The Brexit Bus

So what’s the panic? What’s the fuss?
It’s all aboard the big red bus.
The brakes are shot but we don’t care
we’re heading off to God knows where.
It’s not as though we have a choice:
we must obey the people’s voice
‘cos 37 per cent agreed
a change of air is what we need.
The youngsters hover, hesitate
while pensioners decide their fate.
Some changed their minds and some are dead
but buckle up - full steam ahead.

Who ever could have prophesied
that we’d get taken for this ride?
The deal was done, the pup’s been sold,
‘cos we believed what we were told.
The gloves were off, the rules were bent
and who knows how much cash was spent?
The carcass of electoral rolls
was ripped apart by Russian trolls
who know that Facebook can reveal
just how you think, the way you feel.
The algorithms know how you tick
and help you choose which box to pick. 
Jo Cox is dead, but this campaign
will stop for nothing – it’s insane.
Gove and Farage may disagree
but Leave plus Leave means victory.  
We wonder, heading for the door
exactly what they voted for.
The NHS ? Invading Turks?
You need a fantasy that works.
The xenophobes want aliens out
so spread the hatred, stir the doubt.
The wards aren’t staffed, the fruit’s not picked
but at least they got migration licked.
It’s not far now, the cliff’s in sight;
we can’t slow down, so hold on tight.

It’s natural there’s teething pain –
some short-term loss for long-term gain -
so you might get these gloomy thoughts
of tailbacks at the channel ports,
stockpiling medicine, food stacked high.
bureaucracies that multiply
while business tries to look ahead;
the windscreen’s misted, lights are red.
We’ll need new laws – so many hours
to update Parliamentary powers.
The orchestras, the science teams,
the higher education schemes…
cosy collaboration, hey?
All that was cancelled yesterday.
Now that we’ve torn its limbs apart
the UK’s bleeding at the heart.
The Irish border’s still not done;
replay the Troubles, anyone?
Just stay or go - a simple bet;
who knew how complex this would get?

We’re heading for the cliff at speed
so now a driver’s all we need.
Cameron knew he’d got it right –
just win the vote, and then unite.
Fat chance. Now there’s no turning back,
the rats are fighting in the sack
but Davis, Johnson, Gove, Rees-Mogg
are frantic, blinded by the fog.
The lofty sneer, the scornful touch
but clear proposals? Not so much.
So May is left alone to wave
the tattered deal she’s trying to save
as, sliced to ribbons, see them sag -
the remnants of her Chequers flag.

The edge approaches, nearer now,
Can something save us? When? And how?
We watch, in growing disbelief
negotiations come to grief.
They’re making threats, they’re acting tough;
they work through bombast, bluster, bluff
like some beginners’ drama class
whose end result is total farce.
And then there’s Labour. Not a clue.
What do they want? What would they do?
The edge is near, we face the drop;
can nothing make this madness stop?
It’s hell on wheels, it’s rock and roll
so tell me – who took back control?

 

Charm Offensive

July, it’s time to get a grip.
Right now, I have this Europe trip.
No other Pres – I am unique –
could do three summits in a week.
NATO, UK (that’s on its knees),
then Russia. That’ll be a breeze.

First, NATO. Obsolete, maybe –
they want support, won’t pay the fee.
Germany’s under Russia’s thumb,
that pipeline deal is really dumb.
May’s saying “Salisbury poison, yes?”
Wants me to pester Putin. Bless.

I cancel meetings, come in late,
disrupt agendas – let them wait.
The reason why I play it rough?
We need to sort the finance stuff.
I want all payments brought in line -
the target’s now two oh one nine.
I tell the press “That’s down to me”
but Merkel, Macron don’t agree.
The date, they say’s, two two oh four –
Exactly what it was before.  

