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I watched the TV parade of affluent

(and mostly public school) chancers, liars,

fantasists, hypocrites, law-breakers

vie to top each other’s warmed-up clichés

and self-serving platitudes. The social

and economic future dystopia most

seemed to desire would, they assured us,

bring out the British best in all of us,

just like the Blitz. I thought of bomb-razed

building lots in major cities still empty,

and a tale a cabby told me years ago,

taxiing me from the railway station.


As he dropped me off he looked at the house.

He asked if it had a cellar, with a door

opening onto the back garden. I nodded.

He and his mum, he said, had joined a silent

and lengthy queue to buy black market sugar.

‘A doctor lived here then, ran a racket

with the lad that worked at the grocer’s.

The lad did time. The medic got off scot-free.’


I did some research, worked out the dates.

Here, in this place of light we have made our home,

all those ordinary folk committed crimes

like common recidivists – while London

was bombed, and Coventry, and Liverpool,

and the BBC broadcast Churchill’s speeches

of carefully crafted rhetoric.




© Copyright David Selzer

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