Survival Tips for A Post Truth World


art of my role as resident poet has involved observing rehearsals for Fair Field, which kicked off this Monday. I heard Tom Chivers’ and Annette Brook’s scripts for Fair Field read by the actors for the first time, and saw this exciting project take shape.

Both scripts use satirical humour, which I found comforting in light of the troubling similarities that the plays draw between Piers Plowman’s world of corruption and the world today. After all, even when times are hard, we have to laugh otherwise there’s no point in surviving.

As I was listening to the actors read, the moral message of this poem became clear to me, which to put it simply, is to love more and hate less. As it is written in the text:

“If you are interested in Do-Well, make sure you love faithfully, for Do-Better and Do-Best have both studied under love.”

The state of crisis within Piers Plowman is all too familiar in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks. Langland’s world was ridden with the devastating effects of the plague, a world deprived of a moral conscience, a world where the poor suffer and the rich prosper, with a collective fear of the apocalypse. Sound familiar? There has been a similar breakdown of morals in wake of the unspeakable horrors of terrorism and war striking our world today.

So what is to be done? Well, I don’t have the answer to the world’s problems but here are twenty one survival tips that will hopefully make you feel a bit calmer.

1. Don’t pay any attention to the news.

2. Take a long walk, the kind of walk heartbroken film stars take in rom-coms.

3. Smile at a stranger.

4. In between sips of beer, wine, vodka, gin, whiskey, ale, and/or cider, consider going for a run in the morning. But if you’re too tired, sink into a warm duvet and make a cup of tea; you are not obliged to be healthy.

5. Drink a lot less coffee.

6. Find the only pub still serving, order a large glass of your favourite beverage and speak to the man who sits at the bar every evening with only his phone for company. Ask him what he had for breakfast, find out if he has any pets, understand the flower bed he lusts after; say his name.

7. Take a trip on a boat, any boat, but preferably a nice boat with impressive anchoring.

8. Throw your teeth-grinding-inability to sleep overboard.

9. Ring a friend; ask them how they are feeling.

10. Get a haircut.

11. Learn a craft. Knitting, gardening, welding and woodwork are all good crafts. If unsure about which craft you want to learn, try writing some words in a notebook without worrying about the value or quality.

12. Don’t forget to breathe.

13. Alcohol is a wonderful way of forgetting but a terrible way to be found.

14. Hold hands with someone on a crowded platform.

15. Stroke a cat, or a dog.

16. Find an amusingly shaped cloud. Don’t take a photo just try to smile a little.

17. Tap the woman with no shoes on the shoulder. Ask her if she would like to join you, and speak about the last time she fell asleep smiling.

18. Take up dancing on the weekends.

19. Give someone your seat.

20. Remember to … what’s that word again?

21. Love.


Sophie Fenella is Poet in Residence for Fair Field in a collaboration between Penned in the Margins and The Poetry School. Follow @sophiefenella on Twitter for Piers Plowman-related micro-poems.