Apocalypse – Delayed again

Hearings to Determine the Costs & Delays to Apocalypse™
Examination of witnesses Day 1

Father Christmas (FC) CEO Santa Claus Industries
Chair: Thank you to everyone for attending. This is a series of hearings to determine the reasons for the increasing cost and delays to the end of days, commonly known in the press as Armageddon. We will take evidence from the successful bidder, God, and also today from an unsuccessful bidder to determine what lessons may be learned.
Father Christmas, thank you for attending.

FC: A pleasure.

C: You run an extremely successful image rights business and have subsidiaries, is that correct?

FC: Well, we have overall responsibility for the whole Xmas experience really.

C: This committee has been told that you no longer actually make or deliver presents.

FC: Well, that is technically correct. The manufacturing and distribution elements of the business were cost heavy, and so we were able to rationalize the operation.

C: It might be helpful if you briefly explain how you managed that?

FC: Certainly, though obviously some information is commercially sensitive. We decided to outsource to parents through an exercise whereby we convinced adults that I don’t exist. This allowed us to concentrate on our core businesses, selling and maintaining the brand of Christmas, and of course the Reindeer Meat Pies.

C: Of course. And you were confident of being able to take on the business of an Apocalypse?

FC: We felt we had the experience of a global market and of influencing key demographics into a fundamental shift.

C: So the stories in the tabloid press about the angel of death coming down people’s chimneys at Easter was….

FC: Ill informed speculation. Our plan was to move to a digital platform where the damned and saved alike can engage with salvation but in a virtual environment.

C: So the end of days would have been signified by what?

FC: Well our creative department had already had some ideas but I think we had finalised a simple interface that would provide a bespoke solution.

C: The commissioning Board state in it’s risk assessment that a user would log on and then receive a “Request buffering” message and an egg-timer graphic.

FC: Yes, I think that was it.

C: Forever?

FC: Well certainly a very long time. Long enough to signify an end of creation and to create an immersive ‘Rapture’ experience.

C: But no actual apocalypse?

FC: Well I think it depends on how you choose to view the remit and scope of the project.

C: Well I think the public have a particular expectation of….

FC: That is why we have marketing departments. Sure, we did scope the idea of sub-contracting assessment centres, so we could refer customers for a detailed moral work-up. But both the cost and the customer journey were incompatible with the brand.

C: What do you mean?

FC: Well, with the online portal, a service user receives almost instant existential entropy. The process of applying, getting an appointment for an assessment, attending the assessment, waiting for the report to be produced and so on while having an appealing metaphysical sense of futility and despair was just too far fetched, and bear in mind I myself am a largely fictional character.

C: And you believe the project could have been delivered on time and on budget?

FC: Well it’s always difficult with projects of this size, but we certainly delivered a very similar project for Amazon. In fact the whole online marketplace is very, very close already to the remit of the project. And of course, Ryanair have something of an exceptional record in subjecting people to an apparently eternal damnation.

C: Errr, thank you Father Christmas. I think that’s all we need from you.

Examination of witnesses Day 2

Dr. Foxley (Theologian) FX
Saint Peter (Saint) SP
God (Deity) G
Chair: Thank you for attending this 3rd session on the ‘Apocalypse™’ project. We have already taken evidence from the unsuccessful private sector bidder for the franchise, Santa Claus Industries and it’s CEO Father Christmas. We now wish to examine the project team.

Q: St. Peter, if we could start with the projections from the 2 quarter results, following 2 moderately successful projects…

SP: I hate to take issue so early in proceedings, but I would term them entirely successful.

Q: Well we could quibble about how successful they were but …..

SP: I just think it’s important for the record to be accurate.

Q: Okay. Well in the first place, you were commissioned to provide a plague of Lemurs on Pharaoh, and although there were plagues of frogs, snakes, blood and verucas…..

SP: Boils…

Q: Sorry, Boils, Lemurs came there none. Then there was the issue with the unfortunate young woman in Galilee. You were commissioned to provide a messiah. How your project managed to design a process so wholly unsuited to …..

SP: We felt a virgin birth added a certain gravitas to the situation.

Q: Indeed. And an application and selection procedure was felt to be too…….?

SP: Expensive, yes.

Q: Quite. So now we are looking at your attempts to fulfill the contract for an end of days. The project synopsis seems a little….

SP: Revelation? We were really pleased with the commercial departments take on the concept.

Q: Indeed and perhaps we will discuss the design later, right now I’d like to focus on your failure to deliver. A lot of taxpayers may ask why it has yet to materialise, particularly those taxpayers who find themselves on top of a hill at midnight at new year with a goblet of poison and wearing a sheet and an expression of mild embarrassment. To say the least. What are your thoughts on so many failed attempts?

SP: Well I wouldn’t characterise them as failed attempts. We can’t be held accountable for every prophet up a hill. Obviously we learned lessons from the Von Daniken pilot. Mostly about Swiss authors, and the unfeasability of following the ‘everyone buggers off in a spaceship’ idea. But it was a valuable experience.

Q: And costly.

SP: I think quantative measures betray the intent of the project. Markers were laid down in respect of policy intent. We have a clearer idea of where we are heading and how to bring about the end of everything.

Q: And a talking sheep is a cost effective means to an end?

SP: Well the Lamb of God© is more of a metaphor. I think if you’re going to quiz me on the cost of every metaphor we’ll be here a long time…but I think God will talk about that aspect later.

Q: We apparently have plenty of time…..So let us move on to the 4 horsemen. Quite considerable salaries and bonuses too. Not to mention they are all white men. Not very diverse, this rapture.

SP: Well that’s 2 issues. Dr. Foxley can speak to the HR elements. The remuneration is competetive compared to the private sector.

Q: Well, now that you mention it, we took evidence from Father Christmas as you know and he said…..

