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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Royal Streak

The Aussies are twenty for one
The tension at Lords is palpable.
Excitement runs through the crowd
Like a member of the Barmy Army with a tray of pints
Desperate to get back to his seat from the bar
The Queen watching from the Members Enclosure
Is as thrilled by the prospect of an Aussie humiliation
As is everyone else in her commonwealth
(Except, possibly, the Antipodean ragamuffins themselves)
She stays her pint of Fosters halfway to her lips
Her bag of Walkers cheese and onion remain unrustled
Anderson pounds in
And Ponting  is OUT
Absolutely, undeniably, incontrovertibly OUT
Caught by Strauss in the slips.
Her Majesty is on her feet
And begins to totter towards the steps.
An aide makes a grab for the pint glass and the bag of crisps
But Now she is gaining speed
And vaults the white picket fence
The stewards, suddenly aware of what is happening,
Are caught in a dilemma.
Should they wrestle the intruder to the ground as instructed
Or remove their baseball caps in humble obeisance?
That moment’s hesitation is enough
Her royal highness has evaded the cordon
And has crossed the boundary rope
And is on the hallowed turf
The players, the umpires, the whole crowd stands aghast and instantly silent
She is racing towards the middle
Discarding cardi, blouse and skirt
As she goes
The moment of silence extends second by second
Even Father Time swivels away
Unable to look.
Now she is on the square
The sun glinting off her second-best tiara
And there goes her bra and pants
Although, sensibly, she is keeping on
Her stout brogues
Because there is still some damp on the outfield.
And any dints on the wicket
Will only help Graham Swann
When he wants to make it turn
Later in the innings.
Thirty odd thousand mouths hang open
And, for some reason the electronics
In the Sky cameras have ceased to function
So the world outside misses the spectacle.
In the Test match Special Box
Aggers’ mouth hangs open,
Blowers manages a “My dear old thing”
And Sir Geoffrey has staggered to his feet and is saluting wildly.
Now behind the Monarch comes Prince Phillip
And in an extraordinary display of solidarity
The Admiral of the Fleet Uniform
Joins the other royal garments on the grass
And we are treated
To a display of the Crown Jewels
Undreamt of since the Coronation.
Hand in hand, their Majesties
Vault the stumps
A picture that remains for ever un recorded
By the thousands of photographers
Fingers frozen solid over unclicked shutter buttons
In bemused horror.
Her Majety’s eyes meet those of the recently dismissed and shocked Ponting
But there is no royal clemency there
Her small sneer says it all
“Walk wallaby” and she jerks her thumb towards the pavilion steps
And the dyed in the wool republican
Retreats his eyes wide with new found respect
For the House of Windsor.
Together, the Royal Couple
Have reached the far boundary rope
And are disappearing through the press box.
The equerry briskly removes the royal garments
(outer and under) from the field
As if it were an everyday occurrence.
Ponting continues his sad march to the pavillion
Troubled by conflicting emotions.
The next batsman, Hussey, emerges
Into the profound silence
The only man in the ground
To have missed the whole thing
Because he was busy buckling on his pads
“How’s it playing, Skip?”
His Captain eyes him glassily:
“If only you had balls like that Sheila.”
Hussey shrugs unsure of what that means
Play resumes at 20 for 2
And a subdued crowd
Settles down for the afternoon’s play
Forever unsure of what they have seen.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Jobless - The Final Solution

Brilliant news! That kind Mr. Duncan Smith has promised all jobless people a job. That's fantastic. Does it mean reopening coal mines, taking on more staff in Hospitals, the long awaited railway building programme, green energy projects? Or have I misunderstood what the goverment intends when it says that the long term unemployed should "experience of the habits and routines of working life"?
Paul thinksthat it's a result of shutting down the country.
Let me get this right.... The government cuts lots of jobs to save money, they then employ all the jobless people to do the jobs that are now vacant. So those people who had jobs before are now jobless so the governemt cuts lots more jobs in order for there to be jobs for the new jobless. Eventually the whole country is on a massive jobshare scheme in which we all work for, say, a fortnight before moving on. Damn. It might just work.

Elinor thinks there might be a more sinister follow up.

I say "that's OK as long as he is the first one to try it."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cyber Attack

“There’s something big building just across the channel”
Shall I call out the crews?
“No, not yet. Let’s see if we can guess what they’re going for. Where we should deploy to best effect.” The Wing Commander strains to understand what she is seeing on the screens.
“What do you think? Power stations? Railway network? Water?” The young Flight Lieutenant’s voice quavers in anticipation.
“Oh my God.” The Wing Commander’s fingers tighten on the console edge.
“What? “
“This is big. Could be the whole damn lot. Yes. Scramble all units. Get them all on line now.”
The Flight Lieutenant picks up the phone. “All units. All units scramble.”
One by one screens flicker and faces appear.
“Another one? Already” “ I’d barely dropped off” “How long can they keep this up?” Theweariness in the girls’ voices comes across the speakers.
“This looks big. Better get on station.” The Wing Commander’s voice is firm. Reassuring.
The girls are shrugging off dressing gowns, yawning. Rubbing sleep from their eyes. But already they’re running their fingers across their fighting screens. Calling up defences, setting target sights. Settling down for the long haul

