Ode to Terry Gifford with apologies to the ghost of William McGonagall

‘Twas in the autumn of eighty seven,

that Terry got a sign from heaven

To mount a festival of mountain lit-

erature – (OK, the words don’t fit.)

He put it on at Bretton Hall,

(The name for most meant bugger all)

But every year in autumn mist

We all drove up to get the gist

Of Terry’s annual list

Of mountaineering’s glitterati

Invited here to join the party,

To air their views - sometimes contentious

And one or two downright pretentious.

Taking his cue from Andrew Motion

Terry excels in self-promotion,

Working flat out rain or snow

To change the format of the show

And bring in people in the know.

Half a teacher, half a preacher,

The festival would always feature

Ideas good – a few were bad,

Some were mad and some were madder,

He got Ed Drummond up a ladder

(Though if you want to be pedantic

He used a tripod for this antic.)

The audience was often voluble,

Some impressively knowledgeable,

Until that dreadful moment when

Discussion was upset by Ken,

Who would invariably rant

At any controversial cant,

And always found it quite revolting

When hearing any praise for bolting.

‘Twas an event not to be missed,

Though not much chance of getting pissed

With vile red wine a pound a glass

And catering reduced to farce.

Some saved themselves for the slim

Chance of getting drunk with Jim

Who has fond memories of Bonatti

Drinking Stones with this old fatty

Along with Sheffield’s illiterati

Who never missed the chance to party.

So today is Terry’s curtain call,

Alas, the end for Bretton Hall.

Now is the time for him to send all

You faithful punters up to Kendal.

Jim Curran

25 March 2006