It is, amazingly, ten years since I began writing limericks about the news on Twitter. Since then, I’ve published two limerick history books as well, and seen dozens of people from around the globe join in the fun by engaging with my limericks, writing their own, and in many cases starting their own Twitter limerick accounts. See here for a list of some of them.
So How did it happen? Back in May 2011, Channel 4 News set a challenge – to explain in a tweet – then still limited to 140 characters – the question of electoral reform being put to a referendum in the UK. As an extra challenge, I tried doing it in the form of a limerick.
The system of 1st past the post/ Awards seats to the one polling most./ When using AV/ You vote 1,2 and 3/ So round 1’s winner may end up toast.
That was fun, I thought. Wondering whether anyone else was doing this kind of thing, I searched for ‘limericks’ on Twitter and discovered that very day – May 12th – was National Limerick Day. Furthermore, the day marked the birthday of the famous 19th century writer of limericks and other nonsense verse, Edward Lear, who had just hit 199. So…
On the birthday of one Edward Lear/ I came up with a novel idea/ To report on the news/ It’s limericks I use/ And will aim to do so for a year.
And I did – at least one a day for that first year, covering UK politics, global events, weird and wonderful stories and even obituaries. In July I added this WordPress blog, and started reposting them on Facebook too.
But when Lear’s bicentenary came around, I couldn’t stop. My output’s slowed a little – I allow myself the odd day off if there’s too much going on, or inspiration fails me. But I like to think the quality’s improved over the course of the decade. I’ve been through and picked one from each of the ten years of Twitmericks.
2011 re targeted killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan
The violent death of Osama/ Was ordered by Barack Obama/ But some say the leader/ Behind al Qaeda/ Had his dogma knocked down by his karma.
2012 re attempts to get pandas mating in Edinburgh zoo
She-panda Tian Tian receives./ The aim of it is she conceives. Yang don’t give a damn./ Whambam Thankyoumaam – /The he-panda eats, shoots and leaves.
2013 re Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction (later overturned) for paying for sex with a minor
There is an old man from Milan/ With hairpiece and permanent tan/ Whose hunger for bunga/ With girls ever younger/ Has earned 7 years in the can.
2014 re Spanish King Juan Carlos’s abdication
There was an old fellow in Spain/ Who after a 40-year reign/ Said ‘Being a king/ Just isn’t my thing –/ The reign in Spain’s mainly a pain’.
2015 re Irish Republic referendum on same-sex marriage
The Irish have now had their say/ From Dublin to Donegal Bay/ A motion was carried/ That folks can get married/ No matter if straight or if gay.
2016 re Brexit referendum and PM David Cameron’s subsequent resignation
There was an old fellow named Dave/ Who left Number 10 with a wave, / The cause of his exit/ A gamble on Brexit/ That dug his political grave.
2017 re Harvey Weinstein getting fired over sex abuse scandal
Dear Harvey, I have a scenario/ Concerning a would-be lothario/ Who’s sacked when accused/ By those he’s abused:/ The Fall of a Film Impresario.
2018 re research on how wombats shit cubes
The wombat marsupial species,/ Contrives to make cubical faeces:/ The poo is compressed in/ The creature’s intestine,/ Then packed into stackable pieces
2019 re Boris Johnson’s evolving Brexit deal and sell-out of his Northern Irish allies
“No checks in the sea”, Johnson cried,/ To get DUP-ers onside./ Alas, to their shock,/ His pledge was a crock -/ A man known for lying had lied!
2020 re Trump defeat and Giuliani’s Four Seasons press conference cock-up
Between a PA crematorium/ And area dildo emporium,/ The Four Seasons store,/ Has plants and much more –/ It’s Trump’s legal team’s auditorium.
Mick Twister, May 2021