Occasions & Nonsense
Words written for private and public occasions, both happy and sad
I've written occasional verse, songs and parodies as long as I can remember, normally to mark a milestone or rite of passage for someone. In part I blame Tom Lehrer, the finest satirical songwriter the western world has produced, though my own preferred default musical style has been calypso on the basis that it requires a good deal less technical competence than any genre attempted by Lehrer.
I am also indebted to the Great McGonagall, “Dundee’s most famous nobody” and the best awful poet in the language, for providing a suitable verse parody mode for anything remotely Caledonian, or not Caledonian at all. Like calypso, William McGonagall’s verse has the huge advantage that you can cram as many words into the lines as you like so long as you get a rhyme at the end, and he turned banality into an art form. Everyone should read The Tay Bridge Disaster before they die. For the most sensitive, it may well be shortly before they die.
Not all are silly, of course, and there are several eulogies here. A few pieces seem to transcend the occasion enough to merit a place in one of the general collections: but ultimately I think there is no real distinction between the local and the general. In occasional pieces, poetry gets back to its essential bardic function - giving voice to the collective mind and emotion, and recording the stories that matter to communities. Even those who don't know the people who are being teased, celebrated or mourned here will recognise the types of personalities, and the need we all have to express our appreciation of one another, with good humour and good will and with or without irony.