G: If I may just interject. Our project would be much cheaper if we could employ 600,000 Bangladeshi children and call them elves……

Q: Thank you God. You will have an opportunity. Saint Peter, so far, you have a talking sheep, a magic book, angels and the mysterious return of the chosen one. Are you not just rehashing Harry Potter?

SP: No. We have all the dead rising from their graves and a judging.

Q: Which has now been downscaled to online self-assessment?

SP: The digital option is a better fit for our undead customer base.

Q: And the salaries of the 4 horsemen?

SP: Well obviously, they are classed as consultants, and the rates are competitive.

Q: Who are Death, Famine, War and Conquest in competition with?

SP: Well, let me just say……

FX: Conquest has taken medical retirement. He’s been replaced by Pestilence.

Q: Quite. They compete with whom?

SP: Well, there’s the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, err……. Pikachu the Pokemon and the TV Meerkat. You know, the”simples” one.

Q: So, potentially, you are telling this committee that visited upon man, cometh the end of days, will be a CGI Meerkat, a Japanese cat thing, a rabbit and a fairy?

SP: No. The meerkat is very, very expensive. That’s what I mean.

Q: So it might have been Death, War, Famine and the Easter Bunny?

SP: Yes, but we’ve made savings.

Q: Thank you Saint Peter. God, can we turn to you now?

G: For as long as the hare shall harken unto the otter.

Q: Is that a yes?

G: Verily.

Q: Good. Father Christmas has said…….

G: The heathen shall smite the ossuary as the devout man shall smite his midden.

Q: I’m not sure I follow.

G: And so ye shall bring unto my house a sack of dog-cloth, a chaffinch therein and a jug-kettle.

Q: If we could return to the matter at hand?

G: Verily.

Q: Thank you for attending. I’m particularly pleased to see you’ve dispensed with the bush disguise. I would like to discuss the delays to Apocalypse™ and wonder whether you feel your executive team are up to the task?

G: It pleases me more if one camel repents than if…….
Q: Just direct yourself to the question. Enough with the circumlocution already.

G: Please yourself. My team are more than capable. We’ve developed a detailed understanding of the brief. But, and it’s a me sized BUT, if the prophets go off into committee every 5 minutes and change the remit, we end up with IT issues and that’s only the beginning. The alpha and no hope of omega. When we started, the remit was to bring to an end all creation. Now there’s judgment, reckoning and resurrection to deal with. We lost a highly capable member of the team in Satan in difficult circumstances….

Q: But you admit that the project will not roll out on time?

G: Who are you? The Mayans?

Q: Don’t be flippant.

G: I’m trying to deal with the apocalypse, but at the same time budget restraint means we’ve lost 3 hosts of cherubim to voluntary release and then we factor in Prayer Reform which means everyone gets a verbal explanation and a mandatory reconsideration of each smiting.It’s getting so as I can’t taunt a leper without 6 people want to know why.

Q: When we look at the spiralling costs associated with this project, and I’m reading from the latest documents here, talking sheep, 60 winged Popes, the angel Rodney and his toilet seat of repentance….

G: If I may just confer with Dr. Foxley a moment….

Q: Certainly

G: I can confirm, it’s now just one Pope, and he’s not got wings. And the angel Rodney is under review. The Lamb of God is done and ready to go. And of course we’re pleased with on line self-judgment.

Q: Are the fraud and error margins accounted for on that?

G: Yes, but we still have work to do on ID security.

Q: Thank you God. I think we can pick up with you next time. Dr. Foxley?

FX: Yes?

Q: You have overall responsibility for the streamlining of staffing levels and HR ?

FX: I do, yes.

Q: And before this you worked for………?

FX: MacDonalds.

Q: Quite a step up.

FX: Not really, these issues are generally the same whichever field you happen to be in.

Q: I meant from serving burgers. You didn’t actually work in HR so much as a drive thru.

FX: Not sure I follow. Burgers, people. People, burgers. Aren’t they all part of creation?

Q: Well yes but your strategy for rationalising the heavenly host included offering them little apple pies?

FX: It was a worthwhile offer.

Q: Their contracts had a clause for eternal salvation.

FX: Yes but these are difficult times, and who doesn’t like little apple pies?

Q: Hmmm. What about the diversity of the horseman, or indeed any of the angelic hordes. It’s all very white and male.

FX: We have an accelerated development programme to try and reach minorities, like women and such.

Q: Sorry? Females make up a majority of creation.

FX: In a way, in a way. But the uptake on the programme was really very poor.

Q: You disguised the application form as a knitting pattern?

FX: It was a ‘fun’ approach. All women knit. They knit the pattern and hey presto, application form.

Q: Not all women knit.

FX: True but you wouldn’t want to employ one that doesn’t, would you? Same with people of odd ethnicity.

Q: Odd? What do you mean odd?

FX: Different then. Look, it’s important that people understand that heaven is not for everyone. It has certain standards.

Q: Those of the Daily Mail, or UKIP or the golf club?

FX: Exactly. Indeed. The golf club is a good example. Heaven requires a collared shirt, members only, wives admitted Thursday afternoon only.

Q: Who did you replace on the project team?

FX: I joined shortly after Satan left.

Q: Thank you Dr. Foxley. That will be all.


To a Russian Soldier in Kyiv (after Adrian Mitchell)

Adrian Mitchell, the great English poet, wrote a poem entitled To a Russian Soldier in Prague. About the Soviet occupation. Which is available in his collected works “Come On Everybody” published by Bloodaxe Books. I performed readings with Adrian back in the day so have re-tooled his poem.

To a Russian Soldier in Kyiv

You are going to be hated by the people .

They will hate you over their freakish breakfast of eggs on top of shkvarky

They will squint hatred at you on their way to pretend to work for you

By the light of yellow beer they will hate you with jokes you’ll never hear .