Another plane, another day
and then it’s on to the UK. 
Although the people wanted out
looks like they took a different rout.
I gave Theresa some advice.
Too brutal, maybe. She’s so nice.
I told The Sun. They didn’t choose
to print it. Like I say, fake news.
What’s that? Their transcript’s down the line?
Sure, it was generally fine.
I liked the Boris Johnson part.
The guy’s a friend. That’s from the heart.
Like I told Piers, they love me here
‘cos I see immigration clear.
So, will I stand again? Might do
since everybody wants me to.

The highlight? Windsor Castle, tea.
I’ve kept the footage. There, d’you see?
Fantastic woman, blows my mind…
That’s me. She’s walking just behind.
What did she say? “This Brexit stuff
is complex…”maybe that’s enough.
Queen talk is what you don’t repeat,
that right? Not even in a tweet?

Then back to Turnberry. Love these greens.
So many memorable scenes.
Protestors and supporters. Sheep.
Five million pounds of policing’s cheap.
Two years ago, I’m sure it’s there
I sensed some changes in the air.
The day before on Brexit eve,
I said UK would vote to leave.
What’s that? There’s a correction. Hey,
turns out it was the following day.
Time to move on. I don’t regret
a thing, but still I shan’t forget
that look on sad Theresa’s face:
“You’ll ask about the Skripal case?”

US and Russia? Tricky stuff.
We haven’t been in touch enough.
Mistakes on both sides. Clear the air,
so Putin summarized, real clear,
on Syria, Iran, Crimea.
Co-operation in the main
but not too much about Ukraine.
And novichok? The Salisbury crime?
Never came up. There wasn’t time.

There’s talk of treason. That’s a joke.
Ok, so maybe I misspoke.
Would/wouldn’t…it’s so hard to guess
like girls whose No means maybe Yes.
Tore up the rule book? Well, OK.
What counts is what the voters say.
My fan-base sees, my fan-base knows,
just listen to the call-in shows.
Stuff diplomatic niceties –
they’d rather have a plate of fries
This woman rang to show support.
I’d like to share her parting thought:
“If they’re what kept out Hillary
thank God for Russia. Fine by me.”

Just Managing

So here’s to Gareth Southgate, an unassuming chap
We know when he’s appointed that he’s there to plug a gap.
He used to manage Middlesbrough who never won a thing
But now Big Sam has blown it in a journalistic sting.

It’s not the easiest job to take, the press are on your back
They’ll tell you where the team went wrong, they’ll list the skills you lack.
The Wembley crowd are vicious, add Twitter to the mix
Then worst of all that dread refrain – “Remember ’66?”

But Gareth’s not distracted, he does the job his way
He’s managed England’s younger teams, he knows these kids can play.
Forget big reputations, forget about the past
Create a style that suits the team, that’s skilful, fluid, fast.

No rampant solo egos, no stars who think they’re God
But a diverse mix of talent where what matters is the squad.
England with added teamwork, a sight we’ve seldom seen,
Defence, midfield, strikers - a smoothly oiled machine.

Tunisia is the first game – it’s one we’re meant to win.
We make a lot of chances but only one goes in.
They get the softest penalty; should we prepare for pain?
Just keep the faith, and at the end thank God for Harry Kane.

Next up is Panama and there's been talk about the heat
But the hottest things in this display are the England forwards’ feet.
There’s Jesse Lingard scampering, they’ve still not caught him yet,
A slick one-two with Sterling and a screamer finds the net.

They have this neat free-kick routine, from left to right and back,
Though Sterling’s shot is saved there’s Stones to head us back on track.
Manhandling means two penalties no matter what they say
Bang in the top left corner Kane blasts them both away.

He’s been a World Cup extra who never played a game
So Gareth keeps the squad involved, he treats them all the same;
They try to keep the structure, to press and move and pass
But even Belgium’s second team are still a different class.

Colombia is different, we dominate the play
But they have passionate support, they’re fighting all the way;
There’s fouls and provocations, to which we mustn’t rise,
Maybe Kane’s pen will be enough – and then they equalize. 

Our genius commentators are in their rut again
“But England haven’t blah blah blah since God alone knows when.”
They’ve still not got the message that this is something new;
As Gareth tells the players “Your story’s down to you.”

