The Great British Ritual


Sir Ranulph Fiennes, jogging solo
to the North Pole, yet forever
unflappable in the fight
against brutal frostbite; for
he’ll fretsaw necrotic fingers

and soldier on to his goal. As
schooled in salad days at Eton
or in the Royal Scots Greys
or when Bren-gunning Omani
‘Commies’ for the Sultan’s medal.

O Sir Ranulph! you were installed
by glory to Britain’s hierarchy as
the saintly icon for the ritual of
rigid adherence to futile endurance.
An inspiration for the nation’s heroes:

for here comes ‘Bear’ Grylls festooned
with the Scout logo and trumpeting
Baden-Powell’s motto for foiling
the immorality of the idle. For he’s
prepared to rebuff smashed vertebrae

and being strapped to a backpack
of a cannonball; for he’ll conquer
Everest in record summit and
be welcomed home by a TV deal
and a seat at the table with the royals.

Michael Wyndham
Art Mike Lesser


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