Racker Donnelly -           Entertainer

                       pARCHWAY 2014*

When, at last, you've hauled your ageing load
up to the top of the Holloway Road,
you'd want to assuage your raging thirst,
I think, 
anyway you'd need some kind of drink.

But where?
East of the bleak and windswept anchor
of The Black Lubyanka,
The Archway Tavern once was there;
then [a heavy-metal box] The Intrepid Fox.

Still Sweeney's, on the corner, alias The Lion,
offers an Irish shoulder for to cry on,
Mother Redcap's for night-caps, Whittington Stone, 
The Cat, The Magnet, The Old Crown,
and The Charlotte Despard (if you're not barred).

The Drum and Monkey was seldom funky.
Now The Oak and Pastor, 
for the Monkey met its Master. 
Dine there, or St Johns, 
on boeuf bourgignons, 
or filet mignons, 
and hail 
your Holy Grail: 
your real and gleaming Ale 
of beaming bronze!

Now greatly changed and still changing.


My 2001 transcription 
of the Irish National Anthem in Irish
into English words:

shin-naff-Ian  naff-foil
add-thaw  Fay-owl  egg-Aaron
boo-weaned-Thor  slew-a
hard-thin  the-raw  Nick-who-wing
Fay-void  fez-sayer
shan't-hear  or  shin-sheer  fast-the
knee  auk-fur
faint-hear-raw  gnaw-faint-royal

a-nook-the  hay-am
sieve-are  naff-vale
leggy-Ann  air-Gail
come-bosh  nose-sale
leg-gun  ash-crake
fail-law-fug  nab-Bill-lair
shawl-leave  Connie
our-raw  naff-Ian!

And here's my free version in English 
of the Irish text:

Soldiers are we,
and we belong to Ireland.
have come
from far across the sea.
Sworn to be free.
No more our ancient sireland
shall shelter the tyrant or the slave!

we fight
the fearsome wave.
In Ireland's cause, 
the weak are strong.
Though lightning flash,
and thunder crash,
we'll sing the Soldiers' Song!


Now I'm a Wow,
and How!
as Jimbo,
as McEnroe,
like Woody-wood Becker.

Not silly
and blasé,
like Ilie
but mean
and keen
as Seren-
a, Ven-
us or Billy-Jean.

I can do it
better than Lleyton Hewitt,
than Federer,
my pal,
ee call me The Gaffa!

the up-beat
more demigoddick
than Andy Roddick,
twice as shagassy
as André Agassi.

Compared to me, Henman
was a hen, man;
a cyborg;
in too much of a hurry.

Me vee Sharapova
or Navratilova?
Shamrock vee Cloeva!
Jock O'Vitch? Joke over.

I'm tasty as a billabong,
and just as strong,
with my boomerang serve, as Miss Goolagong.
So it seems,
in my dreams.

Oh, it's not just the Gladiators 
and the Gladioli,
the Grand
who only stand
and wave,
and flail
to little or no avail.

For there's a Law of Life, 
it's practically official,
that, for those Hot Shots with their Sting Bats
to succeed, some sacrificial
have to fail. 



Before the dawn, a flurry …  
a scurry.
Mouse? Rat? 
Possum? Wombat?
Out of the hearth - a Bat? 

Flapping overhead! 
Out of the bed, 
we fled. 
What to do? 
there's TWO!

Birds? Black birds in flight,
scattering soot 'n' shite ...
Call Pest Control? Our guests
don't qualify as pests ...
We open a tiny window but they scoff
at our kindly invitation to piss off.

Preferring to assail a wider window,
they batter the frantic windowpane in vain ... 
contact  a neighbour. She 
winds windowframe ajar. 
A bird escapes - HOORAH!
But where's its mate? 
Flew back up flue? 
Out tiny window? 
I don't care - Do you? 

We humbly mumble Thanks to neighbour,
almost lost for words,
thinking: Damn you, Alfred Hitchcock,
Why did you make THE BIRDS?


(a seaside town to the North of Dublin)

In Malahide, long years ago,
my racquet and I were told to go,
for digging with a Papish foot.
I felt like Adam when the gate was shut.

In Malahide, in the Grand Hotel,
which wasn't grand then nor posh nor swell,
the rooms were haunted, the grounds were wild,
a magical world for an ageing child.

