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Playing with Language


A pun, said the English writer Charles Lamb, is a pistol let off at the ear, not a feather to tickle the intellect.

Just over a year ago I went through a phase of being obsessed by puns. Kept thinking of polysyllabic words and seeing if there was a pun there. Hullabaloo….? No. Limerick? No not really. Algorithm? That’s interesting! I kept doing is until I had a collection of about 150 puns. Put them in a book called Pundit. Here are some sample puns:

Harlequin – one of five siblings of the same age riding an American motorbike

Picnickers – choosing intimate apparel

Hydrangea – concealing a parks employee.

A friend and I have been producing Pun T-shirts. Puntees. Check them out here!



Limericks are tiny stories. In 5 lines a good limerick sketches a character whose actions or wishes lead to a conclusion which is often whimsical.

There was an old lady from Bristol

Who shot at the moon with her pistol

The bullet went past

And turned into glass

Now it shines in the sky like a crystal.


So they’re narratives in a tight, familiar form combining rhyme, regular  line lengths, and meter. They’re usually light in tone. They evoke a smile or a chuckle:


There once was a fellow named Dwayne

Who wanted to eat a small train

He began with the engine

But got indigestion

So he ate an old tractor in Spain.


The basic structure is quite simple – the 1st  2 lines each have 3 strong beats, the 3rd and 4th lines each have 2 strong beats, and the 5th and last line has 3 strong beats, like the first 2. It’s a bit like Hickory dickory dock. If you read a limerick aloud you’ll hear where the strong beats are. The rhyme scheme is AABBA.



Occasionally limericks have a final line with 3 internal rhymes:

There’s a fellow I know named Crenshaw

Who likes to pretend he’s a seesaw.

Took his kids to the sea

And someone told me

She saw a seesaw on the seashore.


My limerick book’s called There was an old lady from Bristol. It contains 100 original limericks –child-friendly,  nothing vulgar – plus  ideas for  writing your own.