He was from the north and always right.
Bet you come from some market town in Surrey,
he muttered darkly over our first year Poor Law essays.
I was dangerously short on street cred.
Gift-wrapping hardbacks in a mock-Tudor bookshop
deep in the privet-lands of suburbia,
I ruminated tactics, just as Lenin must have done
whilst posing as a Finnish farmer.
As braziers burned up north, and people rioted,
I suffered the nit-picking gaze of the manageress,
whose laser eyes and bouffant blonde hair rang bells.
Her fingers led baton-charges in and out of the till,
punishing my frequent errors. She called money, takings,
taught us to divide and rule every copper, silver, note
into its separate tray. I learnt to notice the agonizing
drip, drip of profit seeping from unsold stock.
Like a true revolutionary, I seized my moment,
turned war to my advantage, just as Trotsky had –
constructed a window display from over-stocked copies
of The Battle of Stalingrad, added helmets,
cartridge rounds and a battle-sized Soviet flag
that pulsed at passing Tories through the sparkling glass.
In the photo, I’m haloed by its inflammatory red.
Sometimes, annoying is all you can be.