Sunday, 26 March 2023 15:51

Narcissus in the dock

Written by
in Poetry
Narcissus in the dock

Narcissus in the dock

by Paul Francis, with image above by Martin Gollan

We held no parties, broke no rules.
Did Johnson take them all for fools
when four times he told Parliament
his government was innocent?
Today a few MPs will hear
the case that could end his career.
Supporters mount a fierce campaign -
“kangaroo court” is their refrain.
So does he share that jaundiced view?
I’m undecided. It is true
my case was prejudged by the chair.
Whether this hearing’s really fair
depends upon their final say.
If I get off, it’s all OK.

It would have been insane to lie…
…believe, until the day I die…
…but hand on heart…”
The rhetoric
moved some to tears, made others sick.
Sometimes, you almost have to laugh.
There wouldn’t have been a photograph
if I’d have thought that I’d done wrong…
My wife’s designer came along
although it was a work event...
I can’t believe I ever meant
to call the gathering in hand
‘least socially distanced in the land.’

My job’s to motivate the staff,
to raise a glass and have a laugh.
Because the pressure is insane
relaxing helps to ease the strain
and in this country, we hold do’s
for colleagues that we’re due to lose.
Party for x, party for y…
oh, sorry, can’t identify
the individuals concerned.
But though these functions may have turned
more rowdy as the night went on
that happened after I had gone.

When I found out, it was too late.
Why didn’t I put the record straight?
First the police, and then Sue Gray
had their enquiries under way.
I made things clear to everyone
the minute that their work was done.
And yes, it took five months. I guess
ideally it would take less.

Next up, the pass-the-parcel game.
Sunak was there, he shares the blame.
“Not me, sir. What about the rest?”
You think, would Churchill be impressed?
The mood is tense, their tempers taut.
They make him keep his answers short
won’t let him ramble or repeat
and still the case is not complete.
Nearly four hours since they begin
but Johnson’s charm is wearing thin.

It’s nonsense, this. I take my cue
from those who tell me what to do.
I’m not allowed to give the name
but he’s the one who takes the blame.

It wasn’t Doyle, it wasn’t Case.
Each made it clear it’s not his face
that fits the frame. And Reynolds says
that “guidance has been followed” phrase
was taken out from one reply
at PMQs. You wonder why.
He didn’t ask a lawyer’s view
or civil servants. Johnson knew
what matters is the politics;
his fixers got him in this fix.

In retrospect, it’s quite absurd
this hangs on someone else’s word.
He was supposed to be in charge.
He briefed the populace at large
on what they could and couldn’t do.
He can’t pretend he never knew.
Thousands were stopped from saying goodbye
to relatives about to die.
In hospitals the rules were kept;
the line was held elsewhere, except
10 Downing Street. That’s Johnson’s place.
He thought he was a special case,
and gambled he could hold the line
that everything he did was fine.
Don’t own mistakes, apologise
- just keep insisting on those lies.
That coin, so casually tossed
could now exert a heavy cost.
The Lion of Kyiv’s become a mouse,
the statesman who deceived the House.

Read 887 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 March 2023 11:41
Paul Francis

Paul Francis is a retired teacher, living in Much Wenlock, who's
active in the West Midlands poetry scene. His website is