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Corona Diary - June 2020

June brought truly chilling national and global levels of deaths. The World Health Organisation warned that the pandemic was now soaring globally out of control. Britain, America and Brazil - each led by deniers and procrastinators - became the three countries with the highest per capita death rates in the world. While other countries used an established ‘track and trace’ phone app to deal with the pandemic, Johnson, Cummings and co. wanted to develop a new British one which Johnson promised would be ‘world-class’. It failed to work. With utterly inadequate testing in place, we began to end the lockdown and re-open for business. Within days, Leicester had to go back into lockdown due to a huge spike in infection rates. Meanwhile, the whole of the NHS began preparing for a nationwide spike in the autumn

Corona Diary by Nick Toczek red.jpg



When their second peak comes, we know that they’ll claim

Another hundred thousand, all of whom became

Dead were down to us lot. We screwed up their aim. 


When their second peak comes, watch them rig the game.

They eased the lockdown, but they’ll transfer the blame,

Tell us that it’s our fault, set us centre-frame.


When their second peak comes, though they lit its flame

They’ll claim exemption. They’ll sell us the shame.

Who spread the virus? We’re the ones they’ll name.



Oh, pity this country which opens in June

And pity its people all out there too soon

Who mingle as if they were somehow immune.


The weather is lovely this hot afternoon

So who needs some poet to burst their balloon

With rhymes wrung like sad songs we croon out of tune?


But, just like those trees which bright blossoms festoon,

This virus now flowers, and our misfortune

Is that we’re just leaving the last chance saloon.




Step in from the street that is virus-patrolled

We’ve warmth and a welcome beyond this threshold

Away from precautions our leaders extoled

Come enter our humble home… lo & behold:


The walls… within which we do as we are told

The TV… which brings us the lies we are doled

Of care for the infirm, the ill and the old

And how the infection-rates will be controlled.


These rooms…  a safe haven for our small household 

Our garden… this rainbow, our small plot of gold

Where, although we sunbathe, we somehow stay cold

As if all those flowers were toadstools and mould.


Between floors and ceilings, here we’re cubbyholed 

Without tea or biscuits. The stocks have all sold.

We numb to this lifestyle in which we’re enrolled

Designed to thwart dangers pandemics unfold.



Bloody bored by the blurred blather Boris bangs out,

Looks as if some zoo’s let it’s orang-outangs out.


Ending social distancing, a swan-song twangs out,

Ignoring wise warnings which the science whangs out.


Weather’s balmy, everybody barmy hangs out, 

Deffo deaf to every death-knell that still clangs out.


They mill and mix and merge and, yeah, the whole gang’s out,

Blank-blind to the Corona beast with its fangs out.


Within the week our lowered peak boomerangs… out.




Oh, for fuck’s sake, give me a bloody break

From those who claim that this virus is fake,

Was made in a lab and freed by mistake,


Is just a mild cough and a slight headache

That’s not passed on in a hug or handshake

And could be cured by potions you should take,


Or by powdered pangolin, bat or snake,

Gets killed by sun or a single snowflake, 

Can be kept at bay by cheap charms they make,


Should be ignored with livelihoods at stake,

Means a mess of numbers much too opaque,

Boring, boring business. Why stay awake?


The pillars of wisdom shiver and shake.

Fools rule the earth. Feel it quiver and quake.



At first, we wondered why-ily

As symptoms showed perspire-ily,

But then deaths mounted spiral-ly.


Yet, poshly and esquire-ily,

Our government moved miry-ly

While acting guilt-denyer-ly.


We’ve bitten back require-ily,

Sarcastically and firy-ly,

With verses written viral-ly.


These came to us inspiral-ly 

Each daily jotted diary-ly

On keyboard or else biro-ly.


Our leaders unadmired-ly

Colluded quite conspired-ly 

To fiddled facts plain liar-ly 


Evasively reply-ily,

Entirely pants-on-fire-ily

Precisely funeral pyre-ily


While countless dropped haywire-ily,

Lungs labouring respire-ily,

Till legions more died dire-ily.





