Fool If They Weren't
1 September 2021. 96 pp. ISBN 978-3-901993-81-7
£11.00 (+ 2.00 p&p), €11.00 (+ 2.00 p&p), US$ 13.00 (+ 3.00 p&p)
"Alec Taylor is steeped in the Classics. He is also known as a scholar, being well-read in literature and philosophy. And he has a strongly ironic sense of humour which prevents his work from becoming dull and dry. Fool If They Weren't encompasses all these traits. After explaining in his first poem why the world has failed, he gathers evidence from the Classical canon before showing how Greek mythology itself was replaced by Christianity. He then proceeds to look at biblical episodes from various angles. But these poems morph into humorous pastiche taking well-known poems explaining even more well-known life-grumbles. How many of your irritations are featured in "Noises Off"? And what wonderful use of Kipling’s stanza form. As he moves from pastiche to pastiche, he features Miltonics, the sprung rhythm of Hopkins, the quirky tones of Dylan (and R. S.) Thomas exhibiting a breath-taking width of knowledge from the Classics to present day. This is a volume to exercise your mind, intrigue your senses and cheer you up with its ironic references to English Literature."
"This book of Alec Taylor's has a quality of walking into a huge firework display. The rockets surge to left and right, the Roman candles sputter and the bangers bang. Or in poetic terms there is ceaseless rhythmic and verbal invention and great imagination. Humour, often ironic, is rarely absent and yet much of the book is very serious; and here one notes in particular the wild ride that is the long poem built round the myth of Philoctetes or the integration of myths that is "In Beach Hut No 3". Integration of Classical and Christian indeed plays a large part. However, there is equally a sharp awareness of the often comic realities of everyday life, whether it is the noise pollution that plagues us, or every house owner wanting to change the wall paper on arrival, or indeed the admirable use of texts by Catullus to provide a mirror of society today. A book to be taken over by rather than politely glanced at and therefore totally unlike most of its contemporaries."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Fool If They Weren't
I'm amazed that I'm amused by life.
It slaps you in the face;
You turn the other cheek;
It socks you in the eye.
It kicks you up the rear.
It trips you slyly when you’re off your guard.
I don't fight back, because I can't.
I sink before life's constant battering.
I'm weak, all right. I don't protest.
"O.K.," I say, "You've got me on the ropes.
The big K.O. can't be that far away.
So what have you got against me?"
Life clearly thinks I've made a mess of life.
But isn't it life that's made a mess of me?
Either way, I seem to get the blame.
"Oh, thank you for your verdict, puissant judge,
Your sentence, O most upright, rightful judge.
Your quality of mercy's so sublime."
Amusement lies in irony.
A car won't start.
And one man grabs a branch to thrash it:
I write this cheque in my own currency, and cash it.
Well, I'm woken in the morning with a shock and without warning
By the local council's mower – Oh, the noise would make you weep.
It's ridiculously early, and the dewy grass has barely
Started drying – and the mower tears up grass and soil and sleep.
Then following the mower comes the chap with the leaf-blower
Who's considerably slower as he walks his aimless route.
He’s noisy and he's lazy, and his droning drives me crazy,
And the wind flouts all the folly of this foliar Canute.
Then a chainsaw-toting nutter starts his chainsaw with a sputter,
Revs it up, and slices screeching through the woodland's leafy boughs.
He massacres the tree line, then the nutter makes a beeline
For the trees that he can screech at standing nearest to our house.
Immeasurably dimmer is the fellow with the strimmer
As he starts and stops, and starts and stops, and starts and stops again.
And everybody reckons if he strimmed for five whole seconds
At a go, the concentration for that feat would blow his brain.
If you're looking for a looney who’s as lazy as he's puny,
Try the chap who sweeps the street at less than half a mile a day.
He's the borough's slowest mover with his elephantine hoover,
And the din besets your household, and it never goes away.
When the neighbour's dog's not snapping, it keeps yap yap yap yap yapping
At postmen, cars and cats, and random sights and sounds and smells.
The neighbour starts to holler as he grabs it by the collar,
But all that he can manage is to up the decibels.
The dustmen drive their juggernaut as madly as a mugger
Bent on beating up the bins and spreading garbage on the floor.
They trundle out the wheelie-bins – they're not too touchy-feely –
And their lorry then upends them with a mind-destroying roar.
This vehicle is reversing. Bleep. This vehicle is reversing.
It's reversing, and I'm cursing. Is that all the thing can say?
It's obsessive, it's autistic, and it makes me go ballistic.
This bleeping vehicle states the bleeping obvious all day.
The men who do the drilling and the digging and the filling
Work like hyperactive dentists in the middle of the road.
And their clatter and vibration give you no consideration
As your teeth are set on edge and then your eardrums both implode.
There are crazy mobile phones complete with maddening ring-tones
Which play their silly tunes and which their owners fail to find.
That flaming Für Elise has destroyed a nation's peace,
And William Tell has made life hell for millions of mankind.
There's the loud and loutish driver, a miraculous survivor
Of the crashes of his music and its throbbing, booming bass.
The racket stops you thinking – it's enough to start you drinking –
As it echoes through our garden on its way to outer space.
I've never known a biker who can play the balalaika
Or ballet dance with elegance and sensitivity.
No – they race around us, roaring like a rocket, quite ignoring
All the folk they doubtless deafen as they head for A & E.
The chirpy young ice-cream man launches chimes from his ice-cream van,
And I dread the Chinese torture of its repetitious curse.
It's driven by a stripling who has never heard of Kipling –
Who supplied the perfect metre for this plain vanilla verse.
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