Saturday, 22 October 2011


06:27:00 Posted by Ashley Lister 14 comments

By Ashley Lister

In the early 1980s John Betjeman was the UK’s poet laureate. (He was actually poet laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984). I mention this because I was thinking about Betjeman when I wrote the poem below – and referencing the latter third of Betjeman’s laureateship is the closest tie I can get to making this blog post relevant to an 80s theme.

The poem is called McAfee. McAfee provide antivirus software and facilities such as site-advisor. The site-advisor software is currently labelling the pages of this blog (The Dead Good Blog) with a black question mark. And, whilst I’ve approached the help desk about this several times over the past week, it’s frustrating to admit that they haven’t satisfactorily resolved the issue.

So, channelling the late Sir John Betjeman, I’ve written this:


Suggesting site safety sits sloth-like McAfee

Labelling links as being red black or green

Daily dictating the pages we follow

Ensuring our hard drives are perfectly clean.

A red cross suggests that there’s something amiss:

A virus or Trojan or worm’s been detected.

There’s some dire menace that’s threatening your laptop

McAfee’s advice helps avoid being infected.

A green tick confirms that McAfee approves of

The website, its contents, and all that’s thereon.

Examples include pornohub, and tea-bagging

And others like the

But then there’s black question marks: a curious label.

Black like the black spot. Black like the black plague.

These are the pages McAfee haven’t looked at

This is McAfee being maddeningly vague.

A black question mark means McAfee know nothing.

A black question mark shows their plain puzzlement

A black question mark shows McAfee believe that

Each website is guilty ‘til proved innocent.

The help desk says updates could take at least eight weeks

The help desk says that it’s the system to blame

The help desk advise me to wait and be patient

The help desk have probably been given the wrong name.

Please pull your finger out, meandering McAfee

Give our blog your green tick and please don’t take ages.

Remove that black question mark. We’re poets not suspects.

Please let all new visitors feel safe on these pages.

Ashley Lister



Lara Clayton said...

Brilliant Ash!
A perfect way of venting your frustration. Let's hope that they resolve your complaints, and remove the the black question mark.

Ashley R Lister said...

Thanks Lara. I've sent them a link to the poem, should they want to read it :-)


Christopher James Heyworth said...

Thanks for posting the Betjeman statue (there's another brilliant one of Larkin by the same sculptor at Hull Railway Station), and let's hope MacAfee pull their finger out.
If you continue with your 80s theme, I'd like a go at it, please, as getting to your readings can be hard for me.

vicky ellis said...

That'll learn 'em :) Systems are supposed to work for us but we end up working for the system. Stoopid.

I think that's the first poem I've read on the subject of anti virus software and thinking about it now, that seems hard to believe.

Nice one Ash :)

Lindsay said...

Most tenuous link to the theme so far I'd have to say. I like your style, if someone or something annoys you, you batter them with poetry. I'm staying out of your bad books.

Ashley R Lister said...


I think we shall have to call on your services for a future blog. I'm not sure if we'll be revisiting the 80s. I do know this week has made me feel old for remembering the decade.

And I'll keep everyone updated as to how I get on with McAfee. I did send them a copy of the poem this morning.


Ashley R Lister said...


I suppose the market for anti-virus/software poetry is fairly limited, hence the reason why it's not all over the place.

That said, I can't recall seeing any either. Therefore I'm a genuine innovator (if you ignore my stealing Betjeman's structure and recycling some old gags for the poem etc.)


Ashley R Lister said...


How do I earn the prize for the most tenuous link to the theme, when we've had Lara's cat and Ste's 'Wot-No' cartoon?

And yes. I'm currently writing a few poems about people who really piss me off. I find it to be quite a calming exercise.

Jo said...

Wonderful rhyming!

Ashley R Lister said...

Thanks Jo.



Laurie Clayton said...

Nicely stated, Ashley. And rhyming, too. I kind of like that in a poem.

I see you have a pal called Laura Clayton.

I hope you know who is writing what comment, when it comes to Laura Clayton and me . . .

Ashley R Lister said...


Glad you liked the poem. I was quite chuffed with that one.

And I did notice the similarity between your name and Lara's. Considering I'm so easily confused it's bound to cause a problem at some point in the future.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever looked at the Hitlerpages you mention in your poem? It's not strange that this site is ok. I'm not a nazi and I'm very much offended that you add my site to a list of porn.

Good poets know what they are talking about.


the Hitlerpages (a non-political site about history)

Ashley R Lister said...


Thanks for your comments. In answer to your question: no I've never looked at the In answer to your insult - I'm not really a good poet. I'm pretty shit. But I don't see how that's relevant.

You're not actually linked with pornographic websites. I don't believe there is a site called porn-O-hub. I think the legitimate pornographic website is called pornhub - without that central 'o'. I used the term porn-O-hub because it worked for scansion with that extra syllable.

And, if I'm correct is about the beverage made from tea, contained within thin, perforated bags.

Again, thank you for your comments and for the insult. Perhaps, rather than start a pointless flame war, you and I should just agree to disagree?

Best wishes,

Ashley Lister (apparently - a poet who doesn't know what he's talking about).