The Mantel Of Doom
'Of all of the runners and riders,'
Cries a critical mass, as it swells,
'According to well-known insiders,
The prize is already Mantel's.'
Anonymous spokesmen from William Hill
Are fingering psychics for casting a chill.
'This run on Mantel isn't flukey,'
Calls a terrified fixer of odds:
'It's dark, it's unsporting and spooky,
Whose work is it? Surely not God's –
The word has gone round all the publishers' houses.
They've access to mediums, wizards and dowsers.'
Mr. Ladbroke awakes from a horror:
A dream where an albatross flew in
Like brimstone still hot from Gomorrah.
'It's a sign,' he weeps. 'She'll be our ruin:
Who knows with what devils this Hilary's supped?
I'll wager the woman is wholly corrupt.'
Paddy Power calls in his advisers.
He says, 'It's all up with us, boys.
When the literary types throw surprises,
We're doomed to be – what was that noise?'
'It's the end,' says his pal, 'sure as geese have their pimples.
Her agent, they say, has been out picking simples.'
The betting shops slam down their shutters
Watching authors queue, waiting for payday.
Over bookmakers, Azrael flutters;
It's the forces of darkness's heyday.
'Hell's teeth,' shivers Hill, hearing raven and rook,
'Did you open the book before opening the book?'