There Once Was a Fellow Called Ken…

Anyone who’s come across me around the forums may have noticed that I quite like Limericks.

I like trying to write them, particularly if the name in question is a little unusual. I don’t think I’m particularly good at it but I like trying to came up with a rhyme which says something about the subject-matter as well as meeting the simple rhyme and scan criteria.

My relationship with the Limerick goes back quite a ways but it was definitely cemented when I came second in my school class in first year of secondary school.

I would have been twelve years old then. For coming second (I always came second, where are you now Martin Kennedy? Eh? Do you have a blog all of your own… he’ll probably answer too) anyway, for coming second, I got a book. It was called ‘A Little Treasury of Limericks, Fair and Foul’.

It was a great book, right up my street. The teachers knew I liked a bit of a laugh and a joke so somebody thought this would fit me. They were right, bless them. But, man, they so mustn’t have looked inside – it was full to the brim of filthy limericks. I couldn’t show my prize at home ‘cos they would have looked inside and all hell would doubtless have broken out. So I kept it as my little secret, well, one of them – you don’t need to hear about the others thank-you-very-much.

The opening Limerick in that book summed up the art-form pretty well I thought. This from memory:

The Limerick packs laughs astronomical
Into space that is quite economical
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones are seldom so comical

How true, how true.

There are clean ones, of course, but it seems to be the added sauce that decides whether a particular limerick is palatable or not.

I’d like to share with you my favourite limerick, which comes in the form of a story. It’s a story I tell quite a lot and I pass it on to you in the hope that you might tell it somewhere too. If you tell it right, it’s a winner but, please note, it works better in the telling than it does in the reading so you may not get a full appreciation for the jollyness-potential from what follows. I should also say that I am writing the following story from memory from that book. I don’t know the copyright issues with my doing that but if anyone has a problem, do let me know.


So, the father-of the bride had to make a speech at the wedding and he was very nervous about it. He wrote all his prompts on little cards and then, at practically the last moment, he discovered a limerick which he thought would finish off his speech brilliantly. The limerick went like this:

There was a young man called Skinner
Who took a young girl out to dinner
At half past nine
They sat down to dine
And by a quarter to ten it was in her…
… the dinner, not Skinner.

Yes, it had a sixth line, breaking all the rules of limerick writing but it was funny, if a little rude, so he decided to include it in his speech.

The speech went ‘poorly’. He’d had too much dinner-wine and he’s got his little cards all jumbled up and, right at the end, he could not find the card with the limerick on it, So he decided to rescue the evening by doing the verse from memory. Here’s what he said:

There was a young man called Tupper
Who took a young girl out to supper
And half past nine
They sat down to dine
And by a quarter to ten it was up her
…not Tupper… some bugger called Skinner.


Debbie said...

There once was a blogger named Ken....




Oh forget the limerick

Anonymous said...

You have made my weekend, all I have to do now is to stop giggling. Very funny. Thanks for sharing.

Susan at Stony River said...

Ah, the simple joys! I'm still wiping tears after that one, good laugh.

Purpose written limericks would make a good weekly blog Go on then, start a worldwide blog phenomenon to compete with Wordless Wednesdays and Thursday Thirteens.

'Twould be a laugh! I'll join.

Kat Mortensen said...

That was brilliant! I loved the revised version of the wedding limerick.

You will have to share some of the "filthy" ones from your book - now we're all a-twitter with anticipation.

I have a book by Isaac Asimov (of all people) with a collection of limericks that sum up Sherlock Holmes stories. Here's an example:

The Hound of the Baskervilles

With the corpse of Sir Charles, there was found
The dread prints of a gigantic hound.
The old Baskerville curse
Drives each heir to the hearse--
With his best job, Holmes' saga is crowned.

Not as witty as yours of course, but clever nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

I'm with Susan -- let's see -- it should be Tuesday Limericks or Tuesday Rhymes and the rules would be to write (not copy someone elses') limerick.

There was a great guy named Ken
Who would a Limerick limn
His words got all in a mix
And he was in quite the fix
Til a touch of naughtiness threw in

No prize winner that...


hope said...

