HOME

 

ISSUE 5 - 1975

cover size 296 x 210 mm

 

EDITORIAL NOTE

This is our fifth publication, made possible by the generosity of donors whose contributions we acknowledge elsewhere. A comment from the editors may not be out of place. we still receive twice as many contributions in verse as come to us in prose: and we welcome the chance of receiving whatever friends may send us: but we have on this occasion deliberately included a greater proportion of prose pieces. We have done this for a number of reasons: firstly because it is in prose that a critical note can be struck, and we have received some direct criticism of "Voices" and its aims, with which we do not agree, but which may well open a discussion. 

For reasons of economy we have been less generous with our spacing and margins, and hope to contain the same amount of material in the present 48 pages as filled 60 previously. 

At the bottom of this page we have given guidelines as to how future contributions should be sent to us. As contributions increase in number it is quite essential that writers co-operate in making our task manageable.

"The Record" organ of the Transport and General workers' Union, the "Morning Star" and "Comment" have all been helpful in noticing "Voices". We would welcome notices in all Trade Union publications and Labour movement papers. 

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 requires: confident, critical, and reflecting the growing struggle of the movement fighting 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; and if we are a frankly propagandist organ, this does not mean that we compete with theoretical or pamphleteering writing. 

B.A. 

 

TO INTENDING CONTRIBUTORS 

We welcome poems, articles, stories, for consideration. We promise considerate and careful reading of them. We cannot possible acknowledge every piece we receive, but we will return unselected contributions provided a stamped addressed envelope is enclosed. 

Material should be sent to us written or typed on one side of the paper only. The writer's name should appear on the first sheet, and sheets should be numbered. Please keep a copy of your material.

Address material to "Voices", B.Ainley, 13 Victoria Way, Bramhall, Stockport. 

 

S.O.S  VOICES 5    Our Appeal in November

With an utterly empty purse to begin the publication of "Voices 5" we put out our appeal for 150. By December 18th we had received 139.50, and the issue of "Voices 5" is assured. We did not acknowledge every donation individually: it would have cost us a precious two pounds. This is a complete list of all donors (to December 18th) and we are very grateful to all of them. 

 

D. Lawson 1 Ivor Montague 2
Ray Watkinson 2 Rose Friedman 5
May Ainley 2 Pat Sentinella 5
Ben Hodkinson 5 Mick Jenkins 50P
Frank,Fanny Morgan 1 Rick Gwilt 4
Julia R.Murphy 2 M.J.Pooley 2
Bill Eburn 1 Brian Thompson 10
Brian Simon 5 A.D. Clegg 2
Alan,Lesley Fowler 1 Dr.Sheila Abdullah 2
Hilda, Jud Cohen 2 David Kessell 3
Ron,Dominique Hughes 2 Relations Dept. 5
A. Morris, M.P. 1 Angela Tuckett 1
Frances L.Moore 5 Tony Casson 13
Kathy Levine 2 Shaun Hogan 1
John,Sue Bromley 1 Winifred Froom 1
Mervin Rowlinson 50P Joe Bishop 1
Moira O'Shea 2 Bob Dixon 1.50
Brian Latham 2 C.R.Morris,M.P. 1
Beverley Robinson 1 M.G. Askell 1
Norwest Coop Soc.Member Bernard Barry 1
Nat Union Sheet Metal Workers (Surrey) 5 Charles Bescoby 1
Emily Sheldon 1 Leon Kaiserman 5
Bill Laithwaite 10 Peter D.Rodda 2
Ruth and Eddie Frow 2 Frank Allaun,M.P.2
Bessie Wild 1 Jean Sutton 1
Daphne Morgan 50P Gillian Cronje 50P
Ray Hartman 1 Jane Leighton 5
J.M. Hawthorn 1 George Morton 13
B.G. Smith 1 Aubrey Garson 1
S. Garson 1 AUEW(Mcr) 2
Rose Friedman(2)1

