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Mapping the Muddle

By: John Davison

About The Poem

The poem underlines the odd use of the term “road map” by the Department of Health and Social Care to represent a staged procedure over an extensive (and possibly unending) time period, commencing when the first Covid-19 cases were observed in the United Kingdom. Ideally, it should be pinned to the Department’s main building ie. 39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU.

The Poem

Once the roadmap commanded respect
Founded on solid cartographic science
But cripes, its reputation so rapidly wrecked
By tech-savvy whiz-kids and dim-witted clients.

Roadmaps are robust, responsive – quite easy to read,
Politicians however shy away from clarity.
Roadmaps reflect a hierarchy of highways
None ever intended to bring regional parity.
But they do not melt before your very eyes
(Like a watch loaned by Salvador),
Well-informed by aerial photography
They may evoke a sense of awe.

Roadmaps do not plot the accidents,
The careless van with free-swinging door, just around the bend.
Never mind the bollards.
Roadmaps were curated with care to be your friend,
They are not made-up as you pootle along
On some tentative trajectory:
A cocktail of corporate compromises
Sprinkled with comforting catchphrases.

They are not drafted on the assumption that
Your conveyance was cobbled together
In the heat of a moment;
Or that next week’s weather
Will match that which was experienced last year –
Or that you have an in-built tendency for making U-turns.

Check that boot. Did you pack some emergency gear for the unexpected?
The seriously infected. The vaguely detected.
Scale back. Hard shoulder.
Tailback. Hard cheese.
Good progress, time to kill?
Don’t pull out before the brow of a hill!
Feign persistence, skid resistance
Gulley blocked by plastic waste.
Speak with gusto, repent in haste.
This tarmac’s wetter, build back better,
Atlas, roadmap, gazetteer, please patch the cracks in my career.
Graphic evidence swept away.
Adhere to plan or short delay?
I’m sure that we passed that pub before
Let’s find a better metaphor!

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