Monday, December 04, 2023

Poetic Evidence for the COVID Inquiry from British Standards (temporary post, with videos)


December 2023 Update:

Bo (Boris Johnson) appeared at the Covid Inquiry, and waffled and confirmed that he remembered that he couldn't remember anything. I watched it, in the knowledge that my friend was there watching it in person. I felt that some of the poems I was writing at the time of Covid in British Standards – they carry dates – might be offered as contemporary evidence, like Chris Whitty’s un-witty diaries. This group of poems, that transpose some of the 1802-3 sonnets of Wordsworth (though I added one using Shelley), and (as I’ve said here before) they chart how the hubris of brexit (which I now choose to spell with a lower case b) collided with the mismanagement of Covid. A few had accompanying videos, only the Shelley differing from the printed text. A bit.  

I left them here till 'the end of the year', and today will do nicely as cut off date. (More details on British Standards may be accessed at the end of this post.) They are now deleted, like Number Ten whatsapp messages, though I've kept the videos here. So here's the remains: at the end I'll say some more about what evidence I shall continue to poetically gather, if Bo is ever returned to office. 

From Poems of National Independence


                        liberties with Wordsworth: from British Standards



Toussaint, the most unhappy man of men!


Flat-Battery Bo, rusticated man’s man!' the poem begins!

O Friend! I know not which way I must look


13th March 2020



One might believe that natural miseries


England! The time is come when thou shouldst wean


Mine begins: 'Britain, the time is now to wean yourself from

hoarding fancy food or panic buying bog rolls.'...

Vanguard of Liberty, ye men of Kent


'Vanloads of libertines, playboys of Kent,' my transposition begins!


 And, as promised, a Shelley transformation: 

Political Greatness: an overdub of Shelley


25th May 2020 (all the dates are important to placing poems against 'evidence', as more 'evidence'). 


British Standards is the still-unpublished third part of my ‘English Strain’ project. There are loads of posts on this blog about the process of writing them. ‘The English Strain’ is in three books, two of them published so far, The English Strain (Shearsman, 2021) and Bad Idea (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2021; see above). I talk about thinking I’d finished the project (I had a few more poems to add, in fact, as I shall point out:

There are lots of links to the other parts of the project. I was ‘doing’ Wordsworth (some might say ‘doing Wordsworth in’!) in this first part of the British Standards of the ‘English Strain’ project. (I’ve written about that a lot on this blog, but here’s a handful of links specific to the 14 sonnets from 1803 by Wordsworth that got the Sheppard treatment, some of them with videos of the poems, as above):

Pages: Poem from 'Poems of National Independence' talking to the dead (Wordsworth) on STRIDE today (

Pages: Robert Sheppard: Two transpositions of Wordsworth from British Standards published on International Times

Pages: ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote my final transposition of a sonnet by Wordsworth (

Pages: Robert Sheppard: my recent 'Wordsworth' transposition is published by New Boots and Pantiscracies

Pages: Real beginning of new series of 'liberties' taken with Wordsworth's sonnets (temporary post of The English Strain' series) (

 If Bo is ever returned to office I have this plan afoot: Pages: The Horrible Thought that Bo mioght be back: only The Bard could save me now! ( Actually, I've had a few more thoughts. On Boxing Day 2023 I read ALL of Shakespeare's Sonnets which, as that last post will tell you, I've have hidden away for possible use on the return of Bo (the post has some other crossovers between Bo and the Bard). But I think now that The Passionate Pilgrim might be the more appropriate vessel to transpose, for the following reasons: it was a pirate edition with Shakespeare's name on the cover. It does contain some of his works and versions of his works, even 2 sonnets from the later 1609 volume, BUT it has a lot of stuff clearly not by the Bard. Somehow this FAKE volume, padded out with printers' illustrations and blank pages, extra title pages, is somehow comparable to Bo's disposition towards, not just Shakespeare, BUT EVERYTHING. I wouldn't mind betting that if he ever did write that book about Shakespeare, one of his 'revelations' or 'discoveries' will be that he did indeed write all the poems in the book (20 of them).