Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sedgehill: story of a school being forced to be an academy

Hi Michael

I've long followed your support of schools under threat of academisation. I'm the mother of two children at Sedgehill, a community comprehensive in Lewisham. The school was in a very bad way four years ago. Morale was low, numbers on roll were falling, and the Head resigned suddenly. Ken McKenzie took over and completely transformed the school. It's now a very special place - a true community where every child is accepted, no matter what their background or level of academic achievement, and where their potential is nurtured, whether it be with free music tuition, dance training, time in the recording studio, training with Fulham Football Club, mentoring younger children, being involved in the Youth Parliament or learning to be a Young Entrepeneur.

GCSE results have been steadily rising, until a dip this year caused by changes to the system (and shared by many many schools across the country) was taken as a cue by Lewisham council to intervene.

They instructed the board of governors to replace the Head with their own choice, the Head of Bethnal Green Academy. When the Governors refused, they were given notice that an application was being made to impose an Interim Executive Board to disband the governors, sack the Head and take over the running of the school.

This is against the wishes of the entire school community. The school is NOT failing; it has lifted from special measures to inadequate to requires improvement (the category that was until recently called satisfactory). Although at the 2013 inspection it was still at a 3 (requires improvement) the school is confident that when next inspected it will achieve a 2 (good).

Although the council are saying that a full consultation on academisation will be held after the imposition of the IEB, it will then be too late. Sacking the leadership team and handing the school over to the control of an Academy Executive Head will irretrievably alter the character and ethos of the school and rob our children of the chance to be part of a school community we believe in.

If there is any way that you can help to shine light on this situation, then please do. We were informed just over a week ago, and we understand the application for the IEB is being made tomorrow, despite a 1,600 signature petition, a barrage of emails from concerned parents, and a demonstration outside the town hall attended by hundreds of students.

There is a Twitter group @savesedgehill where you can find out more.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

I Caught Farage on the train reading 'Lessons in Scapegoating'

"Lessons in Scapegoating"
1. Identify a group of people as the 'other'. Do this by remarking on aspects of their life you can say are 'different' even though you or your family have those aspects too. Useful 'differences' may be such things as what language people speak, clothes they wear or how people stand in the street. Sporting allegiance is useful too. Don't worry about contradictions e.g. that your partner speaks another language, or that you stand about in the street too.

2. These 'other' people must be identified as causing a lowering of people's standards of living. It is vital that the core people with real power in the country are not identified as lowering people's standards of living.

3. Indicate that these 'other' people can be and will be 'removed' in some way or another. Never indicate how they will be removed as past records on this matter are sensitive. When anyone says to you, Are you going to remove these 'other' people, deny it immediately. It doesn't matter either way - the point has been made. People will vote for you because they believe that you will 'get rid' of these 'other' people.

4. Never fill in any detail about how 'removal' of these 'other' people would affect the standard of living of those remaining. Just make vague mentions of 'work permits'. This gives the impression that 'other' people can be reduced to being a 'work permit' and that they can be cut off from partners, parents and children. They can just be hired and then 'sent back'.

5. It's vital to link such things as 'crime' to these 'other people' as if crime was invented by them. Any criminal activity on the part of people in your party or the 'people' (i.e. the not-other people) should be overlooked.

6. It's vital to suggest that the 'people' own the country and that it's been taken away from them by the 'other people'. The fact that the country is owned by a tiny, tiny group of extremely wealthy people should not be mentioned. In fact, the fact that this has always been the case should not be mentioned either. It's vital to keep the idea going that ordinary people 'own' the country and it's been 'taken away' from them by 'other' people who are not the tiny group of extremely wealthy people.

Government says it's keeping down wages; Farage says it's immigrants!

I keep thinking of the young working class bloke (or he said he was) in the audience of Question Time who said that the working class had been hit hardest by immigration. What a terrible success of the lie that his low wages have been caused by immigrants. What's incredible is that he could believe this at a time when it has been explicit - nay, boasted of - information coming from government and everywhere else that they are sacking people and keeping down wages as part of 'austerity'. 

So, in the usual run of things, the government 'freezes' wages (that is, cuts them in real terms) and the private sector uses that as a means to fix the rates too. That's what employers do. It's their 'job' to do that. They're paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to freeze wages. It's what they're doing.

And the bloke in the audience says that he's been hit by immigrants.

I hope a trade union organiser finds him at work on Monday and signs him up.

