Bureaucrats
by Robert Nisbet



This wasn’t so very long after the war.
A decade maybe. In our lane, the boys’ fathers,
many of them, were in ministries, the tax office,
the Pensions, clerking for seven quid a week.

They played bowls, followed the local football
(Blues & Robins), gave us advice (which we ignored)
on leg spin, wolf-whistled Doris from the dairy,
built sheds, grew veg, talked sometimes of the war.

Later, and even then, we saw deep loyalties,
Jim Sadler’s father caring for those many years
for a declining wife (we said she’d lost her marbles).
There were kindnesses on birthdays and in crises.

And I’ve lately learned from a cousin’s reminiscence
of how Bryn’s father, working in Pensions, went round
for months, each Sunday, to help my cousin’s mother
with a grief, her confusion and the grey-green forms.

A man with wispy hair, his eyes protuberant
and watery, he looked the archetypal faceless b.







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