Now General Waste was a military man.
Yes, a military man was he.
He’d led a life
So full of strife
He knew not where to be.

But when he retired he took a post
As the village waste collector.
He said with a sigh,
“I might as well try,
I’ll be good as a street protector.”

This post he took as a garbage man,
A rum old job to choose.
He wasn’t bitter
Collecting litter,
He’d nothing much to lose.

He was so used to being obeyed,
He loved issuing orders,
“Now don’t drop that,
You little brat”,
“Or I’ll march you to headquarters.”

But then one day he met another,
A refuse collector she.
So full of beans,
A lass of means
And soon the two became ‘We’.

They did their jobs together now,
He a spry street sweeper,
While she picked waste,
Not to his taste,
Saying “I’m not my husband’s keeper.”

But when at last their jobs were done,
They went home to their cottage.
She called him “Sir”,
He cooked for her,
Their favourite – egg and sausage.

But one fine day she said to him.
“I’ve got a swelling tummy.
It might be that,
Just fancy that,
I’m going to be a mummy.”

Well general Waste was taken aback,
“You mean I’ll be a daddy?
At my age now
I can’t see how
I’ll cope with a little laddy.”

But when he paused and gave it thought,
He decided better of it.
“Might not be bad,
That little lad,
I might just learn to love it.”

Now General Waste, his wife and son,
Derive exceeding pleasure,
As, with great joy,
Man, wife and boy,
They pick up waste together.

General Waste

These verses were, in fact, preceded by a similar light-hearted poem about the General which I wrote and published on this blog nearly a year ago.  If you wish to read this earlier effort of mine you will find it at . . . 

 ‘General Waste Comes To Town’



TREE-mendous FUN

Devon-aug 085a

Photo : ‘… in Devon ‘ – WHB

TREE-mendous FUN

“I love you”, said ELM to HAZEL,

“Shall I comPEAR you to a summer’s day?
rough winds, they shake the darling buds of MAY,
and summer’s LEAVES have far too short a DATE;

but my FIR will keep YEW warm in winter;
then let us produce HAZE-ELM-lets,
or, if you preFIR,
maybe we’ll make ELM-HAZEL-ets together.”

“But I am PLANE”, HAZEL said,
“and you are SPRUCE,
and I PINE for a HOLLY-day,
For the BEECHES of my youth;
… so, before I become
just ASHes in a BOX
I will be, AS-PEN to paper,
and I WILL-OWe you this one poem.”

“OAK – HAY”, Elm said

So the PEAR of them
and BRANCHED off to WOODstock,
where they lived APPLE-y ever after.


[  with apologies to Mr. W. Shakespeare for bowdlerising his Sonnet # 18   ]


U. A. Fanthorpe – ‘ATLAS’

 [  No.72 of my favourite short poems  ]


After all the recent talk of LOVE surrounding VALENTINE’s DAY, here is a very down-to-earth poem by what we could perhaps call a no-nonsense down-to earth poet,  U.A.Fanthorpe. 

Born in 1928, Ursula Askham (normally using just her initials, U.A.), Fanthorpe, died, aged 79, in 2009, near her home in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire.  After studying at Oxford University, she went on to teach English at  Cheltenham Ladies’ College for sixteen years, before giving up teaching.  She was aged 50 before her first collection of poems was published, having noted, quite precisely, that “On 18 April 1974 I started writing poems”.  She was later made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a CBE in 2001 for services to poetry.  In 2003 she received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Perhaps her best known poem is ‘Atlas’.  The poem presents a far-from-romantic view of LOVE.  Certainly a positive, worthwhile, and all the more powerful for that, view of the realities of a truly loving relationship . . . 



‘ATLAS’ . . . by U. A. Fanthorpe


There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.


UA Fanthorpe, from ‘Safe as Houses’ (Peterloo Poets, 1995)







Calliope-The Muse Of Epic Poetry


The Creative Process


I sit here
Awaiting inspiration
Defeating anxiety
By not being anxious
Just as I defeat boredom
By acting oddly.
Poking my poised pen
Up my right nostril
Right side
– That’s my creative side –
Humming ‘Ipsy Wipsy Spider’
To the tune of
‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Not that the procedure
Often produces a product
Concocts a concoction
Elicits the missing ending of
Kubla Khan
Finishes Schubert’s
Symphony No.8
Or Tolkien’s Tales Of Middle-earth

No. Definitely no!
It has been known
To flick a switch
Ignite a spark
Connect two thoughts
To result in a third
of admirable content
Contenting Calliope,
Who, having prompted
My spirit of the moment,
Considers her job done
And promptly leaves.

Thus I return
To that stale and stagnant state
In which
I sit here
Awaiting further inspiration

That epiphany
That ever-absent
Eureka moment
In which
I compose my own
‘Paradise Regained’




Three Condensed Fairy Tales

Little Red Riding Hood


Never visit your dear old nan
Without a brave wood-cutting man,
For when she smiles and shows her teeth
You’ll find that sly old wolf beneath;
But your woodcutter he’ll protect you,
He’ll tear that mask off and will axe him,
He will not pause to even ask ‘im
What he’s doing in your nan’s nightie;
Transvestite wolves are most unsightly.





 Goldie trespassed in the Three Bear’s house,
Thinking “I’ll be quiet as a meadow mouse.”
She sampled all the porridge she found,
Then had a quiet snoop around.
Three chairs, three beds, she sampled all;
Soon fell asleep, curled up so small.
The bears returned, the baby bawled,
At all the damage they were appalled.
Goldie awoke, she screamed in pain,
And never saw those bears again.





Her father boasted to the king,
His daughter was so gifted
That she could spin the meanest straw
To make gold unassisted.

But this she clearly could not do,
Until a dwarf agreed
To help her if she’d give her word
Her baby to him to concede.

