cover size 210 x 148 mm (A5)

Editorial	 					B. Ainley
Hearts of Stone					J. Kay
The Two Johns					F. McGee
No Ball Games Allowed				Tony Harcup
Productivity Deal					M.D. Butler
Adam & Eve & Pinch-Me				Bill Eburn
Psyche						Frank Parker
This						K. Armstrong
Floor Show					Frances Moore
Heritage						Anne Johnson
1976						M. Doyle
Simon						Marjorie Dearle
Review of VP Richardson’s Poems			Ben Ainley
Agitpoem No. 22 for BBC Careless Silence Costs Lives	Bob Dixon 
Grey Day						Jean Sutton
The Solution (translated by Rick Gwilt)			Bertolt Brecht
A State of Affairs					Fran Hazelton
Further comments on "In Defence of T.S. Eliot"		C. Hargreaves
A Slow Developer					Paul St. Vincent
Practitioner in Emancipation 				R. Friedman
Funny Weather					Ray Baker


This is the eleventh issue of "Voices" Our total output has covered more than 6150 pages, and over 250 contributions have been printed from more than a hundred writers. The flow of material coming in gets wider and more varied with each issue. Any comparison of the first and second issues with later ones will recognise what the achievement is. 

In the first editorial, I wrote apropos the title "Voices": - "We felt at this stage we had not achieved a single purpose; our writing was not yet a manifesto, or a call to action, but a series of individual utterances. Later perhaps a more unified and challenging character may emerge in future collections." That was in 1972. In the second issue, the editorial asked for notice in Union journals and the progressive press. "Is a publication like "Voices" worth keeping alive?" we asked. 

The third editorial, written by Ted Morrison, said, " "Voices" exists because its publishers, 'Manchester Unity of Arts Society" recognise that there is a need for magazines in which the literary potential of working people can flourish unhindered by traditions unrelated to their way of life, or by literary fads or fashions or commercial considerations."  

In No. 4 we addressed our readers in this way: "If you think there is room for a committed publication which thinks of writing as a weapon in the hands of the Labour and Socialist and Communist movement, help us. 

In No. 5, we wrote: "We think that the political stand of "Voices" is crystallising: we still want to make it as broad and catholic a publication as the labour movement wants and required: confident, critical, and reflecting the growing struggle for socialism. We are primarily a literary publication: the ideas, the activities, the spirit of working class activity, pugnacious, unapologetic, but committed to inspiring people, not sending them to sleep ..." 

From No. 6 onwards through the new series we have had the low-profile streamer across the front cover: "Working class poetry and prose with a socialist appeal." No.3 of the new series contained a significant sentence in its editorial:

"it ("Voices") is not a vehicle for established writers. It is a means of dialogue between writers of working class origin and/or socialist tendency and the workers and socialists to whom they address themselves." 

The editorial in No. 4 was a contribution to the discussion on Proletarian literature which made the point that within the culture of capitalism a culture of people in struggle against capitalism emerges as a part, and as an expression of The general struggle for socialism. 

It is possible now to see that "Voices" takes its place alongside "Fireweed", "Ostrich', and I am certain scores of such publications, each with their own writers, and that their role is best understood by an examination of their contents than by any explicit credo. 

Ben Ainley


The great old city of Manchester
O how you lived and grew;
Now a true Manchester story
I thought I'd tell to you.
It's only a little something
Not a right old town to-do;
I know it happened for I was there
So I ought to know it's true.

You'll find our City fathers
When old Queen Victoria died
At great expense to the city no doubt
Proclaimed their civic pride
A mass of stone was chiselled fine
Great work of hand and brain -
And on her throne she sat and stared
In sunlight and much rain.

High on a plinth of stone steps
Too hard and cold to sit on,
The Queen has decently sat and gazed -
At the panoramic vision.
No marching mobs, no religious wakes,
No police cars, brass bands, none,
Have altered her stony visage, as
World wars have come and gone.

And thus she has sat and gazed for years
Upon the passing throng,
From the galloping horses till the day
When motor cars came along.
The pigeons squawk and squeal in flight
As they flutter round her face
They know and squeal "It isn't real,"
As she stares through endless space.

One fine workday went passing by
In Nineteen Thirty Nine
Off to the Labour Exchange to sign
On the dole's dotted line
Quick from the passing crowd I saw
A. couple with child and pram
Ran from the pram, up the high stone steps
And there they uptipped the pram.

It wasn't a babe in the pram that day
They tipped before the throne
But chains of iron jangled down
And clattered on the stone.
The woman gone, the man with speed
Chained the pram round the Monument's base;
A wink at the queen, then he ran from the scene
A smile lit the Queen's stone face.

Busy Mancunians hurrying by
Stopped, or just turned around;
A crowd soon gathered upon the steps,
To their surprise they found
A banner painted in words blood-red
Was tied to pram and chain
Fluttering bravely in the wind
This message to proclaim.

The message was clear, it raised a cheer
Some people said "Disgusting!"
With dole queues big, dole payments small
Yates's soup kitchens were crowded;
But this was lost in a greater grief
Dread War our country clouded.

Policemen came to cut the chain
No time was lost removing:
The banner bright was folded from sight -
The Press men came with questions.
I mentioned the queen and what I had seen
Folk said I was dreaming surely
But papers next day had the story (front page)
With pictures of pram tied securely.

Take it from me the story is true
Why did the Queen smile so?
I know it is stone without organs or bone
What did her sly smile show?
In thoughtful mood, I can now see through
Why the man with the pram protested
With ten babes of her own - he couldn't go wrong,
Victoria was interested.

On a visit to Manchester last year
On a summer's day last year
I saw many changes, but I saw
The old monument still was there;
I found warnings and cries, and scares
And I thought of the pram and chain -
What would Victoria think of us now?
Would she ever smile again?

J. Kay


His wife called him Jan because he was a Pole, and he told me a little of his adventures in Germany in war time. 

As a boy of twelve years of age he was taken from his family by the Germans and sent to Germany as a slave worker. He had many different jobs. One was in a brewery which was bombed at the time of his working shift. After being discharged from hospital he was sent to work on a farm where there were many other Polish and Russian slave workers. Here the work was heavy and the food was light and they lived as best they could in the barns and outbuildings of the farms. They went to the farmhouse once a day and drew their rations. He was dressed mainly in rags and one time a rumour went through his little group that if he were able to find an old pair of trousers and get them to a Polish tailor in a village about seven miles distance; they could be altered and made presentable for him. When he did acquire some clothing he decided to visit this tailor. In order to make the journey from his place of work to the tailor and back without being missed by the farmer; he decided to go without his evening meal. As he did not turn up for the meal at the farmer's house the farmer reported the matter to the police. 

When Jan returned to the farm the policeman took hold of him; threw him into a barn and beat him unmercifully. He lay in the barn three days recovering from the beating. His fellow workers were too fearful to visit him to offer him help. He recovered and went back to work. 

Little by little the Germans were feeling the results of the defeats in the battles in Soviet Russia, and living became harder and harder; not only for the slave workers but even for the Germans themselves. 