10 things we learnt about 10-things-we-learnt-about articles in the Guardian

1. Journalists like writing 10-things-we-learnt-about articles.
2. The number 10 is given magical properties by people who write 10-things-we-learnt-about articles.
3. At a time of crisis we have to be constantly directed towards key 'facts' just as people being washed away will hang on to trees and buildings.
4. Sometimes it's good to know-one-thing. Other times it's good to know nothing. Sometimes it's good to try and understand the process rather than the 'thing'. Sometimes, it's good to try and understand how one 'thing' relates to another in a sequence rather than 'things' in a list.
5. That's enough things. I realise this doesn't add up to 10 but if I wrote 10 things I'd be doing the same as the 10-things-we-learnt-about articles...

Caesar Curbs Immigrants in Year Zero

Acting on behalf of Augustus Caesar, I would say that it's become clear to me that migrants from Galilee are bringing down the wages of those in Judea. On these grounds I am instructing the loyal king of Judea to stop all people at the border trying to enter Judea. 

Meanwhile, it may be necessary to reduce the population as it has now been proved that high population causes poverty. The disturbances and riots that will almost certainly ensue will require us - that is, our client monarch, Herod - to reassert our power in the country by the usual means. Divisions between the peoples will enhance our rule. 

We expect to appoint a Governor in the region soon after.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Camilla Cavendish gets grammar schools wrong on Question Time

Camilla Cavendish said on Question Time last night that Grammar Schools were autonomous and disciplined. In my 1950s-60s grammar school there were riots in almost every Chemistry lesson as a consequence of an eccentric teacher who was there for years. The school was broken into one night by some of the boys in my year and they caused quite a lot of damage. I was involved in various milder forms of disruption across two years that was continuous. I'm not proud of the fact but in terms of 'discipline' was in those terms a disaster. The school didn't know how to handle these matters.

Autonomous? County grammar schools came under the aegis of the Local Education Authority. They were no more or less autonomous than the other schools in any given area. It's possible that the prestigious ones could throw their weight around at meetings more than the Secondary Moderns but they weren't 'autonomous'.

There were 'Direct Grant' grammar schools which were forerunners to Academies. These were usually old 'foundation' schools which were funded directly from central government were outside of Local Education Authority control. There were also 'Independent Day Schools' which were private but which accepted some children at 11 (usually) on scholarships. These were independent and even more 'autonomous'.

Beware people on TV talking about the history of education. People tend to make up stuff or just pass on oral legends.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Questions for journalists to ask Osborne and Balls re 'Deficit'

I think we should compile a list of questions for interviewers to ask George Osborne and Ed Balls. At present the questions start off by agreeing that a) there is a deficit b) that it has to be brought down now c) the 'realistic' way of doing it is to cut the public sector - jobs and services.

Alternative questions:

1. Where does the deficit come from?
2. Who or what is responsible for the deficit?
3. Who is saying that the deficit has to be reduced now?
4. Is a 'deficit' in government spending the same as a deficit in, say, my accounts at home? If not, how not?
5. Why do you say that it's people in the public sector and those receiving the benefits of the public sector who have to pay the highest price in paying for this deficit?
6. Who benefits the most from this way of paying it off?
7. Is the mid-term result of this way of doing things that the super-rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer?
8. Do you think that this is a good idea?

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Fact or recollection? Or both?

Some of the reviews of my book 'Good Ideas' (John Murray) that are appearing on a certain online bookstore that I won't mention just for the moment are very interesting. They seem to be saying that they hoped for a book of good ideas (fair enough) but have found instead that it's full of 'recollections'.

This raises in my mind the notion that a 'good idea' can't be a 'recollection' and a 'recollection' can't be a good idea. I find this deeply mysterious. Not all, but most of the ideas that I value, cherish and remember have come to me in the context of 'recollections' and/or stories. Or to put it a bit more pompously: narrative is often the best vehicle or transmitter of ideas. In fact, I give the example of a story as told by the former Storytelling Laureate, Taffy Thomas, as a way in which 'ideas' are transmitted through a story.

Perhaps what's going on here, is the rise and rise of the 'empirical'. Or to put it more pessimistically - the Gradgrind education system is inculcating very firmly and indelibly the idea that the only way to get 'facts' (or 'knowledge') is when someone says, 'here comes a fact'. Meanwhile, every day is full of billions of interactions between us where we share knowledge in ways which don't involve us saying, 'Here is a fact'.

