Tuesday, 13 November 2012


my son was born on the 13th of november,
which falls on a tuesday this year.
you're not going to have a kids' party on a tuesday, right?
not in term time, right?
so we do it on the sunday, remembrance sunday of course and,
as ever, the role of jolly fellow is outsourced
to some grinning goon half my age
who gets on great with kids and whose
smile says you're a miserable prick.
this is at one of those bloody places:
you know, a unit on an small industrial estate:
soft indoor play equipment,
plenty of parking and
a coffee shop where the mums and dads
read their papers and
deal with
their email,
their hangovers,
the dullness of a cocaine comedown,
their caffè macchiato and
those hard, expensive little biscuits.

other people's children
and our child
what they do
at these places:
they slide down things,
they pretend to be zombies or
super mario or
sonic the hedgehog or
whatever and
as some young voice
shouts out this is my gun and
i'm going to shoot you,
old soldiers
and new soldiers
parade in braid
and bandages 
and pomp
and prosthetic limbs
to the sound of LADY GAGA
along whitehall
to the cenotaph,
with the commentators' words
mangled by the BBC's closed captioning
that can't keep up, so,
really i'm not making it up,
somewhere in the serious crowd
are some

and at the eleventh hour,
the music stops and
one of the FUNZONE goons
invites us
to join the two minutes' silence but
there's no such thing as silence in there,
and as I watch
men laying wreaths
(men who have ordered the bombing
of cities and villages
in full knowledge
of the infants
[collateral damage]
who will breathe their last
in the rubble
of their nursery schools and paediatric wards),
I fancy somewhere I can hear
my own son's voice,
i'm not your friend anymore!!!! and,
my great grandfather marches back
from the trenches of the GREAT WAR,
shelled into heavy-handedness,
knocking his children about (my grandmother,
my great aunt), slapping them
into pieces of vindictive shit
that take it out
on my dad,
who doesn't take it out
on me.

but when those devils from the playing fields of eton
sent market porters and stevedores
towards the mortars,
a pebble dropped
into the lives of every poor bugger's family
up and down the land and
the ripples
keep rippling,
ever fainter of course,
even now.

happy birthday to you,
squashed tomatoes and stew,
you look like a monkey,
and you live in the zoo.

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