The policeman who had beaten Jan, being of military age, was removed from his village post and an elderly policeman took over the district. This new policeman had the habit of working in his cottage garden in full uniform except for his helmet. He was a very keen gardener and every minute off duty he seemed to use in the garden. 

Jan told me that once again he was reported by the farmer to the police for some misdemeanour and once again he was thrust into the shed, presumably to be beaten. The elderly policeman closed the shed doors, ruffled Jan's hair, yanked his shirt out of his trousers waist band and commenced with his stick to beat the walls crying loudly in German at the same time. Those outside undoubtedly thought, poor Jan, he is getting another terrible beating but the policeman was only going through the motions, probably in order to cover himself. 

By this time the Russian army was racing towards Berlin, and the Americans had made a landing in the West. 

The village doctor, who probably had something on her conscience, one day committed suicide by throwing herself from a window of her house. Shortly after this some American troops were seen travelling near the outskirts of the village and as they grew near they could probably see the policeman working in his garden. A German policeman's tunic is quite like that of an 'SS man' and possibly the Americans thought that they had one of the members of Hitler's Elite in this sights. They arrested the policeman, took him to the woods, shots were heard and Jan never saw that policeman again. 

John number two was a London boy. When he was Jan's age his mother died and left brothers and sisters and his father to live on. Someone approached the father and told him not to worry about the children because they would report his case and the Church Army would give him assistance and relieve him from all worry and responsibility for the future of his children. 

Through the officers of the Church Army John was sent to Wales where he worked for a farmer for four years. During these four years he never once was in the farm house but, like Jan, went to the farm house to collect his food. He slept in the outhouses and barns and the farmer, when he thought fit, would bring home from market a pair of trousers or some shoes. 

The farmer and his wife always spoke in the Welsh language and, unless some gypsies passed down the lane, John never heard English spoken for all those years. When John was about sixteen, the farmer's wife fell ill and the farmer brought in a woman helper from the nearest town, which was seven miles distant. This townswoman became very interested in John and asked him all about himself; his family and his life. When she heard from John that he had never been away from the farm for one single day since his arrival and that he had never been paid any wages; she became more interested. She advised John that he must go and face the farmer and tell him that he wished to return to London and that he wanted some money for having worked for four years. 

The farmer did release John and when John arrived in Paddington station from Wales he had in his possession thirty-two shillings; the rest of the money that the farmer had given him he had expended on a single railway ticket. 

Some would say that John had been treated nearly as badly as Jan. Others might say that he had only been robbed of wages and freedom. But when John's full story is known the full extent of his loss is shown to be great indeed. 

Where was his father, his brothers and his sisters? No one knew. John applied to the Church Army and they said that they could not give him any information whatsoever and when I left John in 1960 he was still searching for the family which had been robbed from him. 

F. McGee


Breaking bottles on old bomb sites, 
chucking rocks into the Thames mud; 
well, it was something to do.

Making castles on the greasy beach, 
playing football 'till late at night; 
ruining trousers and shoes.

Riding our bikes in the jungle 
deep darkest underground car park; 
and lighting bottled bangers.

Sneaking rides in City office lifts, 
always where we shouldn't have been; 
because there was nowhere else

And now I look around me, 
and see kids doing just the same; 
because there is nowhere else.

Except that the bomb sites 
are now building sites –
soon to be empty office blocks, 
with windows just made for kids' games.

Tony Harcup
Basement Writers


A. short story in verse

The screwdrivers lay on the bench, heavy and gleaming,
fine-made tools, from the paint on their wooden handles,
and the shiny cylinders holding the springs and ratchets
and the oily shafts with their grooves in crossing spirals
and the roughened grips for the fingers that guided them home
to the blades where energy whirled the tempered steel
each of them nearly as long as a grown man's arm..

Outside, the frost was hard on slippery pavements 
and factory blocks stood rigid against the dawn.

Charlie turned from the sky, took off his coat, 
perched on a stool with a paper in front of his face,
and started to read this English as far from his 
as the frost from the hot Jamaican sky of his childhood.

But this morning his mind wouldn't stick to the print or the pictures:
the gale of thoughts that had swept through his head in the night
made everything else as unreal as the door he'd closed
when he'd slipped from the crowded house, and the shadowy figures
that he'd passed on his way to the bus-stop, hunched in the wind,
or the garish lights that had come and gone in the darkness
as he'd stared from the top of the bus through the dirty window.

Fixed in his chair by the bench, Tadziu was smoking, 
knowing he'd pay for his Sunday drinking soon, 
but cheering himself with the thought of the money he'd won
at cards from his Polish friends as they swilled the vodka.

The claxon wailed; they were up on their feet in a second,
and bent to their work: Charlie was stacking cartons,
and Tadziu fetching a rack of electric meters, 
wheeling it round and unloading it onto the bench.
Then dropping the screws in their holes, they lifted the screwdrivers
and pumped the handles, driving the cylinders down
on the whirling shafts, so they danced on the shiny screws
and spun them fast in the meters. Rising and falling,
their accurate arms moved over the bench like machines.

Round them, the factory spluttered and whirred and whined
as meter on meter was trundled along the line
till ranged on the racks for Charlie and Tadziu to pack them.
Tadziu mumbled and moaned when he came to one 
with some fault that inspection had missed, and fiddled and tinkered.
Charlie groaned with impatience and urged him on:
'Come on, man, it isn't our business." He let it go.
Back to the noise of screwdrivers beating down, 
then the bump of cartons loaded onto the pallet. 
But with bodies in gear, their minds could escape, they were free

Charlie could see his girl as she danced at the party,
her big eyes shining, her body flaming in rhythm 
with the frenzied guitars, the release in the shout of the singers.
But afterwards fell the shock on his drugged excitement
as he kissed her outside the house in the dimlit street.
She had covered his mouth with her hand – her bangled wrist
was cold on his cheek. She pushed him away from her breast.
"Hold off, loverboy," she whispered, "You got to get on,
if you want me to stay. I'm not going spend my life 
squeezed in a house that's bursting with all your family.
We need more money to buy a place of our own."

"We will, girl," Charlie kept urging, "Just wait. You'll see."
"When?" she asked. "We got to be saving now, and you'll never earn enough in a hundred years."
He bluffed and sulked, but coolly she went inside. 
He felt the frosty air on his sweating cheek
as he pounded along the bench, still raking his mind
for escape from that terrace-house with its rooms divided
by curtains strung on ropes from one wall to the other
to a semi-detached, its woodwork glossy with paint, 
bright curtains and carpets; whisky and rum in the cupboard;
a washing-machine in the kitchen; and parked out side
a new-bought car as flashy and fast as the foreman' s.

