Jail Break with Roger McGough and Banksy

“Create Escape” by Banksy
HOW TO ESCAPE FROM PRISON
(using only dental floss, a large potato,
chilli powder and a green felt-tip pen)

by Roger McGough

Rise from your bunk nice and early
because today will be your Big Day.
Remove the dental floss from its handy container
and tie one end around the bars of your cell window.
Leave the rest dangling.

Peel the potato. As you are unlikely to own
a potato peeler or a Swiss Army knife
you must bite into it and break off
little pieces. Spread the mulch around
the floor of your cell nearest to the door.

I bet you know what to do with the felt-tip?
Correct. Draw green spots all over your face,
mess up your hair, then lie down on the bed
and like plague victims do in the films,
make loud wailing noises. You hear footsteps.

Having observed you through the spy hole,
the warder, moved by your pitiful state,
will unlock the door and rush in. Whoosh.
He will slip on the peelings, fall clumsily,
and skid across the length of the floor.

While he lies helpless on his back
like a giant cockroach, throw the chilli powder
into his eyes, and during the confusion,
leap off the bed and tie the loose end
of the floss to the inside handle of the door.

Jump back on the bed and continue to wail.
But be warned, he will be really angry now,
and threatening you with terrible revenge
he will stagger to his feet and storm out,
slamming the heavy metal door behind him.

Magic! The dental floss, suddenly strengthened
and made taut, will tug the bars out of the window,
leaving enough space for you to squeeze through
and drop into the yard below where the helicopter,
engine running, is ready to whisk you off to freedom.

(Helicopter?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention the helicopter.)

~ from That Awkward Age (Penguin Books, 2009)

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So fun! One never knows when these tips might come in handy. 🙂

It seemed a good idea to pair McGough with graffiti artist Banksy, as both are British creatives beloved by the general public. They’ve made poetry and art accessible to the average person with their unconventional ideas, inventive skills, and a lack of pretension.

Banksy painted “Create Escape” on the outside wall of Reading Prison last year. The inmate, shown escaping via a knotted spool of paper from a typewriter, is thought to be Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who served two years’ hard labor for committing “gross indecency with other men.”

Wilde was sent to the jail in 1895 following a retrial and later wrote his final published work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, highlighting the need for reform of inhumane conditions.

Banksy confirmed the work was his in a video first shared on Instagram, in which he shows himself spray painting stencils at night. In a cheeky twist, he spoofs TV art instructor Bob Ross by overlaying his narration with the night footage.

Fascinating to watch the elusive Banksy creating one of his masterpieces:

Note: In case you do need to break out of prison sometime, Mr Cornelius would be more than happy to lend you his helicopter. 🙂

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Master punster Bridget Magee is hosting the roundup at wee words for wee ones. Take her some dental floss in case she needs to plan her next escape, and while you’re there, check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Have a fun weekend!


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.