In Malahide, at the Grand Hotel,
my sister's do, I remember well,
and the nun who'd just jumped over the wall,
who didn't act like a nun at all.

In Malahide, a kindly priest
saw me becoming a sensual beast.
"If you don't give up helping yourself,
you'll end up in Hell, on the bachelor shelf."

In Malahide, I fell in love,
and flew in my mind to the stars above.
She hailed from Glasgow. My heart, I lent her.
But her mother returned the letter I sent her.

In Malahide, I found Romance.
In Malahide, I lost my pants.
Swept out to sea on the ebbing tide!
Just a tiny towel. (I nearly died.)



A tale or a song, even a folk song,  
needn't go on and on, a cause of grief. Be brief.
Bow to the listener, a thoughtful grovel.
A story, yes, but not, please not, a novel.

Edit. If it's half-sheddable, shed it.
There's no disgrace in cutting to the chase. 
Oh hear my heartfelt cry, my desperate dictum: 
I came as a paying guest, not as a victim.  



This is the tale a a guy called Cool.
Head of the Feeyanna*. Nobody's fool. 
So cool was he, so fine and strong,
they bumped him off before too long.
They did him in,
but not before
he'd wed a feisty wife who bore
a son whose name was Finn.

A widow now, afraid
that Finn might also be waylaid
and privatised with shovel and spade,
to thwart the downward Thumb of Doom,
Fee climbed (Oh, sorry. Her name was Fee)
up a tiny mountain called Sleeve Bloom
to meet two witches (It's usually three).

is the proper word,
which won't make sense 
unless you've heard
of the women of the Ama-Zon
who fight without pyjamas on,
and beat the tar
out of any men, 
whoever they are.

Make him tough, 
said Fee, and that's enough.
Well, not quite enough.
He's to join the Feeyanna* 
when he's big,
so he'll need to know 
how to pluck a pig,
and defeat nine men 
with just a shield,
jump high
as the sky
and under a field,
and that's the lot.

But it was not.
For she forgot:
he hadn't just to be tough
as nails.
I mean, that's enough
for a Prince of Wales;
but the Feeyanna
demand more than Get-up-and-Go-etry.
You've to memorise
twenty-three books of Poetry!

Once the Amazon ninjas 
got him fit,
with a six-pack and abs
and all that shit,
they packed him off 
to the local magus,
a wordy wizard 
called Finnaegus,
who'd a quiver
of arrows, for shooting fish 
when they came upriver.

Finnaegus tried,
he tried and tried,
to tell you the truth,
he damn near died,
to get some Poem
into Finn's mighty, muscular doem.
Jam-packed with protein, 
averse to verse,
it made Finnaegus
roar and curse.

Finn couldn't take Pomes in his cerebellum,
Finnaegus said, That's total gammon.
You need to be more
of a piscivore!**
So he shot a salmon,
and gave it to the lad to fry.

As it lay in the pan, said Finn, I'll try 
and see is it cooked - Ow! Burnt his thumb, 
which he stuck in his mouth and, via the gum,
his brain steamed up with streams of verse.
(Some, better than this. And one, far worse.) 

So he joined the Feeyanna, 
like dear dead Dad,
made his Mammy proud,
but the Feeyanna, MAD,
for they couldn't fox him ...
he won every quiz ...
a pain in the bum
(you know how it is)
so they did him in 
with shovel and spade;
and that's the ending, I'm afraid***.

* Feeyanna = FIANNA: Band of SuperHeroes.
Like the Knights of the Round Table, but more rounded.

** Piscivore = one who knows his plaice. 

*** Very afraid. If the FIANNA ever get to hear of this ... It slipped my mind that Finn must have somehow overcome his mortality issue for he lived on to become Finn Mac Cool, one of Ireland's most heroic heroes and did many apocryphal deeds, 
as was par for the course in those days.

I have amended the error in subsequent verse.

Songs for UnGays
to sing at Gay Weddings
to the tune of
Owed to Gay


We are not Gay, 
but, if we were,
instead of Him, 
we'd marry Her.
Instead of Jim, 
we'd marry Jane.
No more we'd swim 
against the grain.

