I Spy, You Spy

Imagine, in a gaberdine,
Or even in a Dannimac,
The years you waited, mustard-keen,
For SMERSH to telephone you back,
The hours by the kitchen sink,
The minutes sitting on the khazi,
To hear a little rinky-dink
And get a message from the Stasi.
You grew a beard, you had a shave,
You tried out each designer stubble,
You craved the chance to misbehave
And get your country into trouble,
Until, one day, your dinner dry,
And fags no longer 3/6,
Ann Widdecombe, with hue and cry,
Accused you of some filthy tricks.

Your tea-bag shaken, milk unstirred,
And bust of Lenin still askew,
You tell reporters what you heard
They never thought you never knew.
The Berlin Wall was brick and mortar;
You called your tabby Chairman Miaouw;
You wrote to Wigwam-By-The-Water.
The truth is outed! Where to, now?     

You take your notebook and your specs
To see the Liberal Democrats,
Where politics is just like sex
Between a pair of earnest gnats,
And watch a wizened fellow sob
Goodbye to a peculiar clique,
Surrendering his useless job
To a man with hamsters in each cheek -
Was it for this you hoarded memos
In case the Eastern beast arose?
The reason that you went on demos
In raincoats which your mother chose?   

So now you trail Conservatives.
Smart-casual, they make a start
On storming brains like leaky sieves.
The politics of supermart,
The clipboards, flipcharts, seminars
Are full of managerial guff.
Have you been beamed to Venus, Mars?
Was this why you were sleeping rough
On commons? Why, when films were through,
You sat on hands through national anthem?
They look like Cluedo, minus clue.
They're haunted by the ghost of Grantham. 

Incredulous, you shuffle on
To hear the Labour darling, Darling.
Is this where all the dogs have gone?
Is this where you will hear some snarling?
A Very Great Report has shown
That children born inside a ditch
Or living very near the bone
Are seldom likely to be rich.       
You nod, perhaps. More education!
Why give the paupers fifty quid?
How healthy is the British nation
If it won't read the Aeneid?

The Seekers fill your ancient head.
You sense the truth in their refrain:
Now The Conference Is Over
We Will Never Meet Again.
One hand is on your mobile phone,
Your Sophie Wessex shirt is wrecked.
Your heart is like a pumice stone.
You call the KGB, defect.


published in The Weekly Poem slot, The Independent, 1999

From the book Labour Pangs