Sunday, 22 November 2020

I have only known freedom (the coronavirus chronicles)

I have never known struggle, 
in this country, this life.

I have only known freedom.

I was never taken from my home
in a cold long-bladed night.

My dreams are unshackled.

I was never stopped and searched in the street
and rarely drew a flashing light.

I have been left alone.

I have never been crippled,
or fought a hard-won, perilous fight.

I have only known health.

I have never been asked for much
in this country, this life.

I cannot bemoan my freedom.

If all that I am asked
is to spend a while away, inside
and cover my face with a mask;

if that is all the strife I've known,
then freedom, truly,

is what I have.

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay 

Friday, 6 November 2020

Lockdown is tough, but death is permanent

Let's all agree this year's been sent

down hell's handwoven clutch,

but for most not half as much:

lockdown's tough, death permanent. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

No New Normal

Thought For Food: The 2020 Challenge Finale

No New Normal

Where’s half a year just gone?

Remember when the desolation of Earth

was Bolsonaro’s inferno in the Amazon?

Australia scorched in wild scintillation.

6 months ago we still felt the lick of flames,

smelt the smoke,

and in fear of what that meant would come,

sick to the stomach, watched on.

It’s getting HOT in here.

In the sky, under the collar,

Chop a tree, make a dollar.


Have we already forgotten?

Reeling, dizzy on the floor,

as we choke on yet another mess of our own making.

Scarred lungs hack up an ironic jeer

as the world succumbs on this, of all years,

To the plague of nature’s discontent,

the fires of our negligence,

the bomb blasts of hate,

cold-blooded murder sanctioned by the state,

refugees waiting in vain to escape, left callously at sea to drown.

As the pandemic accelerates the wide world round,

The inequalities are stark.

While the rich lockdown in luxury,

extra fast broadband, food on demand,

elsewhere many can’t rely on delivery,

or a supermarket on every street.

What good is a vaccine if you’ve fuck all to eat?

And who’ll be the first to receive it?

How many, through heinous misinformation, will refuse it?

There is No. New. Normal.

Just the same old injustices.

New normal means we accept pandemics,

and starving kids.

New normal means we ignore the fires raging in the Arctic,

and biodiversity on the brink.

There can be No. New. Normal.

We will not settle for this.

We will build a better world.

Where Black Lives Matter.

Where every child can enjoy a hearty platter.

Where we can thrive alongside nature.

Why settle for the status quo, when we can build a better tomorrow?

Through fires, viruses, genocides, bombs: to stand together, as a global community, through each and every woe.

Down under, six months ago,

the world could see that: even in the most desolate, burnt-out lands,

as the embers continue to glow,

before even the first raindrops begin to fall,

seedlings emerge and green shoots begin to sprawl.

And so for us, though Malaysia may have been put on hold,

our Thought For Food community, emboldened

with the hybrid vigour of diversity and youth, showed

How fresh young roots,

intertwined in a world wide web,

have the power to plant life

into any famished corner.

To nourish the whole.

Finally: for ten teams with a shared purpose. A common goal.

Years of dreaming, months of preparing, one five minute pitch to change the world.

To show us all that 2020 has not been cancelled, it’s an urgent call,

to reNature,

to replenish,

to flourish,

to grow.

There is No. New. Normal.

We’re here to uproot the status quo.


Since men were slain by Gilgamesh,

we've toiled in fields at his behest;

the Big Man, insecure, upon his nest.

We are the serially abused,

generations woefully misused;

by hoe, by sword, malnourished, confused

into deifying this beast, this tyrant,

obeying his petulant wants;

meek in the shadow of the absconce.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Armchair statisticians in the time of COVID

The armchair statisticians are out in force,

fewer than 0.1% able to calculate a percentage,

p<0.05 the other 99.9% lie

far down the conspiratorial wormhole.

Yet I raise a wry smile,

as even with gibbons in charge,

at least gibbons have more gumption

than the graphically misaligned.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Norwich: Under the watchful eye of the peregrine

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine

on Saturdays the bustling city sings

as shoppers from miles enjoy the surroundings

and the ale drinkers in pubs enjoy fine things

and toast to this fine city we’re living in.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

no rural backwater this - it’s thriving

with swing dancing and clubs to shag and jive in

and an atmosphere that’s warm, gentle and nice

and people who smile and ask you how’s your life.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine

the crowds roar as Delia’s Canaries win

and bathe the city in a green and yellow shim,

fill the Adam and Eve and the Woodcock Inn

and cram the teeming Murderer’s to the brim.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

steady as she soars and graceful as her wing,

among the boughs on Wensum’s banks, blackbirds sing

and willows weep tears of joy to grace this fine

place, where old, cobbled roads twist up timber hills.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

streets lined with sagging beams that lean over lanes

adorned with flint walls and churches that remain

to have seen it all; England’s rise, through plagues,

where once sat kings, the castle reigns over still

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

perched upon the towering cathedral spire

around which the river’s gentle banks inspire

tales from within the fantasies of this fine

place - a UNESCO world city of literature.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

not a rich place, this, but filled with a rare wealth

that can’t be found in vaulted banks. There’s a soul

to this fine city - an independent scene -

Birdcage, Les Garrigues, Cafe Writers, Magic Es.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

where guys and girls on skates roll together,

and prosecco is sipped on boats on the Broads

and it’s hard to complain about the weather

in this big sky place, this delightful dry place.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine,

on those dazzling days down by the UEA

the lake sparkles like silver disco balls

and the world leading science down the road,

the reach of which cannot be overstated.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine

my heart swells when I gaze on the market

and tears of pride well in my lucky blue eyes

to be one of the most fortunate of guys

to dwell in this city finer than divine.

Under the watchful eye of the peregrine

times change, people too, and if I had to go

a piece would tear from the heart which tells me so

and call me back from time to time

to this beloved place,

a city of a thousand dreams

that will never be replaced.

Monday, 17 August 2020

The ease of a safety net (the Eton pass go straight to Mayfair club) - or, an A-level catastrophe

The ease of a safety net

The steel cable from below 

seems taut and secure

to the crowds who gawp up,

incredulous, mouths agape,

there perhaps for the spectacle

or, sadistically, awaiting a fall.

The walker, high above them all

treads precipitously;

each step one closer to the edge,

forever in the balance.

The risk: to plunge

without a safety net.

                            The walker; brave entrepreneur defying destiny

                                in a world where most of his kind is sure

                                    never to hit the chastening ground.

                            Rather, to relax in the elastic threads of a million dollar blanket;

                                 Grand Theft Auto “get out of jail free”.

                            They tell you to spread your wings,

                                  follow your calling,

                                      so confidently.

                             For some, it’s easy.

For the rest: tentative steps.

A bold misjudgement could spell bankruptcy

without the bank of mummy and daddy.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

The fleeting summer

 Another summer passes by,

this one so fleetingly

yet I see them pile into bars

and queue, toe-to-toe,


I think of my friend

whose mother passed away

and I wonder -

have they ever felt loss?

do they have no-one,

even themselves,

for whom they care?

Show you care

All we were asked was this:

For the vulnerable, for the elderly... Wash your hands. Cover your face. Keep your distance. Show you care.

Too much, for the steaming libertarian.

Imagine, for a moment, living a life already impinged upon, restricted, forgotten - now to truly understand the level of contempt with which your life is regarded.

Imagine being churlish enough to complain of restricted freedoms, unattainable for those who we might, kindly, protect.

Every mask unworn means another day of isolation for those who never had a choice.

Wash your hands. Cover your face. Keep your distance. Show you care.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020