 


 

CONTENTS

   
It's all Your Fault                        E Wales                 
Brown Windsor Soup                         Frank Parker
The Drunk                            J Wilmot
For Better or For Worse                    Bill Eburn
The Duttons of Martha Street               Jean Sutton
Next Time                            A.M.Horne
Pablo Neruda                               Ian E Reed
All Awry in Paradise                       W. Froom
The Shipyard Cranes                        A.M Horne
Changing                             Pat Sentinella
A Very Special Brew                        Ken Lilley
Written on International Women's Day             Ruth Frow
Tonight we will see the Dream-Drenched Drunks    Colin Frame
Rossendale Weavers Union Women Members     Jim Garnett
God Can't Care, Really                     Bob Dixon
Death-Bed                            Bob Dixon
Communication                              M G Askell
Poetry and the Class Struggle              John Salway
We Came Crying Hither                      Sue Cole
The Clothes Peg                            Gareth Thomas
Eyes                                 Bob Dixon
You See Me Smiling?                        David Tatford
Vigilante                            John Salway
Nickname on a War Memorial                 Rose Fiedman
City Boy/Brown Baby                        John Gowling
Awakening                            Betty Crawford
Win with Labour                            Jone O Broonlea
A Book at Bedtime                    Mick Jenkins
Rue                                  Jone O Broonlea
August 1945                          Crispin
Boys & Girls Come out to Play              CJ MacVeigh
Self Made Man                              John salway
Winters Beach                              AM Horne
Surgeon who Lost Son Indicts Killers             Patrick Lane
No Flowers in May                    Robert Moore
Blues                                Frances Moore
Trellie                                    Ken Clay
To a Lancashire United Bus                 John Gowling
Black and White                            Bob Dixon
Ressano Garcia                             Barbara Smith
The Unmarried Mother-A Personal Experience       Vivien Leslie
The Living Seed                            Angela Tuckett
Points of View                             Maurice Wiles
Exploitation                               John Salway
Black Sheep                          Jone O Broonlea
Traffic Lights                             Gareth Thomas
Luvin' Tally                               Jone O Broonlea
4th November 1974                    MG Askell
In Praise of Cooks                         Angela Tuckett
A Few Observations about Voices                  Ken Clay

     


 

IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT 

So there's something wrong with the economy?
We're to blame Jock, Geordie, Taffy and me.
We're greedy bastards, they tell me,
Out to wreck the Fair Phase 3.
In Phase 2 we had a pound and four per cent,
Now we wonder where it all went.
 
But you're richer now", our guvnors say,
So let's have some "British Fair Play".
Your share of the cake is getting larger,
You turn around, another merger.
Your job is gone, and so's your money,
The guvnors say, "Now ain't life funny".

 


 

BROWN WINDSOR SOUP

Frank Parker

Heyhey trembled under the onslaught of chemical changes in his body provoked by the alarm signals from his brain triggered off by his assessment of the realities of what he was seeing.

Beebe, almost another self, beautiful, complementary Beebe stood very close, smoothing his suddenly hot forehead with her cool, practical hands.

On the computers screen was a visual impression of the data they had fed into it. They saw a man and a woman. The man looked like Heyhey, the woman like Bee.

'With our genetic structure, future humans will not show any physical difference", commented Heyhey.

"No", agreed Bee. "You disappointed?"

"I suppose I am", he admitted, relieved too.

"It's not conclusive", Bee pointed out.

"No", said Heyhey, "But it is logical. As we are now, do we want to be different? Does any human being apart from superficial changes like height, features, hair, mere fashions?"

"I know none , said Bee. "Yet we could choose to be different", said Heyhey."

"But what for?" said Bee.

"We could have wings", said Heyhey smiling.

"We got wings , said Bee, "We've got everything known in the universe. We can fly like birds, dig like moles, do everything, and better."

"Yes, said Heyhey. "This is the crux of the matter."