Tadziu was feeling the strain, now. His body was sluggish,
though he drove it hard. He thought of the bitter years
of exile in Kazakhstan, where the Russians had sent him,
a boy, with his father and mother: his elder brothers,
more dangerous stuff, had vanished in camps in the North.
Bawled-at, bullied and starved by a foreman-jailor, 
their huddle of exiles had worked a collective farm
that survived the piled-up desert of winter snow 
with some grain and cattle fed on the feeble grass
of the summer's heat. The plain had no trees, no thing
to break its endless level but cheerless scrub 
crouching beside the riverbed. Little to eat
but a measured portion of flour to be mixed with water
and baked to biscuit on stones by a smoking dungfire.
Here, at least when the evening claxon hooted, 
he was free to choose to go home or stop in a pub, 
with money for food and beer and occasional vodka, 
and rent for his tiny bedsitter, with telly and gasring,
and, a couple of evenings a week, a bet on the greyhounds.
He plodded doggedly on at the line of meters.

The foreman appeared round a corner; his smart white coat
stood out from their dusty grey. With his shoulders bent, 
he turned his anxious eyes to the dirty floor.  
“Bonus down last week," he moaned to the ground, 
"I don't know why," and hurried away to his desk. 
Had they been working too slow?

"The bastards," said Charlie.
"If we gain on them one week, they count us behind in the next."
"Last week too much," said Tadziu.
"Don't be so stupid,"
said Charlie," the press shop boys get three times as much.
If I work here alone I do better than stuck with you."
"I go fast enough," said Tadziu," and I not greedy.
You it was asked for us first start work on bonus, 
and when they come measure the job, you work double quick,
so we slaves on timework. Before, we working in peace 

"Don't be so dense. It's the only way to make money,"
yelled Charlie.

No more from Tadziu, not even a grunt.
Charlie lit up and puffed at his fag as he worked.
Tadziu was right: it was Charlie asked for the system:
it was gradually creeping through every part of the works.
Unions and management both applauded its progress -
it meant money for all, in the new productivity deal.
So two workstudy men came round in leisurely suits,
carrying clipboards and pens and stopwatch and tape.
One of them leaned on the wall, cool and relaxed,
and noted neatly each action of sweaty arms or back, 
or legs, as they laboured over the meters.
The other one hopped around them in fussy circles,
using his tape and watch to measure their motions
in tenths of inches and seconds. Sometimes they paused
to chat for a while about holidays, houses or gardens
to the floor-supervisor, whenever he passed, or the foreman.
Then they withdrew on their own, to plan in their office
a perfect system with measured times for each movement -
no bend of the body, no turn of the head to be wasted,
the whole of the muscle-machine meshed into production.
So on Thursday afternoons, when Charlie and Tadziu 
opened the envelopes handed them, sealed, by the chargehand,
the notes and coins that they slid out onto the bench
hung on the race to work in the times allotted. 
He stubbed out his fag as he thought how the workstudy men
were rewarded for planning their 'Time and Motion' method.

How different it all 'had been at home in his boyhood!
(Deftly he spun each screw down fast in its hole). 
The sun had measured the day as it rose up high 
over the farmhouse roof, to ripen the rows 
of green, then yellow, then red tomato-clusters, 
or dropped below the banana-trees at the limit 
of his grandfather's land, or at night the swollen moon 
had shone on the lapping seawater where they waded,
holding their breath, searching for lobsters in rockpools -
in its light they could see the resisting claws where they groped,
and grip from behind. His feet had moved on the soil
running shoeless between the tended rows, 
or shuffling along as he bent his back to the hoe, 
or striding with baskets of fruit to the storage shed.
But the portion of fertile soil that was left for the family
was too mean a living for all. They embarked for Britain.

The day he arrived, a teenage boy, at the works, 
the bland Personnel-Office clerk who took him round
from office to shop, asked "What did you do before?"
"Farming," he said.
"Ah well, then, you'll like this job" 
-as they entered the bakelite shop - a concrete shed -
no windows except for a few glass squares in the roof 
-grimy and grey with the ash of bakelite dust, 
shaking with heavy machines that chugged and clanked
where they rose to the ceiling, hot with their chemical breath
as they pressed and melted the powder to shiny plastic. 
He stayed there a year, then fought for a move to packing,
which he'd stuck six more. So now was he broken in?
He rammed the screwdriver down on the little screws.

Tadziu'd forgotten their quarrel. His thoughts had wandered
through childhood in Poland, the farm, the trees in the orchard,
the carp-pond where they had bred the sleek fat fish,
the cavernous kitchen where sausages hung from the ceiling,
to the years of manhood that taught him to bend to the wind.

He had left his parents to die in their desolate exile
when Stalin had formed an army of Polish prisoners, 
and he found himself in Persia, nourished and trained,
fattened for killing. Soon, the Italian fields stank with the Polish dead. 
But Tadziu survived. Then the currents of war had cast him aground in Britain,
where peacetime came, and he courted and lost a girl.
He had overstrained his back on a building site, 
was burnt in a factory once with industrial acid, 
then landed here, where he'd rooted in ten long years.

He was like a fragment of rock that was wrenched from its bed
by the gelignite-charge in a quarry, hacked and sawn,
built in a wall to be marked by the dirt of time 
till shellfire buried it under a heap of rubble, 
then bulldozed aside, half hidden in an earth embankment
where turf grew round it and on it, and one or two weeds
flowered alone. So he nestled in quiet routine. 
He noted a hundred meters down in his book, 
wheeled out the empty rack, and returned with a full one.
Charlie looked at the clock as Tadziu passed him.

The scent of a sweet tobacco came on the draught 
that blew round the door - Kelford the supervisor. 
Plump and relaxed in tweeds, puffing his pipe,
he arrived with a suited cluster of management types,
discussing some changes planned in the shops in his charge.
Charlie and Tadziu, pounding the screws in the meters,
could hear through their bangs, and the buzz of machines next door
(Assembly and Testing) some bits of their leisurely chat.
"Beautiful job - drove down to Brighton on Sunday -
very smooth ride."
"Be different driving in Europe 
-those cobbled roads."
"Costa Brava at Christmas."

"Well, shall we move these packers across to the landing?
They don't need much."
"The test racks are more important." 
They lounged there a while, gossiping, joking, discussing,
then drifted away, as remote and cut off from the packers
as though they were shut in a luxury plane that flies
serene over crowded streets.

Still the machine
of Charlie's body was working, but under the beat 
of screwdriver down on the screws was another note 
shrilling high in his head at the well-paid loungers
who altered jobs that they only half-understood, 
treating the hands that worked and the ears that heard
and the brains that thought like contraptions of lifeless metal
 - just dumb equipment, moving packing-machines. 
How could he fight them? Shopstewards wouldn't support him
except on conditions or money. The foreman? His answers
were "Ask me tomorrow", "Remind me on Wednesday," "I'll see",
so that all roads petered out on a rubbish-dump 
littered with rotting ideas, forgotten complaints.

Tadziu had heard their chat with a like contempt, 
but he kept his temper untouched. Enough, to survive. 
Staidly he laid more meters out on the bench.

Now Charlie was finishing packing the previous row. 
He looked through the glass partition behind the bench.
Threading her way through machines and testing-racks,
the foreman's clerk was coming towards their corner clutching a worksheet. 
Guessing her business, he scowled.
As he piled up the cartons and started putting the screws
in the new row of meters, she checked some numbers with Tadziu,
scribbled a note, and fussily hurried away:
he'd made a mistake in the book that would cut their bonus.

