Who Will have Lost, Who Will Have Won?

Picture the scene – it’s two days before the 2019 General Election – never has more been at stake, at least not in my lifetime, and a man steps up to the microphone to speak in front of a crowded room…

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Thanks to Scribal Gathering for the gig, thanks to the delightful Caz Tricks for the filming, the shushing and the general gobby agreement. Obviously things didn’t go quite as we’d hoped, but two years on, looking back, there’s not much that I wouldn’t say again in just the same way.

I Can’t Offer You Any Advice

12:53 on a warm Tuesday lunchtime
Tripping down memory lane
In Bletchley Topdiner, Sister and I
Slurping ice cream floats once again

Allowing the taste to awaken our memories
Thinking of childhood affairs
And that’s when the phone rings, the bank want to talk
Which is odd, as we’re on our way there

‘Ah yes!’ I proclaim, with a warm friendly tone
‘We’re due in to see you at one’
Which I added was only seven short minutes away
So I asked if something had gone wrong

I wondered why you wanted an executors account
Asked the voice on the end of the phone
Your bereavement team told me I ought to
Is there something that I should have known?

I’m not at all sure why you’d want one you see
So I wanted to ask just in case

But we’re due in to see you in six minutes time
Can we possibly discuss face to face?

The phone voice agrees that that would be ok
And I hang up and pay for our food
Unaware of the trials that will fill our next hours
As we struggle to maintain our moods.

A few minutes walk and we’re there at the branch
We’re here to see ‘name withheld’
She smiled and came over and ushered us in
As my spidey senses failed to be quelled 

I’ve not ever done one of these, she opines
And I’m really not sure why you would
And not for the first time and not for the last
We explain that they told us we should

Why don’t you just want a current account
What would be wrong about that?

And we’re clutching at straws as to what we should choose
And it’s starting to smell like a rat

You won’t get a card or a cheque book you see
With an executors account

So how would we get money out once it’s in?
‘I don’t know’ left us shrouded in doubt

Would we be better with a current account?
A reasonable question I’d say
I’m sorry but I can’t offer you any advice
You’ll have to choose your own way

I don’t know anything about them you see
But your bereavement team certainly do
And they’ve said that’s what we should get for ourselves
So that’s what we’re expecting to do

I’m going to turn on a voice recorder now
She said with obvious pride
So we’ve got a record of whatever we say
In a way that can’t be denied

So you want an executors account? She said next
Without a cheque book or card
We don’t know what we want any more
We weren’t expecting it to be this hard

What’s the difference between the two accounts
And why should we choose either one?
Well I’m afraid I can’t offer you advice you see
So you’re on your own on that one

Just hold it there, I don’t want your advice
But I do want some info, I shout
You’ve told me the account I was told that I need
Can’t be used to take anything out

Why do you want an executors account?
She asked again with brow raised
Because your bereavement team advised us to
As I began to feel even more dazed

I’ve never done one of these accounts before
Though I’ve been here since 92
So I wanted to know why you wouldn’t just want
A current account that’s easy to do

The thought that her not understanding it 
Might not be reason for us to change
Did not seem for even an instant
To seem to her a little strange

We have some cheques in his name which we’d like to pay in
Could we do that with either account?
Though they’re not really all that important 
As they’re only for tiny amounts

Well if you’ve got cheques in his name then I can tell you you’ll need
An executors account you can use 
But we’re not sure what the implications are now
So we’re not yet ready to choose

They’re just for a tiny amount, we repeat
So we’ll happily go either way
What’s the differences between the two accounts
I can’t offer you any advice I’m afraid 

My colleague has done lots of these before
Although she finishes at one
She has, but you haven’t, I enquire with a sigh
As the time is now 1:21

The colleague appears, and I feel some relief
As she instantly takes full control
An executors account is the right way to go
And we’re finally on some sort of roll

Name withheld reads out leaflets and websites aloud 
And shouts out to claim with some glee
You can have a chequebook with an executors account
So you can get your money out – see

I still don’t see why you’d have an executors account
She offers once more without thought
As she clearly knows nothing of what it entails
Her advice wouldn’t ever be sought

The next stage is odd, an understatement at best 
Going through motions at will
None of which serves any purpose at all
But we’re going to go through each step still. 

