A Tribute from Germany

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2013, on the 10th day of November at 1:33 am

Esther D. writes from Germany with this tribute to the bard’s historical output:

W. T. McGonagall – The world’s worst poet or a great local historian

We must ask ourselves: Was he the worst poet, or a great historian?!

His unique ability to give accounts of his days was absolutely remarkable.
Only a few of the so-called Oxbridgian poets give such a well-detailed (and for everyman`s understanding)account of their days without going overboard with negative personal judgements.
Of their accounts I can only say: hardly dependable!
W. T. McGonagall spoke of real events that occurred during his life time giving us, if you will, an eye-witness report and yet he is mocked – just because he did not first consult with Shakespearean scholars.
Well, BOO you! And I mean you, you and Shakespeare, too, not forgetting also you Lars.

It is most funny how apparently intelligent folks read the works of a nation’s (I understand also the world´s) worst poet and yet these very intelligent folks do not understand that what he created were not simply works of poetry but grand historical manuscripts.
So, who is the worst, the poet or the reader?!
Hmm, I wonder!
And I am not even in Scotland standing in my shoes.
But in Deutschland sitting on my couch writing this but with no one to schmooze.

I guess ye much prefer the cock and bull-shit accounts given by imaginative modern-day wanna-be historians.
The great scholars who produce books filled with “what I think happened” AKA fanciful truths.
W. T. McGonagall accounts may be mostly about his local surroundings, but should nonetheless be treated as useful historical accounts just as those from other great historians.
Not even Shakespeare was able to give a poetic account of his day without spicing it up with fiction, and lots of it.
Mr McGonagall´s works should not be compared with Mr Shakespeare´s – no artist should be compared with the other as the creativity, and indeed the beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder.
See splashing a bucket of paint on to a canvas and calling it art…no comment – I leave you to it.

His poems were, in my humble opinion, well written just with weak rhyming – So what?!
Should they not be seen as his own literal creations just as Shakespeare created his own world of writing??!
Has any of you who mock him ever heard of literal creativity??!! It seems NOT!
To me, his idea of literal creativity is much inviting.

Sir W. T. McGonagall was in every way literature is to be understood – a genius!
For someone with little or no education to come up with what he came up with – his writing, his determination to pursue his dreams, his idea of self-marketing…is bloody well impressive!
Even those J.K. Rowling loving twats will agree with this.
It just comes to prove that even in those days no one needed Oxbridge and co to produce a work of genius.
So, aloud I say to all ye naysayers read his works with understanding and stop being repulsive.

Mr W.T. McGonagall was just a poor man trying to make ends meet and darn he did!
He made two contrasting ends called the queen´s gate, and a poor man´s weary legs meet.
Pompous Victoria jealous that this she couldn’t accomplish, she hid.
A good thing England did not make him king as he would have missed the ship to New York´s tea and bread, and bread and meat.

A Scotsgirl I am not– just someone who tries to encourage the different faces of creativity, and one who recognises a good history book.
I endeavoured to change your perception about one of the world’s great historians, this I hope I have archived, and now I must go cook.

Gem Outage Resolved Poetically

Filed under: Readers’ Gems,Site News; in the year 2013, on the 4th day of November at 9:04 am

On Friday, I made a quick change to the site to redirect visitors to the non-existent /gems/ directory to somewhere more useful. I checked it was working, and went off to enjoy my weekend; not (alas) in the “bonnie highlands floral”, but in the not quite so salubrious surroundings of Milton Keynes. Imagine my dismay as I returned to this email from alert reader Simon Levene:

Dear Mr Hunt, I see with no delight
That a celebrated McGonagall ballad has vanished from your site;
When I click on the link to find the “Fall of Coomassie”
I find that your webmaster must have fatally damaged his chassis,
Because although links to this poem are scattered thickly on the ground
A cruel error message says bluntly “Page not Found.”
Unless you can help me, the outcome of this situation will be far from funny –
I shall have to go and buy my own copy of the Great Man’s ballads, with my own money.

In fact, not only had my “fix” blocked access to the Fall of Coomassie, but to all the other gems as well! Fortunately, I immediately realised where I had gone wrong, and was soon able to put things right. A reply was sent to Mr Levene:

It’s worse than that! I know you will be shocked
To learn that access to each of the poetic gems was blocked.
It was due to my own hasty actions that the site was accidentally nixed
But thanks to your tip-off it has now all been fixed.
May your weekend continue happy and serene,
And without having to part with any notes bearing the image of Her Majesty the Queen.

