the first act

of a musical about global warming / called STORMING! / there’s this fishing family / more or less happily / trapping eels on a marsh / it’s relentlessly harsh / heavy on the protein, light on the starch / the father is an Aquarian / a caring but overbearing authoritarian / formerly a librarian / wary, pretty scary / increasingly hairy / who took his family / and friends / way out into the Fens / and started a colony amongst the saltmarsh pens / they weave for the eels / in canoes they carve with ornate keels / depicting creatures with flaming eyes / which isn’t such a huge surprise / given their leader’s / idiosyncratic demeanour / an unholy cross between a lion and a lemur / anyway / the family name is Healey-May / and they carry on in this really eely way / until the fateful day when he weather changes / and the Gulf Stream catastrophically rearranges / the kind of low lying regions / where the Healey-Mays are living for eely reasons / so they get horribly inundated / destroying the lifestyle they created / and the only two that make it out / are the kids I haven’t told you about / Kylie and Jenna / who secretly together / had anticipated the weather / and learned to surf / when all the adults had been going to church / (another detail I forgot to mention / they worshipped a God of their own invention / unsurprisingly an EEL god / which wasn’t that much different to a REAL God / except with gills behind the beard / and a cloak for the tail so it didn’t look weird) / and Kylie and Jenna surf it out / while the rest of the commune flounders about / with the eels and the flounders / and the dangers our duo encounters / are the subject of the second half of this eco musical / which I’ll tell you all about straight after the interval

God the father, God the son, God the Holy Forward

I have to say I’m a little pissed with events
in the American sense
although quite often in the British, too
slumped in front of the ten o’clock news
with a heart full of pain and a belly full of booze
because often it seems to me
that the world is spinning erratically
on the finger of a basketball-playing God
who thinks he’s LeBron James but he’s really not
a deity who definitely HAS NOT GOT
the skills for this particular shot
but hey, he ignores all the frantic calls
to be a bit freer and pass the ball
and makes his play
in a bearded and big-fisted biblical way
leaping for the planetary slam dunk
and the Earth hits the rim with a cataclysmic clunk
and when he fumbles the rebound
and crashes in a cloaky, old blokey heap to the ground
makes a furious, injurious ungodly kinda sound
and casts plague and pestilence all around
laying waste to the stadium
with flames from his cranium
and the human race on the bleachers scream yikes
but hey! he’s God! he can do what he likes
(and btw – he’s TOTALLY done this before
when he was two points down in the final quarter against the dinosaurs)

this way to the end of the world please

Form an orderly queue for the exit / what d’ya mean you didn’t expect it? / Johnson, Covid, Climate Change, Brexit? / The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse / are War, Famine, Plague & Politics / so screw the loony climatologists / communist apologists / what we need are more Bullingdon boys on Eton internships / for an extended Wall Game with heat domes and oil slicks / wack job boys’ club macroeconomics / sleepy BP PR optics / flawed but plausible diagnostics / bozo billionaires in cock-shaped rockets / burning through the troposphere and the cash in our pockets / while gorgeous, glittering TikTok armies / upload selfies from poolside parties / and the world gets tossed by tornadoes and tsunamis / and landslides dice the cities like salami / and you settle down with an iPhone and a pizza / to watch Netflix docs on endangered creatures / cooking to death on distant beaches / and your epiphany’s bigger than a grand mal seizure / when you realise all these glorious leaders / have been lining you up for the same procedure


I watch them running across the floor
hurrying out the kitchen door
a couple of hundred ants or more
and I wonder what they’re running for

