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LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING

08-11-2006

Not content withhis weekly outpouring on stuff that's not quite right with the world, local actor and comic Laurence Inman dabbles with verse too. Here's his rhyming answer to, well, just about everything ...

I once did a poetry reading in Swansea. I have also done one in Edinburgh. So, taking into account the many I've done in England, that makes me an international performance-poet. I should also mention that after these poetry gigs the audiences have, for one reason or another, clapped and cheered as I left the stage. That makes me an acclaimed international performance-poet.

Or, an internationally-acclaimed poet. Like T.S.Eliot, in fact. Except that I am still alive.

As an internationally-acclaimed poet I am now ready to offer my take on the current debate about global warming, (and have another moan about mobile phones.)

IT'S FOR YOU.

These days you often see people

In the street, talking to themselves

Laughing and swearing sometimes

Alone.

Of course, they're on the phone.

It wasn't always so.

Years ago

No one had a phone

When it was called the telephone

Except the doctor

And certain selected people.

Polished, black pieces of furniture,

Their telephones lived in the entrance hall

But they used them hardly ever

If at all.

How could they ?

No one had a telephone.

Exchanges had picturesque names.

“Good morning. Bloomsbury 1458”

“Maiden's Garland 263. Miss Brook speaking.”

People would say.

Telephone boxes!

You were standing in a machine!

Pushings, clankings, tickings….

It was special, like a holiday,

Being on the telephone.

You were worth more

Than before

You had one

Of your own.

Your own telephone.

You were On The Phone.

Now we're never off it.

Hello, it's me.

I'm on the train.

I'm in Safeway.

What do you want ?

You'd think communication

Would bring us together.

But no.

Here, I bought you a phone.

Now go away so I can call you.

Call you in your car

Intrude on your secret time

Invade your inner dreams

As you sit in a line of cars.

Isolated we chat.

Someone is always listening

Or not

You're always alone

When you're on the phone.

But they want us calling

Ever and ever more often

The phone companies

With their nets, their webs.

Just call this number!

And when you do

You listen to Vivaldi

Until somebody speaks to you.

Call to not get on

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire

Call to throw somebody out of

The Big Brother house

Call to answer this simple question:

Are you a) you

b) me

c) somebody else

(And does it matter ?)

Call if you've been affected

By this episode of….

What next ?

You emerge from the theatre

Shakespeare has done it again

There's a sign:

If you've been affected…

And you phone, you say “Hello!

Is that the Hamlet helpline ?

My uncle's murdered my dad!”

And the internet!

It's one big phone call!

The world wide web

Interesting they use the word web

Interesting that the abbreviation

Takes longer to say than the thing

Using the one letter of the alphabet

With more than one syllable

It takes a tiny bit longer to say

It all adds up.

It's obvious what's happening.

Our lives are being run

Round a huge ulterior motive:

To keep us on the phone.

It will never stop

In the end they'll be implanted

In our heads at birth….

Before birth

We will always, always be on the phone.

The real purpose

Of art, fiction, travelling, eating, thinking

Breathing in and out

Will be

To keep us on the phone.

Thinking this, I had another

Much more terrible thought

A thought so terrible

I wish I had found a way

Of never having had it.

But it was too late.

Supposing this phoning business

Is a paradigm, a metaphor

For what's happening everywhere

And there's a hidden reason for us

An explanation entirely other

Than the comfortable old ones.

An ulterior motive for us.

What if, let's just say, that

Whatever it is that guides the cosmos

And the earth

The mind of the planet

The gaia

Felt a teeny twinge of a chemical imbalance

In the infant eco-system

Billions of eons ago

And thought, if thought is the word

That an incy bit less oxygen

Would in the end do the trick

So that it could set its perfect course

Towards whatever perfect destination

It is headed for

Whatever ambition

Lies at the back of the planet's mind.

Picture it:

The rushing forests fizzing with rich insect shapes

The squat fungi, tossing ferns and floating spores

The glistening spiralling seas, as much fish as water

You see

Too much O, not enough CO2

So…so…

Reptiles, birds, bigger reptiles…

Too much O

All manner of lesser hybrid forms

Too much O

Still too much

Until….mammals

That's better, the O decreases

But more needs to be processed

More mammals are needed

New mammals, breathing harder

Using more and more O

So that's what we're for, us.

That's all.

All this being important

Great and noble and understanding.

Newton, Shakespeare, the other one

Nobody reads….oh yeah…Goethe.

That's all we come down to.

All this coming and going

All this building and pulling down

All this breathing in and out

All this fuss

To bring about

A chemical readjustment

In a little corner of everywhere.

The gaia saw it all

Gave us just enough imagination

To feel the brevity and urgency of time

Just enough vision

To want to get places quicker

And just enough intelligence

To invent ways of doing it

But not quite enough of any of them

To realise that we're choking ourselves

Out of a biochemical function.

The gaia decided this

Because now it needs less CO

And more O, see ?

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