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Lay for the Day
18th June

1583: the first life insurance policy is taken out, covering the life of one William Gibbons, a ship’s captain of London, for 12 months. The premium was £383 6s 8d. According to one source, although he died within a year, the insurers argued that the period of the policy was 12 months of four weeks, and refused to pay out, setting something of a historical trend for the insurance industry.
Today is also the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo in 1815. Altogether 48,000 men – British, French, German, Dutch and Belgian – were killed or wounded on the day.

M.I.A. (Meanwhile I’m Alive)

Blood on the carpet and blood on the sofa,
A long black hack with a top-hatted chauffeur,
It’s little things like this
Tell you that it’s over.
Meanwhile I’m alive, meanwhile I’m alive…

Drowned or hanged or immolated,
Gassed or stabbed or decapitated.
One day you’re on your feet
And the next you’re crated.
Meanwhile I’m alive, meanwhile I’m alive…

Fracture your skull when you slip on a kerbstone,
Be tied to a stake and flambeed à la St Joan,
Snakebite, sudden fright, frostbite,
Choked on a fishbone.
Meanwhile I’m alive, meanwhile I’m alive…

You could be hit by a loose power line
Or fall down the shaft of a disued mine
Or go quietly in your sleep
In the early morning sunshine.

So give us love in heart and deeds to achieve
And food and drink and air to breathe
And give us a little nudge
When it’s time to leave
And meanwhile I’m alive, meanwhile I’m alive…


The Children
from Play

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar