Typing in England

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The rain comes down, misting the rooftops of the town. The faint susurration of its fall makes me think of many things: drowned ships, the whisper of memory, the third thing. It’s very English, isn’t it? To sit here and type and have the washing-machine going, and think about the sound of the rain.

I said the third thing, because it’s always important to include a third thing in a list like that, isn’t it? What is the third thing the rain makes me think of? How about: the sound of thousands of droplets?

I used the word English, there, as well, in the first paragraph. At the moment, this referendum is going on, to decide whether or not England remains part of the European Union. Here in England, a lot of the debate seems to be focused on what it is to be “English”. There is a lot of racism in the campaign, and people blaming the “immigrants”, who are not “English”.

By English, I mean English in the sense of listening to the Smiths, and being a Socialist, and welcoming immigrants. England, my England. My Socialist, egalitarian England. A drowned ship. Something underneath the rain.

The vote is on this coming Thursday and I am voting to stay in the EU.

I also meant – in that first paragraph – that I am sitting here, typing, listening to the sound of the rain, in England. Therefore, it has to be an English thing to do, doesn’t it?

And what does the washing-machine think about all of this? I don’t know because it doesn’t speak English. It has stopped now and the washing is hung up to dry. The rain, however, is still blowing across treetops and rooftops in fine clouds of mist. The trees are moving in the wind, silent through my window.

Moving Along


the endless succession of gods

each leaning forward out of its niche

disappearing into dusk

along the curve of the corridor


our steps tap, random as stars,

the crazy paving of the temple floor

past the imperative faces

disturbing the delinquent dust


sight-seeing in this catacomb

we spy the sightless cats

blank-eyed, specked with gems

clutching each thunderbolt or flower


in secret knowledge their lips curl

pointing skyward underground

in gestures of far-flung design

as if distance was itself a door


past each metonymy or petal

is this the exit we’ve been searching for?