The people I had to deal with! Take ‘X’,
somewhere far to the right of Genghis
Khan, face like a tobacco leaf, gaunt,
yellow, wreathed in a cloud of fag smoke;
hawk-like, twisted smile, standing too close,
invading my space. ‘I am,’ he said, ‘deep down
a fascist.’ He was proud of it and I fell back
on subterfuge, knowing that I must play
the damned villain, and smile – just smile!
On the train out of King’s Cross, I reran
the exchanges in my head and shivered.
He really said it: that the issue was
a ‘conflict between good and evil,’ Those
who objected were Stalinist toadies: take
‘H’ – an unrepentant Marxist’; ‘D’? ‘one
of the most unreconstructed people
I’ve ever met.’ I sensed the existence
of a black book of those to be – well, damned.
Me included. That night, I did not sleep.
The day’s passing did not dispel the sense
of danger. Reporting back to ‘Our Leader’,
there was no mistaking the party line, the Plan.
Ministers were watching, it seems; the ‘PM was
taking the keenest interest’. There was no alternative:
this was how it must be. The Resistance – we few –
might fight on, I thought, but the war was clearly over.
This poem appears in 'Perfect Day'.