The Art of Ridicule




I never went to university —  dropped out

took an apprenticeship at the sugar factory —

had all the tricks played on me, sent to the stores

for a long weight, had my raincoat

rivetted to a girder, my boot heel studs

welded to a steel beam.


The old engineers used humour and ridicule

to keep their apprentices in line and learning.

The welder, Jackie Chapman, was a master joker!

Taking a viscous handful of the raw brown sugar

he could mould it into a realistic, coiled turd.


Humour can have a sharp edge, a social leveller,

as the pompous chief engineer discovered

on one of his daily, irascible inspections.

All who were warned silently relished the sight

when his highly polished and costly black shoes

danced and slid in Jackie’s sculpted confection.



  1. I never went to university, but escaped that boarding house.
    On the family farm I toiled until the future seeming narrow,
    I did the sixties thing, smoked dope and tried to live on the dole.
    Unsatisfactory failure as a dropout, I felt ignorant so decided on higher ed.
    And made it! Back to school at 23, Cambs Tech for A levels in 9 months.
    Whooee I found my forte, off to Cardiff on clearing, off to USA on exchange.
    Then Cambridge as grad. Some trajectory for a farmers boooy.
    Bloody KEGS, or bloody me, apart from English with Mr Bridges, and History with Dr Wood
    I wasted my time window gazing. Now I have written a book or two of my own.
    Some of us have to find our own winding road, many never do I fear.

Comments are closed.

Back to Top