They left

to spend more time with their families
which was bad news
for their families,
who had to put up
with their daft daydreams
and scatter-brained schemes
at home

occasionally,
they’d suggest an outing
to some relic
coated in dust,
or a tea shop
at a National Trust,
only to lose interest
before they’d even left
the house

they had no idea
how to get there –
no map or Satnav
in case they got lost,
no idea of what it might cost,
no food or water,
no suncream or macs

someone else
could take care of all that

Beach Reading

Essential to any beach trip this summer
is Mouna Lellouche’s Obsidian Nights,
an exploration of the self and modernity,

and best consumed in its original Berber,
of course. She’s been gone a year now.
There’s no book that shouts ‘READ ME!’

louder than the waves which crash
upon the rocks than John Phillipston’s
fine new exploration of equine prostitution

in early modern theatre, ‘Tis Pity
She’s a Horse’
. I woke one morning
and she’d just cleared out. And, finally,

any time spent relaxing underneath that –
no note, nothing – Mediterranean sun
would be incomplete without the latest –

she’d only taken the little suitcase –
Oriana Malmoud, whose new book,
The Insubstantiality of Things, is a sustained critique

of consumer culture – pizza again tonight –
which, she argues, can only be combated
by a new set of moral imperatives.

At the Ghostbusters Training Academy for Women

Well, love, it looks like you’ve got a shape-shifter
there, tricky buggers them, please excuse my French.
You’ll need your photon gun and a monkey wrench,
if you’ve got one to hand. Watch as you lift the

neutrona wand, love, valuable that is. Good
stuff. Now, there’s a cyclotron in that backpack,
not that your pretty head should worry about that.
It’s to concentrate the protons, see. That should

create a positronic ionized stream
to polarize with the negative charges
of the ectoplasm. Still with me, darling?
Lovely. Wait ‘til you hear the shape-shifter scream …

There. He’s not going anywhere! Now, love, just
pop him right inside this Muon Trap. Double
check he’s secure. We don’t want any more trouble
from the likes of him! There, you did it! You must

be exhausted. I didn’t think you’d stick it,
not at first. It’s tiring work – even for men.
A lot of people wouldn’t have it in them.
Still, a cup of tea will sort you out. Biscuit?

WMD

We found them in the end,
those Weapons of Mass Deception.

Turns out
that the Weak Motives for Destruction

were here all along,
not concealed in the backs of Iraqi trucks,

but buried deep
in a Whitehall Manipulation of Documents,

in a dossier entitled
“Wilful Misinformation and Distortion”

to serve the needs
of certain Well-known Ministers of Distinction.

Behind the scenes, out of sight,
Westminster Manoeuvres in the Dark;

disarming how long it has taken
for this to be brought to light.

The Chilcot Report: A History

Not much happened that first day –
the day the inquiry began –
the wind blew, a blackbird sang,
a shoe was found on the sand.

And the next day was the same.
Add in the bleating of a lamb,
a stick floating down a stream,
an early morning traffic jam.

And so it was, and so it was,
that the days turned into years,
and the people came and went –
their lives, their loves, their words.

Dynasties rose, empires fell,
species evolved over time.
Continents drifted further apart,
stars disappeared from the sky.

Dark energy increased in density,
all matter began to distort,
the universe collapsed in on itself,
then out came the Chilcot Report.

Com  ppance

Things work both ways, of course.
And so the EU left our language,
waited not for any half-mumbled    logy,
bade no adi   .
And the   rosceptics,
felt no    phoria,
outmano   vred as they were.

Words found themselves misconstrued.
There were bitter f  ds
raised fists, Fr  dian slips,
few remained n   tral.
Unemployment rose –
amongst mass   rs, chauff  rs, n   roscientists –
and mus  ms closed.

The country got roomier
and rh   mier,
a mausol  m to memories of imperial grand   r,
mixing racial slurs
with a sip from a glass of Pimms
and a snip of secat   rs.

I am sorry but I cannot accept …

I am sorry but I cannot accept the post of Prime Minister,
For there is little in my history that’s suitably sinister,
No financial irregularities, no offshore accounts,
No stock-piling of wealth in ever larger amounts.
No public school background, no Oxford, no Cambridge;
No late night liaisons with the head of a pig.
My character’s flawed also, it pains me to say;
I lie – at best – only three times a day,
I have shown compassion, empathy, contrition,
So I’m afraid I am unsuited for this position.

I am sorry but I cannot accept the post of England Manager,
For whilst I tick the box entitled ‘well-meaning amateur‘,
I worry that my grasp of tactics is too strong,
That I might be able to understand what is wrong
And how to change it. I can also be meticulous
In my preparations, a trait which would be ridiculous
In any manager. I have a track record of winning games,
By creating teams, not just picking names,
And getting them to stick the ball in the goal,
So I’m afraid I am unsuited for this role.