Saturday, 17 December 2011

Betjeman - the Last Parody... One last time

Honest, I was asked to re-post this once we reached December. I'm not just slackly filling up space. The original can be found here-> Betjeman at his silly/sacred best.

The cash-tills in the Arndale ring
We’re putting up the tatty bling
Our glowing icicles of white
Have blown away the last of night
In suburbs, hamlets, village greens
And towns from Slough to Milton Keynes.

The reindeers glowing on the lawn
And round the bungalow the strings
of fairy lights in many colours
and many flashing, tasteless things
mean that the passers-by can say
“That’s rather naff” on Christmas day.

The Coca-Cola lorries blaze
and Marks and Spencers' pockets fill.
The Go-Go Hamsters safely graze
while Simon Cowell's puppets still
can dream of having festive fun
when they’re the Christmas number one.

And up the airport Christmas Eve
They’re flying from the winter rain
As bankers quick the City leave
To spend their bonuses in Spain
And Easyjets go crashing by
And blotting out the Luton sky.

And lads in flats wonder where’s dad?
And pregnant girls take after mum
And drunken office typists wretch
And dodgy blokes say to them “Come
and we will share a festive lark
in some side-alley quiet and dark."

But is it true, can it be true
This most unlikely tale of all,
Told in a garden-centre’s hue
a cabbage-patch doll in ox’s stall?
the Maker of the day and night
parodied under fluorescent light?

And is it true? For if it is
No fabricated Christmas songs
No bishop raging ‘gainst the sight
Of tinsel and Ann Summers thongs
The vomit outside heaving pubs
And midnight slammers in tatty clubs

No Wii Fit underneath the tree
No plastic game that lasts three days
No office party’s all-night spree
Can ever this great Truth erase –
Our God was born to take our pain,
And shares it, ever and again.

Want a good laugh? Want to laugh at the church? Want to be secretly suspicious that the author has been sitting in your church committee meetings taking notes? Then Writes of the Church: Gripes and grumbles of people in the pews is probably the book for you.

An excellent book for your churchgoing friends, relatives or vicar. And don't forget it's nearly Christmas!


  1. Thanks for reposting this. I didn't see it last time and it's worth seeing.

  2. Looking for something else altogether with the search string (in quotes) "but is it true but is it true", I stumbled upon this. At first, not taking in the significance of the word "parody" in the preamble, I thought that I was reading a poem by Betjeman, whose work usually irritates me - not that I ever read poetry, just listen to it on Radio 4 by accident, and wish it was read in pubs, instead of having a jukebox. I couldn't understand how a fanny like Betjeman could possibly have written as good a poem as that. I read your poem to the end, and then wondered, holding back tears almost, how I could have been so wrong about Betjeman.

    Then I spotted the link to the "original" that you were satirising, and came across John Betjeman's original poem, in which irritating Betjeman parodies the gospel itself in the weak and theologically dubious "punch line" of his "original".

    What kind of parodist do you call yourself, to claim that you are parodying a work as mediocre as that, by merely using it as seed idea from which you grow a completely different poem of your own, that poetry buffs might connect vaguely with Betjeman's mediocre "original", that is so utterly superior to the original poem by Betjeman's?

    Please may I copy your moving and witty poem, attributed, on my own blog, next Christmas? It says better than I can, in prose like this, something that I want to say myself.

    1. Confused as I am, you can of course feel free.

    2. Confused? By me? And that was me trying to be lucid!

      That poem tha wrote, it were a real cracker.

      I love this weird new cyberplace of yours. It has a mission statement that changes every time one refreshes the page. Now that really is something to get "confused" about.

  3. Better than the original in my view


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