I always enjoyed reading limericks, but I often thought they were a bit of an anti-climax. Either old-fashioned or unfunny. In 1985 Century Hutchinson the publishers challenged me to do better, and commissioned me to write my own volume. I realised straight away that writing a good limerick was a lot less simple than it sounded, and that writing a whole book of them was bloody difficult. Some days the ideas and the rhythm came to me very easily. My record was 27 in a day. The next day, nothing worked. I used to think up some of my best limericks when I was out running on Hampstead Heath, but by the time I got home I’d forgotten them.
In the end I reckoned around 200 were nice and odd and worthy of publishing. I was hugely pleased at having the brilliant Tony Ross to illustrate the book. He just got the idea completely and his illustrations perfectly match the limerick – and are often funnier!
It was commissioned as a children’s book, but I didn’t hold back at all when writing them, so the result is odd, quirky, surreal and owes a great debt of inspiration to that most wild and wacky genius and seriously under-rated poet, Spike Milligan. My Limericks are for all ages. The only requirement for enjoying them is an appreciation of the importance of silliness.
The Limericks have been out of print for a while, but miraculously, an unsold stack of them turned up quite recently. Reading them again, there’s not much I’d change. Let me know what you think. Am I deluding myself ?
Important point – limericks are best read aloud, so have a go ! I’m hoping that I’ll soon be on-line reading some of my favourites – for you at Christmas !
Meanwhile here’s one I wrote earlier
There once was a poet called Palin
Who thought writing daft lines was plain sailin’
When a fan on his website
Called him a gob-shite
He felt that sad feelin’ of failin’