I had intended to celebrate the 150th blogposting by publishing Part One of my autobiography; a suitable way, I’m sure you agree, to mark such an auspicious - nay, epoch-making - event. I was going to tell you how I was born in what had once been a workhouse and is now a landfill site for unwanted detritus; how, at the age of 18 months, I was swept up from a backstreet in Shildon having been mistaken for an unusually pale and globular deposit of horse manure; how, simply to put food in his siblings’ mouths, my eldest brother entered - and won - the Miss Peterlee competition in 1957. (We never did find out how he managed that; he always refused to tell us, mysteriously remarking instead ‘The leanest meat makes the weakest gravy’.)

However, this first riveting instalment of my wayward life story - which I have decided to call The Only Way Is Up - will have to wait. And before you put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, to voice your disappointment, I have to tell you that the delay is entirely due to Maud Bentley.

Who ( I can almost hear you ask) is Maud Bentley. Well, she claims to be one of those myriad ‘silent’ truckshunters who home in on this blog periodically then home out again (can you ‘home out’?) without making their presence felt. They make no comments and leave no mark of their visitation through our hallowed portals.

Except sometimes they do. Maud certainly did. She has emailed me in high dudgeon (can dudgeon be anything else but ‘high’?) to complain about the mawkish - not to say morbid - nature of the poems I selected for inclusion on blogposting 149, which see. Having looked at them again, I can see her point. Taken as a whole, they are hardly liberating spirit-lifters, are they?

At this point, the plot thickens a little. In her email, Maud suggested that I lighten truckshunter spirits a little by once again featuring poetry but this time of a more light-hearted and less enervating kind. She suggests that I do this by using clerihews.

If Maud had not gone on to explain what a clerihew is, I would have had to look the word up in my Uxbridge English Dictionary. She relieved me of that task, however, by telling me that clerihews are ‘four-line humorous and/or satirical verses, usually biographical. The first two lines rhyme with each other, as do the second two lines. The rhyming scheme is thus aabb'. They are, then, witty four-liners about famous people.

Before we go on to look at some examples of the genre, I should say that, at this point, the plot thickens even more - to about the consistency of the custard we used to get at school. I quote here Maud’s explanation of why she is so keen on clerihews.

'I think this verse-form is neglected, Ian. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? After all, clerihews were invented by my grandfather, Edmund Clerihew Bentley.'

That’s all she says. I’ve looked this man up on the internet (as you do) and Maud is absolutely right; he was the inventor of the clerihew. It's his face which graces the heading of this posting.

More than that, however, Maud doesn’t tell us. So...Maud: if you’re reading this - and I know you are - please get back to me/us and fill in the many gaps you’ve left in our already woefully inadequate knowledge of a man who was obviously articulate, witty, literate - and very clever.

And so - to celebrate the 150th posting on this Truckshunters blog - here are some clerihews. Most - but not all - of them were written by the man himself. And I'm truly grateful to Maud for sending me them.

Sir Humphry Davy
Was not fond of gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium

John Stuart Mill,
By a mighty effort of will,
Overcame his natural bonhomie
And wrote Principles of Political Economy

Did Descartes
With the thought
"Therefore I'm not"?

Sir Christopher Wren
Said 'I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St Paul's'

Thomas Tallis
Bore no man any malice
Save an organist named Ken
Who played his music rather badly now and then

The art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about maps,
But Biography is about chaps

What I like about Clive
Is that he is no longer alive.
There is a great deal to be said
For being dead

Edward the Confessor
Slept under the dresser.
When that began to pall,
He slept in the hall

It was a weakness of Voltaire's
To forget to say his prayers,
And one which to his shame
He never overcame

And my own personal favourite...

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder

They’re good, aren’t they? So good, in fact, that I’m prepared to bet that you’re already trying to compose your own. How about Tony Blair...Paul Wappat...Hilda Flood...Jonathan Miles...

And, as the clerihews above show, they don’t have to be biographical. So go on, give it a whirl.

