Like characters on a stage
No producers here; the cast
Of thousands, self-selected, whittled down
To those with energy and drive.
Scene shifters, lighting and stage crew
Keep this show on the road.
Masking grease paint conceals the hurt.
Already numbed by disease
Each waits to speak their lines.
No first night nerves as they plead
For help to make their lives bearable.
Contamination tortures their minds
As well as their bodies.
Dave calls for justice,
Through letters, emails, talks;
Peter challenges through court;
If his legal aid stops, his case
May be dismissed; already cloaked
In anger, they fight on.
Paul’s health brings him close to death,
His chance of life a liver transplant.
Fred waits with him, friendly, supportive,
Although a fellow sufferer, he drives Paul
Ninety miles to hospital.
Life must go on.
Widowed Maureen mourns
Her husband’s tragic death,
Remortgages the house for income.
Ros, fatigued and aching from her
Waits to find active life again.
Simon speaks of stigma
Suffered by his family.
Cheerfully he continues, with David,
To follow up, research any avenue
Which may open, shed new light
On this complicated drama.
Their performance fall on deaf ears;
The ever-changing bureaucratic audience
In the best paid seats, listen
Fall asleep, bored by this tangled plot
Of anger and emotion,
Difficulty and hardship.
The players in turn re-think, rehearse,
Soliloquies become entreaties:-
“Won’t someone listen, please?
We may be amateurs but
Is our performance not worthy?
Does no-one understand?”
Mouse-Trap like, this show runs and runs.
Never a best seller, the dedicated actors
Replace those dying, as the years
Roll by in agony.
Within a waiting audience a few
Applaud their efforts.
The somnolent bureaucrats slowly wake,
Not altogether ignorant of the facts;
The players wait to hear reaction,
Hoping for a final performance
Of the wrong that can never be righted.
This injustice must be recognised.
And I, like the prompt, sit in the wings
Night after night
Listening to every word,
Waiting expectantly for the final curtain,
The thunderous applause of justice
In recognition of this long running show.
Juliet Batten July 2010
Some names have been changed, some are who they are…