You’re beginning to feel

Like a landlord in a slum

Like  Derek Chauvin

Like a U.S . Marine in Saigon

Liberty is hated

By all who kill for profit and power .

But you are going to be hated by

The people – who are all different .

The people – who are all extraordinary .

The people – who are all of equal value .

Liberty is theirs , it was invented for them .

Liberty is theirs , it can only be made by them .

When they turn to America .

They see only guns and children full of bullets

When they turn to England

They see an old lady in a golden wheelchair ,

Share certificates in one hand , a pistol in the other .

When they turn to Russia

They see – you .

You are going to be hated

As the English have usually been hated .

The starving , the poor and the oppressed

Are turning , turning away .

While you nervously guard the internet

They stagger away through the global crossfire

Towards revolution , towards liberty

White Privilege In The Hour Of Chaos

Let me begin by quoting from a speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 5th 1852 in Rochester, New York.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Mr Douglass was an abolitionist, former slave and probably the most prominent African-American of his age. Indeed, the term African American dates from his time. It was a way to describe “free”. To the extent to which anyone without the right to vote might be. Universal Suffrage did not arrive in the USA until 1965 when the Civil Rights act removed the state level barriers put in place following the 15th Amendment in 1870. 1965. Nineteen sixty five.
Could you wait a hundred years for all the limitations of lockdown to be lifted ? And that’s just lockdown.

