The when, where, why of the last of Britain

is not easy to pinpoint exactly.


Perhaps it was Dudley Moore, the comic actor

and skilful musician, drunk, approaching

Princess Margaret at some exclusive do

and slurring, “Good evening, your royal highness.

I suppose a blow job is out of the question?”


Or the woman herself choosing not to be buried

with her peers, but cremated in Slough.


Possibly it was the Queen and her consort,

walking like storks, among the tributes to

The People’s Princess – or the tributes per se.


Probably it was the vicar’s daughter,

the mistress of orotund cliché and

patronising retort, inviting herself

to Florence to tell the world the Continent

was cut off yet again – in that city

of beauty and feuds, where Galileo

was denounced, and Dante encountered Beatrice.




Ford Madox Brown’s ‘The Last of England’ depicts

an emigrant couple – youngish, well dressed –

on a windswept deck beneath Dover’s cliffs.

The man is stricken by their anxious future –

the woman is trusting or stoical.

Her right hand holds his, her left clutches

that of a child hidden under her cloak.

Behind them on the stormy deck there is

roistering, bravado.


Note: The poem was first published on Facebook on 4.10.17.




  1. #1 by Mary A Clark - January 1st, 2018 at 21:45

    The walking like storks is apt. Just what they looked like. It’s hard to pinpoint, as you say, the moments when the end begins. But it reminds me of my own country. Was it when we erected statues of traitors to the union and placed them in honored, public places? Perhaps that’s too obvious. Before that the Jim Crow laws. Was it when we were seduced by ‘Happy Days Again’?

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