The Lockdown of Alfred J. Prufrock

With apologies to T.S. Eliot – upon who’s original the following is heavily based.

Let us go then, you and I,

Where summer sun shines bleary in the sky

Another day, another week, never ending Sunday.

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless days of binge tv and old box sets

half hearted, lonely zoom events

Of moth balled restaurants and socially distant queues:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question …

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

And the women come and go

and talk of how the numbers go.

The wretched virus rubs its back upon the silent rails

Rubs its unseen muzzle on the window-panes,

Licks its tongue into the corners of shared surfaces,

Lingers in the air, is breathed on trains,

Let’s fall upon a hand the snottiness of sneezes,

Slips by a sloppy mask, makes sudden leap,

And since we are too close, not far apart

Curls once about the throat and makes us cough.

And indeed there will be time

For the cunning virus to slide along each street,

Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;

There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet;

There will be time to distance and to separate,

A time for staying home and washing hands

Time not to greet or touch, to embrace or give a peck;

Time for you and time for me,

And time for Boris’ indecisions,

And for a hundred briefings and revisions,

Before the media questions on tv.

In the room the women come and go

And talk of how the numbers go.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I care?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to go out, to work and shop,

time to go out, get normal back, have this thing stop.

(They will say: “How his hair has grown so long”)

My casual clothes, the whiskers, my unshaven chin,

A face mask dangling , pointless, useless thing —

(They will say: “But how his waist is thickening!”)

Do I dare

Resume the universe?

In lockdown there is time

For decisions and revisions which can then quickly be reversed.

For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,

I have measured out my life with dreary films;

I know the voices dying, hear them fall

Behind the numbers and the CSU’s.

               So how should life resume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—

The eyes that bid you pass and let them be,

I’ve stepped aside or crossed a road avoidingly,

And when I’m pinned and wriggling close against a wall,

Then how should I begin

To stretch out all the strange and misspent, endless days?

               And how should life resume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that once embraced me, hugged me, showed me care

Now folded, drooping, pocketed, barely there!)

Is it memory perhaps

That makes me so digress?

Hands that met across a table, or greeted when I’d call

               And should life then resume?

               Ah how to re-begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets

And seen the virus lie across the lives

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

And the world, on hold, yet pauses.

In strange and unaccustomed silence,

Asleep … tired … or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to face the moment see the crisis?

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head (the hair grown long) brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my quietness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,

And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the shops, the queues, deliveries,

Between the screen time, online chats, the conversations, you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed from the reverie that gripped us all

To roll it towards some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—

If one, settling a pillow by her head

               Should say: “I’m not sure what it meant at all;

               That can’t be it. There must be more.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,

After the lockdown and the isolation, those deserted streets,

After the novels, after the jigsaws, after the masks that trailed along the jaw—

After this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:

Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

               “This isn’t what it meant at all,

               It isn’t what it meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …

At greater risk, so we are told.

Shall I part my hair behind? Will I ever need new clothes?

I shall wear the same old trousers.I won’t go to the beach.

There’ll be no mermaids singing.

They won’t sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Twinkle, twinkle would be stars

Tᴡɪɴᴋʟᴇ, twinkle, would be stars,

There are no gigs they closed the bars

Twinkle, twinkle, no nights out

Tough for comics there’s no doubt.

When the pubs and clubs are shut

There are no gigs, there’s no stand up

Nowhere you can raise a laugh,

Lead us up a giggly path.

Not that we don’t need a laugh

A glint of humour, tiny spark,

A hint of how things used to be,

The ‘funny side’ we have to see.

Meanwhile prisoned in your room

You struggle for a laugh on zoom

And wryly through the curtains peep

To see the world gone quiet, asleep.

It’s your bright and hard won laugh

Lights an audience in the dark,

Tho’ I know not where you are,

Come back soon oh little star.

The primary source of income for every comedian in the UK has been stripped away due to the impact of the Coronavirus – shutting down venues and cancelling live events. If you value live comedy as much as we do at NextUp and respect the performers who dedicate their lives to bringing us laughter – let’s band together and #hecklethevirus.

All funds raised will go to comedians in urgent need of financial support. Every donation (however small) matters and is really appreciated. – The NextUp Team

#hecklethevirus

This is one of the many #hecklethevirus initiatives setup by NextUp to help support and utilise live comedy during Coronovirus. We’ll also be streaming special gigs and doing everything in our power to help keep the circuit going and bring live comedy to the masses when people need it the most. Keep an eye on hecklethevirus.com to stay up to date.

When shall we three meet again?

When shall we three meet again

carefully social distancing?

When the hurley burley’s done

And when ‘R’ is less than one.

Where the place? On the heath?

What of thunder, lightening, rain?

Can’t we meet inside again?

