Lucy Vickery

What Boris Johnson’s vacuum cleaner saw

Credit: Chris Harris / Alamy Stock Photo

In Competition No. 3199, you were invited to supply a poem in which an inanimate object comments on its owner’s behaviour.

Shoshana Zuboff’s recent book about the growth of surveillance capitalism gave me the idea for this competition. In it she warns of a future in which, to satisfy big tech’s insatiable appetite for data, the internet of things — our heating thermostat, vacuum cleaner, mattress — takes over our homes, robbing us of our ability to be invisible in those places where, Zuboff writes, we ‘first learn to be human… where our spirits spread and take root…’.

Moray McGowan’s poem, featuring a fridge that locks itself to foil midnight binges, and uploads data about unhealthy eating habits to the owner’s insurance company, chimes very much with Zuboff’s vision. But it’s those entries printed below that earn their authors this week’s prize of £30 apiece.

As the cordless source of info that they blame on Chatty Rat,I am there.At the shake-and-vac conception of another mop top brat,I am there.When he runs the crevice cleaner over Ms Arcuri’s pole,when he dusts the Lulu Lytles now that Carrie’s in control,like the old J. Edgar Hoover or the latest Miele mole,I am there, I am there, I am there.Although Dyson’s in his contacts, for an old-school furry bagI am there.At the dual-cyclone climax of a carpet-burning shag,I am there.So for insight on the vacuum at the heart of Tory hell,when the PM’s done the dirty and you hope for suck and tell,it’s the factory-setting password and you’ve got my URL:I am there, I am there, I am there. Nick MacKinnon

I have watched you, during lockdown, treating cupboard shelves as grottos,And applaud your use of Vegemite to titivate risottos;I was awestruck by the boldness of your Spam-inspired frittataAnd marvelled at the chutzpah of your chocolate-based moussaka.Turning Twiglets into croutons could be termed iconoclastic;Viennetta on your cornflakes is undoubtedly fantastic(Clever you to dream up that one when the cashew milk turned sour!) Though I question using sawdust as a substitute for flour.While

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