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Credit crunch - from bad to verse

Ian Lacey | 13:01 UK time, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Last night poet Murray Lachlan Young came on the programme to discuss the role of the poet laureate - with current incumbent Andrew Motion - after the government's announcement it will seek the public's help to pick a new national poet.

And Murray chipped in with our economics coverage on the fall of High Street stalwarts Woolworths and MFI with his own ode to the credit crunch.

We'd like you to chip in too. By way of inspiration, here's Murray's poem:

Adios then Woolworths
Farewell MFI
Bon voyage the QE2
Now resting in Dubai
Back home the crunch is grinding
The dino-stores must fall
Each day another famous name is driven to the wall
So as winter comes among us
And thousands face the dole
Whilst Gordon shovels borrowed wedge into his giant hole
What is there to rely on?
Whilst politicians bitch and fight
Well, I suppose one thing is for certain we know
You're still assured a good old fashioned kicking if you venture onto Newsnight.

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We know you're a creative lot, so in these dark times why not cheer us up with your own credit crunch verse?


  • Comment number 1.

    (With proper respect to Robert Service)

    When money goes bad and the world goes mad
    And you're stuck with Gordon Brown;
    The Conference near and the Campbell sneer
    Has once again hit town.
    When you know that doom has booked a room
    At the Not-OK Coral
    Then with wisdom's demise it is no surprise
    That the watchword is: 'banal'.
    There was once a time ere slick turned to slime
    Each party had dogma and creed
    But with Thatcher and Blair came a miasmic air
    And an all pervading greed.
    Soon Margaret and Mark through the armaments lark
    In the Rich List were forging ahead
    While tobacco topped up Margaret’s overfull cup
    And added a few to the dead.
    Tony Blair with much style and a Hollywood smile
    Talked grand charismatic tosh
    And Old Labour’s creed that bolstered a breed
    He beat down with a gleaming New cosh.
    Then false money piled high as he waved truth goodbye
    And Gordon flogged off all our gold;
    By the time it was known - the illusion was blown
    Poor old Blighty had caught the world’s cold.
    For the money that they, thought would let them make hay
    Was nothing but straws in the wind.
    Pious Gordon, when asked, in morality basked;
    Said: 'Forgive them Lord, for THEY have sinned.'
    Then up spake young Dave, he said: 'Pavement’s I’ll pave
    With the gold I shall conjure from air!'
    Tory stock rose so high it made stock-brokers cry;
    Once more: value with no substance there!
    Then Clegg towered aloft and while everyone scoffed
    He said: 'I've got the answer: it’s thrift'
    But his rating stayed '2' with his head up his flue
    And the media gave him short shrift.
    The Lutine’s old bell rang a terrible knell
    As Reason was hung on its rope;
    Weird alchemy reigned in the largely no-brained
    And despair was transmuted to hope.
    Now governments throw more imaginary dough
    In that debt-hole, so much to be feared
    And the miracle is it has calmed all the tizz
    And the hole has filled up - disappeared!

    Then Gordon, when called, for an answer quite bald
    To the matter of finding the cash
    Said: 'Have I not shown, we could stand yet more loan?
    Rest assured OUR economy won’t crash!”
    How the loan will be met as it just means more debt
    Is a puzzle beyond angels' ken
    So just cast it aside, let it leave on the tide
    Remember that WE are mere men.
    But now that it's said Gordon’s reign might be dead
    They’re beginning to ask what he knows!
    And to understand risk we are going to whisk
    Brown’s successor off to - casinos.
    The truth is quite plain, all the world is insane
    And money: no token of worth.
    It exists of itself to destroy us by stealth;
    Slipped Hob's pocket, when he fell to Earth.
    Now the land is beset with a welter of debt
    And a dearth of the trust we once had
    While the Bible sales top all the books in the shop
    For it warns of when money goes bad.

  • Comment number 2.


    Yeah - right.

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

  • Comment number 3.

    Meanwhile, over t'other side of the world... a bit of a 'do'.