"You're on about progress again; about stagnation, aren't you?" asked Bee.

"Yes", said Heyhey thoughtfully, "So is the government.

"What will they make of this?" she asked.

"I don't know", he said, "But this could be a crisis. When new purposes are needed nothing inspires more confidence than new people to pursue them."

"And this is the old people?" she ventured.

"Precisely, he said, then added "Mugshots".

"Pardon?" she asked, puzzled.

"Mugshots", he repeated, his eyes showing amusement.

"You've been reading western books again", she accused.

"Mugshots", he laughed. "F.B.I. talk for pictures, press the button Bee and we'll send 'em a picture. Dutifully, she did.

"Blow 'em up?" she asked.

"Got your own back there", he said. Putting the four foot pictures between sheets of stiff thin chemical fibre, they left the centre.

This was the premier city, leading the way in anti-pollution measures, so the air was clear and clean, as were the buildings old and new, set out to give much space for gardens and wide pavements.

They were to give the photographs to Cea who would pass them along to interested people in the government. 

Bee thought her a nice old lady. She had old world charm, wasn't brash, as Bee was inclined to be and most modern youngsters. She had an air of sad tranquility, was very serious.

"Being born before the revolution probably made her that way", said Heyhey. "They had a bad time

"But they had purpose, aim - a whole new world of ideas to conquer as well as country", said Bee.

"You discontented Bee?" asked Heyhey.

"No", she said. "But it does get dull at times".

"You have your work", he said.

"Sterile.," she said.

"Sterile?" he echoed. "You can't say that. No modern state can exist without forward planning, and our work on need estimation and our fundamental research on the nature of change, especially in man, is real exciting stuff."

"All in the air", she scoffed. "It's philosophy. I'm not old enough to bother about it; I just want to live, excitingly".

Heyhey looked at her, very seriously. I didn't know you felt like this," he said.

"Well," she said equally seriously, "You've been busy."

"So have you," he said, 'With me on the same projects."

"There is a difference," she said. "When I go home I forget about work, you don't."

"Ideally there shouldn't be a difference," he said. "One phase should blend with the other."

"Be inter-connected?" she put in.

"Don't she believe it?" he asked.

She pouted, a new phenomena he noted. "Yes," she said discontentedly."But I don't feel it; my senses are not in the correlation."

"You're jaded Bee. What would you like to do tonight? Anything you like, you choose."

"Nothing appeals," she said."I'm depressed."

"Then we'll stay in and talk it out," he said.

"Nothing to talk about," she answered.

"There must be," he insisted. "There is no effect without a cause, work that out and we can find a cure."

"Let's get out," she said defiantly. "To the U.S.A. - somewhere like that."

Heyhey was shocked. "To live't" he asked.

"Yes," she said emphatically.

"You don't know what you're saying," he told her."No thing is predictable in these countries, anything can happen to you. You can be mugged or murdered. Find yourself unemployed. In prison for no reason at all. It's all dirt and filth."

"It's living," she replied. "Precisely what you said. It's unpredictable day by day, hour by hour. When did I last know fear or uncertainty? Relief or horror? All these are words to us. We never feel any of the natural animal emotions."

"Who wants to?" he said.

"I do," she said hotly.

"That's regression," said Heyhey. "I never thought you would put what is after all mere titillation before solid intellectual satisfaction."

"I don't," she protested. "But this life is too artificial, too regulated."

"You are arguing against civilization," he accused.

"I'm not," she replied. "Just too much of it."

"I don't know what to say," said Heyhey. "I thought we were alright. Obviously we are not. You'll have to work it out for yourself. All I can say is don't just suffer; at least use your training to solve your problem. For me? I stay and carry on as I am."

They journeyed the rest of the way in silence. At the super-stores, they bought their needs for the evening, on their salary not needing to count cost.

Their home was a spacious, five roomed apartment, the kitchen as modern as any in the west. 