Actually, that's one of the points of the book anyway, hah!

Conversations I couldn't have had when I was 15 years old: number 23

Self-pay machines at Waitrose, saying out of synch:
'Tha-tha-nk-nk you-you for for sh-sh - opp-opp ing-ing at-at Wait-wait-rose-rose tha-tha…'
Me: (laughing) I like that…
Till guy: Yeah it's the remix.
Me: Yes, 'Thank You For Shopping at Waitrose - the remix!'
Till guy: Yeahhh….

Wilshaw puts both feet in his mouth...

Breathtaking comments by Head of Ofsted, Michael Wilshaw this morning on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme.

Wilshaw says 'autonomy' in the management of schools is a 'good thing'. By this he means Academies and Free schools. The interviewer asks Wilshaw if both Academies and Free schools are performing as badly as Local Authority schools. Yes, says Wilshaw. The interviewer asks Wilshaw why, then, are Academies and Free schools a 'good thing'? Wilshaw 'answers'  this (i.e. he doesn't answer it) by saying that autonomy and freedom is a 'good thing' but the Academies and Free schools need 'monitoring'. They need better monitoring, he says.

At which point, the interviewer could have asked, 'You mean, something like…er….a Local Authority?' 

She didn't. But that's OK. He already sounded like someone who needed close monitoring himself.  

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The megaphone explains that we are going to stop poor people being greedy...

The megaphone said:

The deficit is a terrible problem.
The deficit is terrible.
The deficit must stop.

We know how the deficit must stop: 
Poor people have got too much money.
Poor people have too many hospitals.
Poor people have too many schools.
Poor people are getting too much help.

The good news is:
We are going to stop poor people being so greedy.
We are going to stop poor people earning so much.
We are going to stop poor people having so many hospitals.
We are going to stop poor people have so many schools.
We are going to stop poor people getting help.

The good news is:
This is going to make the economy healthy.
The good news is:
It's working.
How do we know it's working?
Because poor people are getting poorer.
and super-rich people are getting richer.

Please join me with celebrating this.
Hip hip hurrah
hip hip hurrah
hip hip hurrah

Inequality, poverty, hunger - blimey, how did they happen?

One of the great achievements of capitalism is to keep the causes of inequality hidden. This is not done by literally hiding it, but by deflecting our view of these causes. It's done in hundreds of different ways, not all of them evil or malign. So, of course it's right and good to raise concern about poverty and hunger but in so doing the attention gets deflected on to charities and, as I mentioned in the previous post, into the fact that supermarkets throw away food. Or again, our attention is constantly directed towards 'great' entrepreneurs and successful business people as if they are in no way connected to low pay. Again, we are led to believe that the cause of low pay is immigration without us being asked to look at government policies designed specifically to bring about low pay, or indeed company board rooms where low pay is fixed by those people who have the power to fix it.

When I listen to radio and TV programmes about poverty and inequality, again and again I come off them thinking that the only thing I've learned is that poverty causes poverty and inequality is caused by inequality!

So, in brief - and it really isn't a mystery - inequality is caused by the very process at the heart of capitalism. If I a capitalist want to make money, I have to spend less of company funds than I get in sales. I can do that by spending very little on rent or buying property - OK but I'll probably end up in a lousy place to produce or distribute. I can do it by spending very little on 'plant'. OK but I'll probably fall behind my competitors. Or I can do it by spending as little as possible on my employees' wages. I can do this by sacking people - but I can only do that if I've got machines to replace them, probably. Or I can do it by paying them as little as I can. To help me do that I've got a government freezing wages in the public sector, and smashing up trade unions and the media keeping up a massive campaign of vilification against anyone who takes action to defend their standard of living.

This central matter of the owners of business keeping wages down in order to make profits is why there is poverty and hunger. End of.

Now, we can think this can be 'reformed' in some way. Or we can think the whole caboodle needs abolishing.

That's for another day…!

Hunger - distracting our attention

Feel pretty sure that some kind of 'deflection' or 'displacement' is going on over this matter of hunger in Britain. I'm hearing a lot of focus on supermarket 'waste'. This waste is not directly to do with the hunger. Only indirectly.

There are two connections we should make with the hunger:

1) The system we live under is unequal. It doesn't pay some people enough to feed themselves.

2. The system we live under produces enough food for everyone but that very system cannot enable everyone to get enough. That's not to do with the fact that supermarkets throw some stuff away after it gets to their shelves. It's to do with the fact that some people can't buy the stuff while it's on the shelves.

