My Part in the Revolution

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.