Annual Muse

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The Independent Culture
"Ninety-Nine, the year was christened.

Perfect as the name may seem

For something flakey, cold and mixed

This poem is not about ice-cream

But now the wine is duly poured

Before the vintage changes name

Come charge your glass in equal portions

Fear and wonder, dashed with shame.

In January, cold and damp

Beside a nibbled Norfolk coast

A henge of gnarled trees appeared

A four-millennia ancient ghost

In spite of pleas to leave it be

And let the sea reclaim its own

The diggers and the hard-hats came

To take it to some safety zone.

And thus began a muddled year

Of trying to fix what wasn't broke

While obdurately leaving be

Those things which bother normal folk.

Like transport. Buses, cars and trains

The nuts and bolts of A to B

Which stall more spanners in their way

Than trying to shift an ancient tree

And Prescott, like a boy who'd got

A train-set and Scalextric kit

All jumbled up in one big box

Could never make the pieces fit.

Before we knew it, Spring charged in

A roll of drums, a tally-ho!

The Lion was woken by the row

And blundered into Kosovo

Confused and groggy from his kip

And only half-prepared to fight

He watched the human lava slip

Down mountain passes day and night

And when the cost was reckoned up

And fragile peace secured the day

The words of Brecht still rang as true:

"Like love, War always finds a way."

Awards: A "Duke" for royal tact

Hmm... wonder who that's going to?

The "Widdecombe" for showbiz nous

And how to work a passport queue

The prizes for the next three boys

Detention, housepoint loss, disgrace

To Aitken, Archer, Hamilton

For first-rate fiction in each case.

The "William Hague" to William Hague

For such bad luck it wasn't fair

The "What's This Global Warming John?"

To Mrs Prescott and her hair

The "Murdstone" Education Prize

For propagating pre-school gloom

To Mr Woodhead and the team

For Learning Targets In The Womb

Nostradamus blew it big style

With his Armageddon tips

Overshadowed late in summer

Literally, by the eclipse.

In the end, the year surrendered

To the Net and mobile phone

Ninety Nine. Mwah! Gonna miss U.

Melted. Like the ice-cream cone.