This she woefully had to do
To keep her father’s word.
So sad she was and out of sorts,
As the love within her stirred.

The only way to recover her child,
The dwarf then to her said,
Was to find out what his true name was,
Thus stem the tears she shed.

She travelled far, she travelled wide,
Seeking his name to find,
But every name she tried was wrong,
No one could ease her mind.

Until she heard a voice one night
Within a woodland glade.
“Rumplestiltskin, that I am”,
It sang while music played.

Indeed it was her little man,
Rejoicing in his glory,
To think that he had won his prize
And thus would end this story.

But he’d been rumbled in his pride;
Of justice – no miscarriage,
For she had got her baby back,
And the King’s rich hand in marriage.


Illustrations: By WHB . . . Pen & Ink – January 2018   ©


The Red Chesters



“Shall I collect the red chesters?”,
The caretaker said to me.
He’d said it so often I didn’t demur;
I grimaced and just let it be.

For him to take care of a school,
That was a daily trial.
He’d disappear for hours on end;
Complaints just met with denial.

‘Thruppence short of half a crown’,
Was how we described him then;
But that was being so unkind
To a minnow amongst men.

He shuffled around from place to place
Carrying brush and pan,
Picking up what others dropped,
Doing it because he can.

When needed to open a stockroom door
He went to find the key.
Two hours later he appeared
To set the prisoner free.

He stoked the boiler from time to time
To keep the heating on,
But never remembered to turn it off
When wintertime had gone.

He swept the playground with a broom
The way he’d always done.
You couldn’t see the difference
From when he had begun.

Cleaning out the long jump pit
Was just a task too far.
He couldn’t tell a pile of sand
From half a ton of tar.

And as for adding up I found,
He wasn’t the wisest of men.
When asked to count milk bottles up
He could never get past ten.

I asked him once how many chairs
He’d set out in the hall.
He told me, about ten rows, plus two,
He’d put against the wall.

And as for cleaning out latrines,
He didn’t find that easy.
He couldn’t wash a basin out
Without him feeling queasy.

So why, you ask, did I appoint him,
Choose him before another?
Sorry, but I do admit,
He was my dearest brother.




N.B.  ‘Red Chesters’ is the way some people mispronounce the word ‘Registers’, which are the daily attendance records maintained in each class of UK schools.



He is Gone

funeral party

A Quote from that great  English comedienne, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter, producer and director, Victoria Wood, who sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 63 . . .

“In India, if a man dies, the widow flings herself onto the funeral pyre; if a man dies in this country, the woman just drags herself into the kitchen and says, ‘Seventy-two baps, Connie, you slice, I’ll spread’ “

From: ‘Great British Wit’ by Rosemary Jarski  (Ebury Press 2009)


Pull the stops out
He is gone;
Start a new life,
Don’t dwell upon

What once was quick,
It now is dead,
Life starts afresh;
He always said,

“When I am gone
Do not be sad,
Start a new life
And be glad.

Get out the glad rags,
Have a party,
You’ll be fine now,
Hale and hearty.

Ready to start
A brand new life,
A brand new woman,
An experienced wife.

Time to sparkle,
Forget the past;
Your Prince awaits you,
Free at last.

For when I’m safely
In my box,
No need then
To stop all the clocks.”




My Christmas Age


I am one Christmas older than my age
And I thought this gave to me a great advantage;
But of course that is not true,
Because it’s just the same for you;
Think about it, then assess the damage.




Wendy Cope: ‘The Uncertainty of the Poet’

[  No.68 of my favourite short poems  ]

The uncertainty which afflicts many poets concerning their right to call themselves such, is perhaps illustrated in this ‘Vimrod’ cartoon to be found on the website, and further expressed in Wendy Cope’s delightful short poem, below . . .

Vimrod-I am a Poet

The indecision which afflicts so many of us, leaves us, as in the last line of Wendy Cope’s poem, still insecure, unsure of ourselves and our abilities, and certainly ‘uncertain’.  But the need to press on remains, regardless of our doubts, and that is what tells me we must have something of the poet in us.



‘The Uncertainty of the Poet’  by  Wendy Cope


I am a poet.
I am very fond of bananas.

I am bananas.
I am very fond of a poet.

I am a poet of bananas.
I am very fond.

A fond poet of ‘I am, I am’ –
Very bananas.

Fond of ‘Am I bananas?
Am I?’ – a very poet.

Bananas of a poet!
Am I fond? Am I very?

Poet bananas! I am.
I am fond of a ‘very’.

I am of very fond bananas.
Am I a poet?


Vimrod – as explained on Wikipedia:

Vimrod is a cartoon character created by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar.  Vimrod is best known for its greetings cards, which sell worldwide in the millions, and books, which are published by Harper Collins and Andrews McMeel / Universal press Syndicate.


‘Do You Know These People?’ – Five CLERIHEWS



Johann Sebastian Bach
Played his spinet in the park …
Till the ‘St Matthew Passion’ 
Went out of fashion.

Teresa May
Will still have her say,
When Brexit is over
She’ll barricade Dover.

That man, Donald Trump,
makes journalists jump,
But his late night tweet
Is their bread and meat.

Andrew Lloyd Webber
Was so very clever;
When he composed ‘Phantom’
He made ugly men handsome.

Kim Jong Un
Is full of fun,
But his braggadocio
Will end in atrocious woe.

[ . . .  WELL – you try to find a feminine rhyme for ‘braggadocio’  …   No, I won’t allow Pinocchio … or Tokyo ]


NOTE:   A CLERIHEW is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley.  The first line is normally the name of the poem’s subject, usually a famous person put in an absurd light, or revealing something unknown or spurious about them. The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced.  (Wikipedia)