If I were the virus

I would participate

In the massed demos by

Those who do and don’t hate.

They know they should distance

But they bite on my bait.


If I were the virus

I’d lend most of my weight

To disinformation

And its dumbed-down debate.

Why fuss with the facts when

You can just fabricate?


If I were the virus

I would willingly wait

To make Britain, Brazil

And America grate,

Each badly led state in

Such a badly led state.


If I were the virus

I’d do piracy, mate,

And come sailing straight home

With my contraband freight

Of smuggled infection

Which you’d all confiscate.


If I were the virus

I would bring you my plate

Of fresh flesh flash-fat-fried.

It’s a dish I’d create.

Pal, I’d do death and more

for you. I’d be your fate.




If there’s a second surge as our lockdown’s lifted

Watch the way the total blame’s blatantly shifted.


They’ll blame the people of this nation

For not liking isolation,

For our lack of separation,

For each too-close conversation,

For our crowds in shop, street, station,

For congested transportation,

For each march and demonstration.


When that surge puts more than before past surgery

Well, they’ll quite simply purge themselves through perjury.


They’ll blame the people of this nation

For our overpopulation, 

For our poor cooperation,

For our too rash relaxation,

For our careless of sanitation,

For kiss, hug and fornication,

For our in- and ex- halation.


We can’t breathe.






They were never strong and stable.

They were quick to drop that label.


Now, with Covid on the table,

They’ve proved neither wise nor able.


Tower of babble, not of Babel.

Silver-spooned from school to sable. 


Let the Vandals cut their cable.

History will fell their fable.




Went for a walk.

Met a friend.

We chatted:

Two meters two metres apart.


Went shopping.

Asked for fisolate.

They had none.

Surely, they’re supposed to sell fisolate.


Went to check progress.

They test too few of us.

They track a fraction of us.

They trace none of us.

We’ll be lost without trace.


Went to make a coffee.

Used the teaspoon

For several hours.

I’m going stir-crazy.  


Went to the bank

Wearing a mask and rubber gloves.

Last time I did that

I got a five-year stretch. 


Went out on the street

8pm Thursdays

To clap for the NHS.

No problem.

The NHS knows how to treat clap.


Went to the pub

… only joking!



Finally, glaring governmental guilt

Wrings out its first few faltering admissions

That submissions of figures on fatalities got misread.


Mistakes were made, they said,

About the infection-rate and 

Lockdown came too late and…


A slow trickle bled 

Like a leaking tap

From the nothing which the Johnson junta said.


Some of their key advisors now agreed

That tens of thousands of UK deaths

Could have been so simply avoided.


These Gods have got round to revealing

What we mere mortals know they’ve been concealing for months.

 Meanwhile, the vile fools who rule us remain in denial.


There should be a word in our language

For when plebs like us sit so sussed,

Sandwiched by killers, confessors and liars.


We need a word for when the street is wiser than the elite

Who steal our language from us, pickpocket education from our kids,

Would persuade us that our black’n’white lives –

Leading to our blacker deaths - don’t matter.


We must fight back, topple far more than fucking statues,

Get their knees off our necks, breathe, reclaim literacy

From the stuttering gobshite gunfire of their Trumped-up ignorance.


We will not be what they call us… 

Their commies, cowards, commoners, coves, 

Their pickaninnies, paupers, protesters, Pakis,

Their homeless, homos, migrants, mainliners, muggers,

Their anarchists, agitators, demonstrators, deviants,

Their terrorists, traitors, junkies, jailbirds, gypsies, Jews,

Their vandals, victims, losers, boozers, users,

Their loungers, liggers, scroungers, squatters, subversives, 

Their infiltrators, immigrants, niggers, nihilists,

Their workforce, white trash and whatever…


We must kick back.

