A limerick a week #197

Beyond satire… 

It’s a bit of a rant-cum-braindump this week, so just skip to the end for the limerick I would!).

From the Financial Times a few days ago:

Mr Johnson is expected to exhort his cabinet on Tuesday to lead a campaign to persuade Britons that it is safe to go back to the pub and to enjoy other aspects of normal life.

“There’s a job to be done to encourage people to go out,” said one government official, suggesting some ministers might take the lead by heading to the pub.

From the Graun (a few days later after the British-but-mainly-the-English public decided to crowd together at the seaside and inland beauty spots and ignore the Covid-19 guidance and pre-lockdown social norms):

Earlier in the week, Johnson urged people to get out and “enjoy themselves” on 4 July, claiming that “the bustle is starting to come back”.

How the UK’s right wing tabloids promote Johnson’s easing of the Covid-19 restrictions

Subsequently from the Graun:

While thousands of people used their “good old British common sense” to flock to the beach at the first sign of a heatwave – who could have predicted they would interpret Boris’s upbeat “Show some guts ending of hibernation” address this way?

And today from The Observer:

On Wednesday in parliament the prime minister was asked a simple question by Peter Kyle, Labour MP for the seaside constituency of Hove. It was certain, Kyle noted, that with the relaxing of restrictions on socialising, coastal towns like his would become dangerously packed with visitors. “What will the prime minister do in the absence of the promised [track and trace] app to make sure these communities are destinations for investment and not destinations for covid?”

Boris Johnson replied with typical scattergun harrumphing: “I will be calling on local representatives such as himself to show some guts and determination and champion their communities as venues for people to return to and support!”

Through his mishandling of the Cummins ‘lockdown’ affair, our Prime Minister and his Cabinet had earlier lost all moral authority to complain about the British public breaking his Government’s most recent Covid-29 guidance. On top of that, his pronouncements on the easing of lockdown have since positively encouraged the public to ignore it entirely.

And what is his next great thought? He declares that it is for local councils to deal with the mess for which he is responsible. What a pillock!

When Boris starts passing the buck
On a virus that’s now run amuck
All I can say,
In a most heartfelt way,
Is the man’s just a stumbling rumblef*ck

A limerick a week #196

🎶There ain’t nothing like a Dame🎶

When Dame Vera Lynn, the UK’s WWII Forces’ Sweetheart, turned 100 a few years ago, I recycled an old tongue-in-cheek limerick. You can read it here.

Well, she has just died at the grand old age of 103. Quite an innings, but I wonder, I just wonder, that with her passing and that of the recent 75th anniversary of VE day, whether the UK can finally place the part it played in WWII in its historical context, albeit its modern history, instead of re-living its glories every time our present-day politicians want to divert attention from the divisiveness of their policies.

I’m all for Rememberance, but only in its truest sense and not as a pretext for ‘uniting’ a country behind xenophobic populism. Dame Vera was symbolic of unity for the right reasons; reasons that led to the UK’s post-war social democratic concensus rather than the bitter divides that neoliberalism has brought about more recently. 

Anyway, here’s a ‘goodbye’ in ALAW fashion…

A songstress who enthralled servicemen
Sings no more, as the time has come when
It’s ‘adieu’ to Dame Vera
And the end of an era
‘Cos I don’t think that we’ll meet again!

A limerick a week #195

For someone at the start of their secondary school years, the early 1970s BBC Time-Life magazine ‘The British Empire’ made for a fascinating weekly read over the course of its 98 issues. 


It was the first ever part-work magazine that was specifically linked to a BBC television series and, as with the broadcast programme, the subject of ‘Empire’ and its presentation was controversial in the eye of the dominions if not to those for whom it was a nostalgic echo of when Britannia ruled the waves.

To the thirteen year old me, the magazine’s depictions of the slave trade were horrific. Horrific, but far away. After all, although we were ‘offcomers’ to my home town of Kendal, we were Caucasian just like the locals and weren’t exposed to the realities of racism in the 1970s.

So, despite being rather shocked by the appallingly-racist sitcom Love Thy Neighbour and bemused by the peculiarity that was the Black and White Minstrel Show, we were, in those days, quite unaware of the offensiveness, for example, of white actors ‘blacking up’ in other TV productions. 

It wasn’t until I was a student in the east end of London during the autumn of 1977 that I learned about some of the realities of racism. Although my stay in London was short, for a part of that time I shared a room with Gwyn, a young man of colour from the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) .

We were lodging with a senile landlady on the fifth floor of a tower block, the bucolically-but-deceptively named Barley Mow Estate on Oak Lane in Poplar.

My student ‘residence’ in London’s east end four years after I’d lived there

Our landlady’s senility was a problem (lettuce for breakfast, anyone?) and she should have been properly cared for by her family. Instead they encouraged her to take in students as lodgers so there was someone there to keep an eye on her.

But that wasn’t our real problem. Our real problem was the hostility shown to Gwyn by some of the area’s locals whenever he, or we, ventured out. It was more than an eye-opener to a naïve north country lad. (Due to my accommodation problems I dropped out after one term. I don’t know if Gwyn lasted the course or what became of him.)

Needless to say, in view of my experience back then, if only as a mere observer, the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and the downing of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol and its dumping in Bristol Harbour, has resonated with me and I do hope that it leads to a substantive change for the better and not just the usual hand-wringing of privileged UK politicos

Here’s the limerick

When the time finally came to take stock
It never was really a shock
For the people of BAME
To attribute the blame
To the man they’ve just put in the dock!

I’ll leave the last word to the historian and TV presenter David Olusoga…