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Could be Verse...

By Paul Slade
Murder Ballads
Secret London
Lines inspired by a Jimmy Olsen caption

I came across this glorously silly Jimmy Olsen story in Chris Sims' Comics Alliance essay The 10 Most Insane Jimmy Olsen Moments of All Time. For some reason the caption shown here stuck in my mind, and that evening I produced a bit of doggerel to go with it.
The story, written by Leo Dorfman and drawn by George Papp, dates from Mort Weisinger's reign editing the Superman books. This was what comics fans now call the "Silver Age", a delightfully daft and innocent era of Superman's adventures, which looks all the more charming when set against the torture porn and rape fantasies superhero comics routinely traffic in today.
The plot of The Red-Headed Beatle of 1,000 BC, briefly, is this:
A traveller from the future turns up at Jimmy Olsen's apartment, introduces himself as Kasmir and tells Jimmy he's a policeman from the future.
The Legion of Superheroes (of which Jimmy is a honorary member) has lent Kasmir a time bubble, he explains, so he can collect Jimmy and the two of them can carry out a vital mission into the past.
Jimmy agrees to go along, but Kasmir turns out to be a crook, who needed our hero only to teach him how to operate the time bubble's controls. He strands Jimmy in the Holy Land of the Old Testament, where he's forced to earn his keep by selling home-made Beatle wigs and performing Beatles-style songs in the marketplace to an enthusiastic dancing crowd.
It's this scene which provides the issue's Curt Swan cover. "That catchy drum beat!" one passing Hebrew babe declares. "I can't keep my own feet from twitching!"
Eventually, the teenage Samson (who Jimmy's befriended) punches Kasmir out and Superman turns up to take Jimmy back to present day Metropolis. "You've really started a 'Beatle' fad here, Jimmy," Superman says. "You seem to be as popular as Ringo, the Beatle drummer!"
Sims has more details, including scans of the cover and several more key panels. That link again is: The 10 Most Insane Jimmy Olsen Moments of All Time.

Shortly, in the distant past,
The first comes in behind the last,
The evening's early, morning's late,
Your history fills a future date,
Time's arrow turns the other way,
And points ahead to yesterday,
Slow progress circles backward fast,
Shortly, in the distant past.


A sonnet in praise of PG Wodehouse

I love Wodehouse's books, and they're always the first place I turn when I need a bit of cheering up.
Because his characters lead such privileged lives, some class warrior types deem Wodehouse unacceptable, but I always feel they're missing the point. Politics doesn't really exist in his books' world - anymore than sex does - and why would anyone deprive themselves of the chance to read such sublimely funny prose?
This sonnet - in a slightly different form - was first published in Wooster Sauce, the PG Wodehouse Society's newsletter. Line four's a bit dodgy, but otherwise I'm quite pleased with it.


The Tyburn Jig

I was sitting around at home minding my own business the other evening when it suddenly occurred to me that the "The Lambeth Walk" and "The Tyburn Jig" were both pronounced with exactly the same rythym and syllabic stress.
Beyond that, the two phrases have little in common. The Lambeth Walk is a showstopping number from Noel Gay's 1937 musical Me & My Girl, featuring lots of jolly cockernees describing their trademark South London dance and its role in local mating rituals.
The Tyburn Jig, on the other hand, is a very old bit of London slang, deriving from the fact that Tyburn, near what's now Marble Arch, was once the site of all the city's public hangings. To do the Tyburn Jig was to dance at the end of a rope, and this phrase persisted in London speech long after the hangings themselves had moved to Newgate Prison. There, as at Tyburn, the spectacle attracted huge crowds, who treated the hangings as a form of public entertainment.
I always like songs which combine dark, sinister lyrics with very sunny music, so I spent the next hour or so composing my own words to The Lambeth Walk's tune. One day, I'd love to hear someone performing the resulting song, perhaps on stage with some appropriately gruesome choreography and an audience singalong. All together, now .

Any time you're Newgate way,
Any evening, any day,
From gaol cell or brig,
We're doing the Tyburn Jig!

For every little Newgate gal,
And her little Newgate pal,
Justice is rigged,
We're doing the Tyburn Jig!

Crowds come along to see us,
Glad that they'll never be us,
They watch us as we dangle,
Cheer as we choke and strangle!

Once you get down Newgate way,
You'll see us 'most every day,
Strung up like pigs,
And doing the Tyburn Jig. Urghh!


Twitter Poetry

Twitter is perfect for short-form poems like limericks, clerihews and haikus. Remaining within the 140-character limit while still maintaining a strict rhyme sceme and making sure everything scans adds an interesting extra discipline.
Under my somewhat arbitrary house rules, punctuation is optional, ampersands allowed and bonus marks awarded whenever you hit 140 characters on the nose."

Limerick tweet (character count: 140)
Why limerick tweets don't abound?
The reason is simple & sound
12 squared minus 4
(Not one letter more)
Will drive you right into the ground

Clerihew tweet (character count: 99)
Clerihew tweeting,
Is quite self-defeating,
It's only in Heaven your,
Count will reach seven-score.

Iambic pentameter tweet (character count: 140)
I say we all must write in iambs now
Pentameter as well, as did the Bard
He often wrote in this poetic form
& we do well to copy him in that


"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts"

You either find farting funny or you don't. Guess which camp I'm in?
This one was inspired by a genuine piece of playground grafitti I spotted near where I live in north London. The rhythm of the key phrase made it stick in my head, so I wrote these lines to try and make it stick in your head too. You're welcome.

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Chalked up on the playground wall,
"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Free advice for one and all,

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Silent farts, I think it means,
"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
(Also powered by sprouts and beans),

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Noiseless burst of noxious air,
"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
No-one knows who left it there,

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Bobby's planning further fun,
"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Brewing up another one,

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Smugly, he lets loose the next,
"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Foul air spreading from his kecks,

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Birds fall choking from the skies,
"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Stench so bad it burns your eyes,

"Mushy peas for ninja stealth farts",
Passers-by drop to their knees,
Meanwhile, Bobby, back at home, re-
Loads his tum with mushy peas.