    But it's OK, on lunchtime news I see Dear Leader thinks he can speak for the rest of the world... as has always been suspected if not proven 'til now.

    Sorry, not feeling too cheery (is this the new sparkly?) at the 'mo.

    I am sure I will compose better with time.

    Barry, we exchanged views on the 'whip' system a wee while ago.

    You should pop over to Guido's order-order (guessing that's not a URL that would make it) to see how an already choice system is being finessed by our GOATs.

    Who needs to win a war when you can fix a battle or two and still keep your pay, perks, pensions, etc?

  • Comment number 4.


    Thanks for clearing that up. I too watched the lunchtime news.

    "I am shocked and outraged at the tragic destruction of innocent lives."

    Obviously I had missed something and thought he was apologising for the Iraq war. Silly me.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 5.

    my bank sent me a letter
    it will be worse before it gets better
    but the thing that really makes me frown
    the bank will make more getting things back
    than it diid going down

  • Comment number 6.

    The country was in quite a terrible state
    when the government for a public debate
    it was quite me time before Gordon spoke
    the masses assembled versus one Scottish bloke

    He said "We'll not give way to these financial bullies,
    but cheers MFI, and you're on your own, Woollies,
    The banks are now ours! Taxpayers unite!
    We'll give them a run for their money alright.

    I've borrowed in ways that you won't understand
    Taken cash from your mouth, put it into my hand
    Using financial vehicles that defy common sense
    Turning banks into dust, and your pounds into pence

    And as for my visions, my plans and ideas
    I'll tax your cigarettes, and your petrol and beers
    Ask not what I'll do - just look what I did
    Can anyone lend me a couple of quid?

  • Comment number 7.

    Woolly thinking?

    It’s gone it’s finally bit the dust!
    A victim of the boom and bust.
    They nearly made a hundred years
    But Ostrich like ignored our fears.

    With cheap and cheerful household goods
    Kettles, sweets and plates and plugs.
    They could not lure us shopping types.
    From mega supermarket hype.

    Buyer beware, for now it’s gone
    A high street icon’s time has come
    As once in days more cold than these.
    The Woolly Mammoth took its leave.

  • Comment number 8.

    We're headed for a Credit-crunch Christmas,
    It's goodbye to the wasteful and thriftless.
    But with Darling at the helm,
    Of this curios realm,
    Surely next year cannot be so cheerless?

  • Comment number 9.

    What did we see in the High Street today?
    Woolworths are no more. MFI dropped down the crack of our consumer memories.
    But 'twas brilliant while it lasted. Until slithy crunches crunched, and we looked for a beamish boy with a vorpal sword. And realised we'd already abused him.
    On the streets the people go, buying meaning and identity and then unwrapping it and discovering nothing.

  • Comment number 10.


    HI Junkk. As I recently posted, the whips are known to bully their own charges - sometimes quite nastily. Now, as you point out, Brown has got them behaving badly in the chamber. (Strange how apt that term is.)

    The key to all this is Brown's split mentality.
    He really is: 'Gordon, a suitable case for treatment' (to apply the 1966 film title).
    For all Tony's two faces, I think he 'knew' deep down. With Gordon, I am convinced the Moral Compass directed, Son of the Manse, has no knowledge of the Devious Schemer who moves money off the books, juggles 'The Cycle' and has released the dogs of parliamentary war.

    AD NAUSIAM: the Westminster model yields, by default, damaged leaders. There is not enough wisdom left in our society to counter this reality. It will get worse - it IS getting worse - daily.

  • Comment number 11.

    Depression hits me

    No education in prudence,
    Nothing left in the bank.
    We've been spending like Gordon.
    Now we're firing blanks.

    It went:
    New car.
    "I want an electric guitar."
    New shoes.
    "Let's eat out tonight dear"
    Nothing to lose.

    Now it goes:
    My only comfort is Osborne's gloating head,
    Daily on my screen.

    And I SCREAM!

  • Comment number 12.

