I love writing and, if I’m honest, performing, doggerels.  In case you aren’t sure what a doggerel is my dictionary sums it up perfectly; a poorly written, usually comic, verse. I blame Spike Milligan.  Many years ago I heard him recite one of his doggerels on the radio.  It went like this:

I met Jesus on a tram

I said, ‘Are you Jesus?’

He said, ‘Yes I am.’

I produce two sorts of doggerels; ones that rhyme (invariably rhyming couplets) that I read and ones that don’t rhyme that I chant (a sort of dirge, slightly – only slightly – reminiscent of Leonard Cohen). Here are a couple of examples (Surely you could feel this coming on?  No?  Well, I think you should have done).

I met a bar maid at East Dean

And, despite myself, became quite keen

With a shapely figure she was blessed

In suggestive black she was dressed

I knew I’d have to try my luck

And up my courage I did pluck

‘Oh, glorious curve ‘twixt waist and hip’

She interrupted ‘shut your lip’

This broke the spell and my hopeful leer

So I switched attention back to my beer!

Here is another:

Once high up on Beachy Head

I read a notice there which said

‘Call us anytime, night or day,

And listen to what we have to say’.

Up ‘til then I must admit

I hadn’t even thought of it.

But once the idea into me did seep

I wondered what t’would be like to leap.

But then I gazed at the Downs around

And peace again I quickly found.

To the Samaritans I must just say,

A moment of madness you provoked that day.

Want an example of a doggerel that doesn’t rhyme?  No?  Oh well, you’re going to get one anyway. Here is one I chanted to guests at my 70th birthday party (they had to join in the chorus).  By the way, it sounds much better if you hear me perform it – but I’ll leave this to your imagination (I’m gambling that the version you imagine will be better than the real thing – not difficult).

Oh, I remember when my skin used to fit and my six-pack rippled in the midday sun. Now things tend to droop with bags under my eyes, some extra chins and a six-pack that has long since submerged without trace.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I remember when a sense of urgency was a commendable state of mind causing me to accomplished many laudable things.  Now it has taken on a completely different meaning euphemistically referred to as ‘calls of nature’.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I remember when I could hear pins drop and even everything my wife said.  Now I am afflicted with selective hearing and, for reasons I’ve never quite fathomed, this means that I hear everything pretty well – except my wife.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I used to stand six foot three inches tall in my stockinged feet without cheating.  Now, at a recent health screen, I stood as straight as I possibly could and the nurse said I was six foot one.  Then she weighed me and got that wrong as well.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I remember when I had a fine head of thick dark hair.  Now, my hair is thin and grey and there are only three places where my hair still sprouts enthusiastically – from my nostrils, my ears and my eyebrows.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I remember when my fingers were long and strong and could effortlessly grip and twist.  Now, general wear and tear has taken its toll and opening packets, those tins with loops you have to pull, and especially jars with screw top lids, is an unequal struggle.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I remember when my brain was razor sharp with instant recall of names, pin numbers, pass words and all sorts of fascinating things from what I fondly imagined was an extensive knowledge bank.  Now I struggle to remember who you are and where I last left my spectacles.

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

Oh, I used to be supple and I could bend and stretch and easily touch my toes.  Now when I stoop to tie my shoelaces, I ask myself ‘what else can I do while I’m down here?’

Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

There are of course other things I could tell about aching in the places where I used to play. But I’ve come to realise that the best antidote is denial bolstered with plenty of red wine.

Final Chorus: Keep taking the pills with vitamin C and Omega 3

If you have been to a conference where I have ‘performed’, you are quite likely to have heard me chanting a topical doggerel – the last one was about the brain (ask me if you’d like a copy).  If you have suffered in this way, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly.  If you haven’t heard me doing a turn, all I can say is what are you waiting for?

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