The Funny Five Days
The title refers to that strange time in which we now find ourselves – those weird days between Christmas and The New Year. Because once Boxing Day (that day of rest and recuperation) has gone, then that tranquil/festive duo, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, will have utterly disappeared over the horizon, as though, yes, they did once exist – but gone, gone away with all the left-overs and the wrapping-paper relegated to the dustbin. And we are left, stranded in that timeless desert of the 27th to the 31st, when time stands still and, dazedly, we don’t quite know what day of the week it is; lost in a peculiar sort of vacuum, some borderland, some suspended ATENVX, some unaccounted-for intercalary week which lasts for five fey days… the ‘Funny Five Days’. Here, then, is something funny with which to occupy ourselves during this period of limbo; and if you are among those who still believe in Father Christmas and are thinking ahead to next Christmas, going to bed wondering what edibles you should leave close to the chimney for the overweight man with unkempt hair and beard who, after whipping the heck out of an endangered species, breaks into our homes at this time of year, then please remember:
‘Father Christmas is a Welshman;
He loves his bara brith.
And if you leave mince-pies for him,
he’ll smash you in the teeth’
Well, that little jingle is labelled ‘Author Unknown’. But here, below, guest-poets Steffan Balsom, Jenni Wyn Hyatt (Williams) together with myself present a cheerful ‘Funny Five Minutes’, a medley of unrelated snippets which will hopefully raise a chortle or two in preparation for the upcoming year. So, as the earwig said as he jumped off the cliff. ‘Earwig-o!’
Goblins live in garden sheds
And some have six or seven heads,
It’s hard to catch one by surprise
With all those noses, ears and eyes
They suck the ink from ball-point pens
And make their clothes from cotton socks
They only take one at a time
And always after three o’ clock
Other things a goblin likes
Are lids from jars and bells from bikes,
And shiny things they keep as toys
Especially things that make a noise
They saddle up a paint-brush
And they fly about at night,
They look like tiny witches
Or a bat that’s not quite right
They have a special language
Which is foreign to our ears,
And no-one else can speak it well
Apart from auctioneers
Their size is like a weasel’s
But they rarely scratch or bite,
Although some give you measles
Or a really nasty fright
And that is all I know of goblins
Please don’t ask me more,
‘Cause if I tell, they said they’d move here
From the shed next door
Four go to the Beach
We’ve been let out; we’re on our own;
at last we’re truly free;
no-one to tell us what to do –
we’re heading for the sea.
The lads go striding up ahead
and talk of boyish things,
while we two girlies stop to gaze
at butterflies’ bright wings.
Just as we round the final bend,
the sea comes into view
and, “Je peux voir la mer,” we chant,
the way we always do.
“Who’s for a paddle?” someone cries,
“Come on my trusty braves!”
We roll our trousers to our knees
and scamper to the waves.
A mighty fortress next we build
with moat and drawbridge too,
tall turrets six and arrow slits
in mussel shells of blue.
Our names are written in the sand
in letters bold and clear,
while shells and pebbles fill our pails –
a fitting souvenir.
This tale is unremarkable;
it’s just what children do –
except the youngest of our gang
is rising sixty-two!
Jenni Wyn Hyatt (Williams)
The Good Old-fashioned Scrum
Dai poked Charlie in the eye.
Charles, half-blinded, went for Dai
but missed and biffed his fwend Cawwuthers –
who swung his fists at many others,
landing one on brawny Bryn,
who belted Wodney on the chin.
Wodney, not to be outdone,
kicked Llywelyn up the ‘Ouch!’
Llywelyn roared out loud
and, lunging forward in the crowd,
managed in that mad mêlée
to bite big Wodwick on the knee.
Wodwick, howling like a loon,
whopped tall Talfryn – none too soon,
for Talfryn, in retaliation,
had bit three others for his nation,
while Evans’ boots had brought the fight
to anything that moved in white.
Who knocked Wil’s teeth out? Fwy, the wat!
(Wil sang ‘false-setto’ after that).
They scragged and throttled any bugger;
it’s what is called ‘enjoying rugger’.
And round and round and up and down
they writhed and tumbled on the ground
like boiling cawl or minestrone,
with language worse than just ‘Baloney!’
In short, that scrum was not polite;
the social graces weren’t in sight.
Who cared the ref – perhaps the ball –
lay somewhere deep beneath it all?
The fault, of course, lay not with red
(at least, that’s what the crowd all said..)
Dafydd Hughes Lewis
The Fearless Captain Goskewiff
There was a silly sailor
Who sailed sideways out to sea
With his bow-sprit pointing eastwards
Where his starboard ought to be
When people said ‘this mode
Of navigation gives concern’
He said ‘Arr, but changing now
Would take me farr too long to learn’
Today, this silly sailor
Is the only one to know
About the penguins in Brazil
And of the polar bears in Borneo
Some say the man is crazy,
Some say he makes them laugh
But none denies he first found
The Siberian Giraffe
It comes as an unwelcome shock
to be struck down by writers’ block,
when words that once were wont to flow
are stuck and brain is on ‘go-slow’.
I started a Petrarchan sonnet
but spark-plugs died beneath my bonnet
and so my high-falutin plan
vanished quickly down the pan.
Attempts at forms like villanelle
and rondeau did not turn out well.
Even the three-line Haiku fell
a victim to its noxious spell.
I sat with notebook close at hand
and wished my pen a magic wand
but had to reach the sad conclusion
that magic’s just a fool’s delusion.
I tossed and turned, had sleepless nights,
for how I yearned to get it right!
When every effort went amiss
I ended up just writing this!
Jenni Wyn Hyatt (Williams)
Here be Dragons
‘Beware the dragon, Sir!’
our Dai-o said.
‘Silence, cur!’ the English knight replied,
‘I fear not your guard-dog’s breath, and wear
this bright red cross upon my breast.
And, Lo! – d’you see this so-stiff upper lip?
Zounds! I’m too well-bred
to listen to such dross, insufferable stuff.
Well – Tally Ho!’
Dai found him dead.
Dafydd Hughes Lewis
‘Goblin-Spotting’ and ‘The Fearless Captain Goskewiff’ are from Steffan’s book The East Wind and the Crow, which was reviewed on The Igam-Ogam Mabinogion earlier this month.
‘Four go to the Beach’ is from Jenni Wyn’s poetry collection Perhaps One Day; ‘Writers’ Block’ is from her second volume of verse, Striped Scarves and Coal Dust. Two of her poems also recently appeared in The Igam-Ogam Mabinogion under Carnage and Aftermath.
‘The Good Old–fashioned Scrum’ appeared in The Igam–Ogam Mabinogion in its Nov. 2019-Jan 2020 section; ‘Here be Dragons’ is from Spirit on the Mountain: Poetry from the Cymrysphere.
What else is funny? Well, our two guest poets, Steffan and Jenni Wyn, both spent their early years within a couple of crossbow shots of each other in very much the same part of West Glamorgan. And it so happens that both now live within a horseshoe cast of each other in very much the same part of Middle England – something which neither of them knew until both made their appearance on The Igam-Ogam Mabinogion!
The Funny Five Days