Humorous verse by Anna Nolan  

Photo by Sasha Martynov on

There must be – must be – some mistake:

Seventy candles on the cake?

How did this happen? As you say,

Your zenith was but yesterday.

This was the time of your fab youth

When politicians told the truth,

The country rocked and swung and swayed

And Europe didn’t make the grade.

You wore flared trousers, drank whiskey neat,

The worst you did was run through wheat,

OK, maybe you smoked a joint,

All harmless fun – which was the point.

Those mods and rockers were so cool,

Their leather jackets made you drool,

And yours was such a joyous grin

When Britain clinched the World Cup win.  

You ate pork pies, good English grub,

And spent your lunchtimes in the pub,

Had Sunday roasts – no foreign muck:

Moroccan koftas? Simply yuck!

Your hopes were high and barriers low,

You planned to earn a lot of dough,

To operate in overdrive

And to be free by forty-five.

Your yesterday – it was so fine! 

Still, dear old Reg (he’s ninety-nine)

Does call you “young’un” (what a sage)

And sighs: “I wish I were your age” …


Satirical verse: Eco warrior

Copyright © Anna Nolan, 2019


Most important of your missions?

Cutting CO2 emissions;

Your ideals are exalted:

Global warming must be halted.


Therefore, in your eco war,

You will fly to Singapore

For a summit aiming to

Figure out just what to do.


Boeing really is the best:

It has wings and all the rest

And will, in no time at all,

Fly you anywhere long haul.


(Intercontinental jaunts

Are not what, quite frankly, daunts

Eco warriors of your kind,

With grave matters on their mind.)


On return (you’ve just touched down),

There are rallies round your town,

So you jump into your car;

Walk a mile? That’s way too far!


Then there’s* sit-ins, so that you

Can affix yourself with glue

To the pavement – with the call:

“Save the Planet, one and all!”


Thus you toil, without a break,

So you do deserve a steak,

Thick and juicy – just the thing:

All this iron boosts your zing.


You do feel some guilt (a smidge)

Looking at your walk-in fridge;

You would ditch it if you could,

But it serves a greater good.


As for your wood-burner – it

Looks so cosy when it’s lit,

So you settle with your plate,

Quite contented, feeling great,


For, with pride within your heart,

You believe you’ve played a part

In (though this might seem quite strange)

Just averting climate change.


*Well, it should be there are, of course, but if the lovely natives freely indulge in the likes of there’s us, so can an alien – particularly on the grounds of poetic scanning (though poetic may be stretching it a tad in verses such as this).


Further to yesterday’s Tim Knowles post

Cumbria Trust

For the benefit of those of you who do not subscribe to Facebook, the following piece and the ensuing replies were posted in response to our item on Tim Knowles yesterday.

“As I said before – huge respect to Tim in stating his revised position, if only all politicians were brave enough to do this kind of thing… After seeing off the Zip Wire (which is about so much more than the one project and for me all about setting a precedent) this issue will unfortunately become a priority again for those who love the Lake District and Cumbria. Government/Whitehall must not be allowed to foist an unsafe solution on Cumbria just because it suits them. And by the way all the main political parties have been as bad as each other on this issue. Not a party political issue at all.” ~ John Wilson

“Grateful for these kind comments…

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A change of view for Tim Knowles…

Cumbria Trust

Tim Knowles

In a recent post we wrote about the Radio Cumbria report on the latest developments in the continuing search for a suitable site for a GDF. In addition to interviewing Eddie Martin during the news feature, Radio Cumbria also interviewed Tim Knowles, who chaired the last search process, known as Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS).

It was striking that Tim has changed his view since 2013 and no longer supports the idea of geological disposal of nuclear waste in Cumbria.  He appears to share Cumbria Trust’s view that Cumbria does not have suitable geology, and that there are much better sites elsewhere in the country.  It is interesting that we have now had 2 search processes in Cumbria and both the Lead Inspector of the first Nirex process, and now the Chair of the second MRWS process have reached the same conclusion – that the search should move…

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95: Venimently perplexed

Some of you might have heard about a recent by-election in my parliamentary constituency, Copeland. Propelled by the sense of civic responsibility, I duly attended a local hustings, at which our independent candidate revealed his impeccable Europhobic credentials with the rhetorical question “A million Poles enough for you?” No sooner had I regained composure than I was assaulted with his campaign leaflet, in which the wannabe MP regaled us with the following pronouncement:

The Green Party are being venimently [sic] against nuclear energy.

Are they really? In an obvious attempt to be even-handed, the leaflet proceeded to castigate other political parties:

The farming community has been hit by this present governments [sic] stopping of subsidies.

Predictably, the Labour Party, currently presided over by Jeremy Corbyn, did not escape unscathed either.

The same can be said of Labour supporters who vote for Jeremy Corbyns [sic] Labour Party.