But anyway, I’ve been keeping my mouth relatively shut just recently. Until I have something worth saying. (I ummed and ahhed about this for well over a week, but concluded better to say it and remove it than not say it) Recently I have had to point out that the pyramids weren’t built by slaves.. It was the ancient Greeks and Cecil B De Mille who created the idea of overseers with whip in hand. Fair to say, the builders of the pyramids were probably as well regarded, if not better, by their employers than the poor souls who carved the M62 through the Pennines. Then a statue was thrown into a harbour and I was reminded of something which happened in Hull a few months ago.
I was walking along one of the broad boulevards and up ahead there was a man evangelising something. I couldn’t make out what. As I approached he was being vociferously heckled by 3 young women. I immediately thought “uh-oh am I going to have to intervene to deliver a stricture on freedom of expression ?” (You know those times when people look nervously at each other thinking “someone ought to do something” ? I’m one of those people who does) But anyway, as I got close I saw that these 3 were actually opposed to some virulently anti homosexual hate speech (with the accompaniment of some pretty poor theology)and one of the girls said something which is as heartening as it is a marker for education in this country. She said “stop being racist to gay people”.
I say heartening because when this white girl wanted to reach down into her vocabulary for the worst thing she could say, racist was the absolute insult. No particular ideology was motivating her beyond knowing hate when she heard it.
Seeing the temporary monuments, Ozymandias to their core (Poem, huge pair of feet belonging to long since ruined statue is found with the inscription “Look on my works Ye mighty and despair.”),these hollow idols of our ancestors being deposed is unsettling to some. I imagine the sort who maintain that “this is a Christian country” but don’t actually go to church. The alarm at seeing symbols of our history being cast into the waters like Saint Benedict and Saint Boniface did to the pagan symbols in Rome is disturbing. Do you think every former citizen of the Soviet Bloc celebrated the removal of Stalin statues ?
Churchill was a racist. Churchill said he was. He was unapologetic about it. He believed, as did a disconcerting proportion of people, that races have different predispositions and IQ. He clung to all the other grisly apparatus of fascism such as forced sterilisation of mentally deficient which included people convicted of a second offence. He thought indigenous people had no right to complain about being invaded by their betters. All of which is documented. Yes he was our wartime prime minister, but it is a measure of our lack of political awareness that we never stop to ask, “What did he actually do ?” It’s telling that even the most recent film “The Darkest Hour” ends with a lie. “Churchill was voted out of office”. This is a lie because he wasn’t voted into office, prime minister isn’t an elected office. You don’t even have to be an MP. He was re-elected as MP. But the people who actually fought the war, the people who showed resolve, strength, and who gave blood, toil, tears and sweat, took a long look at his party and said “nah”. To listen to some people you’d think he was a military genius who saved the nation single handed. As a proud Britain, if the US had not entered the war we’d have been invaded. Full stop. But this is a deviation. I was talking about monumental injustice not justice to monuments.
The necessary and inevitable reaction of people to overwhelming injustice is never going to be anything less than challenging. It ruffles the conscience and rattles the certainties.
I think the disquiet is in being forced to confront things about our own (white) identity. As much as a war on 18th century statuary is ill-conceived, it is one of those particularly British moments. When the Duke of Wellington rolled into Manchester on that very first passenger train, he was greeted by ordinary people waving French Tricolours in protest. He’d opposed Manchester having an MP and the memory of Peterloo was still a raw, livid scar. Wellington was the “hero” of Waterloo and the Prime Minister. But the strength of popular feeling meant he refused to leave the train in the face of banners reading “Vote by ballot” and “No corn laws”. The history of the people of Manchester and the history of the Duke of Wellington are two, divergent paths. I, born in Manchester, am proud of our history. In Albert Square is a statue of Queen Victoria. I like it because it prompts the story of how she refused to attend the opening of the new town hall because the mayor, Abel Heywood, was a chartist*. So the corporation asked him to open it and there was a trades union parade instead. (*Probably, the palace never gave a reason)
No rational person condones the Atlantic slave trade, we just don’t want to think about things from the past. It wasn’t us. Admitting that our silence is our complicity is a step too far for a lot of people. The problem is obvious. And it always starts with “Yes, but…….”
Hence the ill considered mutterings about “all lives matter”. To my white brethren, saying all lives matter is a flawed parallel. How can you claim to be pledged to honouring the right to life of all people if you start by denying the real and palpable murderous injustice toward a particular group of people. If you truly thought all lives matter you would start with accepting that black lives matter and why black people need to demonstrate it at this moment in history. You would ask “what can I do ?” Though not just to random black people in Aldi. That’s just weird. Start with yourself.
For those that confuse rich heritage for wealthy parents, the reason the Tolpuddle Martyrs were pardoned wasn’t down to polite letters to the Times. India didn’t get independence by asking. The Suffragettes weren’t successful due to their doilies. George Floyd said “I can’t breathe” 16 times and is now dead.
And the American Civil War was not fought on social media.
American history is a pet subject of mine. I’m passionate about the opportunity to correct the misnomers.(just as De Mille perpetuated the myth of slaves and pyramids, the western genre perpetuates terrible myths) For example, Custer and the cavalry. The late 19th Century (Post Civil War) US Army in the mid-west was not, if we’re to pay attention to historical fact, a suitable source for a celebration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Though I do enjoy a good Western.
Those blue uniforms came from the Civil War. In the early years of the American civil war local brigades wore their own uniforms which were a fairly broad spectrum of colours. It was, in early encounters, not unusual for one side to mistake their comrades for the enemy and to fire on them. The Union was first to act on this and having the industrial means, commenced the mass production of standard blue uniforms using a new and efficient method. That method was called ‘Shoddy.’ These mass produced uniforms were notorious for falling apart, which is how we now recognise the term ‘shoddy’. But at least you weren’t shot by your own side. Post war the life in the US Army in the outposts of the west was tough. Alongside rampant alcoholism, desertion was rife and the suicide rate among serving men was about 10%. I know. 10% of John Wayne’s men were shooting themselves to get out of the unbelievably harsh life. Of course they weren’t John Wayne’s. But General George Armstrong Custer for example. And Custer is a fascinating subject by himself.
He’s famous for saying “it’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up” which is a variation on a Confucius saying. And Custer is not the best source for an inspirational quote, given his tendency to ethnic cleansing and that he lead many, many men to their deaths even before he was slaughtered at Little Big Horn in a characteristically hubristic charge. He’d come bottom of his class at WestPoint, the US military academy. But he had a supreme talent for self promotion. At the outbreak of the American Civil War he turns up frequently in notable situations, wearing the uniform he’d commissioned for himself full of brocade, his blond locks flowing. He did lead several successful charges during the Civil War. (By which one means he was still alive after them) After the war, he remained in his position as General. His exploits on the frontier were reported in florid terms for readers back in the cities in magazines. Much of his derring-do was reported by “Nomad” who documented Custer’s unending series of triumph over savagery. ‘Nomad’, was Custer’s pseudonym. He was documenting his own bravery. Of which there was, as a matter of historical fact, little. He did sign a deal with a manufacturer of horseshoes for his regiment and got a commission from the sales. The horseshoes were altogether the wrong sort but that was hardly the point. His legacy was his PR.
But the facts of history oblige us to challenge our assumptions on other levels too. For example, after the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, Native Americans had been forcibly located (by the Union) into an autonomous territory called the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Nation sided with the confederate states at the outbreak of the war. Indeed the last confederate general to surrender was Cherokee. This wasn’t too surprising when you consider that they held a lot of African slaves and they objected to not being recompensed for the liberation of their “property” nor did they trust the Union. It’s also notable that after emancipation, the freed peoples had lower levels of inequality, higher literacy and greater school attendance in “the Nation” as it was known, than the former confederate states. And the persecution of the indigenous people of North America continued unabated, culminating in the blasphemy of the Dawes Act 1887.
Talk of the American Civil War necessarily means mentioning Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln wasn’t really an abolitionist in the true sense. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 changed the status of African slaves to free. In confederate territory only. It was largely a military tactic. (It also freed slaves in the Army and Navy) The slaves were only “free” when the Union forces reached them and debate continues as to how many were actually freed. Lincoln wanted above all things to retain the Union. If abolition of slavery meant he could achieve that, then he embraced it, though not very closely. The proclamation prompted riots and lynching in staunchly abolitionist New York. In 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the nature of legislation meant the introduction of Black Codes at state level. Slavery had been abolished but the condition of black people did not alter. People may have heard (if not by name) of Special Field Orders 15 issued by General Sherman. This confiscated a large area of land on the Atlantic seaboard and parcelled it up in 40 acre plots to former slaves. (Mules are not mentioned in the orders) This was rescinded (Through proclamation restoring confiscate land to former owners upon the swearing of an oath of loyalty) by President Johnson who had assumed the presidency after Lincoln’s assassination. A vital historical context, especially for my white privilege, is that ‘abolitionist’ is not a synonym for “not racist”. The fight against slavery was not a fight against racism.
The point of which, is to simply highlight that what we think we know about history and identity isn’t always true. We smooth and flatten to suit ourselves. We become prisoners of our own mitigations. I can only define myself. And in doing so hopefully be an ally. I leave the final words to Frederick Douglass, who delivered a speech at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington’s Lincoln Park on 14th April 1876. (Pausing only to mention that Lincoln’s widow, Mary, was in attendance and, it is said, gave Douglass Lincoln’s walking stick in tribute)

I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.
Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery. The man who could say, “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war shall soon pass away, yet if God wills it continue till all the wealth piled by two hundred years of bondage shall have been wasted, and each drop of blood drawn by the lash shall have been paid for by one drawn by the sword, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” gives all needed proof of his feeling on the subject of slavery. He was willing, while the South was loyal, that it should have its pound of flesh, because he thought that it was so nominated in the bond; but farther than this no earthly power could make him go.