Monday, 8 December 2014

New poem: Michael Bublé

I was in the loos at one of the big London stations

and I heard someone singing in the next door


I called out, ‘Hi! It’s Michael BublĂ©, isn’t it?’

‘Yeah,’ he said.

‘Can I just say, that you do that really great.’

‘Thanks,’ he said.

I joined in with him: ‘...you don’t know what

it’s like, to love somebody, to love somebody,

the way I love you...’

‘I saw you on that Christmas special with Dawn

French,’ I said.

‘Oh that!’

‘Yeah, I know what you mean,’ I said, ‘a bit, whoaaa!’

‘Exactly,’ he said.

‘Is she like that in real life?’ I said.

‘Oh yeah, but that’s part of the fun, man.’

‘Look, I don’t want to be rude,’ I said, ‘but..’

‘No you go ahead...’

‘But your dancing...’

‘I knew you’d bring that up,’ he said, ‘everyone

does. It’s OK, I know what you’re going to say...

it looks like I’m just about to fall over. Yeah,

well I am!’

He laughed.

I laughed.

‘And would you mind if I said something about

that ‘you don’t know what it’s like to love

somebody’ track?’ I said.

‘Go on,’ he said.

‘I’ve got Otis Redding’s version in my head and...’

‘Otis Redding didn’t do it. It was the BeeGees,’ he


‘Are you sure?’ I said.

‘Oh I’m sure,’ he said.

‘Well, whoever it was - and it wasn’t Otis?’

‘It wasn’t Otis,’ he said.

‘Well, the thing is, when you do it, I just keep

thinking of - you say, the BeeGees - but whoever

it was...and I’m not really listening to you.’

‘Hey don’t worry about it, man,’ he said, ‘it’s all


‘Yes,’ I said, ‘it’s all music. Oh yes and that time you


But I heard the loo flush, the door opened and shut and

he was gone.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Deficit? What deficit?!

The war against the deficit is presented to us daily as something that must be done, that 'we' have to do. It rests on several assumptions:
1. There is a 'deficit' or what the technical folk call a 'structural deficit'.
2. If it isn't brought down, some kind of economic cataclysm will take place.
3. It's something that 'we' have to do (or it is done to all of 'us').

Let's take these one by one:

1. The more I read about this 'structural deficit' the less it seems to be something actual or real. So, I got to understand the difference (or so I thought) between the 'debt' and the 'deficit' was by comparing them to my mortgage and my bank balance. The 'debt' I thought was like my mortgage - permanent, background buzz of outgoings that I could do nothing about, just fixed and there as part of my penalty for wanting to live in a house that I tell myself I own. Historic and unmovable. The deficit was like my bank balance, going up and down according to my income and my spending.

It now seems that though my bank balance is a concrete fact, the deficit is what economists predict is going to happen if certain things are done by politicians. However, those who predict it are hardly ever right; the size of this deficit may or may not matter as that would depend on 'what comes next' i.e. is the exchequer able to pay off whatever it owed earlier as well as paying interest rates on what it owed as it went along. And again, what is clearly even less predictable than our own personal incomes in my bank balance analogy, is the amount of money the government 'earns' or gets from the taxes we pay, which, as we know, is dependent on how much money employers pay us.

Meanwhile, the main penalty that seems to occur if it is deemed that the structural deficit is too high is that the government has to borrow money at a higher rate. But isn't this all just a matter of bankers and bankers' economists talking to each other about what they predict will happen, rather than what is actually happening? Might it not be just a matter of kidology for some wider ulterior motive…like, for example…an ideological reason to 'cut the welfare state', or what Margaret Thatcher called eradicating socialism?

Even so, it now seems in retrospect that there is no difference between the kinds of running deficits that Tory and Labour governments have had. If anything, Tory running deficits have been higher…and even this one may well turn out to be so too…

This is not what we hear in the press. Nor do we hear the extent to which the 'deficit' as a present ongoing useful concept is bogus. No, we keep hearing e.g. BBC journalists talking about how 'we' have to bring the deficit down.

2. What is the cataclysm if 'we' don't bring it down? It seems, as I have said, that the cataclysm is the potential of bankers making government borrowing more expensive. However, at the same time, the policies in place seem just as capable of bringing about a cataclysm: huge private debt, inflating property prices, low tax returns off low wages…

We are asked to accept a policy of government cuts and wage cuts on the promise that this will avoid the cataclysm even as other policies are in place bringing it about anyway!