Charlie stood back from the bench and glowered at Tadziu.
"You stupid bastard," he said, "why I work till I'm weak?
Sweat through the day to cover the muddle you leave?"
"I make a mistake," said Tadziu. "Now it all right."
If nobody seen it," roared Charlie, "we been short on our money."
"You crazy about your pay," said Tadziu, 
"you want I cheat in the book, so you fill your pocket."
"You can't even count, you're too lazy for that," bawled Charlie,
"you stubborn Polish."
"You thieving black" yelled Tadziu.

Like machines gone out of control, the sound of their shouting
grew louder and louder. Charlie lifted the screwdriver
over his head, and aimed it at Tadziu' s skull. 
Tadziu drew to one side as it fell; the blade 
drew blood from his scalp, but glanced off, missing the bone.
Charlie bellowed with rage that rang through the shop.
Hands stopped work on the line as they heard it echo.
Talking ceased, and the buzz of the air-powered tools.

Two who were working nearest the packers' corner 
moved in quickly. When they came round the partition,
behind the piled-up cartons, they found them clinched
together, the screwdriver poised in Charlie's hand, 
and Tadziu's clamped on his wrist. They drew them apart,
easing the tight-clenched fingers that clung to the weapon.

In the office-block the affair was quickly resolved.
Tadziu was taken to hospital, dazed and bleeding. 
Charlie, rigid and silent, was sacked on the spot.

The next day, other hands took their place in the line,

Michael D. Butler


Not a word was spoken 
but we both knew 
that I was being punished 
for something I had said, 
or left unsaid, 
or done, or failed to do.

Two can play at that game; 
it was fine for a start, 
but later we began to wonder 
what it was all about.

Bill Eburn


We don't talk.
Inhabiting different worlds
Our inner selves,
Revolving around an inner core of life.

Mood is sensed,
Balance maintained,
Like animals sniffing the wind
We avert danger
Of speaking, using man magic
To clarify, qualify: behaviour.

There are maps to show
The promontories of land
Geological disparities - Fissures,
Sea depths, and watery mountains.
Usefully could the makers
Map the populations varied
Of self, of depths of depravation.
Of lacks, of needs,
Of usefulness and uselessness
Of one man to another.

Language and languages
Are dull, and useless weapons
Fighting an ignorance of awareness,
In the so-word-blind many
Attempting to see reality

Through the facade
Of simulated truth
Consciously erected by the
( professional blinders.

Love is life
And truth is loving one another. 
A lie is that that baulks the attempt.
Any act that deteriorates the forward road, 
Makes booby traps in the
great highways: Painfully, slowly trod.

But we? A microcosm of this 
Many headed host, which way for us? 
Which way in our headlong fling into the grave, 
now gathering momentum?
Shall we break the silence? 
Shatter that wall, that opaque edifice 
the psyche erects, maintains, 
and constantly strengthens? 
Or shall we stop peering 
Questioningly through?
Depart our separate ways?

Frank Parker


used to be countryside 
shapely acres of land and now it's
ground for genocide
the sheep jostle with exploding tanks

use our land to plan in 
clean out their minds and 
leave us

all their rubbish
tins and tanks

to the weekend artists stumbling mumbling in their cottage country haunts running free
between the gunbursts

tins and taunts and
towns and tanks

yes this used to be countryside
shapely acres of land and 
now it's
ground for genocide 
the sheep drift in city waste

artists amongst tanks

Keith Armstrong


All we have and are 
negatived by this
below the mongrel bitch 
covered in back street.

profaning the clean beast,, 
the gaiety of flesh, 
with showers of epsom salt 
for lavatory sex.

foreign to the gay 
of character and flesh 
in endless permutation 
when individuals play

when individuals play, 
mates by every meaning, 
all they have and are 
dancing in love's teaming.

Frances Moore



It had taken her over an hour on the bus to get to Camden. She turned into the street and stood on the corner for a few minutes to get her bearings. The noise of the traffic confused her. You had. to cross so many roads just to get somewhere you could see opposite. 

She walked slowly, keeping an eye out for cracked and broken paving stones. The pavement was as bad as it had been when she'd lived here nearly forty years ago ... She remembered there was a little graveyard right next to the pub, she'd go in there and get he; breath back .a bit before finding where her shop used to be ... Yes, still there, the boneyard, 'as they'd called it. A scruffy, narrow little strip of ground, a path and a couple of benches. The bottles around showed the winos hadn’t moved anyway. It's funny no one in the street had known, anyone buried hero. They were mostly foreign names on the stones. Some names looked a bit Jewish, she remembered having heard that some were French names Well, it looked much the same, smaller, but that was probably because of the tall buildings that' had been built around the back of it. 

'She sat, enjoying a late bit of Autumn sun. Looking through the gateway of the graveyard over to the other side of the street she saw that now there were only six or seven of the terraced houses that had been all along that side. Further up the street she could see the tops of tall blocks of flats. It was like the street had been cut in half. It looked small and shabby with those tall blocks on two sides of it. She suddenly thought, "Was Kit's house still there?" Yes, by standing up she could see it, number 48, nearly opposite the shop. She was in no hurry to get to the shop. She knew it was there, she had seen that that block was still standing. Besides she knew more or less what she would find, she was just curious to know how she would feel about it now ... "Curiosity killed the cat", she'd always said that to the kids when they'd wanted to know about things that weren't their business. 

It was getting chilly sitting here. She could do with a drink. The pub should be open now and she could go in and have a Guinness like she used to do. She used to leave the shop with her daughter for half an hour at twelve o'clock and meet Kit and Doll for a drink. She remembered the last time they'd met there, before the Blitz and they'd all said, "See you after the war then," but Kit had stayed on in Canvey Island and she never found out what had happened to Doll. Perhaps Doll had come back after the war, the way she'd come back that one day, and seen the foreigners everywhere. She hadn't known who they were at first, only later she was told they were Greek Cypriots. Everywhere they were. Some had already taken over the shops and they walked around the place as if they owned it. She'd gone back to her sisters. Tom had died during the war so there had been nothing to come back here for. 

Still, she was here now, she wasn't sure why. She was seventy eight and she'd lived for forty of those years here so perhaps that explained it.

She gathered her coat about her and went to the pub, 'The Raven'. The door she used to go in wasn't there anymore so she walked around the pub until she found one ... Well, she might have known the pub would be different. They were changing all the pubs, they all looked the bloody same. There was only one bar where there had been three and it was bare and clean. On a shelf above the bar was a television and around the bar were a group of middle aged men, in their overcoats, silently drinking and watching the television ... some lunchtime programme, a bit like 'Crossroads'. ,I bet they scoff at their wives for watching rubbish like that," she thought. She went to the counter and then sat down at a corner table by the bar with her drink. She was facing the line of men who all had their eyes glued to the screen. She searched the smooth, emulsioned walls with her eyes, trying to make out where the old walls had been. Then one of the men moved and walked past where she was sitting, into the Gents. From where she was sitting she could hear him piddling ... "Well I must be more or less where we used to sit", she thought smiling to herself. "We always used to have a chuckle at that." Then grimly she thought, "Is that all there is to remind me of forty years in this street?" They'd hardly ever gone on holiday. A couple of years they'd gone on charabanc outings to Broadstairs and once or twice for a week to Margate. But otherwise it was this street year in and year out. The shop taking all your time. We were open day and night. Five-thirty in the morning to get the papers ready and to get the kids up delivering them before school, then open last thing at night to sell Woodbines or tobacco and fag papers to the people coming out of the pub who needed their smoke for the morning ... 

