The high streets filled with franchise brands
all stocked with food (though most of it in cans).
Expensive imports rotted on the shelf -
beyond the reach of even those with wealth.
In place of pasta, chilli, foreign fare,
the diet turned tasteless, bland and spare,
and though it made our food taste quite delicious
using garlic now was deemed to be suspicious.
Fried bread, pickled herrings, tripe and ham,
sprouts, nettle tea, cabbage soup and spam -
and for a very special birthday feast
toast with Marmite made with brewer’s yeast.
Ah! How did England come to such an hour
when there is no more sweet, but only sour?
Italian, Chinese, Indian, Jamaican, Thai -
all luxury cuisines from times gone by -
their cookbooks added to the growing pyre
of publications heaved into the fire,
alongside poems, novels and non-fiction
that utilised too smart and clever diction,
not to mention any writing in translation
(unsuitable stuff for a sovereign nation).
The poles of taste were well and truly shifted
and art and music too were strictly sifted:
no rock, no roll, no jazz, no hip-hop, rap,
and no abstraction, no “expressionist crap”.
Folk dancers took charge of the Royal Ballet,
a bagpipe troupe replaced the Manchester Hallé
and theatres staging Ibsen, Beckett, Chekhov
in no uncertain terms were told to feck off.
Even homegrown hits like ‘Cats’ and ‘Evita’
were banned for using non-traditional metre
and stories written by Yanks or from abroad,
where - obviously - of taste they’d never heard.
What joy it was to be alive when culture,
thrown aside, was left for hungry vultures!
And not the kind who jewellery they’d rattle
or stand in foyers, glass in hand, and prattle
of stars they’d met or sundry vacuous things
while nervous actors waited in the wings -
but those who aim to strip art to the bone
and leave it standing on the brink, alone.