In an attempt to hit us hard with his anti-global-warming message, the campaigner chided us thus:

How many times does Keswick have to flood before the resident’s [sic] get the message. [sic]

The environmental theme needed to be reinforced, so the leaflet contained the following imploration:

We all need to change our behaviour now to slow down global warming to ensure our ancestors [sic] have a planet to inhabit.

But of course! It also appeared as if our independent candidate felt that a wee threat could go a long way.

To the people who disagree with me, I have bad news for you, but you will dislike global warming and increased sea levels even less [sic]!

Will we really? And the campaigner had other gripes:

Recent cost cutting decisions such as the demolition of the public toilets in Whitehaven is [sic] disgraceful.

But, hearteningly, the leaflet wasn’t all negative:

Land based wind turbines can produce energy much cheaper and more accessible [sic] than their off-shore counterparts.

The publication finished on an uncharacteristically literate, if a tad contradictory, note:

We have the 27th best education system in the world and every year it seems to get worse. The state education system has failed to produce results, so a drastic rethink is required to improve results.

It was rather hard to resist the conclusion that the leaflet had been produced by the very embodiment of this failure.


93 – Mini-rant: Dead survivors?

Having been greatly distracted by two momentous events, Brexit and the American election, I’ve been very remiss with this blog. And, let’s face it, language misdemeanours, however diverting, pale into insignificance with what’s going on in the world. But having stumbled across this snippet, widely broadcast by the British media, I’m unable to resist a mini-rant. The revelation came courtesy of an eminent foreign correspondent, who commented on a catastrophic plane crash thus.

There is little hope of finding survivors alive.

Although overcome with an overwhelming sadness, I nevertheless wondered whether there might be some dead survivors – an obvious (to me, at least) interpretation of this tautological statement. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, tautology – saying the same thing twice in different words – is a stylistic fault which is quite common, but the venerable BBC and its reporters might be expected to be above such lapses. What the correspondent should have said is, of course, this.

 There is little hope of finding anybody alive.

Or this.

 There is little hope of finding any survivors.

Mini-rant 91: Freedoms and opposites

Isn’t freedom of speech an absolute marvel? We in the United (at least for now) Kingdom flaunt our delight in it at every opportunity, and our press barons make great play of allowing readers to have their say. One of our quality broadsheets, The Sunday Times, regularly invites culture vultures onto the pages of one of its supplements, Culture. There, in the column entitled You Say, they are offered an opportunity to vent their spleen, or otherwise, about our TV fare. And so, in this week’s edition, we stumbled on the following, rather indignant, pronouncement.

Whatever has happened to BBC Breakfast? Its decline in standards and quality is dropping like an express elevator. Whatever happened to high-quality professional journalists/ broadcasters?

The thing is, whenever one exercises one’s right to this cherished freedom it might be an idea to engage one’s cerebral cortex first. If something is dropping – albeit metaphorically – it diminishes, of course. So the viewers of BBC Breakfast can, in fact, rejoice: the decline is slowing down. Alas, the incensed reader said the exact opposite of what he was attempting to say, which was this.

  Its standards and quality are dropping like an express elevator (rather than their decline).

Or this.

Its decline in standards and quality is accelerating like an express elevator.

And whatever happened to newspaper sub-editors?

85 – About my book: Who’s Put Rat into Bureaucrat? (Please see the next post)

Being a perfectionist can be a genuine curse – not that perfection will ever be within my grasp. But whatever I write I always find severely wanting and can’t resist tinkering with. I have thus completely revised not one but two books, the second being An Alien in a Madhouse, which has now become a much shorter Who’s Put Rat Into Bureaucrat?

Like its predecessor, the book pokes fun at officialdom, officialese, political correctness gone mad and the vagaries of office life. It also ponders some of the usage booby-traps strewn across English, detonating a few of them with irreverent jocularity. This is why the book can also be seen as a reference source addressing several troublesome points of grammar, punctuation and spelling – albeit humorously. And it is a short extract from this book that is given in the next post, its subject being tautology – a very common stylistic lapse.

The reason why it’s posted separately is the text’s categorical refusal to fit underneath this introduction – don’t ask me why!


In case you are unaware, the seemingly inexorable plan to diminish our democracy forges ahead…

Cumbria Trust


38degrees petition

On Wednesday the House of Lords under the Chair of Baroness Verma will be discussing  in Grand Committee in the Moses Room at 3.45pm the plan to push  through legislation that will remove our right, and the right of Cumbria County Council, to object to burying radioactive waste underground.

They hope to do this as soon as practically possible by adding GDFs (Geological Disposal Facilities) to the list of NSIPs (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects).   An NSIP would force through the what we believe to be the government’s plans to return to Cumbria in the search for a site for a GDF. This would of course deny communities the voice usually afforded to them via public enquiries.

The government hoped the Nuclear waste ‘problem’ was going to be solved by communities coming forward to volunteer to take the waste, now that plan has fallen by…

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