The bus slows at the dancing
blue and ignis fatuus
of yellow vest and chequered
bodywork. There’s one car
in the ditch and one with an L
slewed across the featureless
straight run from Cambridge.

Our driver rolls down
the glass – five or six hours,
it’s as bad as it gets – and lets
the swish and flip and grim
theatricality as emergency
vehicles keep arriving
(cutting tools, the doors

Inline sub2


of an ambulance swung back)
enter the overheated bus
alongside cold rumour.
Caxton Gibbet watches.
So do the chicken bones
of that restaurant we had booked
for the day of the fire. Blinded

by oncoming might-have-beens
and unscripted write-offs,
we are redirected out
of the terrifying limelight
backstage towards Papworth,
hoping there’s a way through
Yelling perhaps or Graveley.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated