Gibraltar on the Campaign Trail

Taxiing to Luton half falling asleep
(A Labour-held marginal on the M1),
Past acres of oil seed, warehouses, cheap
Council flats sprawled in the Bedfordshire sun.

With Downing Street trying to telephone, hopelessly,
Queuing with luggage we breakfast teetotally
On microwaved burgers, and wait anti-socially
To fly for Gibraltar at twenty to one.

The Rock stands impassive. The traffic divides.
The border-gate gridlock is backed up for miles.
Our Gibraltan Police chief explains the two sides:
These Spanish black berets! Snakes! Crocodiles!

Terrorists in uniform! That’s all these thugs are:
Unpacking each truck, ransacking each car,
Your pointless E.U. has done nothing so far.
My Minister nods carefully, and smiles.

The aim of our junket is pure advertorial
(Campaigning publicity close to a poll):
A chaos of plans, tough choices, and all
Opaque as wild apes climbing Signal Hill.

What am I doing here, after five years?
Chronicling the dog days of other careers?
Other men’s fortunes? Other men’s fears?
Resisting the days that will never stand still?

And then we do quick-sloganed, soft TV interviews,
With pre-rehearsed insights, and well-scripted jokes.
And then we waste evenings avoiding pissed TV crews,
Slumped in some dive with our plain-packaged smokes.

Through sun-dappled palm trees, through limestone terrain,
Drunk thoughts of Gibraltar expand in my brain:
This hideous carbuncle, barnacled on Spain,
This gin-soak of brown-suited, pensionable blokes;

Bar-tenders! Bankers! Wealthy ex-pats!
Boozed-up heiresses! Oh, strange citizenry
Of eyesore Gibraltar, unburdened by tax,
Hemmed in by Spain and horizonless sea:

Grey pillars of Hercules tentpole your sky,
Where cruise-ships and frigates list lazily by,
And Spanish incursions are cited as why
Great Britain should reassert hegemony!

But, nonsense recedes. The nights die sluggishly.
Smuggled Campari glints red on the sill.
Gangs of seagulls emigrate thuggishly
Over the border to sherried Seville.

I have. Fuck. All. To show for all this.
Only so much untradeable experience
Piled up, uselessly, like money or piss,
My high-pressure heart pounding: I can, I will

Project Details

  • Date July 9, 2015
  • Tags Paul Abbott Gibraltar on the Campaign Trail