Mr Farrago spent the day cleaning his collection of lies.

The collection wasn’t particularly distinguished — in fact, one cruel critic had gone so far as to suggest it was “hackneyed in taste, too obvious in the overall selection and, in the promotion of supposed masterpieces, simply lacking in credibility” — but it was Mr Farrago’s collection, and he rather doted on it.

(And in this tendency to favour a private, long-built, much-beloved collection of artefacts, Mr Farrago was perhaps not unique.)

He had been folded through illustrations from various planes to produce a donkey’s bray and a baboon’s arse. Small national flags, on cheap-looking white plastic sticks, stuck from his pockets. His garments were a veritable catalogue of Bros., Street and & Sons: tweeds, silks, polka dots, brogues.

Haw haw.

Haw haw, he went.

His limousine, with its imposing façade and Mock Tudor timbers, sat in the calm cool darkness of his garage.

His chauffeur, Peter Fluff, had the day off.

His wife — Mrs Farrago — was away in town, visiting relatives.

Her relatives.

They did various dances. They did the Poltroon. They did the Mosaic, the Fibber’s Mile, the Recession.

How the pipers piped, and the fiddlers perspired.

Mr Farrago was delighted.

Haw haw, he went.

Haw haw.

Who could have foreseen his rise? Transfixed by the beams, floodlit from above by droning airships, with his peroration in full flow — “Bloor bloor bloor bloor, faffle puffle, bloor, bloor, bloor… Bloor…” — surely, the more sane among the contestants must have been utterly bemused by Farrago’s promotion to host of the entire show.

Each man is an island, he assured his yeomen.

At night, he put on his wireless. He looked forward to his favourite programme: Live from the Bedlam — the world-famous Bedlam Theatre, of course, in Mayfair. They always had a good line-up: The Duke’s Minstrels, Vapid and Bunnie, The Burlingdon Quartet, The Six Stout Sons, all excellent and reliable artistes, not to mention the fun and fireworks provided by the ebullient compere, Bobby Bluster — the “Blonde Opportunist”.

Haw haw!

Haw haw haw haw haw haw haw!

Half a sovereign, and a penny for your jam.

What was on the telly?

Punch My Migrant.

Turn over.

Counterfeit Kingdom.

Turn over.

Some dreary avant-garde Scandinavian epic, The Passengers of the Titanic Applaud the Iceberg, utterly pretentious, who in the world, completely absurd, why would anyone applaud an iceberg, really, how do they get the funding, unacceptable, write to the Director General personally, we’ll see about this!

Turn over.

Independent Execution.

Turn over.

Name That Treachery.

Turn over, turn over, turn over.

Turn off.

Ah, the sweet rapture of nightingales in the haughty bower of the English countryside.

Words like “inalienable” — “inviolable”, for example.

Mud and brollies! Bulldog parrot. High jinks, low blow jobs, oooh er! Trilbies, fox-hunts, whist.

The village fete, designed around the theme of steam power and indestructible national ingenuity. Bunting.

One of us, and none of them.

All for me, and the last one out is entirely alone.

Sir Shut-the-Door, and Lady Rally.

Perks and nods. Knowing. Winks and bluffs.

Dave Camaraderie down the bar. Old shag. A light foam, and pewter dreams. A Hard Place, by Miss Doris Innuendo — turn a few pages before…

My work is done, thought Mr Farrago.

My life of toil and sacrifice.

My efforts on behalf of…

My eventual triumph, turn a few pages before…

Let others do the work now. Let others take the strain. I’ve done my bit.

Mon Dieu et Mon Droit.

Persona non grata.

Liqueur. Almanac. Confidante. Irish setter.

Garbage à la mode.

Monsoon. Dervish. Berserk. Chapati.

Grit. Scar. Pluck. Spunk.

Half a pint of Let’s Get Fucked, please, Landlord.

Haw haw, he went.

Haw haw!

Pompous, flatulent, fraudulent puffer of poisoned bubbles, we will fight them.

And fight them.

And fight them.

They’re having a whip-round.

The locals down The Proud Beggar.

How’s your father and who’s your tailor?

Eden of this silver. The birth of knowledge from the womb of error. Empires and umpires, tails and whites. Come, bite — mmmmmmmmmm!:




from the series superstyler (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, July 2016)