An acknowlegement followed soon after:

Dear Mr Hunt, before you can say “Michael Finnegan”
The works of the Great Tragedian are filling up my screen again,
And this is a matter of great rejoicing down south, as you know
Because we have been having to make do with the works of Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot and Co.
So although such laborious work must have interfered with your enjoyment of the Sabbath day
The Great Man’s followers all send you a heartfelt “Hooray!”

So the moral of this story, for me, is not to make major changes to the site on a Friday afternoon without properly testing the results. My thanks to Simon for pointing out the problem so promptly (and wittily). If you spot any issues on the site, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, whether or not you do so in verse!

Wimbledon Epilogue

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2013, on the 15th day of July at 12:44 am

Stephen Midgley writes with a few lines to bring his previous Lines in Praise of the Wimbledon Championships up to date with recent developments:

Epilogue to Lines in Praise of Wimbledon

The foregoing words were penned by McGonagall
In the year 2012, and in good faith all,
But the poet thought not that they’d soon be outdated
By an event that the British had for so long awaited.

For the very next summer, as if in reply,
Did Scot Andy Murray, in the month of July,
Win the men’s tournament with brilliant play
And in heroic manner, which no one dare gainsay.

For in the final he played against Djokovic, the Serb,
Who in vain tried the Scotsman’s great skills for to curb,
And when Andy hit the winning shot with his racket
The hearts of the British onlookers were ecstatic.

Then the crowds acclaimed loudly his triumph most brave
While fans and politicians their flags high did wave,
And so the new champion won glory and fame
Which were richly deserved by the man from Dunblane.

On the Memorable Events of Tuesday 26th June 2013

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2013, on the 30th day of June at 8:38 pm

Tom Mc Rae, a reader from “down under” with quite a hoard of gems to his name already, writes with a politically inspired one:

This morning I am in deep trouble, you may have heard that Julia Gillard has been deposed as our PM. I had thought I was free of the spirit of World’s best bad poet and poet laureate of the Temperance Movement, William McGonagall but he has just channeled, me from his flying saucer residence on the moon’s dark side. I am commanded to put his commemorative “poem” on record.

On the Memorable Events of Tuesday 26th June 2013

Of glorious joy I do not lack,
For Julia’s gone and Kevin’s back.
Overthrown by 47 votes to 55, nothing sinister,
Kev is now holding the reins again as Australia’s Prime Minister.
In trying the discontent in Labor ranks to halt,
’Twas she who called the ballot so it was her own fault.
That when she had assembled the Labor host,
Kevin won the ballot and Julia Gillard lost.
But courageous Julia did not in despair retreat,
On the contrary she with great honour accepted her defeat.
And without any bitterness or display of frown,
Our first female Prime Minister gracefully stepped down.
Then somewhat later, without any offence,
Kevin Rudd gave his first press conference.
Presented for all to see throughout the nation,
On every Australian TV station.
He praised Julia’s achievements then stated without any cynicism,
That he wanted to save Australia from Tony Abbot’s negativism.
As Julia rides into the sunset,
I can say without regret.
At least now we will not be exposed to cartoons sickening,
That slander her, all drawn by the vile Larry Pickering.
And let us all now hail with joy,
Kevin Rudd, PM, Queensland’s very own Boy.
I pray he will rescue Australia from great furies,
By closing down all pubs, wineries, and breweries
But, remember, there were TWO events I stated,
The other? Let it be related,
That Queensland won two victories bright,
By beating Victoria and New South Wales in a single night.
Both those states were forced to yield,
One at Canberra the other on Lang Park footy field.
So I hail 26th June 2013 as I conclude my rhyme.
A date that will be remembered for a very long time!

Biker’s Gems

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2013, on the 20th day of May at 10:29 pm

Regular contributor Stephen Midgley has taken up his pen once more. This time, perhaps inspired by certain lines in praise of local shopkeepers, he has written a paean to Ducati Glasgow – purveyors of motorbikes to the inhabitants of Scotland’s second grandest city. Whether they choose to reward the poet with an example of their wares remains to be seen…

Lines in Praise of Ducati Glasgow

’Twas in the year 2002, and on June the twenty-nine,
A day which Scotland’s bikers will remember for a very long time,
That Ducati Glasgow opened its doors with great ceremony
To display the finest motorcycles which are made in Italy.

For at that time there was no Ducati dealer in the region,
The city of Glasgow, land of Taggart and of brave John Smeaton,
And fans of the Italian brand were in great dismay and sorrow
Because for their bikes and servicing they must go to Edinboro’.

