EVERYONE from a self-operating surgeon to an astrologer ‘down in the dumps’ has been curiously invented and immortalised in ink by retired Banbridge school principal, David Elliot, in a new collection of limericks just published.
The hardback ‘Sparkling Limericks’ goes on general sale in April in major bookstores including Easons and Waterstones and features over 100 original rhymes from the former head of Banbridge High School - some of which are surprisingly saucy.
“I have a sense of humour about most things and ideas just come into my head,” says Mr Elliot from his Seapatrick home outside Banbridge. “I have always enjoyed limericks, particularly the ‘punch’ in the last line.
“It’s good fun making them up and it’s just my own way of looking at things. I’m very glad that Arthur Stockwell publishers liked my collection and decided to publish them in a book.”
It was in 1846 when Edward Lear’s ‘Book of Nonsense’ was first published that the limerick craze began in earnest, although the wacky verses, which are often sexual or bawdy in nature, can be traced back to the 14th Century.
The exact appeal is difficult to explain for the former teacher, other than he has a mischievous sense of fun and was well known in the school staffroom for composing witty limericks to entertain his colleagues.
“Sadly, my wife died three years ago, but I think she would have liked to see them in a book,” he says. “My son and daughter laughed when they read them, but I suppose they are obliged to because they are family!
“I have always liked jokes and humorous remarks and I just decided to put them into limerick form. Hopefully, people will see something funny in them and have a little laugh.”
Many of the five-line excerpts were written several years ago and it took a while to find a home with a publisher: “I tried to get them published a long time ago, but was unsuccessful,” Mr Elliot adds. “No-one seemed interested because it wasn’t ‘proper’ poetry, but then, just by chance, I came across an advertisement for Stockwell book publishers who were keen on the idea.”
His days composing wacky words in the well-loved verse form are definitely over, though - and he puts this intention in writing in the final limerick of the book: “An insatiable writer of limericks Had exhausted his vast store of gimmericks. So he knelt down to pray And rose up the next day Inspired to write dozens of hymnericks”.
“I’m still working on the hymnericks,” he laughs, “but I don’t think we will be singing them in church.”
Sparkling Limericks by D. H. Elliot goes on sale next month priced £6.99