Competition 23 : A Cautionary Tale

The call was for Belloc-type cautionary tales.

This particular editor, with no wish to relive his most recent nightmare, was relieved to find that there were none sent in on the subject of the sheer folly of moving house. It was a relief to read instead of the minor inconveniences of death, destruction and general unpleasantness caused by mobile telephones, bathnight dinosaurs, the social media, limb loss et al.

While you are reading the cautions which follow I shall still be searching for a lost jar of Marmite, two dressing-gowns and a steam iron – surely an unlikely combination of contents for the same packing-case. But it seems to be the only possible remaining explanation – and perhaps a suitable subject for a cautionary tale.

Not all of your contributions were in the most sparkling of good taste, some were unfeasibly long and some, as usual and sadly, were their own caution against departing from careful observance of metre.

Here in no particular order are some which survived my Marmite-free deliberations.


The chief defect of Darren Day
Was driving motor cars away
And every time he saw a Merc
He'd twoc it quick – a little work
With pincers and his switchblade knife
And he'd be moving. That was life!
The biggest thrill that Dar could find
Was leaving fuzzes' cars behind
And hearing sirens sound far off -
That really made our Darren laugh.
While drinking lager from a can
He'd do a ton, a real tough man;
Although he'd barely reached thirteen,
His elders rated him as 'mean'
And fought to have a chance to ride
Up front at daring Darren's side.

As they were motoring one night,
All high, they piled and set alight
Five cars, three coaches and a van.
Dar clambered out; confused he ran
Along the fast lane into town.
Two ambulances mowed him down.
If, unlike Dar,you'd stay alive
Remember lads, don't drink and drive.

 Alanna Blake


Take care you don't end up like Joan.
Addicted to her mobile phone:
She checks for posts and texts and tweets –
A ritual that she repeats
Two hundred fifty times a day,
For so hypnotic is its sway.
She pays no heed to where she goes
(Which courts unsafe scenarios),
And thus was kidnapped, unawares,
By four ferocious grizzly bears –
Pulled into their Mercedes-Benz
While she was playing Words With Friends –
And in an instant, they were gone. T
hey're now in north Saskatchewan,
Which Joan has failed to notice yet –
And likely never will, I bet.

Brendan Beary


When Clarence got home tired and drunk,
He should have gone straight up to bed;
But no- he took his laptop out
And typed some angry thoughts instead.
The points he made (though neatly put)
Should not have seen the light of day
But now they networked far and wide
Creating havoc on their way.
He very quickly lost his job;
His wife walked out- but not before
She’d gossiped to the local press
And stirred things up a little more.
His mother (bless her) found it hard
In coping with the neighbours’ mirth
And in a rather drastic move,
Declared he had been swapped at birth.
The house was promptly re-possessed;
A bar was put upon his phone
And soon poor Clarence found himself
Unloved; unwanted- all alone.
I’m sure by now you’ve got the gist-
Never, ever tweet when pissed.

 Sue Scott


Hugh's wife resolved to lose some weight
But lost her left foot in a grate
When on an early morning jog
She tripped and fell on next door's dog.

As she was laid up on her bed
Hugh rather ungallantly said:
"Although you have a stumpy bone
At least you've lost a half a stone."

She hit him with her walking stick
For being such a thoughtless prick
And told him what to go and do...
I swear the air turned really blue.

Hugh's wife resolved to gain back weight,
He tells her she looks bloomin' great
For fear she'll crack him like an egg
With her brand new prosthetic leg.

Tracey Davidson


When couples have a lovers’ spat
You must not interfere.
It isn’t good, attempting that;
Your payment will be dear.

 Let’s say your sister and her spouse
Are fighting tooth and nail.
As foul words fly around the house
They bicker, slap, and flail.

You intervene.  You try replacing
Harmony and calm.
Well, friend, you might as well be facing
An atomic bomb.

They’ll turn on you.  It will be fast,
And signal your undoing.
Meanwhile, they, all anger past,
Resume their coochie-cooing.

Mae Scanlan


Though “Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires”,
Said Henry King, his Family
Eats to Excess, and never tires
Of Buns and Burgers, Snicks and Snacks,
And greasy Doughnuts that they dunk;
Their bulging Freezer never lacks
A Cornucopia of Junk.
They stuff themselves with Fat and Grease,
With Candy, Lollies, Popsicles.
They're all so horribly Obese 
That Neighbours call them 'Dropsicals'.

Their Lives were short, their Coffins wide.
While Henry’s Death was caused by String,
His Parents and his Siblings died
From eating Simply Everything.

Brian Allgar