Beebe set the table whilst Heyhey cooked; neither ate with much show of enjoyment.

Watching ballet on T.V. Beebe commented bitterly., "Why no alternative? Why only one channel? They have 20 or more in the U.S.A."

Heyhey made no answers, but his enjoyment was spoiled. He took a book and went to bed. Beebe came to see him, a little pensive, but the bug had bitten too deep. Her mood was not a passing one. Looking back he realised she had shown symptoms for some time now.

"We can take time off," he said. "Let's go to the cottage in the forest. That's back to nature. Re-charge your batteries. Might help you finalise your thoughts. Agreed?"

She nodded and got into bed beside him. "I'd be sorry to lose you," he said simply, holding her close. 

Zee looked at the picture dispassionately. "What's the time scale?" he asked.

Dee scanned the typescript that Heyhey had given Cee with the picture. "400 years," he said.

Zee looked disgusted. "Why do you bother me with this sort of thing?" He handed Dee back the picture. "The business of government is the present and foreseable future," he added. "And this is hardly in that category."

Dee felt anger. "I am not alone among scientists who are very concerned about this projection," he said.

"Well I'm not," said Zee, "But if it makes you happy I'll pass it on to the highest authority, perhaps he'll show more interest."

"That's all I want," said Dee, handing back the picture. 

Zee, as the deputy in charge of science in the federal government was answerable only to the president. He was surprised by his reaction, for he laughed.

"Mr. President?" he questioned.

"I don't believe it," said the president.

"I never even thought about it," said Zee. "It seemed so immaterial."

"I wouldn't say that," said the president."A bit academic, yes -interesting if you do think about it. The colour? what is their basis for that assumption?"

"The basis for it all,' said Zee, seems to be that the tendency for all nations to live in similar conditions, food, housing, general environment, will lead to a genetic similarity."

"Take longer than 400 years," said the president.

"They point to other factors," said Zee. "With the breakdown of racial prejudice, they believe that there will be a complete international integration."

"All races mix?" asked the president.

"Yes," said Zee.

"Like mixing paint," said the president. "I'd have thought the colour would have come out like a light brown Windsor soup."

"Like you Zee, I believe it all is pointless. Now is not the time to decide what mankind should look like. Some day perhaps. With a world government; with all man organised under socialism: perhaps then that sort of decision would be possible. Now? It's difficult to live in peace with your next door neighbour without trying to get world accord on what the next generation of humans should look like."

 


 

THE DRUNK 

He sat so, quite all alone, within that smoke filled room,
The only company was his own,
Which gave him much more gloom.
He drank a glass of pain he had brought from
The battle that raged at the bar;
It quenched his thirst relaxed his thoughts
And made him just want more.
 
The evil eyes surrounded him
They scanned the rotting flesh,
Looking round ignoring them
The drink rang through his breath.
Fumbling hands inside his coat searching
For a cigarette
Just might provide an antidote for fears
He can not forget.
 
So deep in drowning sleep he fell
As on the floor he lay
The heavy boots just gave him hell
The numbness wears away.
Two pick him up, the landlord shouts
They all agree, that's right.
Losing another round in life's endless bout
He's thrown into the night.
 
 

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE 

 
Whether it's her age
or the change
I don't know;
But she does go on a bit.
 
He's not been the same
Since the kids left home;
I suppose they'd had
Enough of it.
 
I sometimes wonder
Whether he's found some chit
That he stays out so late;
He's such a hypocrite.
 
Next year when I retire,
She'll be all over me;
I tell you straight
She's no light weight.
Whether it's his age,
Or just a phase
I don't know;
But I wish he'd snap out of it.

 


 

THE DUTTONS OF MARTHA STREET 

Jean Sutton 

Once upon a time, there lived a nice family. At least they were individually nice, but unfortunately they lived together, under the same roof, and that was bad.