One word will do for us.

We’ll reclaim a respectful name for ourselves.  




No, my friend, I’ve never known a

Virus quite like this corona,

Killer that has no condoner,

Worse than curse of Judas, Jonah.  


Some ignore it and have shown a

Blind eye turned to its persona.

Jobs done by each task-postponer.

Lawns mowed, cars washed by their owner.


Facetime, Skype, perhaps a phoner.

Every friend’s become a moaner

Saying that they should have flown a

Way to stay in Barcelona.


TV platforms each brain-doner,

Street-shot stoner, Tory Sloaner.

Headcase lacking chaperoner,

Me, me, me, me monotoner.


Blown away by every groaner

Sounding like a gramophone or

Some such strictly selfish droner…

I could learn to be a loner.



Take our lockdown back one week

Death toll could be half as bleak.

Not so, though, we’re up shit-creek

Heading for our second peak.


In these times when truth can’t speak

Disinherited, we meek

Must just wait for facts to leak.

They, meanwhile, play hide-and-seek.


We’re stuck on this losing streak

Governed by the vain and weak

Each an in-bred posh pipsqueak,

All convinced that they’re unique.


Hear their yachts begin to creak.

Smell their plots begin to reek.

See the cracks in their smug clique.

Trace the tracks their failures wreak.


Oh, but they play slim and sleek,

Glib of gob each gormless geek.

We should get mad. We should freak.

We should surely shout and shriek.


These cheap sales-staff think they’re chic

Back in business. Quick sneak peek:

Figures which they twist and tweak

Flogging shit from their boutique. 





Some days a lethargy settles like mist.

Sunrise gets cancelled. You hardly exist.

Time ties the hands of the watch on your wrist.


Some days thoughts clench as do teeth or a fist. 

All the straight lines in your head seem to twist

Till you’re your very own antagonist.


Some days come at you. And, God, they persist,

File all your faults and compile you their list.

Check it. They’re dead right. There’s nothing they’ve missed. 


Open-heart work with no anaesthetist.

Some days you wish that some days would desist.

You fight through because you’ve learned to resist.


Some days it’s simpler to simply get pissed.





Quietly ending a day that’s been fine. 

Quietly these streets assure me they’re mine.


Quietly first through the woodland then park.

Quietly gardens preparing for dark.


Quietly insects inhabit the air.

Quietly governments pocket despair.


Quietly daily the patients all cough. 

Quietly Covid still carries more off.


Quietly bodies are bagged up and gone.

Quietly moonlight moves in where sun shone.



… to throng through the crowds

cos they’ve opened the shops,


… to quit disinfecting

with wet-wipes and mops,


… to march in a demo 

and fight with the cops,


… to dump your daft facemasks

and all such stage props,


… to mill round meat markets

and buy up the slops,


… to illegally rave

till the energy stops,


… to be in the fields

while it harvests fresh crops, 


… to go with the good folk

whose guard slowly drops, 


… to watch while the next wave

picks which lives it lops. 





We used to feel safe back then when we were young

With the myriad myths to which we each clung. 

It’s thus we, along with those we were among,

Well knew that narcotics and bees never stung.


Though these were just stories which we were all strung,

We tackled that ladder and took every rung. 

We blissfully danced to songs history sung

While blind to the blisters which hung from its tongue.


So, senselessly, we’ve somehow swayed on and swung

Unable to smell the dung our years have flung.

Yet, now in receipt of this crap we’ve been slung,

We’re left with the wrinkles those decades have wrung.


We’d live with that legacy, bonus and bung,

But what’s shot our story; what’s suddenly sprung 

Is luckless old age which has bowled in and brung

Its brutal new lodger to lurk in each lung.




Now their app per-apps won’t app-en.

Per-apps nobody’s cl-app-en.

Per-apps they’ve been caught n-app-en.

Per-apps their app needs scr-app-en

Cos per-apps their app won’t app-en.


