.’ Tom Deveson Pol Pot Said: ‘You will be shot For disagreeing with me.’ Humanely adding: ‘Would you like some tea?’ Graham Mummery Frederick Barbarossa Got crossa and crossa With people thinking he was weird Because of the beard Judith Taylor. Lady Bathory Was a bit like a Tory In that she wet her tongue In the blood of the young. Bethany W Pope Maximilien de Robespierre Wore ladies’ underwear. He said it was an error Caused by the reign of terror. Brian Kirk Tamerlane Watched a crane Slowly cross the sky. 17 million would die. Robert Fitzmaurice Augusto Pinochet Was not killed by a ricochet From a bullet fired in rage. He died in old age. George Szirtes Catherine the Great Never did have that date With the horse. She died very old, With plenty of gold. Bethany W Pope Nicolae Ceaușescu Hoped someone would come to his rescue, But after all his diabolical work he Ended up a Christmas turkey. David Hill Vlad Had Those he disliked Spiked. David Hill Kim Jong-Il Invented the pneumatic drill. He was also said to come up with the Tommy Gun. Oh no, that was his son. Grant Tarbard Des Pot Didn’t think a lot Of his unfortunate name. Still, he stuck with it all the same. Peadar O’Donoghue