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A lousy job

Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has been scratching an annoying itch of late: a campaign for a rhyme about head lice. Controversy has brewed since an approach last year to Mr Motion for a piece on the nasty beasts. In truth, it was a rather half-hearted request, supported mainly by makers of a brand of nit poison, and was quickly crushed between the poet's thumb and forefinger.

But, while Mr Motion enjoyed using the suggestion as an example of the outlandish demands made on national poets, the idea had taken root in the nit-nurse community. It is now backed bythe UK's leading anti-nit group, Community Hygiene Concern, which made a second request for a poem to support its school awareness campaign. Mr Motion, who has recently dodged brickbats for poems on the national census and a TUC conference, remains unconvinced: "I'm afraid they'll get the same answer as the previous approach, namely that Robert Burns wrote such a good poem on the subject ("To a Louse') I wouldn't presume."

But CHC are determined: "The one thing we don't want is something that is inaccurate. We may be sending him a factsheet." .

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