Competition 38: Substitute Lines

You were asked for substitutes for the word ‘wool’ in the line There is no substitute for wool used in a 1950s verse advertising campaign. (Nine of the originals, five of them with their period illustrations, can be seen at )

LUPO’s readers sent in a good number of entries over half a century later, providing some enjoyable reading for the judge and a tricky task in deciding the final cut. D.A. Prince couldn’t do without wine and Ken Gosse without light verse. More abstractly, C.R. Edenhill’s phantom found life preferable to the spirit world and Susanna Clayson’s mono-rhymes featured lost youth, hugs and the real McCoy, while for Alanna Blake, Richard Libby, Daphne Milne and Peggy Verrall it was rhymes, morning coffee, fame and bread.

With the usual commiserations to them and others, thanks to all the participants, and congratulations to the winners, below in no particular order are the survivors of the quarterly sieving.


Mae Scanlan

There is no substitute for colonoscopies.
Some scientist would do the world a favour
If he could just invent, with merciful intent,
A test a little easier to savour.

The problem here is not with the procedure;
It's with the ghastly prep the night before,
The awful-tasting slop you must drink until you drop
Which leaves you feeling miserable and sore.

There are lesser ways to make a diagnosis,
But the colonoscopy is tried and true;
Plus, the doc can snip a dollop of some tissue or a polyp,
Thus preventing bad things happening to you.

But we live in stimulating times, and therefore
I am hoping that some enterprising soul
Will alleviate the stress, and the pre-procedure mess,
And devise a happy way to reach the goal.

       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Joanna Bird: Thumbs Up for Thumbs!

Do we require opposing digits? -
Although we could still hold a cup
Without them, we'd need special widgets
Just to do our buttons up.

We couldn't (evolution's fault!)
Flick idly through a magazine,
Or take things with a pinch of salt,
Or operate on someone's spleen.

We'd lack the means to flip a coin,
So couldn't sort out ends at tennis.
When faced with lengths of string to join,
We'd shudder at the twiny menace.

To get at peaches in a tin
Would we risk our teeth . . . and gums?
And with that thought the verdict's in −
There is no substitute for thumbs.

        ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣     

Sue Scott

There is no substitute for Daniel Craig-
He's taken on the role of 'Bond' again
And clearly hasn't had to slit his wrists.
No doubt the pay cheque's helped to ease the pain.

That's fine by me- I like his sullen thug;
The way he tries to hide his tortured soul.
Much better than the smarmy 'Bonds' of late.
He's welcome to stay firmly in the role.

Now Hiddleston and Elba and the rest
Who've sat for ages, waiting in the wings
Can ditch the smoking gun and black bow tie
And go and set their sights on higher things.

     ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Martin John

If you’re really determined to make your own wine
You’ll need bunches of grapes freshly picked from the vine.
The fruit must be pressed, and for wine you can’t beat,
There is no substitute for feet.

Don’t bother with mangles or presses or jacks
Or running the car over clusters in sacks.
Just fill up the bath with the best of your crop
Then take off your shoes and climb on to the top.

When you jump up and down they’ll begin to get squashy,
Don’t stop till the sound goes from scrunchy to sloshy
And then to ensure it’s a wine you can savour
Wring out both your socks for the last ounce of flavour.

Should somebody query the secret ingredient,
Omitting to mention the socks is expedient.
If all this sounds weird I can only repeat
There is no substitute for feet.

       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Catherine Chandler : In Tall Cotton

There is no decent substitute for cotton.
Not nylon, Orlon, or anything synthetic.
Think checkered polyester pants. Pathetic.
Think Playtex girdles. Wholly misbegotten.

There are indecent substitutes for cotton:
those Lycra Speedos unapologetic-
ally worn by fat old dudes athletic-
ally challenged (but which they think they're hot in).

Of course, there's viscose rayon (best forgotten)
and SeaCell, Qmilch—don't they sound poetic?—
impinging on the classical aesthetic.

But would I wear a burlap T-shirt? Not un-
less I were a bona fide ascetic.
I'm not. There is no substitute for cotton!

       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Tracy Davidson: Naughty But Nice

To get me in the mood for passion
Come clad in more exotic fashion -
If we’re to spend the night together
There is no substitute for leather.

Don't give me flowers or fancy chocs
If off you wish to knock my socks-
Not plastic handcuffs, make them real,
There is no substitute for steel.

Don't serve me oysters, caviar,
As chips will get you just as far.
And gifts of scent or gems?? No thanks!
There is no substitute for spanks.

Don't call me ‘Darling’, or pet names,
Just 'Mistress' during bondage games.
Though I’m, in public, prim and haughty,
There is no substitute for naughty.

       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Peter Fereday: No substitute

Someone’s invented Robot Spouse.
It serves your needs and cleans your house
But won’t get cross with you at all
If you splash gravy down the wall.

If you’re a woman or a man
Your robot loves as best it can.
It’s fully functional (nudge nudge!)
I’ll take the model that makes fudge.

But I’ve been thinking: there’s a catch
If you’ve an electronic match.
It just can’t feel what you can feel.
Its love is virtual, not real.

My mind’s made up, so listen, Bud!
My partner must be flesh and blood.
Don’t want a robot for a wife.
There is no substitute for life.

       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Susan Jarvis: Same Old Grind

I’ve had you mild; I’ve had you strong.
I’ve had you lush; I’ve had you long.
I’ve had you bland; I’ve had you spicy.
I’ve had you hot; I’ve had you icy.

I’ve had you black; I’ve had you white –
at dawn of day; at fall of night.
I’ve had you slathered in whipped cream.
I’ve had you fast at fullest steam.

I’ve had you wee; I’ve had you whopping.
I’ve had you ‘til my eyes are popping.
I’ve had you smooth; I’ve had you rough –
and now I’ve simply had enough!

Coffee, you're just not for me –
there is no substitute for tea!

       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣       ♣

Brian Allgar: Irreplaceable

The thought of shuffling off this mortal coil
Is unappealing; frankly, I must say
The certainty of dying tends to spoil
Those dubious pleasures that may come my way.

It’s not so much the bucket-kicking part,
Although I doubt if I would call it fun,
As all the things I may not even start -
The splendid deeds (and women) left undone.

My thoughts, still unexpressed, will never know
Fulfilment as a limerick or ditty;
You cannot write them for me, even though
You may be twice as clever and as witty.

It seems to me that life’s a con-man’s trick;
When I have fears that I may cease to be,
The thing that really gets upon my wick
Is this: there is no substitute for me.

Yellow flowers.