“Here it comes. First wave. Stand by”
Now the girls are working their screens. In their individual command stations situated in bunkers deep underground in strategic points across the country. Fingers crawling here, now there. Stabbing and flicking. Hands brushing off the invaders like flies. Shooing away the danger.
“Look out Monica. Coming at you”
“Behind you, Sandra.”
“Theresa. Snap to it or you’ll be out of it in two minutes.”
Lips are bitten. Cheeks chewed.
Digital tracer streams off into the ether. The staccato burts of code chatter with increasing intensity. And the voices of the girls die away as deep concentration takes over.
The hands on the screens work more urgently. This attack is not going away.
“Another wave coming in, Girls” mutters the Wing Commander under her breath. There’s no time or need for instructions or warnings from her. This is where training and experience count. And not a little luck.
“This is worse than anything we’ve seen so far” whispers the Flight Lieutenant. “How many have we got in reserve?”
“None. They’re all on line. All engaging with the enemy.”
“I’m having trouble here” says Monica in an undertone.
Their voices are all subdued. Barely rising above whispers but there is real tension and sweat begins to form on upper lips.
It is Monica’s voice that rises above the rest.
“I can’t....”
“Sorry Monica, I’m shutting you down. You’re hit.”
“I’m baling out.”
“Too late. You’ve left it too late. It’s a complete shut down.”
Monica’s eyes register a brief moment of horror before her screen goes dead.
The Wing Commander’s fingers rest unsteadily on the button
The Flight Lieutenant turns: “Did you have to,,,?”
For a second, the Flight Lieutenant gazes into the deep well of loneliness that surrounds the business of being an officer in wartime and turns smartly back to her job.
“OK crews. It’s clearing now. You’ve seen them off. You may shut down.”
One by one the girls rise from their screens, wrap their dressing gowns round them and click terminals to standby.
The Flight Lieutenant turns back. “Pilot Officer Monica.... what will happen to her?”
“You’re green, aren’t you?”
“I know I’m Straight out of training college but did you have to...”.
“Of course i did and I’ll do it to anyone else too, And so must you too if you’re in my position.”
The Flight Lieutenant gulps.
“And the training manual will have told you. Complete isolation in her bunker. “
“I know what the book says but what does it actually mean? Complete electromagnetic shielding?”
“It means that there must be absolutely no chance of the worm getting out by inadvertant radio or other transmission. The bunker is sealed. Complete lock down. Absolutely no human contact for the same reason. Continual sweeping for a fortnight. Of course, the best remedy is time. Leave it long anough and any worm will cease to have impact. It should be six months....”
“Six months... in solitary confinement?”
“In effect, yes. But this is war. We are under continual daily attack so we can’t allow anything like that length of time. Weeks perhaps but not months.”
“Even so.... She could go mad. Isolated for that length of time. And won’t she starve?”
We ask them to do a hell of a job. To take big risks and, for some, they have to pay a big price. But the crews are all selected because they’re resourceful and quick thinking. That’s why we only use women on the front line. She should have made sure she stocked up with food and drink. It’s the aircrews own responsibility. And If she hasn’t, if she forgot, it’s too late now.”
There is a long silence in the ops room.
“But If we do our job properly. All of us. Nonone will know what we have done and probably not care either. If we can get through this without the national grid going off line, without all the machinery in the national health service going off line. If we can keep water and sewerage pumping and food arriving at the supermarkets, then that will be a reward in itself. And the odd casualty will go unnoticed.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What will you do in a Driverless Car?

The question is fascinating even if the answer might be a bit dull. Perhaps some more creative thought should be applied. Cookery, Perhaps? prepare your own dinner as you speed homewards. Apple crumble and custard done to a turn as you step from your vehicle. Your wife opens the door and you say "Dinner is ready" as you carry the steaming dishes in. Of course, there would be no problems with drinking and driving if you were not actually controlling the vehicle so you could already have partaken of an aperitif and have the bottle of chablis nicely chilled and open.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Treasures of The Anglo-Saxons

As I'm steeping myself in Anglo-Saxon literature at the moment with my attempt to translate and update "The Wanderer" this BBC programme came at a useful time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Trucker

Those who have been following my Facebook fan page will know that I have been working on a translation of "The Wander" from Anglo-Saxon. I aim to use it in a longer performance piece about a long distance lorry driver. This is my initial go at the first fourteen lines. Notice that I have tried to keep as closely as possible to the original form of Anglo-Saxon poetry with each line given two alliterative words before a caesura and a third one after.

Sometimes solitary, he finds solace
And redemption on the road, regardless that, sadly,
For many months he must steer
Following freeways, and the frozen highway
In the paths of asylum seekers. The satnav is always in control!

So moaned the driver,mindful of mishap,
Of fierce fatal pile ups and the fate of mates:

Often alone, I had Only myself to share my trouble
Each day-break before dawn. I doubt there is one soul
To whom I dare directly divulge
Those secret thoughts. I think it’s true,
That everyone else expects the attitude,
That you should firmly fasten, your fuel tank of beliefs,
Guard your toolchest of thought, think as you wish.