Emory stands in a clearing surrounded by an ominous opaque white cloud. There is nothing to see between him and it. He looks behind him and it’s an identical view. He stands very still, frightened to move. Looking down he’s standing on the cloud. He stamps his foot; it’s solid. Looking left and right he finds it impossible to tell distance. He shivers in the oppressive, endless whiteness.

Concentrating hard, Emory stares at the dense white cloud. It bursts apart and a small plump blonde puppy runs towards him and jumps into his open arms. The dog licks Emory’s face, as Emory tries to evade the dog’s huge rough pink tongue.

Within moments the puppy is full-grown and the size of a pony. Emory struggles to hold such an enormous creature in his arms but somehow manages to set it down. Seeing its disorderly blonde furry head he says, I seem to know you.

You should, you’re my cabinet secretary.

Why are you a dog? 

I can be anything I like. Shall we find pastures new, green hills, pretty gals, foaming pints, and all that? No need to be afraid. I’m loveable and mischievous so hold on tight. Hop up. Emory climbs onto the dog’s back. Teneat aures meas, the dog barks.

The cloud parts and they enter a broad-leaf wood where sunlight flickers through the canopy, warming the path on which they walk. This better? the dog barks.

Yes, Emory, replies. Can I get down?

No, I’m taking you for a ride. 

I want to get off.

Not yet, old son.

They canter into a sunlit clearing strewn with dead bodies.

What’s this you’ve brought me to? Emory asks. It’s horrific.

It’s unfortunate, I agree. It could have been worse though; these are mostly old folks and already past it. Bad advice.

Whose bad advice?

The dog leaps forward, its huge paws trampling and scattering the bodies as it gallops out of the clearing.

Stop! Emory shouts. I want to step down. Now!

The dog disappears. 

Emory is back inside the dense white cloud. It’s hard to breathe. Men and women push ventilators. Hancock polishes an enormous NHS badge. Hundreds carry coffins. I’m sorry, Emory shouts. Children silently weep carrying begging bowls. Williamson wanders past whispering to a tarantula. Emory shouts, I’m not to blame. Shapps shouts, Toot toot. Suddenly a choir sings, All things bright and beautiful. Jenrick scatters fifty-pound notes. Sirens scream. Gove sits on a toadstool stroking a self-portrait endlessly crooning, my Precious. A chant goes up – Black Lives Matter. Cops watch white thugs hurl rocks at peaceful protestors. Another chant starts, Grenfell! Grenfell! Stop it! Stop it! Emory shouts. Patel screams incomprehensible abuse at a woman carrying a Remember Windrush placard. Cummings, laughing, intones, Out of chaos comes a new disorder. Emory shouts, I want to step down.

Emory awakens as a hand shakes his shoulder and a kindly voice says, You were shouting in your sleep, Sir Emory. The PM and cabinet are waiting. 

I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
To do this you can either:

And remember, you can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door”
here >>>More

© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

The Plague

It’s 2020 and Covid-19 is in full spate. The UK is under lockdown. Government policy is to prevent the spread of the disease, reduce the death rate and preserve the NHS. It’s a shambles.

Chris and Jack are in their early seventies.
Chris answers his phone. Hello. Who’s that?
I’m Jack. I was asked to give you a call. I’m an NHS volunteer.
I don’t do cold calls. Who asked you to call?
Your GP. She said you had a problem.
What’s her name? Chris asks.
Doctor Summer.
That’s her.
What’s the problem? Jack asks.
I’ve got the plague. 
Okay …. And you’re self-isolating because of that?
That’s it.
Why are you calling it the plague?
That’s what it is.
Why plague?
It’s killing people all over the world – it’s a paramedic.
You mean pandemic.
That’s it, a pandemic – plague. 
Coronavirus? Jack asks.
One Christmas, I was fourteen, I sold Corona pop from a lorry; the bottles were in wooden crates. I loved it, and now it’s a fucking plague.
It’s not a plague. They stopped in the middle ages.
What about tombola?
Jack stifles a laugh. Ebola?
That’s the fella; if that wasn’t a plague what was it?
A viral disease. Are you ill?
Of course I’m ill. 
I was told you needed help  – come on, what help do you need?
You sound, irritated, stressed. What’s up? Chris asks.
What is it?
She died. I’m only doing this to talk, Jack sobs.
Don’t do that. You’ll have me at it in a minute … you’re alone?
Stifling his sobs, Jack replies, Yes. No, I have her moggies.
Do they talk to you? 
They purr back.
What are their names?
Sonny and Cher.
Chris sings, ‘cause you got me, And baby I got you. Babe, I got you babe. 
Stop! Please. Why are you singing?
Because you’re lonely, just like me.
I’m okay now, Jack says. Sorry. What help do you need?
I’m afraid.
Tell me why?
I don’t want to die on my own.
How do you know you’re dying?
I’ve been told. Chris sings, Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Oh, I believe in yesterday. 
Can’t go back, though, can we?
Why were you crying? Chris asks.
I loved her.
I’m sorry, mate.
No, no, no … Why do you call it the plague?
I liked selling Corona, I don’t want a bloody virus killing my memory. 
Yeah, I get that. You sing.
I’m crap.
Want to try a duet?
Yeah, why not? What shall we sing?
Sweet, sweet the memories …
Perfect. You start I’ll follow.

