Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Madam, I salute your indefatigability

Picture the scene. My wife and I were staying with our very good friends Sue and Bob in Manchester back in the summer of 1982. After lunch, Bob was leafing through a recent copy of New Scientist and reading the "Ariadne" column which is a column of scientific light-heartedness with the occasional competition for readers. There was a new musical in London at the time based on T S Eliot's Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats, so NS had set its readers the challenge of coming up with an Eliot-style poem for an Egyptian mummified cat. Bob read us out the winner and we all fell about laughing, at one line in particular. (You'll know it when you get there. Trust me.)

Since then, on many occasions, we have recalled the poem but been unable to locate it (I suppose there was no reason to hang onto that issue of the magazine when it had been read). However, Sue, bless her, is nothing if not determined, and evidently found an online search engine she could point at the NS archives. I shall link to the whole article in a moment, but here is that winning poem, by one W G Heath of Stockport.

I'm wrapped up in a bandage from my head down to my toe,
And where my works have gone to, well, I guess I'll never know;
They functioned very nicely if I treated them with care,
But when I felt around just now, they simply were not there!
My cavity, my cavity, there's nothing in my cavity:
They took my guts for garters, which to me seems sheer depravity.
When I hear a fiddle playing with a tiddle-om-pom-pom,
An awful thought lights up my brain just like an atom bomb:
If the strings are cat's intestines, then whoever are they from?
So I've ended up a mummy, when I used to be a Tom!

Here is the original column.

And thank you again, Sue Barnard.

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