Weekly Muse

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The Independent Culture
A whisper down the railway lines

Through ragwort on the track,

The green-gold girl of summer packs

And says she won't be back.

And there among the dog-end stars,

The tail-lights of a plane.

The writer looks up, late at night,

And thinks of Spain.

This GM stuff is everywhere,

In case you had forgotten.

Your socks and scanty underthings

Contain it in the cotton.

What happens if the protest groups

Attempt to stop the scandal

With sudden spot inspections

To expose the eco-vandal?

A shopping street, a rush of feet,

A sharp frisson of fear

Runs through the pantisocracy:

The Undies Police are here.

Your socks are old, your panties holed,

Your Wonderbra is grey.

No problem, though - they're not GM.

"All right, sir; on your way."

Thirty years ago this week

A man was walking on the Moon

(And so was I; that's by the by).

They plan to send a woman soon,

A giant leap for womankind,

Though running slightly late I've heard.

A woman? And a small delay?

I dare not say another word.

To Braintree, Essex, where I hear

The local population

Were this week nominated

As the ugliest in the nation,

Where bride may turn the groom to


Who'd courage to unveil her

And groom departs for honeymoon

In pig-net and a trailer.

Who slurs the name of Braintree,

Flower of Essex, none serener?

The town is nice - the furry dice

In God's own Ford Cortina.

We're honest here in Essex,

If we've faults, then we admit 'em.

But Braintree? Ugliest? Not a chance.

No, that one goes to Witham.

The price of beer goes very dear,

Eight pence a year this past decade.

This helps to pay for, brewers say,

"Refurbishments" they claim they've


Refurbishing their wallets?

Or refurbishing their houses?

Or possibly refurbishing

The pockets in their trousers?

Perhaps a national Drinkers' Strike

Might show them how we feel?

A week of empty public bars

Could bring them back to heel.

A wavering wall of would-be scabs

At every alehouse door.

The gloomiest, quietest picket line

A country ever saw.