Louis MacNeice

Bagpipe Encore
It's no go the Gaelic tongue, it's no go the Lallans
All we want's a night on the town with a bit of the local talent.
You'll find the men are wearing skirts if ever you cross the border
But everything underneath is guaranteed in working order.

Peter Maxwell Davies was discovered telling porkies
Fled the Sassenachs in disgrace and went to live in the Orkneys.
It's no go the highland reels, it's no go the pibrochs
All we want's a "hauf and a hauf", and a couple of tickets for Ibrox.

It's no go the Famous Grouse, it's no go the haggis
All we want's an assembly with a poodle that isn't Maggies.

Kenneth McKellar sang a song called "Donald, where's your troozers?"
Gave it up in no time flat when they barred him from the boozers.
It's no go the skean-dhu, it's no go the tartan
All we want's a six-pack or two and a deck-chair in the garden.

Alasdair Gray's a novelist who wrote a book called Lanark.
Arts Council told him no more grants, so he might as well stay in his hammock.
It's no go the shooting estates, it's no go the salmon
All we want's a meal ticket for life, preferably with jam on.

It's no go the Highland games, it's no go the shinty
All we want's a hoover and a holiday in the West Indies.

It's no go for Louis MacNeice, it's no go the poet
This stuff's not half as good as his, and you and me both know it.
The poem and the parody are different altogether.
The parody's soon forgotten; the original lasts forever.

Louis MacNeice (1907-63) was born in Belfast, the son of a bishop. As well as being a first-rank poet (Autumn Journal etc), he did a lot of work for the BBC, and holds the honour of having written the first ever radio play. I loved his Bagpipe Music - especially the couplet about the Laird o' Phelps - and thought I'd have a go myself. There's a reference near the end to a promotion that misfired a few years ago: the manufacturers found they were running up a huge loss due to the punters buying vacuum cleaners they didn't want, simply to get the free air tickets.  

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Bob Newman 2004. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 28/11/2004