    Gordon Brown,
    hit town,
    interest started going down.

    Darling man,
    scraping pan,
    Something started hitting fan.

    Then disgrace,
    lost face,
    could't care less about human race.

    Big bank,
    think tank,
    Then quite suddenly, it sank.

    Savings gone,
    alright my son,
    No new motor this time, John.

    Tax paid,
    funds waylaid,
    Now I'll have to sack the maid.

    Woollies broke,
    MFI, a joke,
    I am just a baffled bloke.

    Just one question while I'm on...
    ...WHERE has all the money gone?

  • Comment number 13.

    To the tune of "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers:

    Gordon Brown, somebody's son
    Blow me down, look at what he's done
    Put on his kilt
    Borrowed up to the hilt
    Always a clown, that's Gordon Brown

    Calculating, brazen and bold
    Opening koffers, selling our gold
    To distant lands
    Washing his hands
    Always a clown, that's Gordon Brown

    Gordon Brown found a temptress
    Keeps a fiver under his vest
    Hidden away
    for a rainy day
    Always a clown, that's Gordon Brown

    Rain's coming down
    Thanks Gordon Brown
    Lend us a pound
    Please Gordon Brown

  • Comment number 14.

    Blame Gordon, for the yr loss of values -

    An atheist I am but something has to be said for christian dome and how it valued honesty trust and commitment.
    The loss of these values underpin the decline of Western Civilisation and the transfer of the centre of commerce from London,Franfurt and NY to Mumbai and Beijing.

    Blame Gordon , but Cameron will do worse.

    Blame Gordon, but he is the last straw to your great past .

    Blame Gordon, but his belief in this dying system is being copied the worldover.

    Remove Gordon and the world will embrace him as its advisor while you sink further anchored by Cameroon to the bottom of the ocean of dispair and hopelessnes

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh Newsnight what a Shame
    You are always looking to place the blame
    You tell us why with your comment
    Always Always after the event
    You rush in guests because of the news
    But always those with extreme views

  • Comment number 16.


  • Comment number 17.

    I'd like to nominate Pam Ayres to be the next Poet Laureate.

    People should lighten up. It's time there was a woman in the job and she is a poet of the people.

  • Comment number 18.

    There was a young lady from Gwent,
    Made a snowman while pitching her tent,
    But amidst all her thrashing
    and heat of her passion,
    meant rather than coming he went.

  • Comment number 19.

    The times maybe dark its true
    But theres no need to feel so blue
    Though theres a credit crunch
    Were quite a tough bunch
    So lets spend like we haven't a clue

  • Comment number 20.


  • Comment number 21.

    The Crunch is here upon us. Aye! Gordon's dropped us in it.
    There's worse to come, here's Mandelson, and he will surely spin it.

    But wait, Young Osborne's in the wings, he'll have a thing to say.
    Perhaps he'll make New Labour sweat, at last he'll earn his pay.

    Now pay-- we hear so much about that, though some of us don't get much.
    It's given instead to Bankers, for being so out of touch.

    The mess it came from sub-prime loans from the US, and also here.
    Now we've a Sub-Prime Minister, my word, now ain't that queer!!

  • Comment number 22.

    He's a humble economist Vince Cable,
    And he takes the Liberal Democrat label
    He predicted the crunch
    When no-one else had a hunch
    Oh Dr. Cable, he is really so able!

  • Comment number 23.

    We're making this up as we go along
    Who can tell what the right answer is?
    If you're big and in trouble, just sing us your song
    For the cash, we are all about biz
    They fly into DC in Gulfstreams and Lears
    To complain about how times are tough
    And they simply can't honor those labor contracts
    The Big 3 aren't making enough
    While the rest of the world was paying attention
    To exhaustion of cheap energy
    They built Tahoes and Hummers and Expeditions
    And their hybrids get 12 MPG
    Executives get paid for calling the shots
    Making all the tough choices, you see
    Who could have foreseen when gas hit five bucks
    That they wouldn't sell if they were free?
    So they’re flying to Washington, down on their luck
    They hope we’ll front them some dough
    The same people who killed the electric car,
    Need a bailout, whattayaknow!