For Ducatis are fine motorbikes, and beautiful to see,
Oh! so splendid to be ridden and of highest quality;
There are the Hypermotard, the Diavel and the Monster,
And riding the Multistrada will also bring great rapture,
And the Superbikes, eleven-ninety-eight, nine-one-six and seven-four-nine,
And especially the Panigale which is exceeding fine.

So if you are considering to replace your ancient steed
With an Italian two-wheeled motorised velocipede,
Then get thee along without delay to the Great Western Road,
Where you can see all these Ducatis so magnificent to behold.

And if to Ducati Glasgow you should come on a two-wheeler,
You can park it in the street outside the front door of the dealer;
But if instead you come by car, then park it in the alley,
And enter by the back passage for to view the Panigale.

As soon as you go into the shop, you will see straight away
The many awards, such as Dealer of the Year, which are on display,
For customers their praises to the skies have often lauded,
Though, sad to say, some other bike shops long ago their windows boarded.

The staff of this emporium are as welcoming as can be,
And they soon will make you feel at home with a cup of good coffee;
Martin Rees is the man in charge, and the chief salesman is Blair,
And they are both very helpful and most expert, I do declare,
For whether you are young or old, skinny or a fatty
They will soon find the right bike for you, preferably a red Ducati.

But if you are no millionaire by some sad mischance,
To ride the Ducati of your dreams you may well need finance,
So you should have a chat about this with business manager Kerrie,
And after that your heart will soon be cheerful, gay and merry,
For not only is the fair Kerrie most beautiful to be seen
But she can arrange easy payments for you, even if you’re very mean.

And then there are the workshop boys, George and Craig and Charlie,
Who’ll do a great job on your bike, even if ’twas running poorly,
And Harry is the parts manager, who’ll obtain without dismay
Anything you need, whether ’tis a fairing or can of spray.

Indeed they are good people all, such as service driver Robin,
And I must mention Mrs Rees, who keeps the place so clean,
Which you will notice the minute that you step in through the door,
For you could gladly eat your luncheon off the showroom floor.
And then there’s Vincent the “Ducati dog”, a boxer is his breed,
Who is so gentle and friendly that he doesn’t need to be on a lead.

But I pray ye riders, once you have your bike, be advised by me,
Take care when you open the throttle of your nice new Ducati,
For you would be most sensible to be extremely wary
Lest your collar soon be felt by the Strathclyde constabulary,
Who care not whether you are on a moped or a Panigale.

So when you ride off up the A-eighty-two on your Ducati
Heading for a day out amid Scotland’s splendid scenery,
Of Strathclyde’s eagle-eyed finest you must take especial heed
Lest you travel the Queen’s highway at an excessive speed;

Or else you could get points upon your licence and a fine,
Which will be remember’d by your insurers for a very long time.
So, ye bikers, do not think for to exceed the ton,
At least until you’re well and truly clear of Dumbarton.

Lines in Praise of Wimbledon

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2012, on the 19th day of June at 7:42 pm

Another fantastic effort by Stephen Midgley in the style we all know and love. This time his genius of poetry is inspired by a certain tennis competition…

Lines in Praise of the Wimbledon Championships

Oh! ’tis time for Wimbledon fortnight again,
The great tennis tournament for ladies and men;
Crowds flock to the show courts, match after match,
While vast multitudes in their homes do watch.

The rules of the game are very clear,
The competitors hit a ball through the air;
One player strikes it with his racket,
And his opponent back over the net must whack it.

So the ball flies rapidly back and forth,
And the players run about the court for all they are worth;
Sunshiny days are the best for lawn tennis,
But sometimes wet weather can be a fearful menace.

The court is of green grass, marked out with lines of white,
And the players try hard for to place the ball just right,
For they must pay heed to where it touches the ground,
Or else they will not get through to the next round.

Some hit the ball past the other player
With lightning speed, I do declare,
While others use tactics, precision and cunning,
Which are equally effective ways of winning.

Sometimes the ball strikes the ground so fast,
’Tis hard to tell exactly where it lands on the grass,
And, sad to say, there may follow an argument,
As the players seek ways to express their dissent.

For some men defer to the umpire’s decision,
While others do treat it, alas! with derision,
Like John McEnroe, whose conduct in his youth was notorious,
Especially for his famous catchphrase, “Thou canst not be serious!”

The great tennis players have earned many honours,
Such as Rosewall, Laver, Hoad, Borg and Connors,
And I must mention Edberg, Lendl and Becker,
Also Agassi, Sampras, Nadal and Federer.

