Nigel Pantling was a soldier in Northern Ireland during the early years of ‘The Troubles’, private secretary to Ministers in the Home Office during the most turbulent year of the Thatcher Government, and a merchant banker in the 90’s when privatisations and mergers and acquisitions were rampant. This collection of poetry draws on the danger, the absurdity and the human frailty that he has seen at first hand and is an insightful and unique look at a turbulent time in our recent history.
After the Blast
Number 10 calls at three: by five I’m in Brighton.
It’s still dark then, and as I approach the Grand
I pick past bricks, door panels, window frames,
railings from balconies impaled in the tarmac.
Arc lights pick out the gap in the white façade.
Behind a shimmering mist of dust, the rooms
are open-ended boxes of shattered furniture,
blue lampshades swinging in the breeze.
The Front is rowdy with sirens and generators,
whirr and whine of platforms and ladders,
rattle of chainsaws and clatter of masonry.
Early morning calls ring by empty beds.
The Party waits, like families at a pit-head,
cheering at news of someone alive,
groaning at a body on a stretcher.
Warnings about follow-up bombs go ignored.
Later, in a suit bought unseen from M&S,
my Minister will speak in solidarity with his leader.
For now, he and I are silent in the cloaking dust
wondering how long all this will take to settle.