Archive for March, 2015

Tatton Park or Your Black Dress


When we met in the park today,
You had a new dress,
Short and black with matching tights,
It hugged you.
Once, the thought of seeing you
Blew summer heat into the frostiest days,
Today I could only shiver
As we walked the gardens and
I stared at your new black dress.
I envied the wool its closeness,
How it warmed you,
How it caressed bottom and
Cuddled breasts.
I envied it, and though it suited you,
Hated it for knowing you so well.
As we walked and I watched your hips,
That knowledge seemed a taunt,
A slap to an already stung face.
I hid behind sunglasses and
The roar of landing jets,
Dreamed myself to wool,
To hug, cuddle, caress.
A place too easy to get lost in,
But I know the way.

I think I’ll stay there.


Walking In My Shoes



I don’t like walking in my shoes,
Soles worn smooth and they leak.
I know there are many
Walking in poorer shoes, but
I don’t like walking in my shoes.

Slide and slip through puddles,
Stones always find their way in,
Cut through sodden socks
Until I hobble my way home,
I don’t like walking in my shoes.

The man in the bus queue
Has a sole flapping loose,
Another has string for laces,
I know these are worse than mine but
I don’t like walking in my shoes.

I’m tired of my own footsteps,
My feet are bruised and sore,
Don’t try walking in my shoes,
They may not be glued together, but
I can’t bear walking in my shoes.


I cannot walk in their shoes
No matter how well they seem to fit,
Their tidy gravel paths are not mine,
Nor heels filed from pressing gas or brake,
Nor pavement smoothed soles
Thinned by the same daily roads,
These are mine no longer
Though I still see them,
Treading my own track in leaky leather,
No part for me in that play.


Look at these shoes:
Scuffed white beyond
Hope of polish, heels
Smoothed to ankle turning curves,
Soles sanded so every step
Is on ice, only the laces
Are new, still shop clean.
They do scrub up well,
Though it takes increasing effort,
Hardly worth the bother,
I doubt they’ll be footworthy
Much longer: lived in, walked in,
Gone round the clock, block and bend.
Look at them, these old shoes,
Worn out and near past it.
A bit like me really.

Road Ahead Closed


A poem from last year. A bit rough and self-pitying, but “it’s how I felt at the time”.

We didn’t agree
To close the road between us:
It was your decision
No words of mine could change,
No entreaty could pass
Your stopped ears, and I,
The defeated state,
Had to accede.

You wanted a different road,
Narrow, pot-holed and twisted
Fit only for occasional use and
Subject to entry clearance.
Those were your terms,
And I, the defeated state
Had to accede.

If that’s the only choice I have,
I’d rather have no road at all.
Defeated yes, but alive,
I’ll find another road,
Build a new one if I have to,
Alone, I’ll accede no more.

Pro-Business? No Thanks.


Now we are are again into the long tedious run up to an election. All the usual Daily Mail nonsense is getting thrown around about immigration, benefit scroungers, the EU etc etc, yawn yawn.

In addition to having to be tough on immigrants and the poor, politicians have to be pro-business. Business creates jobs you see, it’s so much better than the nasty, union-infested public sector, filled as it is by overpaid lazy jobsworths. It must be comforting so see life in such simple terms.

All pro-business means to me is removing all regulation and law that protects workers, the environment, or makes it pay tax. Allowing it to do with the hell it likes with absolutely no come back, in other words. (Funny how businesses gets away with millions in tax avoidance but if some poor sod allegedly commits benefit fraud, they go to jail. Who are the real scroungers here?)

And politicians go along with this, surrendering more and more of their power to unelected and unaccountable business. Who do you think really benefits from selling off public services so cheaply? Not us taxpayers that’s for sure. Politicians are put there by us to represent us, to look after our interests and the country’s interests. Yet they sell themselves to business, regardless of our interests or the country’s. Well, there’s a word for that: traitor.

Yes, jobs may very well be created by business. But it’s sad that so many are Mcjobs: mostly part time, not paying a living wage, or worst of all, a zero hours contract. And that’s all people can get, and so still have to go through the humiliation of claiming benefits to top up the wages.

If it’s anti-business to want better worker rights, better pay, better terms and conditions, an end to zero hours contracts and an end to the obscene salaries of CEOs, then I’m anti-business. And what’s more, I’m proud of it.

Time to Vote, But For Whom?


Michael Sheen’s recent fascinating documentary about the massacre of chartists in Newport in 1839, and in parallels to modern day voter apathy, ended with the caption:

On May 7th 2015, there will be a general election.

Will you use your vote?

The answer to that is simple: yes, obviously. It was a right fought for and should not be wasted. However, there remains the question of who to vote for, as I share much of the discontent with politics and politicians. If I end up voting Labour, it will be – as it was in 1997 – not out of any conviction, but more of a tactical thing; a desire to get shot of the current shower of bastards in the hope of getting a hopefully less odious shower of bastards.

The problem I have with Labour is twofold. On a local level, my MP was parachuted into the safe Labour seat with no previous connection to the area; and secondly, I don’t feel the party has much connection with what should be its core base: what you could call, at the risk of sounding patronising, the ordinary person in the street. Someone doing a normal job, perhaps struggling to get by on part time hours (or worse, on a zero hours contract) and poor pay; or someone forced through no fault of theirs into the pseudo-Victorian morality of the benefits system. Let us not forget it was a Labour prime minister (the odious Blair) who was proud that we had amongst the weakest labour laws in the western world. His government continued the previous Tory government’s policy of stigmatising those claiming benefits, and the current party echoes the even harsher language used about this by Cameron and co.

And of course, the party is – and it’s not alone in this – far too full of professional politicians. The sort of affluent type from the metropolitan elite who gets a PPE degree from a good university, works for a party then gets a safe seat. No experience of the “real” world at all. I’m sure many go into it with the best of motives, but I’m equally sure many do it simply as a career choice. (There aren’t that many jobs where you get to decide your own rates of pay and terms and conditions, rights denied the rest of us).

Then there is the question of the relation to business. For that, read big business. They are currently being attacked for being anti-business, or not pro-business enough. For me, pro-business means getting rid of regulations so business can do what the hell it likes with no accountability, and to get away with not paying their taxes. I would expect a Labour government to close tax loopholes, improve worker rights and make business behave in a socially responsible way. But will they? Sadly, I rather doubt it.

I’m not sure just where this leaves me. I suspect I will be still pondering this as I walk into the polling booth in May.

Nick Cohen: Writing from London

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