Guest poems submitted by James Gilbey: The hugely talented Spike Milligan - comedian, writer, novelist, poet, humanist - died in February. I've been waiting for a tribute on the web site but none has been forthcoming. Taking matters into my own paws, I submit the following:
(Poem #1044) Contagion
Elephants are contagious! Be careful how you tread. An Elephant that's been trodden on Should be confined to bed! Leopards are contagious too. Be careful tiny tots. They don't give you a temperature But lots and lots - of spots. The Herring is a lucky fish From all disease inured. Should he be ill when caught at sea; Immediately - he's cured!
Thousands of kids that grew up between the 50s and 70s will share memories of being read bedtime stories from Spike's Silly Verse for Kids. This is one my dad would read to me and leave pauses at the end of each verse for me to fill in the words. Yet Spike is best known for the Goon Show. Dubbed the grandfather of Alternative Comedy, not a single Python would contest that what they did couldn't have happened without the foundations that Spike and Co. lay. Born in Ahmednagar in India in 1918, he received his first education in a tent in the Hyberabad Sindh desert and graduated there through a series of Roman Catholic schools in England and India to the Lewisham Polytechnic. He began his career as a bandmember but has made his name through comedy and writing. He is famously quoted as asking that on his tombstone the following be inscribed: "See, I told you I was ill". I do hope it was. RIP Spike, we'll miss you. James.