They’ve done the preparation, detailed analysis;
They trust in Pickford’s strong left hand, and Dier doesn’t miss.  
So yes, we’ve won on penalties, we’ve won a knockout game
We’re in uncharted territory where things won’t be the same. 

A nervy start with Sweden, we pass it into touch,
That free and flowing football that we wanted – not so much.
But those dead-ball rehearsals deliver bang on cue;
Two headed goals, some tough defence, and Pickford sees us through.

Now Gareth spreads the praise around, he credits all the staff,
He knows that if you work that hard you have to have a laugh;
Magnanimous in victory, he’s not the crowing type
He shares the moment with the fans but disregards the hype.

We could have reached the final, we had them on the run
Though Trippier’s goal’s a beauty it’s still the only one.
We’re looking fast and confident, the movement is sublime
If only we could freeze it, not go beyond half-time.

We start to lose it, lose it all, composure, skill and breath;
Croatia equalize and then they nick it at the death. 
They’ve won two penalty shoot-outs, they’re canny, hard as nails,
They ought to be exhausted but experience prevails.

Would the sunshine last for ever? Could the lads go all the way?
We know there’ll be a reckoning in the bitter light of day.
And Southgate's boys are gutted, they feel they’ve failed a test
But we’ll remember this World Cup for England at their best.  

They’re playing to a pattern but it’s not a rigid scheme
They understand the way it works, they know there’s room to dream.
They think ahead, they play at pace, they aim to keep the ball
They celebrate, communicate, enjoy it – best of all.

He’s a winner in a waistcoat, a maestro with a plan.
Who set the tone, who picked the team? It’s Southgate. He’s the man.
He’s modest and he’s decent but we sing his praises loud
‘Cos Gareth’s given us a squad of which we can be proud. 

 

 

 

                                      Paul Francis     francisliberty@btinternet.com

The Hard Sell

“We’re Cambridge Analytica, we’ve many cunning schemes;
If you’re running an election we can realise your dreams.
We hoover up the data, the nasty and the nice,
Our targeting of messages is deadly and precise.
We feed stuff in the bloodstream and then we watch it grow
But where those rumours came from no-one will ever know.
We’re the ultimate consultants, more hi-tech than the rest
And our fee is on the steep side – because we are the best.
You can pay it by instalments, you can pay it in a lump
But you know that we’ll deliver, just like we did for Trump.

Deter the opposition – we say ‘inoculate’ –
By conjuring up a vision of violence and hate:
‘Don’t bother with the ballot, the things they say aren’t true.’
We did it in Nigeria, and this could work for you. 
Our managing director is a master of disguise,
Pretends to be a businessman and tells persuasive lies.
We make outrageous offers and film them all the while
Then threaten with exposure – it’s blackmail, with style.

You need a tasty titbit, the smear that’s going to hurt?
We can supply the experts at digging for the dirt.
Ex-spies, UK and Israel, will go through private stuff
And manufacture scandal, if digging’s not enough.
We offer leisure holidays, in Southern France and Spain;
Complete your victim’s pleasure, with girls from the Ukraine.

Don’t worry. There’s no comeback. There’ll be no trace of blame.
We shift our deals to other firms and often change the name.
We worked in Eastern Europe; our hand was never seen –
Slipped underneath the radar and no-one knew we’d been.
Our network of connections is spread out far and wide
There’s academic projects within which we can hide.
You say you’re from Sri Lanka? No problem. Who would care
If we crossed another border? Deceit sans frontières.
Stuff that’s believed may not be true. Sounds bad – don’t get me wrong.
Here’s hoping our relationship is secretive and long.
It’s been a pleasure meeting you. I’ll walk you to the door.
Sorry? What’s that you’re telling me? You work for Channel 4?