Mr. Dutton was a nice, kind man, who loved his family, and hoped they loved him too. His motto was 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder', so every night he went out. He had a keen competitive spirit. Every night he entered a strange competition with a lot of other men, they drank glass after glass of liquid, which rotted their innards, caused double vision, and produced a visible effect on the stomach, and the end of the nose, but this was living, and without this stimulation, Mr. Dutton was a sad, sad man.

Sometimes, Mr. Dutton stayed at home. This was a great occasion, but bewildering, and the children rejoiced by being as noisy as possible, and Mrs. Dutton nagged by asking him if he was enjoying his night in. Occasionally there was great chaos, when Mr. Dutton shouted, and they all tried to jump onto the shovel at once.

Mrs. Dutton was a normal? happily married woman with no skin on her fingers - just bones. She wasn't born this way - it was a condition produced with hard work, and she was always telling her family this. Mrs. Dutton suffered from ill-health. Three or four times a day she felt sick, but, belonging to a large family, she did not have to suffer alone, so she told them all about it.

The Dutton children were normal children. At times-nice-nasty-loving-hateful-truthful-selfish-helpful and sneaky, etc. As Mr. and Mrs. Dutton also shared these characteristics it was one big, happy family, well interesting anyway. We will pick one of these traits at random - sneaky. When Mr. Dutton was sneaky, he would squeeze behind the wardrobe to count all his money, and could be heard laughing to himself. When Mrs. Dutton was sneaky, she would hide behind the washer scoffing all the fresh cream.

The eldest Dutton child was light-fingered, and was apt to swipe every comb and pen in sight, and also jump the queue in the fortnight waiting list for baths. The eldest boy liked to sneak off whenever there was a job to be done. He is allergic to work and the mention of a shovel of coal causes acute hysteria.

The three youngest indulge in group sneakiness, carried out mostly at night, one instance being reading Mr. and Mrs. Dutton's love letters. This pastime also induced hysterics. As you can see they are a very hysterical family, perhaps inherited from Mrs. Dutton who sometimes likes to throw a cup or a plate on to the floor, which she immediately sweeps up, showing an industrious and tidy streak, also a twisted enjoyment of self inflicted punishment. One night, Mrs. Dutton was left completely alone in the house. This was by way of a treat for her shattered nerves. Her system couldn't take the unusual silence, and she was almost driven mad.

Next day the family made it up to her, and gave her another treat. They took her for a nice drive in a car. They drove her to Winwick.

Which proved Mrs. Dutton a woman of great insight.


 

NEXT TIME  
 A.M. Horne
Perhaps the next time or the next or the next
But not now, no not now,
The face of death is an image,
And the image only dots
Thousands of bloody silly dots
A statistical droll from eloquent lips,
An obscenity on an Oxfam poster,
Placards grasped by pimples and hair
The tears of the world trickling over a screen,
An illusionary glimpse of somewhere else.
It's not mine, I can switch off,
In fact I usually do.
 

PABLO NERUDA   

Ian E. Reed

September.
A man gazed
through his window,
from his heart.
Gazed across his land
and saw his people
Of whom his great heart
embraced,
Crying out in agony.
Murder walked among them,
Death stalked the
hills and plains
And left its carnage
at his door,
In his heart,
cutting slices
From his vast soul,
the soul of Chile.
 
September.
the carabineros
Smashed down his door,
tore up his walls
And floor.
searching for truth
Among the rubble
of his home
They tore and hacked,
Searching for the sun,
the wind across
The plains, the cry
of the onion seller,
The sea and the people
of the market.
This they heaped up
and fired,
Destroyed, stamped upon
this very soul
the soul of Chile
 
September.
A plain coffin
Lay amidst the rubble
of San Cristobal hill,
Lay among the
smouldering remains
Of his life's work
lay among the debris
Of his country.
His great heart had burst
And the very Earth
wept and reeled in anger.
The sky piled high its clouds
and rolled them
Across the oceans,
bearing the grief
Of a nation, of a soul,
the soul of Chile.
 
