Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is Bad Poetry Hereditary?

I have a guilty secret. Well, to be honest, I have quite a lot of guilty secrets, but only one I'm going to ramble about here - there is, after all, a limit to how much of my dirty laundry I want to wash in public.

I have begun to write bad poetry.

Strictly speaking, this isn't an intention to write bad poetry, just poetry. But bad is the result.

For some time, Ive made an occasional habit of answering the long-suffering Mrs Grumbler in rhyme. The first time was an accident, but I discovered that it annoyed her and, well... There's a challenge in being able to respond to a question like "Do you want a cup of tea" with an instantaneous sonnet, and the little 'frisson' of excitement while waiting to find out whether I have misjudged the current lie of the land and am about to wear said cuppa, rather than consume it. So far Ive been lucky, and have not had any need to retire, liberally moistened with steaming Darjeeling, for a change of apparel.

Things took an interesting turn in recent days when I composed a ditty, in Iambic Pentameter, offering to fetch some Christmas beer from a local brewery for my Friends and colleagues in the office. The resulting verse is truly, shockingly appalling - so much so that I shan't reproduce it here. This missive isn't meant to be an opportunity for me to ape the great William McGonagall, but rather the cause and effects behind this current dalliance.

The fact is that the offending ode plumbs depths which would make even Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz wince which has led me to speculate on whether there is in fact some extra-terrestrial makeup in my DNA. After reading the vicious verse to my pal Andy (who sits close to my office and therefore plays, unwittingly and uncompensated, the part of my resident, on-call shrink) I told him about my theory that I was, perhaps, part Alien.

Frankly, Andy pooh-pooh'ed the idea, telling me not to be so silly. How, he reasoned, could I be part alien when (a) I am not green and (b) I have never knowingly consumed a live rat. We've both watched a lot of TV, so we know that these two things are inherent characteristics of any martian or other non-earthperson. That's one of the things I really appreciate about Andy - while I might harbour quite ridiculous concepts, he always has a much better grasp of reality. Closer to the ground, if you like.

So, I'm back to the drawing board, in a manner of speaking. Carrying around a stump of pencil and a small notepad in my back pocket in case I'm struck by a stray piece of inspiration. The next bad poem might not be a result of my ancestry. But it's certainly in my jeans.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Sylph-like is an adjective rarely applied (other than with heavy irony, or while I have been temporarily located in Florida, USA) to your Grumbler. Even so, it's become apparent that my manly physique has, in recent times, begun to exhibit characteristics more traditionally associated with the better fed strata of our society.

You may appreciate that I greet this realisation with the same dismay previously reserved for the discovery that one of the cats has seen fit to gift me with half a dead mouse in my left-foot carpet slipper. (One of our dogs has eaten the right-foot slipper - either as a form of dietary protest, or some utterly misdirected expression of adoration. Personally, I have never found the consumption of garments belonging to an objet d'amour to be a reliable declaration of infatuation. My advice, once you've ripped your chosen article of clothing off the wearer using nothing but your teeth, stop while you're ahead.)

The rib-cage of a field mouse, incidentally, is a very good fit on the second toe of my left foot. A useful fact that I shall file away should I ever take up the business of producing costume jewelery for the S&M/Goth/Foot-fetishist community.

My burgeoning rotundity is as welcome as a trouser cough in an Extra-Vehicular-Activity suit, and has crept up on me in much the same contemptibly surreptitious fashion that I imagine a a low-earth-orbit fart would employ.

It's quite evidently been a gradual process, and subject to a good deal of self-delusion. I've been more than comfortable assuming that our new tumble dryer bears sole responsibility for the fact that my heavyweight cotton T-shirts now stretch so thin across my abdomen that they take on a disturbing transparency more commonly associated with expensive fashion garments targeted at the well-to-do metrosexual.

I've been able to rationalise the tightness of my belt as 'leather shrinkage' - a direct result of the fact that I was recently rained upon, a common occurrence in these geographical parts. As for the bathroom scales, don't they all over-read when the battery gets low?

I've even been capable of believing that when someone shouts "Oi Fatty!" in my general direction when there is no-one else to be seen is attributable to my failing eyesight. (Odd, isn't it - more comfortable with incipient myopia than obesity?).

I suppose that the final straw came the other day whilst I was crossing the road. (I wouldn't usually do that, but I suffer from a rare condition known as Alcoholic Constipation. Basically, I have extreme difficulty in passing a pub.) An elderly lady driving a Mitsubastard Dungbeetle or somesuch equally execrable far-eastern economy-microcar shot out of a previously un-noticed side road and bore down upon me at speeds that must have been approaching twelve miles an hour.

I don't mind admitting that for quite a long while I thought I was a goner - proof if it were needed that a low speed traffic incident is a lot more frightening than a fast one. But then she stopped, looked right, and proceeded to drive round me, 180 degrees, and back the way she came. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that the silly moo thought I was a mini-roundabout.

Oooh, the ignominy of it.

Its not that I have anything against street-furniture of this type. Some of my best friends are traffic islands. But lets face it, this isn't the time of year for that kind of career change. Its cold enough to freeze one's bollards off out there.

There's nothing for it, I'm going to have to go on a diet. Otherwise the next time you see me the town council will have stuck a Christmas tree on my head, and I'll be surrounded by boy-scouts singing "Away in a Manger", and I've always hated that one.