The Limerick is furtive and mean;
You must keep her in close quarantine
or she sneaks up to the slums
and promptly becomes
disorderly, drunk, and obscene.
In a grim turn of events, the inevitable has finally transpired, leaving a somber aftermath that has shaken the foundations of the quirky world of Limerick competitions. The astonishing aspect is not the occurrence itself but the fact that it hadn’t unfolded sooner. At a meeting of the Britannic Insurance Company, a disconcerting revelation emerged, narrating a tragic tale that exposes the darker side of the lighthearted and often whimsical world of poetic challenges.
The chairman, with a heavy heart, informed the audience of a policyholder who, driven by the pursuit of literary glory, had entered “fifty or more Limerick competitions, of course unsuccessfully.” The individual in question, facing the cumulative weight of countless poetic rejections, had resorted to the unthinkable—suicide. A claim of over [amount] had been paid out by the insurance company, marking a distressing consequence of the fervent but ultimately futile pursuit of limerick glory.
Yet, the sorrowful saga did not conclude with this tragic demise. The chairman revealed that the policyholder’s untimely end had shattered his mother’s heart, leading to another claim on her policy. The Britannic Insurance Company found itself entangled in a web of melancholy, where the consequences of seemingly innocent literary endeavours rippled into the realm of profound human tragedy.
The revelation laid bare the darker undercurrents of a trend that had captivated the imagination of many—a trend that, until now, had been perceived as a harmless and whimsical diversion. Limericking, once a source of amusement and creative expression, now stood tainted and tarnished by the gravity of its consequences.
The chairman’s disclosure hinted at a larger issue—the questionable integrity of limerick competitions. Thousands of entries, delivered in sacks to various offices, had never undergone thorough scrutiny. The process resembled a chaotic carnival game, where participants thrust their efforts into the ring, hoping for a stroke of luck. From start to finish, the competitions had been marred by suspicions, casting a shadow over the legitimacy and fairness of the entire endeavour.
As the tragic story unfolded, it became clear that the demise of the limerick craze was not solely due to its inherent absurdity but also because of the potential harm it could inflict on those immersed in its eccentric world. The chairman’s somber tone and the grim reality of a life lost underscored the need for a shift—a yearning for something new that could captivate the public’s imagination without the inherent risks and consequences.
Limericking, once a whimsical pastime, now lay dead, and the newspapers that had thrived on its eccentricities were left yearning for a replacement—a new craze that could capture hearts without the shadows of suspicion and tragedy. The tale of the ill-fated limerick enthusiast serves as a cautionary reminder that even the seemingly innocuous realms of creativity can unravel into unforeseen tragedies, leaving behind a trail of questions and reflections on the nature of our cultural pursuits.
John Bull – Saturday 21 March 1908