A couple of weekends ago I went to Bath to blow the dust off my vocal cords. Bath is a delightful place – stuffed with Regency architecture clad almost ubiquitously in rustic Bath Stone, it rests in a geographical basin flanked with majestic greenery. The Abbey is quite nice too, complete with with all the hushed tones, echoing footsteps and ostentatious bells and whistles of the realm of the sacred. What’s less nice, however, is the get-up donned by those who make a joyful noise unto the Lord: it involves a polyester monstrosity called a cassock, which is essentially a chastity belt for the entire body and is made of material so scratchy that it would reduce the baby Jesus to tears. Burrowing into a spiky hay-filled manger sounds like a Lenor advert compared to this stuff.

Anyway, as rivulets of sweat coursed down the ravine between my shoulder blades and my neck went blotchy from the scratchiness and my face turned a fetching shade of puce because the collar was strangling me – and probably because of the lack of oxygen getting to my brain – I got rather obsessed with the word “cassock”. A nice, quirky nugget of language. And then, as if by fate, I saw a hassock on the floor at my feet. A hassock is a rectangular cushion for kneeling on when the devout stoop down to genuflect. Cassocks and hassocks, eh? What ho! Poem ahoy! The rest, as they say, is history.



A cassock, you wear in a church.

It’s a robe – could be red, brown or blue

– it’s a thing choirs do

to look



A hassock, you use in a church.

It’s a thing one can kneel on to pray;

makes knee pain go away

as you



A tussock, you find in a field.

It’s a small clod of grass,

just the size of your arse.

It’s a bit like a



A hillock, you see in a field.

It’s a hill that is smaller than big

(like a piglet to pig).

It’s not too hard to

walk up.


A haddock, it swims in the sea.

It’s a creature that’s often dyed bright

yellow, as if it might be quite




A pollock, you catch in the sea.

It’s a fish that is cheap as can be.

It’s quite crap – used mostly

for the purpose of

cat food.


A cassock

might lean on a hassock

or rest on a tussock

or brush past a hillock,

be wet like a haddock

or cheap like a pollock.

But whatever the weather

the cassock-wearer suffers,

this poem was wrote

by a pillock.