Should they refrain? The stars who turned to verse

A number of Jewish celebrities have revealed their literary skills by writing poems for a charity campaign.

Sir Alan Sugar, Esther Rantzen and Maureen Lipman are among those to have written verses based on the imaginary lives of fruit, vegetables, and in one case bacon, with varying degrees of success.

The creations are part of a campaign due to be launched next month by Rays of Sunshine, an organisation that grants the wishes of children living with serious illnesses.

Rays of Sunshine chief executive, Tim Shaw, said: "Role models are vital in encouraging children to participate, and seeing a favourite celebrity write their own poem is very inspiring and generates a lot of excitement. We are very grateful for all the celebrities that have really got behind the campaign."

Sir Alan's contribution, The Pressure Cooker, is short at just four lines. It focuses on sugar-snap peas masquerading as soya beans.

It concludes: "Talentless tofu can't compete with aubergine/ Put them all in a pressure cooker/ And if they can't take the heat, get them out of the kitchen!"

Presumably when dealing with peas, "get out of the kitchen" is a more suitable alternative to his Apprentice catchphrase - "You're fired."

Ms Rantzen's effort, titled Turn over a new leaf, tells of a lonely spinach leaf. The verse may not have won full rabbinical approval: it includes the lines: "Let's steam and chop him, mix with cream/ Or bacon bits, now that's a dream!"

EastEnders actress Rita Simons, Sir Alan's niece, opted for a riddle with her work, What am I?

Clues include: "I sometimes feel seedy/ But even if you are greedy/ You'd be full/ If you consumed all of me."

The mystery is solved when the poem later reveals she is referring to a melon.

But the clear winner among the celebrity attempts is Ms Lipman's series of limericks based on raising awareness of neurofibromatosis, a genetically transmitted disease in which nerve cells grow tumours.
While bringing to life a radish, guava and a quartet of string beans, she writes: "Nurse Cherry Tomato and Ma and Pa 'Snip/ Sell trinkets both modern and quaint/ And twelve pear-shaped waiters/ Gild swedes and potatoes/ For dosh to erase this complaint.

"A quartet of string beans play Gershwin/Rhapsody in Blub'ries in C/ While a bach variation/ Fills the crowd with elation/ And a damsen duets with a pea."

The campaign encourages children aged five to 11 to write their own poetry about literacy, healthy eating and good citizenship.

They each then pay £1 to enter a competition, with the winners featuring in a book to be published next year.

So, do they have hidden talents? We'll let you be the judge.

    Last updated: 10:36am, August 29 2008