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Proposed Additions to the English Bill of Rights

Now seems to be the perfect time

To take our Bill of Rights out for a constitutional.

Suggestions for additional rights are welcome

And here are some of mine:

There is an urgent need for the right to waste time –

When people are obliged to ascribe value and meaning to what they do

There’s a risk that they’ll become dangerous and agressive.

It’s better to accept time wasting ways

Than it is to demand that people justify themselves

Every blessed minute of the day.

When people do something without meaning or value to others

They are most likely to find meanings and values of their own

Which might end up having value and meaning for all.

Every human being on the planet should have the right

To declare themselves English;

If they want to be considered English, that’s a compliment

And if you impose conditions or tests of Englishness

You limit the nature of what being English is.

The English are a conglomerate nation

Combining the best we can take from every race and creed.

Being English is a state of mind

Witty, tolerant, gentle and kind,

It’s not an ethnic category, dubiously defined

Which, when you put it that way, seems kind of racist

As in “I’m English,” “I’m more English”,

“I’m the most English of all!”

That is not the way, friends.

England is a dear little country

Which we carry in our hearts

So wherever we are in the world

We may say, “I am English, I have the right

To expect, demand and, yes, demonstrate

The impeccable logic of what we call fair play,

To sarcastically mock and parody those with whom we disagree’

To complain about anything and everything we see,

To complain about the state and the quality of the tea,

To complain when others complain and moan

And at the end of the day, if we have one, to go home.”

[Please feel free and add your suggestions and amendments below. We’re told our government is thinking hard about this issue, so your ideas might end up being of real service to the nation!]

Work in Progress

[Thanks to this Saturday’s  Left Fest myself and other Southampton poets have been offered “15 minutes to change the world”, or, at least, to show a bit of solidarity with and celebrate local activism. It’s an opportunity, but inspiration seems to’ve deserted me since this year’s upsetting General Election result.

Poems tend to come to me in fairly complete form but not this time. No solid idea has emerged as yet, just scraps that might coalesce into something suitable.]

They said it was a volcano

Because they didn’t know how to tell us

That the end of the world was on its way.

All planes were gounded and, apologising for disruption and delay

They said it was a volcano…

[It’s not hard to believe that our leaders think they have some secret knowledge of impending disaster, and that would make a change from the usual narrative – that prevailing econimic conditions make the bullying tactics of ‘austerity’ so necessary. However, that’s probably giving more credit than is due and will not help to overcome the despairing sense that, like the Labour Party, we must all accept the present ‘realities’.]

Nobody’s noticed anything yet,

I’m doing well!

Only the young and innocent can tell

But they’re too scared and cynical

Testing themselves by testing me

Rushing into futures to which I’m not invited

[It is a drag to see another generation suckered into performing as the foot soldiers of the box ticking, corporate culture, hoping to benefit from the next tidal wave of ‘prosperity’. However, the persona adopted here is perhaps too heavy handed and ego driven. So it’s back to the drawing board and random scribbles. Let’s hope something emerges by 3 o’clock Saturday!]

Signs of Life

In a tree nearby two crows are making a terrible row

Screeching at each other like a squabbling couple.

Reflected in my shaving mirror

I see a large Winged insect flying past behind me

For a moment I think it’s a small bird.

Salieri’s Requiem is playing on the radio

It’s not so bad as the press he got

Not so bad.

Why I am so idle

Why I am so idle

I was very impressed by Henry Goodman’s interview on “Front Row” this week. He talks about his fond memories of the Swan Theatre in Stratford, and his preparations for his next performance there, as Johnson’s Volpone.:

Ben Johnson, a somewhat neglected (by me, at least) contmporary of Shakespeare’s, who was a little more ‘street’ and perhaps less inclined to toe the party line than the overshadowing bard, certainly deserves another look.

The production promises an interesting approach, with a setting that resonates with our times, making the pretend invalid some sort of ‘high flyer’ who delights in manipulating and traducing people. Goodman’s enthusiasm is infectious, and I would love to see him adding fresh details to his portrayal in a live performance.

