cover size 210 x 148 mm (A5)

Editorial	.				Rick Gwilt 
Captive Audience				Bill Eburn 
"Culture" Sated Freaks  			Bob Cooney 
Date With Royalty     			Jack Rhyland 
For Humanity's Sake             			Bert Ward 
Saturday Night in the Higson's       		John Small 
Advice from a Big Industrialist to a Worker 	Betty Baer 
What've you got in your Briefcase, Mister?  	Keith Armstrong 
News Item              				Alan C. Brown 
Song of Warning for William Morris		Ken Worpole 
The First Million Pound Pools Winner		Roger Mills 
Lord Street Revisited           			Pete Farrow 
Richman, Poorman, Beggarman      		W. Lloyd Thomas 
A Start in Life           			Bob Drysdale 
Jobs For All				Bill Eburn 
Letter From Father to Daughter     		Linda Weller 
Why Do I Steal Cars?			John Gowling 
Blubber          				Donald Whitmore 
The Concrete Ground       			Claire Mooney 
The Man on the Hoss at Durham     		D. Beavis
I Will Not Remember You When You're Dead       	Joe Smythe 
Poem to Kieran Nugent    			Phil Boyd 
Me Medals   				Stan Cole 
Who are the English?			Jim Ward 
Jersey Holiday          			Pat Arrowsmith 
The Rise and Fail of the English Pub		Ripyard Cuddling 
A Day in the Park   				Dave Barnes 
Sleeping Dogs       				Rick Gwilt 
One Voice, Many Voices 			Val McKenzie 
Point of View 				Joy Matthews 
Poverty Skills				Frances Moore 
Four Letter Words  				Frances Moore 
Principles of Art 				Bill Eburn 
Voices					Bill Eburn
Poet					Bill Eburn
Voices  					Ron Perry


In VOICES 16 I wrote that in the short term "we aim to provide a link between worker-writers and the organised trade union movement. In the slightly longer term, by also developing links through Unity of Arts with people in other branches of the arts, perhaps we can help to re-open discussion on Resolution 42 within the labour movement."

The long-term perspective is looking less and less realistic, not least because "Unity of Arts" survives only as the name on VOICES' bank account. Since "Unity of Arts" was founded there has been a tremendous upsurge in what has come to be known as "community arts", especially in the fields of theatre and creative writing, where so many diverse and autonomous groups have sprung up. Federations to which such groups can affiliate without losing their autonomy ("WorkerWriters and Community Publishers" is a good example) seem more appropriate. NW Spanner Theatre Group, in organising a campaign against political censorship, found that this incredible hulk of a job nearly split their costumes. So VOICES would do well to concentrate on its short-term aims.

VOICES has long since been a national publication, more by force of circumstances than by design), and our obvious base of support is WWCP. The appointment of a full-time co-ordinator for WWCP (financed jointly by the Arts Council and Gulbenkian) coincides with VOICES feeling the need for some kind of full-time worker more than ever before. Ben Ainley was retired when he founded VOICES and I was taking a breather on a university course when I first took over. Given that working-class writers and artists tend to be a bit backward in coming forward, much more time needs spending on soliciting material, including the as-yet-unwritten. The content of the magazine does not seem to be suffering too badly, but regularity of publication and feedback to contributors certainly are.

So we are trying to improve this situation in two ways. Firstly, member groups of the WWCP Federation have accepted greater responsibility for collecting material for VOICES, as well as selling copies of the magazine in their own areas. Secondly, we are trying to raise The money for a full-time editor-something which will no doubt be of greater interest to the many scattered contributors working in isolation and waiting patiently for replies from an overworked editor.

October 1978     

Rick Gwilt


"Do you really 
have to go all that way 
to hear some git 
read his poetry ?"

"I do" said I. 
"But why ?" asked she. 
"Because that git 
happens to be me”

Bill Eburn


See the "culture"-sated freaks 
Crimson shirts and moleskin creeks 
Garb and manner both devised 
that shallowness might be disguised 
as "character"-a shameless fraud- 
concocted that we might applaud 
Believing what's not understood 
Must therefore be EXTREMELY good.

Bob Cooney


The beaters advance 
With their hazel sticks, 
Tossing havoc through the briars.

"Hulloss! Hulloss! Yo! Yo!" 
Gun dogs, tongues lathered, 
Spurt down the rides.

This is the moment he was nourished for.
Now, in mid-air, Cock Pheasant
Appears before the Duke 

Jack Rhyland


Be caring
For those
Who go into this world
Fearful and insecure
Against the cold note
Of a friend’s back turned
The white ice
That glitters the eyes
The glancing frost
That pierces the blood
Chills the limbs
And hardens the heart
For future encounters

Bert Ward


The night Albert fell at the bar-room door people walked past him. Mrs Jones who is sixty seven and pisses down her legs said he was bevvied. Then she sat down again with her mates and had another glass of lager. Most of the people in the bar were in a bad mood. Cowboy Joe Dean who is the South End's answer to Johnny Cash was playing his Country and Western songs. When he plays the television goes off and everyone has to talk to one another. The worst thing about his singing is his timing. Not the timing of the rhythm of the songs, but the time he plays them. He sings "Ring of Fire" at half-past nine. You don't have to look up at the clock. "Country Roads" is sung at ten-to-ten. It goes on like that all night. People order ale on the strength of his timing.

As Joe sings Albert moves round the bar. Albert is an alcoholic. He is dirty and smells of stale sweat. For a few glasses of beer each night he picks up empties off the tables. This suits Albert, it gives him a chance to do a bit of minesweeping. That's drinking anyone's ale who has their backs turned. It was late when he fell over by the door. Everyone in the bar paid no attention to him till this fella coming in fell over him. Then Billy Mac said, "Throw him out. He's drunk."

Steve, who is a mate of mine, works in the hospital as a porter. When Albert fell over Steve was selling Spot-the-Ball tickets in the back-room. One of Mrs. Jones' mates came over to look at Albert and said he'd conked out but she could help. Then she pulled a bottle of pills from her bag and put one in Albert's mouth.

"That will fix him", she said, to the other old girls sitting watching. "Them tablets don't half work good".

That's when Steve came back in the bar. Right away he knew what was wrong with Albert.

"He's had a heart attack", he shouted, kneeling over the body. "Call an ambulance someone".

He hit Albert on the chest and blew down his mouth holding Albert's nose. Then he pulled his head back and poked his fingers in Albert's mouth. He had the tablet in his fingers.

"I gave him that" the old one said. "I've got a bad heart meself".

A big circle had formed round Steve. Most of them were watching in silence with pints in their hand. Steve was frantic trying to pump air into Albert and bang his chest, at the same time trying to find out what the old woman had given Albert.

"It was TNT tablets", she said at last.

It seemed ages before anything happened. Someone at the back of the crowd said

"Ah Steve's dead good at that, don't you think". The fella next to him said,

"Yea, next time I have a heart attack I'll call him".

The sound of the ambulance was heard as it came up the street. It stopped outside the pub and two attendants got out, came in and picked Albert up on a stretcher. Steve went with them in the back with Albert. We all walked back into the pub and Cowboy Joe started to play again. He did miss three numbers out but kept to his normal time. It was then that this fella came up to me and said:

"Ah, your mate's a bit of a hero isn't he, ah".

I said "You think so, ah ?"

"Dead right he is. I've got the winning ticket and he's pissed off with the money".

John Small


Now, lad, you improve 
Your productivity 
and we'll rub off 
all your corners 
and knock you into shape 
till you become 
a lovely ball-bearing 
(minimum oil) 
in the hub 
of a huge, faceless machine 
pumping out 
oodles for ooz.

Betty Baer


What have you got in your brief-case mister 
a room with a view at the Ritz? 
What have you got in your brief-case mister 
plans for a bomb or a blitz ?

We know there's no room in the boardroom mister 
for some one who's black from the pits 
No we know there's no run on a royal ship mister 
for sailors who've been blown to bits.

