Monday 29 April 2013

The Royal Wedding

My brother and his family live in Bucklebury, which also happens to be the former home of Katherine Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge. On the day of the royal wedding (two years ago tomorrow), celebrations in the village were widely covered by the world's media, and my sister-in-law Julie asked me to write a verse for the occasion. She read this out in front of several TV cameras, but we don't know whether it was actually broadcast anywhere!

We're gathered here to celebrate
The marriage of our "local" - Kate.
Our village in the spotlight since
This neighbour upped and bagged a prince.

Once Buckleb'ry found sudden fame,
Things were never quite the same:
By Special Branch and press we're haunted.
We try to walk our dogs undaunted.

Despite the jewels and pretty frock,
In part, Kate is from humble stock...
The genes of those from down a mine
Will mingle with the Windsor line.
Her ancestors could scarce have thought -
Newkie Brown meets vintage port.

Since "Party Pieces" made some dosh,
Her family became quite posh.
The shops filled with a million Kates
On thimbles, tea towels, mugs and plates.

(The face, too, of our future queen
Was found upon a jelly bean!
Where else but England would they choose
To feature this as front page news?)

So after all is said and done,
We'll eat roast hog and have some fun.
What lies ahead is hard to tell
But, "Wills and Kate - we wish you well."

(and a welcome to viewers in India)

Sunday 28 April 2013

Happy 40th Birthday

Today's the day your life begins?
You need to think again.
You haven't yet reached forty:
You're only thirty-ten!

Tuesday 23 April 2013

The hen and the tortoise

The hen and the tortoise
Sailed out to sea
On a very old leaky raft.
It was rather slow going,
The hen said, "Get rowing,"
The tortoise replied, "Don't be daft.

I must stand on all fours,
We haven't got oars,
Nor even a proper boat.
But it's jolly nice weather,
So maybe together,
We'll head for wherever we float."

They had lots of fun
In the heat of the sun,
For the grapes that they'd brought had fermented.
By wine now enhanced,
They laughed and they danced,
Then dozed, both completely contented.

When they woke it was dark.
"Blow this for a lark,"
Moaned the hen, "Do you know where we are?"
Said her friend, "No, do you?
I haven't a clue,
But we cannot have gone very far."

The deck was quite wet.
Hen started to fret.
"We didn't record last night's 'Corrie'.
Your fault I am thinking.
We're probably sinking!
We'll drown, then I'm sure you'll be sorry."

No moon gave them light,
Though the stars were quite bright.
They were hungry and feeling forlorn.
The horizon they scanned:
There was no sign of land.
They sat there and waited till dawn.

The sun rose at last,
A seagull flew past.
They shouted before he could vanish.
He would soon disappear.
What he said was unclear.
Tortoise thought that it sounded like Spanish.

Fresh winds from the west
Soon brought them to rest
On a shore. They were not now down-hearted.
"Looks a nice place to stay,
But it's not Whitley Bay,"
Said the hen, "which is where all this started."

Then a very loud noise
Of the kind which annoys
Began, as a house they were nearing.
"Let's get off this beach,"
Tortoise said, "What a screech!
I fear it will damage my hearing."

Hen declared, "No please wait.
It's that man by that gate."
"You are," tortoise said, "such a flirt.
He's hugging a sack
And it's kissing him back.
What is more, he is wearing a skirt."

With their feet clogged with sand,
They hobbled inland.
By now, it had started to rain.
Hen was crying. Asked she,
"Where on earth can we be?"
Tortoise answered, "I don't think it's Spain.

We're in need of some grub.
Let's go in this pub."
(The "Haggis and Kilt" was its name.)
"Ha ha. Very funny,"
Said hen, "We've no money,
For which you're entirely to blame.

What a terrible blunder...."
A huge clap of thunder
Caused hen to wake up with a scream.
A quick look soon proved
That their raft hadn't moved:
It had all been a horrible dream.

And thus our tale ends.
The pair remained friends,
Though they never again went to sea.
Sundry notes they compared
Of events they had shared,
As they wandered back home for some tea.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Roman Britain

The Romans eyed Britannia,
Which they coveted with greed.
Caesar tried to grab it,
But he didn't quite succeed.

Then about two thousand years ago,
In 43AD,
Yet another bunch of Romans
Set sail across the sea.

To capture this fair island
Was their obvious intent.
(Where they landed isn't certain:
It was probably in Kent.)