the ants are busy cleaning up / the sugar round the coffee cup / the bin bags back of the catering truck / the frosting lost from the tossed / wedding cake / of the fraught call taker / the overworked undertaker / the butcher, the baker, the fake news operator / the supermarket clown with his pants falling down / throwing plastic flowers around / while the lines / of shocked shoppers / the pantomime dames and party pill poppers / the princes, paupers & live-feed gawpers / talk about the healing power of music / steroids, benzos & antibiotics / antipsychotics / while Donalds Duck & Trump / hiding in plain view top of the dump / struggle with their waterproof pumps / red, white and blue sou’westers / finally acknowledging a change in the weather / and Doctor Doonothing / shakes his head as he pulls out your stuffing / huffing & puffing / muttering some bullshit voodoo / invoking a push me pull you, fuck me, fool you / who knew? / but the effect is immediate / and hey – you paid for it / so put that in your feed and smoke it / along with that other meme / the one about the Garden of Eden / where a giant snake / more give than take / so fat the branch’ll surely break / slowly unfurls / swinging low to lick Eve’s curls / waggling comedy eyebrows / at the luscious apple hanging solo / so low / but no worries – Eve knows / always has, I suppose / she eats the snake, tosses the apple, wipes her hands & goes / cutting to a vista / of all the other shit we missed / the fossilised fish in the shale and schist / impressions of all the creatures we lost / their curly horns poking through the permafrost / the sad rise and wreck of it all / so bad even Attenborough’s blocking your calls / he knows you can’t be trusted / he knows when the floes are finally busted / and the dead rise up to be costed / you’ll be parked two abreast / on what’s left / of the inundated / demarcated / cemetery hard-standing / with as much understanding / of what just happened / as that flattened / and battered / halloween pumpkin / gaping, waiting for something / anything / an end to the rain / an end to the pain / a storm of fireworks to light the sky again

so I stand and watch as the ants trot by
in one long line to the great outside
to scatter and scavenge far and wide
the old world blazing in their compound eyes


a new entry to the fossil record

There’ll be bluebirds over / the white cliffs of Dover

Yeah? Not after climate change’s arranged the final handover / more like blue whales & sea snails / unpleasant, bioluminescent, lumpy, grumpy-looking things with teeth & sails / who knows? maybe giant ammonites’ll come back / following the ancient, re-emerging ocean tracks / good – I’ll be glad it’s over / it’s about time the Class of Cephalopoda / got a shot at the top / humans? schmumans / they deserved what they got

The thing is – the planet never did really care / if humans were environmentally aware / or not / the planet can take it cold or hot / shrug and say hey ho / mofos / suck on one of my mega tornadoes / or a pipe the size of a supervolcano

The planet’s got aeons of recovery time / to clean up the scene of our heinous crime / I mean – take those bluebird infested cliffs / so much a part of your stiff upper lips / they’re actually made from coccoliths / (bear with me on this) / trillions upon trillions of tiny shells / that very gently fell / from the type of algae that did pretty well / in the deep blue waters of the Cretaceous / so slow it was outrageous / I mean – it really took ages / they just rained down on the sea floor / more and more and more / accumulating as an oozy mud / that got consolidated pretty good / the layers finally starting to appear / at the alarming rate of a millimetre a year / until the big bust-up / when they got thrust up / into those big ol’ walls of chalk / where you like to take a Sunday walk / moaning about the price of fuel / and where your kids’ll go to school / and whether you can afford a pool / or not / and two or three holidays somewhere hot / while the planet sighs and shakes her head / wiggles her feet deep in the ocean bed / dreams of being done with the cliffs of Dover / more than ready to wipe and start over


La Calavera Catrina Ambientalista

Hey girl – love the hat / all the feathers & flowers & shit n’that / it’s totally where the fashion’s at / workin’ it like some boney-arsed aristocrat / you’re so kooky / sexy spooky / I mean – who needs Gucci? / what? / what’s that you’re saying? / quit the cemetery sashaying / all the cosplay, doomsday Dia de Muertos role-playing / sit down awhile and talk to me / your opinion’s important to me / it’s good to hear what’s going down / on the underground / every once in a while / even though I find your smile / quite unnerving / disconcerting / I can see you’re hurting / so c’mon – let’s just chat / tell me what’s going on under that hat.