  • Comment number 24.

    Spending the Kids’ Inheritance

    generation downhill
    generation SKI
    watch the tired earth turn ill
    and beg “ god leave enough for me…”

    “…see me through the dying of the light
    let me have a final run…
    did we not earn our spending might?
    our promised placement in the sun “

    the baby Boomer Boom booms
    by devising new derivatives - a landslide,
    an avalanche of avarice, that consumes,
    then empowers the terror tide

    tsunami of junk filled dreams
    consume consume consume
    crash down on your gluttonous extremes
    and bequeath a broadening gloom

  • Comment number 25.

    Rhymes for our Times
    By Peter Bild, Berlin

    (With apologies to Hilaire Ogden Betjeman!)

    Who said the emperor’s got no clothes?
    Truth? It’s what a banker loathes.

    Oh Masters of the universe!
    Tell me please, what could be worse
    Than bankers heading for a fall.
    Let them grovel, let them crawl!
    Schadenfreude? Not at all!

    Buy a home! Buy three, no four!
    They’re not dear, they’re worth much more.
    I’m an expert realtor.
    I’m the broker who espouses
    That’s what borrowed money’s for.
    Yes, the market’s safe as houses.

    For the more acquisitive
    Try trading a derivative.
    Indisputably financial,
    They make deals more influential.
    Profits reach their full potential,
    You can make them exponential.

    You’re so smart – but who’d have thought it.
    Sell a share before you’ve bought it.
    Market bears: who love to short it.
    Seeing markets all distorted.
    Though it’s rarely well reported,
    That is how, with falling prices
    You make money from the crisis,

    When the traders tell their bosses,
    Those weren’t profits, those were losses.
    Other folks will bear the onus.
    Leaving bankers with their bonus,
    Slurping wines and fine champagnes
    With their ill-begotten gains.
    Lots of loot down lots of drains.
    Where art thou, John Maynard Keynes?

    What happens when the bankers fumble?
    Doesn’t even make them humble.
    Some banks tremble, others crumble
    After all that speculation.
    Bottom line: administration
    And Wall Street’s defenestration.
    Main Street, meanwhile, in frustration
    Suffers the humiliation
    Of financial conflagration.
    Who picks up the tab? The nation!

    Understand the nitty gritty?
    Bankers don’t. More’s the pity.
    Signing off the trading chitty.
    In New York and London City
    Alter-ids of Walter Mitty
    Think this ditty’s pretty shitty.

    In a system with an anchor.
    Money now is what I hanker.
    Wonder why what whymes with banker
    Won’t be witten without wancour.

    Hail to Henry Paulson. Hank
    Came to Treasury from a bank.
    Hail to the financial wizard
    Sheltered from financial blizzard.
    Hail to Hank whose banking wisdom
    Might yet save the sinking system.

    Is it greed? No just stupidity
    Feeding on our mass cupidity
    To inject more cheap liquidity?

    Let the Chinese buy our dollar.
    When it falls, just let them holler.
    Thus with Wall Street’s contribution
    Uncle Sam wins retribution
    For his post-war dissolution.
    All in all, a fair solution
    For the dollar's dire dilution.

    Here’s a twist you may have missed.
    Moody’s, S and P insist,
    Like the alchemist of old,
    This ain’t sub-prime shit. it’s GOLD!
    Let us rate them Triple A
    Housing loans are quite OK
    Care-packaged in the USA.

    Wrapped up neat they look a treat.
    While shysters on the New York street
    Sell those bonds, a dime a bunch.
    “Spot the lady, play your hunch.
    Get one free." A sucker punch.
    Don't worry, folks, if you don't geddit.
    Trust us bankers. Give us credit:
    Credit for the credit crunch.

