Imagine That

Grenfell Tower

Image from BBC

Imagine yourself on the phone to your sister
who knows she is going to die.

Imagine your neighbour and your neighbour’s children
pressed against their window hoping against hope.

Picture your father fighting to breathe
as the smoke that fills his lungs half blinds him.

Imagine the mother who must choose for her infant
between certain and probable death.

Now picture the scene as the businessmen gather.
Imagine what they said to each other.

Imagine their smooth, untroubled faces.
Picture their pink and white manicured hands.

Imagine for a moment they knew what they were doing.
Imagine that it adds up to murder.

Picture how the truth might look.
I wonder if you can.

Politics vs. Literature

(with apologies to Mr Orwell)

Let’s keep politics out of this.
It’s only entertainment, after all.

There are many Truths and Beauty, as you know,
is always in the eye of the beholder.

As for narratives, be they ever so grand,
they really are so very last year.

Let us, as professionals, polish our skills;
let us make a whetstone of perfection.

Poets, though, do it mostly for love,
there being piss poor profit in verse.

So when is a poem not a poem at all?
When it’s song that breaks the rules.

And when does the song-bird forget to sing
if not when she’s hobbled and tied?

The smart set would strive for anonymity now
but how will they know when they arrive there?

Perhaps, after all, we have waited too long
to find we all have a story to sell.

Orwell’s essay here

The Chorus Speaks

tragedy-mask-wearable

The Chorus Speaks

Nothing worth having comes easy;
competition’s the spur to success;
it’s all about effort and purpose and will –
and the need to save more and spend less.
But some of us now have grown lazy and soft
and the truth is they don’t want a job.
We’ve created a culture where welfare’s the way
to sit back and relax and live high off the hog.

So it’s three rousing cheers for the great and the good,
and the ‘strivers’ who toil nine to five;
to the idle, though, go a curse and a blow:
why should those who graft support those who skive?
The case, after all, is transparent;
it’s logic can’t fail to impress:
if it wasn’t for them and their scrounging,
we wouldn’t be in this mess.
And it makes my blood boil, if I’m honest.
You see it emblazoned all over the press:
the work-shy and shiftless who won’t pull their weight:
well, aren’t they a drain on the rest?
If it wasn’t for them we’d be laughing,
There’d be jam every day of the week.
We have to work so why shouldn’t they? I say:
Let’s CRACK DOWN on the benefit cheats.
It’s high time they got up off their arses:
all this something for nothing won’t wash.
The country needs strivers, not skivers
who live on their wits – and our dosh.

That said – and it’s hard to admit this –
it’s troubled me lately to see
how the bankers get bail-outs and beanos
and the rest of us – AUSTERITY –
and we’re told that we’re in this together;
but it doesn’t seem like that to me.

It’s cuts in this, and taxes on that;
and the old and the dying are told they must ‘strive’
while the young and the hale and the hearty
have no other choice but to ‘skive’.
They are jobless and hopeless, and full of despair,
and we offer them not much they need.
Is it possible we are mere pawns in a game
dictated and mastered by corporate greed?
And might it not be that we’re all being conned
into thinking that ‘they’ are to blame:
the shiftless, the work-shy, the chronically sick,
the old and the weak, the mad and the lame?

And the men in grey suits, what’s in it for them?
They say that the cost of compassion’s too great
but is it the logic of profit that drives
this shameful undoing of the Welfare State?
There’s no heart in a culture that grows smug and fat
on the backs of the weak and the poor;
how can it be true that we can’t afford love
when, always, there’s money for war?

The Rain It Raineth Every Day: The Weather and the Objective Correlative…

As I sit here on the verge of committing to the web a post which is now many weeks overdue I am aware of two things: firstly, that the house is growing chilly, a fact which prompts me to consider whether I should switch on my very comfortable but also very expensive central heating; and, secondly, that it raining again at the close of a grey and dismal day. How perfectly, I am thinking, how very exactly these two circumstances fall in with my mood. ‘Autumnal’ hardly covers it: I am dancing with the shades.

Why am I so melancholy?  I am not sure. I think there may be several reasons.  Undoubtedly, some of them, are rooted in a kind of social and political malaise.  As much I try to maintain some optimism, I must confess that it depresses me unspeakably if I allow myself to dwell for very long on ‘the way things are going’, which, even on a good day, seems to me to be covered by the single word ‘backwards’.

We have  a government which, despite its bumbling. hoo-ha-Henry incompetence, is more right-wing and even more ruthless than soon-to-be canonized Lady Margaret Thatcher’s. It seems to me, in fact, that.not content with undoing the progress towards social justice and equality that was made in the aftermath of the 1939 – 1945 war, the Con-Dem pact is also hell-bent on transporting the working classes back to the poverty and impotence of the early nineteenth century.

No, honestly, I’m not exaggerating.  Surely, you must have noticed. Daily, I expect to switch on my iPad to find there’s been a new Poor Law Amendment Act or that. overnight, some bloke called Sidmouth has taken over the leadership. That nice David Cameron has done his work, you see; first he lulled the masses into a false sense of security, then he filled us all full of fear and set us up to blame each other.  It’s our fault, of course it is: we’re greedy, shiftless and work-shy; we want something for nothing; we don’t know we’re born.  No, hang on a minute: it’s not us exactly; its them low-down, lying benefit cheats, and those idle, the-whole-word-owes-us-a-living cancer and heart patient, not to mention the mentally ill. Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s just a bloody scam. Depression, well, it’s not real, is it? And neither is schizophrenia; and, as for alcoholism, well, it’s just beyond the pale. Some people, you see, show no respect for society; at bottom, they just lack integrity.  It’s a good job. isn’t it, that we’ve got men like Andrew Mitchell to show us the way things should be done.

‘Is that it?’ you may be asking.  Well. actually, no it isn’t.  There are other things, things closer to home that I could get off my chest if I chose.  My glamorous Auntie Audrey, aka Jackie Joy, who used to sing and dance at the Windmill Theatre and, in the war years, worked alongside Bruce Forsyth, Tommie Trinder and Mike and Bernie Winters, is currently in hospital and is very poorly indeed,   If she does not rally, and we have been warned that she might not, it will be another in a long line of bereavements.  I have lost so many of the people I love.  I am dancing with death.

What else is upsetting me?  Well, earlier today, walking in Fore Street in Camborne, I faced a young woman who was coming the other way.  Not a girl, you understand, not even a teenager, but a woman in, perhaps, her early thirties: the pavement was busy with shoppers; there wasn’t a great deal of room.  As I drew close to this woman, however, we did that thing the people do sometimes when they try to avoid each other but both go in the same direction. I looked at her, a little embarrassed, as one is; I gave her an awkward little smile. She, for her part, curled her lip in a snarl and pushed past me some considerable force.

‘I’m not walking in the fucking road,’ she said.

It feels like I am dancing with death.