The Secret Scoop On Tonight’s Presidential Debate

Hey! I’m back. After my blog fizzled out in the spring, some of you may have thought I was just unemployed and vaguely depressed. Far from it. Interviewing a local councillor about COVID-19 preparedness was merely a cover for a secret mission into the heart of a profound darkness, one which is threatening to engulf the whole of the US of A and, by extension, the free world in which we across the pond yet live. I have seen behind the curtain, and I know the sinister forces that would bring us to heel. I have trained in four martial arts and can kill a man in five languages. I can leave coded messages in the arrangement of flowers in a vase, which reveal the exact location of an enemy of the state. I have convened with the other defenders of freedom, and over vegan moussaka and apple brandy we have shared a meeting of minds, and spoken frankly about the burden of saving the world.

As a result of my escapades, I have a pretty good idea what’s going down at tonight’s 2020 US Presidential Debate. This will be a night to change the course of history, and all you poor creatures don’t even know it yet. I cannot reveal my sources until the night is out, but when everything falls into place: well, you’ll have heard it here first.

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The Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. EST 8:45 PM. Lights come up on Chris Wallace. He is watching, waiting. He makes small talk with the huddled masses at home, but nobody is fooled- he matters, they don’t. This will be his day in the sun, his wingbeat of glory. His wife watches from their living room couch, fingernails digging deep into her palms. Hating him, hating the very essence of him, but unable to change channels.

Trump enters stage right. He is clearly trying to look confident, but he appears weary, withdrawn, unhappy. The rings round his eyes where the tan line stops are pasty and cracked. Biden, meanwhile, takes the helm at the second podium with a bounce in his step. He suddenly looks younger than his seventy-seven years. Something is different about tonight. He allows Wallace to prattle on for a while; then the moment comes.

The two leaders are invited to shake hands. Trump is droning on even as he approaches his counterpart, some poor man’s parody of WWE smack talk. Biden grabs his hand, shakes it forcefully pulling him in, and quick as a flash, kisses the president’s still-yapping maw. ‘I got the virus, Donnie’, he mouths at the horrified Commander-in-Chief, a whisper so delicate it barely splits the air between the two sparring partners.  ‘Now you got it too’. And Biden slumps to the floor, smile beatific, as the bullet from the CIA plant on the Fox News camera team finds its mark.

— — — — — — —

In her office, Kamala Harris smirks, allowing herself a third celebratory single malt whiskey. Biden was so easy to manipulate! Never underestimate the humble dedication of a Senate veteran to this magnificent country and its three hundred and thirty million lost souls. But once Kamala’s secret Marxist sleeper cells activated in each state legislature across the country, she would channel the flow of election night and reap the rewards. With Trump soon dead, QAnon would be in disarray, and nobody would be able to challenge the evil at the heart of the American government. The elites would return to their satanic rituals. Normal order would be restored.

Harris puts her feet up on the desk, and barks a command at Alexa, who obligingly plays the first synth squelches of ‘We The People’. Unfortunately, the drumbeat from the smart speaker edges out a second, quieter noise- the spasmodic clicking of a rope harness being readjusted. Adumbrated against the anonymous DNC complex, a woman rappels down the external wall, her signature blonde coif flapping in the September breeze. Perching on the windowsill, she sees the prospective Veep unguarded, flicking through her phone. The window isn’t even locked. Amateur.

Harris finally hears a scrape and feels the cool air of an opening window, but it is too late. She spins, and sees an elderly woman, lit cigarette in the corner of her mouth and black lycra uncomfortably stretched over the unmistakable outline of a pantsuit, pointing a loaded pistol in her direction. ‘Don’t shoot. We can talk-‘

‘Pokemon GO to hell, bitch’, mutters Hillary. And she pulls the trigger.

— — — — — — — —

Later that night, with Huma Abedin and Tom Perez sweetly dozing in the bed next to them, Bill turns to his wife. ‘I just don’t understand it’, he says, wearily. ‘You know the death squads will do anything you ask them to. Why do you have to do your own dirty work, and put us both in jeopardy?’

Hillary smiles. ‘You and I both know that the DNC will never work out what happened. They can’t even get the vote out in Wisconsin. But it keeps me young, Bill! Christ knows I need a bit of action. Leaking the demonic secrets of the establishment is good, honourable work, but I wasn’t born to hide behind a codename and a message board. I was born to keep the forces of evil at bay, and ensure that good prevails. They don’t call me Agent Q for nothing’.


Hometown, April 2020

Swathed in black, a man puffs on a joint,
And grins at his speakerphone.
The fit lads cycling past
Don’t partake, but they applaud the effort.
Back damp with sweat, a jogger splits the air.

I pass between golf courses at the edge of town.
Out where they build Roman arches over modern villas,
And live as Romans-
Born of action, not imagination.
These green-belt legionnaires,
Denied even the catharsis of an orgy.
I am not with the legion, I am not posted here
To be the spear that holds the empire up,
I’m just passing though. Or so I tell myself.
So I keep moving.

Down at Sopwell Nunnery, where Henry’s goons
Delivered the faithful from their morning masses,
Cut their straining rosaries,
And shoved them, blinking, out into harsher light,
I stop for a moment to catch my breath. Places like these,
Chernobyl, Aioi, Mo’ynoq,
We ash them over with apocalypse,
And leave ’em for the birds.
But we are never done with the dead places,
Even once they’re done with us. Even amid the ruins,
We go raking the leaves and tending the saplings,
Dredging the still earth for a response.

In filmic dusk, even the dead hanging blossom
Is worthy of wedding dresses,
Chiffon for all cancelled plans.
For each action a reaction,
For each runaway, a homecoming.
Now I know the third law of the suburbs,
The more you push, the more they pull.


The Jobcentre Cannot Hold

‘The NHS is good, but people expect too much for free. They should pay for their care.’

An animated Filipino nurse with two financier sons chats to me in the anteroom, while I wait for my interview. She is amiable, soft-spoken, but somehow exudes the air that she takes no nonsense whatsoever from her patients. She changes topic regularly. She’s been to Japan, saw a sumo tournament there, admires the cultural unity of Japan. Some of the nurses on her ward are too fat. I should keep travelling the world. One of her sons lives in Hong Kong, and ‘you don’t know what you’re eating there. It could be snake meat.’ It’s all a bit jumbled, but much more interesting than staring into space, and no more rambling than I can be at times. Continue reading “The Jobcentre Cannot Hold”

Impressions- Dusk in Hiroshima

At the end of my shift, I tear off my tie and loose my collar;

shopkeepers shuffle raiments for the evening crowds.

Pachinko parlours swallow businessmen,

decking the dusk with glitz-

offering absent-mindedness in lights.


Nine white birds glide on the wash of the Motoyasu,

and a bevy of cyclists float around a bend.

That old hulk of brick and metal snares the tourists.

And the flame of peace still burns,

a monument built to honour a contradiction.

a beacon of shame for a century in absentia.


The City forgets in the warm glow of Remembrance;

sagas itself in the passive voice,

exhumes no bones, but only stories.


Elsewhere, the night is a deepening pool of neon,

no sane man could swim in long and not in love.

A streetcar streaks past.

On anonymous sidestreets, restaurants rise from slumber.

‘Fire up the griddles! We must eat’

The city ablaze with a million pangs of hunger.


Out west, the lights are no longer soluble

But fall like threads into the thickening water.

The heartland ends here,

tailing off into institutes and schools and clinics.

A bruising bouquet of clouds, and surprising silence.