And you know there's no risk at a court-case mister 
for those who are guilty but rich
No excuse at all for a woman mister 
to choose her own way to resist

And know there's no place on a Concorde Minister 
for babies not born on the list
No place at the Palace for coloureds 
Minister for races and faces to mix

So what have you got in your brief-case mister 
a room with a view at the Ritz?
What have you got in your brief-case mister 
plans for a bomb or a blitz ?

Keith Armstrong


The young man who mended Princess Margaret's smile
Has been told by the Queen to BUZZ OFF!
That might spoil his chance of a Golden Disc, yet he'll
Continue to RING her and think about it
At least he says for a while.

They holiday'd together and took the sun
(We wondered (up North) who'd removed it from OUR sky)
The world may love a lover; but if a Princess has ONE
The world and Mrs. Grundy can't turn a blind EYE.
Ah ! no. The Beatles were wrong apart from LOVE you need
A lot of money-to holiday on.

Now the Press can turn a fine phrase-but abhors a lie
(Even if it's a rich ermine-gowned one !)
A ROYAL lie ? Never! It can't be done:
Whoever heard of the like
not you, certainly, what's more
not I!

What will happen next? Where will he go- Siberia perhaps or the Nile?
That sad young man who once (long ago)
mended Princess Margaret's smile.

Alan C Brown

'The Special Branch visited Oakdale Community College, South Wales, 
to investigate a course teaching William Morris, Karl Marx, and 
other 19th century writers.'
Times Educational Supplement 17.3.78.

Oh, look out, William Morris,
We knew you wouldn't die,
But you'd better go and find yourself
A decent alibi.

Our times have re-discovered you,
So they're searching once again,
To blot out that bold vision
And still that fluid pen.

For our policemen do not like you
And are launching an attack,
For you were looking forward
And they are struggling back.

Your ideas are far too modern
And still retain a certain power,
They might worry restless children,
Oh, they shouldn't be allowed.

The ice is breaking up again,
The river is in flood,
New energies assert themselves,
And courage is renewed.

So look out William Morris,
We knew you wouldn't die,
But you'd better go and find yourself
A decent alibi.

Ken Worpole


Eddie reached forward and pressed the 'On' button. It took an age to warm up, that little second-hand, black and white, unlicensed television set. At last, though, a faint and flickering picture appeared on the screen.A newsflash- "It has just been announced by the Littlewin Pools Company that someone in London has become the first million pound pools winner. Representatives from Littlewin's are now on their way to tell the lucky winner, believed to be a married man with one child, of his unprecedented win. The winner is said to live in the East End."

Eddie had a feeling in the pit of his stomach. His legs felt weak and no fit support for his heavy, suddenly very heavy, body. He knew it was him.

"It's me, or rather it's us !" he called to Samantha, his wife and mother of their child, the proof of which was burping under her arm.

"What do you mean ?" she asked.

"That announcement on the telly just now. Didn't you hear ? It was about a million pound pools win"

"A million pounds ?Did they mention us by name ?"

"No, but I know it's us. You know I never bother to check the scores properly. I guessed we had something but I just couldn't be bothered to work it out."

Samantha's face twitched and then grinned spasmodically. She put the child down and let it scramble round her legs.

"If it's true", she qualified, 'if it's true, we'll be free from all this at last". She pointed to the room, cushions and wooden table arranged on bare floorboards.

"We can buy a country mansion", she went on, "and have lions and tigers in the grounds. We can go on a world cruise. We can be like the people in the Martini adverts. We'll send baby to Eton. Trade in the bike for a Rolls. Go on the Russell Harty show maybe. We can, we can do anything we want to". Her voice trailed off and she held her hand up to her scalp giggling nervously. Eddie had gone quiet.

"We can buy a race-horse", Samantha shouted suddenly, 'We can go ski-ing, get an original painting for over the fireplace. We can have a maid and a servant and a cook".

Eddie wasn't feeling weak or worried anymore. He was feeling through his pockets, empty save for a bus ticket. He searched them over and over again. He went to the hall and sorted through his tatty jacket pockets and then all the pockets of his jackets and coats upstairs hung on a rail behind a ripped curtain: jackets and coats he hadn't worn in months. He checked through the bills and summonses behind the broken clock on the mantelpiece and searched beneath the pile of art and poetry magazines in the corner. He could hear Samantha downstairs talking to the baby:

"We'll have goats and geese and teddy bears and go to the Bahamas". Eddie came downstairs, just a little pale-faced.

"You have posted it ?" Samantha asked quietly.

"What ?"

"The pools coupon. It's like some cheap comedy show and you haven't posted it, have you ?"

"Oh, yes, I posted it all right, but then we don't know it's us that has won, do we ? Not for sure".

"You were sure a minute ago".

They could hear the car from a long way off, even though it moved with that soft purr that all Rolls-Royces move with. It slid into view from around a crumbling graffiti-decorated wall and pulled up beside the house. The peak-capped chauffeur in the front turned his head, and his nose, upwards towards the house.

"The landlord doesn't usually come to collect the rent himself, does he ?" said Eddie.

"That's not the landlord", said Samantha. "Don't you realise, it's the man from the pools".

Two bowler-hatted gentlemen, complete with rolled umbrellas and briefcases got out from the back seats. They swung open the gnawed wooden gate on its one hinge and stood on the doorstep. One pressed the bell, which didn't ring, and the other lifted the knocker, which came off in his hand.

"I say", called one to Eddie, who was peeking out from the front room window. "Are you Mr Edward Dorn ?" Eddie jumped away from the cracked pane and looked, somewhat nervously, at Samantha.

"Well, aren't you going to let them in ?" asked Samantha.

Eddie said nothing but made a dash for the front door, pulled up the safety catch and bolted it top and bottom.

"Hello, hello, Mr Dorn. I think we have some rather good news for you."

"What on earth are you doing ?" said Samantha. "Don't you realise? They've come to tell you about the win, a million pounds, a bloody million pounds".

"Look, sit down on the stairs Samantha, just a second".

One of the bowler-hatted gentlemen outside began to rap the glass with his knuckles:

"I say, Mr Dorn, we are from Littlewin Pools and I think we have some rather good news for you".

"Samantha, as you know, I am at last having a little success with my poems"

"Your what ?" Samantha half laughed.

"My poems. In the last six months I've had two published in CRAP, the Counter-culture Revolutionary Arts Press".

"Eddie, dear, excuse me for a minute while I get the picture. There are two men on our doorstep begging to give us a million pounds, and you lock them out and start talking to me about your poetry; I mean, what's the connection ?"

"Samantha, I'm twenty-eight. I have been writing poetry for fifteen years now, for the last five to the greater glory of socialism. People tell me how much they enjoy my work. I am respected. For the first time in my life people are listening to what I have to say. And now look what happens: I win the bloody pools. Who is going to take my work seriously now ? A millionaire poet ? I didn't want to get famous this way".

"What, then, dear, are you proposing ?" asked Samantha, very calmly, very sarcastically.

"I am proposing dear", he replied, "that we refuse the money". Samantha exploded.

"What ?We live in a crummy house in the crummiest part of town, we've got a kid we can hardly support, you're on the dole, and you want to turn down a million pounds for the sake of a few crummy poems".

"I say, Mr Dorn, can you hear us ?You've won the pools you know. You've won a million pounds", said one of the gentlemen on the doorstep. They rapped the door together.

"Crummy poems !" said Eddie. "Crummy poems !" Eddie thundered up the bare wooden stairs past Samantha and was down again almost immediately, a wad of scribbled paper in his trembling grasp. "Crummy poems, eh?" He thrust a written-on cigarette packet before Samantha's astonished gaze. "This one, it's about Chile. I've had people invite me to read it in pubs".

"Coffee!" exclaimed Samantha. And it was Eddie's turn to look astonished. "It's one pound fifty a jar now, you know I Do you realise just how poor we are ?"

"This one here. This poem's about racialism in the professions".

"Shoes for the child. They're over a fiver, for his little feet !"

