Lines Written on the Imprisonment of Lord Black
In the interregnum between Lord Black’s plea to remain free on bail and the government’s response, I thought I might share the following. Last month the British magazine Private Eye published a truly egregious piece of poetry titled “Lines Written on the Imprisonment of Lord Black of Crossharbour.” The poem is attributed to one William Rees-McGonagall—a fake moniker that humorously combines the names of one of Black’s more supportive interlocutors, Baron Rees-Mogg of Hinton Blewitt, and William McGonagall, whose tortured verses caused him to be considered among the worst poets in the English language. The poem is very much offered in that spirit:
Lines Written on the Imprisonment of Lord Black of CrossharbourBy William Rees-McGonagall
’Twas nearly in the year two thousand and rightThat Lord Conrad Black learned at last of his fate.Said Amy the Judge, amidst many loud cheers.You will go to prison for six and a half years.
The crowd all applauded this draconian sentenceWhich was given because Lord Black had shown no sign of repentance.Only from one person came the sound of hoos—It was his wife Barbara wearing one of her many pairs of shoes.
So ended the career of the great Canadian tycoon.Whose mighty empire had come crashing doon.Said the judge to the errant British Lord,“You’ve been found guilty of ‘a most wicked fraud’.”
Who could have foreseen such a tragic end,To the career of someone who had once been Mrs Thatcher’s friend.The press baron from Toronto had burst upon the English sceneWhere he quickly met everyone, including Her Majesty the Queen.
The great and the good flocked to his lavish receptions,Quite unaware of their host’s shady financial deceptions.The world all gasped at his astonishing wealth,Little realising that he had acquired it by dishonest stealth.
Jewellery, jets and houses—nothing seemed beyond his reach.Not even a 50-room mansion in Florida’s Palm Beach.Conrad and Barbara did nothing by half.They even acquired London’s mighty Daily Telegraph.
Black was now one of the great figures of the age,Bestriding like a colossus the social and political stage.Appropriately he moved his papers into Canary Wharf,A tower so high that the rest of London it did dwarf.
But he needed even more money to pay for his extravagant life,Not to mention the shopping habits of his extravagant wife.And so Lord Black became more and more rashAs he helped himself to his shareholders’ cash.
To pay for the furs and the shoes and the BollingerHe stole from the unsuspecting shareholders of Hollinger.Until one day these honest US investors began to complainSaying, “Goddammit, it’s us that’s paying for that guy’s champagne!”
But Lord Black looked down his nose at them with an arrogant sneer,Saying “You can’t touch me, I’m a British peer.”Alas, for Lord Black, in his argument there was a flawAnd soon the Chicago cops came knocking at his door.
“We’ve come to give you your comeuppance.For what you have stolen is considerably more than tuppence.”And so to cut a long and sorry story shortThat’s how Conrad ended up in court.
Right to the end, however, he insisted he had done no wrong,Which is why his prison sentence turned out to be so long.And despite the entreaties of Lord Rees-Mogg and Sir Elton JohnBehind bars this arrogant fat crook has finally gone.