Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


“Leave it out, mate! You’re ’avin’ a laugh!
You’re tellin’ me, what, a giraffe
Made it through your front door,
Up the stairs and, what’s more,
Is enjoyin’ a bubble—ha!—bath?”

“I ain’t ’avin’ a giraffe, me ol’ mucker, an’ there ain’t no need to bubble bahf, neither. This tall spotty geezer went up the apples an’ pears and plonked ’imself right in the fisherman’s daughter.” “Blimey.”

My prone-to-infantilism hubby
Refers to our kid still as “bubby”,
Although she’s eighteen.
“She’s our bub still, I mean.
She’s our baby”—and then he gets blubby.

Bubby is an Australian term for a baby, as is bub (which is also heard in Britain, although it’s less common there today). Being blubby means you’re blubbing, or crying uncontrollably.

A beauty who’s covered in buboes
Attracts unsurprisingly few beaus.
“It’s the plague!” they will cry,
“The Black Death!”—which is why
She should cover each bubo with new bows.

In his love life, Lee’s down on his luck—Lee’s
A loser. He’s feelin’, well, stuck. Lee’s
Just gone on a date
With his mate’s bird’s best mate,
But will she be the one? Lee’s got Buckley’s.

In Australia and New Zealand, if you have Buckley’s—short for Buckley’s chance, hope or show—then it’s highly unlikely you’ll succeed. A sympathetic soul will sometimes observe that you have two chances, Buckley’s and none.

Country A reckons lingerie teases.
Country C says a swimsuit’s what pleases.
Between them, one neutral
Remains birthday-suit-ral:
Country B, as their buffer, appeases.

It’s really great, uncle, Bulgaria:
Underground, overground, nary a
Thing we’ve not found
On its old, storied ground.
Of its governments, though, I’d be warier.

Bulgaria’s capital Sofia looks pretty clean in photos, so I expect Great Uncle Bulgaria and the rest of the Wombles have been happily picking up litter there. (The Wombles was a 1970s British television show based on a series of children’s books by Elisabeth Beresford. Wombles are named after places and, as the theme tune tells, make good use of the things that they find while searching underground, overground.)

The southeastern European country has a long history, starting with the 7th-century invasion of the Balkans by the Bulgars (whose Old Great Bulgaria had covered much of modern Ukraine) and centuries as part of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. War between the Ottomans and the Russian Empire in the 1870s led to the formation of the Principality of Bulgaria as an Ottoman vassal state, which became an independent Tsardom or Kingdom in 1908 and aligned with Germany in both world wars; after World War II it became a socialist state in the Eastern Bloc. With the end of the Cold War the now-Republic transitioned to parliamentary democracy, but its democratic institutions have been in decline under the influence of the far right, and most Bulgarians don’t consider their elections to be fair.

These bulkheads will keep our ship bouyant.
Should an iceberg at sea prove foudroyant,
Don’t get suddenly manic:
It won’t sink the Titanic!
[Later on:] I’m not bloody clairvoyant.

The obscure adjective foudroyant means “striking suddenly”, normally in the medical context of a severe condition coming on quickly.

Our narrator’s misplaced confidence is partly because he hasn’t realised that the watertight bulkheads of the Titanic—vertical partitions which were supposed to contain any intrusion of water to one section of the hull—were only watertight horizontally. Once the ship started sinking, water flowed over the tops of the bulkheads from one section to the next, hastening its demise.

He’s weary of Commons debate
Taking ages; the hour’s getting late.
Time to get to his feet
As the other chaps bleat
And have at them all, bull-at-a-gate.

Like a bull at a gate, he fights hard
To defeat them. They’re bloodied and scarred,
But they leave his hopes dashed:
The Prime Minister’s crashed
Into gates that are fully five-barred.

The phrase (like a) bull at a gate once sometimes specified a five-barred gate, as five-barred once indicated a particularly strong obstacle.

If yer after a Bundy and Coke,
It ain’t drugs and some murderin’ bloke:
You want Bundaberg rum
Made in Queensland—yum, yum.
(Plus that awful brown stuff. Hope ya choke.)

Bundy is short for Bundaberg, a small city on the Queensland coast known for its namesake rum, which was first made in the 1880s from waste molasses from the area’s sugar mills. For Australians beyond central Queensland, Bundy suggests the rum rather than the city, so Bundy and Coke is rum and cola.

Auntie Shelley, yer telly’s gone bung.
It’s broken; not workin’; among
The ex-tellies. It’s snuffed it.
That cricket ball stuffed it—
Yer son’s bloody neck should be wrung.

In Australia, if something’s bung it’s broken or incapacitated, whether it’s an appliance, a machine, or part of your body. To go bung is to break down or stop working (usually, as here, in the past tense).

“And now, my good sirs, the salon
Calls us forth: let us hence, whereupon
We shall sit with none other
Than Karen’s dear mother...”
“Strewth, mate, you’re bungin’ it on.”

The butterbur, burdock or clote
Was a vegetable once of some note
Here in Europe. Japan
Still enjoys, when it can,
Pickled gobo: clote roots get its vote.

The edible burdock is a familiar weed in Europe, named in English for its large leaves (like a dock’s) and its prickly burrs (which inspired the invention of Velcro). Into the Middle Ages its roots were eaten in Europe as a vegetable, similar to carrots or parsnips, and it’s still a popular ingredient in Asia; the Japanese name of gobo has entered the English language. Although they’ve generally stopped eating it, the English still drink dandelion and burdock, which was originally a mead made from the plants’ fermented roots.

