Ode to New Labour love

by Stephen Tall on October 5, 2006

I don’t really do poetry. So this is from a novel:

Michael went to the village for a walk.
That was the kind of thing a chap like him did,
holiday stroll to the village, hands in pock
ets, casual, professional, on a whim, did.
He sat outside a church and got a shock.
It sounded more strenuous than a gym did!
People were clearly fucking in that church.
It was the sound of Michael in the lurch.

It was the sound, to Dr Michael Smart,
of tragedy, a bloody song of goats.
That’s what it was, a goat-song. Was it Sartre
said tragedy was those who got their oats
when others didn’t, or something like thart?
Michael was tired of being a rubbish poet.
Tired of a language that barely suffices,
words that could call this All a mid-life crisis.

Michael had fallen for a bit of rough
who’d happened past their Norfolk holiday home.
There was no doubt about it. It was luff.
He swelled with false hope, like the Millennium Dome.
He fucked his wife instead. Not good enough.
Like the Millennium Dome, nobody’d come,
they couldn’t find it, it was off the map,
and when they did get there the show was crap.

It was New Labour love, then, him and Eve,
a dinner-party designer suit-and-tie,
a rhetoric that was its own motif,
they believed in each other, and a lie
was at the very centre of belief.
The waste it was made Michael want to cry.
He was a ruined nation, and obscene,
and nothing meant what it was meant to mean.

(Ali Smith, The Accidental)