Signing me up for a current account
Reading out terms and agreeing
For the debit card, overdraft and internet banking
That we’ve established that I won’t be seeing

Then cancelling all of those bits they’ve just added
And adding my Sister too
Reading out terms and agreeing again
Even though we knew none of it was true

Then finally converting to an executors account
More terms and agreements again
But finally having completed the setup
I found a sense of relief from the pain 

If there’s anything else we can do, let us know
Name withheld asks, with no irony shown
And I bite on my lip to avoid being rude
And stifle an audible groan

I still don’t understand why you’d have an executors account
Name withheld said as we walked by
Well I’ve now got an executors account
Although I still don’t really understand why

I’m making light of it now and all of the frustrations it bought
Grateful that some time has passed
Were things more recent and raw since his death
Someone would maybe have been glassed

When they wonder why they don’t do many of these
My answer is easy to believe 
They clearly just send them to dear name withheld
And she frustrates them until they just leave.  

(c) Michael Gurner – July 2019

8th October 2019

We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a kraut? 
I’ve tried and tried to understand but I can’t work it out
Leave.eu?  Shame on you. 
Brexit party
Shame on you too
If you think maybe that’s just not nice?
Just google fucking Richard Tice.
Founder of one, chair of the other
Supporting one is supporting the other 
You are allowing this to happen.  

Two world wars and one World Cup?
Spouted again today 
One World Cup? 
I almost don’t know what to say   
Since the heady days of Hurst’s hat trick 
We’ve reached zero finals 
The Germans?  Six.  
What sort of boast is that?

Boasting about a single victory
From fifty five years ago
Just shows how much they’ve achieved since
And how far we’ve still to go

But it’s quite a good example I guess
Of how we’ve ended up in all this mess
Stupid attachments to former so-called glories
Fed out daily to wannabe Tories

Trump over the pond and Johnson here
Lying seemingly without fear
And yet they continue to get support?
They lie and they lie and they lie and they lie
Yet still in the polls they fly and fly

Make no mistake
We know how this ends
Blaming the ‘other’ 
Will hurt us all in the end

Watching the rise of the Nazis on telly
Seeing the jostling for power
Challenging status quo’s, laws and principles 
Dismantling structures hour by hour
Their names lost to history
Their games in the embers
Just paving the ways
For the names that we remember 

If you ramp up emotions against the other
You win
In the short term
But we all lose in the long term

When they get their way 
And things don’t improve 
Who gets the blame then
And how long before it’s you

Every line crossed, no longer surprised
No shamed resignations, no guilt in their eyes
But what makes me fear for the future my dears
Is I don’t have a clue where the fuck we go from here  

And hiding somewhere just out of sight
Is the unspoken fear at the rise of the right
That there aren’t any limits to what they’ll explore
And that soon we’re in Syria fighting Johnson’s new war
Flying the flag and killing for fun
Democracy lost behind the barrel of a gun
If that still seems unlikely, I’d say with regret,
You’re not really paying attention just yet

(c) Michael Gurner – October 2019

Look At That You Bastards!


I don’t want to sound mean or bitter
Come across like I’m holding a grudge
But those things are all true
So if I sound like I do
Please forgive me, and try not to judge

To the teachers at Denbigh who taught me
And threw up their arms in despair
Some things would be best
Were they off of my chest
So bear with me, and pull up a chair

I’ve spent most of my life, taking all of the blame
On young shoulders, now burdened with age
But I’m scratching my head
That maybe I’m misled
That my guilt could perhaps be assuaged

I know I was not a good pupil
And I’m sure I made your lives quite hard
A difficult child
Would be putting it mild
So I doubt I was the only one scarred

Why can’t you be more like your sister
She never caused us this grief
And I couldn’t explain
Which I found quite a shame
As I’d have probably felt some relief

But I was just a fucked up little boy
And you were the one’s so mature
For years you’d been trained
So I’d like to complain
‘Bout the beatings I had to endure

Agreed – I made stupid decisions
And that can’t have been easy to fix
But I’d have to oppose
The response that you chose
To repeatedly hit me with sticks

Hit me with slippers, trainers and canes
Again and again and again.
And then hit me some more
And then hit me some more
Expecting good things from the pain

I’m supposed to give you some leeway
That we lived then in different times
That I should let go
As you just didn’t know
And that I should leave all this behind

‘Never did me any harm’ is the line
That you hear with defiance and a twitch
Well it may not be yew tree
But those bastards hit me
Abuse or assault, not sure which.

‘Just act your age’ was the cry that I heard
In between those so regular shoe-ings
Which turned out to be tough
Ironically enough
As it turns out that’s what I was doing

If you ever delve into the science
Staged development of parts of the brain
The prefrontal cortex
And it’s calming effects
Makes my beatings seem quite inhumane

The part of the brain that says ‘let’s not do that’
Doesn’t work ‘right’ till you’re out of your teens
I couldn’t explain
Why I’d screwed up again
So to beat me seems a trifle obscene

Perhaps I was beyond any hope or redemption
That no motivation could have ever assisted
Or then and again
Something other than pain
Might have helped had you only persisted

I don’t understand how your mindset
Decided that that was the route
‘Just hit him some more
His performance will soar’
Your persistence at least I’d salute

Hope against hope to be sent to the head
Each time a beating was due
At least when he caned
He seemed genuinely pained
But the one who enjoyed it was you

Dunlop green flash – size eleven
I can see it and feel it today
Me bent over in front
You sadistic cunt
As you gleefully swung it away

Used to inflict as much pain as you could
They’d never been worn – didn’t fit
I knew at the time
That you wore a size nine
The elevens were bought specially – you shit.