I agree...let's crown Ken King of Limericks. :) Go ahead, make our week...on a weekly basis.

The first one of these I ever heard I can't finish.

There was a young girl from Nantucket....

Matthew S. Urdan said...


There once was a blogger named Ken.
He wrote stories that rated a ten.
But then one day
when, he couldn't say
all the life simply pulsed out from his pen-

Anonymous said...

I like limericks...also haiku, which for me are easier to write, but limericks tend to be funnier.

I have never met a man from Nantucket that I didn't like...


Anonymous said...

Oh the joy of the limerick! When I worked in a high school, a good friend and colleague would often introduce our 15 year old English class to limericks with this little gem:

There was a young plumber called Lee
Who was plumbing a young girl by the sea
The girl said, "Stop your plumbing,
I think somebody's coming."
"I know," said the plumber, "it's me!"

Always raised a titter or two...

Dominic Rivron said...

I made this up not so long ago:

There was an old man from Reeth
Who lost his top set of teeth.
It was all he could do
To endeavour to chew
With the ones that were left underneath.

Not great, I know, but Reeth's just down the road. One of my favourites (apologies to anyone who knows it already) is:

There was a young man from Milan
Whose unfortunate verse didn't scan.
When asked why this was so,
He said "I don't know,
But I always try to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can."

Jena Isle said...

he he he. that gave me the laughs, so you think what I wrote (at Gewgaw) was a limerick? lol...better have one than none...

Let me imitate Debbie( allow me Debbie).

Ken the blogger
always have a blunder,
up his sleeve to blubber
in the net, all over.

Now don't laugh, this is impromptu, done within 10 seconds.

Just wanted you to laugh too.
Thanks for making my morning bright.

Happy blogging.

Ken Armstrong said...

Debbie: You're a wonderful person but you have poor taste in men, this one anyway. Still, my ego appreciates the swooning... swoon away! :)

Lyndi: Glad you giggled, Lyndi, sometimes there just aren't enough giggles around, they contribute to Global Heart Warming so I will keep trying to get them where I can.

Susan: Weekly might be hard but I'll try a little post next week which will throw a name at you to 'Limerick' about. Just for fun...

Hi Kat: I'd forgotten that Asimov was a limerick fan - my wife met him once. He was a great mystery writer too. His 'Black Widowers' stories have some great mystery/solution ideas in them that I've never seen used - I often wish I had the rights.

Margaret: Thanks! Any day we get a new verb is a good one - 'Limn' eh? :)

Hope: That girl from Nantucket has a 'lot' to answer for.

Matt: Thanks for Limerick, there's a sort of apocalyptic/prophetic action with this one, I better keep writing lest my 'pen' dry up - mine is mightier than a sword you know! :)

Roxy: I could never do Haiku, that's poetry, that is, whereas I can cheerfully place limericks into the 'Doggerel' class and merrily hack away at them.

Terrier Andy: How good to see you mate! Nice limerick too, skating along the boundaries of 'naughty' very neatly. :)

Dominic: Your Reeth is good! Scans great. The second is, I believe by the wonderful Spike Milligan who also wrote something like this (you have to read each line progressively softer):

There was a young man named Wyatt
whose voice was exceedingly quiet
And then one day
it faded away...

Good old Spike!!

Jena: See, that's poetry, that is. I'm all scared and intimidated now, me with my little limericks. :)

Here's one that's fun to learn and say and not rude at all:

A tutor who tooted a flute
Tried to tutor two tooters to toot
Said the two to the tutor
Is it harder to toot or
To tutor two tooters to toot?

The Solitary Walker said...

Nantucket? Now what rhymes with that?
Is it worse than 'God damn' or 'Oh Drat'?
If you want a curse
I know much that is worse...
But for now it stays under my hat!

Jim Murdoch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Murdoch said...

There was a typo in the last post so I deleted it.

A limerick has five lines my son
Add a sixth and you might just get done
By the poetry police
For a breach of the peace
And you'll end up lampooned just for fun
…by your mates who probably haven't written a poem in rhyme in twenty years.

