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