These claims are quite outrageous. You’ve gone too far this time.
We always work within the law. Entrapment is a crime.
‘Have we no trace of conscience? Who ordered dirty tricks?’
The answer to both questions is identical. It’s ‘Nix.’ “

Top Man

Harrumph, Harrumph, I’m Humphrys, I call a spade a spade
I’m almost indispensable – just look how much I’m paid.
But I earn every penny (and don’t forget it’s taxed)
'Cos no-one else can match me – blunt, sexist and relaxed.

When Konta was at Wimbledon I wasn’t phased a bit
I knew she was Australian – how could she be a Brit?
The feminists got angry, they’re quick to take offence
The way I see it there’s their view – and then there’s common sense.

I’ve been around for ever, reported Aberfan,
When Dimbleby missed Question Time they knew I was the man;
I grill the politicians, I’m ready for a fight
They try to get a word in but they know that I am right.

I dominate the microphone, my condescending drawl
Dismisses other viewpoints, I know that it’s my call.
Now Carrie Gracie’s moaning ‘cos women get less pay
How much d’you think I’ve offered her to try to make her stay?

I had to put John Sopel right – “You won’t believe this mess.
You realise she’s suggesting that you should be paid less?”
Such chat does not prevent me discussing this on air
It’s only boyish banter – a ban would be unfair.

I should be free to speak my mind, though there’s the curious thought
That women have been silenced for voicing their support.
When prejudice is pouring out there’s no-one to say when
Cos it’s business as usual at the BBC for men.  

 

 

Code of Conduct (revised)

Rule 1. Exude an air of confidence.
Rule 2. Officials only cramp your style.
Don’t seek advice. Just use your common sense.
Keep talking, and maintain that winning smile.
Rule 3. If challenged by reporters, bluff –
“It was a holiday.” Or improvise:
“She’s training students, journalistic stuff…”
They’re harmless little falsehoods. No-one dies.
Rule 4. Retreat with style. Low key is good.
“I had twelve meetings…Boris knew…fourteen?”
“If what I said has been misunderstood…
all out of context…what I really mean…”
Rule 5. Don’t say “I’m sorry.” That’s uncouth.
Keep talking. Smile. Forget about the truth.

The Road to Number Ten

There’s a magic in the metre, in the Kipling rock and roll,
The rhythm that you learnt at school, the soundtrack of your soul;
In the old Moulmein Pagoda, where it’s perfect to declaim –
You can’t help it, you’re an addict – Boris Johnson is your name.
“This is not the time and place”, there’s a disapproving face
From the apparatchik next to you, but then
These are foreign office minions with inferior opinions;
They don’t realise you’re bound for Number Ten.

You wrote this EU column, of frothy comic stuff
But then you made a quote up and The Times had had enough.
As Mayor of London photo-ops you had a busy time.
Though you didn’t cut pollution and you didn’t sort the crime
But you knew you couldn’t fail on the LEAVE campaigning trail
When the old charisma bubbled up again
You were winning and on track when a knife stab in the back
Put the mockers on your rise to Number Ten.

Churchill is still your hero in an old colonial dream
Obama is part-Kenyan, and the picanninies beam
In Tokyo street rugby’s not a game, more like a fight
As a ten-year old gets clattered by your tackle in full flight.
The upbeat tone, the floppy hair are great on screen, superb on air
Olympics, on a zipwire, hanging…when
You give that boyish grin ‘cos you know you still can win
And get back on to the road to Number Ten.

There’s controversy attaching to a limerick that you wrote
In which the Turkish premier had relations with a goat.
“Never came up” you chortled. “We’re good friends, we start anew
And the UK’s backing Turkey as it tries to join EU.”
Europeans watch you swerve, they’re disgusted by your nerve
“Mr. Johnson’s changed positions, yet again.
When you’ve said you’re on your way you don’t get the right to say
Even if you aim to get to Number Ten.”

The articles keep coming, and your chutzpah doesn’t die
Big money for the NHS, that old familiar lie.
So says the back seat driver who seeks to navigate
“There must be no backsliding – we have to seize our fate.”
If negotiations stall you’ll be ready for the call
You are chosen, and you’re on the rise again
So who cares if what you say undermines Theresa May?
You’ve got one more chance to get to Number Ten.