3. The big lie in the whole story is that 'austerity' and the present policies are for the benefit of all of us. This lie is told by talking about the health of the 'economy' and quoting numbers of jobs being 'provided'. What is in fact taking place is an ongoing shift of wealth from the poor to the rich. So, if we take the national cake of wealth, a chunk of it can be expressed in terms of 'capital' (that's assets, property, money that is used for lending) and the other that can be expressed in terms of income from earnings or 'wages'/''salaries'. If we look at those chunks of cake over the last 30 years, we can see that the capital chunk has got bigger and the income chunk has got smaller.

'Austerity' was a way of carrying this on, even though 'capital' had blown some of its 'money used for lending'. Austerity is a way of clawing what was blown (or an attempt to do so) back from wage-earners.

Put more starkly, it was and is a way for the rich to stay rich or get richer, while the poor stay poor or get poorer.

Opening Conversations - a reading and talk at Goldsmiths Dec 10

Presented by the Department of English and Comparative Literature in association with the Goldsmiths Writers' Centre:

Michael Rosen (Professor of Children's Literature)

'Opening conversations - writing and beyond writing'

Michael Rosen has been writing for 50 years. Reflecting on this, he thinks it's all been about opening conversations with readers and listeners: children and adults he meets, who write to him and who talk to each other on social media. He will bring different kinds of his writing to this talk and discuss the different conversations they have triggered off - and compare them with the kinds of questions that children and students are asked within education.

10 December, 6pm, Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre

To reserve a place, apply to Maria Macdonald, WT 509
E-mail m.macdonald@gold.ac.uk
or telephone 020 7919 7436

Friday, 5 December 2014


The sign on the train alarm said ' Break cover'.

I looked over my shoulder, checked my bag

and headed out into the crowd.

No one spotted me.

So far so good.

Spotted on a bus

On bus:
Boy: Are you Michael Rosen?
Me: Yes.
Boy: Really?
Me: I am Michael Rosen
Boy: You look just like him.

New poem: Search

My email account has its own search engine.

Any word in any email can be found. This

week I searched for an email I sent about my

children’s first words. The email firm said,

‘Sorry, try again later.’ Later the email firm

said, ‘Sorry, try again later.’ The email is

there but I can’t get at it. I can’t find it or

read it. Fifty years ago I was in hospital. They

tell me I was knocked down. They say, I lay

in a ditch talking,they put me on a table and

waited for the x-ray people to arrive. They

tell me I had my eyes open. They say, I was

talking. I try to remember this. It never comes

up. I don’t know where it is.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

New poem: Museums

My mother loved museums. She said that the

Bethnal Green Museum saved her. I didn’t know

what it saved her from. My father swore in

Yiddish. My mother said, ‘Don’t say that!’

I said, ‘What did he say?’

‘It sounds like my uncles in the back room,’ she

said, ‘they were playing gin rummy.’

‘What’s gin rummy?’ I said.

In one museum we went to, she saw a sampler.

A nine year old girl had embroidered it hundreds

of years ago. After that, we could be having tea

and my mother would look up and say, ‘Let self-

sacrifice be its own reward.’

I said, ‘What’s self-sacrifice?’

My father went out the room. We heard him


My mother said, ‘Ask your father what he’s doing

and tell him to stop it.’

There was a typhoid outbreak in south America.

On the news, they said, ‘Don’t eat the corned

beef. The corned beef comes from south America.

Don’t eat the corned beef.’

My mother went to the cupboard. It was stacked

up with corned beef tins. She took one out.

‘Better not open that till the typhoid outbreak’s

over,’ she said.

New poem: Church

My mother said that the night I was born the

church burnt down. I told people: ‘The night

I was born the church burnt down.’ I heard

people say it, ‘The night he was born, the

church burnt down.’ I thought that I did it. I

said, ‘Can we go and see the place where

I was born?’

‘What’s the matter with you?’ my mother

said, ‘why do you keep asking to see the

place where you were born? What do you

think? It wasn’t good enough?’

New poem: Airport

I was in a car to the airport. The couple I was

with had an agreement to help each other get


He said, ‘It’s in the bag I’m taking on board.’

She said, ‘It won’t go through security.’

He said, ‘This is the worst airport in the world.’

‘You’re doing it again,’ she said.

‘YOU’RE doing it again,’ he said.

The driver jammed on the brakes.

