Last week, I helped out with creating a ‘mid-Atlantic’ version of the poems I wrote for Madeleine Rogers’ beautiful MIBO series of illustrated activity books, published by Button Books. Always interesting to look again at your work. Although they were written for toddlers, I like the verses best when they have enough mad logic to remind me (at least a little) of Spike Milligan! I visited Spike’s grave in Winchelsea last summer, and the epitaph really does say ‘I told you I was ill!’ albeit in Gaelic. He was my comedy hero. I had a great friend as a child, Tony Lowe, who used to send me glorious letters featuring quotes from The Goons and his own inspired lunacy.
Anyway, my favourite Milliganesque verses from the MIBO series. They sound best if you read them in Spike’s inimitable voice. But I guess you can’t if it’s inimitable…
‘The great white shark is grey on top
And only white beneath,
But in her great white smile you’ll find
Three hundred great white teeth!’
(The Marine Team)
‘Don’t try to sneak up on the owl,
Her ears hear every sound.
Her eyes can hear you in the dark,
Her head can turn right round.’
(The Sky Guys)
And something, to aspire to, from Spike:
‘Said a tiny Ant
To the Elephant,
“Mind how you tread in this clearing!”
But alas! Cruel fate!
She was crushed by the weight,
Of an Elephant hard of hearing.’
(Ant and Elephant, Spike Milligan)