Whoa! Why d’you point that phalange at me? / I mean – sure – I’m implicated / I do my best but it’s complicated / you don’t have to tell me the game’s up / our time’s up / dark thunder clouds forming / ice caps melting & brush fires storming / the planet failing & animals falling / the planet screaming & calling / it’s a total bust / a failure of trust / we had one job and we blew it / the politicians & CEOs were lying the whole time & we knew it / we’ve got to quit stalling / this shit’s appalling / it’s messy & distressing / but you know all about that, I’m guessing / so why d’you keep smiling at me like that? / after all the nice things I said about your hat

Anyway – what’s with all the negatives? / I thought Day of the Dead was about honouring your relatives? / gothic processions along the strand / candy skulls and a mariachi band / I didn’t expect a sardonic lecture / on the benefits of energy-efficient architecture / carbon footprints, shit like that / hell – it could just as well be me in that hat / I’ve got an iPhone / I know what’s going on / the corporate denials & pseudo-trials / the hokey visions / deceitful decisions / military revisions / media-managed missionary positions / sweaty handshakes in hot tubs / mutual back-rubs in industrial meat clubs / It’s over! A wrap! / I’m totally up to speed with all that crap / the documentary shows about the action to take / don’t go away we’ll be back after the break

Oh Catrina! You’re such a tease / with your painted arches & sockets like twin TVs / flickering & glowing restlessly / d’you mind if I look closer at what they’re showing? / a story of greed, a lesson in bad luck / a bundle of plastic sacks back of a burning catering truck / a skeleton cat in a floppy hat / picking over the trash / while tumbleweeds of dirty cash / roll through empty halls / and dilapidated shopping malls … / Is that it? Yeah? / Well – Meh / You can catch that shit anytime / on Netflix and Amazon Prime / so just chill, duchess / this day after tomorrow schtick is much of a muchness / fact is? / nature finds humans too confining / so the stars are coming out and re-aligning / what can I say? / end of the day / you do your best & the rest is silence / (give or take some collateral violence) / shit happens, Catrina – enjoy the ride / let’s promenade together as our worlds collide

Posada2.Catrina.jpeg (956×640)
etching by  José Guadalupe Posada c.1910

I blame the dinosaurs

I read somewhere scientists suspect
the apatosaurus had such a long neck
was it meant it could stay in one position
when taking on board tree nutrition

it makes me think there must be genes
for turning us into eating machines
maybe explains the current scenario
as we strip the earth of its natural material

and when it’s done and we’re left with a rock
and the planet’s the planet that time forgot
we’ll finally shift our pendulous bodies
and lurch into space for new opportunities


the nightmare continues


Sounds like an energy biscuit. Except this one’s the opposite, the kind you’d eat to bring you back down. Frosted with Diazepam.

As I write, the government have voted to extend Article 50, and ask the EU if we can delay our exit. Which is like being on the rack and asking the guy in the leather apron for a few more turns of the wheel, because – you know – it really is helping with our joint problems…)

For the record, I’m a Remainer. Or Remoaner as we were rebranded. Presumably on the basis that we had the absolute GALL and plain BAD SPORTSMANSHIP to complain about the amount of misinformation that was put out at the time of the referendum, and to point out that maybe such a complex and important move should be worthy of a little more balanced thinking. I mean, you wouldn’t put in an offer to buy a house that was advertised as charming, plucky, full of character, great views – only to read the survey and find out it’s built of Play-Doh, on a fault line, near a reactor, overlooking some abandoned docks – and NOT feel a little scratchy.

Still – a vote is a vote.mrsmay

‘Let’s get this done’ croaks Mrs May, leaning in, reassuring as a fancy dress nurse with an ID badge drawn in crayon.

Part of me wishes it would just go ahead. Maybe it’ll be okay. Maybe we can trust the ERG, the DUP and any of the other reactionary crazies who would love nothing more than to make this country a Land of Hope and Glory theme park, where the log flume is actually a giant Churchillian cigar rushing headlong down a cataract of laundered money, and the golden horses of the carousel are restricted to the kids from public schools; where the canteens are filled with cheap chlorinated chicken and beef burgers oozing with Five Mile Island dressing; where the Queen lives in a glittering tent waiting to tell the fortune of anyone the park inspectors happen to push through her flaps, and the Hall of Mirrors is a miniature Houses of Parliament, where everyone constantly changes shape.

