Majorca

This government of mine
Has mastered a post-modern
Political and Sophic arts
Of fuckwittery,
Omnishambles,
Clusterfucking, and
Chicanery, as though
Ambling ineptitude
Was newly in fashion,
As if it was a finest
Prensal Blanc from
That sun-blessed island.
Swearing during the pandemic
Like so much hot air
And so much in the ashes of
Public money and taxes
Is uprising.

Why did we lose our hard earned money
As though we were those robbed blind
Homeless wayside token folk
Within a certain scripture,
To those mountain-dwelling raiders
Who did nothing for us,
Who we never befriended or even met
And yet they depreciated
And were depraved;
From our place and our markers
We watched as they built
Majorcan mansions and plazas
Using the future depths of our
Self-dug graves.


I don’t usually provide a narrative to my poems. I prefer the words to speak alone, and I like to think the reader will also find their own meanings and interpretations, if I am using metaphors or allegories. This poem is a little more direct, perhaps, and yet ironically justifies an explanation. I also do not tend to swear, not illiberally, yet the italicised words I use at the top of the poem are some of my current favourites – so descriptive and with currency. I like lists. I have a list ongoing of my favourite words – there are currently 1654 words on the list. I also started keeping a list this year of issues concerning probity and conduct in government. I don’t know why particularly, I suppose it was a constant cause of frustration; the lack of accountability and transparency. It is only from one news source, the UK Guardian online; so many news sources I find difficult to read due to ownership and bias and political leanings. Here is my list so far, though I know that I will have missed a lot. It is just for my own record. Also, a recent study in the UK has shown that swearing during the pandemic has, apparently, increased. Is it little wonder?

(Oh, and as an aside, I travelled to Majorca many times on holiday in the 2000s and it is the most beautiful island, with wonderful people and places. My reference to it in this poem is I suppose the juxtaposition of an ideal, which can become changed by something, but it is not a comment of any sort on Majorca itself – or if it is, it is only positive about that European neighbour – and it was only my poetic licence. Plus, I like the island’s name for the title).

List:

