Thursday, 17 March 2016

A Poem: If This Budget Bought You, You're Cheap...

I don't often write poetry, and there's probably a good reason for that as evidenced below, but I scribbled this down onto my phone on the way into work this morning and I wanted to share it with you.

(Here's a little bit of cringe-inducing context from someone who didn't expect the sugar tax annoucement yet happened to have motorbiked in to Westminster to dominate the airwaves:

If this Budget bought you, you're cheap
But look, here's Jamie Oliver dancing.

If you find it easy to fall off straight to sleep
Whilst upon the poor and weak Osborne softly creeps
Cutting help for the disabled
Taking food from off their table
And putting it all into banks.
If that means that you give thanks
Then all I can do is sadly weep
If this Budget bought you, you're cheap
But look, here's Jamie Oliver dancing.

He's dancing for the sugar tax
Though he likes to avoid the facts
About his own sugary past
He'd prefer the poor were forced to fast
As long as obesity rates drop right down
Leaving them a withered stick with a skinny frown
Because certain things escape the rates
And most of these are Jamie's mates
Whilst a diabetic counts the pennies
To save themself from Osbourne's levies
Jamie can comfortably rest
Knowing that he's done his best
For Dave and Ian, May and Hunt
Whilst low income families get the shunt
Yet corporations reap generous offers
Designed to stuff their greasy coffers
Tax for them is down some more
As bailiffs knock on tattered doors
To drag you from your one room shack
Paid for by work that broke your back
But they still said that you were fit
Though it hurts now just to sit
Once you got help with your healthcare
But thanks to their cuts it's just not there
And no new housing's going up
The trickle just fills the rich man's cup
Haggard from your lack of sleep
All you can do is sit and weep
If this Budget bought you, you're cheap
But look, here's Jamie Oliver dancing.

What now then for our next generation?
The one for which this was a "celebration",
Or at least that's how the Chancellor span
And dutifully what the press pack ran
If you can save just four thousand quid
You'll get a gift from Uncle Gid
But who really has that cash to spare
When every month you tear out your hair
To earn that much you worked for a degree
And found yourself with a hefty fee
Then the jobs they just weren't there
And the one you got did not pay fair
Whilst rents keep rising, so does your debt
You wonder how much worse can it get
Before other people start to see
The injustice and inequality
But you hear nothing, not a peep
And all you can do is sit and weep
If this Budget bought you, you're cheap
But look, here's Jamie Oliver dancing.

What is fairness? What is right?
What makes these people want to fight
And walk the towns with signs and banners
As our PM sneers at the manners
Of a good man's suit, of the knot of his tie,
It just makes me want to cry
And turn to strangers in the street
Why are you not here, up on your feet?
Because if you smile at what you've wrought
If this Budget has you bought
And those less fortunate are ignored
Because there's a bit more you can afford
Then I despair, I really do
At what desire burns in you
A selfish little petty grab
Who cares whose back you have to stab
I'm all right Jack, you'll blissfully blab
Tax their sugar, they've too much flab...
You'll get your pound of flesh, my friend
And I'll be there when it comes to an end
It won't last, this fabrication
Your idea of a "Great" nation
And I'll be happy when it crumbles
I'll brag then, I won't be humble
And remind you of who you were
The day the Tories made you purr
The day you were bought
and sold
nice and cheap

No longer will we sit and weep...


Now we are all dancing.

A doff of the cap to Barney Farmer @barneyfarmer for some inspiration on this one.

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Plague

The city is near desolate, newspapers blow idly along the roads caught for a moment gliding playfully on the swirl of a breeze and taken past empty shopfronts, past deserted cafes, untended public gardens, bins ripe with litter, shutters pulled down on pop-up food stalls, concierge desks staffed only by a vacant swivel chair.
     All those that are left have quarantined themselves inside, sometimes they stare out at the silent streets below, wondering what happened, where they all went.
     He turns from the window, back towards his desk, he's expecting a call from the Hong Kong office. On the computer screen the green orb blinks into action, the chirruping tones letting him know that Ivan is calling.
    "Morning, how are you?" he smiles, laying it on thick for the webcam.
    "Good good," Ivan leans back from his laptop, allowing skyscrapers to peek cheekily behind him as if they were the most extravagant embelishments on military shoulders.
    A woman steps into shot, places a coffee down next to Ivan before edging hurriedly away.
    His eyebrow is raised, he can't help it, "Your assistant?"
    "My wife," Ivan nods, dolefully, taking a first tentative sip.
    He sighs, an exhalation that confirms hopes dashed, fleeting silly hopes of a time not too far gone, a time when there were staff members who set coffees down for them both, of personal assistants who'd pop in to take lunch orders and book cabs, of cab drivers, tube drivers, baristas, dry-cleaners, all these things that now only exist as spectres in a memory that one doubts was ever real, and perhaps that was all but a dream and this morning they woke up to the truth.
    There was a cleaner who usually worked on his tube train in the mornings - this was a long time ago now, before he drove in - the cleaner's voice sang an alarmingly pleasant good morning to everybody as he took the discarded free papers, coffee cups and napkins from around the seating.
     Now that train didn't run, he'd heard they were still stood there, at the platform, like dogs waiting for master to return, and, before they all vanished, people used to sleep in them and walk the tracks to work.
    His car was parked on the street outside the office building, which sometimes he marvelled at, considering this was Cheapside just around the corner from St. Paul's Cathedral. The ease at which he could commute in now, sat at the wheel of his BMW, lacked a feeling of luxury, as he scoured the radio wondering if anyone would be there.
    He promised to send the growth reports to Ivan by close of business, the call had been useful, but formulaic, just the two of them going through the motions. He often wondered what it all meant, his work, just gathering things up like a stubborn child wanting to clearly demarcate their toys, whilst gradually fudging the definition of what they were entitled to, until finally they sit, cross-legged in sad wonder as the other children run off to play make believe, leaving them buried in a mountain of stuff.
    So it was. He'd drive in, make some calls, drive out, for some reason he'd do this five days a week, continuing the pantomime of what his life once was, and his colleagues did the same, they kept pretending that who they were, what they did, actually mattered.
    Had it always been this way? he often wondered, and had he been too preoccupied to see it, had the need to consult his own existence been shrouded in the distraction of little people attending to his every desire, of someone to look down on, as opposed to those empty streets five floors below. What did any of it matter now that he was free, and left to realise the vacuity of that which was both outside and in, of those around him, shoulder to shoulder, each hollow when they thought they'd been so full of power and importance, but that was all relative to an illusion they'd created and nurtured and, once their plague had been wrought, they were the stragglers of desolation, immune to its reckoning, and they had to walk the barren Earth, aware of all that they had done, looking for an echo in a vacuum.