Two Days before the Scottish Independence Referendum

The Tube is half empty. The Thames half flows.
A gardener scatters bags of leaf-mulch rot.
Distant over Hyde Park, the sun sets hot

In a many-angled flash of windows:
We have taken months to get this far.
Gone! Another summer vanished into shadows

As the tired evening settles over Bayswater.
Down in theatreland, the West End shows
No outward sign of what has happened here:

All the public, drawn-out grief of summer,
Like an old criminal slumping in his chair.
In stately rooms, behind half-muffled doors,

Arguments break out in Downing Street.
Some say, Don’t think about defeat.
Others want scare tactics, threats, common cause…

(The art of survival in politics
Is knowing which people to ignore.)
An English Parliament? One of the Whips

Abruptly slaps this down: No, that’s just more
Politicians, paid for by more borrowing.
How can we knife Labour then? Someone kicks

Off, interrupted. And behind the arguing
No10 is now an irrelevance
On the fringe of some foreign cataclysm.

Buses jam the Aldwych one-way system,
Honking their diesel-fumed indifference.
Newspapers talk of timetables. A slow

Panicking starts to overtake events.
Flights roar and sputter terminally at Heathrow,
And far beyond this implacable pretense,

Miles away, the North Sea greys a gale
Force, a pointless bluster, as if to show
How easy it is to make waves. Or to fail.

Project Details

  • Date July 9, 2015
  • Tags Paul Abbott Two Days before the Scottish Independence Referendum