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Life in the Fast Lane

by Mickey 

Posted: 05 July 2017
Word Count: 205
Summary: My last posting was copying John Lennonís idea of producing a coherent poem from elements of a poster. This is another personal challenge inspired by the Sgt.Pepper album, this time to compose a poem based on a newspaper article.

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“Shellshocked!  Riddle of tortoise missing for 2 years
 who turned up at owner’s old house … even though
 he never lived there”          Daily Mail, 4th July 2017
Arnie the tortoise went missing
two years ago today.
He got fed up with where he lived
and decided not to stay.
He didn’t want to hibernate,
so legged it through the garden gate
and set off down the Shropshire
country lanes.
He set his course, and went due north,
and was never seen again.
He didn’t like the high life,
or he might have thought to go
to see the lights, and such delights
on offer in Ludlow.
In retrospect, it was probably best
as there’s really no denying
a tortoise wouldn’t have stood the test
of crossing the A49.
Instead he made his ponderous way
to Hopton Cangeford where,
his owners used to own a house
(tho’ Arnie’d not lived there)
But an old friend who remembered them
and who knew of their sad reflecting,
rang up to say that he’s okay
and could they come and collect him?
Arnie the tortoise had arrived,
two miles north and two years on
at tortoise speed, now he’s aggrieved
to be back where he started - at Middleton.

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:32 on 07 July 2017  Report this post
An excellent story, but I don’t think you’ve made the most of it. When Arnie gets to his owners’ former home, how about a couple of verses telling us he immediately fell in love with the place? There was one corner of the garden in particular that he felt was his spiritual home. Describe it. Here the grass was not only greener but tastier. Here he could hibernate, and wake up in dream surroundings. He was happier than he had ever been in his life and managed to live there for a short time before being found by the ‘old friend’ – neighbour perhaps, while chatting in the garden to the new owners – who did him no favours by making that phone call. He was very aggrieved – but tortoises are stoical and he decided to accept his fate and make the best of it.

As for the high life of Ludlow, maybe he hankered after it just a little but had more sense than to cross the A49. Tortoises are much wiser than rabbits and hedgehogs, who simply never learn.

Well, maybe there’s an idea or two here for a few extra verses. There’s no chance you would ever make this poem boring by making it longer – it could be twice as long.

It’s pretty close to the traditional ballad form, the humorous ballads of course rather than the gory ones. ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ is a good title, but it could be ‘Ballad of Arnie the Tortoise’, or ‘Ballad of Wandering Arnie’ or suchlike.

Is the name Arnie taken from the press report? Or did you make it up? Seems a very suitable name for a tortoise, so credit to you – or his owners!


James Graham at 20:46 on 07 July 2017  Report this post
Second thoughts - maybe you wanted the poem to stick closely to the newspaper report, so adding any of the above, or other 'frills', would be going beyond that. Even so, you could stretch a point and embroider the story  a bit.

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