"Royalty. I've written a satirical poem about the Jubilee. It's called Revolt of the red carpets"

"Rent. We pay seventeen quid a week for this dump, and the flush in the toilet doesn't even work".

"I'm working on a poem right now on the very subject, dear," said Eddie.

"You'd be better taking a plumber's course", said Samantha. "Don't you realise you'll get what you like published now that we are rich and famous ?"

"Yes, but don't you see, I'll never know if I could have made it on my own", explained Eddie. "Here, this is my latest ..."

They both turned to look at the front door. Something was being pushed through the letter-box. It was a cigar, and it was lit.

"You can't tempt me with that !" shouted Eddie at the door.

"Come on you silly bugger, open up!" said one of the gentlemen, his voice angry now. "This is most embarrassing".

"And if you didn't want the money, why did you fill in the coupon in the first place ?" said the other.

"In the first place", said Eddie, "You shouldn't be listening to my private conversations".

"Private ?" echoed the gentleman. "Haven't you looked at your television lately ?"

"And in the second place", continued Eddie, "you can get your bloody cigar out of my letter-box. It's unhealthy and we've no ashtrays".

Samantha got up from the stairs and went in the front room where the small set was quietly entertaining itself. By the time she had hit the top of it a few times to try to obtain a watchable picture, Eddie was beside her.

The scene they saw was of a small broken-down terraced house. The camera panned in on to the torn curtain around one of the windows and right into a dingy room. Eddie was speechless. He raised his hand and pointed to the screen. On the screen a man stood pointing at his television set and on the screen a man stood

"It's me, or rather it's us", said Eddie. "The cheeky swine". He ran to the window, and on the screen a man ran to the window.

"They've got a bloody camera out there !" he called to Samantha. He drew the curtains together harshly; on the screen a man drew the curtains together harshly. A voice from the television:

"At number fifty-nine they seem to be quite shy. There is obviously a lot of embracing going on in there between husband and wife. How joyful Mr Dorn-as he has now been named-must be to be the first million pound pools winner".

Eddie returned to the front door, the outside of which the gents were now trying to batter down.

"Oi, you two. Do you know that little box on the coupon where it says 'No publicity' ?Well I thought I ticked it".

"That may well be, old boy. But you can't expect to keep a million pound win quiet, can you ?We can't lose all this publicity. Our jobs rely on this. Come on, let us in".

"I don't want the money, I'm a poet".

"A what ?We heard you were an unemployed miner", said one of the gentlemen.

"That's it, have a go. It's not my fault if there ain't no mines in the East End, is it ?" said Eddie snarling. "Take yer money back". "Take it back? We don't want it. What will the public say if we don't pay our winners ?'Cheats' they'll call us, 'Cheats'."

"Give it to charity".

"We already give enough to keep our accountants happy".

"Keep it yourself then".

"Us?We're on a salary," said one of the gentlemen, mystified.

"With a graduated pension, too", added the other. "It's yours, please take it. You can still write poetry".

"No, I can't. Starving artists produce the best work !" he bellowed.

The baby was crying now and Samantha was still watching her own house on the television.

"We'll be able to go to all the jet-set discos", she said. "The perfect rags to riches story. We'll meet Princess Margaret, maybe even Roddy".

Eddie started to shove his scraps of poetry under the front door.

"Read these", he called to the gentlemen. "You'll be able to tell that I could have made it on my own"

"He's gone barmy", he heard them say.

"We'll have three cars each", said Samantha. "A yacht, an aeroplane, a castle in Spain". The baby screamed.

An aerial view of the area and the house appeared on the small screen. The commentator said:

"Newspapermen from all over the world have gathered here today to congratulate this happy couple on their unique win. The Queen Mother herself has agreed to present the cheque to them on world-wide live link-up television next Wednesday".

"We're made !" screamed Samantha, shaking and giggling.

"I'm ruined l" screamed Eddie, shaking her in the hope of bringing her to her senses and then letting her go when he realised he was losing his own.

He ran up the stairs, the banister splintering and collapsing in his furious grip. At that moment the gentlemen finally burst in through the front door.

"Just in time as well by the look of it", said one and picked up the bawling child.

"Quite right", said the other comforting the near-hysterical Samantha in his arms. She sobbed into his clean, white shirt-front. "It's all right", he said, "you're rich now"

Way above, Eddie clambered up the dangerous ladder to the attic and smashed his way through the shoddy repairs the landlord condescended to do when they had first moved in. He wriggled on up past the chipped slates and on to the roof.

"Get lost, you lousy bastards!" he shouted to the circling helicopter and its whirring cameras. He clung precariously on to the fragile chimney stack and waved a fist to the heavens. "Go away, I don't want your bloody money I"

Samantha and the gentlemen were watching him on the ever-fading and buzzing television screen. The commentator was saying:

"And here he is, ladies and gentlemen, Britain's newest millionaire. He is waving to us now. How happy he must be. He's calling something to us but of course we can't hear him. From here it looks like he's saying, 'Thank you!." 

Roger Mills


I'm out on the road and short on the coin,
I've got a million friends,
Gonna kick me in the groin,
I feel like an actor,
Looking for some scenes,
Still there's no use in crying over,
Spilt beanz.

The man at the top's,
Gonna call out the cops,
Gonna pull out the stops,
Gonna work until he drops,
Gonna make sure you do,
Exactly what he means,
Still there's no use in crying over,
Spilt beanz.

The man in the middle's,
Got his eye on the door,
Got his nose in the air,
Got his ear on the floor,
Got his morals on the line,
Got his hand in his jeans,
Still there's no use in crying over,
Spilt beanz.

We've got cities full of immigrants,
Dancing in the nude,
Eating our women,
And sleeping with our food,
They talk in funny languages,
I don't know what it means,
Still there's no use in crying over,
Spilt beanz.

Crooked politicians preach in the street,
Put chains on your brains,
And reins on your feet,
Tell you to cool it,
Turn down the heat,
Take all the taste,
From the food that you eat,
Quiz you, whiz you,
Tell you you're beat,
Tie you, buy you,
Wrap you up neat,
They talk in funny languages,
I don't know what it means,
Still there's no use in crying over,
Spilt beanz.

So don't point your finger,
Don't hold a grudge,
Living's your jury,
And death is your judge,
There's nobody a straight man,
Because everybody leans,
Still there's no use in crying over,
Spilt beanz.

Pete Farrow


The rich man plans our future,
While poor brothers make the roads,
For them to grind down, with fast motors
Leaving dust and grime and crime behind,
People tell me how come
Poorman work himself dry,
Beggarman ... satisfied?

The Guinea-gogues, fly supersonic planes,
First-class section, on their trains,
Say it time and time over again,
"Segregation is my game",
Won't you tell me why?
Poor folk seem satisfied,
To hang down their heads and cry.

The richest people on this earth,
Are a mean and racist class,
Eating big-broad T-bone steaks, drinking wine,
Poorman, Johnnie-cake and lemonade,
So, open up your eyes,
They're always preaching lies;
Saying "Your riches are in the skies,
And you must be satisfied."

W Lloyd Thomas


“And this” shouted the foreman into me young man's ear is the the press shop".

The smell of oil had started at the factory gate, with the lad wondering if he would be sick or if it would go, and it had gone slowly. But now this noise, this sheer volume of sound that hammered through his shoes as he stood; this robbed him of his senses, his thoughts beaten by the rhythms of the nearest press.

"Follow me", shouted the foreman smiling at the boy's face, "Follow me”

And the boy followed, as close as he could, trying to step with the foreman's shoes. And as he walked, avoiding the machines, he began to notice other things, the rolls of shiny steel, the drums of oil, the pellets and containers and people-a workforce standing, sitting, working very close to the noise, and little by little by little by little, as his ear grew used to the noise, the fear died down.

"Don't worry," shouted the foreman, "you'll get ...." and the sound ate the foreman's voice. The boy nodded, tried to speak but could only smile, shake his head, and nod again.

"And now" said the personnel manager in the administration building, far from the rhythms, stretching his arms behind his head, leaning back on his chair, looking away from the lad, out over the roof tops and away.