    Meanwhile, please enjoy your lunch.
    And listen to your President
    Still the White House resident:
    “God bless y’all – and here’s some howdies
    To my friends, the Royal Saudis.
    On the Sunni side o’the street,
    They’re the folks I want to meet.

    The price of oil? Why that don’t vex us.
    My well’s bubbling back in Texas.
    Shakespeare’s Tempest? What the hell!
    Oil’s well that ends well!”

    Don’t fall prey to doom and gloom,
    Threats of war make business boom.
    Missile tests increase your sales.
    So, what to do if all else fails?
    Don’t put immigrants in jails.
    Give passports to Latino males.

    With oil to fill a jerrycan,
    Dearly bought in Kurdistan,
    From a staunch Republican
    Send them to Afghanistan
    To keep an eye on Pakistan
    And bravely bomb the Tali-ban.


    They’ll die, but die Ameri-can

    Can we do it? “Yes We Can”
    Happy with Obama’s mailing?
    Who’s complaining, I’m not wailing.

    His campaigning ain’t plain sailing.
    What was John’s McCain’s main failin’?
    Ailin’, he picked Sarah Palin.
    So that she could boost retailin’.

    None is fairer, so our Sarah,
    Flew down from her snowy Sierra.
    Standing for the undiscerning
    She had hockey-dads all yearning.
    She appealed, by spurning learning.
    Fashion stores, at least, were earning.
    No-one even smelt the burning.

    Pregnant, Sarah gave a push.
    There was one almighty Whoosh.
    And Sarah doused the Burning Bush.

  • Comment number 26.

    From Woollies we bought all our tat,
    MFI’s stuff wasn’t all that,
    Now let’s all go posh,
    And give Harrods our dosh,
    With the money we’ll save on the VAT.

  • Comment number 27.

    Things have changed in many ways
    Very quickly these past few days
    Titans of commerce on their knees
    Hands out to government hear their pleas

    The horizons darken the future bleakens
    The strength of countries slump and weaken
    Who's to blame the people call
    Who will save us one and all

    For those without a home or jobs
    Retribution wont stop or slow the sobs
    Is this the start of the predicted fall
    When man and planet face the wall

    The wall so long and so high
    Without a door or window nigh
    We stand alone no words to say
    The true blames lies in the USA

  • Comment number 28.

    When Banks were run by Bankers
    they were strong and grew
    then in came the accountants
    and retail men who

    knew nothing about banking
    or assessing credit lines

  • Comment number 29.

    My pension’s due tomorrow
    I’ll pay off all that’s due
    Council tax and water rates
    Gas and electric too

    Buy savings stamps for licence
    Telly’s my daily pleasure
    Not because I like it much
    It’s all I’ve got for leisure

    I need a light bulb in the loo
    And a battery for my clock
    I know it doesn’t sound much
    But the prices are a shock

    It would be nice now it’s so cold
    To have a scarf and hat
    With Woolies closing down sale
    Perhaps I’ll manage that

    I’m sure that nice man Mr Brown
    Has me on his list
    He said he’d help old folk like us
    As helplessly we drift

    Deep into poverty and despair!

    Alex Mitchell
    27 November 2008

  • Comment number 30.

    pity the plight of the poor apostrophe
    UK has a shortage?
    missing from Woolworths where it ought to be
    BBC confused?
    or is Woolworth's not what it used to be?

  • Comment number 31.

    A verse for here and now
    And newsnight fame
    Not a haiku - that’s too crisp a frame.
    With buffoon Boris laying out the blame
    as foolish as a razor blade.
    Two million into Westfield’s doors
    a credit crunch façade.
    Slashing prices, a knife fight in the high street
    Maybe that’s the message
    every school kid learns,
    spending’s not related to anything you earn.

  • Comment number 32.