True, their app per-apps won’t app-en.

Per-apps some ch-app is fl-app-en.

Per-apps he’ll get a sl-app-en.

Per-apps he need knee-c-app-en

Cos per-apps their app won’t app-en.


Yeah, their app per-apps won’t app-en.

Per-apps they’ve been cl-app-tr-app-en.

Per-apps their road m-app’s cr-app ’n’

Per-apps its got a g-app in

Cos per-apps their app won’t app-en.




… of what we’ve missed:


Restaurants and take-aways,

Holidays and hotel stays,


Telling jokes and hanging out,

Hearing what it’s all about,


Meeting strangers, making friends,

All each chance encounter lends,


Coming home pissed as a rat,

Pals who drop in just to chat, 


Diaries and making plans,

Airports, beaches, pools and tans, 


Markets, malls and milling streets,

Matches won, even defeats,


All those jokes we’ve heard before,

Having fun, demanding more,


Celebrations, crowded rooms,

Foreign accents, strange perfumes,


Chatting while we stand in queues,

Not needing to watch the news,


Barbecues and pie’n’peas,

Lengthy drives and b’n’b’s,


Festivals and busy bars

With live bands and loud guitars,


Time with those we love and know,

Days which don’t end on a low,


Workplace, not computer screen,

Going where we’ve never been,


Life back as it was before,

All of this and much, much more.






Oh, doesn’t our government just make you shiver?

They’re on telly, gilding their lily that’s liver:

Their garland of guilt. They admit not one sliver.  

Whatever endeavour, they dither. We quiver.


Oh, doesn’t their slithering just make you shiver?

They cleverly promise but never deliver:

Forever the taker though never the giver

While we and our assets get sold down the river.



Butter becomes the best thing that we spread…

Viruses cease to be worthy of dread…


We are still here when such bastards have fled…

Medicine undermines murder’s deathbed…


Innocent lives are not needlessly shed…

People not statues are our daily bread…


We’ve a clear view of what lies dead ahead…

Bullshit’s removed from the paths that we tread…


No one needs foodbanks cos everyone’s fed…

We totally trust what our leaders have said…


Honesty’s one thing to which we’re all wed…

With language lain plain as light-beam or thread…


Trump’s been defeated, is banged up or dead…

Truth isn’t tickertape paper we shred…


… and so it goes on.






There’s never been a river that didn’t have a source.

For sour white power there’s Germanic, Viking, Norse.

Protesting and shouting, like corona, leaves you hoarse.

Terminating slavery takes more than Wilberforce.


Never was a marriage which is why there’s no divorce.

Law stays as it was before and that’s what they enforce.

Race is still being run and there’s more trouble on the course.

Wanna kill the rider? Maybe first you shoot the horse.


Deckchairs moved on sinking ships. Tap S.O.S. in Morse. 

There’s never been a murder which wasn’t cruel and coarse.

There again, the crime’s the thing the courts’ll all endorse.

They’ll stain your streets with ketchup, the same old, same old sauce. 


to free up flights, pubs, cafes, schools, hotels, etc.


By way of persistence

They’ve whittled resistance

From our coexistence.

Upon their insistence

We’re halving the distance between us.


We’ll risk our existence.

Is this tense? It is tense.

With brittle resistance,

Upon their insistence

We’re halving the distance between us.


Stressed out by subsistence

In need of assistance

Left little resistance,

Upon their insistence

We’re halving the distance between us.




Performing live at poetry gigs,

More than forty years not smoking cigs,


Saying unsayables wholly pissed,

Fifty years being an anarchist,


Never letting bastards grind me down,

Living mostly here in my hometown,


Visiting schools and inspiring kids,

Being a grandad to Jax and Syds,


Knowing merely people made these three:

Religion, cash, nationality,


Learning my lying harmed those I love,

Truth worn since like a PPE glove,


Married to Gaynor thirty-six years,

Mine’s the luck, she’s earned the claps and cheers,


Journalism, but, just as it looks:

The poor boil gruel while the rich cook books,


I’ve achieved little, changed none of that,

Showed off as a verbal acrobat,


As for the rest, got most of it wrong,

World out of tune while I sang along.