"And now-where was I ?"

"Urr, umm" said the lad, feeling he'd failed some test.

"A pencil, a pencil !" said the man and began to rummage in his desk. Now sitting uncomfortable at another desk in the outer office and weighing the weight of the man's expensive pen, the lad began to read the questions again.

At last, carefully, not wishing to leave finger smudges on the company's 'clean' printed sheet, the lad wrote in his best hand, yes to every illness then, sometimes no or never, in every other space.

Bob Drysdale


"Betty Smith" said the Preacher 
"was a great worker, 
and an example to us all."

"Much she suffered 
and it may be as well 
she left us when she did.

For she would have been 
sorely grieved at having 
to leave the work she loved."

Raising his eyes to the rafters 
he added for all to hear 
"There's no lack of work up there."

Some of us who had spent 
the last year on the dole 
could hardly wait to enrol.

Bill Eburn

Copies of FELLOW TRAVELLERS, a booklet of poems 
by Bill Eburn, can be obtained from the author at 
162 Nether Street, London N.3 for 35p (including P+P).

LINDA WELLER (Manchester) here introduces a letter written in 1945 by her father PHIL KAISERMAN.


The most treasured possession I have is a letter written to me by my father on the occasion of my birth.

When I was four days old my father received a cable telling him of my birth, He was stationed in India at the time. For him like many others the war was a traumatic experience and he obviously felt the need to put down in writing what he felt at the time and what my birth meant to him.

When I was very young my father was not around very much. He was usually at union or CP branch meetings, or out selling the Daily Worker, but in my teenage years for no apparent reason he became less active, which gave us more time together to talk about life and what was going on around us.

When I eventually joined the CP it was because I had arrived at a time in my life when my children were growing up and needed me less, which gave me the time to think and to decide in which way I wanted my life to go. A few months after joining I came across the letter which had been put away in a safe place. On reading it I realised that I was taking the same road as my father, the one he had wanted for me from my birth. I also realised that what had brought me to that road was not the political problems and discussions he had faced me with, but by the constant strength of his love around me and the warmth and friendship he felt and showed to his fellow human beings.

He always and still does believe that we must be the masters of our own destiny, but there is one thing over which we have no control, that is our parentage. Lady luck must have been with me at my conception to give me him, this man who is not just my father but my Comrade.




22 April 1945


My dear Daughter,

I have just received a cable telling me that you have just been born. Well this might seem a little silly writing to a new born babe, who naturally can't read what I've got to say. Never the less I feel that I should like to put in writing my thoughts on this occasion.

You have been born at a time when the whole World is engaged in a conflict to ensure that you and your generation will not have to undergo the hardship and tribulations that I and thousands of others have had to go through. Your generation will see a new World, a World in which Man will live at peace with his neighbour and will go forward to greater and better things than man had yet known. Your World will be one of Comradeship and communal effort where each will work for the benefit of the whole community and not for his own personal gain. I am as sure of this as I am that the forces of progress will overcome the forces of reaction in the present struggle. The reasons I have are many, I have listened to many men talking of what they want when this horrible War is over and by their determination and courage they will achieve this time what their Fathers lost at the last War. All over the world men are showing by their actions that they mean to have that Heaven on Earth and the Homes fit for Heroes to live in.

So, I say that your generation will live on the fruits of your Fathers endeavours, because I know that all the Parents and Parents to be who are taking part in this conflict mean to see to it that their Children and their Children's Children will not have to go through all the horrors of War and the World will not know again the effects of unemployment and poverty.

Your birth is coincidental with the birth of a New World, see to it that you take your part in fashioning it and moulding it to our World of Peace and Plenty.

So, I greet you into this World and hope that you will carry out your part in the fight for a better World.

               (signed) All my Love, Dear,

                              from your Loving Dad


Mom was out at work 
and I was on a shirk 
and reason was slipping 
why I wasn't onto them. 
I was out of lighter fuel 
I was out of school 
and we couldn't pitch a tent 
outside the settlement 
so what we do 
now what we do 
we took a motor-car 
and rode and rode 
into the hills.

The pavements they were high 
with the city guys' GXI 
and the XL17 they used to carry them. 
Now the hub caps they were clean 
and the radiators mean
as the b's that had the bread 
to purchase them.

The traffic stanchions were down 
I say: were down
were down
on my life as a pedestrian.

Everywhere I should plate 
there were gans. they were gans 
there were gans to put an end 
to my life as a pedestrian 
so what we do
now what we do 
we stole a motor-car 
and rode into the silver hills 
of Sodomen.

Now the tenements were high
Yes they were high
as they were long 
as they were broad 
to conquer them. 
I threw a desk, I say a desk, 
at the teacher teaching us 
about Bethlehem 
so what we do 
what would you do 
what can you do 
we stole a motor-car 
and rode into the hills 
the purple hills 
to find this Bethlehem.

So we rode and yes we rode 
cross 4 bridges and suspension 
turnpike flyovers
and rode in search of Bethlehem 
All aside us sand hills moving 
and river valleys grooving 
Until we found what Toxteth 
library promised us.
We found an old vineyard 
where the winters set in hard 
and we smoked and smoked and smoked 
colour supplements
we made a fire of stone 
from the vines that'd overgrown 
and the water from the stream 
was to nourish us.

Yes the tenements they were high 
were long as they were broad 
to conquer them
and the squad cars and traffic stanchions 
and the city welfare mansions 
had put an end to my life
as a pedestrian.

So what could you do
what would you do
I'm asking you.
You'd steal a motor-car.

John Gowling


November. In a city street 
I passed someone I thought I recognised:
"Blubber !" I blurted out.
Blubber. It was the name we gave at school 
to a queer shambling nervous pale-faced lad.
No-one remembered why, yet somehow it suited him. 
But when we jeeringly called it after him
he always hesitated for a bit 
then smiled good-naturedly. 
He takes it in good part, we said, 
and so we justified our plaguing him.

Yet I sometimes thought he swallowed our insults 
because he preferred to have some friends like us 
to never having any friends at all.
Yes it was he-I was right to call out Blubber in that city street.
Mutual recognition after fifteen years. 
He hesitated for a moment, as of old, 
then snarled and cursed me and went upon his way. 
I stood there shocked, but yet perversely glad 
to see that Blubber had become a man.

Donald Whitmore


The concrete ground gleams,
A mixture of rain and sun,
Five boys head and kick
A ball that springs with jitters.
It's teased and bounced
Over crossbars and roads.
The latter suffers traffic,
Wild, excited, nervous and fast.
Meanwhile, the boys are picking roles,
Famous names are tossed and scattered.
This concrete ground,
That grazes knees and tortures feet,
Is not Old Trafford or Anfield
But it suffices.
The roaring cars, like the Kop
For eleven clad in red,
Is support for the five
In fashionable rags.
Their green turf is grey,
Their netted goal-posts
Are bent metal engraved with 
"Ezer's and Steve's",
Their commentators
Are breathless scorers of imaginary goals,
Their Wembley is this concrete ground,
Provided by penny-pinching planners
In an effort to make the kids happy.
The kids are lucky to have their dreams.

C Mooney


To me the monument in Durham Square is one of hate 
and oppression. Lord Londonderry or Castlereagh. 
Castlereagh, the Home Secretary, shot them down at Peterloo; 
his son or brother, the one on the horse without a tongue, 
trod them down. Shelley explains it very well.

I met murder on the way
He had a mask like Castlereagh
His face was firm, but he looked grim
Seven bloodhounds followed him
They were fat and well they might
Be in most admirable plight
For one by one and two by two
He tossed them human hearts to chew

and this is what I came up with myself:

As I was out one summer day
I met my Lord of Castlereagh
Upon a horse in Durham Square
There's something wrong I do declare
A stallion carved, well-shod, well-hung,
It's standing there without a tongue
If words could speak what would it say?
Get off my back, you Castlereagh

Dickie Beavis

You gave space in your last issue of VOICES to a working-class army 
officer with his poem on Northern Ireland (not Ulster) and those who 
will die there.

