The Critic – coming back to bite me?

I am about to start submissions,  again, and I hope this one doesn’t come back to bite me!

I wrote this little ditty almost thirty years ago. It was inspired by an experience I had at sixteen when I still had,  misguided, aspirations about pursuing a career on the stage.  I was at an ‘all-round’ college in London, and after my first lesson with our drama teacher, who was moonlighting from one of the leading London-based drama schools, I knew acting was never going to be the career for me.

He always wore a suit and tie, with a red carnation tucked in his buttonhole and smoked incessantly.  Delivering his caustic comments with aplomb and the cadence of Noel Coward, from the corner of the poorly lit room he taught us in.  After I’d stuttered my way through a previously unseen script of The Lady’s Not for Burning, the silhouetted figure took a long, slow drag of his fag and exhaled the words, ‘Darling, if you are harbouring asperations about going on the stage, forget it.’

Noel Coward


Obviously,  I adapted this doggerel so the brunt of his critique referred to my writing, rather than my acting abilities.



© Tessa Barrie

 My dear… the trouble is it lacks imagination

There is absolutely no originality or guile

You say it’s taken you half your lifetime

To cultivate your method and your style

Oh dear me … what a shame I didn’t meet you sooner

I’d have put you on the road where you belong

For crafting words and moulding them into paragraphs

Is a talent that, for you, is not too strong


You see … I’ve guided many people in my lifetime

I’ve told them straight and never minced my words

I’ve proffered and given selflessly my words of wisdom

Sadly, many topped themselves soon after they heard


However … as a critic I far outrank those featured in the tabloids

You don’t have to be famous to ooze literary prowess

I know my job so well and carry it out to perfection

I call a spade a spade and nothing less


So darling … please don’t be despondent or disillusioned

Dry your eyes; your tears don’t become you at all

Please go! Before you have a nervous breakdown

And by the way, there’s a shrink just down the hall

Stand back!  This is my final warning!

Take one step closer and I will take aim and fire

Just because you can’t take constructive criticism

Doesn’t give you the right to call me a liar!


Enough!  My secretary’s called the Police and the Fire Brigade!

Her instructions include a straight jacket and a muzzle too

So please, just try to be a good girl

And accept that writing’s not the career for you

Published by Tessa Barrie

Blogger from Jersey, Channel Islands UK who believes life's too short to be niche. View more posts

One thought on “The Critic – coming back to bite me?

  1. alhenry – I love a challenge (though I can sometimes be heard cursing myself for taking on yet another hydra-headed project). I enjoy anything that allows me to be creative: writing, cooking, garden design, decoupage. I travel whenever I can, and London is my favorite city in the world, the home of my heart. Over the years, I have paid the mortgage by writing, editing, and teaching. Home is a late-19th century heap (in constant need of TLC) that I share with my funny, smart, generous husband and two wayward cats. Aspirations? To publish my fiction, and enjoy each day.
    alhenry says:

    Never give up … and never lose your sense of humor!

Thank you very much for visiting my niche-less blog! If you have time before you leave, would love you to tell us what you think. All the best, Tessa Barrie

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