Right then! Up the Boo Aye, Shooting Pookakies, published in 1980, is a collection of poems by the Rochdale Cowboy, Mike Harding - poet, singer-songwriter, author, broadcaster, stand-up comic, travel writer, filmmaker, playwright. The only thing he hasn't done is the illustrations for this book - they were done by Rodger McPhail. Usually, he's a top-notch wildlife illustrator, but when presented with Mr. Harding's strange imagination... Oh, what results! Presented here is the majority of the book's illustrations, save for a few black-and-white ones and the odd double-page spread (no matter how many attempts I made, I couldn't get these scanned properly - but the book's cheap enough on Amazon anyway).
Most of the poems in this book are about strange creatures that exist only in nightmares - "or do they?", ponders the blurb. Scary! First up is the Obsicle:
"The Obsicle grows where nobody knows, At Wonce... And crawls slowly, softly down the wall."
(By the way, these pictures can all be clicked on to be made bigger - but you already knew that, hopefully.)
Next is a poem titled Sometimes It's Better By Bus, accompanied by this typical jungle scene:
"Though the jungle bus is often late; It's better late than being ate"
Uncle Fudge Told Lies is a longer poem recounting various outrageous lies told by a strange relative.
"Played gin rummy and snap with an octoped; For a stake of chocolate mice."
The Moon tells of frightening or sinister tricks that lunar shadows might play on the mind of a night-time wanderer, with a suitably creepy illustration:
"And when you're walking past old statues; He makes them wink and then come at you."
I like The Idle Yellow Oozit, wouldn't mind having one of those as a pet:
"It lives on cold nail varnish; So its eyeballs are all pink."
(See the cigarette in the snail's mouth? Funny stuff.)
Hippoportant Poem offers sage advice to youngsters intent on messing around at the zoo:
"A hippopotamus; Would squash a lot of us; If it sat on us."
The Min has to be one of the most sinister-looking creatures I've ever seen - it's probably the fish head that does it, or the feet that look like shoes:
"In the dark of the night; He hides from sight; And waits for the bees marching by..."
The Revolt of the Lamp Posts tells the tale of the night when 20 million lamp posts decided they'd had enough of their lot and wanted free speech, equal pay, and no more rusty toes from dogs wetting their feet. Here, the Lamp Post King confronts the Lord Mayor on the matter:
"The Lord Mayor he was woken; By a terribobble sight; When he opened up his window; Didn't he get a fright!"
A Poem Entitled An Elephant With A Runny Nose Is Worse Than A Giraffe With A Sore Neck has nothing to do with its title. It's about dancing food instead, accompanied by this happy little band:
"But Boy! Could that egg shake a leg!"
Up The Boo Aye, Shooting Pookakies is the collection's centrepiece, naturally. A three-part epic about the dreaded Oobicum and his brother the Sklood's ill-fated hunting trip.
"Down through Nigeria; And through East Liberia; They tramped singing Rifles and Tea! We've got Grindly Buns; And Oliphaunt guns; So nick-nocka hooley... yooee!!!!"
The Mudwich tells the sad story of a pitiful creature who never gets to eat - the noise of its feet means that its prey hear's it coming from miles away.
"You've all heard of a sandwich; Well a mudwich ain't the same; It's like it only different; So it's got a different name."
The Grebs might be the most disturbing of the lot - it tells of the nondescript creatures that come and take folk away from their beds if they've been misbehaving. It's accompanied by my favourite picture in the whole book - McPhail must've had a great time drawing it!
"Oh Grebs, if you'll just go away; I'll be good tomorrow, all day!"
Advice to Grown Ups and Other Animals is a series of sensible yet surreal words of wisdom.
"And be very, very careful; While swimming through the park; By the bowls shed and the putting green; There lurks the Dry-Land Shark."
We'll finish here with the one double-page spread I managed to scan, you get the whole poem with this one, too!
Overall it's a great book, and one I've been enjoying for many years. Fun for all ages and stuff like that. Four-and-a-third out of five. Try and get yourself a copy of it, otherwise you're missing out on all the poems and a fair few more illustrations. Not sure how to finish this post, should've left it at the fly-paper really. Hey ho.