Let’s explore contact track and tracing UK Government officials

Brand new tin foil hat on, let’s simply and without comment, make a few contact observations regarding the proposed App to be deployed by………well that’s a matter of conjecture actually. Just to be clear, 5G doesn’t impact Covid19 in any way but it has been useful to allow the media to be swamped with conspiracy stories meaning that the real curiosities are harder to spot. Anyhow, here we go.

UK Health Minister has announced that a new app will be used to track and trace people displaying Covid 19 symptoms. This will be done by enabling Bluetooth on one’s phone and straight away that is a hugely dumb idea because it gives anyone with malicious intent within a certain radius of your phone complete access to everything on your phone and the ability to use your phone without your knowledge. But that isn’t the issue. Though it’s a slight concern that the UK Health Minister doesn’t appear to know this. BUt that’s not the curious thing.

The UK state does not have a great track record with IT. In fact it has a fucking appallingly wasteful track record and an equally appalling record of lying about it to tax payers. That is to say, “the system works” is repeated until someone finds out it doesn’t. So it’s no surprise that early reports from the trialling of this app “Wobbly” System fails to meet standards show that it’s not great. But that’s not too curious.

Last week (at date of writing, 05/05/20) the Health Secretary of the UK also granted, by means of statutory instrument, access for GCHQ (UK Intelligence) to any NHS or NHS related network or system. For reasons of cyber security. The Consent to Activities Related to the Security of NHS and Public Health Services Digital Systems (Coronavirus) Directions 2020

So that makes everything adorably legal. It’s quite a loose thing. But then the UK government has already granted Amazon access to medical records. So it’s no biggie. Alexa Advice Deal

Data in the tracing app, with the bizarre Bluetooth flaw, is, according to the UK Health Minister, anonymous. That can’t be true. I don’t say Mr Hancock is lying. I say he is studiedly and pragmatically informed. He hasn’t asked the obvious questions so no-one has told him so therefore he can honestly say, when confronted with the bleeding obvious, that he wasn’t told. Remember, it’s against the ‘rules’ for an MP to lie to another MP but a vital part of the cut and thrust of politics to tell the public something you would know to be untrue if you asked obvious and meaningful questions about it. As our current ‘prima inter pares’ and adulterer in chief Boris Johnson’s barrister established in quashing a charge of “Misconduct in Public Office”. Johnson V Westminster Magistrates Court

I know, I know. It’s a lot of links but the reading is interesting. But we’re not at the really curious thing yet. Anonymous data ? If it is data at all then it can’t be anonymous. And there must be a method of verifying any source or else within about 1 minute of ‘go live’ some 13 year old in a bedroom in eastern Europe or South East Asia could launch a primitive but effective denial of service attack. So it must verify that the responses pinging back and forth come from actual phones. So certainly not anonymous. But that’s not the curious bit.

No, the curious bit is that this app is in the hands of an executive agency called NHSX (The X stands for Xperience) (Because these things are staffed to the gills with exactly the sort of wanker who thinks that sounds cool) The CEO of which is Matthew Gould. This is where it gets good.

Those who follow the grand guignol of politics for reasons of morbid curiosity will remember that one of the scandals to interrupt the career of the wily Dr Liam Fox MP was when he had to resign from his position of Minister of Defence over secret meetings he’d had with a guy called Adam Werrity. Mr Werrity is a curious fish because at the time everyone in government said he was a chancer and Walter Mitty-ish guy. But a chancer with defence industry contacts nonetheless. It was a scandal. Dr Fox had to resign. But there was a 3rd person in these meetings. Our erstwhile former ambassador to Israel, Mr Matthew Gould. Adam Werrity

Now although this scandal was so bad the minister resigned, Mr Gould was cleared by the FCO. I make no comment on that. Perhaps there are plenty of occasions when, to take an entirely tangential example, the police raid a brothel and find people in a room snorting cocaine from a prostitutes breasts that the guy sat in the corner who says “I’m just taking notes” is found to have done nothing wrong.

Now let’s be clear. Mr Gould did nothing wrong. He was in the room yes. So at worst perhaps we can accuse him of lacking sound judgement. He was in the room. He knew, or at least ought to have known that it was at least unwise.  Like, say, someone with an enormous neck tattoo which says “Fuck You”. So I’m not entirely comfortable handing over access to my phone to an organisation run by someone like that.

Anyway, I’m returning to considering, philosophically, the Health Secretary’s concept of anonymous. Is a grave truly unmarked if the gravediggers know who they are burying ?

Don’t expect to see this stuff on the BBC. Their ‘reporters’ are pseudo senior civil servants who won’t report anything that might adversely effect their career. In the tangential example, they are the prostitutes from whose breasts cocaine is snorted.

The Spaces Between Buildings


[external: suburban garden, afternoon]
The light peers into the flower beds making unseemly demands of the putative blooms

[internal: kitchen table, narrator seated facing patio doors]

Voice: I am thinking of the places that mark the sacred in my history.
This, us, we, this us, this we, that we are now
Is the ordinal Zeroth. The sublime place from which I recollect.

[External: garden, lawn, flowers growing in pots; Fade to: city street of soot blackened stone and glass and concrete rising like plumes of forge smoke; Cut to: blunt brick edged walls of a dwelling jointing a wooden fence in the view]

Voice: It is in the architecture of omission that I find the source. It is the spaces between the buildings which I look to for inspiration

[Internal : Human hand resting on kitchen table]


The Euclidean geometry of love

We have our axioms

And may deduce our happiness

Or adduce happiness from the strangeness numbers

Of our past until our valency aligned

[External: Office building abuts baroque revival Customs House; Cut to street sign; Cut to stepped gable; Cut to shadows cast by concrete upon stone, zig-zagging among drainpipes high above an alleyway]

Voice: It is the spaces between the buildings which I look to

Still silence voiding the line of sight
Making the unfinished
The ache of inanimate border
Boundary of ether
Hereditaments of the corporeal visual estate

Do I mean this ?