September.
A small crowd
Bore his remains
through the smashed capital, 
At each step
the crowd grew,
The soul was reborn
shadows emerged from
Darkened doors,
from bloodstained alleys. 
Shadows emerged
and became human.
The crowd grew
to become a giant
Striding undefeatable,
unquenchable, before the guns, 
Before the barrels
of the killers,
Who grew afraid and silent 
overwhelmed by this giant,
This unbroken soul
the soul of Chile.
 
September.
A small voice
Within this giant cried,
"Neruda is with us,"
Companero Pablo Neruda
presente!"
And as a spreading fire
the cry echoed
From a thousand lungs
and pounded against
The walls of the City,
against the barrels
Of the killers' guns,
and they read his words
Over the sleeping poet,
they read of the wind,
Of the sun, and of freedom, 
they read of the market
And the mountains
and of the soul,
the soul of Chile.
 
September.
They killed a man
And a giant was born,
whose words cleave.
Open the sky and the Earth. 
and are spoken from
A million lips,
a million hearts,
A battle hymn of freedom. 
His murderers will die
And their bones will turn 
into dust and slime,
But the flower they plucked 
will grow into a garden
And the air will hang heavy 
with the sweet scent of freedom,
And his soul
will be handed on
As a legacy,
The soul of Chile. 

 


 

ALL AWRY IN PARADISE 
Winifred Froom

 

THE LONG NARROW AISLES MAKE ME THINK OF CATHEDRALS. Of course I know they are not, but there is the same absent look on the faces of the people, seeking for something they cannot see. Sweet music seeps from behind the towers of tins, like syrup from one that has lost its lid. From nooks and crannies, counters and shelves, even from the deep freeze it comes, hypnotising, paralysing, unless it is the martial kind inviting the customer to march, to waltz, to slide, or maybe drag the length of the avenue.

There's the ritual too.

Claim your wire basket from the portal, unless you have a toddler when you claim a kind of pram. Stroll between the towers of tins, peering from one pile to another. Stewed steak claims to give you satisfaction, detergents delivery from soul-destroying labour and monotony. All the joy of life, and ebullience of good health is ground up with the cereals. The sunbeams have been captured, fresh air harnessed, it is all here waiting for you. And it is instant, instant, now, at once, with no waiting

Somewhere, it is said, the hairs of your head are numbered, no sparrow falls to the ground unnoticed. Neither have your pets been overlooked on these terraces. Cats, dogs, goldfish or budgies are all remembered in these bright tins, where the smell of sea and farmyard are concentrated. No more hunting, no more grinding, no more crunching, everything is instant.

In the distance sit the cashiers, like goddesses, or perhaps priestesses at the high altar. The catechism is tapped out on their little machines. While you wait for the benediction on your perambulations up and down the aisles, the toddlers explore the display of lollipops and candies, thoughtfully displayed by the tills. No, nobody has been overlooked. The disciples of Market Research have been vigilant, the apostles of sales promotions and projects untiring.

But the queues, with their trolleys and baskets look neither serene nor satisfied. Seek and you shall find, come unto me all you that are heavy laden ... The labelled life around no longer stimulates, nor soothes They have a faraway look in their eyes. Surely there is more than a jar of cranberry sauce (2p off) to live for?

The soft sweet music is soporific, the cathedral changes into a supermarket, the ritual is concluded. The bill is paid.


 

THE SHIPYARD CRANES     

A.M. Horne

 
Great set-squares of angled steel,
Tall, grey, vertical, moving upwards and outwards.
Isometric pre-planned zig-zags,
Set by the wind to crisp alignment.
They follow you everywhere,
Pagan idols dominating the skyline
A symbol handed from father to son,
Of an almost certain future,
To all the gangly lads kicking the ball around a secondary modern,
But the image is so deftly printed that only the subconscious cricks
its neck. 
 
