The Noble Art of Treachery

two white and black chess knights facing each other on chess board
Photo by Syed Hasan Mehdi on


The Noble Art of Treachery

To defeat one’s mortal enemy,
Approach him as a friend
And speak the honeyed words of peace
And fawn and twist and bend.
In time, once his guard is down
And slower to defend,
Then draw him even closer still
With bridges on the mend.

Confuse with favoured trading rights,
And treaties by the tome,
And offer cunning compromise
Beneath his pleasure dome
By breaking bread instead of bones,
And quoting “when in Rome…”,
And beating ploughshares from your swords
To bring his harvest home.

And waiting for the trap to spring,
He will not understand
You sprung it years ago, back when
You shook him by the hand –
And now he’s caged by friendship
With no anger to command,
As your lovers take his city
And your children work his land.

But best of all, he cannot strike you back,
He is too late –
For now his precious kin are settled
All throughout your state –
For he has also conquered
When he opened up his gate,
And now can only sit and watch
His people grow-up great.




zoners still believe this



We don’t need Misgavige, see,
To run our audits, rig our fates –
We’re moving up the bridge all by ourselves.
We needn’t wait till OT3
To learn of Xenu’s DC8s,
Now Teegeeack’s escaped your secret shelves.

We’re the methadone to their crack,
The thirteenth sign to their zodiac,
With a finger-wag to psychiatry,
And a less-homophobic piety –
We’re still in the zone, but at least the zone is free.

We’ve shed your cult, we’ve sunk your navy,
Quit your billion-years a slave,
Although we all think LRH is swell.
Yet still the core is true, unbeaten –
Still believe in body thetans,
Just like baptists still believe in Hell.

With solar-powered e-psych probes,
We’re the white-shirt face to their cult-black robes,
Lightly tutting at the SPs,
But never disconnection, please !
We’re an altogether healthier paranoia, with no fees.



The High Cost of Living

why isn't it on the bumper


The High Cost of Living

Diesel-hungry four-by-fours,
Draft-dodgers dodging wars,
Betting on the football scores –
Well, that’s the price of freedom.

Christmas Cards on sale in June,
TV news all afternoon,
And folks who claim we faked the Moon –
Cos that’s the price of freedom.

Despots have it easy,
They can do away with clutter –
But me, I’ll take the messiness
Of ev’ry geek and nutter.
So tune them in or tune them out,
But never for a second doubt
That we can ever do without.

Sticky kids on talent shows,
Tattooed arm and studded nose,
Neighbours’ hedges come to blows,
And that’s the price of freedom.

Metric units here and there,
And lots of artificial hair –
It isn’t always right and fair,
But that’s the price of freedom.

Dreamers have it easy,
They can make the world anew –
But me, I’ll take the old one
Cos it’s here and now and true.
So make it sweat or make it blink,
But never for a second think
That freedom is just pen and ink.



Big Charters



Big Charters

Thirteen copies were written, at least,
And probably many more –
All passed from bishop to sheriff to lord,
And pinned-up, read, and, finally, stored,
Then rotted or burned or thoroughly creased,
Until we were left with four.

But then, for many centuries,
Their words were out-of-date –
Their scutages and fishing-weirs
Belonged to long-forgotten years,
And busy parli’mentaries
Have moved on the debate.

Their Latin text is cramped and clipped,
With not an inch to spare.
And just like half the baron knights,
We cannot even read the rights
We’re gifted by this foreign script –
We have to trust they’re there.

But so what if the parchments fade ?
They’re passing, mortal things –
It ain’t the laws that they imparted,
But the movement that they started –
In their image we are made,
Who bow to laws, not kings.



Clause 50



Clause 50

“We will remove entirely the kinsmen of Gerard d’Athée from their bailiwicks, so that in future they may hold no bailiwick in England.  We will remove from the kingdom all foreign knights who have come to the detriment of the kingdom.”
                                                                                                                               – Magna Carta, 1215

English rights for English barons:
That was the cry at liberty’s birth –
And though they’d gag at the thought, would the barons,
Their rights would trickle down to the serfs.
Slowly, slowly, and bloody hard-won,
Till the days of the tyrant-kings were done.

But nothing but exile for Gerard d’Athée,
Farewell to Engelard, can’t let you stay,
Goodbye to Guy, and to Guy, too-da-loo,
Au revoir, Peter, and Andrew, adieu,
And Geoffrey and Geoffrey, you’re fate is the same:
Deported by charter in liberty’s name.
And Philip (and brothers), return to your sires,
Ex-Sheriff of Derby- and Nottingham- shires,

So there it was: the English disease:
Scraping-up some scapegoats for their sleeping in our bed.
But never for a moment did we get up off our knees
To kick out at the barons – so we kicked the French instead.
This lack of disquiet from locals is telling:
Just tugging at forelocks instead of rebelling.

But surely things have improved ?
It isn’t as though the world hasn’t moved:
It started a wave that has kept rolling on,
So we’ve far more rights now than had even King John.
But all the un-English may find us less caring,
For English-born freedoms were not made for sharing.
So tell, Magna Carta: just what are you for ?,
But a thing to suspend when we’re neck-deep in war.


