The limerick: Maligned. Under-appreciated, or not appreciated at all. Tossed off.
Ray Skyrme, a retired University of Toronto professor of modern languages, believes in the lure of the limerick, and in this self-published book that arrived at the Mansion last month, he collects all his five-line rhymers from the summer’s World Cup (and a few from friend and colleague John Kay).
Readers of the blog during its relocation to Germany for the tournament may well recall, a couple of weeks in, the daily hits from Ray that started arriving (somehow I got on his e-mail list) – Sarky Ryme, according to one blog reader who thought the whole thing was a put-on – and here they all are, the prematch previews, the postmatch postmortems, all of them laid out in the familiar aabba scheme.
A labour of love, for sure, but no off-the-cuff production. As Skyrme explains in the introduction, the genesis of the project came during the 2002 Mundial, gathered with his friends watching at his local Toronto pub, and then again for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. This was far more ambitious. There was a fair amount of pre-tournament research to do, including team and players’ names, history, geography and culture:
I tried, especially in the pre-match verses, to built a limerick on a sustained image (the AD 711 Moorish invasion of Spain in KSA vs ESP, or Julius Caesar’s campaigns in Gaul in FRA vs ITA). I also tried, within the limits of general understanding, to inject a foreign flavour into the verse, where the context warranted it and made it comprehensible. (In a few limited cases I felt the need to add an explanatory note). So there are words and expressions in French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, Trinidadian patois, and Strine (Australian English), which, I hope, all add spice to the mixture.
Some examples now. Here’s the very first one, written before the draw nearly a year ago:
FIFA World Cup next June in Westphalia,
Match-by-match verse I’ll emailia.
Will Brazil win again?
Or their hope be in vain?
Will Deutscheland once more meet with failia?
Later on, setting up Japan vs Brazil:
Hirohito invades Ipanima.
(For this conflict can I find a rima?)
Though it wasn’t her ball
Brazil may well recall
How the Marines fared at Iwo Jima.
And one more, this little gem recapping the tournament’s roughest match (I'd take you to the last one, but it's not really fair game to give away the ending, is it?):
Second half the Dutch lose Boulahrouz,
Then goes Deco: the game’s a rough house!
That head butt by Figo,
Não é futebol, amigo!
Lisbon wins (with her head in a noose!)
This is a cute and altogether unique way of revisiting the tournament in little bite-sized pieces. Like eating potato chips, it is. You won't find it in any bookstore, though. If you’re interested in getting a copy, let me know and i'll send you along to Ray (and no, if you're wondering, I'm not getting any cut out of this).