Category Archives: poetry

Daily Mail: “Let Our Teachers Be Heroes”

The Daily Mail’s not very nice.
Their front page calls for sacrifice
As the author of this piece implies
That they require a teacher dies.
(Like Sarah Baxter in the Times
Whose journalistic crimes
Set her apart from other writers
When she accused the firefighters
At Grenfell of not acting bravely
But being obsessed with health and safety.
Her reasoning, as supplied
Was that not a single one had died).
As for the Mail’s call to glory,
Economics drives this story
And not the benefits to children
Or the risks to those who teach them,
Many of whom, despite all this,
Have been at work throughout the crisis
As there’s no ruling that forbids
The schooling of key workers’ kids.
The lesson is, as ever, clear:
Teachers, hold your union dear
And be around to tell the tale
Of how you beat the Daily Mail.



A New Slogan

Here’s a new slogan
Worse than the last one
From the Cummings Hit Factory
Here’s a miss

Stay alert, by staying at home
But if you can’t work from home
You should stay alert by going to work
But who will look after the kids?

On staying alert by going to work
There’s little advice
Trust your boss to be nice
And not one that takes the piss

On staying alert while travelling to work
Stay alert by not taking the bus to get there
Stay alert by not taking the train to get there
Stay alert by walking or cycling there
Or taking your car and polluting the air
It’s a wonderful strategy, this

A new slogan which without regrets
No longer protects the NHS
Things must be alright, I guess
Or they’re really quite remiss

A new slogan, for England alone
The Scots still get to stay at home
The Welsh and Irish too
Westminster it seems, dismissed

A new slogan, launched with a virus-o-meter
A kind of R-value barometer
Whose needle is quivering permanently
Reflecting government uncertainty
Something’s clearly amiss

So, here’s a new slogan
Worse than the last one
From the Cummings Hit Factory
Here’s a miss

Hancock’s NHS

The people Hancock calls “Our NHS”
Are a litany of corporate interests.
For example, here’s a sample:
Deloitte, KPMG, Serco,
Palantir, Mitie, Sodhexo;
Providing PPE, testing, track and trace.
More wrong ‘uns than on Michael Gove’s bookcase.
So, heavy is the heart that understands
That we really are not safe in his hands.

gove books

Daily Press Briefing, 28th April 2020 (Matt Hancock)

Amanda from Hull asked a really good question.
She didn’t get an answer to it.
Sadie was told thanks for her question
And she’s just going to have to stick with it.
It’s working well, these questions from the public.

And back to the press.

Hugh Pym wants to know about PPE:
Thank you Hugh, it’s incredibly important to me.
We’re moving heaven and earth
To be more effective,
Your assessment isn’t fair and objective.
PPE availability’s confined
To the agreed guidelines.
There’s a global shortage too.
Thanks Hugh.

Paul Brand, can’t hear your audio.
Here he is: The crisis in the care sector? Have a heart!
Of course, they’ve been a priority from the start
But please
They’re the most vulnerable to the disease
We’ve strengthened the rules on infection control (eventually)
And made testing available (eventually)
We’re now publishing the daily data (eventually)
My principle is to be transparent
But the deaths are going up daily!
They’re a top priority.
Here’s an expert.

Nick Martin from Sky:
Care home deaths
Are at 23% of hospital deaths.
Not saying that this is normal,
The number of deaths in care homes about one sixth in total.
Its an absolute focus in broad context.
Make of that what you will.

Ben Kentish.

No wait a follow up: You didn’t do your best.
You knew this was a high-risk area
But no PPE or tests.
And deaths in care homes seemed to take you by surprise.
I think you should apologise.
I know you care a lot about this
But you’re being unreasonable.
We always knew about care homes
But getting the data was unfeasible.
They’ve been in the front of my mind from the start,
The age profile sets them apart,
People are more frail and more at risk so we’re discerning.
Its been a huge challenge but we’re constantly learning.
So, Nick Martin from Sky,
In this session,
I dispute your question
Here’s an expert.

Ben Kentish:
You’re following the science
But why no facemasks in public?
Should there be some compliance?
And should we be
Disinfecting deliveries?
Our position hasn’t changed
Because facemasks are weak science.
Handwashing is strong science
And easily arranged.
Here’s an expert.

Dominic Yeatman:
Why didn’t ministers
Tell care homes to ban visitors
At the same time as the hospitals
When there’s no difference in risk at all?
Collection of data is difficult
In ten thousand different organisations.
It was clinical advice
Because care homes have different expectations.

James Caven, Daily Star:
No sunbathing, but B&Q had a long queue.
What can you do and what can you not do?
And ventilator production scaled back;
Is there still a lack?
For clarity: Follow the rules, stay at home, protect the NHS.
Spare ventilators is good news, I suggest.
We’ll sell them to another country with high COVID incidence
And pay tribute to the ventilator challenge participants.

Chris Lloyd, Northern Echo:
There’s an uptick in the regions, definitely.
So, will you lift the lockdown together or separately?
And how will your help be applicable regionally?
I pay tribute to people of the north east for staying at home,
They’re very gregarious and don’t like being alone.
Levelling up’s a top priority.
North east councils have money allocated
For fifty thousand businesses to be compensated.
Here’s an expert (on the shape of the curve).

Follow up question:
Will there be different times for easing?
We’re looking at it
But I don’t want to be teasing
Or give you false hope.
Because It’s not just the level, it’s the slope.
There could be a second peak wherever
So, we’ll do it together.

Adam Vaughan, New Scientist:
How many contact tracers have you got?
And how long until you’ve got the whole lot?
And as well as that.
What incentives are there to download the app?
Well as many as possible, as soon as possible.
That’s Not numerical, hypothetical or medical
I don’t know how many, and that’s crap
But they need to be in place in time for the app.
But never mind our procrastination,
We’ll tie downloading the app to the rules on isolation.

Well, it was great to see the New Scientist.
Your questions were terrific
And, um, scientific.
See you soon

Corona Universe


The government have called in NERVTAG
The government have called in SAGE
The government have called in SPIB and SPIM
As the virus continues to rage
So when the government meet at COBRA
And tell us they’re calling in SHIELD
You’ll know they’ve really lost it
If they think Fury’s the real deal.


Donald Trump is threatening to shoot Iranian ships
To drive up, we suspect, the oil price a bit
While supporting protesters rights
Against all medical advice
To let the virus just transmit
So long as they are not the ones to actually get it.

Meanwhile back home in the UK
We did eighteen thousand tests today.
A fair way short, granted
Of Hancock’s end of month hundred thousand target
And a vaccine is still months or years away
But still
B&Q is re-opening today.

Dead Heroes Are No Use to Anyone

Dead heroes are no use to anyone
But let’s be clear:
No one deliberately denied them what they need,
They just weren’t competent enough foresee
That it’ll happen here if it’s happening next door
And we don’t make our own stuff here anymore.

Dead heroes are no use to anyone
But let’s be clear:
They frequently turned a deaf ear
To talk of contingency planning
But they employ a great sloganeer
And you can all see it happening:
A failing government labelling you a hero
Because they’re getting it into the public’s head
Before they have to tell them that you’re dead.

But let’s be clear,
Dead heroes are no use to anyone.