To describe William McGonagall as the worst poet in Scottish history is to insult the rest of the world by implication. His style was excruciatingly, hilariously terrible – and eminently spoofable, although it’s very hard to do a rip-off that’s as so-bad-it’s-good as the original. But I thought the new GDP figures (in time for Burns Night) gave a suitably momentous occasion for a poor tribute.
Lament for the Wintry Loss of Gross Domestic Product
Upon the birthday of one of the two giants of Caledonian verse
A startling signal came that the economy had taken a turn for the worse,
And fears of recession were raised once again,
For gross domestic product had fallen in the last quarter of two thousand and ten.
Having enjoyed twelve months of reasonable growth
Many had feared the pace might now drop towards that of a sloth.
But woe! It was announced that GDP had fallen by 0.5 per cent
And economists aghast were forced to wonder where the recovery went.
Some counselled that this was an early estimate and subject to revision,
Yet those charged with writing headlines treated such caution with derision;
And the myriad writers of web-logs wasted little or no time
In publicising their interpretations, typed out line by line.
Critics of the government decreed that it surely had blundered
By causing the destruction of one pound in every two hundred:
Its policies for the substantial reduction of public spending
Had doubtless contributed to the recovery’s untimely ending.
These cuts were mostly yet unleashed, it must be noted in the government’s defence;
Yet its portentous talk of them had doubtless ailed consumer confidence.
But surely none could wholly deny the Chancellor’s claim
That people heart-broken by the economic news should not apportion him all the blame
Because Nature had cast upon our fair land a most ferocious frost,
Which had exacted from many industries a severe cost
And accounted for some of the GDP that had been so tragically lost.
The month of December had brought weather most snowy and cold,
Causing discomfort and inconvenience to young and old
When winter’s chilling hand of our nation took hold;
There was more disruption to businesses than can easily be told
As workers were cruelly kept from travelling due to the extreme cold
And great depths of snow meant fewer of retailers’ wares could be sold.
Whatever the causes may be of this tragic decline in national wealth
Or the merits of proposals to restore industry to ruder health,
Naught but time shall deign to tell whether this truly is a double-dip
Or but a temporary financial eddy o’er which sails our troubled ship.