virus

Dominic Cummings: The Lockdown Tour

He’s been locking down in London,
And a bit in Durham, too.
Not to mention Barnard Castle,
Legoland and Bristol Zoo.

He’s been locking down in Stoke-on-Trent
And Weston-super-Mare.
He’s spread himself quite thin of late.
He’s been spreading everywhere.

He’s been locking down in Basildon,
In Derby, Penge and Rome.
Wherever he lays his beanie hat,
That’s his lockdown home.

He’s more spreadable than margarine.
He’s been spreading far and wide.
He’ll be locking down in your town soon:
Spread the word and stay inside.

Notes and Clarifications

Let’s be very clear about this,
you should stay inside,
except for those occasions
when you go outside.

You should work from home
unless, that is, you cannot;
in which case you should work
in other places,

avoiding all public transport
(unless you have to use it)
and the shared, confined spaces
in which you work.

A socially distanced meeting
is permissible with ONE person
(possibly more, maybe fewer)
from another household,

but this must only take place
either in a park, on desolate wasteland,
or in the BBQs and Grills section
of a local garden centre.

Clarity and precision are vital
at this time. Please see
the accompanying 50-page booklet
for further details.

Kindness

To recap what we now know: it did not begin
in a laboratory in Wuhan, nor with a pangolin or bat,
but it already lay dormant within us, like a seed
in need of certain conditions to grow;

its symptoms are many and various,
and may include some, or all, of the following:
tear drops, sudden laughter, a feeling of warmth,
and a peculiar uplifting of the heart;

it leaves its traces everywhere: from boxes
left on doorsteps to conversations over fences;
it can be transmitted over vast distances,
through a phone call, or from a smile across a street,

or a certain softness of tone spoken beside
a hospital bed; it affects young and old equally;
there is no race or gender immune from it;
it has the power to topple bad governments;

if one person were to pass it on to just three others
and they, in turn, were to pass it on to three more,
in no time at all, the world would be full of it,
and where, might we ask ourselves, would we be then.

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On Leaving the House and Encountering Another Human Being

I’m sorry I dived into the bushes.
It’s not personal, you understand.
You happened to walk in my direction
and my nerves got the upper hand.

I’m sorry I screamed when you came near me.
Don’t take my angry shrieks to heart.
Idiomatically, let’s stay in touch –
and physically, six feet apart.

Apologies if it seems like you repulse me,
that I recoil when you come near.
In other times, we might have spoken,
shared a joke or had a beer,

or waltzed together down the footpath,
perhaps we may yet still one day.
But just for now, embrace the margins
and wave to me from far away.

Comparative Guidance for Social Distancing

Just remember it’s:
The length of a musk ox or fully-grown llama
Three Rubik’s Cubes plus one Keir Starmer
Eleven seven-inch singles by Bananarama
That’s what two metres is.

Alternatively, it’s:
1/ 192,199,930th of a single moon beam
2.2 times greater than Munch’s The Scream
About 10½ packets of custard creams
That’ll be two metres.

If easier, think:
Thirty-three pairs of dragonfly wings
The length of a yoga mat belonging to Sting
Two one-metre long pieces of string
That comes to two metres.

Or failing that, imagine:
0.00000091 of the coast of mainland Wales
18.2648402 cricket bails
One and a quarter Prunella Scales
That’s two metres.

Cat under Lockdown

My cat has been adapting to the lockdown
rather well, it must be said.

She leaves the sofa for very limited purposes,
exercising once a day in the flowerbeds,

never failing to wash her paws
for at least two hours upon her return.

She no longer meets friends or relatives
who do not live in her home,

but contents herself in catching up with them
on Skype or Zoom. Should other cats

intrude on her territory, she’s always careful
to maintain her social hiss stance,

and she deplores the action of her neighbour
who has been stockpiling mice for weeks.

She bears it all with great fortitude
although she knows everything is changed,

and, when the ambulances go by,
they will wake her and she will look at me

as if to say, don’t worry, I’m here,
I have no plans to go anywhere.