Open all hours and yet never made enough money to shut up for a fortnight a year and go on a proper holiday. Too many people with too much on the bloody slate, that was the trouble. But what could you do when the kids came in, white faced and snotty nosed, with only half the money they needed for the few groceries. They'd say, "Mum says, could she settle with you at the end of the week?" You knew if you didn't give it to them it meant no tea for them that evening ... Ah well, that's past. People seem to have a lot more money since the war. 

She got up and put her empty glass and bottle on the top. The woman couldn't have heard her say goodbye. She stepped into the street and the wind whipped round her, making her shiver. She walked a few yards on and there it was, Number 29. Now a cooked meat shop, Greek of course. She crossed the road to. look up at the rooms above the shop. The curtains were all drawn tight; gaudy, chintzy bloody things! "Christ knows what those rooms must look like now", she thought. She crossed back and looked in at the window. She didn't know what they were selling, looked mostly like sausages. She realised she'd been standing there for a few minutes because she saw one of the men inside watching her. She moved away embarrassed and angry. "Bloody cheek", she thought. "Who does he think he's looking at?" She walked on without really looking where she was going, walked in a kind of cold fury which at the same time wasn't that far from tears. She hadn't come expecting anyone in the street to know her nor had she particularly expected to recognize anything much, but when she stood outside the shop she'd lived in for forty years and was looked at as though she'd no right to be there ... If they'd been English she could have gone in and told them or not even said anything at all, just bought something. What could she have bought in there though, nothing. 

She slowed down, she was a few yards into where the flats were, a kind of housing estate. Well she might as well look around it. Draughty hole. There didn't seem to be anyone around. Did they all go out to work? It looked cold and dead. There was one woman, over on the other side, head down, bag of shopping in each hand, she disappeared into one of the entrances. The grass by the path was all scuffed and kicked and there was litter blowing around. She came up to the entrance the woman had gone into. The glass in the door was smashed and kids had written all over the walls. It looked dreadful. She was frightened to walk any further into the estate in case she got lost. She turned around and went back to the part of the street she knew. The wind was in her face, making her eyes stream and her head ache. She felt tired and a bit wobbly. "I'll have to sit down and have a cup of tea before I fall over and make myself a laughing stock", she thought. Then she realised the only cafe left was run by a Creek. What could she do. She had to sit down and get a cup of tea before she could face crossing those roads and finding the bus stop. 

A slight giddy feeling made her decide She opened the door. The net curtain tacked to the back of the glass in the door was grey. One table lay uncleared, on one plate the remains of a white porridgy looking stuff. She nearly went out again but the cold, biting wind from the street made her step inside and close the door after her. There was no one in the cafe. She gathered herself together, pushed back some hair which had escaped from under her hat and went to the counter. There was someone moving at the end of the passage leading off from the shop but she didn't want to call. On the counter was a colour photograph of a man in his late forties, sitting by the window of the cafe. The net curtain looked clean in the photograph and the sun was streaming through the window. He looked pleased. "So he bloody should", she thought, "Coming over here and taking over the street." She had been staring angrily at the photograph when she heard a noise, someone coming up the passage. For a moment she felt frightened, almost sick, but before she could turn and leave he was standing at the counter in front of her. "A cup of tea", she said, and without locking at him again she turned and sat at a table, her back to the counter. 

He didn't look anything like his photograph. Sixty if he's a day and that great head of hair was false - a toupee. She hated vanity in a man, worrying about being bald at his age, bloody daft. 

He was a long time bringing that tea. She wished now she'd sat facing the counter so she could see what he was up to. He might slip something into her tea. She shifted nervously and took her purse from her handbag and pushed it into the pocket of her cardigan, underneath her coat. 

(What was he doing? He'd put on some music, twang, twang, what a racket. Then that stopped, a few moments' silence and then 'Green grass of Home'. "Well that's better", she thought, "At least you can understand what he's singing." 

At last he came with the tea. He put it down along with a paper serviette. She stared at the table in front of her, both hands gripping the edge. She could see from the corner of her eye 'that he hadn't moved. She jerked a look up at him. "English music", he said, pointing to the place the music was coming from. She didn't say anything. Then he said, "Something to eat?" "Oh, no, no I'm not hungry, no nothing to eat", she said, almost fearing that he would not understand and bring her some of that awful food. He probably didn't wash his hands after using the lavatory and Christ knows what went into those sausage things she'd seen on the other side of the counter. 

He'd gone back now and she felt for her handkerchief and nervously wiped round the rim of the cup. The tea was good, hot, strong and fresh. He'd gone back along the passage. She put her handbag down on the chair beside her, painfully stretched her legs out in front of her and drank the tea. 

Sun must have broken through a cloud outside because a white stream of light shone through the net curtain at the window onto the lino tiles on the floor showing them streaked with the marks of a floor mop. Opposite were the same terrace of houses that had been there forty years ago. She could see the top windows clearly through the glass above the curtain. Then she remembered clearly something that had happened, seeing those windows reminded her. 

It was 1932, a terrible time, no one had any money, very few had any work. It had been in the summer when a car with a megaphone had come down the street and stopped. Naturally everyone came out to look. A car like that didn't come down the street everyday. There was a young man at the wheel looking self-conscious and two ladies in the back. One stood up and said, "I am here particularly to talk to the women", but the men and boys didn't move. There wasn't much in the way of entertainment around. She cleared her throat and t then went on to talk about the importance of keeping clean and to say how we weren't feeding our children properly. She said she'd suffered seeing little mites with rickets and all sorts of diseases that really were not necessary. 'Good, nourishing meals can be made with very little", she said. She then went on to tell us how to prepare cods' heads. We listened but then at the end Kit Adams, who lived opposite, called down from her top window, "Who had the cod then?" ... we roared. 

She picked up the tea cup still smiling a bit to herself. The cup was empty, she must have finished it. The old Greek boyo was back again, nodding and smiling. "Another cup of tea, lady", he said. "Yes, alright", she said. 

He hummed as he made it. He came back and with the tea he brought a small plate with one square of pink, sugar-dusted Turkish delight with a small wooden fork stuck into the top. "My anniversary", he said by way of explanation. "I came to this street, to this shop ten years ago." 