Carrie Berry said...

There once was a poet named Jim
whose patience was growing quite thin.
He revised every verse
but his pomes just got worse
with every new line he put in.


Ken Armstrong said...

Solitary Walker: Bucket rhymes well :)

Jim: This is great! Like Picasso doing a cartoon just to show that he can! Thanks :)

Carrie: This is just plain cruel. If you knew Jim, like I know Jim... oh, wait. :)

The Solitary Walker said...

There was a young broad from Nantucket,
Who found a big hole in her bucket,
She wasn't too butch
With rhyming and such -
That feisty young dyke from Delaware.

Oh dear. I think it's time to turn in.

Jena Isle said...

Hey Guys,

Rhyming was observed in poems even as early as the 18th century. Here's one from Robert Frost.


Dark and weary the traveler waits,
Rain running down his hat, he hides near the gates.
Alone in the dark after a long soujorn,
He waits for his beloved, he cannot mourn.
'She is not dead' he yearns,
my battle left me scarred with burns
"I did not fight for nothing!"
He waits by the gravestones for signs that hers is a lie
Silently contemplating the greatest "why?"
What is life if it has no meaning?

I feel like you're making fun of my modest attempt( Sighs). Anyone has the liberty to create her/his own poetry, don't you agree?

or you could just point out what I did wrong.

Free verse is great but ....

Thanks , my friends....

Laura Brown said...

Damn that Skinner gets around.

Anonymous said...

I swear, I ALWAYS came in second! Want to bet it was more than you Ken? Oh crap, I'll probably loose and come in second again!! (I wish I could have made that rhyme)

Anonymous said...

Ah, Ken.... dwelling on limericks, are ya? I especially love the ones like these, that intentionally break the style for comic effect.

A leprechaun friend of mine wrote one like that back in June. If you don't mind me sharing....

Thar woonce twere a lass from West Cork
She feel in loove wi’ya lad who looved pork
Bu’ tha’ jest wouldn’ya do
for tha lass twere a Jew
An’ her brothers threatened to beat his Gentile, pork-loovin’ arse if he din’ya leave their sister aloon.

Sometimes I think that leprechaun has a problem.

The Fitness Diva said...

The dirty ones are definitely the most fun.... ;)

Ken Armstrong said...

Solitary walker: I can see why you are... with Limericks like that. 'kidding, of course. :)

Jena Isle: As if I would *ever* make fun of you! No! I felt you ascended the limits of our humble 'Limericking' and came up with a poetic summary of 'yours truly' that might be apt enough to end up on my tombstone, God help us!. I think we may share a view, correct me if I'm wrong, that, although free verse is wonderful, the restrictions of a rhyming (or other) structure can often bring greater discipline and more thought to bear on the subject at hand with enhanced results all round. Not always, but sometimes.

Thank you for raising the tone as always. :)

Laura: Not you too! :(

Carol Denbow, I would give you first if there was a prize. (check my next post).

Hi Celt: Ironic this, 'cos all pork products were summarily BANNED in Ireland over the weekend due to a health scare. I kid you not! Clever Limerick though, just the wrong side of tasteless which I admire.

Hey FD: You said it! The dirty fit ones are ever better!! :)

Alan said...

There's a Ken on this place called Twitter

someone else help....?

Ken Armstrong said...

and he really is quite a big hitter
his wit is 'the most'
I miss not one post
and I read them when I'm on the shitter

Come back in an hour for my limerick comp Alan :)

Anonymous said...

Oh man, that is funny, Ken. I wrote it six months ago, so I can't claim any sort of great timing, but I suppose now it seems rather topical.

tom said...

I was musing on the death of "dirty" jokes, and decided to see if the internet remembered the Skinner/Tupper one that I heard back in the sixties. And here it is. Ironically the most positive reactions here came from women; in my memory it was second wave feminism that stymied joke telling.

By the way, my version runs:
"It was half part nine
When they started to dine
And by half part ten ..."
which scans a little better