Of subsequent resistance
There are many thrilling tales:
The defence by King Caractacus
Of what we know as Wales,

Statue of Queen Boudica, London
Or the valiant Iceni tribe,
Whose leader showed no fear.
They knew her as Queen Boudica
(Now misnamed Boadicea).

The Romans' skills in battle
Eventually prevailed,
Then they tried to conquer Scotland
Where initially they failed.

The Scottish Picts were deemed a threat:
Defence was thus a need.
"We must build a wall to stop them,"
Emperor Hadrian decreed.

Hadrian's Wall
The Romans then reached Inverness,
But soon came to their senses:
What they stood to gain would fall far short
Of garrison expenses.

The Brits were never viewed as tamed,
They'd not quite thrown the hat in,
They were not completely docile,
And they never mastered Latin.

('til post the Norman Conquest,
When French proved to our liking.
Thus Old English is a mixture:
Of Celtic - German- Viking).

Roman road
So the Romans had to stay here,
And offered much of merit,
What exactly was the legacy?
Just what did we inherit?

They brought the modern calendar,
Complete with Leap Year trick,
Amazing quick-fire catapults,
And concrete, glass and brick.

They brought turnips, grapes and carrots,
They brought pears and apricots.
They had strange new ways of cooking food,
By using separate pots.

They constructed mighty aqueducts,
In which clean water flowed
And, between each major settlement,
A long straight Roman road.

Of the towns that they established,
Many still exist today,
Places ending "c(h)ester"/"caster"
Thus date back a long long way.

On a small spot named Londinium
They made an early start.
It developed very quickly
To become the nation's heart.

They were very fond of bathing,
But it seems when they had gone,
That their rituals of cleanliness
Had never quite caught on.

They left us in 410AD,
And headed striaght back home.
The soldiers, perhaps, were needed
To defend their native Rome.

Or economic gloom here
May have caused them to withdraw.
Why they went is still a puzzle,
And historians aren't sure.

(And welcome to a viewer in The Philippines!)

Friday 19 April 2013

A bit more of the world is coloured green

"Bine ai venit" Romania

"Merhaba" to our new viewers in Turkey

....and renewed thanks to everyone who continues to look at these posts.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Letter of complaint

(This is a letter I wrote in August 1988)

My kitchen sink was leaking.
My cupboard, it was wet.
I went to Great Mills superstore,
A simple thing to get.

The problem was a washer -
Rubber, round and black -
I wanted a brand new one,
'ere I put the "U" bend back.

I took along a sample.
The plumbing shelves I scanned,
Saw lots of tubes and other bits -
But no black rubber band.

Assistants couldn't help me.
I asked what should I do.
They shrugged and looked bewildered,
Then muttered, "B & Q".

Now my house, it is quite modern -
Standard fitments, standard functions -
And the pipework underneath the sink
Has normal types of junctions.

My mission wasn't complex,
Nor obscure the dream I cherished:
Just a little piece of rubber
To replace that which had perished.

I spend a lot of money
In that Great Mills superstore,
On paints and tools and varnishes,
On garden goods and more.

But, in my direst hour of need,
Despite the range of things,
I felt they'd failed me badly
'cause they don't sell rubber rings.

I find all this astonishng.
"Why not?" I'm asking you.
(And, just in case you're wondering,
Texas Homecare DO!)

Neither Great Mills, nor Texas Homecare, exist now. I received a reply from a Complaints Manager, saying that it was "not commercially viable" to stock individual washers. She added that my letter had been framed and was now on her office wall.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

King Stephen (1135-1154)

King Stephen 1135-1154
The next in line was but a daughter.
Dad's friends had promised to support her,
But she was pregnant, and in France,
So cousin Stephen took his chance.

The Scots attacked. The Welsh did too.
Invasion followed from Anjout -
Matilda's claim no mere illusion:
All was chaos and confusion.

Terror the whole land embraced.
The countryside was laid to waste.
The king himself must now confess
It really was an awful mess.

Compromise an urgent need,
So Stephen in the end agreed
That, when he died, Matilda's son
Should next be king. The deed was done.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

King Henry I (1100-1135)

(follows death of William Rufus)

Young brother Henry next was king,
And seemed quite good at everything.
He made a careful choice of bride,
And got the English on his side.

The first, and the most pressing job,
Was fighting his big brother, Rob,
Whose lands in France he'd soon regain,
And so began King Henry's reign.

Quite contrary to Norman "norm",
His path was one of sound reform.
A scholar who proved very able,
He should have left this country stable.

