Paul Steffan Jones 1st


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R and The Big Numbers

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By: Paul Steffan Jones AKA
Posted in: Poetry

How the past looks from the present

and how our present will look in the future

Dunkirk is invoked for the ten thousandth time 

while the Prime Minister lies in Intensive Care 

during the biggest crisis of the last seven decades

masks for NHS heroes

soon we’ll all be wearing them

and the headwear of some Muslim women

will make more sense

perhaps we’ll learn to leave them alone

grim economic data arrives early 

wealth versus lives 

vacancies and candidates

the thinned-out workforce

of the New Deal for the Dead

feels like this is the end of something

that no matter when or how we leave the lockdown 

things are going to be radically different 

maybe whole countries will disappear

and a power vacuum ensues

since the outset of the crisis

the catalogue of complaints that hospital 

and care home staff did not have enough 

of the correct safety items to do their jobs 

safely have never really gone away

a Government that had appeared asleep at the wheel

dreaming of a bit of a skive with an 80 seat majority 

ushering in what would most likely be a no deal Brexit 

passed up five weeks of preparation 

during which they sent 400000 items 

of Personal Protection Equipment to China 

which was very public spirited of them

though in 2016 their own risk assessment had

highlighted the importance of PPE and ventilators 

in the event of a pandemic

the whole nation follows the progress 

of an order of gowns and masks

delayed on airport tarmac in Turkey

almost like on a tracking app

there’s no evidence of real urgency

and finally when it does arrive

much of it is rejected as substandard

the lubrication of international trade routes

jammed by inefficiency or worse

the glorious dead the glorious dead

in the USA armed and masked men 

protest at the continued lockdown 

and the impact on their livelihoods 

despite their death toll exceeding that 

of their armed forces in the Vietnam War

and the irony that their lack of social distancing

whilst protesting could come back to haunt them

in a way that would disarm their guns

our Ministers claim the virus does not discriminate 

citing as proof the hapless fact 

that the Prime Minister 

the Health Secretary 

the Chief Medical Officer 

and Prince Charles 

have had symptoms

with the PM actually shaking the hands of Coronavirus patients

though the fatality rate for BAME citizens 

is much higher as it is for the poor 

with areas already weakened by austerity measures

more badly affected than the more affluent areas

the glorious dead the glorious dead

a newspaper article shows photos of deserted cities 

like something imagined by Wells or Wyndham

welcome to our science fiction normality

just look out of your windows

(getting the R number below 1)

we've significantly exceeded the 20000 death toll 

previously considered acceptable by 

the Chief Medical Officer for England 

and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser

so where does that leave us? 

why does the Government talk and act like this is a success? 

the Minister for International Trade

resigns after being found to have intimidated 

a member of the public during a dispute

the Home Secretary however has survived

bullying accusations in three Departments

meanwhile in the real world of real people

earning a living dealing with real people

a store security guard is shot dead in Michigan 

for enforcing a mandatory face mask rule

they came back to slay him apparently

the glorious dead the glorious dead

(the stats fiddlers)

the Health Secretary is insincere 

about meeting his own target 

of 100000 tests a day

by including thousands that had 

merely been put in the post

capacity over substance

targets over results

big numbers sounding good even if they're meaningless

(the deniers)

the Foreign Secretary says it is unhelpful 

to compare the death tolls of different countries 

especially as his now has the highest in Europe

despite the previous daily sharing 

of a comparison chart of countries' figures 

this graph is quietly dropped 

as touchiness and embarrassment take over

and the truth disappears more completely from view

the enormity of events beginning to oppress and depress

our country seen as the Sick Man of Europe 

but one must not forget that this 

is the group of individuals and the mindset 

that allowed Grenfell Towers to happen

the glorious dead the glorious dead

(guided by the science)

a professor who had seemed alert to the danger

resigns from a body of scientists 

advising the Government on the pandemic 

as it was discovered that his married lover

had visited him twice during the lockdown 

more evidence of hypocritical behaviour 

by our supposed leaders and educated persons

the magical thinking of an unmagical citizen

a young man from Singapore is beaten up in England 

because the attacker thought he was Chinese 

and therefore apparently guilty of being a disease carrier 

the magical thinking of another unmagical citizen

Nightingale hospitals went up in record time 

they don't seem to have been used much

which is a good thing but how many 

hospitals did our Prime Minister promise us 

in the most recent General Election campaign? 

our suppressed fatality total creeps ever closer to 60000

which was the number of UK civilians killed in World War Two 

this period of history we’re living through is a kind of war

but not the kind the politicians allude to

the glorious dead the glorious dead

and after a couple of months of unrelenting tragedy

it’s revealed following an investigation

by a newspaper and a TV news show

that there's a monumental warehouse 

somewhere in brownfield England

a PPE palace stuffed 

full of 62000 pallets of the stuff 

ready for a major health emergency

some of its aisles are blocked 

with forklift trucks unable to access these 

one former employee went on record to say

that it would take all night to load just one van 

thank God the Army was on hand to sort it out

funny how this was kept quiet 

in the seesawing debates on this matter

had they forgotten about it despite paying 

over £10 million a year for this storage facility?

who is responsible for this and other omissions

and where did we lose our country?

the glorious dead the glorious dead

Thomas Jones
05/19/20 08:39:24PM @thomas-jones:

Excellent Paul, straight from the shoulder. Ahhh.. the glorious dead the glorious dead . -

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth- corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -
Myfriend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

Paul Steffan Jones AKA
05/19/20 09:01:00PM @paul-steffan-jones2:

Thanks very much Thomas. The old poems are the best....

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