Inner City

Once these were clean streets, and friendly streets,
But the clean streets became dirty streets,
And the friendly streets became mean streets.
In turn, the dirt became filth,
The mean became fear,
The filth became squalor,
The fear became terror.

Now of a night time, rats the size of cats
Play peek-a-boo from without the storm drains,
Gnaw at foul and rotting carrion in the butchers’ yards, and
Underneath the market stalls
Feast from the emaciated dustbins,
Spread disease everywhere,
And frighten both the younger children
And their Valium-drenched mothers.

The rats go on four legs,
And on two.

The shop doorways and windows are covered with grime,
The alleyways stink of urine,
The gutters around the public houses are stained with drunkards’ vomit,
Even the graffiti on the walls and fences is of the vilest kind imaginable,
Both grotesquely scatological, and lacking all spark of wit and humour.
There is nowhere to be found any trace of pride,
Decency, nor even common humanity.

The shoppers, such as there are,
Purchase only necessities, save the usual opiates of
Cigarettes and alcohol;
They rush from shop to shop, from stall to stall,
No one has even the time of day for his or her neighbour,
There is no atmosphere save that of gloom,
And total self-absorption.

When darkness falls and the shoppers are gone,
The infrequent passers-by are mere shadows
Who flit past disconcerted, nervous and apprehensive
Of both nigrescent footpads in woolly hats
And crew-cutted, self-styled warriors in bovver boots and braces.

Such poverty and despair as one might imagine haunted the
Backstreets of a Seventeenth Century plague-ridden London slum
Is not simply extant
But very much alive:
Alive and breeding as fast as the rats ever did then,
Here, in Twentieth Century Britain.

True, the children aren’t barefooted now, but their faces are just as thin;
And infant mortality is down,
Indeed, longevity is on the up and up all round,
People, especially women, are living longer now, much longer,
But the net result of this is nothing more than an increasing
Number of lonely old men and women:
Lonely and hungry,
In spite of the fact that pensions are the highest they’ve ever been.
Inflation is down another point,
The recession is tapering off,
Both growth and profits are at record levels, and we’ve all of us
Never had it so good,
Or so they keep telling us...

The faces of the worried young mothers, the undernourished children,
And the lonely, hungry old men and women, tell a different story,
As do the communist revolutionaries peddling their class hate
Outside the labour exchanges and secondary schools.
Poverty breeds filth: filth breeds scum,
But in spite of this, the cries of the workers’ vanguard
Fall largely on deaf ears
Because the vast majority of the people realise they have
Nothing to offer except hate,
And hate has never solved anything.

So life goes on,
In an age when men have long since walked on the surface of the Moon,
And when probes have visited Mars and beyond,
In the heart of Western civilisation,
Men, women and children go hungry and live in squalor.

Can three centuries and more of science and technology have
Brought us no further than this?
A world where there is so much want?
So many have-nots?
So much deprivation?
And so much human waste?

Or is it not science and the myriad and wondrous fruits of science,
But a pseudo-science, and an unremitting conscienceless will that

Have reduced a once great nation
To a Godforsaken wasteland,
A nightmarish dystopia devoid of all pride, self-respect and dignity
Where only the rats and other vermin thrive,

A pseudo-science which says that nothing is possible
In practice unless it is also redeemable on paper to a group of
Faceless international bankers who create imaginary credit
At no cost to themselves, and lend it to the nation that it may
Be repaid at compound interest with the very real sweat,
Tears, and increasingly the blood, of the downtrodden masses,
The so-called shiftless and idle poor?

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