No to Man, 
and Yes to Woman.
This has been 
a long time comin'.
Wife with Wife 
will cut down strife.
Two spoons, no knife:
a Hope of Life!

We are not Gay,
but, if we were,
we'd marry Him
instead of Her.
Instead of Her,
we'd marry Him.
Instead of Jane,
we'd marry Jim.
Forsaking Woman,
taking Man,
we'd sing a Hymn,
and not a Hyrrh.
We'd love each other
and we'd call each other,


Passports at last located, we drove from Bray
to Dublin Port.
By 3pm, the wife & I were on our way.
Nothing to report.
Sailed serenely
to Holyhead.
rested, & well-fed.
& back to our lovely motor,
our rusty friend,
the old Toyota.
with a manual key -
Screaming on & on & on,
& off,
as by-standers smirk
& scoff.
Much relieved, 
we head for London.
Would you believe 
we'd soon be undone? 

Night falls as we cruise along
Set the Satnav. Something's wrong.
We know the way & there's no hurry.
Fuel gauge is dipping low.
Can we find a garage? No.
They must hate drivers, the way they vex 'em,
we chuckle & miss the road to Wrexham ...
& somehow come to Runcorn Town,
which looks forlorn as a drunken clown,
as we tootle cluelessly all around,
no petrol station to be found.
A passer-by, who talks so queer,
& a would-be helper, who strains our patience
with a flood of forgettable informations.
So we end up in a Slough of Despond,
somewhere out in the back of beyond.
Our Hunting of the Petroleum Snark
has led us to Eddie Stobart's Lorry Park.
Where a trucker's forefinger points the way
to an Esso garage. (He made our day.)
There a lady with a smily mouth
More banshee wails!
& the Brum bit blocked;
so, to survive,
we switch to the M5.
Lane-closures everywhere,
& Cones,
to throttle the thoroughfare!
Why didn't we come by Ryanair?
Left wing-mirror,
a total smash.
We took out two Cones. 
But again the Screaming!
Is this a nightmare?
Are we dreaming? 

More Dalek cones..
Exhaust-pipe heckles like rattled bones.
All junctions, CLOSED. In despairful hope,
we try old Satnav. It can't cope.
Our troubles never ceased.
We entered North London from the East!
& parked at 3 'neath our block of flats
while Car-alarm shrieked, HERE COME THE PRATS!
As it yelled, FAREWELL,
we fled, 
to timely alcohol
& a quiet bed.
agus Ceol 
na hÉireann

The Songs of Erin
are always charmin',
though sometimes alarmin'
in their fiery mood.
'Tis a real rapscallion
would claim Eyetalian
or German music is half as good.
zart nor Handel
could hold a candle
to Molly Malone
through a megaphone,
or to Erin's daughter,
singin' songs of slaughter,
in harmony, or in Inishowen, 
or on her own.
With music to whisk you. Where?
From here to there!
To Donegal, Mayo, & County Clare.
From your borough
in London to the Curragh
of Kildare.
From Kilburn, Hammersmith, Camden Town
to the Glens of Antrim, the Ups of Down.
From jitterness,
& mess
to the Cliffs
of Moher 
& the Cliffs of Less.
From Quorn
& porn
to the Mountains of Mourne.
To fresh Eyre
& Galway Bay.
Kiss the Blarney Stone
& Molly Malone.
Visit Poguemahone.
In the hug of Irish Music,
you'll never be alone! 


