IF

If you can keep your job when all about you
Are losing theirs, though worthier than you;
Look after yourself when others need you,
Care not that they have problems too;
If you can arse-crawl and not be tired by crawling,
Or, being lied about, go one up in lies,
Or, being trusted, don't give way to trusting,
Yet always seem so good and kind and wise;

If you can fulfil your norms by filling forms;
Climb – and make the climb your aim;
If you can meet with honour and integrity,
And treat those two impostors with disdain;
If you can follow trend and fashion,
Leaving essentials to other fools,
Work with guile and not with passion,
Using other men as tools;

If you can make the honours list,
While better men fade obscure,
And spend your time with politicians,
Walk not with those whose influence is unsure;
If every bureaucrat can trust you
To accommodate his every whim,
And so be sure he’ll thrust you
Into prominence, available to him;

If you can tread on those below you,
While grovelling to those above;
If you can deceive those who know you;
While masking thought, proclaiming love;
If you never rest a minute
For laughter, companionship and fun,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And – which is more – you'll be a prat, my son!

 

 

© John Brignell, 2000

 

 

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