Sailing with Charlie: Play With Yourself

If there’s one thing that the recent plague has taught us is that we all have to learn to entertain ourselves. Close contact with others could be fatal. Months of lockdown have proved to be inspiring for some. There are those who have learned a musical instrument; others have attempted a new language and yet others have enjoyed a new game or indoor sport. Budding artists are everywhere – painters, jewelry makers, drawers, etchers, sculptors… the list goes on.

Charlie, with his warped sense of humor, decided to further his knowledge of limericks when a friend related the one about a mole: Stand aside Shakespeare…

A young lady arrived from Colehill
She sat down on top a mole hill
The mole pokes his nose
Up, as far as it goes
Now the lady’s quite well but the mole’s ill 

Limericks. What fun! They can be clever, naughty or topical and should give the listener or reader a smile or even a good belly laugh.

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

 

A limerick is a five – line poem that follows a definite pattern. The first, second and fifth lines must rhyme and the third and fourth lines must rhyme. Simply put it will read like this AABBA. Then there are the stressed syllables- three in each of the first two lines as well as the last line and two stressed syllables in each of the third and fourth. Phew! that’s all the technical stuff.

OK, here’s an example:  

Belafonte sang a song, ‘Yellow Bird’
A ditty that has to be heard
A bananakeet
That was ever so sweet
Was the star of the song, how absurd!

It was Edward Lear who made limericks famous in his Book of Nonsense published in 1846. 

Charlie has written three books of limericks and there are some golden rules. Limericks must be fun. They can be naughty, even risque but vulgar only in the pub or the fo’c’s’le, A good limerick will also tell a story.

While the word “limerick” refers to the city or county of Limerick, Ireland, historians believe limerick poems originated in England in the early eighteenth century. The rhyme and rhythm structure of limericks are thought to have originated from a parlor game that always included the refrain, “Won’t you come to Limerick?” By the way, if you read the first line of a limerick that ends in Nantucket or even bucket, take a deep breath and hide it from Mum – it will be rude. 

Here’s a limerick that is borderline but is accepted because of its clever use of nearly rhyming words:

There was a young lady from Bude
Who came down the stairs in the nude
Her father said what- umm
A bloody great bottom
And smacked it as hard as he cude 

There are tricks to creating a good limerick. Don’t fall into the trap of writing the lines before you have the rhyming words in your mind. There are rhyming word dictionaries available but I have never used one. My trick is to go through the alphabet starting from ‘a’ and listing all the rhyming words. There are also words with two sister consonants so if you are looking for a rhyming word for ash then you will arrive at cash but also crash will work too.

So here we are at the end of troubled times, quarantines and lockdowns and – with a few original limericks.

A lady arrived from Toulouse
She would lie on the sand for a snooze
The pandemic said ‘no’
To your house you must go
Now she’s home and back on the booze
The islands are known for their beaches
Sailing! Beating, running and reaches
Playing out in the sun
Could there be more fun?
Yeah, diving with undersea creatures
Today he felt like a fool
Left his mask out there by the pool
He was taken to task
For forgetting his mask
Now he knows that it just wasn’t cool

Sometimes, in order to tell a complete story, more than one verse is necessary:

At last, it’s time for a jab
It’s a worry with the news from the lab
Should I vaccinate or
Procrastinate
That Boris and his gift of the gab
Now I’ve just had my first injection
There are signs of possible rejection
The doubt still lingers
Cos I’ve grown six fingers
Not counting a raging infection 

The new normal is still evolving. It’ll take a bit of resolving…

Julian_Putley
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.