Rule of Three

Get A Test 

You Know Best 

Keep Numbers Down 

For The Clown 

Get On Line 

It takes Time 

Drive Ninety Miles 

With Sick Child 

Don’t Blame Me 

‘Cause It’s Free 

Labs Can’t Cope 

All Shoulders Slope 

Heed The Phrase 

HandsFaceSpace 

All We Need 

Three-Word Feed 

Syllables Only Two 

Can’t Not Confuse.

*

Rule of Six

Save Our Wits 

Shoots Those Birds

Go To Work 

Tell The Police 

On Neighbours’ Breach 

Protect Christ’s Mass 

Spend That Cash 

Don’t Shout Out 

All Your Doubts 

We Don’t Know 

Pretend To Though 

What We Say 

Will Now Change 

All We Need 

Three-Word Feed 

Stop, Don’t, Do. 

Can’t Not Confuse.

****

The British Government loves its punchy messages. They are easy to remember, some rhythmic (especially the latest) and, for some of the population, work. Work in the sense of burrowing into the brain and ensuring they are repeated over and over to stop any critical thinking parts of the brain from engaging. Get Brexit Done. What does that mean? Get Brexit Done. Yes but how? By getting Brexit Done. Ok.

Then it was Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives. Probably the clearest message that the Government gave to its people, and the longest; at seven words and ten syllables, it could be neatly dressed up as a haiku. Then it was, what was it? I don’t remember off the top of my head, I need to look it up. Stay Alert. Control the virus. Save Lives. To which all of us went “eh?” and spent a week making memes and asking each other if we could go out now.

Somewhere along the line, the poet-in-residence in Number 10 must have realised that their rhythm was off (still seven words and ten syllables but no neatness in the rhythm now) and they went right back to basics with the positive recovery message of Build. Build. Build. A nice strong marching rhythm and difficult to forget since it was the same word. Three Times. One syllable. Repeated. Three Times. Three Times. Three times. Again, no-one knew what it meant, how it would be achieved but it is hard to argue with how simple and powerful it was especially with the percussive banging of the fist on the despatch box. Just enough of an impact to get it hammered into the brain cells.

The summer happened and out came Eat Out to Help Out. This must have come from another aspiring poet in Number 11 being that it that it was the Chancellor’s initiative. It had a nice symmetrical rhythm, five words and a matching five syllables. It broke the three-word rule though so I wonder if this aspiring poet will be heard of again.

As summer drew to a close the resident poet must have taken the reins once more and gave us Hands Face Space. Three words, three syllables, and a rhyme. As a poet every time I hear this I can’t help adding the second line of what would be a rhyming couplet, as it seems like it’s hanging there waiting for its companion. Eg “Hands Face Space, to keep your place; Hands Face Space, to get a raise; Hands Face Space, just in case” I realise none of these are good but, as it’s a compulsive act on my part, I don’t mind.

I realise that I am being equal parts and playful here but I do recognise too this is serious. I love words, I love rhythms and messing with rhythms, I love playing with words and I do believe words can create powerful messages that can in turn create great change. However three-word statements from a government leading you through a crisis are no more than poetic attempts at reassurance so we don’t rise and take up our pitch-forks and head to London. We need more than that, we need detailed information, honest and forthright communication and people who don’t need to be clever to make their point. I don’t want a government who spends its time and taxpayers money on creating marketing messages that would be more at home in a Cadburys ad, I want a government that will engage with everyone around them – the Opposition, other parties, journalists, pressure groups, members of the public – and tell the truth by giving the facts and the full story. And that, in a very around the houses way is the message of my poem.

Love and light

Kirstie

Published by Kirstie Sivapalan

Writer. Poet. Indie Kid. Crystal Lady. Pisces. Enthuser. Cheerleader. Helper. Geordie Londoner. Sharer of stuff I know. Sometimes found working in HR (but not very often) Oh, and #spoonie, living with ME/CFS. That about covers it.

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