May a working-class railway guard be given the same space to reassure 
the working-class officer, his fears are not groundless. He will not be remembered.

I have read about half of your issues and I hope this is the last time I have 
to reply to such a poem.
I don't believe in letting the enemy have a word in edgeways. If that working-class 
Major isn't the enemy I'll eat my guards red flag.


I Will Not Remember You
When You're Dead

(Not a dedication, not an oration)

I will not remember you when you're dead
you're not that complex.

Your actions basic bullet is a fraud
like the romantic lily,

like the environmental wrench your words
are not that complex.

I will not remember you
remembering who to blame for what you are

I will not remember your naming game,
your port-arm words today.

My celebrations will have nothing to do with killings 
on streets you may have helped to die.

Your numbers up and you know it
or maybe you don't,

either way, you're right,
I'll not remember you when you're dead.

Joe Smythe

About two years ago the British Authorities decided that as part of their campaign 
against those fighting them in Northern Ireland, that they would replace detention 
without trial by the special no-jury courts, and that political status-the wearing of 
civilian clothes etc in prisons-would be abolished. Kieran Nugent was the first of hundred 
to refuse to co-operate with these attempts to criminalise political activities. 
For two years now he has refused prison uniform, resisted prison discipline. 
There are now over 400 men 'on the blanket' in the prisons of Northern Ireland.


as the day you were born 
but without that innocence,

of everything 
but pride and honesty,

how dare they, 
who clothe 
five hundred years 
of oppression 
and deceit 
in words of moderation, 
presume to judge you ?

and how dare I 
who has no more than mouthed 
my disapproval 
presume to call you 

Phil Boyd


"You're a bit of a flamboyant bastard aren't you !" Sol burst out. After a couple of jars of draught Guinness that hurt a bit. We'd just come out of the "Ducie" after having a particularly enjoyable evening, everybody participating in Irish fiddler music making, some tapping the table with coins, others playing with spoons or 'rickers' as some call them, the rest making noises of their own choice, but everybody participating and enjoying the bearded Irishman's melodiousness.

"What makes you say that, you schnook faced git" expostulated Stan.

These two were always extremely correct and complimentary in each other's company. They would sometimes boast who cooked the best meal whenever they were in each other's homes. Like 'cowshit', 'drecht' or 'prison poison' just to show how they enjoyed the culinary expertise of the other.

Sol gave Stan one of those wild hairy faced looks that he was expert at, and said

"Fancy wearing all those medals on a demo." With poetical deliberation Stan said

"What bleeding demo was that ?"

"You know, the one that the North-West TUG organised against the National Front" Sol replied.

"You were the only one with a chestful of medals."

"So! I earned them in the war to end all wars didn't I! Whilst that arrogant bastard Moseley was sunning himself in the Isle-of-Man. Now his followers want to defend White Democracy by sending all the blacks back where they came from." Sol scratched his head, looked over the top of his glasses and said

"Don't get excited. Here-have a peanut butter sandwich, and leave some in the jar for me." He'd made sure already that the bloody jar had very little in anyway. "Nice stuff-but it fattens you up," he apologised.

"Fine time to tell me. The black bread's nice" replied Stan. "He's got a right bleeding job", he continued.

"Who ?" mumbled Sol through a gobful of peanut butter.

"That bleeding geezer who wants to send everybody back where they came from-and I notice Maggie agrees with him."

"Thought we were talking about yer medals" mused Sol.

"Just thinking how I got 'em, and it's all to do with these repatriation fellers. If we examined their pedigrees they might have to go as well. We'd probably shift the earth's axis, and we'd all be shitting sideways."

Sol threw him a cig and said

"Have a 'yennims' and cough yer balls off." A few puffs and then he continued "You'd think they were made of gold-what are they worth."

"About five-and-a-half years of my life, in a steaming Burmese jungle, so that we could come back to work, live and love together. I found out the only colour the boss man knows is green." Stan replied. "It's getting the same with our kids. They study hard at college for years, and fight for the entitlement to wear a cap and gown-and refuse it. Why ! They've earned it-the hard way. Same with me medals, the bleeding hard way !" continued Stan-putting on his coat.

"Where're you going ?" asked Sol.

"To polish me medals for next week's Carnival for RACIAL HARMONY."

Stan Cole

(Tune: "Island in the Sun")

Many many years ago,
As our history goes to show,
Invaders came to this island,
Today he's called an Englishman.

Angles Saxons Jutes and Scots,
Viking Danes and they begot,
From them came the English tongue,
Handed down to daughter son.

Normans came from Normandy,
Huguenots from Brittany
From them all a nation grew,
Take them all, and they are you.

Centuries pass our nation grew,
Enriched by Irish and the Jew,
With their craft and industry,
Love of life and Liberty.

As we saw the war recede,
Production was our greatest need,
Labour from old colonies,
Help to man our industries.

Enoch Powell can't save his face,
If he ever tries to trace,
He will find to his disgrace,
The English are a bastard race.

Angles Saxons Jutes and Scots,
Norman Danes and Huguenots,
Irish and Jews with races new,
Take them all and they are you.

The lessons of our history,
Of immigrant and refugee,
Took them all in warm embrace,
Absorbed them in our island race.

Angles Saxons Jutes and Scots, 
Normans Danes and Hugenots, 
Irish and Jew with races new




Jersey (bays and steep-banked lanes, 
paddocks where creamy cattle graze, 
small vineyards, solid pink stone farms, 
old churches, lazy long-stretched strand)

You are no holiday resort-it pours. 
We drive through endless maze of streams, 
on silver mirrors of the sky 
along the cliff's brink, blurred by rain.

You should be sun soaked; so should we, 
sprawled warm and naked on the shore- 
not drenched, chilled, hunched into ourselves, 
sheltering separately in our clothes.

And we rain too: showers, cascades; 
puddles reflect our shuddering forms. 
Rain drops studded on the leaves- 
tears fallen from our weeping eyes.

For we are not as we had supposed 
linked together, minds entwined. 
Water trickles down the rocks; 
rain drops spray off into space.

Nor is this island what it seems.
Beneath the pretty pastures-caves.
Bygone barbarism lurks
in deep-ground tunnels, caverns hewn

by broken bloody hands of slaves 
labouring under brutal guards 
burrowing bunkers in the depths 
of Jersey, underneath the grass.

Then, it was secret chambers carved 
by "untermenschen", Poles and Jews; 
but now across the narrow sea 
deadlier contraptions lie in wait,

all set to exhale nuclear gas, 
poison the people, wither fields, 
blacken hedgerows, kill the cows- 
we realise it is time to leave.

Suddenly the deluge stops.
(Bunker slaves went long ago)
People rise to quell the fumes.
We are together. Free. We stay.



They hung a star above the door
They promised warmth and cheer
A game of darts, a cosy fire
And a glass of honest beer.

And that was how the English pub
Became a 'Way of Life'
Where tales were spun, and jokes were swapped
And a man could take his wife.

And many merry nights were had
For that's what pubs were for
And everyone paid homage to
The Star above the door.

But nothing ever stays the same
At least that's how it seems
Perfection is the kind of stuff
That only lasts in dreams.

The Breweries that owned the pubs
(There's none knows how or when)
Were taken over by a group
Of grasping, greedy men.

Throughout the nineteen seventies
Like vultures at a kill
They exploited every avenue
And the public paid the bill.

With every chance, in dribs and drabs
Their prices rose a penny
Their beer became a luxury
And out of reach of many.

Their profits broke all records
As they watched their prices soar
But the public turned in anger
From the star above the door.

Now they're poorer but they're wiser
As they leave their once-loved pub
And they re-direct their footsteps
To their local Social Club.

And each one will be accepted
As a member and a friend
And once more they'll get true value
For each penny that they spend.

