Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


The work of the genius Brahms
Is brimful of musical charms.
His Symphony 2
Is a pastoral brew—
Good for calming down cattle on farms.

These brains in our heads can’t be beat!
They allow us to walk on two feet,
Talk and think and make art,
And decide when to fart.
Pretty good for a few pounds of meat.

Doc, this pâté of yours is exquisite.
It goes in the blender, then whiz it?
At least that explains
How you’re using your brains!
But it’s hardly brain surgery, is it?

A brat pack’s a group of celebs,
Ostentatious and young, who the plebs
All recall for their rowdiness;
Eventually, cloudiness
Intrudes as their youthfulness ebbs.

The Brat Pack most movie fans know
Were the stars of two decades ago.
Here’s the roll that most call:
Sheedy, Ringwald, Moore, Hall,
A. McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Rob Lowe.

Sure, I could define bread, but instead
Let me quote a fine author who’s dead.
Lennie Lower extols:
“A large number of holes
Entirely surrounded by bread.”

The Australian journalist and humorist Lennie Lower, author of the classic comic novel Here’s Luck (1930), once wrote that “bread is a large number of small holes entirely surrounded by bread”.

Jack and Jill had a risky attraction
To Sunday adventure and action,
Which ended in fleeing
Their church to go skiing...
This breakaway faction’s in traction.

At the start of the show Breaking Bad,
Walter White’s a kind teacher and dad,
But things really get messy
When he hooks up with Jesse
And New Mexico’s drug lords get mad.

The captain sets foot from the pod,
And, removing his helmet, says, “Odd—
The air’s breathable, yet
What’s that smell? I forget...
Oh, ammonia. And... chlorine? Dear G...”

To make our roads safer and nice,
Aussie cops use a testing device
Called a breathalyser. “Blow
In the bag, sir,” they go;
I’ve been breatho’d myself once or twice.

In an effort to curb drink-driving, Australia introduced a blood alcohol limit of 0.05% in the 1980s, along with random breath testing using devices called breathalysers (named after a specific brand), as have many other countries. Drivers being pulled over by the booze bus and breathalysed or breatho’d (or breathoed) has led to a dramatic fall in road deaths.

Brecciation’s the breaking apart
Of a rock into fragments, the start
Of a new brecciation
Through sedimentation.
It’d break a geologist’s heart!

They’re a sedimental bunch. Brecciation refers to the formation of breccia, sedimentary rocks made of sharp fragments of other rocks, but has a secondary meaning of the related process of breaking apart.

The unlovely portmanteau word Brexit
Is shorthand for Britain and exit,
As in “from the EU”.
Say it turns out we do:
Our economy—what if it fecks it?

Apparently, Brexit means Brexit:
For Prime Minister May, Britain’s exit
From Europe is certain.
May May end up hurtin’
Our future? I reckon this wrecks it.

The tradie in Oz called a brickie
Is someone who won’t take a sickie
When bricks still need laying,
As long as you’re paying—
For broke brickies, brick-buying’s tricky.

A brickie in Australia, like in Britain, is a bricklayer. A tradie is a tradesman, and a sickie is a sick day.

Brid is a word that I’ve heard
Was ye olden-days English for bird.
Why’s the middle transposed?
Well, I guess they supposed
That the other way round was absrud.

In Venice, the arched Bridge of Sighs
Is a venerable feast for the eyes,
From the outside, at least.
Inside, prisoners ceased
Really caring. Hang in there, you guys.

The Ponte dei Sospiri, built in 1600, is a white limestone bridge over the Rio del Palazzo joining the Doge’s Palace and the New Prison, across which convicts would be led to be imprisoned or worse. The bridge is entirely enclosed, apart from some small latticed windows; its English name, bestowed by Lord Byron, evokes the wistfulness of the condemned as they see their final glimpses of Venice. Similar enclosed bridges in Oxford and Cambridge have been nicknamed and named after it.

First his chest felt a terrible tightness;
Then his head an exceptional lightness.
Then his spirit broke free
And proceeded to flee
Down the tunnel that led to the brightness.

In the Outback, me ute ups and carks
It; it’s bloody annoying—it narks
Me. Them meant-to-be-clever
Mechanics should never
Have messed with that battery! Bright sparks.

A bright spark is someone who’s clever or witty, but is often used ironically, especially in Australia. A ute is a utility vehicle or pickup.

Nicole’s email said: “Party at 8
At our new Bondi home. Bring a plate.”
But my best Wedgwood dish
Didn’t cut it. “Looks swish,
But it’s meant to have food on it, mate.”

I’ve brought forward the punchline, my dear.
Just in case my conceit isn’t clear
And you can’t see what’s happening here,
I’ll remove any doubt
By spelling it out.

His wife called him near-paralytic;
His Mum and his Dad, parasitic;
His sister, a git;
His vicar, a twit.
He brings out the worst in a critic.

