They issued me with my identity
drilled me in the finer points of usage
shipped me in then — nothing.
The radio transmitter — silent
in the attic
these fifty years.
I vanish into a life very like
I catch the 92 or 94 from the corner
ready to counter — Top-hole morning!
with — Whizz-bang!
But my contact hasn't
Tonight, listening to the News at eleven o'clock
I hear a noise I can't place.
A valve about to blow?
like a clock about to strike.
But we don't have a striking clock.
I go up to the attic
switch the gizmo on to green alert.
Sent here for no reason
I will be away for a bit up in Sydney and Newcastle and I am struggling to get
to the end of something before I go, so quickly and lazily I pop up an old poem
I am starting to consider a Selected. If not now, then when?
So I am mostly reading old stuff when I go out to poetry readings, just to check
how it stands up.
Someone did say to me - 'Don't be unkind to young Jennifer'. Which is something
to keep in mind.
This poem I am in two minds about. I got it from a BBC TV play about two
Russian sleeper spies settled in England. They married, got jobs, waited, and
waited for orders, their radio sets stowed up in their attics.
Met once a week during the season in the stands at the football match.
'Anything?' - out of the corner of a mouth. 'No, nothing.'
And then they would enjoy the football match.
But one day they got a message when they went up to the attic to check their sets.
I am in two minds about the poem. I don't think it has enough life of its own without
And also, who now knows what 'standing orders' are? Or 'gizmo'. Or how radio
valves would need to be replaced. It's all a bit musty I think.