I have neither time nor resources to do that, alas, and must stay home awaiting the next call from any of the various agencies that could offer me a day or more’s work at any time that suits them. Otherwise, this week has been filled with the usual variety of items that distract and absorb, intrigue, amuse or worry me profoundly!

(A comedy drama with the fine Zawe Ashton in the lead)

(Documentary set back in the days when social mobility seemed a possibility in this country, with revealing interviews with Edwina Currie, Neil Kinnock, Michael Wood and others whose lives have been affected by that ‘social experiment’, the 11 plus and the grammar school ethos. It resists the temptation to be too nostalgic for those ‘meritocratic’ days, just, but it finally becomes clear that the Comprehensive system is best, when it’s properly resourced.)

(Another complex legalistic tangle, which in this case contains an attempt to regard rioting and street fighting (by mostly white people, no less!) as a form of terrorism.)

The government’s latest budget update which, along with the predictable but no less welcome attacks on the young and vulnerable, incorporated or concealed plans to put public land on sale and unban fox hunting while directing any available benefit towards employers and landlords.

Various protests were held in response, including this one, right here in Southampton:

which I had to miss because, in microcosmic imitation of the state of the nation, I was busy losing my anal virginity, undergoing what was presented to me as a

Bowel Scope Screening – an enema (which, for understandable reasons, I declined to administer myself) followed by a probe. I saw a couple of polyps being sliced away from my lower intestine, live on camera!

Followers and readers of this blog will be glad to know that my gut seems pink and healthy, though on this occasion at least my blood pressure was ‘alarmingly low’.

And so the parade continues adding more food for thought, while one tries

to make sense of it all and get something done.

A Compromise

A Compromise

“The asteroid Vesta was once a planet — and was demoted with little fanfare. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)”

On those increasingly rare occasions

When I feel that the person I love and want most is capable of loving me

Then I find that that hopeful thought leads me to a happy day

A day when I might meet people gladly

With a lively interest in what they may have to say

And they, sensing that love inside me, respond in a natural and comfortable way.


But if that day is not today,

If my poor little Vesta is not the planet I want her to be

Gleaming brightly with possibility,

Seems only to be another icy rock

That wants to fall away and be lost

Then my spirit is empty and my heart is locked.


I plod on along the grim and endless seeming path

That one has to follow, simply trying to survive,

Filling the void with consumer junk and light entertainments

Responding to every dubious offer or command from above

As though it were some abstract or obscurely proffered form of love,

Until I get bored and critical, waiting for my turn to disappear.


If, now that the guiding star of my universe has got herself lost,

I am to go about again with some semblance of pride

Not shrinking away from every other passer by, expecting rejection,

Or biting their heads off, so angry am I at their indifference,

Then I need to find some compromise

A change of heart and mind that I can steer by.


I shall tell myself this, though she cannot be

As close to me as I would want her to be,

We are still connected in some way;

The lines of love that we have shared

May disconnect, snap away in places, grow very thin

But they remain, bright as ever, for all to see


Reflecting a certain gleam, in her face as well as mine

And my poor lost Vesta will not be too cold, though so very far away,


Getting Game

This can’t be true but it might be

A woman doesn’t mind your loving her

She just doesn’t want to be bothered by it

Therefore, it’s a good thing if she ignores you

lt means you haven’t upset her poise

And her very poise is what you fell in love with, isn’t it,

Her poise and grace and loveliness in general?


Wanting to rattle that is understandable

But you can’t rattle at once and all the time

Like a baby demanding attention

Pulling on her clothes and getting on her nerves!

You’ll be rattling each other soon enough

So be a grownup, be patient, enjoy the show but remember

You may think she’s ignoring you

But she’ll be watching you like a hawk

A hawk with talons and wings

Ready to scratch your eyes out or fly away

The moment you displease her.


Still, don’t worry about that

This is supposed to be fun

So shut up thinking for a while

And enjoy her while you can.

It starts by keeping a Deadpan Face

I hate women, why are they so horrible to men?