Whole suburbs lie drowned in the mud,
Foreshores covered in rubbish and crud.
When the river here peaks,
What destruction it wreaks...
Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, in flood.

The Brisbane River flooded most recently in 1974 and 2011, taking lives and damaging thousands of homes and businesses.

Its nightlife left Queenslanders dizzy
With boredom, so punsters got busy
And dubbed it Brisvegas—
Avoid like the plague! (As
A rule, it’s called Brisbane, or Brissie.)

Brisvegas was an ironic local nickname at first, but many Brisbanites have grown to love it (sometimes affectionately speaking of “Brisvegas, the city that always sleeps” or “Brisneyland, where the fun stops”). Other Australian cities and towns, like Rockhampton and Moss Vale, have since acquired Las Vegas-inspired nicknames (Rock-Vegas, Moss Vegas).

In imperial days, we called Britain
The island where greatness was written.
As many have grumbled,
The Empire has crumbled—
It’s here in the damp we’re left sittin’.

The absolute essence of Britishness?
A resolute absence of skittishness
(They ruled all the waves—
Never, never were slaves!)
And an upper class known for its twittishness.

Which one’s better: Oasis or Blur?
Is it “Roll With It” that you prefer?
Or do you and your spouse
Enjoy Blur’s “Country House”?
You like all Britpop bands? I concur.

The list of guitar-based bands of the 1990s labelled Britpop includes many, like Blur and Pulp, that predate the label, and others, like Radiohead, that are better known for their later work, but the term still captures a particularly creative moment in British pop. Its peak was in 1995, when music magazines noticed that Blur and Oasis had singles coming out on the same day and billed it as a heavyweight championship. This “Battle of Britpop” was won by Blur when “Country House” went to number one in the UK.

Our political parties all lurch
From the left to the right as they search
For the middlemost ground.
The successful have found
That the voters reward a broad church.

The Broccolis claim that the name
Of the vegetable, broccoli, came
From their forebears. A fond
Misbelief, Mister Bond:
It’s from brocco (“shoot, sprout”). What’s their game?

I mean, isn’t being responsible for all those Bond movies enough? Their longtime producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli (1909–1996) did indeed once claim that the vegetable’s name came from his ancestors, the Broccolis of Carrera, and his family have since run with it. However, the Italian broccoli comes from the Latin broccus (“projecting, pointed”), and the Ancient Romans loved the stuff, so their claim is doubtful.

He looked broken. “The last time we spoke,
I was rich. Now I’m thoroughly broke.
My brokeness has led
To my brokenness,” said
(In a jokin’-ish way) the poor bloke.

When the buffalo roam by your home
And this grass is what grows in your loam,
Don’t discourage the herd:
It’s the forage preferred
By all bison—a nice ’un, is brome.

They like buffalo grass too, natch.

Sally Brown is ol’ Charlie’s kid sister.
In her polka dots, who could resist ’er?
Well, Linus, for one:
Her affections he’d shun
When she said, “Sweet babboo: that’s you, mister.”

Sally Brown, the little sister of good ol’ Charlie Brown, was introduced to Peanuts in 1959. More forthright and confident than her big brother, she spent much of her time pursuing her crush Linus van Pelt, calling him her “sweet babboo”.

’E examined me dough. “It’s brown bread!”
“Eh? That ain’t what the recipe said.
It’s white—or at least,
Well, it should be.” “The yeast,
I meant, china—your starter is dead.”

A slice of life from The Great Cockney Bake-Off.

Etymologists! Banish that frown
With a list of words first used by Browne.
His coinages numbered
In scores; unencumbered
By custom, Tom sure went to town.

Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) was an English polymath, medical doctor and author, whose knack for neologisms later made him one of the Oxford English Dictionary’s most-cited sources. Just some of the several hundred words he coined are analogous, approximate, anomalous, carnivorous, coexistence, coma, compensate, computer, disruption, electricity, exhaustion, ferocious, hallucination, holocaust, insecurity, indigenous, literary, locomotion, medical, migrant, prairie, precocious, pubescent, therapeutic, suicide, ulterior and ultimate.

Many brownstone apartments were rank:
Claustrophobic, neglected, and dank.
But astute renovation
And gentrification
Have made them look terribly swank.

The science and techie types say,
“B.Sc.? I would study all day—
But only a loony
Would turn up to uni
For only a bloody B.A.”

But as any arts student will tell you, there’s no need to turn up. (See, as someone with a foot in both camps, I can say these things.)

“That cow looks suspicious to me...
Hasn’t moved since 2.30, I see.”
“Aye, our Bessie’s insane.
It’s her spongiform brain—
BSE. Now she thinks she’s a tree.”

“BT,” the caller intones,
“Phone hoooome!”—and Elliott moans.
British Telecom’s bill
Needs an ’ell of a till
When an alien uses their phones.

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