The only hope is that some ragged revolutionary force will storm the gates, push over the Monopoly banker character that says: You Have To Be THIS Wealthy To Enjoy our Rides! , overpower the Facebook sponsored security guards, and then run around unzipping all the minimum wagers trapped in the character costumes, the Frowning Shakespeares, the Laughing Policemen, the Private Doctors, The Trumps.

Then what?

Dissolve cut from the fires of the burning fairground to the not-so-distant future…

Climate change will be the one, unavoidable subject of public discourse. It’ll either be raining too heavily or blowing too violently or blazing too intensely for anyone to think about anything else. There’ll be factions calling for greater cooperation between people and states, factions insisting on a tighter, more protectionist approach, and then another, mysterious, more watchful faction – the one with the money, hubris, tech and military backing – who’ll have thought for a long time that the best thing to do is to pull out completely, in something big and splashy, called The Ark©, and they’ll be quietly studying star maps spread out on brushed steel tables, circling in red some other poor planets we can screw up.

Spacexit. (What a ride).



hi / I’m from Wisbech / (that’s whizz as in speed / & beach not in sand / but in how the fuck can this be seventeen miles inland?)

Welcome to Wisbech, then! / Capital of the Fens / *er-hem* / I know, I know – it sounds so grand / civically solid & well planned / but no, I’m afraid it’s really not / it’s more like the land that time forgot / or as Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz / because because because / because of the socio-economic situation and stuff / so it’s pumpkins not munchkins / and ‘follow the A1101’ / not that other, brighter, more Technicolour construction / and suddenly you’re there / lying in the Five Bells with straw in your hair / flying monkeys everywhere

so – erm – yeah – Wisbech – Capital of the Fens / (so ludicrous it’s worth saying again) / like they held a ceremony of considerable pomp / for the inauguration of the king of the swamp / still, I suppose everyone needs a catchy title / like maniac needs homicidal / to fully unravel / the horror of your spiritual travel

Welcome to Wisbech – Capital of the Fens / that’s capital as in punishment / for all the souls in featureless torment / on floodplains of abandonment / with a flatline skyline / of turbines & pylons / sirens, violence, two-for-one nylons / broken bridges / midges / fly-tipped fridges / seriously – the attractions are prodigious

Welcome to Wisbech – Capital of the Fens / dragging down the high street in a cloak of farmyard odds & ends / a diadem / cut from an apple box / a couple of raspberry punnets for crocs / and an orb of sprouts stuffed in a football sock

Wisbech, Oh Wisbech! – Capital of the Fens! / gangmaster of piggeries & factory hens / council cuts & overspends / swingers, wringers & brexit bringers / of slow, silty rivers / malarial sweats & shivers / golden eyes & cirrhotic livers / broken vows in broken mirrors / where everyone dreams but only Tesco delivers

Wisbech – My Wisbech – Capital till the End / when climate change will make amends / and orchids & field scabious will bloom / and bitterns boom / and dragonflies hover & zoom / stem to stem / in the deepening, darkening fen / and all will be well in Wisbech again / and me? I’ll be a model of longevity / staggering around at a hundred and seventy / kept alive by medical complexity / just well enough for one last dive / tumbling backwards off the side / as we glide / to a stop / when the instruments detect some sunken shops / way down below us in the black water slops / & I’ll fin my way down with a torch on my head / to illuminate the sports shop owned by Fred / where mum worked cash in hand / half buried now in the silt and the sand / and I’ll part the weeds and I’ll stare through the glass / at the transformation that has come to pass / eel not Fila / minnow not Umbro / pike not Nike / and I’ll smile enigmatically behind my mask / because nature has claimed what was hers at last / and Wisbech is finally cool & romantic / like Doggerland, lost to the Atlantic

