H. A. Field
Young Ethelred was only three 
Or somewhere thereabouts when he 
Began to show in diverse ways 
The early stages of the craze 
For learning the particulars 
Of motor bikes and motor cars. 
It started with a little book 
To enter numbers which he took, 
And 'though his mother often said 
"Now do be careful Ethelred. 
Oh dear, oh dear what should I do
If anything ran over you?" 
Which Ethelred could hardly know 
And sometimes crossly told her so... 
It didn't check his zeal a bit 
But rather seemed to foster it. 
Indeed it would astonish you 
To hear of all the things he knew 
He'd guess the make and get it right 
Of every car that came in sight. 
He knew as well it's MPG 
It's MPH and LSD, 
What gears it had, what brakes and what; 
In short he knew an awful lot. 
Now when a boy thinks day and night 
Of motor cars with all his might 
He gets affected in the head 
And so it was with Ethelred. 
He took long drinks from mug and cup 
To fill his radiator up. 
And went about upon all fours 
And usually, to get indoors 
He pressed a button then reversed 
And went in slowly back most first. 
He called himself a Packford Eight 
And wore a little number plate 
Attached behind with bits of string 
He looked just like the real thing. 
He drove himself to school and tried 
To park himself (all day) outside. 
At which the head became irate 
And caned him on his number plate. 
And then one day an oily smell 
Hung around him and he wasn't well. 
"That's odd," he said, "I wonder what 
Has caused this rumbling pain I've got? 
No car should get an aching tum 
From taking in petroleum." 
At that he cranked himself but no... 
He couldn't get himself to go. 
He merely whirred a bit inside 
And gave a faint chug-chug, and died. 
Now since his petrol tank was full, 
They labelled him inflammable 
And wisely saw to it that he 
Was buried safely out at sea. 
So if at any time your fish 
Should taste a trifle oilyish 
You'll know that fish has lately fed 
On what remains of Ethelred.  
The end