Wednesday, March 14, 2007


It looks as though there is significant opposition to Tony Blair’s attempt to rush through a vote on renewing the UK’s Trident nuclear missile system.

But not enough opposition to stop the motion being carried with (ironically) the help of the Conservative party. I disagree with the UK having any nuclear weapons, but I have the sense that the Government increasingly pays no attention to what anyone thinks other than its own policy-makers. It’s hard to know what to do and the civil disobedience-style protests (cutting wire-fences, holding sit-down demos etc) are now so “expected” that they have no impact. But there must be something that can be done, beyond feeling apathetic and depressed.

I wrote a poem on the subject (both on nuclear weapons and on the apparent ineffectiveness of protest) a while back that was published in Chapman, issue 104:

Nuclear Yolk

The day after three middle-aged women
turned over Trident, lacing its insides
with syrup, bundling its computers
into the Gareloch, I read the morning news.

Magnifying glass in hand, I spied
a column somewhere to the left of page
nine, detailing anonymous arrests.
For some reason this made me hungry.

Passing over my usual cereal breakfast,
I boiled an egg so hard it mimicked
the texture of stone, smouldering like sulphur
in the salty depths, armoured against the stab

of ploughing cutlery, those who wanted
to split the whole shell open. I could do
nothing with it. Walls turned to rubber,
the rockery trembled like aspic jelly.

I bent a spoon over its head, its ashen
face staring like Medusa. One touch
and objects previously concrete became
flaccid and impotent reflections

of themselves, bouncing the egg back
like a bagatelle. I wondered whether
it could be used to soften up Trident.
The local activists’ committee warned me

to say nothing. Such tomfoolery, they said,
was bad for morale. As peace campaigns
were executed with military precision,
a stiff upper lip was required at all times.

Eggs then being no match for the nuclear
threat, we placed our trust in jumpered vicars
who strained their flimsy dog collars to the limit,
bulging adam’s apples with fruity hymns

set for guitars and fiddles. Even the navy
staff tapped their feet in rhythm, that old-time
religion and its half-remembered ritual
on the point of re-enacting itself, the snip

of wire, the snatch of arrests, and home
in time for Sunday roast; not before I pitched
my egg into the loch, and just as it struck
water, I’m sure it cracked a wicked grin.


Sorlil said...

nice, I particularly liked the Medusa image and "bulging adam’s apples with fruity hymns" - what a great line!

apprentice said...

Really captures the essence of Faslane demos, I really liked, "peace campaigns
were executed with military precision"

I also enjoyed the BCC dusting off Brown's early pronoucements on the subject.

Rob said...

Maybe there is some hope of stopping this from happening. But it's hard to find a strategy.