The trouble with things bureaucratic
Is how one encounters a static
Response to requests:
A reliable test’s
When the refund you’re owed is dramatic.

I’ve been burning down houses without
Any breaks for a fortnight, about,
And I’ve started to keep
Seeing flames in my sleep—
Truth to tell, I’ve been feeling burnt-out.

We’re bush-bashin’, havin’ a crack
At a fang in our fourbies off-track,
Drivin’ out through the bush
(When we don’t have to push)
To the far side of Woop Woop an’ back.

Woop Woop (with the vowel sound of bush) has long been used in Australia to indicate an imaginary remote rural town. Going for a fang means driving fast, which isn’t advisable (but some do it anyway) when driving off-road in a fourby or four-wheel drive.

Any Aussie fears bushfires most.
All your worldly possessions are toast
When the air is all red
And your neighbours have fled.
And the town you once cherished? A ghost.

He’s laconic, laid-back, never pushy,
And lives in a shack—nothin’ cushy.
Talks slow, likes his space,
An’ resides in a place
Where there’s sun on his face: he’s a bushie.

Who’s the best sorta bushranger? Well, ’e
Should have a good story to tell: ’e
Should start out a farmer,
Go stealing in armour,
Then stoush the police—like Ned Kelly.

“I’ve invited you here on the hunch
That you’re all a competitive bunch.
There’s a lot on the table,
So let’s, now we’re able,
Get straight down to business.” Munch, munch.

Business English is formal—I doubt it
Is used to write limericks. About it
I know very little,
Except, I guess, it’ll
Be corporate people who spout it.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
On an omnibus. Once you’re inside,
Find a comfortable seat,
But don’t put up your feet:
That’s just one of the pleasures denied.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
Next to strangers. That cutie you’ve eyed,
You should let sit down first
(“After you, miss!”). At worst,
She may call you a pig, but you tried.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
With the pensioners, sitting beside
An old lady whose hair
Is rinsed purple. Yes, they’re
The ones waiting for heaven who’ve dyed.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
Amongst teenagers failing to hide
Their contempt for the rules
As they head for their schools:
Tell ’em “keep down the noise”, they’ll be snide.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
With young children, who once they have cried
Out “The Wheels on the Bus”
About twenty times plus
Will be leaving you wishing you’d died.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
With that worker who failed to abide
By the drink-driving laws,
And who’s bussing because
He’s too pissed to walk in if he tried.

A bus ticket gets you a ride
With the public, whose transport’s supplied
By a fleet of tin cans
Run to dubious plans:
When they all come at once, you should hide.

“...Hit a snag at the takeaway, but.”
“But what? But you found it was shut?”
“Nah, it’s open all night.”
“But then but isn’t right.”
“Yeah, it is, but.” “You’re some kinda nut.”

Yeah, nah. He’s just from Australia—Queensland, most likely—where but gets used colloquially in the same way others might use though—a “sentence-final but”, as it’s known. It’s as Aussie as.

This castle of mine’s buy-to-let,
Thanks to giveaway mortgages—yet
As the rentals are small
For a fortified wall,
It’s a purchase I’ve come to regret.

My brother’s all bothered, becuz ’e
Was wearing some socks that were fuzzy,
And now he’s discovered
They’re thoroughly smothered
In buzzies from brushing a buzzy.

Acaena novae-zelandiae is found across much of Australasia and has been introduced to Britain, Ireland and the west coast of the US. In New Zealand it’s called red bidibid. Most Australians know it as bidgee-widgee; in Tasmania, it’s called a buzzy, and its burrs are buzzies, from an old sense of buzzy meaning rough and hairy. In the UK, where the plant is an invasive weed, it’s known as pirri-pirri bur.

The buzzy is a low, mat-forming perennial with round white flowering heads which turn into red burrs in summer. The burrs, which look a little like pictures of the Covid virus, readily adhere to animal fur and human clothing; when you try to remove them they usually break apart into dozens of seeds.

In a limited missile exchange,
You’ll notice behaviour that’s strange:
Politicians will run
Once the firing’s begun—
Why, they’re soon beyond visual range.

BVR usually refers to air combat.

Your single’s a hit—it’s a snap!
Every place that it plays, toes will tap.
That wasn’t sarcastic—
The A-side’s fantastic.
A shame it’s been backed with such crap.

Number One Smash b/w Pile of B-Side, out now on Production Line Records!

If a lump’s on the end of your prong,
BXO may be what could be wrong.
Balanitis xerotica
Obliterans: not a ca-
thartic result, but be strong!

BXO is a condition affecting the end of the penis, especially in uncircumcised men. A hard white lump develops in delicate skin, usually around the urethra, which can lead to difficulty passing urine, soreness and itching, and sometimes ulceration or cancer. Chin up, old boy!

By the byway, the bystanders spy
A white bicycle, bicycling by,
While beside the guy’s bike,
Riding high on a trike,
Is his spry thigh-high by-product, Ty.

Well, the reindeer are waiting to fly...
Ho ho ho, little darling, don’t cry.
So, goodbye—I should leave.
See you next Christmas Eve.
Please let go of my sleeve, dear. Bye-bye.

BYO? If you’re stuck in that zone
And you fancy a tipple, don’t moan:
Just go somewhere they’ll flog
You a bottle of grog,
And return. Got no plonk? Bring your own.

Here’s the buzz on Belize—the bee’s knees!
Trouble finding it? Please, it’s a breeze:
Guatemala’s southwest.
That’s on land, as you guessed—
Here in Web-land, the key’s the bz’s.

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