That is

Do I mean

This ?

[Internal: Hand holds pen, poised above lined paper on kitchen table, placemats, coffee cup, vape pen, martini glass; Freeze frame on pen nib alighting on the fibres of the surface]

Voice: Your love clothes my days in golden robes of joy

Yet here I am clutching a frozen moment of intent

[External: The shadows in the obtuse angles of a broken wooden fence; Fade out. Fade in: Paper soaking in the ink from a pen]

Voice: Look up, look up,
I asked each star in turn one by one
to bring you a single gift
Raise your head and be star kissed

[External: Gothic revival church tower and beyond the open upper tier of a car park]

Voice: I awoke consumed with one desire.
To kiss you.
A sunrise of tenderness,
A dawn of gentle caress.
Greet you in the day as you deserve.
Now don’t let these few, humble words
Disturb your routine.
But I could not let a day start without
sharing a little of the sweetness you bring to it.
Oh, did I say a kiss ?
When you go outside
There are a thousand
Dew stained fresh blown kisses for you

[Internal: Hand pauses. Cut to external: lines of urban doorways surmounted by neo-classical pediments with punctuation of side streets]

Voice: I did not choose you
Anymore than you chose me
The universe smiled
And chose us

Don’t blame me for my words
You have come to my mind
And with a few little touches
Made it home and you are welcome

[External: The camber of a tarmac surface sunlit. The view rises to a converted chapel now selling carpets framed by corridors of darkness at each edge]

Voice: I have become sinful
I am proud of the blush
I bring to your cheek
My lips are greedy
For yours
Lust stands firm and unashamed
I envy the water when you bathe
That I could caress you that gently
I am a glutton for your smiles
I have wrath for the miles between us
And I will forever be slothful
To take my leave of you however briefly

[Internal: Sheet of paper with the single line “Do I mean this?” A pen crosses through it several times. Below it writes “Do I mean, ‘this’ ?”]

Voice: I simply think of you
And words come like songbirds
To our garden
Yet still I worry I will
Never have enough
To do you justice
So close your eyes
Kiss me right now
I will know
I am kissing you

I will gather up
All these humble words
Tie them together with ribbon
So that you might
Show them to someone
And say “Look what I did”

Never think I am polished
Rehearsed or prepared
I am tongue tied nervous
All I do is open the door
Of the cage in my heart
And let the bird fly to you
To perch on your finger
And sing
No magic or illusion
Real bird, real cage
Open for you

[Internal: The view from a kitchen table through patio doors to a lawn beyond. A blackbird dances as a robin yells from a fencepost; Cut to an ancient cobbled street leading from a minster, the view swivels to look back at the minster showing the buildings leaning in to hear the footsteps]

Voice: A thousand rain-soaked Dublin kisses
Our pilgrimage communion shared
Watching you bob a curtsy as we left the church
You had lit a candle and I fidgeted in the unfamiliar
Outside on the way to Bewley’s for tea
I struggled with wet paper shopping bags
And we laughed ourselves in and out of gift shops
Looking for a token gift and dry plastic bag
And I still have that green branded carrier
Still fidget in the ritual and rite
And still have safe in the folds of memory
A thousand rain-soaked Dublin kisses

[Internal: the pen is laid across the paper. A coffee cup. A gin glass full of ice and sparkling water. The clock on the stove is visible. It is fast or slow. One of those. They always are. A couple embrace at the patio doors. Sharing a kiss]

Voice: A sense of place can sometimes be the observations made of the spaces between buildings.

We manufacture our structures and it escapes us, eludes our reason

That we also build great landscapes full of sky and dust and air, light and shadow

Just as we enumerate our feelings, casting them wisely or well

It is the inescapable and irrefutable spaces between

The ineluctable modality of the visible

Redefined that define us.


To Whom It May Concern (after Adrian Mitchell)

In the mid 1980’s I had the pleasure of doing readings with Mr Mitchell who had written To Whom It May Concern about the Vietnam war in the late 60’s. I have re-purposed this poem to take account of the current ‘situation’ as the ever more vacant sounding newsreaders are prone to saying. The original is at the bottom. 

I was infected by the truth one day.
Ever since that moment I’ve breathed this way
So fill my lungs with disinfectant
Tell me lies about PPE.

Heard the alarm clock wheezing in pain,
Couldn’t find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with experts
Fill my lungs with disinfectant
Tell me lies about PPE

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is the clapping game.
Made a marble contact list and I carved out all the names
So coat my eyes with tax avoidance
Fill my ears with experts
Fill my lungs with disinfectant
Tell me lies about PPE

I smell something burning, hope it’s just my brains.
They’re only testing the water and rinsing out the drains
So stuff my nose with flour
Coat my eyes with tax avoidance
Fill my ears with experts
Fill my lungs with disinfectant
Tell me lies about PPE

Where were you at the time of the crime?
In a Cobra meeting deleting rhymes
So chain my tongue with Twitter
Stuff my nose with flour
Coat my eyes with tax avoidance
Fill my ears with experts
Fill my lungs with disinfectant
Tell me lies about PPE

You put your revised stats in, you take your conscience out,
You take key worker status and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with isolation
Chain my tongue with Twitter
Stuff my nose with flour
Coat my eyes with tax avoidance
Fill my ears with experts
Fill my lungs with disinfectant
Tell me lies about PPE

//genius.com/songs/114441/embed.js“>To Whom It May Concern



We’re All Celebrities Now (Lockdown Notes)

I was always suspicious of these ‘celebrities’ claiming that it was awful not being able to just pop to the shops or walk the streets. Small price, I thought, and given my natural inclination to avoid people, not that bad. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I’m asocial. And now I’m living the dream. Wearing a disguise to avoid being papped by the neighbours, worrying about being recognised in the shop. And thinking about teasing a forthcoming tour and album.  Or maybe just that sign of dead artist, the greatest hits. Followed by the Essential. Which in lockdown terms, with one’s best beloved would see a track listing including “I told you that would happen”, “Don’t do it that way (It’ll Wrinkle)” and “Those Ain’t My Crumbs in the Butter”.

