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The perils of politicians publishing poetry

The Guardian‘s Stuart Jeffries has nothing good to say about British MP Boris Johnson’s debut book of poetry The Perils of the Pushy Parents (HarperCollins), but in the book’s defence, it could be said that it at least inspired a thoroughly entertaining review.

This year, an estimated 170,000 books will be published and, if I suggest that this is only the 169,999th least worth reading, that is only because I am hedging my bets. A worse book might appear this year. It is a possibility.

The pushy parents in question are the Albacores, who rail against their children’s desire to watch television.

When Mr Albacore sees the pair watching TV, he takes action rendered thus by Johnson: “He’d zap the programme off and holler/ ‘Go and read some Emile Zola.'”

As you will notice, Johnson has a gift for assonance not heard since Alexander Pope wrote the Rape of the Lock (this will be the quote they use on the paperback edition – just see if it isn’t). By which I mean, there are lots of duff rhymes.

In an attempt to destroy the television and video-game console, the parents accidentally brain each other, and Jeffries offers this example of Johnson’s verse:

Behold them, reader, and despair:
their lolling eyes, their glassy stare,
this formerly dynamic pair
In a double-seat wheelchair.

Despair is the word. But enough about me. There is worse to come. The runaway wheelchair plunges over a cliff (as it will). But Molly and Jim (along with a taxi driver called Reg, who will be played by Ray Winstone – Johnson and his family will play the other leading roles) save their parents by forming a dangling human chain over the cliff – something they learned from watching Hollywood movies On The Telly.

There’s more to enjoy in Jeffries’ full review, but here’s one last parting shot:

Some charge that Johnson (alleged MP, purported journo, father of four) spreads himself too thinly. That is not the problem. He spreads himself too thickly, larding his unworthy crust with things that make it even more indigestible. By which I mean, he not only writes duff verse, he illustrates it too with inept drawings.