After I drafted the first version of this posting, I took a quick look at the comments on posting 149. To my utter delight, J Arthur Smallpiece - our very own Poet Laureate - had added his latest composition at precisely the same moment I was completing this draft. The Intellectual's Night Out is well up to his usual standard and - if you ask me - well worth the Arts Council grant which facilitated its composition. Once again, Mr Smallpiece - brilliant! Well done. And a big thankyou from truckshunters everywhere.

Note to J Arthur: PLEASE email truckshunters@googlemail.com with your contact details. No-one but me will see them and I soooo want us to be able to stay in touch with you, if you don't mind

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com

HAPPY 150TH!!!


Hildie said...

Ian Robinson
Was under no illusion,
When the fridge came flying
He thought he was dying.

Hildie said...

p.s. Well, hello again J. Arthur Smallpiece, what a great surprise to find you here .... whizzy!

Hildie said...

Maud Bentley,
I'll tell you this gently,
I'm thinking rather
She could be J. Arthur.

Ian Robinson said...

Brilliant Hildie - just brilliant!

Hildie said...

Paul Wappat
Shrieked, "I've got it,
If I sit on a rubber ring,
Then things won't sting!"

J. Arthur Smallpiece said...

Dear Hildie,

I've read you intently,
You think I'm a Bentley,
That's a bit inexact,
I'm a Rolls Royce, in fact.

Kev said...

This could be horribly true.....

Dear Minister,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the 'not rearing pigs' business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any. If I get £ 3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100?

I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year.

As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department.

Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?
I am also considering the 'not milking cows' business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.
I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.
Yours faithfully...

I could not be blunter
but to be a truckshunter,
measure for measure
gives so much pleasure

(A bit contrived but for a first attempt....)

Hildie said...

Dear J.Arthur

As poets go, I'd say you are a Rolls Royce, pet.
It's true I thought that when we met,
But then you got a little bored...
Hence, the transition into Maud.
Hi Kev,
gorgeous poetry for a mathematician .....
mine isn't up to much, but I'm truly having fun!

Ian Robinson said...

Hildie Flood -
That name's sooooo good
Coz her contributions are huge
A veritable DELUGE.

Hildie said...

How about ....

Hildie Flood
Is no good,
Chop her up for firewood,
When she's dead, boil her head
And make her into gingerbead.

Maybe we have been reciting clerihews all our lives without even realising it!

Sid said...

Can you imagine how I felt
When burning toast my nostrils smelt,
To eat it would have been a sin
I've hidden it in the kitchen bin.

Sid said...

Am I the one who'll stand and cuss
While waiting for the missing bus,
And when it comes the drivers dry
Guess where I'd like to shove this pie.

Sid said...

I must drink less
Said the Tipsy Duchess,
At the rate I'm going
I'll be overflowing.

Hildie said...

Hi there Sid ... just when I was all lyric-ed out ... along you came - all full of creativity!
You are doing very well.
Never knew you were a poet!
When are you back from the caravan? We'll have to put the idea of another AGM to Ian.
School's out for summer ...
very soon!

Hildie said...


Ian Robinson said...

There really SHOULD be an award for the high quality of your contributions - perhaps the J ARTHUR SMALLPIECE AWARD? I'll give it some thought...
Another AGM is a good idea, Hildie. Venue suggestions? And are Margaret, Vivienne, Maureen still with us? Or do we now officially constitute a 'sinking ship'?

Hildie said...

I've just realised I haven't said it yet ........

Bet you never thought you could keep going this long !
I'm easy about the venue - you know..... breaking up for the school hols ... it's like demob fever I've got at the minute.

Sid said...

You're right Hildie, it is a remarkable achievment. Much like a typical family, things haven't always gone the way one would like, but at the end of the day virtual kisses are blown, and we carry on as before.
Long may we continue. Thanks Ian, this is all because of you.

Vivienne said...

We're all toasting
Your 1-5-0 posting
Ian, well done,
It's been great fun.

Yes I'm still here,
Been out on the beer,
I should have said, 'Wine'
But that didn't rhyme!

Meg said...

It would be great to have another AGM? Let me know the date and I'll be there