The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: My 'far from disagreeble verse' - rejected]

Share
Related Topics
I AM hurt. Just a little hurt. No: a lot. I am a lot hurt. I am hurt a lot. A lot I am hurt. Take a grip, Wallace. Deep breath. And again. There we are. All better. Now begin at the beginning, go on until you get to the end, and then stop. Ready, steady - I am, I must admit, just a little perturbed by a recent event in the world of publishing. I refer, I regret to say, to Mr John Gross's new edition of The Oxford Book of Comic Verse, and the notable omissions within it. But let me begin at the beginning.

Upon hearing of its publication, I hailed an immediate taxi cab to Heywood Hill bookshop armed with a crisp new pounds 20 note. 'The Oxford Book of Comic Verse - many thanks to you kind sirs]' I intoned amidst much merriment, for, in a fit of humour, I had somehow contrived to rhyme 'verse' with 'sirs' - with devastatingly jocular results]]

As they were wrapping the tome in its requisite paper bag, I honoured the well-spoken assistants with a further comic rhyming gem. 'I am happy to accept that bag,' I intoned, 'but I hope it does contain no rag]]]]' I then waited awhile, looked hard at them in search of a response and when a smile finally came to their faces, I was good enough to offer up another couplet from the immortal Arnold bag of rhymes: 'For this book I offer many thanks - though its price may dismay the manager of my bank]]]]]'

By now, only the dullest of my readers will be left wondering why their favourite Sunday scrivener was in a state of such high spirits. The reasons, of course, are perfectly obvious. The name of Wallace Arnold has been synonymous with Comic Verse these past 31 years, ever since I first published my immortal nonsense rhyme, The Sand Which Is In My Sandwich] in Punch magazine, of blessed memory, way back in '63:

Which sand is in

My sandwich? Why,

The sand which is

In my sandwich

Which is this sand -

The sand which is

In my sandwich]

Quite a chucklesome tongue- twister for a Sunday morn I think you will agree, and one that has been oft-repeated ever since] For the next couple of decades, I was to become Mr Punch's principal versifier, in 1976 being raised to the dizzy heights of Punch motoring and poetry editor by my old friend and quaffing partner, Mr William Davies. In celebration of my new twin-post, I conceived this snappy little four-liner, at which Sterling Moss himself was seen to smile when attending our weekly 'Punch Lunch':

I regret to say my driving is rather worse

Than my far from disagreeable verse]

Perhaps it's time I rang for a

charabanc -

or should I call for a Vauxhall

Cavalier - 'Ere] 'Ere]

Through the 1960s and 1970s, I published numerous anthologies of my own comic verse, one of them - From Bard to Verse (1973) - with an introduction by HRH Princess Anne. I was also featured heavily in The Punch Book of Comic Verse (ed. W Arnold), The Second Punch Book of Comic Verse (ed. W Arnold) and The Fourth Punch Book of Comic Verse (ed. W Arnold), though not, for some reason, in The Third Punch Book of Comic Verse (Ed. Terry Worsthorne).

All of which brings me to The Oxford Book of Comic Verse. In the taxi on the way back from Heywood Hill, I unwrapped the book with no little excitement, wondering which cachet of my own verse the editor had selected to grace his elegant tome, rather hoping that he had found room for some of the more obscure Arnold verses as well as the well-loved family favourites from

the Arnold catalogue.

My fingers a-tremble at the index, my eyes skimmed through Aiken, Conrad; Amis, Kingsley; Ammons, A R and Anonymous before finally coming to rest on - who? who?? WHO??? - Attlee, Clement followed by Auden, W H. Of Arnold, Wallace, veteran of over 746 verses on diverse topics, many of them widely anthologised, a poet once heralded by no less an authority than HRH Princess Anne as 'a writer of comic verse whose publication must give hope to all amateur versifiers struggling at home and abroad', Mr Gross has seen fit to exclude any mention.

To be perfectly frank, it is not for myself that I grieve, but for the future of the once-great institution that was the Oxford University Press. Personally, I am not hurt. Not a little hurt. Not hurt at all.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker