Stories about bombs have punctuated my life.
Born when the welfare state was also a baby;
I heard about my dad firewatching on the roof
Of an art school in blitzed London,
And composing an oil painting whilst he was up there.
I heard about the shrapnel,
Still embedded in an aunt’s leg.
And, every so often, a radio announcer might report
Unexploded ordinance, found buried on a building site.
One day, Cuba was in the news,
Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on a desk at the UN,
That was the first time that I saw my father scared.
Made to be a school boy cadet,
The worst bomb I heard was a thunderflash,
Just oversized fireworks,
Thrown about by boys in pretend wars;
Whilst half a world away,
Youths threw real grenades at each other
But London learned the hard way
That old wounds don’t always heal,
As propaganda of the deed reminded us,
Of an unjustly held colony,
Kept down by British army boots
Across a narrow sea.
A bandstand blew up,
A cast iron waste bin disintegrated in a high street, killing a child.
Sudden night blasts outside Territorial Army barracks;
And then, after a general election,
I heard a massive dull thud roll up from the Thames valley,
To my suburban hilltop,
As a debt was repaid in the City.
Not content with that,
The Fenians blew me out of bed,
Where I lay drunk, trying to forget
The start of four more Tory years,
As, three quarters of a mile away
A four-lane flyover was lifted off its foundations,
By an exploding van.
A truce came to London, until Jihad began
Old wounds don’t always heal,
Crusades and colonialism festered,
And oil was not a balm,
For those treacherous treaties, Sykes-Picot, Balfour
And all the other dodgy dealing,
Spooking and conniving,
To keep those motors running.
But the truth could be that
It doesn’t worry me more
Than the chance of dying in traffic accident.
Stupidity seems to breed Stupidity,
Just today the world’s prize-winning stupidest man
Addressed the UN to threaten a nation
With total destruction.
I wish, because it’s all I can do,
That he’d taken off his shoe,
Like Nikita Khrushchev did, but then
Beat himself with it,
Over his dyed blond head.