They don’t even know themselves

The authoritarian push for a singular, quantifiable identity with which to credit the Peoples of these islands is a paranoid backlash to a perception that we’ve been too accommodating of too many cultures, for too long and that this has polluted rather than inspired our national character. But how does that actually happen to a whole community – a whole nation – unless you have let it? How does that happen to a strong sense of self unless the sense was either already fragile or false? For sure, this is no small nor simple thing but it is no one’s fault, save ours.

The discourse around freedom of movement, particularly of people, did not and still does not make sense. Despite getting more oxygen than anything else, the EU referendum campaign managed to turn immigration into an incoherent manifesto for xenophobes. I could not – cannot fathom the magnitude of such vague loathing. Besides an overwhelming indignation at how it was my freedom of movement being threatened – and yours – I kept thinking: which is it, then: the numbers, the quality or the culture? But these were never properly broken down and challenged, perhaps because of fears that it would legitimise the racist platform; maybe because the populists were stronger and reliant on keeping things nebulous.

We were a land fit to bursting. A never-ending throng of undesirable unknowables kept getting in the way and selfishly absorbing our best stuff through osmosis. They were coming to take our houses that haven’t been built and they were more likely to be our doctor than in our queue to see one. What’s more they seemed possessed of a magic art, simultaneously able to be idle benefit scroungers but also to steal our jobs and undercut our wages, so it was probably their fault that unemployment has never been so low a gig. Just one more person would surely upend us into a sea, so the tens of millions of Turkish Muslims who have no passport but were definitely on their imminent way to ask Farage to borrow copious cups of sugar would absolutely sink us, even though not a one could simply wander in because we are not even in Schengen and anyway, we’re also an island, so there.

One minute we are told there are too many people and accusations fly about the poor having too many children born with their hands out and fear-mongering about religious devotees being the ones most likely to do so and too, raise children to challenge British values. The next we’re an ageing population so, please, have more babies but no more than two; we only pay for two. No, wait: we need more people, NOW, to do the jobs that, apparently, we won’t do and even more people to do the jobs we are told we can’t. Then they accuse our children of being fat and lazy and imply that people from outside of the EU have higher economically productive value but that Brexit will be brilliant because these islands teem, innately, with can- and derring-do. Yes, we’re all technical-arty-mathematical-entrepreneurial-scientific-innovative geniuses here… All that talent, brawn and skill yearning to be exploited, if only the dear leaders believed in their citizens enough to actually invest in them.

All this othering has been peddled to demographics made increasingly, desperately angry enough to be vulnerable to their own gullibility. Whether paranoia-steered, arrogant imperialist or unashamedly, outright xenophobe, fascism arrives by invitation and there have been a lot of RSVPs.

Yet you may hear a few Brexits emphatically declaring how they welcome fresh blood and its free movement. They don’t ‘see colour’ and ‘some of their best friends are Muslims’. These most patronising, hypocritical know-nothing Brexits will be the most protected from the consequences of their snake oil agency. They are all about the points-based ‘quality’ of people: the more, the merrier men. Ironic, really, because those who sell us that line about a metropolitan/liberal elite being the enemy of the people’s “Will” are intending to upset the it’s the numbers Brexits by liberally selecting immigrants for elite metropolitan types. Probably with dark skins, which will definitely upset the it’s the culture Brexits.

What audacious cynicism that warns us to be terrified of foreign tongues on our crappy trains, as Brexits flee to where the foreign trains are better and you get to turn the volume of your Estuary English up to eleven. We’re told to be confident and proud to buy British but there’s an ardent Brexit over there, fine-dining on tax incentives and stronger yields in any other field but Blighty’s.

And how shall the other people’s quality be defined? How shall we know them? What of the extraordinary qualities it takes to sneak yourself through half a dozen countries and across a couple of seas, mostly on your own nerve and initiative and start your life over, from scratch? And what of our quality? Are we red tractor stamped Are we good enough for our leaders and fellow citizens? Who, among us, will be found wanting and where, then, shall you and I be put?

And how do we square religion and culture with the post-Brexit geography of Commonwealth and Middle Eastern princes? Was it purely about the global equality of right to enter and not about the numbers, at all, or have we come to looking at every black or brown face with a need to know if it’s Muslim? I haven’t. Do we not trust in the secular nature of our system or not understand that spiritual orthodoxy is just politics with added conviction, having a left-right spectrum, where most sit as moderates around the centre? Or do we believe, just because the fascistic section of ALL religions would settle for the end of the world in the absence of global domination, that one’s own spirituality is therefore threatened and one’s god lessened? I hope not, for that is a fool who makes god small and does not respect even their own Self.

If our culture has been undermined or diluted and I am not claiming it has, then it is the fault of the collective weak character that let it happen. Harsh, perhaps but, if our country has been accommodating to the point of its detriment, then the people, their institutions and their governments should have had a better sense and firmness of social boundaries and the application of sound law and sensible policy. For example: why do we complain about segregation, misogyny and fundamentalism but persist in the encouragement of faith-based schools? How can we recognise the dangers of ‘fake news’ and discern that everyone needs access to a body of common knowledge yet allow certain schools to opt out of teaching about vital subjects, such as evolution and sex/relationships to the very generation that will be running ‘Global Britain’ and checking us for bedsores, one day?

Those most vehemently guarding their cultural identity are busily pursuing purity and mass compliance, baring their teeth and flexing paraphobic muscles. Thing is: they have no idea of who they are, never mind of the whole country and, really, who wants to comply with the most psychotic faction of the United Kingdom’s personality disorder and symptom of its nervous breakdown?


bet the World

Man, in all his vanity,
so eager to compete,
has bet the World
to beat her at destruction to create,
by the design of an intelligence
he fakes.


