Soap, Lemons, Paracetamol

by Panacea (Rhidian Brook & paulfcook)

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Panacea is a collaboration between writer Rhidian Brook and musician paulfcook. During the COVID-19 lockdown Paul approached Rhidian with the idea of working together and through happenstance it coincided with Rhidian writing the poem ‘Soap, Lemons, Paracetamol’ for the ‘How We Live Now’ series for Felicity Bryan’s Literary Agency (and then subsequently broadcast on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day). Rhidian and Paul discussed musical influences and what they thought would work with the poem. Paul created a number of tracks to choose from and they both ultimately settled on this arrangement.

All profits from ‘Soap, Lemons, Paracetamol’ will be split equally between two charities: Kids Cancer Charity, Wales & Save Our Venues, National Campaign

You can find out more about Rhidian via and paulfcook via



Wake up, breathe, thank your God for breath.
Clean your teeth (is that a cough?).
Gargle with salt. Take your tea extra hot.
Keep fear at bay, and write a list.
Take back control
With soap, lemons, paracetamol.

Check the news but keep it short,
Radio for facts, the birds for true report.
What next? Oh yes. Exercise.
Stand up straight, fill your sacs.
Your stocks are low, get on your knees
And pray, facing Sainsbury’s.
Butter. Apples. Chocolate. Cheese.

Nearly noon and so little done,
Feel inessential, feeling numb.
How stuck indoors, our deeds of love.
Ambition grounded, hopes on hold.
Do your taxes, paint the shed.
Don’t think about what all this means,
Keep death at bay with games and memes.
Ignore the pressure to achieve,
Stare out the window, see that leaf
Watch it blow across the yard.
Syrup. Wine. Sugar. Lard.

Great events are best left
Unexplained when in the fire.
It needs distance to see
The Truth, cooling with time.
Two metres? Make it two years.
Leave snap judgements to the tweets of sages
And Job’s friends. Be still.
Know we’re not God.
From dust we’re made, from dust we’re raised.
Bread. Flour. Marmalade.

Late afternoon, The toll comes in
Want to hear the score again?
Worse than China, worse than Spain.
Please. Stop playing this awful game.
Some say it’s war, but that’s unfair to us and them,
When what we fight has no face, no shame,
It’s just data doing its thing.
Dad, what did you do during the plague?
I stayed indoors, got little done
And watched the wind blow through leaves and lives.
Milk. Pepper. Salad. Limes.

Fail to focus. Want to cry.
Feel low, feel late.
Please stop saying this is great
When weeks ago the talk was mean.
Now in the night the sirens scream
And the virus sneaks into our dreams.
It’s hot. Is that the fever?
Open the latch, lift the lever.
Offer thanks and praise
To the ones who’ve no time to reminisce.
Or self-improve, or say good bye.
A crash course in metaphysics for them.
Dusted in days. They’re done too soon,
Their last question sighs: why?
Wheat. Barley. Corn. Rye.

So order your affairs and complete that list.
Wash your hands and call your mum,
That neighbour, friend, your son.
Tell them what you always knew:
This life’s a gift, that Love is real,
Its touch is true, it is thing that gets us through
This moment; it will pass.
So take deep breaths and fill your soul.
The Spirit’s willing, you make that call.
Soap. Lemons. Paracetamol.


released May 30, 2020
Words by Rhidian Brook / Music by paulfcook


all rights reserved



paulfcook London, UK

paulfcook writes, produces and remixes using acoustic and electronic instruments as well as field recordings. He is also also one half of the duo Fenco.

He has been featured on Tom Robinson's 6Music show and the Mixtape, Elizabeth Alker's BBC Radio 3 show Unclassified, as well as Exile FM's Monday Night Ride Out & Trust The Doc radio shows.

Paul writes about music for the website.
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