May this story be repeated
In each corner of the nation
Down with those greedy breweries

Ripyard Cuddling


Old Tommy came up out of the tunnelled estate and wavered at the crossing, cursing at himself against the torrent of traffic slithering past like a long silvery snake of a train. A snake with neither head nor tail, its body huffing and puffing and snorting along, until severed by the bright red eye of the iron policeman. But even then it was not safe. Many is the time that Tommy had hardly completed the dash for the opposite side, when the eye had flickered to amber and sent the straining serpent galloping off in hot pursuit of its severed front.

Having eventually got himself safely across the road, Tommy set himself a roundabout back street course to the park, in order to evade being waylaid by gangs of neighbours, who, since his recent fall, seemed to be lurking about all over the place and falling over themselves to help him with this, and wash or press that. Or even worse; on a Wednesday, commandeer and cook him the piece of meat he was saving for Friday. He had tried for weeks to convince them that it was the drink rather than the senility they suspected, that had sent him on a helter-skelter tumble down the concrete steps, but it was all in vain. Still the meddlers meddled, and his only relief from their meddling was his daily walks across the small stump of grass at the park which had become his sanctuary.

He stopped awhile at the south gate, to give himself a bit of a rest, before he took his old stick tap, tap, tapping, away off to the keeper's hut and his regular mug of afternoon tea. He gazed around for a time, reflecting on the years before his retirement, when he had worked in this same shabby little park. Wasted years, spent standing sentry to the pampered rows of plants and flowers, and sparse patches of polished grass, all long gone now. Now as winter approached all that remained for a weak city sun to peek at as it sunk behind the fringes of withering trees, was a lunar landscape of burning mounds of rotted leaves. Tommy shook his head sadly. The place was becoming as bleak and desolate as the wastes that drew themselves about its edge.

Tommy pushed in through the door of the hut, straight into the middle of a row. Lenny and Charley were locked hammer and tongs across the table. Behind them, doing his utmost to ignore the bickering, sat Ambrose pulled up to the oil stove in the far corner. Pointing to the teapot he passed up a mug to Tommy.

"Go on it's just brewed." Tommy poured himself a good measure and took up a seat with his back to the window, and asked:

"What's all the row about then Lenny ?" Ambrose answered him:

"Damned politics again. What else ?" Lenny broke off the bickering and turned to Tommy:

"What else indeed, eh Tom. Politics the struggle of life." Tommy laughed.

"Don't involve me son, thankfully I'm past all that."

"Nonsense Tom, nobody's ever past politics. It's there strapped to our backs like our class, from our first cry to our last sigh." Charley, who had obviously been getting the worse of the argument before Tommy's arrival, and who had been glad of the short diversion, shaped up and moved back into the fight.

"Class, class, what bloody class ?" He took a sudden gulp of half cold tea and spluttered: "That's the trouble with this bloody country, class; you're all bloody well obsessed with it. You've got a class for everything and everybody, with each level fighting and clawing to keep their own perks and privileges safe from the other." He swung around to face Tommy, lowering his voice as he spoke. "What we need now Tom, is a new movement all together. One that will unify all of us, the whole nation, towards a single goal." Ambrose sighed. He had a shrewd idea at which direction the argument was about to turn, and no doubt the moral level of debate was about to take a sharp dive. Lenny on the other hand, was absolutely delighted. He lunged for his newspaper, giving off a bark like a wounded whale: He shoved the paper under Charley's nose.

"This miserable little bunch of swaggering fascists wouldn't be your idea of a unifying movement by any chance, would they? They're the biggest threat yet to the unity of the British working-class."

Charley was taken back by Lenny's sudden show of temper and turned to Tommy for support.

"See what I mean Tom, with this bloke all roads lead back to bloody class."

"Well, isn't that what it's all about man." Lenny came back at him. "The class war-us the working-class doing all the producing, and every other class upwards sucking off the fruits of our labour." Charley took a suck of tea and had another go at old Tom.

"Go on Tom, you ask him." Tommy who had only been half listening looked puzzled.

"Go on tell him what it was that you ever produced apart from piles of rotted leaves, in all your time in this ratty little park." He paused for a second. "And if the so-called upper classes want to rob us of that, then for my part they're bloody welcome to it." Tommy became embarrassed and uneasy at Charley's attempts to drag him in as an ally. Without answering he raised himself from his chair, and pushing back the sacking at the window gazed out at the gathering dusk rolling across the park. 'The conversation behind him receded to a respectable distance as he watched the spiky skyline set itself up into a sharp silhouette, ready to scratch at the underbelly of the coming night. Suddenly he was wrenched back to the foggy reality of the hut. This time it was Lenny.

"Did you hear that Tom ? Now he says there's no unemployment south of Barnet." Now on this subject Tommy did know a thing or two; his brother's three sons had each been apprenticed into different sections of the building trade, and he knew from them how work came and went with the seasons, and how, on a bad winter half the industry could be thrown out of work. However, before he could work his thoughts into words, Charley had leapt to his own defence.

"I didn't say nothing of the sort," he roared. "All I said was that we couldn't get people to work here in the park for love nor money'

"Perhaps not everyone wants to work in the park." Tommy offered. Charley rolled his eyes in despair.

"I didn't say they did, did I ? I was just ...." Lenny butted in:

"We know what you were just doing man: giving out the same sort of trash as that mob you support. I suppose their answer to unemployment is to recruit a bloody great army of park keepers, and if we build a big enough park with a big enough keeper's hut, we can solve the housing problem at the same time !" Tommy chuckled. But Ambrose, who had been ignoring the row, buried in his paper, left it down. He sensed that Charley was within a fish's spit of tearing Lenny apart. Lenny, realising the danger drew in his horns. Not taking any chances, Ambrose, who was the senior man anyway, got in between them.

"Come on that's enough. Every time you pair start bickering about politics it ends up in a fight." Charley pushed himself back in his chair, still hot with the effort of keeping his temper.

"You tell him Ambrose ! Whatever I say, he has a go at me and takes the mick." Ambrose patted air.

"All right, all right, just calm down for a second. Lenny, you boil up another pot of tea. Tom will have one before he leaves."

By now the bad mood of the hut was positively crawling about the place, and though he was reluctant to linger in such an atmosphere, Tommy agreed to one for the road. Lenny allowed the temper of the hut to cool before breaking the forced silence. Pushing away his mug and addressing himself to the company in general, he asked:

"Well, short of deporting half the population of London, what is the quick and easy remedy of unemployment." The trap was laid, and Charley, true to form, surfaced, snapping and thrashing at the bait.

"Look, just because I bloody well vo ...." He stopped himself and shot a look of embarrassment and despair across to Ambrose. The embarrassment was mutual. Charley lowered his voice feeling suddenly treacherous as he spoke:

"Okay. So I voted for them. So what ?" Lenny gave a satisfied grin.

"Well at least we all know where we stand now don't we." As he spoke he glanced behind him to Ambrose.

"But it doesn't answer the question does it." Charley leaped to his feet crashing his mug back on the table.

"Sod you and your bloody clever questions," he roared. The significant glances the others were firing among themselves put Charley on the defensive. His voice became tinged with panic.

"Look I'm not a member am I ?I only voted for them." He flattened his hands in a gesture of defeat.

"Well what else can you do? Come on, never mind the dirty looks, how else do you give the establishment a kick in the pants." An embarrassed silence cloaked the hut. Tommy turned to gaze out of the window, and watched as a gang of young cyclists honed in and swooped on the last remaining patch of hemmed in grass. The formation regrouped and fled, decapitating a solitary line of flowers as they went. Tommy shook his head sadly. The steam from his mug had misted the glass. He turned back to Charley, asking:

"Tell me, son, who exactly do you consider to be the establishment ?" He paused allowing the question to rest, and glanced back to where rivulets of condensation made bars at the window. The last of the cyclists had been swallowed and lost in the gathering darkness. "I mean to those kids out there all of us here in this hut are the establishment." Charley was up on his feet with a roar:

"Us, us. How can a bunch of no nothing no-bodies like us be the establishment." Tommy was petrified. Charley towered above him, purple in the face and grunting with the effort of controlling his rage. Tommy struggled to find a way of pacifying the other, without antagonising and setting him off again. Ambrose dashed between them and Lenny unobtrusively slid into the vacated corner chair. Charley stormed away to the door roaring over his shoulder at Ambrose, that if they were all going to be against him and always take Lenny's side because he impressed them all with his clever book talk, then they could stick his bloody job and be done with it.

