Definitely Limericks by Rory Ewins


“Father Pat,” said a pretty parishioner,
“Do you wash using fabric conditioner?
Why, your cassock’s divine.”
Which would all have been fine,
Were his next impulse not “proposition ’er”.

“Yer face fungus, matey, looks weird,”
Cried the yobs to the hipster. He feared
That a toadstool had sprouted
From his nose, till they shouted,
“Why the hell doncha shave off yer beard?”

I’m a fact-checker, checking the truth
Of that stuff we call “news”. I’m a sleuth
Who gives journos the terrors
By finding their errors,
Driving writers en masse to vermouth.

The mythical country of Faerie
Sounds charming, but principally scary:
Here magic folk dwell,
And here fairy-tales tell
Of enchantments which snare the unwary.

Tassie’s fagus—deciduous beech—
Is a difficult species to reach.
When it’s April, try tak-
ing a hike to Dove Lake
To see red leaves appearing on each.

Nothofagus gunnii, commonly known as fagus, deciduous beech or tanglefoot, is the only Australian native deciduous tree to drop its leaves before winter (the few others are tropical, shedding their leaves before the dry season). Once considered part of the Fagus genus of northern beeches, it is part of a genetically separate Gondwanan group with relatives in New Zealand and South America. It is found in Tasmania’s high country and remote southwest.

Och aye’s a phrase Scots dinnae say,
Nor fair dinkum most Aussies—no way.
They’re phrases that smack
Of invention, which lack
Much connection to either today.

Yes, it’s true—or should I say aye, it’s dinkum: these two phrases, so regularly used in stereotypical depictions of Scots and Australians, are rarely heard from the lips of either. That’s not to say that the individual elements aren’t: Scots often say aye for yes, and I’ve heard a few ochs in the wild as expressions of exasperation or bewilderment, but they don’t automatically, or often, go together—let alone get appended with the noo, meaning “right now”.

Aussies, meanwhile, still sometimes call something dinkum if it’s genuine or true, though you’ll more often nowadays hear its descendant dinky-di, but we don’t really say fair dinkum unless it’s a sly dig at stereotypes. You’re more likely to hear fair in the phrase fair go. We don’t wear hats with corks hanging off the brim, either, although maybe one or two bright sparks did once upon a time in the Outback.

This fair green—not golfing on links,
But for village fairs—isn’t, Ray thinks,
Well-preserved; his society
Acts with propriety
And tends it. (There’s still a few kinks.)

These hundreds and thousands, I think, ’ll
Make partying kiddies’ eyes wrinkle
With pleasure: white bread,
Margarine, or instead
Softened butter, and sugar. Let’s sprinkle!

In Australia, fairy bread (recipe above) and hundreds and thousands go together like strawberries and cream, but for children’s birthday parties it’s a lot cheaper to make. The tiny rainbow balls of sugar (which in the US would be called sprinkles, but only of a particular kind) aren’t used for very much else in Australia; in Britain, hundreds and thousands are used on cakes, biscuits and soft-serve ice cream. Margarine is stressed on its last syllable in Britain and AUstralia.

Melting sugar, then spinning till airy,
Gives a floss that’s as light as a fairy
And melts on the tongue.
It’s a hit with the young,
Whose devotion to sweetness is scary.

In legends of old, fairy knights
Slew the dragon in one or two smites
(Something which, I confess, is
Far-fetched), as princesses
Looked on while admiring their tights.

“You don’t know of Falco?” I frown.
“An Austrian star of renown.
Here, allow me to play us
His ‘Rock Me Amadeus’...
Sad der Kommissar isn’t in town.”

Austria’s best-known pop export of the 1980s sadly died in a car accident in 1999, while planning a comeback. His first international hit “Der Kommissar” was the first seven-inch single I ever bought.

That Falco’s a genius, you say?
I agree! Please rock me, Amade-
us! Oh—Falco’s a genus?
I see. I’m a penis.
This won’t come between us, I pray.

One’s a raptor, and the other was a rapper (at least on some of his songs).

