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Monday, February 02, 2004

Poem for my grandfather

My maternal grandad was a tough cockney who set sail for China before it made sense and became Manager of British-American Tobacco.

By the time I met him, he was retired to suburban Kenton, Midlesex, UK. A hard man and feared, he never lost his shrewdness. Altho' I never took on board his advice at the time, this is a poem I hacked out in memory and which I wish I'd had a chance of showing him.\

For Dupen

My grandfather sits at the front in the Chairman’s eye.
He questions the apologies for absence; he questions the Minutes,
Including the accuracy of the amendments in these Minutes
To the Minutes of the meeting before last.

Then he carps at the order of items on the Agenda,
Queries the omission of items from the Agenda,
Interrupts, interjects, raises Points of Information,
Asks innocent – loaded – questions, has serious Points of Order,
Puts down motions, puts down amendments, questions the voting –
Wants the Chairman to state again exactly what it is
They have decided by the voting –
Wants his disagreement with the Chairman’s decision minuted;
Quotes the Constitution, waves the Companies Act.

Grandad proposes the creation of sub-committees, steering committees,
Working parties and working groups – and declines election to any of them himself.

Any Other Business is devoted to matters raised by my grandfather alone.

When the time comes to decide the Date of Next Meeting,
Grandad objects on sound grounds to every possible date.
The desk diaries rise wearily from dispatch cases once again,
Overcoats stay unbuttoned, the great white pages turn and flutter
And the flutter becomes a gale tearing at the darkness outside the window,
At the darkness in everybody’s soul in the steamed-up room.

When the storm subsides, my grandfather has disappeared – until the next time.

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