Still I happen to be in the quartile of ‘you’ll probably die if you get this’ so I follow the rules bright people tell me I should follow. The perils of modern life and the ethereal presence of soshull meeja mean it’s tricky sometimes to know who the bright people are. It’s no politician. They aren’t bright people. You get to where they are by never clinging too hard to one idea that you get stuck with it forever. They are the particular type of human that will never put principle ahead of career. As a thought exercise think of something you like. Gardening maybe. Now put yourself in the position of joining your local gardening club. Now think about how you would go about getting on to the committee. There’s bound to be an established power structure. Plus those few who run around spreading gossip and rumour and being disapproving of certain traits they deem “impolite”. Think about how many compromises you would have to make, conversationally, in order to secure sufficient backing to even get near the committee and once there how on earth do you prosper in the face of the old guard ? Exactly. Now multiply that by about a thousand and you begin to see why no politician is worth spit. In order for you to have heard of them sufficiently to form an opinion, imagine how many times they have had to look in the mirror at the end of a day and blame someone for the degradation they have submitted themselves to. That’s why so many of them cling to the 19th century notion of deference. Of course you would want people to be afraid to step out of line if there’s a chance they might look into your eyes and see that there is no longer a person there, just a deep pit dug a little deeper by every compromise. Of course some will say “Oh steady on, they’re not all the same” but I think if we hold them to that level of contempt and reward them with them an honest and genuine revision in our opinion when they actually do something then we would all be happier and democracy (or what’s left of it after Brexit) would be served. I say ‘after Brexit’ because we should not forget that this was the triumph of telling people what they want to hear and our current Prime Minister went to court to defend his right to lie, politically, in order to win favour. The courts ruled themselves unwilling to pass judgement on such dishonesty.  So have been bequeathed an unelected master race of gifted toddlers called “super-forecasters” who have proved their worth in the face of Covid 19. They are as much use in the face of a virus as the conquering Martians in War of the Worlds. Chaps, seriously, just fuck off now.

This is why I don’t get too angry watching the evening “briefings” by the UK government. We don’t elect our government in the UK. We elect MPs from our constituency, and the dominant block of MPs decide among themselves who will be the government and within that bloc of venal self interest and mirror reflections of self loathing, it is the single “prima inter pares” or first among equals who assumes the role of Prime Minister. Which would be fine if we were talking about human beings who haven’t spent their professional lives sloughing off their humanity to get to that point. No I don’t get angry at the briefings. I sometimes peer at the screen wondering if the broadcaster will actually show the blood on their hands. But of course they don’t. No, my anger is reserved for the pitiless serpents that despoil everything they touch in UK society. Their pointless and insidious existence is testimony to the complacency we have for each other in UK society. It’s those people who announce them at every given opportunity as “I’m a manager”. Doesn’t matter what. They have conferred on themselves a degree of sincerity and gravitas they do not deserve. Have you ever char grilled peppers ? You strip away the charred outer skin leaving a sticky pulp ? Well imagine that sticky pulp was bitter and vile. That’s the middle manager. The graceless dupes without the courage to become a politician. Vapid and venal, turgid and tasteless in their pronouncements. We all know them. These are the fuckers in the public sector given the task of ordering paper hats for a given number of people, knowing the number of people and a luxurious timeframe and couldn’t get their shit together. When this shitty business is over there will be a reckoning and I have decided I can no longer remain silent in the face of so much villainy.  Prepare yourselves you pestilent congregation of vapours, you are superfluous to our collective requirements.

Think I’m being hard ? Look at what a retired army captain managed simply by asking the question “what can I do ?” He didn’t sit around announcing himself as “Captain Tom” expecting deference, he rolled his sleeves up and did what he could. He didn’t sit in video conference after video conference in front of an artfully constructed vision of the life he would prefer to project. Ask yourself if those mouth breathing raconteurs of their own brilliance in meetings have actually read any of the books they’ve sat in front of ? The answer is none. They don’t read. They issue document after document which could easily be termed ‘Write only’. And let the record show, if it weren’t for sheer manpower, they’d be exposed for the useless frumps (Non-gender specific) they are. Remember these are people without the gumption to become politicians. They are gardening club treasurers. That is their level.

On a slightly less angry note I used to read about the 17th Century in England and how the puritans banned Xmas. Like many I would wonder at how that might be possible. I mean, I knew the mechanics, they simply removed the public holiday but I wondered how that might have been possible. Well those of us in Lockdown UK have the answer. It was fucking neighbours grassing each other up. They didn’t even have an overly exuberant  police force checking shopping bags and deciding they’re Judge Dredd for the duration.

“Excuse me sonny, are those your Jaffa Cakes ?”

“Yes sir. For my own personal consumption.”

“That’s an awful lot. Looks like intent to supply. And what’s this ?  A Bag for Life ? That’s going equipped that is”

And so on and so forth. But the attitude of the police is only like most supervisory management in any sphere. When in doubt “command and control”. So that’s me for the moment, beavering away in lockdown staying safe. It’s only right that an educated and informed populace holds their politicians in contempt. Not for their race, or gender or appearance. But for their inability to “do” anything. UK health workers are dying in droves because politicians and the junior middle managers they rely on are useless. They don’t need the country to come to their doorstep on a Thursday to flap their hands. They need equipment. How fucking hard is that actually ? I mean actually given the amount of pandemic planning that had to be in place ? Yeah we value our health sector in the UK. Just not that highly. We long ago allowed spivs and chancers to take over social care paying minimum wage so it’s no surprise they’re in a mess. The NHS has been broken up into fiefdoms called “Trusts”. No you can’t write irony like that. Every dead burse is a stain on the hands of our politicians. Every dead health care worker was preventable. Not just most. Every single one. That is shame every single person must carry with them. That must inform every decision we take from now on.