He stood by the table, pleased and friendly. She didn't know what to say. Happily the door opened, a man came in, greeted the owner and sat down. The owner bustled away to get whatever it was he wanted. He must regularly eat the same thing because he hadn't ordered anything. The man was sitting two tables away, opposite her. A grey, thin, lined man wearing a dusty black jacket. He wasn't English though, he was Greek and the newspaper he pulled out of his pocket was Greek. Now all she could see of him was the paper and the rough hands, streaked with cement or plaster, the nails grimy and bitten down. She remembered Tom coming in for his dinner with hands like that and she'd always nagged at him to go and wash them before he ate. 

She sat for about five minutes, slowly drinking the second cup of tea. It was as good as the first. She realised, with surprise that she'd relaxed and had been daydreaming. Well she must catch that bus and get home. She got up and left the money for the tea on the table. The old Greek was busy cooking, out at the back somewhere.

She walked to the door, past the man with the newspaper, who looked up and nodded. She stood for a moment outside the cafe and thought, "Well, I'll leave you to it. I don't suppose I'll come back again". 

Anne F. Johnson


Last Christmas Eve I walked the streets
frustrated and forlorn.
Had no toys to leave that night
Wished my kid had not been born.

Like a tramp I trudged the highways
That cold December night.
Christmas trees and lighted displays
With tears I dimmed their light.

Though things are better for me now
I'll not forget that night.
Nor you who call "Work for all
Be they black or white".

You who call for work for all
Call for a "Human Right"
And a child that has no Christmas
Shows a wrong that we should fight.

M. Doyle


Without you there is no melody –
No you - life is too long.
There is no song.
The boys and girls who were your friends are growing tall;

With hair unkempt and beard uncut they saunter by:
They pipe their ballads - mouth their songs 
With voices harsh and garish noise and sweet guitar.
The parents wail, "We have been cheated -gave our all –
These are our seed - oh what went wrong?"
Wierdos, inheritors of the earth,
Shrug, calmly say, "We want not birth
Or sex - or bomb - or drug - or you -"
The dawn in gentle roseate stirs
And where are you?
Health-giving sun flattens like lead my head:
Dusk whispers, but I cannot hear
For you are dead.
There is no song for me, no strange discordant melody
Plucked from taut strings, affirming you - and thereby me.
I listen to the inner truth of coming generations;
Envy demented parents soul-searching complications.
Without you there is no song.
Some breathless nights I wake
To echo of a long-lost note -

And you are surely there -
Remote - but so remote -No touching distance in your sphere
No flesh no time no hope no joy -
Safe with your melody.
And I am here,
My boy.

Marjorie Dearle


In spite of a title which suggests discouragement, the poems collected here from a number of publications, including "Voices" indicate satire, irony, compassion. There is room to quote briefly, the poem entitled Unemployed. 

We are the outriders
the discontinued lines
the statistician's graph
diaboloes tossed
by politicians
- the bishop's prayer. 

Anger here, not apathy. The last poem in this little booklet which gives its title to the collection seems to suggest that disillusion with the violence through which "angry young man/ degenerates/ to urban gorilla/Blake's ideal/ to a bloody sword" is responsible for the apathy. You can get this booklet of interesting verse from the author, at "Brocket Willows" Daw Lane, Appleton Roebuck, Nr. York Y05 7BL. 

Ben Ainley


The Greeks for instance:
I saw your program on 'Greece: the Seven Black Years'.
I suppose it's safe now - now it's all over; 
the 'dictatorship', 
the 'filthy' tortures, 
the killing, 
the arrests
and the silence.

And it's silence I want to talk about 
because I didn't hear overmuch from you 
while it was all going on
and I wonder what your silence cost, in lives.

And even now you didn't tell me 
what I most wanted to know:
just how the colonels got there. 
I want to know who paid the piper 
and called the silence
and who was puppet-master.
Very instructive to hear about democracy 
gave way to dictatorship
Fly away Peter,
come back Paul
which suddenly collapsed
Fly away Paul,
.come back Peter
- for no apparent reason.

Tell me the single-edged truth. 
Two little dicky-birds 
sitting on a wall, 
one named Peter,
one named Paul. 
Fly away Peter, 
fly away Paul, 
come back Peter
- is this all?
Very noble of you to put on your program 
the experiences of the 'ordinary people' 
but the silence at either end
was battering my ear-drums. 
How much did it all cost?

The voices of the dead clamour in the winds; 
they shrill in the wires around the earth; 
they twitter like distant radio stations at night 
when the B.B.C. has gone to bed.

One day, they will find your frequency 
all the dead Greeks.
Twittering among the wave-bands 
when you are asleep:
they will tell us the truth –
all the dead Greeks.

Bob Dixon



9 a.m. The last of the world travellers had just fled through the back door, leaving behind a trail of pyjamas, soggy cornflakes and rejected crusts. A forgotten sports bag sat forlornly on the kitchen floor. 

It was a dull grey day - inside and out. 

From my near horizontal position in the armchair, it was possible to see a thin film of grey dust between the T.V. and the radiogram which supported it. I sat up straight to protect my sensitive eyes from this distasteful sight. The carpet shrieking for attention spat grey dog hairs round the edge of my dressing gown. 

I was surrounded with all shades of grey. My lucky colours - silver and grey. 

"You mightn't even like the colours associated with your particular zodiac sign, but wear it, bring it into your home, it will bring you luck," Leon Petulengro had said. 

"If you believe that crap, you'll believe in fairies and witches next," my down to earth husband had remarked to me. 

Ah witches! Soon, with wings on my feet, and a bewitching twiddle of my nose, with Samantha-like efficiency, my unlovely grey house will be shining silver bright. That's how it's done - didn't you know. 

You can even do it standing on your head, or, with one hand tied behind your back. All in ten minutes too, so - not just yet. 

I reached for the 'Morning Star', and flicked grey ash from my cigarette on to the grey, grey fire. 

Jean Sutton


(translated by RICK GWILT)

After the rising of 17th July
The Secretary of the Writers' Union
Had leaflets given out in the Stalinallee
Saying that the people
Had lost the Government's trust
And could only regain it
By working twice as hard.
Wouldn't it have been simpler
For the Government to dissolve the people
And elect another one?

Bertolt Brecht


"Look at that bloody pile of washing!" he said, glowering at it in an aggressive pose. He should have been an actor or a singer. He'd never had the training. The soiled clothes, all textures and colours, were like a small psychedelic mountain cascading over the bedroom armchair and down on to the floor. Next to the chair were two cardboard boxes also overflowing with clothes. The wardrobe, small in dark brown wood with a front mirror faulted so it gave a double image, was empty where clothes should have been hanging although its floor was loaded with soiled garments. 

"That the fuck am I supposed to wear?" 

She was slowly waking up. 

"I nearly broke a window yesterday", he continued more placidly. "I could have easily gone to the Launderette in the morning and 4 o’clock seemed a reasonable time -only to discover all of a sudden they've changed the closing-time to 5.30 on a Saturday so they can get all their bleedin' service washes done. It's only 'cos they make more on them." 

"Well what d'you expect...?" He was bulling again; best thing was just to let him rant. "What about tomorrow?" she moved. 