‘Bloody hell,’ said the husband, ‘that woman’s

got a death wish. Came straight out.’

‘Shush,’ said the woman, ‘you’re not driving.

Drop us off next to the trolleys,’ she added.

‘Drop us off next to the trolleys,’ said the


‘I’ve told him that,’ she said.

The driver drove past the sign:

‘Terminal set down’.

‘There!’ said the husband, ‘Terminal set down.’

‘I saw it already,’ said the driver.

New poem: Ma

My grandmother left America on a boat for Liverpool

with 3 children she had had there. She left behind

the 2 children she’d had in London. People said

she didn’t say goodbye to them. They were hoeing

in a field, so she waved. One of them she never saw

again. No one knows how she said goodbye to their

father. People said that he told her he’d join her soon.

He never did. When she got back, one of the children

she brought with her, died. I remember her coming

to see us. My father called her ‘Ma’. No one round

our way called their mother, ‘Ma’.

‘I’ve got something for you,’ she said to me.

She put her hand in her bag. It was a shoe horn, made

of metal, painted red. In winter the red shoe horn

was cold.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

New poem: Danger

My father made coffee tables. He went to school furniture

dumps and brought home chemistry laboratory benches.

He turned them into coffee tables by sawing the legs down

so that the bench top was just a few inches off the floor.

He went to junk shops and discovered the marble tops

of old tables that were used in bedrooms as poor people’s

bathrooms. He brought them home, threw away the

wooden base and fixed black square metal legs to the

marble tops. My brother said that they weren’t marble,

they were carboniferous limestone. He identified the fossils

in them. Our father brought back a staffroom table. He

sawed the legs down and hired a floor sander to

sand down the top. He walked up and down the

table top till all the scratches had gone. My mother

said that he made coffee tables so that he could have

somewhere to put his droppings. ‘He never picks anything

up. He only ever puts things down.’ Some days there were

so many coffee tables in the place, it was difficult to get round

the room. When we left home, he gave my brother and me

some of the coffee tables. One time he came over with

a coffee table that he had bought for me. It looked like an

old coffee table but it had only just been made. One of my

children stuck a red sign saying ‘DANGER’ on it.

Monday, 1 December 2014

New poem: House

When I was at university I used to come home

and late evening I’d get into long conversations

with my father. Sometimes these would last

until two or three in the morning until my mum

would bang on the floor and tell us to get to bed.

I remember one time he said that it was down to

us to change the world now. He and his friends

had tried and made mistakes.

‘How’s it going?’ he said.

I said we were doing our best. We have


‘And?’ he said.

I said that the meetings were really good and we

weren’t going to make the same mistakes, He

asked me what was it like where I was living and

I said that there were was a gang of us in a house.

‘All students?’ he said.

‘No, there’s a whole load of us who had met

up in the meetings but there’s also a guy who

works on the sites. He’s a gas. He gets dressed up

in his site gear and goes to bed in it. Boots an’ all.

Then in the morning, his alarm rings and he steps

straight out of bed, out the room, down the stairs

and out the house.’

Mum banged on the floor. My dad got up. On the

way out he said, ‘Put the bit about changing the

world on hold.’

‘Oh no,’ I said, ‘this time it’s going to happen.’

‘No,’ he said, ‘not till you do something about him

going to work in his sleep.’

‘No,’ I said, ‘you don’t get it. He’s having a laugh.

We’re getting there.’

‘Switch the fire off when you turn in,’ he said.

New poem: Buildings

A team from the TV rushed down to a food bank and

asked the people about the deficit. Could they think of

ways of bringing down the deficit?

No, it didn’t seem as if they could.

We have hard choices to make, said the team, should

we cut hospitals or schools or social services? Or should

wages come down?

The people at the food bank said that they would prefer

it if it was none of those things.

You have to choose, said the TV team.

Why now? said one of the people. It wasn’t as bad as

this a few years ago.

It’s pretty complicated said the TV team, but you remember

there was a banking crisis? As a result we’ve got to

get ourselves back in the black.

The thing is, said another one of the people, we haven’t

got any money to do much about that. Why not go and

ask the people with money?

Ah, no, said the TV team, that would be like pulling down

a building in order to keep it up.

Ah well, said one of the people in the line, if you’re talking

about buildings, it’s us who build buildings. Money doesn’t

build buildings.

Sorry, don’t get you, said the people on the TV team, so 

what’s it to be, schools or hospitals?