28/02/20 The EU launches its first joint procurement of £1.2m worth of gloves and gowns/overalls. The UK is not one of the 20 member states involved. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
24/03/20 No 10 says it has not joined EU procurement schemes as the UK is not in the EU and is “making our own efforts”. The government later U-turns to say it failed to receive an email inviting it to be part of the initiative. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
26/03/20 The government says it has 8,175 ventilators, but turns to British industry to help produce 30,000 in a matter of weeks. The engineering company Dyson reveals plans for an entirely new medical ventilator working to specifications set down by the government. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
11/04/20 Payment was guaranteed for 3.5m antibody kits designed to show who was immune but they later proved wildly inaccurate https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/11/reveal-cost-of-35m-unusable-covid-19-tests-health-chiefs-told
18/06/20 The government has been forced to abandon a centralised coronavirus contact-tracing app after spending three months and millions of pounds on technology that experts had repeatedly warned would not work. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/18/uk-poised-to-abandon-coronavirus-app-in-favour-of-apple-and-google-models
11/08/20 The government has been urged to demonstrate there was no favouritism at play in awarding Serco a contact-tracing contract worth £108m, as a leaked memo revealed the outsourcing firm was enlisted to help with the Covid-19 response as early as January. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/aug/11/uk-government-serco-contact-tracing-contract-leaked-memo
12/01/21 Lockdown rules in England have been changed at least 64 times by the government since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a human rights barrister has calculated, amid growing calls for clearer guidance for the public. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/12/england-covid-lockdown-rules-have-changed-64-times-says-barrister
16/01/21 Priti Patel faces growing pressure over deletion of police records https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/16/priti-patel-faces-increasing-pressure-over-deletion-of-police-records
16/01/21 Priti Patel faces growing pressure over deletion of police records https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/16/priti-patel-faces-increasing-pressure-over-deletion-of-police-records
19/01/21 Crossrail 2: more than £115m spent before project mothballed https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jan/18/crossrail-2-more-than-115m-spent-before-project-mothballed
22/01/21 Ministers criticised for plans to create 500 new UK prison places for women https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/23/ministers-criticised-for-plans-to-create-500-new-uk-prison-places-for-women
23/01/21 Minister under fire for ‘shameful’ virus spread as staff told to work on with more than 500 cases at agency in Swansea. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/23/minister-faces-fury-over-mass-covid-outbreak-at-top-government-agency
23/01/21 Set up shop in Europe, government advisers tell Brexit-hit businesses https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/23/brexit-hit-firms-advised-government-officials-set-up-shop-in-eu
26/01/21 Former Tory MP’s posting as UK ambassador to Cuba raises fresh cronyism claims https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/26/former-tory-mps-posting-as-uk-ambassador-to-cuba-raises-fresh-cronyism-claims
28/01/21 How UK spent £800m on controversial Covid tests for Dominic Cummings scheme https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/28/how-uk-spent-800m-on-controversial-covid-tests-for-dominic-cummings-scheme
10/03/21 No evidence £22bn test-and-trace scheme cut Covid rates in England, say MPs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/10/no-evidence-22bn-test-and-trace-scheme-cut-covid-rates-in-england-say-mps
25/03/21 Liverpool council may have squandered up to £100m of public money https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/25/liverpool-council-may-have-squandered-up-to-100m-public-money
02/04/21 Tory donor lobbied minister to speed up his £65m PPE deal https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/01/tory-donor-lobbied-minister-to-speed-up-his-65m-ppe-deal
31/03/21 No 10’s race report widely condemned as ‘divisive’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/31/deeply-cynical-no-10-report-criticises-use-of-institutional-racism
21/04/21 Boris Johnson is ‘constantly lobbied’ by text, sources admit https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/21/business-leaders-and-politicians-regularly-text-boris-johnson-sources-admit
22/04/21 Fifth of UK Covid contracts ‘raised red flags for possible corruption’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/22/fifth-of-uk-covid-contracts-raised-red-flags-for-possible-corruption
25/04/21 Labour calls for Electoral Commission inquiry into PM’s flat refurbishment https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/25/labour-calls-for-electoral-commission-inquiry-pm-flat-refurbishment-downning-street
25/04/21 Boris Johnson urged to reveal if he endorsed Super League plans https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/apr/25/boris-johnson-urged-reveal-if-endorsed-european-super-league-plans
26/04/21 Johnson denies saying he would rather see ‘bodies piled high’ than third Covid lockdown. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/minister-denies-boris-johnson-said-thousands-more-covid-deaths-better-than-another-lockdown
30/04/21 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/30/scandal-charge-sheet-johnson-wallpaper-lying
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/12/boris-johnson-faces-court-judgment-over-535-unpaid-debt
17/05/21 Home Office letter wrongly tells British citizens to apply for settled status https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/may/17/immigration-letter-sent-to-long-term-british-citizens-causes-alarm
25/05/21 Tory Islamophobia report criticises Boris Johnson over burqa remarks https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/may/25/tory-islamophobia-report-criticises-boris-johnson-over-burqa-remarks
02/06/21 No 10 advisers who have quit Boris Johnson’s government https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/02/no-10-advisers-who-have-quit-boris-johnsons-government
16/06/21 Cummings texts show Boris Johnson calling Matt Hancock ‘totally hopeless’. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/16/cummings-texts-show-boris-johnson-calling-matt-hancock-totally-hopeless?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

On Sovereignty

The country of our birth
Swaddled us at first
With amulets unearthed,
On the Bridge of Rings
Protected by verse and
Nursing circulated words
Designed to strengthen
A calculated succour.