His favourite food of eels he'd scoff.
A surfeit of them saw him off.
He'd no male heir and thus we'd see
A phase known as "the Anarchy".

(Children Henry had aplenty.
His offspring numbered more than twenty.
But though his seed was widely scattered,
They weren't legit - and that's what mattered.)

Baa Baa Maroon Sheep

Baa baa maroon sheep,
Do you like mint sauce?
Yes sir, yes sir, yes of course.
I make it using sugar
So it's rather nice and sweet.
With roasted leg of person,
It goes down a treat.

(There were two "mint sauce" entries in our recent comp. Have to say that this concept makes me feel slightly queasy!)

Competition results

After the interesting process of getting a three year old to listen carefully to 138 questions, home in on a manageable shortlist and finally choose a favourite, we are pleased to announce the following:

The winner of the M&S voucher and book is Fiona Barton
(Baa baa maroon sheep, Do you know Peppa Pig?)
Well done Fiona - Ella is a huge PP fan, so you were clearly on the right wavelength!

The runners-up are:
David Proctor  (Can we watch CBaabies?) We were surprised she got the pun, but she did!
Chris Livesley (Do you think Ella would like to share 48 M&S vanilla cupcakes with me?) Still don't know
                          whether that's a request or an offer.
Nikki Glanville (How does it feel to look different from your woolly neighbours? (I'm not different, I just  
                           look different, it's a fashion thing!)) From the list of Ella's likes, this got the "adult
                           assistance" consensus.

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks again to everyone who took part. There were some excellent  entries, and some even scanned properly!

Please can the winners e-mail us (details on the Contacts page) with their addresses.

A blog inspired by two entries, which were on a similar theme, will be posted shortly

Monday 8 April 2013

A form of words for dumping somebody

We were great for a while as an item,
But they say all good things have to end.
You are really a very nice person,
So I hope that you'll still be my friend.

King William II (1087-1100)

Protruding tum, quite short in size,
Of different colours, were his eyes.
His face was red. His hair was yellow -
So not the most attractive fellow.

As William Rufus, he was known,
He took only the English throne:
(The Conqueror's dual realm was split.
Big brother got the Norman bit).

Will lacked the diplomatic touch,
And isn't famed for very much.
He put down rebels, dealt with plots,
And managed to defeat the Scots.

He struggled with the church to boot:
His court was viewed as dissolute.
He had no children, had no wife,
(The sort you'd tell to get a life).

An arrow from a tree deflected,
Somehow with his lung connected.
He tumbled from his hunting horse,
So exit Will - quite dead, of course.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Crewe Alexandra win Johnstone's Paint Trophy

Congratulations to Crewe,
Whose philosophy saw them through.
They are all that is good in the game -
And a silver cup now bears their name.

Fair play - and passing's - their style,
As it's been for a very long while.
All those talented youngsters they grow...
Now at last they have something to show.

Deepest sympathy to Adam Dugdale and his family on the sad loss of baby Jude.

The Battle of Hastings - (Final) Part Five

(Domesday book)

...Twenty years go by.
States William with a sigh,
"I'm not sure that I am getting all my dues.
Log every field and plot.
Write down clearly who owns what,
For the system's only serving to confuse."

They started in the east,
Counted every plough and beast,
Then someone had the nous to stop and say,
"This is too much information
To obtain from the whole nation.
There surely has to be a simpler way."

So common sense prevails:
Much of England, parts of Wales,
Have visits from a zealousland recorder.
London doesn't feature,
(Nor, now, every living creature),
Nor the shires that lie along the Scottish border.

Several months it took,
To compile one "Domesday book",
From the first ("The Little") and the next ("The Great").
This desription of our land
Is all written in one hand,
And is now a major treasure of the state.

                                                        The End
The Domesday Book
Part of entry for Warwickshire

Areas covered by the Domesday Book

Saturday 6 April 2013

The Battle of Hastings - Part Four

..The new king now repaid
All the promises he'd made
Of titles and of land to those who'd follow.
The English, dispossessed,
As one may well have guessed,
Found this situation very hard to swallow.

Northern parts rebelled -
A rising cruelly quelled -
The survivors had no food and life was harsh.
William I
And Hereward the Wake
A valiant stance did take
At Ely, in the middle of a marsh.

Will's men - such clever chaps -
Built a bridge that would collapse:
An attempt to reach the stronghold that was made.
Then a monk - disloyal brute -
Said, "I'll show you a safe route,"
Thus Hereward was fatally betrayed.

