Armchair Philosophy

An Old Man in an Armchair by Rembrandt


Armchair Philosophy

My thoughts on love and politics
Have authored pamphlets by the score –
I’ve told them twice and thrice and six,
Since days of teenage yore.
I’ve made my case and made it strong,
I’ve preached and pleaded with the throng,
From Tory-shires to Bolsheviks
I’ve met them all and all before.

I’ve set the world to rights so long,
And still the world continues wrong –
There’s no point labouring a fix
We both know you’ll ignore.
It’s time to sing a diff’rent song,
It’s time to bang a diff’rent gong –
Or else I’m dreaming just for kicks,
And dreaming should be something more



The Bogeyman

demon eyes


The Bogeyman

Please give me someone to hate –
A politician to despise,
To slander and dehumanise
And make a monster in my eyes.

Please come and stoke-up my hate –
Give me a minister to stone,
Legitimise my constant moan,
And whistle in an undertone.

Please let me bask in my hate
To justify my diva tears –
I’m longing to believe the smears,
I’m relishing exquisite fears.

Please let me trumpet my hate,
And wear my spite with friendly pride,
And close my ears to the other side,
And let no compromise abide.

Or else, let me calm my head,
And tell myself its only politics,
And tell myself its only bate and click,
And tell myself I’ve fallen for the Devil’s oldest trick:

For the greatest lie he ever told
Was telling us that he existed –
Yet his realm is deathly cold,
And human nature always twisted.

What I’ve learned is true,
From the playground to Big Ben
Is that the evil that men do, is done by men.
(And these days, women too.)

So show me a politician
And I’ll shake them by the hand
As I tell them of my mission
To frustrate their wonderland –

And if I lose, I hope that I
Can choose to walk away before I lie
And cheat for the greater good,
And lose my common brotherhood.

For ev’ry politician is a person,
Not the enemy –
For even as we fight them, we must love them,
Show them dignity,

Or we shall never understand their motives,
Why they’re voted in,
If we’re convinced they’re purley evil
And their public steeped in sin.

We must, we must be better than this,
Resist the overwrought and thunderous –
If we believe in demons, then we fall to the abyss
Where the only savage monsters will be us.



On Her Majesty’s Service



On Her Majesty’s Service

The spy cried as he killed her,
But the job had to be done.
A shame, but the nation’s guardians
Must sometimes use the gun.
She wasn’t an enemy agent,
Just an unintended friend –
Precisely the kind of citizen
That he had pled to defend.
A bystander stood in the wrong place,
A pair of eyes in a pretty face,
A mouth that might just blow the case.
He wept for her at the end.



No True Scotsmen



No True Scotsmen

When the news is full of more beheadings,
Bombs on busses, boots on deserts, holy war,
And drones attacking family weddings
From Benghazi to Lahore,
I turn to senator and mullah both,
And ask them, have they any peace to barter ?
Is there any hope for growth
From Casablanca to Jakarta ?

But each calls the other a shirker:
Says the senator “Ye see that Ayrab ?
He’s nae Rab, he’s a dirty Sassenach.”
The mullah snorts in his tartan Burqa:
“That Yank’s nocht but a flithy Irish !
Aye, aw pish, an’ a plastic Mac.
Now, I am a Jackobite rightly through,
As ginger as the white-on-blue,
From Samarkand to Timbuktoo !”
At this, the senator gives laldy:
“Listen, pal, I may be black,
But I still can gie ya heid a crack,
And I’ll see youse, Yaqub, if ye lookin’ a’ me !”

James Somersett

Head of a Negro by James Copley


James Somersett

“Granville Sharp the abolitionist and Lord Mansfield of the King’s Bench are well known, but the eponymous defendant is more of a mystery.”
                                                                                                                              – The Sunday Items

He ran from the court
To the door of his champion,
Slaved no more,
And he knocked on the door of his champion
To show he was free –
He ran from the court and he ran from our history.

Did James and Granville then
Shake hands like proper gentlemen ?
Did they embrace, perhaps,
In a quite un-English way ?
We cannot say,
For James is never heard agen.

Did he and Granville,
As they bid goodbye,
Look in one-another’s eye
And share a smile and knowing nod
That seemed to subtly imply
“We’ve started something here, by God !”

Maybe he died that very day,
Or lived another three long score,
Maybe rich, maybe poor –
He went about his way.
The last we see of James
Is at that door.







Hurray for element one-one-eight !
For the briefest of fractions of briefest of seconds
A handful of atoms held just enough protons –
And lo !, the Nobels and the Naming Rights beckoned.

By why stop the searching, oh lab-mates ?
The legend’ry Isles of Stability lay
Just over the Period Bound’ry, they say,
Where fusion-forged atoms don’t wilt and decay !
So on with colliding, oh lab-mates !
We’ll find a few more, by-and-by,
And if they’re as fleeting, we’ll keep on repeating –
We’ll keep chucking atoms till funding runs dry !

Huzzah for element one-one-eight !
But will she prove to be our last ?,
With the Table so neat and the budgets so tight…
Fun while it lasted, though – truly a blast !

But don’t stop the searching, oh lab-mates !
Learning is never a wasted adventure !
So rustle up bursary, grant and debenture,
For Wisdom’s our master, and Knowledge our quencher !
So on with the atoms, oh lab-mates !
Let’s boost their ephemeral hearts
For better we sink all the budget on trinkets
Than letting the generals split ’em apart.


Element Uuo has since been named as Oganesson when it was proved that a handful of atoms were forced into being for an instant before decaying away with a half-life of 0.89 milisecond.



Strange Bedfellows

white and black mattress fronting the mountain
Photo by wayX on


Strange Bedfellows

I know the temptation – any stick to diss them,
Any ally welcome, any grudge a friend –
Any note of caution is abject criticism,
Any mediation is weakness to the trend.
But surely we are judged by the company we keep,
Regardless why we keep such clientele –
The rival of my enemy might sometimes be a creep
Who should really be my enemy as well.
Real politic with an opportune autocracy
Is just another way to say hypocrisy.