Let’s not act like it hasn’t been wine and cheese for a while now —
just beyond the jostling placards and the bleary-eyed shifts,
there was always the balmy Arcadia of a city garden,
shirts unbuttoned on a spring afternoon. Quaffing and toffing.
The view from our window saved us that summer, the sunset
glinting back from a Sydenham Tower block, all those mortgaged
back yards between us. We had our roaming grounds —
Animal Crossing and Red Dead Redemption. The trinity of Joes —
Biden, Wicks, Exotic. Death and madness played out
in strip-lit rooms, the Covid wards and the Maudsley,
a short walk from our front door. There was no resentment,
not at first. If they failed then we all failed. A dread-tinged peace
between the doorstep ovations. Burning 5G masts and Blitz spirit.
George Floyd and free school meals. It was never meant to make sense.
Centuries ago, the toffs would decamp to the fields and get plastered
while dressed as shepherds, who they assumed spent their days
swooning in meadows for the love of their maidens. The sheep
found their own way home. Who remembers how many? Who’s counting?