It’s not a thing you think much about
unless your pride, for some reason,
is affronted: somebody pushes you
in a cinema queue, your girlfriend dumps you
and this unreasoning rage overwhelms you
and you want to kill. You are quite capable of killing.
This is what governments depend upon
in times of war. It is so easy to get young men
to kill one another with bombs and bayonets.
DNA, nurture, toilet training.
Most of all schooling, I think.
We bash one another on the rugby pitch
with sheer delight in bone-crushing tackles,
smashing into people we were talking to
yesterday evening over tea and biscuits
in a genuine effort to break bones or cause
permanent disabilities: my dear chap, so sorry.
It’s just the sort of thing one does, you see.
The weak go under and the strong survive,
trailing their knuckles along the ground
along the raked driveways of carefully assorted pebbles.
The worst of them go into the Army or Navy
and the rest of us open discos or restaurants.
I jest. We go into Law or the City or Business
or become one-hit super rock musicians
to die then wretchedly of an overdose in Battersea
or some other such unspeakable place.
One should actually live in the river, not to be north or south of it.
The Irish, I have been reliably told, make jokes about us,
far more clever (damn them!) than the witless Scots,
and as for the Welsh, I rather shudder to mention them:
they live off there in the West, muttering among themselves
in some unintelligible jargon, shooting dark looks here and there,
and pretending to be rather clever, if you please.
I don’t know what this country is coming to, I must say
it has changed a great deal since I was a British Bulldog,
huffing, puffing and running about, doing rather senseless things
Which is the essence of being English. These bloody Celts!
I wish they had packed up and departed when we arrived,
But oh, no! Oh no no. They insisted on outlasting their welcome.
Dagger in the back as soon as you look at them, the knaves!
Rather fetching women (rather!) some catchy little tunes,
but no sense of propriety, none, no savoir de faire.
They insisted on all those idiotic battles with their antique weapons
along with the howling of their bagpipes like quarreling cats.
My dear, the noise, the noise! There were times one could feel quite unwell.
My ancestor’s advice was to murder the lot of them, man woman and child.
Sound, solid reasoning. It would have become a green and pleasant land
full of happy cheerful Englishmen with all the local vermin removed:
alas, this was not to be. This poxy island will sit next to us forever
with its breezy informality, its diddly-ai silly music, its disrespect,
its archaic alternative view of history.