Like rabbits on stilts, or shrunken llamas.
Flocks in flocculent pyjamas.
Faces like Lady Bracknell's gardeners' trowels.
Whiff of grapeshot from blackberry bowels.
Gregarious kegs,
with precarious legs, 
& your granny's knees.
Ears, in fear of every teasing breeze.
Muzzles, with graven grins.
nuzzling, guzzling,
lugging, tugging,
scratching, snatching
scalps of Apache grass.
Then, all the bog-cotton-picking day to dally, chewing the cud, like good ole boys
on a beach in Bali.
When they're not rutting,
they're butting.
Here's a Glasgow kiss for you, mate!
& they'd smother their mother
to get through a gate.
Our modern sheep
descends from the Mediterranean Mouflon
& the Asian Uriel.
Mouflon just acted the goat &, as for Uriel,
you'd get more wool of your Auntie Muriel.
Though they don't care a fig for pagan pig
or tapeworm-harbouring ham,
every Hajji, Ayatollah & Imam
throughout Islam
salutes with warm salaam
the halalamb.
That lamb you pet,
my dear Amanda,
will end up et
as Lamb Pasanda.
If that makes you edgy,
turn veggie ... 
Or, if that's too hard, turn half-way hypocrite,
a wishy-washy fish'n'chipocrite.
The thought of slaughter,
me darlin' daughter,
don't make me quiverous,
for I'm carnivorous!
Like the Beast,
is yon farmer to be fleeced?
Dipped, ripped & frozen fresh?
Will meat-eating go the Way of All Flesh?
Ram-rod rams
who think they're Rambo!
Ram-shackled ewes,
doing the Mambo!
Wait five months 
& there's a lamb bo-
ldly bawling, HERE I AM!
Then ear-marked, barked-at, stamped,
& cramped.
Tail, docked.
Male, doctored (Ooh!).
The weaning
& the keening! 
Babbies baa,
Where are ya, Ma?
Mammies bleat, Here I am,
Sweet Lamb.
Gambolling against the Green,
the Shining Lamb!
Against the odds,
uncowed, disporting, cavorting
in the foolishness of freedom,
jumping for joy across the hungry grass,
shaking a weedy hoof at the greedy gods:
Living for Now! 

A 12-stanza sequence 
of 75 irregular verbs, which includes all the ones
that broadsheets, broadcasters 
& English-learners tend to get wrong, 
& shows that irregular verbs 
are not all that irregular. 

I drink, I drank, I have drunk.
I shrink, I shrank, I have shrunk.
I stink, I stank, I have stunk.
I sink, I sank, I have sunk.

You sing, you sang, you have sung.
You spring, you sprang, you have sprung.
You ring with an R, you rang, you have rung.
You wring with a W, you wrung, you have wrung. You swing, you swung, you have swung.

He comes, he came, he has come.
He swims, he swam, he has swum.
He draws, he drew, he has drawn.
He saws, he sawed, he has sawn.
He shines, he shone, he has shone.
He goes, he went, he has gone.

She knows, she knew, she has known.
She blows, she blew, she has blown.
She throws, she threw, she has thrown.
She grows, she grew, she has grown.
She sews with an E, she sewed, she has sewn.
She sows with an O, she sowed, she has sown.
She shows, she showed, she has shown.
She mows, she mowed, she has mown.

We hew, we hewed, we have hewn.
We strew, we strewed, we have strewn.
We give, we gave, we have given.
We drive, we drove, we have driven.
We strive, we strove, we have striven.
We thrive, we throve, we have thriven.

You swell, you swelled, you have swollen.
You steal, you stole, you have stolen.
You do, you did, you have done.
You spin, you spun, you have spun.
You run, you ran, you have run.
You win, you won, you have won.

They eat, they ate, they have eaten.
They beat, they beat, they have beaten.
They slay, they slew, they have slain.
They lie (down), they lay, they have lain.
They see, they saw, they have seen.
They are, they were, they have been.
They break, they broke, they have broken.
They wake, they woke, they have woken.
They speak, they spoke, they have spoken.

I wear, I wore, I have worn.
I tear, I tore, I have torn.
I swear, I swore, I have sworn.
I hide, I hid, I have hidden.
I ride, I rode, I have ridden.
I take, I took, I have taken.
I shake, I shook, I have shaken.
I forsake, I forsook, I have forsaken.

You feel, you felt, you have felt.
You deal, you dealt, you have dealt.
You mean, you meant, you have meant.
You send, you sent, you have sent. 
You creep, you crept, you have crept.
You keep, you kept, you have kept.
You sleep, you slept, you have slept.
He buys, he bought, he has bought.
He brings, he brought, he has brought.
He fights, he fought, he has fought.
He thinks, he thought, he has thought.
He teaches, he taught, he has taught.

She says, she said, she has said.
She breeds, she bred, she has bred.
She feeds, she fed, she has fed.
She flees, she fled, she has fled.

We bind, we bound, we have bound.
We grind, we ground, we have ground.
We sell, we sold, we have sold.
We tell, we told, we have told.
We make, we made, we have made.
We lay (eggs), we lay, we have laid.
We pay, we paid, we have paid.


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