Once Will was well positioned,
Bishop Odo then commissioned
(To show just how his brother won the throne),
A record of events,
Of great magnificence,
And so the Bayeux Tapestry was sewn..............
Bayeux Tapestry

Friday 5 April 2013

The Battle of Hastings - Part Three

...William's horse is shot,
And keels over on the spot:
It is thought the Duke can't possibly survive.

King Harold
His helmet he removes,
And to all and sundry proves
He isn't dead, but very much alive.

In the riot that ensues,
Someone has to lose.
The victims now are falling thick and fast.
Then Harold is to die,
From an arrow in the eye,
And William gets his victory at long last.

He marched to London then
With his trusty band of men.
In the capital, they met with strong resistance.
For some nobles had stayed true
To the king that they once knew,
But William wore them down with his persistance.....

Thursday 4 April 2013


We have had an enquiry to the effect that states that our book is "out of print" and therefore of "limited availability".

"Baa Baa Pink Sheep" is very much in print, and is available from the YPD on-line bookshop and from Amazon marketplace ( It is also available (post free for the UK) from Waterstones and, we believe, other on-line booksellers in various countries.

Apologies for not having picked up on this sooner, and for any inconvenience - and thank you Ed (wherever you are) for drawing our attention to this.

"Barev. Vonts es?" to our new pageviewers in Armenia!

The Battle of Hastings - Part Two

...Without undue delay,
And recruiting on the way,
He returned to face the irksome claimant Will.
He planned the best of pastings,
As he camped inland from Hastings
And deployed his troops high up on Sentac Hill.

The Normans' battle forces
Rely a lot on horses:
Each cavalier his sword and lance now wields.
The English fight on foot,
And stubbornly stay put
Behind a wall of solid kite-shaped shields.

Two onslaughts they withstand,
Throw whatever comes to hand,
'til William's men all scurry off in terror.
It's tempting to give chase,
So the English leave their place,
Which proves to be a fundamental error.

Now the Anglo-Saxon hacks
With his trusty battle axe.
The soldiers on both sides are bravely trying.
Many Englishmen are gored
By a Norman lance or sword,
And through the air are scores of arrows flying......

Wednesday 3 April 2013

The Battle of Hastings - Part One (of five)

King Edward the Confessor
Had no obvious successor.
On his deathbed, noble Harold he did name.
But William, Duke of Normandy,
Said, "Cousin Edward promised me.
I'm king and I shall fight to stake my claim."

But William had to think again:
He didn't have sufficient men -
With bribes of wealth and land lured troops to France.
(And for such important missions,
One needs the right conditions,
To launch a fleet and sail to take your chance.)

On the south coast, Harold waited
With his soldiers congregated,
Ready for the imminent invasion.
But his army had departed
By the time the landings started,
As another factor entered the equation.

A hoard of fierce Norwegians
Had attacked the Northern regions,
And Harold knew they had to be defeated.
To Stamford Bridge he rushed,
Where the Viking threat was crushed,
But his battle-weary team was quite depleted.....

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Hello World

We have added the flags of the countries from which people have viewed this blog spot. However, these flags seemed determined to resist our attempts to arrange them, and took themselves to parts of the page as they saw fit. 

United Kingdom

"Is there anybody out there?"
I once said to the screen.
And now I've found a global map,
Part coloured shades of green.

For sure, am not a technophile,
Despite my best endeavour.
But have found some fab statistics,
That are really rather clever.

Most viewers are from Britain,
Which is what you might expect...
New Zealand
But "Hi!" you North Americans:
We've managed to connect.

"Ni hao" those in China,
"Vitayu" the Ukraine.
"Bonjour" to France and Belgium,
And a great big "Hola" Spain.

"Kak dyela?" those in Russia -
Is that right, or do I blunder?
"Guten Tag" all Germans and
"G'Day" to those "down under".

Do you know someone in Italy?
My map for there's still white.
And nobody in Africa
Is reading what I write.

Ditto South America.
There still are great big blanks.
Would be grateful if you'd spread the word
And earn my heartfelt thanks.

Will blog on how it's going,
As the picture is unfurled,
And it would be eco-friendly
Saudi Arabia
To create a greener world.
South Africa




Czech Republic


South Korea




United States of America




French Polynesia







Macedonia (FYROM)



Hong Kong












Republic of Ireland
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico






Antigua and Barbuda



Costa Rica


El Salvador
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Cape Verde
Western Sahara
Saint Kitts and Nevis
British Virgin Islands
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


Ivory Coast