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. . . on studying his blog and reading the news

‘Dear Dominic’ – or should that be, ‘Dom, hi!’ —

Thou brilliant blogger, you moved me to a space

that’s awesome to behold, right bloody marvellous,

a compelling voice, that keeps on asking why

things are as they are, and how they might differ

if we had the nous to adopt something other.

            Stop —

we’ve not been introduced, so let me be polite

and throw in, ‘How are you? I like the way you write.’

Your turn to reply, ‘Good’, and if feeling benign-

minded you could add nicely, ‘thanks, I’m fine’.

(Let’s pause there. Do you recognise ‘benign’?

Other adjectives spring to mind, theirs not mine:

contemptuous, combative, arrogant.

Being diplomatic is one thing you can’t.)

            Well —

let them miss the point, do their own heads in.

If they keep insisting, stuff them in the dustbin.

Without panicking (since that ramps up the risk),

new urgency these days impels us to be brisk.

*

My first is Thucydides, that fruitful read

to your mind and mine, a schooling we need.

His speakers argue that the stronger dominate,

that’s their nature – and the nature of the state.

Yet your posish is this, that the Greek is askew,

to subvert his stance, you also read Sun Tzu.

Britain evolved by winning victory, then thriving

in the aftermath. We should opt for surviving;

‘winning without fighting’ is a sine qua non

since a Third World War will destroy all we own.

The next step is to see weapons as a barrier,

we must get shot of that new aircraft carrier.

And why stop there? The past may look opaque

but we should use it if we want to make a break

from past errors. History Ancient and Modern

is the hymnbook to use to avoid Armageddon.

            But

Dom – honestly – you’re too cavalier

with Taiwan, for which I am stiff with fear.

‘Scrap all security guarantees’ – really?

‘Use cyber to subvert China’ – merely?

Be clear: Taiwan seized will be meat and drink

to the CCP; the West may make their stink.

We made guarantees for Belgium then Poland.

We had to stop the appeasing of demand.

Their loss amounted to a brutal rape

so war it had to be, we could not escape.

            Yet —

I give up, Cummings, you may well be right.

The only way out? Duck the coming fight.

Announcing Armageddon will be as nothing

to what the real thing is bound to bring,

weeping, wailing, unappeasable gnashing.

*

That’s the future. Here, the UK’s cock-eyed

‘courtier-fixers’ rule us. Put them aside.

We need oligarchs as clever as ever,

but most of all tested in how to use

large resources. In fact let’s not mince the thing,

what we need now is the philosopher king

(and now we’ve discovered it’s not just a man’s

role, what’s needed too are philosopher queens).

Not half:

‘predictive reasoners’, ‘mathematical seers’,

most of all, we need do-ers, not be-ers.

Interactive minded, ‘thinking with the body’,

people we pay to root out what’s shoddy.

Until I read you, I’d not heard of ‘seeing rooms’,

thinking with our bodies is right for our times

since technology is now the perfect tool

to see most problems in the whole.

All that’s pertinent to my epistolary story:

to cut to the chase, we now have to hurry

and get our minds to see behind the mirror —

if we want to succeed in cutting out error.

*

“May and Hammond were too inept by far,

nor was Cameron any kind of star,

in fact no better than a curate’s egg

thanks to the presence of that numbskull Clegg.”

            Judge not. Behind-the-arras SPADs play no role

in placating The Guardian and The Daily Mail.

If our leaders are dim, ‘of ignoble mind’,

then that’s true of us too, both dim and blind.

That democracy is not your cup of tea

is what I conclude, but do I misconstrue?

It’s broken somewhat, it is out of joint,

needs indeed more than just a lick of paint.

But I’m struck that you’re so stuck on Bismarck.

Clever . . . but in our system? Could he work?

Someone to replace our current ‘Hollow Men’?

So you want a Xi, a Putin, an Erdogan?

            I can feel that I’m not getting your drift,

less drift and more contrarian motion,

which I like . . .  No, love! . . .

            Start again. Let me make a firmer link

and join with you in rejecting groupthink.

Someone should do different. You are one to dare.

Good. But it makes me ask, Where

would we be if we all did different?

It may be true that’s not what you meant.

Let us have mavericks with a far-seeing eye,

the all-wise in fact, not a mere wise guy.

*

Well then, you’re famous, for what? The bold flight

from the lockdown. ‘Lock him up’ was what

came hot from the press and public’s strong views.

Laura Kunesberg gave full voice to our outrage

(which suits our age with its rage for outrage),

you became the headline on the front page.

In this case, however, the news was no news.

Let them stew in their juices, and take short views.

New-kid covid must have scrambled your brain —

or did old-type parental angst set in train

what you did?

Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner . . .

Oh forget it, and please pass the chardonnay.

The odd bishop condemns, but God does not.

Or maybe you’re with those who think that’s rot.

Omniscience? That’s for you not the deity.

Man’s omnipotence is now new verity.

*

Time to go now, and yes it must be true,

Time waits for no-one, that means me and you.

            Yet –

please stay awhile, I ask, I cannot let go

without a word (or two) to the wise, just so:

“The apparel oft proclaims the man.”

Might it not help your cause to look smart?

But then you say, “To thine own self be true,”

if you want to play the more maverick part.

When it comes to who’s right, who wins? You.

            So I’m finished? No way: “Manners maketh man.”

Polonius did not say it, so I speak for him,

like lots before me through aeons of time.

I put it to you, more question then adage:

can you really not moderate your language?

This cruel abuse to skewer your opponents –

is that not tuneless, vilest song-and-dance?

It would not come amiss one tittle or jot

to season your criticism with courtesy and wit.

            Anyway, good luck in your excellent work.

You do not need me for your vital spark.

Thanks for listening and refraining from shrieking,

I for one am grateful for your speaking.

Like you, though, I have been too verbose,

but unlike you, my words are otiose –

but for one final niggle, darling Dominic

– I do not say this in the tone of a cynic,

a carper, a troller, a warrior, a critic:

but am only asking this in sorrow:

can you claim to be in charge of tomorrow?

What, above all, would help you the most

is a SPAD of your own, tasked to signpost

the rugged pathway to a humbler nature.

Be a heaven-sender, not a hell-raiser.

*

Wrong as usual. As I drafted this epistle

robot engineers of your dismissal

were at work. The result? It resulted

in the SPAD spat out. The media exulted

with a ‘who’s in, who’s out?!?’

Life’s greasy pole

ruins all plans for a Bismarckian role.