It’s not safe to be indoors

Lest we meet with covered face

Mask upon that nose of yours.

Double, double, toil and trouble

Fire burn and cauldron bubble

See what happens if I cough

Folk can’t scatter fast enough!

Fillet of a fenny snake

In the cauldron boil and bake

Works much better than the bleach

Orange fella’s bad mistake.

Eye of newt and tongue of frog

Wool of bat and tongue of dog.

For a charm of powerful trouble

Watch my Wuhan hell broth bubble.

We’d have conjured far more deaths

If not for the nhs

Saved the skin of that Macbeth

Stayed at home escaping us.

Old Folks Demo

There ought to be an old folks’ demo

Gather, Piccadilly Square

Pull down Eros Statue

Eternal Youth, oh yeah??!!

Who got dumped in care homes

To ‘save the nhs’?

They were just ‘bed blockers

Discharged got no tests.

Left there with their carers

No proper PPE

ICU won’t take them

Have to keep those beds free.

Let’s delay the lockdown

‘Herd immunity’

Only old folk dieing

That’s OK you see.

So pack out Piccadilly

Cram all the old folks in

May just spread the virus

But a cause worth gathering.

Come Blow Your Horn

Little boy blue,

Come blow your horn,

Tell us how wonderfully

Everything’s gone.

There’s sheep in the meadow,

There’s cows in the corn.

Our death toll’s the highest

The problem’s not gone.

There’s chlorine in chickens

There’s hormones in beef

But where is the boy

Who looks after the sheep?

Where is the man

Who will make Britain ‘Great’

He’s under a haystack

fast asleep.

We blind mice

We blind mice. See how we run.

We’re all ignoring Boris advice

He cut off his nose with a carving knife

They don’t seem to care, so why should we?

We blind mice.

We blind mice, see how we run

We’re tired of following Boris advice

Better to party, gather outside

‘If it’s ok for Cummings it’s ok for me’

We blind mice.

We blind mice, see how we run

The sun is shining make for the coast

We think it’s all over, lockdown is toast

‘We’re young, we’re British makes us immune’

We blind mice.

We blind mice, see how we run

Forget being shielded, you can come out

It’s not like there’s still a virus about

‘Rubbish to think it ended too soon’.

We blind mice.

We blind mice, see how we run

Don’t think it’s safe for kiddies at school

‘But hey family party, that’ll be cool’

‘Stayed home and clapped but now we are bored’.

We blind mice.

We blind mice, see how we run

We’re young we’re British out and brave

Rubbish to talk of a second wave

Roll on summer and going abroad

We blind mice.

Neither Up Nor Down

The Grand Old Duke of York

saw thirty thousand dead

he hoped that it was the top of the hill

and they’d come straight down again.

And when they went up they went up

and when they went up it was sad.

But when they started down again

He sighed and thought it was good.

And when they were up they were up

But when they were down were they down?

And when they were only half way up

Were they either up or down?

And when they were up we were sad

And when they were down we were glad

But when they were only half way down

We all gave up and relaxed.

The Grand Old Duke of York

Saw thirty thousand dead

And when they reached the foot of the hill

Would they start back up again?

#SecondWave?

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Where have you been?

Stuck home in lockdown

glued to a screen.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

What did you see?

Much too much netflix

Endless TV.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Are you still there?

Pretty much yes

Still stuck in a chair.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

What happens next?

Getting out soon

They’ve developed a test.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Will normal resume?

Not sure it will yet

Not any time soon.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Any regrets?

How can there not be?

Too many deaths.

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

They did their best

Then how come our death rate

Is worse than the rest?

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

What can I say?

The truth will out one day

and someone will pay.

Goosey goosey gander

Goosey goosey gander,

Got you on a tracker

Wither will you wander?

Who will you meet?

Goosey goosey gander

What if you philander

In my lady’s chamber

Where you shouldn’t be?

Goosey goosey gander

Wither will you wander

Upstairs, downstairs

Where you shouldn’t go?

Goosey, goosey gander

Who do you think you’ll meet?

If you meet an old man

He’ll not have a prayer

Take him by the left leg

And throw him down the stair.

They’re opening up the shops

Hickory, dickory, dock.

They’re opening up the shops

The clock struck one

The numbers down

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Hickory, dickory, dock

You can’t see grandma yet

The pubs are closed

You can buy clothes

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Hickory, dickory, dock

You can’t get hair cuts yet

The barber’s closed

But who needs those?

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Hickory, dickory, dock

See strangers in a shop

Can’t go to gran’s

Unless you’re Dom

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Hickory, dickory, dock

Now you can buy a car

Go for a trip

But not to the beach

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Hickory, dickory, dock

Don’t  take a ball to the park

You’re fine playing golf

No football allowed

Hickory, dickory, dock.

The mouse