An Embarrassment
Sunday, 05 December 2021 23:07

An Embarrassment

Published in Poetry

An Embarrassment

by Chris Norris

LONDON — A political storm is brewing ahead of Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s May 19 wedding over whether to crack down on homeless people and beggars in the well-to-do English town of Windsor . . . . Borough council leader Simon Dudley kicked off the controversy by tweeting over the Christmas holidays about the need to clean up Windsor’s streets. He then wrote to police and Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May suggesting that action be taken to reduce the presence of beggars and the homeless. Dudley referred to an ‘epidemic’ of homelessness and vagrancy in Windsor and suggested many of those begging in the town are not really homeless. He said the situation presents a beautiful town in an unfavourable light. - The Washington Post, January 4th 2018

It can be hard to find a vacant pitch.
You think you've cornered one, but then
It turns out there's some unexpected hitch,
Like 'let's not see your face again',
Or cops with that let's-send-them-packing itch,
Or druggies looking for a den,
Or doorway-minders stationed by the rich
Lest we scare some good citizen.

It's quite a simple trade-off once you know
The ropes. Choose an impoverished part
Of town with hopes and incomes running low
And chances are the cops won't start
Those same old scare-techniques from the word go
Because that's not where all the smart
Set live or those who have the clout and dough
To silence any bleeding heart.

But then of course folk won't have much to spare
In poor parts, so we chase the dosh
And tend to wind up in those places where
The local council's run by posh-
End bureaucrats who seem to think that their
Fine precincts will soon be awash
With us lot if they show a moment's care
For all that human-kindness bosh.

Myself, I did quite nicely for a while
In Windsor, locals rich enough
To spare at least some fraction of their pile,
And others doing all the tourist stuff,
Which meant they'd sometimes go the extra mile,
When they saw I'd been sleeping rough,
And give as if to say: let our life-style
Rub off on you though times are tough.

So not a bad pitch, Windsor, all in all,
Until this jobsworth got the word
That he, as Council Chairman, must play ball
And make sure us lot were transferred
Elsewhere, us human flotsam, with as small
Upset as could be lest we stirred
An impulse of regret that might just gall
The conscience of the royalist herd.

The reason? Some dim-witted legatee
Of a half-dozen clans far-gone
In the descent to inbred idiocy
Of Europe's royals had got it on
At last with some royal-fancier, so we
Folk in the lowest echelon
Must up sticks so that Windsor has its spree
And we don't spoil the denouement.

The lesson? If you want a country fit
For Tory toffs, for all those Royal
Flunkies and floozies, and the tabloid shit
Put out to keep the commoners loyal,
Then, fellow-subjects, just get used to it:
We'll always be around to foil
Your best-laid civic plans and do our bit
To see what fake dreams we can spoil.

For here's my point, beyond just being pissed
Off with the whole Royal-wedding binge,
Or at not being on the invite list:
That it's the same habitual cringe
That bends the knee of every monarchist,
That frees that Chairman from a twinge
Of conscience, and that tells us: don't resist
Or push your anti-royalist whinge.

For you'll not clear us losers from your streets
Until you clear them from your dreams,
Those royals, as well as from the gossip-sheets
That feed your fantasy with streams
Of reportage where your worst life-defeats,
Like mine, look less important themes
Than the crowd of adoring fools that greets
The couple with their PR teams.

Think harder and you'll maybe come to hate
The system that keeps them in place,
Those useless idlers, while it views our state
Of penury as no disgrace
But ours alone, or else as just what fate
Decreed for us so that we face
Up to it, like Prince Harry and his mate,
Secure in destiny's embrace.

See through that crap and you'll be on the way
To seeing how it works, how we're
Kept down, kept quiet, kept under, kept at bay,
Or just kept moving on by mere
Compliance with the roles they'd have us play,
Those harkers-back to yesteryear
Who seize their chance, with each Royal-wedding day,
To re-infantilise the public sphere.