They sing. Take one fresh and tender kiss, Add one stolen night of bliss, One girl; One boy; some grief; some joy; Memories are made of this.

They are lost in laughter.

Sing again tomorrow? Same time, same place? Chris asks.
You betcha – you choose tomorrow.
I’m glad you called, Jack.
Me too. Jack laughs. Fuck the plague!

They sing. Sweet, sweet, the memories …

I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
You can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door” here >>>More

© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

No longer shielded from Covid 19

I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer on January 25th this year and have been self-isolating since the start of the pandemic. 

I had one session of chemotherapy before we halted that treatment because of the risk of having a wrecked immune system in the face of Covid19.

Since then I’ve been having oral treatment organised through the excellent Nottingham University City Hospital’s Oncology Department.

Last Friday May 29th I received two letters: one from my GP’s surgery and one from the hospital. They both said the same thing. I was now being defined as in need of shielding and accompanied with a full list of instructions and a link to the web site.

It is now Monday June 1st and I’m no longer ‘shielded’. 

I’m very happy not to be so classified. 


This trivial bureaucratic idiocy is emblematic of the total incompetence and mendaciousness of this terrible government led by Dominic Cummings and his deputy, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

I am desperate to be ‘shielded’ from the both of them and their government.

© Phil Cosker 01.06.2020

A lucky escape – a true story

An article by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper (Tuesday 26th May 2020) shocked me. To be more accurate the photograph on the cover of ‘The Long Read’ shocked me. It’s of a man, Paul Alexander, who “When he was six contracted polio and was paralysed for life. He is now 74, and one of the few people in the world still using an iron lung.”

I will be 74 in October and I also contracted Poliomyelitis in 1952 when, just like Paul, I was also 6. When I saw the photograph and read the headline I thought, Jesus, that could easily be me. Surprisingly, for the very first time I completely understood how terrified my, long dead, parents must have been. My legs were paralysed but I recovered their use. I suddenly remembered Mum and Dad talking abut me ending up in an iron lung and I had no idea what they were talking about. I suspect I was imagining something a knight on horseback wore to battle. 

Strangely, when I was fully recovered we never ever talked about my polio – I wish we had.

This fine article is not only about Paul but the polio pandemic that happened in the USA in 1952 locating him in the midst of our current Covid19 pandemic. But it isn’t that comparison that got to me but the fact that I had such a lucky escape. I’m not in good health; I’m being treated for advanced prostate cancer. And though this is far from good it’s such a long way from being in an iron lung for the last 68 years. 

Lucky isn’t the word for it!

There is a link to the guardian story HERE>>>



Today I’m going to try and be more measured – fuck knows why.

Okay, hypocrisy.

The government, made of sugar (an aftermath of the slave trade) and all things nice, is supported by Tory MPs who have consistently voted to (or turned a blind eye to):

  • Privatising the NHS
  • Voted not to increase NHS nurses’ pay
  • Slashed NHS and Social Care budgets
  • Introduced Universal credit as a punishment system for the poor and oppressed
  • Increase the spending on Mental health services and done nothing
  • Privatising the NHS
  • Promised to build 14 new hospitals (excluding the Nightingale)
  • Lauded their radical solutions of support for the aged but, done nowt Celebrated austerity

 Need I go on?

But all is well – their coronavirus plans and promises are in disarray – but nevertheless there they all were last night – including the bilious bibulous bonker bastard Boris outside number 10 – clapping his little fat piggy paws in praise of the NHS he sought to destroy – until he needed it! 

Until the government needed to cling to their privilege and let us die on their behalf.

In the First World War soldiers going into battle weren’t properly armed. In this ‘war’ the NHS isn’t either. Why not?  It couldn’t be because soldiers and nurses are predominantly working class and therefore expendable? Just as the old and infirm have been seen by Cummings and his preening poodle, shag-a-lot, Johnson, as natural waste. Or are these Tory c…ts  just totally fucking useless? 

Answers on an email please.

But they say ‘We love the NHS’.

Would I be correct in thinking that what they mean is – Fuck, we’re in the shit, and the only way out of not losing power is to come up with new bollocks about our love of the NHS?

Is this hypocrisy?

Capitalism, and in its neo-liberal iteration, is not for the benefit of all, but for the benefit, the PROFIT, of those who – currently – own the means of material and intellectual production. 

Doctors of medicine, metaphorically, sign the Hippocratic oath to care for the sick.

The lickspittles of capitalism, sign with the broken bones and the blood of all they oppress, their Capitalist oath, asserting their rights, exercising their duty, to exploit all in pursuit of profit and extol their virtues via the Daily Mail with the goodness of their hearts. 

Money, money, money, that’s what they adore.

And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I have learnt that my rants become loquacious.

So, let me be focussed.


Until we call them out. Tell them they lie. Until we take responsibility, then we have nothing to blame but ourselves as we complain of our chains. 

We have moved beyond what Lenin said – arm the proletariat, not because it needs to defeat the ruling class but because it needs to defeat itself. 

We need to defeat our own cynicism. 

To do this we must abhor hypocrisy.

Make the world anew. Now is the time. The last time?

Unless we act we are the problem.

No ecocide. 

For the new better abnormal normal.

© Phil Cosker 03.04.2020