When Hilary ate
What a terrible sight!
She hadn’t got time to be prim and polite.
Within a few minutes a breakfast or dinner
would start at the table
and end up within her.
Her mother would say: ‘Can I make a suggestion?
Eating so fast could impair your digestion.
Good manners’ she told her ‘should always be followed.
Your food should be chewed
before being swallowed.’
But Hilary’s habit grew worse everyday
Until at one meal
she got carried away.
Her favourite dinner of spinach and pasta
Encouraged Her Highness to eat even fasta!
She swallowed and gobbled with never a care
and down with the food went a pocket of air
It gurgled inside her
and then just as quick
came upwards again with the sound of a HIC.
HIC went her tummy
and up went her feet.
lifting her skywards then back to her seat.
‘Goodness’ thought Hilary, ‘what have I done?
With HICcups like this
I could really have fun’.
While her poor mother was quite unaware
she HICced herself upwards and out of her chair,
over the table and onto the floor,
into the hallway
and out through the door.
‘Come back’ cried her Mum as she chased down the garden
‘It’s naughty to HICcup without saying pardon.’
But Hilary carried on into the street,
Bouncing as if she had springs on her feet-
With eyeballs agog and eardrums a-popping
She quickly improved on her talent for hopping.
And soon she was able with consummate ease
to HICcup quite gracefully
over the trees.
‘A neighbour who saw her from way down below
was convinced he had witnessed a small UFO.
‘What is it?’ he wondered, restraining his dog
‘It looks like a person but hops like a Frog.’
Then Hilary’s mother who still hadn’t caught her
Ran by in a panic and cried ’It’s my daughter!’
‘Woof! Woof!’ barked the dog
and he started to race,
then suddenly both of them
joined in the chase.
The passengers clapped when without a fuss
Hilary HICced herself over their bus.
(No one had noticed the sound of a HIC
so they couldn’t see how she had managed the trick)
To them it looked splendid to travel by air
And journey round town
without paying a fare.
To discover the secret they altered the route
And the driver set off in a hasty pursuit.
Now after the doctor was told of this case
She left all her patients and joined in the chase.
‘This condition’ she stated’ is terribly rare,
to HIC with such force
that you rise in the air.
I’ve seen chronic cases of HICcups before
But none that could lift someone clean off the floor.
We must try to help her, she’s caught on the hop.
The trouble with HICcups is making them stop,’
People came running from all over town
Each doing their best to get Hilary down.
‘Halt’ cried a policeman’ stop hopping around,
and try to control that ridiculous sound.
You’re causing unrest and I cannot ignore;
Such antics are strictly forbidden by law.’
When she saw his expression turn into a frown
Hilary thought she had better come down
Now this she could manage without any strain
But not without HICcuping upwards again.
She began to feel wheezy and queasy and sick
But the air kept returning each time with a HIC.
‘Help me’ she pleaded,’ oh when will it end?
These cups are driving me right round the bend.’
The sun had gone down, it was getting quite dark
when Hilary HICced herself into the park.
Weeping and wailing and grasping her tummy
she shouted ‘I want to go back to my Mummy.
I wish that I’d listened and taken more care
not to go swallowing pockets of air.
Now I feel wheezy and queasy and sick
and I cannot get rid of this horrible HIC.
She grumbled and tumbled without even stopping
to see the direction in which she was hopping.
It was then that she made quite a lucky mistake
for her HICcupping landed her down in a lake.
‘Help!’ screamed her Mum as the murky brown water
gurgled on top of the head of her daughter.
But in spite of the shock of her watery landing
the lake was quite shallow
and soon she was standing.
All of the people who’d joined in the race
Stood perfectly still and stared at her face.
Her mother, who’d told her to eat with more care,
The doctor who’d said ‘This condition is rare,’
The bus load who’d thought she was saving her money,
The neighbour who’d found it all ever so funny,
The policeman who’d said she was breaking the law-
They all held their breaths for a minute or more.
The park was so still you could hear a watch tick
As they waited in dread for the sound of a HIC.
Women were crying and men stood aghast
As two minutes, three minutes, four minutes passed.
Then gradually everyone shouted and cheered
For never a hint of a HIC had appeared.
The Doctor announced that she felt quite assured
Now Hilary’s HICcups were finally cured.
Hilary’s mother ran into the water
And cried with delight as she cuddled her daughter,
‘My sweetie’ she murmured while stroking her hair
‘how did you stop flying into the air?’
Hilary smiled at her lucky mistake
and explained what occurred when she fell in the lake-
‘I gobbled and swallowed without any care
a mouthful of water without any air.
It was such a surprise and it happened so quick
that it seems to have stopped my unstoppable HIC.
Now when Hilary eats it’s a wonderful sight,
she’s taking the time to be prim and polite.
With impeccable manners she nibbles and savours
Discovering textures and delicate flavours.
But her mother still thinks she should caution her not
to over – indulge with the peppering pot.
Though her habits have changed and her manners are pleasing…
what if she started a spasm of sneezing!
First Published by Macmillan in 1988.
(c) copyright Jez Alborough 1988.
Currently out of print.
© Jez Alborough