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A Very English Earthquake
CRM (1961 / )

A Very English Earthquake

It was a very English earthquake that we had the other day,
Which the newspapers reported, in a very English way,
As the china teacups rattled in each corner cabinet
And sepia-tinted photographs of grannies were upset.

Whilst chimneypots came crashing down, along with sheaves of slates
And smokeless stacks dropped through ridged roofs and plopped on puzzled pates;
Yet though one man was hospitalised with a broken pelvis,
It was quite sensationalised, just like the death of Elvis.

Emblazoned on the pages of our precious English press,
Were a plethora of pictures of a quite un-English mess:
Short rows of ruffled rooftops and several paltry piles
Of mutilated masonry and toppled, twisted tiles.

Though round the world there’s misery, typhoons, disease and slaughter
So few of these impress themselves on tabloid news reporters
In our very English fourth estate, they snidely sneer and scoff
With headlines: Fog in channel: continent cut off.

And so as each disaster decimates each distant land
And elemental earthquakes create carnage, our brave band
Of roving, hardened hacks declaim, in phrases sharp and skilled
That England’s not affected; no-one injured; no-one killed.

So, let’s stop being too English in our isolated bubble
And scan horizons wider and consider others’ trouble
In every needy nation, now that Empire’s flags are furled
And sacrifice self-interest in an international world.

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