Book Review. Safety in Numbers by Roger McGough.


Mona Lisa smiled when Leonardo said, ‘ok, you can go to the toilet now.’

There is a very recognizable landscape in Roger McGough’s poetry collection, Safety in Numbers, as it begins with poem Some Questions Regarding the New Bicycle and its line, 2020 comes careering down the lane,’ and he goes on to write about holidays that won’t be taken, and queues – though not always the ordinary sort. In poem Adultery in Isolation, he writes from the perspective of how can an affair continue in a world where we now have to observe a two metre distance rule.

There too are poems about writing, one that ponders the difficulties of promoting a new book during a Pandemic. Poems like The Good Ship Attenborough have an environmental message (sshh … listen, what do we hear? Antarctic … toc … tic … toc … tic … toc … tic … tic … tic) and Voice Over is a poem about the endless gambling ads and their voice overs, with a twist on the familiar, and what I think is a bogus, slogan ‘and remember, when the fun stops … we don’t.’

There is Roger McGough’s usual wit in these poems and while I don’t think Safety in Numbers is my favourite collection of his, because it does feel like a mixed bag, with no overarching theme, there’s a lot of entertainment that can be found in reading these poems.

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