[June, 2014 – Tragic pertinence needs must rework and repeat]


What would you have us value, then?
What passes for these British traits?

Is it the wilful diminution of democracy
That separates the people from the State?

Or maybe our incessantly insistent view
That what we do is “help” the world for its own sake?

Oh, wait!
I think I’ve got it: it’s that fair play code we think we own!
How righteously polite we are!
Perhaps we should commission us a global honour mission
Thus we won’t feel so perceptibly alone.

So, is it in our famous law and order you’ve translated into Money talks?
Our globe-anointed tolerance that shadow-stalks the local masses?
Could it be the age-old choreography between the economic classes?
Is it in our Blighty-quaint ability to wait in lines? The neoliberal culture of
I’ll only pay for mine?

Stiff upper lip, is it?
The non-complaining strategy that manifestly rhymes
Neurotic and sclerotic with our passive-born aggression?
Or perhaps it’s that amazing, self-congratulating way
We tend to trip out on our history’s big lessons?

No, wait! Don’t tell me! Let me guess:
You mean like how you cherish our belovèd NHS?

Hang on..!

Or could it even be our undeniable capacity
To finger-point with swinging lead and buried heads?
Or might it be our deep, rich, grass-root, time-was Cool Britannia,
Now, by Cowell’s ilk and cynical palaver, made an operatic lather?
Is it in the way we gush and gift a paltry nobody to unreserved celebrity
And rush to make pariahs of the stars beyond our knowing?
Is it how we gloat and glower over uncontested power?
Yes! It surely has to be the Press, with all its freedom to impress?

Or is it how we toe the line
When Lord America decides
We might be useful hand-tools, after all?
Is it our poodle disposition or our sniffy exhibition
That defines our island character?

Do Britain’s expositions make her values truly worthy
Or just pompously perfidious and small?

What the hell and where the heck
Are all these dandy ‘British values’?
Suffer me my ignorance but,
Is it in the way you favour those already able?
Is it how you keep your brother
Or the fear that looks for other
In the refugee and immigrant?
The prisoner? Disabled?
Is it how you treat the NEETs?
The homeless, sleeping on the streets?
The single parent? Needy elders?
Every worker like a serf?

Is it how you are transfixed by everybody’s patriotic worth?

Perhaps you’d like our babies stamped at birth, like eggs,
With redly roaring lions? Then, once they’re schooled and duly cloned,
Be branded with a standard – maybe tractors backed by Union Flags
To make their British value known –
For, what is value worth that can’t be shown?

Brexit Bull

”We just don’t know,” said Brexit Bull
”Our heads are with fantasy, already full.
Experts and facts to the back of the queue
We’re busy with wishing and making that do.
We’ve got ifs in derivatives; hedges in coulds
And a spitfiery spirit you can’t overlook.
We are pedlars in miracles and magic beans;
We spin rich over-egging and push mighty memes.
We add garnish and condiments, relish and dread
To our circus and clarion (bring your own bread).
We’re the Bulldogs of Blighty who know what we want:
Passports that honi soit qui à bordeaux pense.
We want rid of the regs that endorse workers’ rights
And to loosen the standards that dignify life.
We’ll trade anything, anywhere, any old how
And swear we’re putting Great back in Britain now
We’ll screw everything, everywhere, for everyone
And declare it is you in control of what comes.”


Post-route map
Post-welcome mat

Batten down the hatches!

Buccaneering Brexiteers
Jolly a-rodgering
Yo ho me yesteryears!

Kipper me hornpipe
’n blaggard me gobshite
Be swivel yer eyesight
‘n Pugwash yer ears!

Black spot to the bilge rats
Tack slack with some rum stats
Stitch up all the ex-pats
‘n crow’s nest the piers

Blistering barnacles!
Scuttle the Articles
Parley in particles
Arr privateers!

Hedge allegorical
Haven and glory call
Regulate less control
Wish ye be ‘ere!

Play me a pioneer
Pieces of hate
Rates fer me hearties
Thar’s eight fer the party arr
Nein to the state

Aye, coddle me cankers!
Our dory’s a tanker!
Weigh anchor
To a fling in the wild frontier!

Yo ho me yesteryears!
Rodgering jolly
Buccaneer Brexiteers’
Lotus fruit folly

mother tongue

Pardon me
could you speak more slowly, Dave?
Your right-wing propaganda conjugations
aren’t my mother tongue –
I think my ears have integration accent.
I hear
that hate and fear, in the infinitive,
is clearly meant
but wonder at the double-Dutch translation.
See, the doing in your flow
sows predication on imperative,
as though you did construct
a comprehensively deliberate conflation.

No room at the inn

Outcast; silenced ones:
Society’s sacrifice
wished invisible.

[“It is because they face danger that we have peace.” ~ David Cameron]

🎄 🎆  🎄

[December 2014]

May you be bathed in light and love
May you be where you are at home
And not feel lonely if alone.

May you feel warm and dry and full
May you find inner strength and joy
And take time to enjoy it all.

May you laugh loud and longer than you row
May you be blessed with gifts of kindness
May you know the wealth and health
Of a peace of mind within our Now
And please you, have a Merry Christmas! 💫


Plain as the nose

There should be no surprise
at the expedience,
and contempt shown
by this government,
to People fleeing horror
and to People simply searching
for a better life,
as all you have to do
is shine a light at home,
on how it is prepared
to treat its own.