The falcon soars high as a kite
(They’re his cousins)—a rapturous sight.
When he kills—with his beak,
With its toothy bit—“Eek!”
Goes his prey. Gee, I hope it’s all right.

Falcons are birds of prey in the genus Falco, with around forty species worldwide. Unlike hawks and eagles, they kill with their beaks rather than their feet; most species have a toothlike protuberance on either edge of their upper beaks. They have exceptional vision and speed; peregrine falcons have been recorded diving at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour.

Me chook tin’s a bewdiful car.
(It’s a fowl-can, see? Geddit? Har, har.)
Of the twenty-six choices,
No others are noice as
XAs. She’s the best Ford by far.

Ford made compact cars called Falcons in North America in the 1960s and Argentina from 1962 to 1991, but neither lasted as long as the Australian model. The early Australian Ford Falcons from 1960 to 1972 were full-size cars based, like the Argentine ones, on the American Falcons, but from the XA onwards they were designed, developed and built in Australia. In all, there were 26 variants: the XK, XL, XM, XP, XR, XT, XW, XY, XA, XB, XC, XD, XE, XF, XG, XH, EA, EB, ED, EF, EL, AU, BA, BF, FG and, in an annoying break from naming convention at the last minute, the FG X—the last locally produced model by Ford Australia, manufactured from 2014 to 2016. Their nickname came from the slang term for a chicken, with (among Holden lovers) the added bonus of a play on fowl and foul.

This dog, fox or wolf says, “Why warrah?
I feel a bit worried to borrer
Those labels, amended
With Falklands prepended—
It could be Malvinas tomorrer.”

Don’t worry, Dusicyon australis: you’ll be gone long before then (by 1876, in fact), thanks to short-sighted colonists who’ll hunt you for your fur and in a misguided attempt to protect their livestock.

The worries of warrahs won’t cease.
These wolves of the Falklands eat geese,
But the islanders view them
As sheep-killers. “Screw them!
Extinction will bring us some peace.”

My mother’s collapsing, and it’s
Quite a moment; she’s falling to bits.
“I can’t take it! No, no,
It’s too stressful... just go!”
So dramatic. Mum gets on my tits.

I fancy some venison tallow, dear,
As fallow-deer fat (from a fallow deer)
To fashion a candle
Is finer to handle
Than cattle’s, and sheep tallow’s shallow, dear.

To fang it means drivin’ cars fast
In Australia, at least in the past.
What the hoons do today,
I dunno—people say
Anti-hoon laws are biting at last.

Since around 1970, fang, as either noun or verb (with or without an object), has meant a high-speed drive or to drive at high speed: you can go for a fang, fang down the road, or fang your car down the road. If you do it all the time, you’re probably a bit of a hoon. Reckless drivers were such a problem in Australia by the start of the 21st century that states started bringing in anti-hoon laws to curb their excesses.

UKIP’s Nigel Farage had his way
With our future in Europe. Today,
Britain’s down and it’s out.
Like a beer, Nige? Your shout.
Yes, you kippered us all, I would say.

Nigel Farage (b. 1964), former Member of the European Parliament and leader of the UK Independence Party from 2006 to 2009 and 2010 to 2016 (and of the Brexit Party, later Reform UK, from 2019 to 2021), has arguably been the most successful British politician of the early 21st century: despite failing seven times to be elected to the UK Parliament, he achieved his main aim of securing Britain's exit from the European Union.

Members of UKIP are colloquially known as Ukippers or Kippers. Given that they want to overturn pub bans on smoking, the latter seems apt.

The Ukipper, Nigel Farage,
And his anti-EU entourage
Had one aim: independence.
Restore our resplendence!
He had us all chase a mirage.

Far Breton’s a custardy cake
Fine boulangers in Brittany make
That’s embedded with prunes;
A dessert lover swoons
At the thought of this fabulous bake.

Far Breton is a classic French dessert, partway between custard and cake, made with prunes or raisins soaked in Armagnac, brandy, rum, tea or simply water; it can also be made with apples or without fruit at all.

