This poem was written in 2012.
Cameron and Clegg at Downing street,
Last meeting before Christmas done.
Nick puts on his coat to leave
And Cameron stops him with ‘Nick.’
‘Hmm?’ ‘Just one thing, chum, a question –
Do you believe in God?’
A pause, and Clegg answers hesitantly,
‘Actually I don’t. Since my youth I’ve been an atheist
I’ve never had much use
For bells and smells and promises
Which life itself can’t keep. I read
The works of Samuel Beckett, who would’ve
Prayed to God but -’
‘He doesn’t exist,’ says Cameron.
Then Clegg: ‘Surprised you know the quote.
I don’t believe in God, but
In the interests of full disclosure I should state
My sons are being raised Catholic.’
Nick goes further into his coat, then farther
To the door; at which point he turns, seeing
David stood in the room’s middle
Blowing his cheeks out,
Face puffy and red-eyed
From tiredness and overwork.
‘And you?’ after a moment Nick asks.
‘Oh it comes and goes.
I like to read the Bible…
I’m a cultural Christian…
But I wouldn’t say I believe.
Increasingly I find in meetings
My mind hovers above the fray,
In our interminable monetary discussions
I end up somewhere else.
The scene I see is seashores
And families playing there;
Ice cream on children’s faces,
Wasps in the orange juice.
I believe, I think I realize,
In a very British God –
A kind of aquatic protector
Who keeps this island safe.
I operate in a basic wavering
Position of vague belief;
You could say I’m a coalition
Of certainty and doubt.’
Nick nods and turns back to the door,
Then holds just another tick.
‘We should talk about these things more often,
It might help us win the day.’
Cameron gives a half-smile then says, at last
‘Give my love to your family
And enjoy the Christmas break.’