While the welts and the weals faded slowly away
The shame and embarrassment remained
I just calmly observed
It was what I deserved
And that learning just wasn’t my game

Oddly enough, your motivation techniques
Didn’t transform my approach to my lessons
Felt I was no good
Left as soon as I could
And the impact it had never lessened

I’ve always been pretty successful in work
Positions of power – responsible roles
Never been unemployed
Had a career I’ve enjoyed
Fulfilled many professional goals.

I’d always thought I was quite clever
That I just couldn’t do it their way
But as I got older
That chip on my shoulder
Started gnawing and gnawing away

So I started to study, in my thirties, part time
And oddly enough, it was tough
But quite amazingly
I got me a degree
Leaving me feeling stupidly chuffed

So could I possibly go one stage farther?
Could I build even more in my plans?
Last weekend in Ely
Will live with me dearly
As I walked cross the stage and shook hands

So all that is left is for me to just hope that
You’re ashamed – you sadistic bastards
No thanks to you
With your canes and tennis shoes
Now I’ve gone and got me a masters.

(c) Michael Gurner June 2019


This Is No Longer A Game

battle black blur board game
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It’s five pm
So it’s time…
Time…
For the briefing 

Unless it’s a weekend
When they take place at four
For reasons I can’t quite fathom
But I’m prepared to ignore

Standing three astride
A podium a piece
The politician ‘tween the scientists
To announce the deceased 

Worst
Kraftwerk
Tribute
Ever

‘We’ve carried out x many thousands of tests’
As if that were meaningful data
But tests done is dictated by test kits we had
So that won’t help us manage this later

I’m willing them on, hoping beyond hope
That they’ll rise and step up to the plate 
But each day they manage to fail once again
Increasing my concern for our fate

Johnson, Hancock and Gove taking turns
All looking like scared little boys 
Desperate to get to the end of their slot
Lest their cover gets blown midst the noise

Rushing to end each briefing
Survival the only goal
Getting through it the only measure of success
Then retreating away from the proles

Every successfully evaded point 
That you see as some mark of success
Erodes even further our weak trust in you
Which serves to exacerbate this mess

Will you apologise minister?
To the people who stand in harms way
Without the protection that should keep them safe
But who stand unprotected today 

On day one you couldn’t be held responsible
But the first time you stood ‘fore the nation
And said it had all been sorted. 
Then it’s on you now, whatever the duration.

You didn’t answer that way because it was true
You answered that way to deflect blame 
That’s the game you usually play
But this is no longer a game

People want to trust you – they need to
They need to know that you’ve got this
But day by day, trust is slipping away
And you’re stepping ever closer to the abyss

When you lie, People die.  
And they die in your name
When your policies are tailored to protect your lies, more people die
Because this is no longer a game

Unable to admit to the problems we face
Else the lies will soon start to unwind
But they’re really beginning to look rather thin
And we know what we’re likely to find 

People don’t have the PPE – What are you doing?
Today alone we’ve shipped fifty million
A meaningless answer to a different question
That diminishes you in the eyes of every civilian

Hancock said PPE was sorted again and again
To make all the questioning stop
But you cannot deny now that each time, he lied 
And he should be next in line for the drop

You stand up and boast that there’s still spare capacity
But frankly I’m appalled that you have the audacity
As daily we read of the care homes in tragedy
People denied hospital, evidence of your mendacity

In any other environment, this would be gaslighting 
People come to you with serious questions and concerns
You dismiss them and explain that it’s no longer a problem 
And they shouldn’t believe what they’ve learned. 

Our journalists asking multiple questions 
Each and every time it’s their turn
Which allows the answers to be evaded 
And I’m praying to god they soon learn.  

There, for our delectation
Each and every day 
Are the failings in our democracy 
And the games that our politicians and media play 

Here’s a question I’d like you to ask
And I’d like you to ask it right now
Why are you not sharing deaths in the community
As soon as the data allows?