May the light of love shine upon you and within you.


11:50pm Thoughts Inspired

You Said

You said

“she died”

And if

I could

I would

Have taken hold

Of your hand

And hold it still

And never

Let go


Do not

Do not be deceived I am

Improvising and coaxing

Whatever I have learned

To place before you

Discovering a place

To be me at last

New and fresh and real

Fate perhaps at work

Whatever meager ability

I manage to set free

Oh beauty they name

Is eternal to my heart

Not a quote but simply

Me talking to you

No translation errors here

My heart pronounces

Your name perfectly


I Will

Catch the spiders

And release them

To start again as we do

I will shoo the mice

To find where they

Belong as we do

I will be as strong

As you need

And no stronger

I will be pest control

Labourer unquestioning

Devoted servant and

Leader when you wish

Telepathic empathy

A newfound skill of mine


From Work

Home at last

Meal cooking

Bath run

Kisses kisses kisses

Hearing ear

Coat taken

Day unpacked

Kisses kisses kisses

Twenty minutes

Soak with wine

Meal ready

Kisses kisses kisses

Eat from knees

Sit back full

Talking laughing

Kisses kisses kisses

Head on shoulder

Dropping off

Silent warmth

Kisses kisses kisses

Time for bed

Hand held

Told you are the golden star around which my world spins

Kisses kisses kisses


Just Because

Because I Can

I would paint you

As Lempicka painted Rafaela

Each brushstroke livid with desire

I would write you

As Neruda wrote Your Laughter

Devour you with my words

I would sing you

As Gregory Porter sings Just The Way You Are

Sooth you with my voice

All these things for you

Gifts from the air

Just because I can


Conjugating Us (As seen on The Poetry Bar)

I hiss

You dismiss

He/she/it reminisce

They Judge


I evoke

You provoke

He/she/it revokes

They judge


I blurt

You hurt

He /she/it revert

They judge



This lame mule has appetite

For more toil and to be faithful

Once more to be owned

And to take the burden

Companion on the road

And warmth when at night

In makeshift hedgerow sleep

I stand in my field and flick my tail

Alert to noises in the lane

I stand and wait

This lame mule has appetite yet


Sad Eyed

You were sad eyed among headstones

And I wanted to tell you

The most honest tribute to

Lost love is life


Inspired By The Beauty of Sunlight Through Stained Glass

I tried to write for you today

But the words were too humbled

To want to be heard

Like candles in a sun beam

I wanted to write something befitting

But  where once the lone wolf words

Would hunt you down

Somehow they have curled at your feet

But let anyone raise their voice to you

And snarling they will arise

Entirely at your command



3 for this afternoon

Asterion Earthbound

Alone in a private corner

Of the labyrinth the Minotaur

Sinks to his knees and holding

His sword to steady himself

He lowers his head and weeps

Pasiphae his mother named him

Asterion, but he is Minotaur

Part dumb animal stalking

His vast ornate prison and

Part man, weeping at the

Yearning in his soul

To know just once a touch

That is not from combat

And rising to his feet

Asterion looks to the heavens

And cries for Theseus to come


Idle Moments

An unplanned thought occurred

And I re-traced accustomed steps

Through Eliot’s Wasteland

A familiar stroll through

Conversant surroundings

But paused today at a place

I usually walk past in a hurry

Struck mute at the ironic

Call from history that

Prefigures a fond thought

And I recited aloud

The brief extract smiling

First then laughing at

My naive foolishness



On average a square centimetre

Of air has a mass of one kilogram

And I look up at the sky

And some days feel the weight

The atmospheric pressure

Decreases the greater the altitude

Which is why thinking of you

Leaves me light headed, giddy

And why the boiling point is so low



This sacerdotal exegesis

Enumerated passage of

Noah in the dry seasons

Cry of apostolic credence

Art is the condition which arises

As the result of a subjective stimulus/stimuli

Meeting with a subjective response

We may consider subjectivity to be

The extent to which the judgmental process

Is unqualified by context or expertise

We may also consider a stimulus/stimuli

To be the conscious placing of metrials in order

When we speak of response

We are identifying the activity of

Decoding the order of materials

(It is not guessing at the conscious or unconscious order

Of the materials, or the original order or the originality

Of the order)

Decoding is the term denoting

A comprehension of significance

This significance is wholly analogous with meaning

Meaning can be said to be

The condition arising as the result of

A subjective stimulus/stimuli

Meeting with a subjective response

The conscious placing of materials in order

Produces the artefact

There can be no prescriptive

Or definitive category of artefacts

Or materials whose order can produce the artefact

Concern with the materials

Detracts from the subjective response

And qualifies the judgmental process

Through the criteria of context

It is not enough to rely on the caveat of intellect

Intellect is the qualification by context

And/or expertise of judgemental tools

The chief obstacle to overcome

Is a reluctance to rely on the

Judgement of the individual

We are clinging to the wreckage

Of the process of industrialisation

Where every aspect of existence must

Have a qualitative value placed upon it

As part of a continual process of stocktaking

We are perpetually measuring worth

Education systems are  means

Of perpetuating existing values and

Limit the choices of judgmental tools

A professor of literature may spend

All their life conforming to

The demands of the institution

Much the same way recidivist criminals

Behave according to their patterns of

Institutionalised socialisation

And experiences literature in those terms