wonder at mankind trains to Paris undersea pylons lift cables
systems of power connect us to each other bind us to our fate
n.b. Standing here overlooking Rainham Marshes, watching another bloody sunset, you can hear the electricity cables crackle as they carry charge towards the City of London.
If you listen really carefully, you can hear the insane laughter of stockholders celebrating multi-billions of profits being divvied up by BP, Shell and a few other energy companies, while the Earth’s climate spins inexorably out of control.
Nearby at Wennington, the scenes are of burnt houses, charred trees, scorched earth. Scenes familiar to residents of France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, California. What more proof does this once green and pleasant land need that things have changed, that we must change?
People blithely talk of access to air-conditioning, not aware that more energy is now used on such cooling equipment in summerthan that used in winter to heat us. It is we who are being conditioned by the air.
Shifted from south of the Sahel
Disarmed by Sahara's unruly winds
Riding out the arid rolling waves
Heading north on the Scirocco
Slipping through the wires at Ceuta
Negotiating the Med, island by island
Crossing France, fence by fence
Sleeping by day in shallow ditches
Embarking from Blériot Plage to Blighty
Where your humble lives are valued
As grains of sand
n.b. NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Sixteen prompt: write a curtal sonnet. Ten lines tied up by a shorter eleventh, rather than a more conventional fourteen line sonnet.
Here, my curtal sonnet touches on the UK Government announcing a policy to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda where they will be placed in holding centres, rather than working with them on these shores to provide a safe haven. The UK was ranked the 5th wealthiest country in the world in 2020, according to Credit Suisse S.A.
The photograph shows the remains of a rubber dinghy washed up on the coast, the sort of fragile craft smugglers use to get people to England regardless of risk.
Kyiv to Channel you new Burghers of Calais held by paper chains
n.b. UK Border Force, your first contact with England; all forms – no compassion.
It is possible to see England’s famous White Cliffs of Dover from the French Coast. Refugees trying to reach family members in the UK are haunted by England’s proximity, taunted by British bureaucracy.
n.b. This piece of ironwork is a suitably trite jokey comment on the tenuous connections between England and France that stands in Boulogne-sur-mer.
Boulogne was an assembly point for the invading Romans, the forces of Napoleon’s armada that did not set sail, as well as the likely jumping off point for the Nazis, who thanks to the RAF (with its young pilots from the UK, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Poland and Czechoslovakia (amongst other places), also never set sail.
The economy of Boulogne was hit hard when cross-Channel ferries stopped calling there following the opening of the “Chunnel”, the 50km railway tunnel linking England with France. This wondrous feat of Anglo-French engineering started after UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Jacques Chirac signed off the project in 1987.
Following Brexit it is likely that smuggling will prove lucrative once more between the coasts of Northern France and Southern England, an industry that was prolific over 200 years ago when trade barriers and protectionism was in full force.
Incidentally it was protectionism enforced by the English on its thirteen colonies of North America that led to the Revolutionary War of 1775 – 1783. The French weighed in successfully on the side of the colonies from 1778 to ensure the Americans won their independence.
However, the expense of joining this colonial war contributed to the impoverishment of the French treasury leading in part to the French Revolution of 1789.
Who knows where Brexit leads? The notions of “United” and “Kingdom” both look increasingly fragile.