Poetry – Gongs


Thirty nine years in service to the community

Where’s my gong? My MBE?

Where are the teachers, the nurses

Or the refuse collectors

In this honours list?

The police, the social workers

The sewage workers –

Don’t they exist?

Knighthoods and Dames

For hair stylists and friends;

The donors and sycophants

And those who buck the trends.

But the real workers

Are all passed by,

In favour of supporters

Rewarded for catching the PM’s eye.

Opher – 1.8.2016


The honours list has been leaked – a long list of arrogant elitism – as a series of people are rewarded for their ‘service to the public’. The honours list is a gift of the Prime Minister.

Day in and day out for decade after decade dedicated workers serve their community.

People search down motorways to gather the body parts, crawl through sewers to remove blockages, frantically use their skills to staunch blood and save lives in A&Es across the land, knock on doors to offer support, use their skills to save children from abuse, face down dangerous drunks with only the strength of their experience, man phones to assist the disturbed, tramp the streets picking up garbage, put their arms round those in distress, thoroughly clean wards to prevent disease, cheerfully answer phones, wade through shit in sewage farms, teach recalcitrant children in order to give them a future, Climbing up ladders into the flames, drive and drive and drive to put food on the table for their kids, clean endless bottoms for the elderly and infirm, provide the smiles and cheer, arrest the criminals, look after the dangerous mentally disturbed, comfort the bereaved, talk down the suicides, track down the psychopaths, study the porn to hunt and arrest the abusers, help and give and give and give.

Week in, week out, over decades, ordinary people give of themselves ceaselessly and go that extra mile, stay behind to give above and beyond. Year after year they wearily go home drained and traumatised by their experience, in tears, having given their all.

Holding the dying child’s hand, volunteering for that extra hour, giving of themselves for others, doing all the dirty, smelly work that nobody else wants to do; bravely doing the dangerous work that nobody else would do.

Forty years of ceaseless giving, caring, and contributing to the community for little pay and little recognition.

Yet it is the well-paid politicians, the donors and undeserving who receive the honours.

The selfless, ordinary people who burn themselves out through the long decades are simply retired with a lousy pension. They watch silently while the prime minister’s wife’s hair-stylist receives his reward for his service to the nation.

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