Business as Usual

What makes a happy ending for a President in power?
Some cut down government spending, some made the commies cower;
Some claim they made the weather, some got elections won
Some kept their team together, got legislation done.

You’d think that we were Isis the way they pull us down
They claim that we’re in crisis, the lousiest show in town.
The media fail to get it, they think I’m just a laugh
There’s no way I regret it when there’s feuds between my staff.

I’m on a jungle mission where the weakest don’t survive
The heat of competition is the setting where I thrive
I crave big beasts in action and agreement makes me tired –
There’s no greater satisfaction than the joy of saying “You’re fired!”

The Luck of the Draw

Here’s the lowdown on the showdown
The return to Eden Park
Where the flame of history flickers:
Can the Lions make their mark?
Sure, the All Blacks can be beaten;
England did it, ‘ 73
But it doesn’t happen often
And it never comes for free.

They are physical and streetwise
They are savvy and they’re fast
By the time you see the danger
They have runners racing past.
They are sniffing for the offload
They are ruthless in the maul
Teams who beat them stick together
All for one and one for all.

No, the schedule wasn’t clever
And some early games were lost;
If you build a squad with jetlag
Then there’s bound to be a cost.
Local papers were derisive
Mocked their chances, did them down,
Underestimated Gatland
Canny Kiwi’s not a clown.

There are moments in the battle
When the flickering flame is low
Times when Sinckler, George and Owens
Might have let the series go,
But the pack still swarms around them
With a love-slap on the head
‘Cos it’s not the final whistle
And this team is never dead.

So they didn’t cross the try-line
They made hardly any breaks,
Beauden Barrett missed two sitters
And the All Blacks made mistakes
But it’s still a magic moment
We shall treasure evermore –
Kicked the points and made the tackles,
Faced the All Blacks, got a draw.

The Ballad of Jo Cox

From a grammar school in Yorkshire she wins her Cambridge place;
She doesn’t speak the same as them and no-one knows her face.
While others have done gap years Jo hasn’t been away,
Packed toothpaste in the factory where her dad works every day.
But as a lonely student in that chilly eastern town
She vows to make a difference, she won’t be backing down.

She worked as a researcher, in NGOs, in aid;
Cheap medicine, casualties of war, the laws controlling trade.
In a myriad of settings, the message is the same:
We must protect the vulnerable, it’s justice that we claim.
In Darfur, in Colombia, she’s energy to burn,
A Westerner who listens, who’s not afraid to learn.
The powers that be imagine that this girl is no big deal -
She’s tiny and she’s charming, but she’s also made of steel.

Ten years confronting heartbreak, some changes she can see
But now the biggest challenge; she’ll stand as an MP.
She’ll represent constituents, she’ll fight to right their wrongs
And it has to be in Batley, the place where she belongs.
At first there’s some suspicion. From Cambridge? What’s the fuss?
But then a wave of warm relief – this girl is one of us.
She greets the market traders, the women’s rugby team;
We do belong together, it isn’t just a dream.
Jo Cox is not a robot, she’s a mother and a wife,
A friend who likes to party, with an appetite for life.

She’s been a year in Parliament, she’s got them on the run
Asks questions, gathers allies, above all, gets things done.
Yes, Syria is our business, it’s vital that we care;
The issues that divide us are less than what we share.
Some say she’ll be a minister – demanding, canny, bold
But then the referendum puts everything on hold.

The campaign’s getting nasty, there’s poison in the air
And some of it is lodging in the head of Thomas Mair.
God knows just what he’s thinking as he’s lying there in wait
But she’s the perfect target, the love he has to hate.
In Parliament the tributes suggest she got it right –
Two roses on her usual seat: red Labour, Yorkshire white.
Jo’s voice was cruelly silenced, her chance for change has gone
So it’s up to us to take it, to see her work goes on.

