David Lewis Paget
The High Command - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The Chief of the General Staff awoke
To the ring of the telephone,
He’d tried to snatch a couple of hours
At his Hunting Lodge, in Scone,
But the red phone was insistent, it
Would ring ‘til he picked it up,
‘For God’s sake Carter, what’s it now? ’
The answer was abrupt.
‘The Early Warning’s gone to red,
They need you down at Staff!
Hang on, I’m going to patch you through
We’re not sure if it’s naff.
It didn’t go through to orange as
It usually does at first,
But we can’t afford to take a chance…’
The General’s lips were pursed.
‘Scramble the FA-18’s
Are the carriers out, d’you know? ’
‘There’s two in the Med and one caught dead
In the dock at Scapa Flow!
The Seventh Army’s at Aldershot
And the Fifth’s in the Middle East.’
‘Well, whether the troops are out or not
It’s Martial Law, at least.’
The Action Room in the basement of
A secret place in Poole,
Had interrupted a war game with
The Army Training School.
The radar screens were alight with scenes
Beamed in from the new AWAC’s,
With missiles coming from everywhere
‘We need to be hitting back! ’
The submarines were alerted to
Prepare their missile racks,
The silo’s over in Kansas armed
And ready to attack,
Then suddenly in the Action Room
The radar screens were clear,
There wasn’t a single sign or trace
Of a missile coming near.
And down in a London Nursing Home
They were leading him away,
A nice old fellow with Parkinson’s
With a half-full breakfast tray,
They snapped the lid of his laptop
Told him, ‘George, you’re going to be canned! ’
He said, ‘I just got the hang of it,
That game called ‘The High Command! ’’
26 October 2013
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