"What about it?" he snapped as if it was her fault. 

"I thought you said there was a late opening tomorrow night... ?" 

"Yeah. " 

"Well that means you've only got to wear smelly clothes tonight, today and tomorrow and we can do a double wash tomorrow night okay?"

"But I spent the Launderette money when they wouldn't let me do it yesterday. I bought some chocolates and ate them all myself. 

"You would." 

Money: money: money: silver they called it in France. Greenbacks; dollars; cheques; bankers' cards; capital; finance. It wasn't as simple as that. 

"All the different things people do for pleasure, amazing isn't it?" he volunteered as they were reading the Sunday papers. "Nearly all sinful things."

"That's not true," she said. 


"No - of course not; people breed dogs; and pigeons; go motor-car racing; scrambling; swimming; smoke hash; read books; do gardening et cetera et cetera ..." 

"Yeah: but most people are only interested in sex and smoking and drinking: how many people belong to these societies? Those clubs? How many people go walking in the countryside? Play sports? They can't afford to. There's nowhere to do them."

"Want another cup of tea?"

"Yeah, okay  

"You have to work, don't you? And when you work you're too tired to get it together to do any of those healthy things. Remember when we were in our early twenties how we could try anything, do anything: then you get a bit of sense - reality knocks you on the head a few times and you just have to conform." 

"Yeah - but what is this 'reality' knocking you on the head - it does feel like that doesn't  

"You have to earn your living..." 

"Yeah" . 

"You have to have money..." 


"To get money you have to have a job..." 

"You don't have to ..." 

"But most people do: anyway, you can't get away without working for very long. You lose your self-respect if you're on the dole." 

"It's funny, isn't it, the way everybody goes through a stage of thinking they can escape?" 

"Not everybody does - you might have but I didn't ..." 

"Oh come off it..."

"I didn't. I had no illusions. I knew from when I was about 11 I was going to have to work all my life. I thought it was great. Free from school. I hated school. You know what they say - your schooldays are the happiest days of your life? I reckon it's true, however bad they seem at the time. The teachers make it rotten for you, though, because they don't really want you to get educated. Some people - most people, have to stay ignorant to do the shitty jobs, don't they? The sooner you get used to that idea, when you're a kid, the sooner you learn to be content..." 

"You're not content ..." 

"Well - that's me. That's 'cos I wanted to be a ballet-dancer..." 

"You did that go-go stuff.."

"That's different - just throwing your tits around”

There was a pause.

"I told you you wouldn't like it."

"Okay - you were right and I was wrong but still all my life I'm gonna be miserable because I wanted to be a ballet-dancer and I couldn't be. There's a ballet-dancer inside me aching to get out and she's gonna be trapped inside me all her life, all life." 

"You want a kid that's all that's wrong with you." 

"I don't." 

"Yes you do. You want a kid you can send to dancing classes”

"That's different. What I'm saying is I wasn't born to be a bus-conductress. I hate being a bus-conductress..”"You love it ..."

“I only let on I love it..” 

"You're completely different when you're working. I've seen you: putting on a big act...” 

"Ah fuck off."

"It's true..." he was laughing. 

She was deadly serious. "It's a bloody miracle my mind's still my own and still working..." It was a miracle. One of the modern miracles which had nothing to do with Jesus Christ or God or Holy Spirits. Just some people were lucky to bump into other people who helped them along. Her husband was a hospital technician and had never been through the "humiliation process" she had had to go through. She'd survived because she was a strong character, because she was at heart a ballet-dancer. 

"If I was meant to have been a bloody conductor I'd have been born with a bag strapped round me and all the stages in my head. D'you think there's anything enjoyable about taking money off people all day, feeling your varicose veins getting worse and worse and wondering all the time what bloody use you are? What bloody use is a bus-conductress, tell me that?"

She was becoming tearful. He knew it hurt her. He knew she really only wanted to read and study. He knew the situation was totally unsatisfactory. But they needed the money. She'd had an abortion. They were still paying back the money they'd borrowed. They'd been out of work - they were in debt from that time. Now they were just about breaking through, out of debt, and breaking even. But unpaid bills were no longer the brave joke they had been when they had been younger. 

"It seems like everybody's my enemy ..."  

"We all get like that sometimes..."  

"Why? Why? Why?"

"I think life is just one big con."

She began to cry. Their clothes were filthy - she was a useless housewife. The kitchen was filthy. There was rubbish all over the place. She had no energy. She tried and tried. And all the time she felt like killing herself. She was killing herself. Killing off all the bits which cried out to be satisfied but could not be. Killed off all the bits which were not herself in her uniform working her way through endless shifts. He put his arm around her.

"Jack it in Barbie if you hate it that much." 

"I can't, I can't ... you know I can't." She began to sob. Most of the time she was 'alright'. "You've ... you've got to have buses," she said eventually, breaking bravely away from his comfort. 

"Yeah . .

"Somebody's got to do it..."  

"Yeah ... nobody said anything different...  

"It's important ..."

"Of course it's important."

She got up and went into the adjoining kitchen with the cups. She picked up the large kettle they used to get hot water from the bathroom. The geyser was broken. They were waiting for the landlord to come and fix it, send somebody around to fix it. 

"Everybody's in the same boat; everybody's in the same boat..." the thought kept running through her mind. Every time she picked up the kettle she wanted to throw it on the floor and scream, "It's not good enough! It's not good enough!" Everything was so small, so cramped. If she had a big house in the country she would be so beautiful. Money was like a chain around her neck. Who was holding the other end of the chain? She remembered seeing an Escapologist in Leicester Square once all tied up in chains and a sack - it had been very exciting, the crowd had gathered around and watched him being chained in by somebody from the audience and then, just when you thought he couldn't possibly get out he wriggled about a bit and the chains fell off him and he got out. 

"Let's go out for a walk..." she said when she'd cleaned up in the kitchen and Gregg had swept the front room and the bedroom. 

It was cold but sunny. They decided to go to Hyde Park. They got off the Tube at Knightsbridge and walked past Harrods. 

"We'll go window-shopping", said Barbie. 

There was a room like the room she would like to have. How different from the scruffiness of their furnished accommodation. She'd done her best to make it 'nice' but it was a home and not a home. One whole day's work a week was not for herself but for the landlady, the Company who collected from them every week. The suite of furniture she looked at now - luscious velvet - why it wouldn't even fit into their front room with any room at all to move around. 

They passed a grand hotel. There were big houses everywhere. A girl came out of a turning on a horse. Making her way to Rotten Row. She had a beautiful figure. The horse was sleek and rippling with power, brown and shiny. The girl was high, high above them. 

"How's your gee?" Gregg yelled at her. 

Barbie, on his arm, angrily told him to "Shush..."

The girl on the horse was completely oblivious to them. Insults from envious hoi-poloi were an annoyance of the same order as splashing rainwater from passing cars. It was beginning to get very cold and Barbie had no coat on her, only a cardigan. It was her rest day the following day. She would do all the Launderette, she had a spare pound, and they would have a fresh start.

