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Am I alone in feeling disappointed, let down even, on finding that Fiona Pitt-Kethley’s poem, ‘My Prickly Friend’ (LRB, 8 October), is about hedgehogs and not about penises?
University of Guelph, Ontario
On what basis does Ms Pitt-Kethley assume that the hedgehog of which she writes so feelingly is male?
Dick Hill asks (Letters, 19 November): ‘On what basis does Ms Pitt-Kethley assume that the hedgehog of which she writes so feelingly is male?’ I assumed he was male because ‘Harry Houdini’ was the proud possessor of a penis, an inch and a quarter in length. I have not done research on the mensuration of animal genitalia, but I should imagine he was rather well-endowed – better, I might add, by a quarter of an inch, than one of the poets currently on the London literary scene, whose irate ex-girlfriend telephoned to let me know his not-so-vital statistic.
Readers may be interested to learn that the poem, ‘My Prickly Friend’ (LRB, 8 October), was banned from inclusion in a children’s anthology by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, presumably because of the turds in the last line. Mr Tiggywinkle is not allowed to have natural functions, it would seem. If I had mentioned his penis in the poem, the exclusion might have been slightly more understandable. Censorship of material for children can go too far. Any child who does not know about lavatories and turds by eight – the bottom age that the anthology was intended for – is in deep shit, so to speak. I have since, however, forgiven the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, become a member and bought items from their Hogalogue.
Michael Ruse, who complains that ‘My Prickly Friend’ was ‘about hedgehogs and not about penises’ should be relieved to hear that there will be plenty about the latter animal and nothing about the former in my next collection, Dogs, to be published by Sinclair-Stevenson in February. But just what did Mr Ruse expect from the title of my poem? If I am ever unlucky enough to be confronted by a prickly penis, I guarantee that I shall run like hell.
The world would be a much greyer place without Fiona Pitt-Kethley, a lady whom I admire profoundly as much for her chutzpah as for her witty, scatological verse. However, the poet with the one-inch penis to whom she refers (Letters, 3 December) does not, I suspect, require a larger one to follow his trade, unless of course, he is now using it as a writing tool. Could this explain why a certain well-known poet’s recent work is less than penetrating?
Let me, a Swedish reader, remind you of the fact that the middle part of Miss Fiona Pitt-Kethley’s name (Letters, 17 December 1992) means (in my vernacular and a bit vulgar) – ‘penis’.