For a good while after Charley had left, the tension in the hut was as taut as a fiddler's bow string. Eventually Lenny announced:

"Well at least we can agree on one thing, not only is the man an idiot; but a sodding dangerous idiot at that." Ambrose turned on him annoyed:

"Why an idiot Lenny ? What is it that makes you his better ?" Lenny was bewildered. Although Ambrose generally remained non-committal during their debates, Lenny had always presumed him to be in sympathy with himself and his own politics.

"I don't consider myself to be superior to anybody", he answered defensively. "Quite the opposite in fact."

"I agree that is what you would have us believe. In fact. . . suspect that you believe it yourself !" said Ambrose.

"Yet look how quick you are to condemn Charley and his like." Now Lenny was getting mad.

"Well how else do you treat his sort ? Somebody's got to show them a few home truths." Ambrose smiled:

"Truth yes, but it's more than that, isn't it ? You know I think it is because he is a bit slow, that you actually despise Charley." Lenny was beginning to feel uncomfortable. He turned to Tommy.

"That is nonsense Tom: I had no formal education to speak of myself; everything I have learned I have taught myself."

"Exactly," said Ambrose.

"And because of this you despise all those who are ill-equipped to do the same. All this nonsense of trying to enlighten Charley is just an excuse to get at him."

"And how do you come by that conclusion ?" Lenny answered. Ambrose grew serious.

"I just can't believe that you're seriously attempting to endear Charley to your arguments by continually lecturing him on the heavy end of Mr Marx." Tommy returned to the argument:

"He is right there Lenny, to the average working man all this stuff about international Marxism and capitalism is just so much intellectual clap-trap, and you can't blame people for taking more interest in football than politics." Ambrose slapped his hand on the table.

"Exactly," he said, returning to Lenny.

"If you want us to take this socialism idea seriously, then you must bring it down from some highbrow discussion to a level where it will actively involve and encourage people like us."

By now a thick black velvet had blanketed the park and Tommy had to rely on Ambrose to guide and steady him across the rutted ground. In the distance a solid stream of headlights washed along the main road. Suddenly Tommy became keenly aware of the eeriness of motion without sound. He glanced back toward the hut, where Lenny sulked under the last glimmer of light, and thought on what a desperate place the park had become. Suddenly he realised that Ambrose had been speaking.

"I'm sorry, what did you say ?"

"I was just asking what you made of all this sudden patriotism ?" Tommy thought for a while before replying.

"I would have thought that as far as the wilder elements go, they have probably reached their peak." Ambrose probed a little deeper.

"I noticed back at the hut that your sympathy seemed to lie with Lenny." Tommy brightened:

"To a point, yes. Remember, I was one of those who marched against the bosses back in the thirties and forties, along with thousands of others." He sighed, tasting the fondness of distant memories. "But then it was so much different, it was simply us and them. Nowadays, politics have become a complex game, that I'm no longer sure I can altogether follow." He looked sideways at Ambrose.

"But what of your politics ? It is you and your people that should feel threatened by the likes of Charley." Ambrose laughed.

"It isn't Charley that worries me, but the apathy of the politicians to the problems of areas such as this." By this time they had reached the main gate and they stood awhile staring out through the bars at the squabbling traffic. Tommy broke the silence:

"So politically which way would you go?" Ambrose shrugged.

"As it stands at the moment I'm not at all sure."

"Fair enough", Tommy replied.

"But you must have some sort of leaning; I mean I know it's silly, but just for an example, suppose the whole political debate between left and right was condensed down to the argument in the hut this afternoon, who would you choose between Lenny and Charley ?"

"You think I would choose the same man as you, don't you ?" Ambrose answered.

"I'd be surprised and curious if you didn't."

"Why surprised ?" Ambrose asked.

"Oh come on, I know Lenny can be a little patronising at times. But at least his politics make some sort of sense. The other fellow has no politics save one."

"Ah, but these people exploit that policy to a great effect, do they not ?"

"And you think that commendable ?" Tommy replied somewhat shocked.

"Of course not, but until socialism is brought down from its pedestal, and put in its proper place as the everyday common-sense of the working-class, rather than the debating matter of the intellectual few, then you will have nothing to fight them with."

"So you think socialism should change ?" Tommy asked.

"No not at all, but the way it is presented to people should. Give people something they can readily identify with for a start. I mean take Lenny and his friends; while they are busily huffing and puffing quoting Marx at each other at meetings which only themselves attend, small organised bands of fascists are beavering away spreading the word in pubs, clubs and factories all over the place." Ambrose paused, then swept his arm in a wide arc.

For a while, after leaving the park, Tommy wandered aimlessly about the place, thinking back on the events of the day, then for a while, he plunged his memory back even further. A sudden smell of burning timber, somewhere a shop was burning crashing glass, the mounted police charge, and broken bodies. A counter-attack, the breaking of enemy lines, the cheers of victory. Tommy stopped and sniffed the air. Was it all a dream? Fragments of memory retrieved from the past like the soldiers shrapnel, to delight the children ? Or is it real dream for the future?

Dave Barnes  Hackney Writers Workshop

(For Liddle Towers)

Referring to the dead man, Towers,
As a sleeping dog, the Police Federation
Expressed a wish that he be allowed
To lie. But wasn't it for lying
That the man was beaten to death?
After asking him repeatedly if
He was a trouble-maker, and receiving
Always the wrong answer, they had no alternative
But to beat him. And in any case
He didn't die straight away.
The dead man's sister and brother-in-law,
Two electricians from work and the lads from the club,
And Mrs. Parker from number .7,
All agitators if ever I saw 'em,
Went down to the Police station to protest
About the police.
Sergeant Bull, sergeant-major ex-army, told
Mr. Kay, number 12, sergeant-major ex-army, that
SOME PEOPLE were taking it on themselves to
HAVE NOWT' TO DO WITH 'EM. A fair point this- 
With the public looking for trouble, Sergeant Bull
Could be out of a job.
The inquest jury, all adults with
A lifetimes experience of recognising
Sleeping dogs which are not to be
Disturbed, saw that this was obviously
A sleeping dog and returned their verdict
The dead man's mother and next door neighbour,
The lads from the 'Crown' and the union branch,
And Mrs Jones form number 9,
All desperadoes if ever I saw 'em,
Wrote to the Home Secretary to protest
About the verdict.
Sergeant Bull, upholder of moral standards, told
Mr. Kay, upholder of moral standards, that
The police and DECENT FOLK ought to
PUT A STOP TO IT. A fair point this,
Only some people thought that
Sergeant Bull usually seemed to
Have it in for the public 

The Home Secretary, after serious consideration,
Not wanting to rock the boat, but recognising
The importance of sleeping dogs, and that justice
Must not be seen not to be done, decided
The dead man's girlfriend and her brother
The lads from the 'Fox' and the shop stewards'
And Mrs. Brown from number 5,
All hardened revolutionaries if I ever saw 'em,
Told the press what they really wanted
Was a public inquiry.
Sergeant Bull, in favour of hanging child molesters, told
Mr. Kay, also in favour of hanging child molesters, that
FOLK ought to
KICK THEIR ARSES FOR THEM. A fair point this- 
If people need molesting, we should at least wait
Till they're grown up.
Referring to the dead man, Towers,

As a sleeping dog, the Police Federation
Raised the interesting question: What is
A sleeping dog? Is it something we don't need
To know? Or something they need
Us not to know?
See for yourselves. They have started
Writing it in the back streets,
An item for the agenda of a meeting
Not yet convened , chalked up
On the walls and pavements, it reads:


I am a woman, fighting against the traditions of my people,
I am a woman, I am not fighting against my culture
but against the oppression we face, against the
old-fashioned traditions which will not fade.
I have been brought up in a Western country
I have gone to school along with the other girls
I've watched them dress up in their modern clothes and their make-up,
I've heard them speak of their boy friends and their hopes for the future.
What do I look to, what is my aim in life?
Is it to marry an unknown man and bring forth male lives?
I am a woman, like many other women in my race
I live in a society where men are very dominant
Where their births are a time of rejoicing,
What did I bring but sorrow, loss and pain?
But I'm a woman, an Asian woman and I am proud of it,
But I want to live my life fully, work, and marry whom I please
I do not wish to marry a man my parents pay to take me. 
But I am not rebelling against my culture
and so my difficulty is no longer oppression 
because the only alternative to oppression is Westernisation 
and it is not what I seek, 
All I seek is a peace and joy which marriage to some 
unknown man does not bring. 
So I'm a voice speaking and wishing to be heard 
Speaking not just for myself but for many other women 
So it is no longer just I, but we, and it's we who are fighting.