That there should be these 'class differences seemed as natural as the air they breathed. The girl on the horse was only a symbol. The important thing was who had what. Who had money. It was like a game of monopoly: the more you had, the more you got. It was a game of skill, of course. Skill not hard work. If you just worked hard you didn't necessarily get anywhere. You just kept going. No - you had to have brains and 'know how' to really get on. 'Know-how', however, was really a matter of 'know-who': the girl on the horse was no different from Barbie in her flesh and blood. The only differences were superficial ones - the way she talked, the way she walked: and, above all, the money she had in her pocket or, if she didn't have any money, who she knew who would give her credit. And the credit she could get was quite different from the credit Barbie could get when she was a kid going to the shop on the corner to buy things 'on the book' for her mum. How did it work? That's what Barbie wanted to know? How did it work? It depended who your mum and dad were! she knew that much. If your dad was a lord you were a lady and did all genteel things. If your dad was a factory worker you were likely to be a factory worker too, or a typist or a bus-conductress. Gregg had saved Barbie, she knew that. He loved her and treated her with respect. But although half of her wanted to think of the two of them, snug and cosy in their little home, the other half, or another part of her rebelled all the time. She was popular in the garage. Chances were she might get chosen for shop-steward one of these days. They all liked her. Even people on the route liked her. She was a good laugh and she did the job well. It was just that Barbie found it hard. Acting, acting all the time: maybe she had forty years to live -what could she do in that time? Have children? But what for? What good was that if they were only going to end up with crummy jobs. She felt the shame coming on again. Why should she be ashamed? There was nothing to be ashamed of about being a busconductress. It was her life. She wasn't a ballet-dancer. Fair enough. She never would be - she just had to accept that. What sin had she committed? What had she done wrong? Blame herself - blame herself always she was doing that. A psychiatrist might have described Barbie as a hysteric. She would not accept her lot. She was not satisfied with her life. She could not be happy or content. She could sleep but she could not rest. 

"Is there something funny about me? Or wrong with me?" she would sometimes ask Gregg. "I'm never the same. Sometimes I get sick asking people for fares when I know they can't afford them. Other times I get sick with them for getting on the buses all the time and making work for me and I feel like charging them double for the fare, just out of badness." 

"Calm down Barbie," was Gregg's usual response. "You get too het up. You can't change the world in one go. Overnight. We have to do it gradually."

"There's some things you can't do gradually," she had once answered him. "Like like, well, like turning a pillow-case inside out: you can do it slowly, but you can't do it gradually: well, you can, but it's really all of a sudden everything's completely different. You know, like in the Olympics when you see the relay race: one minute one bloke's got the stick and the next minute somebody else has got it. Or when milk boils over. Everything is upside-down; or inside out; or back to front. Like me riding the horse and that girl clocking in at half past six." 

She slept soundly. She had her dreams alright. Her dreams that one day everybody would be happy and healthy and wealthy and wise. There were two types of people, she thought: those who felt for others, who took others into consideration; and those who only thought about themselves. But somehow it happened, in the whole of life, that everything was geared to benefit the bastards, the greedy, nasty people. It didn't matter how smart they looked. Just because somebody was goodlooking on a horse and had lovely mariners didn't mean to say they weren't a greedy, selfish pig. It was like a big, moving pile of people - the ones at the bottom did all the work and loving and running around and suffering, and the ones at the top got all the benefits. 

When she was a little girl Barbie used to dream the pixies would come and do all the tidying up while they were asleep. She even planned with her sister to get up in the middle of the night to do it as a surprise for their mum. But they slept soundly through the night and when they woke up the room was just as messy as when they'd gone to sleep. Making the country better would be a million times harder - but there were a million times as many people to do it. 

The night before she was starting back on a shift a couple of weeks later, Barbie was watching 'Upstairs-Downstairs': things had come on a bit since then. Barbie wished that when she wanted to shout and scream and shake herself out from top to bottom everybody else would as well and when they calmed down there would be no more aggravation and competition. Everybody should be able to  'get high' together, holding hands in co-operation - instead of 'climbing' in society over other people's heads. She was agitated, agitated, agitated. 

"Hold very tight please!" She called out automatically. She rang the bell twice and the bus moved off. A young child stared at her and marvelled at her power. 

Fran Hazelton

Further comments on 'In Defence of T.S. Eliot'

After reading "In defence of T.S. Eliot" I turned to the introduction to John Beecher's "Hear the Wind Blow". 
What a good description of Eliot and his clique.

"His cautious articles on criticism did not impress me, nor did his erudition, scholarship or his lack of a sense 
of either life or literature. His mouldy poetry struck me as the perfect expression of a clerkly and liverish man's 
apprehension of life."

Here is a quotation from John Beecher.

"If you're looking for him here you might as well give up
I doubt if he'll be back.
That sermon on our Christian duty to pay tax for bombs
was more than even he could take. 
Maybe he's gone to Tennessee.
You've heard of how those negroes registered to vote
and how their landlords threw them off their farms 
and how the negroes pitched a camp and called it “Freedom City".
That's the kind of place you're apt to find him.
Jailed maybe for bringing food and blankets in
Like that preacher McCrackin all the elders and high priests are out to get
Might even be he ran the block to Cuba 
Can't stop him once he makes up his mind to see things for himself.
Could be he's building them a school 
or housing for the folks of the bohios
That wouldn't be a trade he'd need to learn."

Unless the poet takes up the struggle against exploitation and poverty and 
can reveal glimpses of the new dawn I cannot be bothered to read his effusions.

Clifford Hargreaves


53 paces down the street
(53 you're doing fine). STOP:
On the right, one floor off
the ground, is your brother's
room - and yours. Why

are you bleeding? The house 
cannot be climbed, is not 
your coconut tree. Use the key 
man, use the key. The key 
will not fit the door today.

The sign, unlike the blow 
means it's bad but not that bad. 
You're doing well, my friend, 
you're doing fine, You've got 
the number right, but the street


Paul St Vincent


For today's lesson he draws graphs
Points out analogies, compiles theories
To prove the absolute
He has renounced speculation for science

And by now he has completely
Broken with the great deviationists
- the "zoo" is good for neither
Man nor beast

Emotionally vulnerable
His adrenaline count rises
With each act of aggression
and indignity
Imposed upon it's "inmates"

Urgently he seeks to dissipate
The possessor's smokescreen
Obscuring the beacon's light

Merchant of the long-fixed
Chromosomal number,
Second hand memories of
Exquisitely shared experiences
Spur him on

Within his present cup
The bitter tang of temporary defeats
Is laced with the sweet nectar
Of exhilarating visions
Of future freedoms

Even though his cross is made 
The target of the slings and arrows
Of ridicule and derision, 
He will continue to cry out 
Until his last breath is drawn

Tomorrow will be best
He promises, if only
They would listen today.

Rose Friedman


Through the evening fog 
a young girl's face 
imprisoned at a window.

A kitten
in the gutter 

A face
at the window of an empty house
like the soul of a zombie 

Through the Autumn rain 
her paleness 
bears a strangled smile.

Ray Baker