Note that in the original, the clauses were not numbered.  The first to do so was George Ferrers’ English translation of 1534, while the modern numbering dates from William Blackstone in 1759.



Rue Britannia

scouse britannia
A supporter from the Nelson Memorial in Liverpool


Rue Britannia

The trouble with lefties is cultural cringe –
The feeling that England and Englishness
Are suspect, colonial, Tory in dress,
And bearing the taint of the hooligan fringe.

I swear, that there’s many a comrade I know
Who just longs for our country to go down the gutter –
So while we’re all queuing for teabags and butter,
At least they can tell us they so told us so…

We know all the customs, yet scarcely believe them,
We laugh at the toffs and the pomp and regalia,
Meet with them rarely, yet long for their failure –
We just see the wigs, not the justice beneath them.

However we came here, we’re on the same side,
So don’t be ashamed of the marks that distinguish –
We’re caring, and hopeful, and diverse, and English !
For aren’t we the ones who are all about Pride ?

And St George’s banner – why must we destroy it ?
Let’s demystify it, but love the old flag.
So wave it, or don’t – but it’s only a rag –
It’s not gonna kills us if others enjoy it.

And yes, it is shame about God Save the Queen
With its sentiments we’re ill-at-ease to endorse –
But with national anthems, that’s par for the course –
It hardly excuses our virtuous spleen.

Ignore all the words, and just hum to the tune –
A dirgy tune, sure, but the one that we’ve got.
And at least we all know it – let’s give it a shot,
It’s only a minute, it’s all over soon.

There’s bad in our past, but those times were withstood –
Let’s learn from our worst-selves, and never forget,
And sing out our best side, and build on it yet –
The odd bit of bunting might do us some good –

Don’t think that old England is not worth the fuss,
For we’re all a big part of the way she turns out –
Let’s change her for better, not whimper and pout !
Be proud of our nation, for this land is us !




photo of brown red and white buildings
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on



The rich live in houses, the poor in cells,
This is how classes are classed –
From Kensington Gore to Tunbridge Wells
The best were designed in the past.
The poor get newer and concreted hells
That are decomposing fast.
Of course, the new could be just like the old,
But then they would all get far too bold –
So keep them ugly, keep them cold,
And build them not to last.



The Raggèd-Rouser Novelist

panel from a graphic novel by The Rickard Sisters


The Raggèd-Rouser Novelist

The trouble with writers, back in that day,
They never had chances to finish the job –
Just splash on the whitewash, any old way,
And promise and short-change and rob.
Too many loose-ends and threpenny warts,
Too many set-ups with no second coat –
Till Misery’s suddenly out of his sorts,
And the author is slashing our throats.



I came for satire, complexity, and human drama – but left with cyphers and a lecture…



World War 3-D

future war
War Machine by J C Park


World War 3-D

The US is champing and Russia is frothing,
The EU is braying and China is scoffing,
Iran ululates and Israel kvetches,
And nobody thinks of the innocent wretches.
So crank up the ante and settle the score,
Yippey, it’s a proxygen war !

With Japanese raving and Indians drooling,
With peasants revolting, the lords overruling,
With Saudis denouncing and Vaticans cursing,
The banks and the gangsters each tighten a purse-string,
Kalashnikovs rattle and howitzers roar,
Yee-ha, it’s a prog-rocking war !

Got to keep those pinko yellow rednecks in the black,
Got to stick those selfless noble heroes in the back –
So pick a side and roll the dice,
And carve yourself a bigger slice –
It won’t be you who pays the price,
As long as you attack.

The oil is stolen, the pipeline is shafted,
The min’rals are worked and the workers are drafted,
The diamonds are blooded, the rubies are spies
For the gold in their teeth and the steel in their eyes –
So give to the rich as we take from the poor.
Olé, it’s a hamburger war !

The deserts are flooded, the icecaps are vapour,
The oceans are plastic, the forests are paper,
The vegans are cowed and the pacifists violent,
The media meddles, the movies are silent,
The public are jaded, they’re seen it before –
Achtung, it’s a hand-me-down war !

Got to keep those dirty commie fascist lib’rals down,
Got to kick those native ethnic locals out of town
So pick a side and make your play,
They’re only lives we throw away –
We’ll laugh about this war some day,
When memories turn brown.



Disposable Income

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto on


Disposable Income

Of all the tax I’ve had to pay
For all my working life,
I’ve only seen a fraction of its worth –
I’ve never used a bridleway,
Or been a battered wife,
Or dug up ancient pot, or given birth.

I’ve got no kids in need of school,
I need no legal aid,
And need no shipping forecast out to sea –
Not done the Tate in Liverpool,
Nor called the fire brigade,
Nor wandered through a managed forestry.

I guess I’ve got it breezy,
Where the gremlins never struck –
But still I always shrug and pay the price.
It’s like a tax on easy –
But if that’s the price of luck,
Then ante up – I’ll gladly pay her twice…

For teacher, binman, judge and ev’ry nurse,
I stump up for them all from out my purse,
And whether Fate shall reimburse,
It’s just the cost of our society –
So take your bobbies and your squaddies,
They’re not mine, they’re ev’rybodies !
Help yourselves, my friends, they’re all on me !