Lights have been switched on to banish the glooms

Surfaces polished and floors swept with brooms

Factory active, machinery vrooms.


Here we all are then. Now normal resumes.

Watch us emerging from our aching rooms

Ignoring warnings which dying exhumes.


Corona’s still out there, and it assumes

Fabulous outfits, amazing costumes

In which to bury death’s new brides and grooms.


Stepping out, we start inhaling those fumes

Strolling through gardens in which covid blooms

To cinemas, churches, shops, pubs and tombs.


Weaving our futures on darkening looms

We are the fabric this virus consumes

The warp and weft of its business which booms.


We buy the clothing. The virus mushrooms.

Outfits for coffins, pandemic presumes.

Such putrid aromas! We purchase perfumes.



Left luckless through lockdown with no cloverleaf,

Now here we are, washed up on this sterile reef,

Thrown jabless and jobless in its sea of grief.


To lob us lies lightly’s been their leitmotif,

The actual non-factual, beyond belief,

Since they said this virus would prove safe and brief.


It wasn’t. It isn’t. There’s been no relief.  

So many lives stolen, corona’s the thief

They’ve aided, unarrested. This is our beef.


They’re still bunched like grain-stalks in one lying sheaf,

Straws in the vain wind of their straw-headed chief,

Tongues at fresh tall-tales, today’s aperitif. 



Lonely proved tough until we found out how.

We’ve learned to love lockdown. Why end it now?

We get pissed at home. We don’t miss the pub.

We’ve microwave meals. Sod take-away grub.


Why bring back barbers? We shave our own heads.

What’s with getting up, when we’ve comfy beds?

Who needs offices? We work from our homes.

Restaurants are fit just for fat gastronomes. 


Stuff waterparks, zoos and Alton Towers. 

Cancel those daytrips.  We’ll stay at ours. 

Holidays stress us. Staycations are best.

Have barbies. Hire hot tubs. Who needs the rest?


The kids have quit learning, given up school. 

Swimming’s for fishes. What good is a pool?

Why re-join gyms when we’ve set up our own.

Wide world’s way outside our new comfort-zone. 


We’re stopping shopping jaunts. We buy on-line.

We’re selling our cars. Don’t need ‘em. We’re fine.

When milk gets delivered, why own a cow?

We love you, lockdown. Don’t quit on us now.



Yeah, you will be the death of us

The dose of crystal meth of us

That steals the very breath of us.


You’ll be the no, not yes of us

That’s not what we would guess of us

But leads to loads more less of us.


You’ll crash the cash and creche of us 

And lash us to the mesh of us

Flash-fry and flay the flesh of us. 


You’ll Manson the address of us.

Throughout this final sesh of us

You’ll cherish your mad mess of us.


You’ll relish the distress of us.

Force fetid from the fresh of us

And threnody from thresh of us.



by John Milton


I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.


I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying.


I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.



by Nick Toczek


We must go down the seafront again, to the crowded beach and we’ll lie,

And we’ll all bask with a death wish and folly to steer us by,

And to feel sick and the cough’s song and the quite pale shaking, 

And a great risk to the whole race, and the next wave breaking.


We must go down to that beach again, though the call for such suicide

Is a rash call and a massed call with common sense defied;

But we’ll all bask on a sunny day with virus clouds flying,

And the young prey, and the grown doomed, and the wardfuls dying.  


We must go down with disease again, and a flagrant loss of life,

While the ghouls sway, and the wraiths sway where the plague’s like sweated strife;

And all we ask is a miracle from Allah or Jehovah,

Or a quiet step to sweet death when the covid’s over.

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