    Well I’m sending back the turkey
    We’ll have chicken wings instead
    And the heating’s down to zero
    We’ll spend Christmas Day in bed

    No need to don a party frock
    No need to style my hair
    ‘Cos in this cut-back cut-down time
    No-one’s going anywhere

    Yes I’m saving up my pennies
    And I’m making gifts for free
    And I’m only using Bacofoil
    To dress my tiny tree

    The kids are getting cardboard
    And old tin cans and string
    And my husband’s getting backache
    From recycling everything

    ‘Cos making mend and making do
    Is now the latest trend
    We can still be smug and godly
    If we just control our spend

    Thus we’ll weather the recession
    Sit-out financial storms
    And only venture out again
    When the FTSE’s back on form

  • Comment number 33.

    Not being at the front of the queue when word skills were handed out, I borrow from the wisdom of the philosopher Clint Eastwood. "A man's gotta know his limitations", so no contribution from me here.

    All I want to say is you have all kept me amazed and amused for a day with your contributions. Quality.


    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 34.

    I don't have a penny to spend
    But I'm not going to go round the bend
    I'm just happy to know
    That those with some dough
    Are seeing the light in the end!

    Dear Woollies and Marks, Smiths and Booties,
    What now for the winter recruitees?
    Would madam like cashback, some points or a gift wrap?
    Or would she just like to stay home-ies?

    Oh crikey I've lost my ID
    Now what will happen to me?
    If I can't be me, then who will I be?
    And who is the me that I used to be?

  • Comment number 35.

    Once upon a time, Santa came up against the credit crunch. He did an impression of a "rabbit in headlights" like every one else for a while, but then thank fully because he came from a family of lateral thinking problem solvers, his problem solving brain kicked in and he solved the problems!

    His main problem now was, what was the best way of comminicating this wonderful gifts of knowledge and hope to the very people who needed them?

    He knew about the customer loyalty schemes that would mean a client wouldnt leave you it would cost them too much to do so, he knew about the perfect customer focused business model, he knew about how to market just about any senario placed before him (and started setting himself tasks around this just for fun because it was so easy from his new viewpoint), and could even come up with solutions half way through telephone conversations to his elves (which even he found impressive)!

    But santa was only designed to help other people (which is why he was so very good at solving other peoples problems in the first place). When it came to marketing himself, he found it a fussy haze! What should santa do, so that his information gets to the people who need it this christmas?! :)

  • Comment number 36.

    Just thought you might like this and also if any other bloggers have similar ideas on the subect?

    A Plea For A New Proper Political Party

    Theyve gone and done it this time,
    Those folk who make our laws,
    For in the till theyve gone and shoved,
    Their seedy, greedy paws.

    They take from those who work,
    Taxes in millions and millions.
    Then, on those who only shirk,
    They squander billions and billions.

    Then, when the books dont tally,
    They sell the countries wares,
    The precious power plants, the gold.
    Then buy some worthless shares.

    They bloat the public pay roll
    In order to gain more votes,
    They ransack private pensions funds,
    Then treat us just like goats.

    They tell us the Post Office,
    Is finished, is just about to fail,
    So intend to close most of them,
    And then auction off Royal Mail.

    With multiculturalism as their mantra
    They condone the turban and the bhurka,
    But then condemn the wearing of a cross,
    By a Christian student and B.A. worker.

    In the name of political correctness,
    They've tied behind their backs,
    The hands of teachers and policemen,
    Reporters, journalists and hacks.

    They tell us what to do, and when,
    And how - And why they know it.
    They fine us if we dare to drive,
    Then grab the cash and blow it.

    They pedal health and safety,
    To prevent us having fun.
    And nearly all who ran a pub,
    Have shut up shop and run.

    The criminals among us,
    Are now rarely sent to jail.
    And even those who murder,
    Are left to roam about on bail.

    They will let into the country,
    Every scrounger, every shirker,
    But ban the very best of them,
    Our brave, bold friend the Gurkha.

    They live their lives in towers,
    The high and ivory sort,
    Forgetting that their powers,
    Can suddenly be cut short.

    So its time that we, the disaffected
    Got together, got more chumm(l)y,
    To form a new Proper political party,
    With, as our Premier, Joanna Lumley.

    Karina Hayklan 39/05/09


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