Competition 19 ; Rude Mechanicals

At least a third of you knew something which Byron's biographers have missed, namely that he had more trouble with cars than did any other well-known poet. Your highways, byways, garage forecourts, skips, driveways and scrapyards were littered with his mad, bad and dangerous wreckage all of which had come from only two of his poems.  Many pieces of his assorted wreckage are littered around on this page. But no sign of My Last Buick or Childe Harold's Morris Minor. Other poets, too, listed their own woes, but did so only once each -- rather to the relief of the judge.

Strangely the judge's own car, while spending last night in a Byron-free garage, had by this morning developed a puncture and a disfiguring outbreak of guano. So my sympathy vote and the offer of a bucket of warm water go to the unfortunate Mae Scanlan.

With the skill of an average mechanic and an oily rag the rest have been assembled, like so many repair jobs, in no particular order --



The grackles came down from wherever they thrive

And their cohorts came with them – my tree is alive

With our fine feathered songsters, from near and from far

Whose sole raison d’etre is to ruin my car.


They fill up on sunflower seeds and on suet,

Fly up in my tree, then let loose; and they do it

Relentlessly, using my car as their toilet;

You’d never believe the extent that they soil it!


Robins and sparrows, and mourning doves, starlings,

Wee tufted titmice – all God’s little darlings

Converge in that tree, then dispense their largesse

On my bright white Toyota; good lord, what a mess!


Here is the thing: I have one parking place;

It’s under that tree – there is no other space.

So I daily scrub ornithological turds,

As I wonder, how come I still love the damn birds?


Mae Byron-Scanlan




If you can get to 30 miles per hour

Without a door or wiper dropping off,

Or climb a hillock without losing power

And leave the engine croaking with a cough;

If you can start without a push or jump-lead

Or overtake a milk-float going downhill,

Accelerating without smoke or thump, freed

from brakes that bind like pondweed in a mill;


If every bulb lights up when asked (not random)

Or petrol gauge once deign to tell the truth;

If you can have more style than rusting tandem,

Nor be a source of merriment for 'yoof';

If Radio 3 is heard above your rattle,

Your battery hold its charge (not grunt and die);

If you pass MOTs without a battle,

The hens will flash rare teeth and pigs will fly.


D A Kipling-Prince




Your Fiat limps in like a Flymo grown old -

though your son has resprayed it in purple and gold,

and the sheen of its chrome is like our Cheryl’s teeth –

till you pull up the bonnet and look underneath...


Like a gnarled forest root when the summer has fled,

your distributor lurks there, unsparkling and dead;

like the scum on the lakeside when autumn has blown,

your battery fizzes in puddles of foam;


and there are your brake pads, all tattered and thin,

and your tyres are as bald as a teenager’s chin;

your fender’s unmended, your headlights are dim;

your crankshaft position is really quite grim.


The Mechanic of Entropy’s had quite a blast –

he has breathed on your tappets and valves as he passed;

perhaps I can fix it – perhaps; but m’dear,

it’s going to cost you to get out of here....

Lynn - Yetmore Byron - Roberts




So we'll go no more a-roaring

So blithely down the road;

Though there's routes well worth exploring,

I don't fancy getting towed --


For the alternator doesn't,

And the belts and cables fray,

And the clutch (I'm certain) wasn't

Meant to disengage this way.


So it's little use imploring

With mechanics; I can suss

That we'll go no more a-roaring --

I'll go catch the bloody bus.


Brendan - Stillmore Byron - Beary




How joyously I traveled

in the car that set me free!

No street so thinly graveled

it would not yield to me.


Down roads that had no ending

I sped in search of gain,

but each mile brought more spending

for fuel, repairs, and pain.


‘Neath bills that crushed all yearning,

it rusts now in my yard,

the wheels no longer turning,

and oh! ‘tis hard, ‘tis hard!


Joyce Housman-La Mers




Don’t put your Nissan on the road, Mrs. Worthington.

Don’t put your Nissan on the road!

It’s very nearly a total wreck

And pretty well every part

Has exploded enough or corroded enough

To defy a mechanic’s art.

While your steamy tryst with a stevedore

Imposed a weight which was so much more

Than any poor mass-produced Japanese bonnet

Was ever meant to have spread upon it

That we’ve not had the car for long enough

To find a new bonnet that’s strong enough

To survive a similar load.


So, with regret, Mrs. Worthington,

As yet, Mrs. Worthington,

Don’t put your Nissan on the road.


Leo Coward-Vincent




So, you’ll go no more a-revving,

Your ignition won’t ignite,

Your exhaust is fast eroding

And your spark plugs aren’t too bright.


For your foot’s worn out the clutch

And your stick’s outworn the gears,

Your fan belt’s far from buff

And your tyres aren’t Good Years.


Though cars were made for driving

Your cruising days are done,

You’ll go no more a-revving –

I’m afraid your Big End’s gone!


Susan - Whatmore-Byron - Jarvis




Had we but world enough and time,

This lengthy task would be no crime

But lady, there’s so very much

I need to fix: the brakes, the clutch.

The front left tyre’s bald as a coot;

The lock is broken on the boot

And, dear, that dent you caused last week

Will need more than a gentle tweak.

What fretful hours I’d have to spend

When I have sweeter things to tend.

T’would be far better that we pay

To get it fixed, not waste the day.

But lady, why a look so black?

Ok… I’ll go and fetch the jack.


Sue Marvell-Scott