But something went wrong
In the words of the song;
The rings began to throttle,
A rotting curdle clotting,
Until anthems unplugged
In a counterclockwise
Epiglottal vortex drop.
On a yoke of lies we choked

And collapsed, suffocated
By the very state which
For earlier generations
Maintained principles,
Protectiveness.
These words synonymous
Now with stock and broth
For better leaders abroad

To mock. Ours are dressed
In party-patterned frocks
With feathers plucked from
Lame pink pigeon legs
Where eagles nested once.
The continental populous
And associated press join
Lengthy queues for fuel

Of ridicule, and rightly so,
For our leaders heard
Laughter and cheering,
They fuddled and fudged,
Misjudging the thinking,
For the sounds were of jeers,
And a slow, prolonged sinking
Of all we held dear.

 

Ode To Compassion

If governments spent
As much taxpayer funding
On Compassion
As governments do spend
On posturing
And prevention,
Assassins and
Suppression,
Navel gazing
Ministries of War,
Prostitution of Race,
Antagonisms,
Beaurocracy
And laundry bills,
Then would we restore
Purity of purpose,
Currently a famine,
A hundred year long drought,
From the current pretenders
Through the Tudors
And Dark Ages,
All the way down until
Timon of Athens.

If only the ancient
Predecessors
Had invested in
Forums for Compassion,
Perhaps our sufferance
Would subsequently lessen,
Instead of obedience to
These Departments for Death
And Injustice.

A Nissen Fundoplication

If the same funds poured
Like liquid oxygen
Into the mutual airways,
Into the heaving lungs
And diffused calyxes
Of a nation’s hospitals
As flows into the coffers
Of saints and the pockets
Of sinners, and then also

The unpressured ports
Of safe celebrities,
Humanity probably could
Have procured a cure
For death by now,
But then procurement
For your leaders’ concern
Is always a matter
Of percentages.

Haiku #428 – #431

428.

False economies,
Three million antibodies
Bought but not working.

429.

And children playing
In squares devoid of contact,
This unflinching sleep

430.

PPE unboxed,
Unless it’s at your border,
Who checks the orders?

431.

Elderly afloat,
Yet still the raft-makers gloat
Over the woolsack.

The Diplomat

What exodus, the great
Denialist said to himself,
As he tore up carrots
From the soil with his mouth.

A barren wasteland,
Émigré brides,
They sit in their bars
And revere this weird pride.

Even flowers of plastic
He brought home for his wife,
And left in the bathroom
Had suddenly died.

Lost conversations,
And misplaced files,
Diplomatic communiques,
Men gathered in crowds

To inspect, solemn and wise,
Forlorn fields of crops in shale,
And miles of stray dogs,
Chasing their tails.

The Bear And The Clown

A bear broke out of the forest’s cage
And ambled down to the village;
He snuffled for truffles behind the café,
And sneaked between orchards unnoticed.
He ate the flowers on the graves
And rolled on his back in the meadows,
Then lolloped into the small village school
And rumaged around in the cupboards.
With his great brown snout he singled out
A costume in blues and bright yellows,
Draped on his frame he adjourned
As a circus-founding fellow.
‘Look at the clown!’ the villagers clapped,
Gathered around the bold creature;
How he danced and bellowed and crashed,
Tricked, tapped, turned over for tickles.
‘This must be what life is like in the capital’
Someone cheered, ‘Where reside talents and
Craftsmen, there are parties and all
The riverside paths are pleasant, for walks
On a Monday afternoon with your lover’.
But unbeknown to each other
The clown was a bear under cover
Of grotesque red shoes and a nose
Which squeaked if you squeezed it,
And one child squeezed it, ah the mirth
Ended instantly as the bear’s maw drooling
Snatched the poor child and absconded
At pace back into the forest, before the
Villagers could believe what there own eyes
Had seen, there on the village green,
For you see, a bear is always a bear,
With only thoughts of fish for the famished,
No matter if dressed as a clown or a man
And into a forest banished.