The scientists debasing themselves everyday 
To bring credibility to the politicians
While the politicians are delighted in every way
To be able to share their inquisition 

These experts have clearly been trained
To play your little media game
Media training? Discussion framing?
Not answering questions’ their aim

It’s like the worst bits of the apprentice
Which is all of the apprentice by the way
The lack of sincerity in their voices
Would be laughable were there not such a price to pay

Did they miss the ‘faking sincerity’
Module of their media training?
When Gove and Patel speak
I can feel my trust further draining

We’ve no idea how many have this thing now
Nor how many have had it before
We simply don’t have the information we need
And no plan for how we get more

I’m scared because it doesn’t seem true that 
Decisions are being based on what’s best
For the nation or our NHS
But on what supports the lies already told throughout this unrest

Take it on the chin – let it move through us all
Which absenting vaccine or treatment regime
Is where we might end up
But for that to be your first option is frankly obscene 

We need herd immunity – Sage advice indeed
But that can’t be a policy aim
As we don’t even know if immunity is guaranteed
So we’d lose hundreds of thousands in vain.  

This nation led its government 
In this time of disaster
When the nation deserves to be led
By a qualified master 

Where we should have been closing down 
And people confined to their digs 
Instead we had the Cheltenham festival 
And Stereophonics gigs

We can’t take action yet
Not enough of you are dying
We have to fill the hospitals 
Before we actually start trying 

Our breakout came later which meant that
Our action should have come quicker
But we waited and waited and dithered with guidance
And sadly now people are sicker

Ten thousand dead? But that isn’t all
The ONS stats suggest double
The fact that they’re not sharing community deaths
Suggests that we’re in for more trouble

Test, test and test again
Is the WHO advice 
Test, isolate and trace contacts 
But we’ve decided to roll our own dice 

So it turns out that when it comes to the crunch
And the need for strong leadership is clear
That there’ll be vagueness, weak advice and a lack of clear rules
Which is literally killing us here

Stay two metres apart
Say the three wise men or women true
Who are not standing Two metres apart
Do as we say. Not as we do.

I’m really struggling to believe that 
Under a right wing Tory prime minister 
I’m wishing for him to be more draconian
In the rules he needs to administer

To see how the world is responding to this
And then plough your own furrow could be brave
But if it’s based on nothing more than covering your own backs
You’ll be sending thousands more to their graves

The financial assistance that’s been offered sounded great
But under scrutiny looks decidedly less so
And millions quickly lost jobs and will suffer
As companies preferred to sack than furlough

Loans might help in some cases
But it relies on companies putting their future profits
Ahead of their employees present
So beware of false prophets 

Millionaire bosses throwing staff to the wolves
And cocking a snook to protestors
Then taking the money the government gives
And handing it straight to Investors

How worrying it is to realise
That personal circumstance leaves you prone
Newly self-employed?  Well I’m sorry to say
That there’s no help for you, you’re on your own.

I’m lucky – I know that I’ll be alright
But there’s millions not as lucky as I
And the government just says ‘sorry – you don’t fit our model’
Compassionate conservatism?  It’s hard to deny.

All of the assumptions that underlie
Our economic model laid bare 
And found to be lacking when push comes to shove
As there’s really not much substance there

How can they do it?  We hear people cry
When the toilet roll hoarders arrive
Yet the hoarding of money is seen as a virtue
While others find it hard to survive 

There are Millions now in genuine need
But the distribution of resources is so screwed
And help from those who have millions doesn’t seem to be guaranteed
Hoarders they are, just of money not food

It won’t stop me shaking hands
Johnson proclaims with a smile
Just as Trump stares directly at a solar eclipse
How ridiculous, contemptible and juvenile

What you say really matters, you appalling man
People’s behaviour will be led by your words
So this blustering fool that you choose to portray
Is dangerous, obscene and absurd

A lying newspaper columnist in charge
Seasoned at playing the buffoon
So out of his depth as he blusters around 
Believing himself to be immune

So little trust in our minister prime
Who’s lied his way right to the pinnacle
That if he’d faked his positive test
Nobody would be surprised, we’re that cynical 

Years of demonising experts and truth 
Are suddenly shown in high contrast
With the urgent requirement for people to trust
And respond for as long as this lasts 

Rejecting EU help, as our doctors and nurses die
On the altar of your brexit myth
But the lack of plan b seems to suggest to me
That you should step aside now – Forthwith

People are dying and dying alone
And that will live with us for generations to come
Your lies are enabling this shame to persist
And for many more people to succumb

Illness or not
You Bullingdon chancer 
You cannot escape this
You have questions to answer

So we’re digging mass graves here in England
And there’s no sign it’s stopping just yet
So please let’s support our key workers
And remember we’re all in their debt

But the maddening saddening tragical truth
And the thing which should fill you with shame
Is that you’re too busy lying and spinning to see
That it’s sadly no longer a game

(c) Michael Gurner April 202o