All the morning she had been telling me about the house they were going to buy. £40,000 in cash. She watched my face each time she told me. But I cannot take in this amount of money. So I say I have to leave early on Thursday, ten minutes early, to visit the hospital. I've never had time off from work, never. I am always there, come rain, come shine. And she says, you must cut the time from your wages. You must cut ten minutes from £2.15. I don't understand. One minute she was talking about spending £40,000 and in the next moment she is asking me to deduct ten minutes from £2.15. The contrast is so ridiculous, that I burst out laughing, and she backs away from me, for she cannot see the joke. 

 Joy Matthews


I cut my man's pyjamas down 
(too patched to take another one) 
to make pyjamas for his son.

Bits of old dresses sewed in line 
I order in a patched design 
for poverty, not filling time.

I quilt old blanket ends together 
to comfort kids in bitter weather, 
not rich enough to buy another.

As my mother taught I go 
up and down each market row 
choosing cheapest to make do.

Hours and hours of precious time 
put to manage and contrive 
to keep us warm and fed and live.

Clever hands and able brain 
squandered stretching meagre pay, 
never given proper play.

Generations lived at loss 
as the ordinary cost 
of working to enrich the boss.

Frances Moore


It takes more than a string of oaths 
to make you working-class. 
Gentlemen and schoolboys use 
the same words when they're cross; 
and you who fuck your job or boss 
what words have you left for a lass?

Every workman has met those fools 
that happen in every trade, 
who take no trouble to use their tools 
for the jobs for which they're made; 
wrecking a chisel to turn a screw, 
hacking the edge of a blade.

People in using language wrought 
in the traffic of day to day 
precision instruments of thought 
for planning the job, for play, 
refining them as occasion taught 
Shall we throw such tools away?

Limit ourselves to shovel and pick 
when an excavator's there; 
maybe not to be mastered so quick 
but worth the taking care, 
to rouse our mates to use their wits 
and shake the boss from their hair.

Frances Moore


Your Editorial (VOICES 17) suggested that one test of being on target is whether the reader responds by saying "I've often thought of that myself'.

For me this is the touchstone. Professor Collingwood spells it out in "The Principles of Art":

"The artist must prophesy not in the sense that he tells of things to come, but in the sense that he tells his audience, at the risk of their displeasure, the secrets of their own hearts. His business as an artist is to speak out, to make a clean breast. But what he has to offer is not, as the individualistic theory of art would have us think, his own secrets. As spokesman of the community the secrets he must utter are theirs.

"The reason why they need him is that no community altogether knows its own heart; and failing in this knowledge a community deceives itself on the one subject concerning which ignorance means death. For the evils which come from that ignorance the poet as prophet suggests no remedy, because he has already given one. The remedy is the poem itself.

"Art is the community's medicine for the worst disease of the mind, the corruption of consciousness."

Neruda must have had something like this in mind when he said the greatest honour conferred on him was when a miner grasped his hand and said "Brother, I have known you for a long time."

Incidentally Neruda had some difficulty in defining the poet's role. Finally he saw it as the embodiment of hope. "To have embodied hope for many men, even for a moment, is something unforgettable and profoundly moving."

The Editorial Board might care to bear this last point in mind. There has been an improvement, but some contributions still parade misery as if it were a virtue.

Bill Eburn


Do we scrawl 
and scribble 
we like it?

Do we bare 
our souls 
to any fool
because we have to,

or do we hope 
to see in 
the common pool 
the picture whole?

And when we discover 
there is no Grand Design 
we shall pick ourselves up 
and set off again.

Bill Eburn


They praise my verse 
who do not know 
my words but echo

their thoughts 
and their fears, 
too deep for tears.

Bill Eburn


I found you in Collets
stacked on a shelf 
amidst volumes of poetry, 
none by myself.
I bought you and read you
and liked what I read, 
and thought about life 
as I lay on my bed.
Be brace, they had cried, 
fight for ideals, 
but I was too busy 
fighting for meals, 
oh I had my ideals, 
plenty of those 
but you know 
how time goes.
I worked like a slave
day after day, 
bought cheap meals 
with my meagre pay 
and dreamt of riches, 
an easier life, 
a workers utopia, 
a world without strife. 
Then, like I said, 
I took you off the shelf 
and I read and I read 
and discovered myself.

Ron Perry

Morning Star Reviews



VOICES magazine goes from strength to strength, and issue number 18 is no exception.

The centre page of this issue is particularly effective with the apposition of Shelley's and Beavis' poetry, highlighted by the artwork of Brian McGeoch (see above), proving that the working classes should have no fears in expressing their ideas on the printed page.

The dialogue story by Dave Barnes of the Hackney Worker Writers exposes in a direct and clear style the stagnation of those on the left who limit their activity to abstract discussions on Marxism, thereby alienating the majority of our class from participating in fruitful dialogue.

Jim Ward, a retired railwayman, explodes the myth of racism in " Who are the English ? " This is the strength of Voices 18; all the material is relevant to the realities facing us.

I found " Lord Street Revisited," by Pete Farrow, indecisive and negative in the fourth stanza, when the spectacle of "immigrants dancing in the nude" suggested that the lyricist had neglected content for the sake of populism and rhyme.

The quoted extracts, used by Bill Eburn, from "The Principles of Art" by Professor Collingwood, in my humble opinion as critic, mystify the role of the "artist" as prophet. "not in the sense that he tells of things to come, but in the sense that he tells the audience . . . the secrets of their own hearts" and " The reason why they need him is that no community altogether knows its own heart."

A community does know "its own heart"; the writer (he or she) may clarify or expose injustice, illuminate our environment, but it is no mystical secret, especially to those who live in that community.

The quote concerning Neruda was more accurate, again used by Bill Eburn who has the academic's penchant for other people's words, in explaining the role of the writer: "Brother, I have known you for a long time." I greet "Voices 18" with the same words.

Voices costs 50p (or £2 subscription) from Manchester Unity of Arts Society, 3 Rufford Road, Manchester, M16 8AE.

Mike Kearney



REVIEWING my contribution to the discussion in "Voices 18" on what constitutes art (New Books Page, December 28) Mike Kearney disagrees with my quote from Professor Collingwood's "The Principles of Art":

"The artist must prophesy not in the sense that he tells of things to come, but in the sense that he tells the audience, at the risk of their displeasure, the secrets of their own hearts. His business as an artist is to speak out, to make a clean breast.

"But what he has to offer is not, as the individualistic theory of art would have us think, his own secrets. As spokesman of the community the secrets he must utter are theirs.

"The reason why they need him is that community altogether knows its own heart; and failing in this knowledge a community deceives itself on the one subject concerning which ignorance means death."

Mike maintains that a community does know its own heart; it is not a mystical secret, especially to those who live in that community.

O that it were so. We would have had Socialism long ago.

How many comrades have dropped out of the struggle on discovering that only a minority of workers are class conscious? The education we receive, the media, etc., breeds a false consciousness.

To my mind Professor Collingwood summed it up neatly when he concluded, "Art is the community's medicine for the worst disease of the mind, the corruption of consciousness."

Bill Eburn

London, N3.