It is far to the Faroes, I fear;
Only Iceland and Shetland are near.
Oblivious sheep’ll
Be mostly what people
Run into when travelling here.

A new leader signs callous decrees,
While apologists seek to appease.
As conditions get tougher,
Minorities suffer,
And fascism comes by degrees.

The fascist thinks nothing of crushing
Political enemies, brushing
Aside all conventions
And laws. His intentions
Are clear: do his worst, without blushing.

It’s—in some online circles—a smash!
Short for... fashion? That starts with a fash.
Oh, it once meant “vexatious”?
Well, well—goodness gracious.
Now it’s—who’s at the door? Better dash.

This Scottish term for feeling upset or worried (“dinnae fash yersel”) has seen a strong uptick in use in the past decade, and not because it’s also an informal abbreviation for fashion. Knocking at the door has been the unfortunately once-again fash(ionable) fascist, waiting to identify people who would bash or smash them in order to take them away for questioning.

Past meanings of fash include a fringe, the tops of turnips or carrots, the rough edge left on trimmed nails or cast bullets, hairy, and various related nouns, verbs and adjectives. As of 2024, the Oxford English Dictionary hasn’t yet noticed its contemporary sense, first recorded in the 1980s, although the Cambridge Dictionary has.

Salvete, Dumnones! Our fasti
Confirms that the sale of this nasty
Comestible’s banned
Today, Rome has command-
ed. (Say, what do you call it?)” “A pasty.”

In Ancient Rome, a fasti (pronounced with the short a of crass) was a calendar showing lawful business days and festival days. The Dumnones, or Dumnonii, were a British tribe living in modern-day Devon and Cornwall. As their descendants will confirm, pasties are not at all nasty.

Would you like more dessert, or more wine?
Help yourself to a chocolate—it’s fine.
But don’t pull a fast one
By taking the last one.
I’m onto your tricks, son—that’s mine.

No exception, this modern-day terror
Has very few rivals. Yes, there’re
Not many who’ll say
That they hope for a day
When they see on their screen “FATAL_ERROR”.

In computing, a fatal error or fatal exception error is one that causes a program to abort, which often means losing whatever one has been working on. Thirty years ago, for example, one might have been happily using Microsoft Word all day, typing thousands of words for one’s thesis, when one experienced a fatal error that caused Word to crash, taking one’s entire day’s work with it, and causing one to experience time standing still as waves of despair washed over one.

They’re less common than in the days when messages appeared as raw code in all-caps, but still common enough to be an occasional hazard. A fatal error is usually distinguished from a fatal system error, which is when one’s entire operating system crashes and one hurls one’s computer out one’s window.

Just) CHECK—SYSTEM CRASH (Oh, just great, I’ll
Now have to restart...)
SYSTEM CRASH (Oh, my heart!)—
SYSTEM ERROR (What kind? Oh, right...) FATAL.

These are all names for a fatal system error, when your computer goes into cardiac arrest and needs a digital defibrillator (known in the trade as “turning it off and back on again”). Windows users know it as the Blue Screen of Death or BSOD, while Mac users were once familiar with the infamous bomb icon. Nowadays, Mac users are more likely to encounter a spinning rainbow beachball, a possible sign of a fatal (exception) error causing a program to crash rather than the entire operating system.

If you fancy yourself as a Fauve,
Dab a canvas with red, yellow, mauve,
Move to somewhere in France,
Paint a whirling-round dance,
And you’re Henri Matisse now, by Jove.

For anyone Aussie who works,
Keep an eye on the number of perks
You’re provided for “free”:
You’ll incur FBT
On those company Mazdas and Mercs.

Fringe Benefits Tax.

In Britain, the letters F.C.
Stand for “football club” (soccer): e.g.,
Aston Villa or Reading.
If you’re thinking of heading...
I bet you’re a club devotee.

Takin’ care o’ me ’orrible teef
Brings me dentist a fair bit o’ grief.
I imagine he’s greetin’
His FDI meetin’
Wiv sumfin’ approachin’ relief.

The World Dental Federation, the Fédération Dentaire Internationale.

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