                    

Firing on all cylinders

It’s cool to win elections, and having power’s a laugh
But things get complicated when you’re employing staff.
Attorney General Sally Yates said “Don’t appoint Mike Flynn.”
Obama, something similar, but I said “Show him in.”
OK, he’s linked with Russia, but how was I to know?
As soon as I was made aware I said he’d have to go.

And now there is James Comey, who runs the FBI;
When he leaked stuff on Hillary he was my kind of guy.
But then things kind of soured when he made it all too plain
He’s looking into Russia and their links with my campaign.
“Are you investigating me?” I put it to him straight;
He told me that he wasn’t, but I couldn’t afford to wait.

He’s in LA, addressing staff, the auditorium packed.
A message runs across the screen “James Comey has been sacked.”
He laughs, ‘cos he imagines it’s a prank his staff might do
Until an aide comes up to him, informs him that it’s true.
Some said that was insensitive, but the time is never right.
Just tell the guy it’s over, and then switch out the light.

My guys leapt into action – first off, Sean Spicer said
“The Hillary Clinton e-mails – that’s why James Comey’s dead.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders implied a devious crime
“The guy committed atrocities, he lived on borrowed time.”
“Unpopular,” a spokesman said, “he’d lost the FBI.”
His deputy insisted “That is a flat out lie.”
Then Spicer claimed I’d acted on advice that I’d been shown
But all that stuff is garbage. I acted on my own.
I am the guy that calls the shots. It’s time. I’d had enough
He better know that there’s no tapes if he starts leaking stuff.  

Next day, I tell the Russians “Beware the ISIS threat,
They’ve got a trick with laptops. Could be the deadliest yet.”
I get top secret info, and have the right, of course
To share stuff which endangers a vulnerable source.
The US press were not allowed, but a Russian camera crew
Releases pictures of our chat. They’re devious. Who knew?
Then Putin said it wasn’t them from whom this secret slipped
But if we need a record he’ll let us have their script.  

No leader’s ever suffered what’s happening to me now
Not Hitler, not Caligula, Pinochet, Chairman Mao.
The press won’t knock me off this course, I’m keeping to my line.
The folks who voted for me think that what I do’s just fine.
I’ve lifted bans on pesticides. Junk food controls are dead.
Ivanka’s sorting climate change ‘cos that stuff hurts my head.
I’ve read the contract’s small print, my term’s not yet expired
One thing’s for sure, I am the guy who gets to say “You’re fired!”
You’ll thank me for it later, I’ve nothing to regret.
If you think this is chaos you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Theresa

The graduates of Bullingdon, the Cameron/Osborne boys
Are oozing with entitlement and make a lot of noise;
The senior woman in cabinet is calm as Mona Lisa
Who knows what’s going on inside the head of Queen Theresa?

Home Office is the graveyard where all politicans lose
But all the media can find to comment on is shoes;
God help the eager immigrant who’s hopeful for a visa
Hostile environment’s the thing that motivates Theresa.

The referendum comes along to split the party wide,
Big beasts patrol the microphones but she stays safe inside;
George Osborne’s sums are not quite straight, they’re like the tower of Pisa,
It’s smart to keep your powder dry like canny Queen Theresa.

Once Leave has won the backs are stabbed, Gove shafts his mates in style;
Can Leadsom be the best they’ve got? Theresa, by a mile.
The leavers – Boris, David, Liam- are desperate to please’er
Only a fool strays out of line in the court of Queen Theresa.

So Brexit must mean Brexit. What’s that? We try to guess.
It’s yes to immigration bans, no cash for NHS.
She doesn’t want to spell it out; she stays aloof, like Caesar
Ex-pats are simply bargaining chips if you are Queen Theresa.

After the split from Europe will we be just a rump?
She’s sprinting to the plane to be the first to chat up Trump.
So yes, she’ll let him take her hand and later, he may squeeze’er;
She smiles, and thinks of England, long-suffering Theresa.

She’d like more houses built for rent, real gains that voters see,
Some government boosts for business, and job security.
But the history books won’t mention those, you can bung ‘em in the freezer
For Brexit’s all that matters in the reign of Queen Theresa.