Sometimes a match doth the nation enthral,
Like the final in the year 2008 ‘twixt Federer and Nadal,
A battle that lasted for a very long time,
And will be remember’d for an even longer time.

The ladies too are a sight to witness,
Such as Goolagong, King, Sharapova and Hingis,
But some say the best of all was Steffi Graf,
And ’twas a happy day she became Andre Agassi’s better half;

And Serena and Venus, the Williams sisters,
Who strike the ball at a pace that blisters;
They have even played each other on Centre Court,
Where so many desperate battles are fought.

Hurrah also for Martina Navratilova,
And who can forget the fair Anna Kournikova?
So beautiful to behold, she made men’s hearts beat faster,
But alas! of tennis the finer points she could not quite master.

And what of the brave British, who strive so hard for to play,
But often fill onlookers’ hearts with dismay?
Such as ‘Tiger Tim’ Henman, and Scot Andy Murray
Who may yet reach the top, but perhaps not in a hurry.

For, ’tis pitiful to relate, the British are rather unlucky,
Although our players are extremely plucky;
And they never throw their rackets, kick, shout or swear,
But they set an example to their foreign foes everywhere.

For the game of tennis is a noble sport,
Which keeps men away from strong drink, rum or port,
And if a player drinks whisky, beer or gin,
Be advised by me, he never shall win.

At the All England Club in the open air they do play,
Which is good for the health, there’s none can gainsay,
So ’tis game, set and match to British sportsmanship,
And that is the reason why Wimbledon is the world’s best championship.

An Ode to Queen Elizabeth the Second in her Jubilee Year

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2012, on the 25th day of May at 12:10 pm

Kate Adamson writes in with this gem, written for the Minute McGonagall event last night:

An Ode to Queen Elizabeth the Second in her Jubilee Year

O wonderful and long-lived Majesty!
How happy I am that I have lived to see
Your anniversary of sixty years on the throne
Where you have not been alone
But have been supported by Prince Philip your consort,
Who when he keeps his mouth shut is quite a good sort.

O wonderful and long-lived Majesty!
We will celebrate your jubilee.
You will travel round the country once again.
We know you will not ever say anything that is profane.
Instead a great deal of interest you will feign
When someone attempts the widget factory to explain.

O wonderful and long-lived Majesty!
There will be a river boat and some pageantry.
We will put up Union Jack bunting.
There will be street parties with food and wine unstinting
And a long weekend holiday,
Except in Scotland where some people do not get the Monday
And where you should be known as Elizabeth the First, by the way.

O great and long-lived Majesty!
Please do not die soon or we will have to have Charlie.


The Wreck of the “Costa Concordia”

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2012, on the 28th day of February at 10:33 pm

Stephen Midgley sends in this gem, and seems to have not only mastered the great man’s style, but his taste in subject matter…

The Wreck of the “Costa Concordia”

’Twas in the year of 2012, on January the 13th day,
The great cruise ship “Costa Concordia” set sail without dismay,
Starting out from the port of Civitavecchia,
And the passengers all thought they could not have been luckier.

She was one of the largest cruise liners in the world,
With more than 4000 souls on board all told,
Bigger even than the mightiest ship of battle,
But the captain little knew how soon of his deeds the world would prattle.

By nightfall the great liner was approaching the Isle of Giglio,
And the captain decided a bit closer he would go,
But he did not think to beware of rocks underwater,
Which soon would result in a major disaster.

For later the captain would say he could swear,
That the last time he came here those rocks were not there;
But soon his ship would strike something in the blue Mediterranean sea,
And he would be forced to exclaim: “Oh, dear me!”

For suddenly the passengers heard a loud scraping sound,
As the ship’s port side on the rocks ran aground,
Which caused an immediate loss of power,
So their dinners they could no longer devour.

The announcer on the intercom said, “Stay calm, don’t panic,
For the situation in no way resembles the Titanic”;
The announcement continued: “It’s just an electrical fault”,
But many of the passengers took this with a pinch of salt.

Next they were told “Please return to your cabin”,
But by now to one side the great ship was lagging;
“We have some issues in terms of seaworthiness at the present time” –
Or, in other words, there’s a gaping hole below the waterline.

Oh heaven, ’twas a dreadful sight to see
The great ship leaning over in the blue Mediterranean sea,
And the poor souls wondering when the listing would cease,
And whether they would ever get out in one piece.

Then the passengers were finally told: “Abandon ship,
Due to technical reasons we are now terminating this trip.
You will receive a refund in due course,
That is if you make it to the shore, of course”.

