Saturday, 23 July 2016

At War with a Waltish World

Time was, a fella knew he knew the score:
knew what was kosher, spotted what was bobbins.
but who's to say what’s Waltish anymore,

now kids hold phones out, trying to catch monsters
and graduate to flying robot bombers,
pushing buttons, racking up high scores

for killing human beings, not orcs and goblins?
One click, one kill, the birds can have the bodies.
Who’s to say what’s Waltish anymore,

when toffs write figures on the side of buses,
then, smiling, say they never meant those numbers?
Tap your nose, make out you know the score,

then learn new steps to dance to what that score is.
The word they use is sprezzatura. Nonces.
There isn’t time for thinking anymore.

Be used for what they use you for down here,
Where sellouts prosper, and the good are punished.
Time was, a fella knew he knew the score:
Now, who's to say what’s Waltish anymore?

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A lot of slang comes from the military: some crosses over into general usage, some doesn't.  The UK military coinage 'Waltish', meaning unbelievable, dodgy, etc (think Mitty), while being a phrase I'm fond of, hasn't.

I've been experimenting, over on Incidents of Trespass, with writing in different voices. With the release of the Chilcot report I began thinking about military registers,  and had the idea of writing something somewhat after Kipling, a barrack room ballad for an era of endemic duplicity. From then it was only a short step to the notion of Waltishness and hence the poem you just read. Something of an oddity in my output, but I had fun writing it anyway. It's good to experiment!

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