The Grumblies

THE GRUMBLIES by John Barclay

 (after Edward Lear)

 

They went to sea in a sieve, they did.

In a sieve they went to sea.

Though comf’table folk were heard to say,

“Better for all if at home they stay,

and keep away from the sea!”

And when the sieve turned round and round,

the occupants cried, “We’ll all be drowned,

or crushed to death – this sieve ain’t big.

You don’t care a button! You don’t care a fig!

We were forced to go to sea.

Oh how we long to be

where the comf’table Grumblies live!

We’re hungry, we’re scared and we have to flee,

so we go to sea in a sieve.”

 

They sailed away in the sieve, they did,

in a sieve that had cost them dear,

They’d scarcely the food for a single day,

while some became ill or collapsed on the way.

They clung together in fear.

Said the comf’table Grumblies, “Where will they go?

Our people won’t want to accept them, you know.

We’ve taken in Poles, and Romanians too –

but we had to do that coz we’re in the EU.

This new lot we won’t let in here.

Although they long to be

where we comf’table Grumblies live.

They’re hungry, they’re scared and they have to flee,

so they go to sea in a sieve.”

 

The water it soon came in, it did.

The water it soon came in.

As it sloshed about, the stench was foul,

for they hadn’t a toilet, nor even a towel

and only the tiniest bin.

While the comf’table toffs in Westminster far

disdainfully crowed, “How wise we are!

Though these fools be scared and their voyage long,

yet we never can think we were harsh or wrong

to refuse to let them in,

although they wish to be

where we comf’table Grumblies live.

They’re hungry, they’re scared and they have to flee,

so they go to sea in a sieve.”

 

For days the southerners drifted on

until they sighted land.

They shrieked when at last they came within reach

of the prettiest and most sought-after beach,

where comf’table folk, very grand,

were lolling. “O M G!” they all moaned,

“This so takes the biscuit,” one of them groaned,

“these vagrants have chosen to stagger ashore

while we are on holiday and what is more

they’re disturbing the clean-raked sand.

Of course, they long to be

where we comf’table Grumblies live.

They’re hungry, they’re scared and they have to flee,

so they go to sea in a sieve.”

 

Many aimed to get to England’s shores,

to a land with the hope of work.

The Italian leaders (first of all)

said Europe’s countries however small

should take their share and not shirk.

Said the Grumblies, “It’s not our fault in the least;

We’re not from Africa or the Middle East.”

The British declared they were doing their bit –

“Our Navy has borne the brunt of it;

we don’t have to take one Turk!”

While the fugitives longed to be

where the comf’table Grumblies live.

Hungry and scared, they had to flee,

so they went to sea in a sieve.

 

Then Germany welcomed the refugees

with a virtual invitation,

before the EU Parliament

had even made a single dent

in the desperate situation.

Without a common song to sing,

each state was doing its own thing –

transport to the next frontier

or tear gas, razor wire – and fear

of total dislocation.

For those who tried to flee

to the lands where the Grumblies live,

’twas as perilous walking to Germany

as going to sea in a sieve.

 

Before the E U leaders met,

a journalist’s photograph showed

a three-year-old boy had been washed ashore.

This softened the Grumblies’ hearts and they saw

the plight of those on the road.

Now the leaders have begun

a common plan not everyone

of them agreed. We must take heart

from knowing that they’ve made a start.

The exodus hasn’t slowed

and millions still toil to be

where the comf’table Grumblies live,

trudging for weeks to Germany

or going to sea in a sieve.

 

27.09.15

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