The crew were struggling to launch the lifeboats,
So that they and their passengers could stay afloat.
For they knew it was going to be hard for them to reach dry land,
Especially as there had been no emergency drill beforehand.

On deck Captain Schettino said: “Follow me, step this way,
For I will show you how to get into a lifeboat without delay”;
And in so saying, he unfortunately did trip,
Fell straight into a lifeboat, and could not get back onto his ship.

By now the ship’s plight had come to the authorities’ attention,
And they had launched a brave rescue operation;
But coastguard Di Falco took the captain’s attitude very badly,
For he was not one who suffered fools gladly.

To Captain Schettino on the phone he did shout,
“Get back on your ship, you useless layabout”;
But the captain kept making excuses, and so exasperated was Di Falco,
That he finally yelled: “Vada a bordo, cazzo!”

By this time the evacuation was in full swing,
With many boats ferrying and helicopters airlifting.
But, sad to say, more than twenty-five souls perished that terrible night,
And the survivors had many shocking stories to tell of their plight.

Costa Cruises generously offered them a full refund,
A gesture which many passengers shunned,
And free vouchers towards their next cruise too,
But of this some customers took a very dim view.

Now, ye builders of ships, be advised by me,
The purpose of a ship is to float in the sea,
And not overturn when she strikes a rock,
Which should be obvious even to ordinary folk.

As for cruise companies, you should hear my behest,
And only hire captains who have passed their driving test,
And who can behave sensibly in a tricky situation,
Above all by staying on board to take charge of any evacuation.

Some say the captain was talking on the phone,
Instead of looking where he was going,
Which should be a lesson to all of us,
Whether we are steering a ship, car or bus.

Perhaps he was even inebriated,
And thus his own downfall created,
But whatever the truth, his days as captain are numbered,
Since onto those unyielding rocks he blundered.

So now I must conclude my lay,
By telling Captain Schettino without dismay,
That he must surely be put on trial,
And not set foot on a ship’s bridge for a very long while.

A Royal Wedding Day

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2011, on the 20th day of October at 4:45 pm

This summer’s happy event inspired the following “gem” from Jean Stavely:

A Royal Wedding Day

Prince William is going to marry his sweetheart Kate,
We hope that at the altar she will not be late,
It would be very tragic if the congregation were kept waiting,
And then perhaps they would begin berating.

The crowds of people will be standing along the street,
Shouting aloud their new Princess to greet,
As the couple return from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace
We hope no-one will bear them any malice.

In his uniform the Prince will look very grand,
And in the coach he will graciously wave his royal hand,
Our gracious Queen will become Catherine’s grandmama-in-law,
And on the young Princess blessings will pour.

A fairy-tale wedding this will be
With a handsome Prince so fit to see,
As in the story he will have found his Cinderella,
We pray no rain will fall so she will need her umbrella.

The service will be watched throughout the world by millions,
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and plenty of civilians.
There will be street parties all over the place
And everyone will have a smile on their face.

We hope the new Royal couple will find great happiness
And on them will fall no stress,
When William becomes king it will be seen,
That Catherine will be the sixth of that name to have become England’s Queen.

In Honourandum

Filed under: Readers’ Gems; in the year 2011, on the 26th day of September at 9:31 pm

This “gem” was sent in by Sean O’Donoghue-Hayes back in 2002. I’ve had a few others sent in since then, but there was nowhere on the old site really appropriate to publish them. That’s all changed now!

So if you feel moved to McGonagallian verse on any subject, get in touch and I’ll publish it here.

In Honourandum of William McGonagall 1830-1902

Oh forsooth,
U’ll be so uncouth,
Not to know grand McGonagall,
The greatest poet of them all!

He was a scholar of little regard,
Who did not let his discourse retard,
Spake on things of the everyday,
And gave the common man poetic say.

The glory of his words enshrined,
Are the fact by structure or rhyme not undermined,
He sought only to express himself to all,
The rich, the poor, short or tall.

It was Spike Milligan who re-dug him up,
And brought him to us who on such things sup,
Allow the world to again express amazement,
At McGonagall’s word enslavement.

That Tay bridge disaster of which he reports did so happen,
And his poem follows the official report almost exacten,
Oft this tee-totalling poet would perform to the Scottish lad and lass,
To make of more amusement they would alcoholically lace his drinking glass.

No, forsooth do not cast a stone at fair Will McGonagall,
He did not allow pure lack of talent to block him at all,
He expressed himself as well as the wayward muse allows,
Ol’ McGonagall was a bull where we quiet mice in the herd are only cows.

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