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It’s not cricket: Covid inquiry evidence prompts Michael Rosen poem

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Poet Michael Rosen, who spent 48 days in intensive care in 2020 after contracting Coronavirus early on during the pandemic, has been spurred to write a short, angry poem after hearing evidence from the Covid inquiry that alleged government ministers such as then-PM Boris Johnson and current PM and former chancellor Rishi Sunak took a fatalistic attitude towards the elderly dying.

Writing in the Guardian, Rosen said:  “I keep imagining a scene: it’s 2020. Patrick Vallance sits jotting down his memories of the day. The phrases that he heard earlier, surface in his mind. Boris Johnson, he remembers, talked of ‘letting it all rip’. There was talk of 'casualties’… And then as regards these casualties, Vallance reports Johnson saying ‘so be it’. It’s a fatalistic shrug. How extraordinary that at the height of a national life and death struggle, we had a prime minister whose go-to philosophy was que será, será.

“Then Johnson switched tack. These casualties, he said, ‘have had a good innings’. I read that as him thinking that these people had notched up a good score, so no need to panic or fret. The playing field has often been a fertile resource for those looking for imagery to explain life. Here, Johnson recruited cricket to serve in the task of neutralising pain and desolation. In which case, wasn’t he telling his colleagues that there was no cause for mourning the departure of old people? Just clap them off the pitch. Play up, play the game.”

Here’s Rosen’s poem:


Out of bedrooms and wards

long lines of the dead walk towards you

asking you,

‘Who were you to decide

that our innings was over?

Who gave you the umpire’s white coat

and upraised finger?’

Did you think we would never speak

from the graves you gave us?


Background: ‘It’s me, she said. It was the physio’




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Stephen Gospage

Sat 25th Nov 2023 17:02

This short poem probably says more about government irresponsibility than hundreds of pages of a report. It seems that many old people were ultimately saved by the common sense of DRS, so to speak, cancelling out the upraised finger (!).

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