The Walrus

With apologies to Thomas Hardy

New Year’s Eve, and eight in the morn.
‘Now it is having a wank,’
A tweeter said as we stood forlorn
In a queue at the old food bank.

We pictured the big brown walrus
Where it lay like a drunken lout,
Nor did it offend or greatly appal us
To think it was rubbing one out.

So soft a sight folk would scorn
In these years! Yet, I’ll be frank:
If someone said, one wintry morn,
‘Come; see the walrus wank,

‘On dull wet cobbles in Scarborough bay
Where strange things come ashore,’
I should go with him all the way,
Hoping I might see Thor.


January 2023

Monochrome Mary

With apologies to Paul McCartney

Ah, look at all the lovely colours
Ah, look at all the lovely colours

Monochrome Mary
Studies a book in a room where no colour is seen
Has never seen green
Stares at a printout
Knowing the facts of the brain and the tricks of the psych
What is it like?

All the lovely colours
What do the brain scans hide?
All the lovely colours
What would she learn outside?

Good News

With apologies to Tom Lehrer

Well, I’ve got some good news for everyone:
There’s no need for you to fear the atom bomb;
We’re not going to fry as death falls from the sky,
And we won ‘t all be blown to kingdom come.
For . . . . . .

The Corona bug will kill us all —
Young and old, fat and thin, short and tall.
It will wreak its devastation
Through every tribe and nation,
And we’ll all be post mortem by the fall!

There ain’t going to be no World War Three.
That’ s good news, I am sure you will agree.
We’re not travelling head on
To nuclear Armageddon
And death by radi-o-activi-ty.
For . . . . . .

The Corona bug will kill us all —

But though the atom bombs will not go off,
They’ve brought us to this pass, sure enough.
If we’d built more ventilators
‘Stead of fighting folks who hate us,
Then we wouldn’t all be checking out with a cough!
For . . . . . .

The Corona bug will kill us all —

Spring 2020

Jonathan Meades retells Hansel and Gretel

A house in a forest is deracinated, unplugged from the amenities of modern life — gas, electricity, sewerage. It’s aesthetically deracinated too, and the sylvan architect has a license to experiment with forms and textures — in this case, those of gingerbread. It was an arts-and-crafts pastiche of Bavarian vernacular — sweet and sickly, pernicious alike to immature aesthetic sensibilities and juvenile dentition. On the threshold stood a witch, hook-nosed and crafty — a Levantine stereotype as terrifying to bien pensant fin-de-siècle liberals as aged female ailurophiles were to Matthew Hopkins.

February 2018


With apologies to John Lennon

Imagine there’re no qualia
It’s easy if you try
No feel or what-it’s-likeness
Just plain old cog sci

Imagine all the zombies
Being just like us

Imagine there’re no inverts
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing for Mary to learn
And no hard problem, too

Imagine all the people
Being illusionist

You may say I’m a quiner
But there’s nothing wrong with that
I hope someday you’ll join us
And learn what it’s like to be a bat.

June 2014