It’s a game, that’s why, a game that a person gets in

A game which can be amusing and even beautiful

Until the spirit of competition sets in

And what was a simple love game becomes something grim

Because of a point hit home too hard

Or too bloody often for her or him.


I hate men, why are they so horrible to women?

Because excitement can be hard to handle

So we shield ourselves with a dull routine

Until we fly into some stupidly violent passion;

And passion almost always trumps compassion.

It’s a wonder any double act can stay together very long

But we like them, and should applaud them often, to keep them going strong.

Double History.

First post on Rotten Tomatoes! Where to next – IMDB, BFI, Wikipedia?

Thumbs or Fags

Sucking my thumb was the second worst habit of my infancy,

The worst being scrupulously picking my nose but then eating the bogey

The texture of which I mulled on to the point of declaring that certain balls of snot

Tasted to me like strawberry.

I developed a strong stomach but damaged the vital filters of my nose.

Ask your doctor if you don’t know what makes a boy suck his thumb

A stubby pink cork to stopper his mouth, back and shoulders down,

Sticking that digit into his childish gob, completing an inwardly curled body shape,

His lips clinging on, his suction drawing him to the warmth of his own hand

A pathetic imitation of a comfortably unborn foetus.

I was very young, though to be truthful never really youthful,

Less than ten years old, or eleven at most

(Before more mature distractions such as Catwoman came along),

Not smiling for the school photo in case I would show buck teeth

The visible evidence of my hours on the thumb.

I knew that my bad habits could

Have a bad effect on the structure of my personal architecture

The verbal proof of my thumb sucking youth

Great difficulty pronouncing certain combinations of letters,

Important phrases such as “the form of the verb”

So smoking seemed a better comfort and a step up,

Stood up straight, elegantly posing with my phallic fag

Facing this noir world through artful clouds of smoke

Just like in the movies, a real man like Clint or Bogey

Fit to face the Dietrichs and tough guys, the late trains and missed planes

Refusing a blindfold but taking a drag on yet another ciggie

Marking the time and each missed chance butt by dirty butt

Knowing the bad effects, but seeing poisoning myself as an act of defiance.

And so I remain aware of both my silhouette and of the scraps of or from myself

That I deposit, drop, flick at the world to hide or establish a trace of my presence

Trying to create a certain effect, but all too aware of the effect I am in fact creating,

Too much time spent under low ceilings, consuming my own shoddy substance

Not enough understanding the difference that good architecture can make,

To structure the material we’ve been given,

Incorparate it into a greater design

Allow the air to move freely, create a door we can open easily.

[Written in response to this:

My idea being to show how the way one interacts with materials from one’s own body may effect its ‘architecture’.]

Comet or Meteor?

Comets or meteors?

Perhaps they’re like rooks and crows

“Where there’s a rook there’s a crow

“Where there’s crows there’s rooks”

To be one amongst a shower, a storm of meteors

Hurtling through the emptiness of infinity

Protected by the confidence of knowing

That we and our equally frenzied fellow travellers

However far we hurl ourselves

Flashing by through all the vastness

Looking tiny and bright like a fireside’s sparks

Consumed in a stampede, burning up and soon to be lost

Are in fact racing along a familiar orbit

That could last as long as a million years

Which all too soon will pull us back to where we’ve been

A familiar sight, overlooking what we’ve already seen

Or to be a lonely comet

Deserting the pack, distracted by some new attraction

Sampling a novel atmosphere, hardly aware

Of the flames gathering round

Till the grip that was a comfort

That was such a pleasure to be caught by

Loses its interest or changes its intent

Returning the wanderer to the emptiness

Or turning a journey of exploration

Into a pitiful conflagration

With a final pathetic fall

Messy and destructive to all

That witness the meaningless call

Of that misguided journey’s concluding bump.

Well, I don’t know if this is good science

And hope not to be subject to such violence

Shooting stars may enjoy applause from those below

But I’ll see it all from here, and adore the moon’s glow.


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