(and then no doubt I’ll probably drown / and – by the way? sending an elderly diver down? / in conditions of such poor visibility? / I think you’ll find that’s culpability)

emmerich knows

this is not a rehearsal, sheeple / this is Operation Too Many People / Wanting Too Much Stuff / the bail bond version of The World is Not Enough / because at the end of the day / the cost is WAY more than unlimited texts / a fancy new handset / it’s about limited natural resource to share / it’s the wind in your thinning hair / it’s muddy waters and smoggy air / it’s that polar bear / there / wobbling by on what’s left of the Larsen B / C / or D / or whatever / sweating in the unseasonably balmy weather / underfed, indisposed / balancing on the last of the floes / to melt beneath its hairy toes / watching as you pose with your extended family / at the end of a selfie stick / instagram slick & super quick / on the luxury deck / of the good ship Charlie Darwin / saying everything’s charming, charming / & wondering why attenborough was quite so alarming / but you only give it three stars on Trip Advisor / because you’re three thousand down and none the wiser / the weather was shit / you were sea sick / the dramamine didn’t take care of it / but anyway / hey / you’re basically okay / you’re an optimist at heart / I mean – where do you start? / nothing’s impossible / you’ve just got to be philosophical / it’s not as if none of this happened before / I mean – look at the dinosaurs / the original baby boomers / you can’t tell me they weren’t big consumers / admittedly mostly ferns and cones / in the more temperate zones / supersize meat eaters / on a scale / that would make whittingstall pale / running helter skelter / through muddy swamps and river deltas / leaping pronto back of a brontoburger / with a side order of allosaur / volcanoes and asteroids permitting / I mean – c’mon – they never thought of quitting / moaning about how hot it was getting / no – they clacked their jaws / and waggled their claws / and let dinosaurs be dinosaurs / I mean – when all’s said and done / the earth was always going to fall into the sun / so why not relax and have a little fun? / did you ever see that film from the 1950s / (bear with me on this, please) / the Incredible Shrinking Man? / I think / anyway / basically / it’s about this guy who shrinks – A LOT / because he sunbathes on his yacht / through a cloud of radiation / and without any explanation / finds his clothes are too loose / till he ends up sneaking around in a doll’s house / playing cat and mouse / with a cat / (true dat) / reducing in increasingly tiny increments / cleverly utilising household implements / until he ends up in a fight to the death / with a spider on a window ledge / on the prowl for spider snacks / but he catches it good in the cephalothorax / with a sewing needle / covering our resourceful indiveedle / in acky spider goo / but when it’s eat or be eaten, what d’you do? / then he walks outside through a vent / looks up at the starry firmament / and thinks about his existential position / in light of his chronically minimising condition / and he says: ‘The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet, like the closing of a gigantic circle’ / (or that’s what he says according to google)

anyway, point is

films will always have something to say about this shit / take roland emmerich / cgi king of apocalyptic schtick / he predicted all this / with a cute, self-cleansing, Gaia kind of twist / (mark my words – we’ll be quoting from him / in years to come when the news is grim / already do – to give it some context / look at Chicago and the polar vortex)

for instance – my favourite scene from his oeuvre? / (a small thing, true but it hits a nerve):

Ian Holm is giving the team some broody looks / then he pulls some whiskey from out behind a bunch of science books / and you know exactly what adrian lester’s thinking / can this really be the last shit I’ll ever be drinking? / while / miles away / on that apocalyptic day / after tomorrow / on the way / to Balmoral / a fleet of royal helicopters start popping & dropping / rotor blades stopping / the pilots so many helmeted icicles / airworthy as a frozen bicycle / while inside, unseen / poor Elizabeth, our very own snow queen / is suddenly just so much royal frosting / illustrating what climate change was really costing

because trust me – EMMERICH KNOWS / how the world is only just so / until uh-oh / where’d it all go? / the greenland ice sheet & the Tibetan plateau / the indus & the ganges / vanisheees / c02 & methane exponential / rains torrential / wildfires residential / territorial & water wars potential / while the politicians & presidents / & sundry other residents / get it too late / why attenborough was so awesomely great / why he’d shake his head and close his eyes so sadly / and talk about how we were fucking things up so badly

but – my bad / there’s always comfort to be had / in blinkered denial / waving our hats rodeo style / as we ride flaming into the chasm / on the poor earth’s dying spasm / this shrink-wrapped, oil-tapped, carbon clapped / flaming cinder we called home / it’ll be alright – now leave me alone