Excuse the hiatus. Moved. Arrived at new destination. More of this in due course.
You will have to read this week’s New Statesman to see my winning limerick summarising the plot of Rebecca, but of course the thing about these competitions (I am about to enter my 1,600th consecutive competition in the NS, God help me, for it is my only real achievement in the world), is that they ask for ten. Which means that, these days anyway, there are nine lost to the world. So here are my nine other attempts to extract the pith from some great literary works:
On The Road
Sal follows Dean on a crawl,
Where the trip’s an irregular ball:
They stay off the right track,
Hit the Mexican sack –
It’s not like the M1 at all.
The Railway Children
Dad is in clink as a spy,
So his kids watch the chuffers go by.
They save a sick Red,
And wave down the well-fed:
So Dad is released. Let us cry.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
Aristos: what world do they build?
Take Clifford, who’s differently abled:
His wife lives in shame
Till her keeper proves game
(His cock pheasant’s specially fabled).
Wide Sargasso Sea
Yes, Jane Eyre admired his guts,
But Rochester’s first wife’s not nuts:
Her head has been messed
And her gender repressed
By the sexist, colonial klutz.
Known only as K, his initial,
A man finds the system judicial:
His crime is opaque,
And it seems a mistake,
But he’s stabbed like a dog. It’s official.
Heart of Darkness
Kurtz stockpiles the elephant tusk
Up the Congo, a river of dusk.
Says Marlow, “By crikey,
I searched for his psyche,
But he died crying ‘Horror!’, a husk.”
Marlene, who gets her girls jobs,
Finds historical women had probs:
Is ditching your kid
Worth a few thousand quid
Just to hob with some Thatcherite nobs?
Under The Volcano
A drunken ex-consul called Firmin
Is doomed (so the numbers determine):
His ex-wife is tender,
But he goes on a bender
Till the Mexicans shoot him like vermin.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Are the bit-parts in Hamlet so vital?
Well, they give Big Ideas some recital:
Two ordinary blokes
Doing Godot with jokes,
Who wind up – oh, look at the title.