 
 

CHANGING

  Pat Sentinella

The face of the City, unsmiling, 
Where rows of houses wait for death 
Behind screens of corrugated iron.
 
Windows are broken and blind, 
The bells are dumb.
Distempered walls perspire and plaster cracks.
 
The gardens are wasting.
The people who remain
Still boil their water on the landing
Watching for some other change
Tonight or Tomorrow.
 

 


 

A VERY SPECIAL BREW    
Ken Lilley

It was one of those bitterly cold hoary frosted mornins doon in the bowels of the vessel which waited alongside the quay ready for fitting out. The Tyneside fog even penetrated down into the yet skeleton-frazed engine room skylight; smothering everything in its downward path to the very engine room pad floor plates.

The gaunt rusty frost-coated bulkheads swept upwards into the mist in answer to querulous gaze of the beholder like some ghostly cathedral. The rather sombre scene was accompanied by the distant intermittent chorus of Souter Point fog-horn blowing its warning to any errant off-course vessels.

Almost as the half past sivvin buzzer blew, the ladder near me started to shudder merrily as the various trades started to descend to where I awaited shivering with cold, waiting for the gaffer to allot the day work. Soon, a pair of heavy boots reached eye level. I was greeted by a mature stubble faced worker in greasy overalls, and a heavily oiled cap... "Mornin Hinney, Rev yee jest started?"

"Aye," I rejoined.

"Rev yee not gorrah drink of tea?"

"Nor, not yit."

"Weel lad, warm yersell an git a drink oot oh that flask ower there." He pointed and then the grubby-faced friendly man waved cheerily and moved off into the mist of the engine room.

The hot, warm, sweet tea which I poured out of the flask which stood on a pedestal near me tasted like refreshing nectar. The hot liquid momentarily dispelled the icy gloom, at least from within to warm the very crutch of me overalls.

"Argh yee the new lad what started this mornin?" A heavy authoritative voice bellowed out from my rear. I turned, replacing the drained cup upon the flask.

"Aye, ah wus just warmin mesell up till the gaffer comes."

"Aye ah can see that," snarled the man cynically (obviously he was the gaffer). I was also aware of a number of nonchalant cheery faces chuckling sideways at the impromptu confrontation.

"Weel lad, when ye've satisfied yersell wif mah flask..." He snatched it up an placed it in his pocket. "Git yer tools and join that aud feller ower thor. He'll put yer reet."

My mate was the man who proffered that welcome cup of tea that mornin. He slapped me on the back and grinned cheerfully.

"Did yee injoy it lad?" he chuckled.

I nodded. I had to admit that was a very special brew.

 


 

WRITTEN ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, MARCH 8th 1973   

Ruth Frow

 
A woman sits weeping for her dying babe;
Oh! sister mine, we sit and weep with you!
What matter if the babe be black or white?
Each woman's sorrow is our sorrow too.
A woman works from morn till late at night
Tilling the soil and working with her man.
Oh, sister mine we work with you each day.
We cannot do much - but our caring can!
 
A woman stands and holds herself erect,
Accepting life, but not accepting shame.
The life she lives will be a life of pride.
Oh sister mine, we join you in your aim.
Out of the waste and hunger, women fashion joy.
Women determine to re-build their lives,
To banish war and poverty and want,
To live as friends, as mothers and as wives.
 
We join you, sisters, wherever you may be;
Our children join with yours and never cease
To raise the standards of true liberty,
When women everywhere can live in peace.
 
 

TONIGHT WE WILL SEE THE DREAM-DRENCHED DRUNKS 

 Colin Frame

Tonight we will see the dream-drenched drunks
The subliminal wharf side whore
Dressed in crimplene and plastic
Bright red, purple, and yellow
Peddling herself for a pound
Dragged aboard, wiped by a hundred salt-caked palms
Heaving good with gin and sighs and vomit.
 
And I ask questions
Questions like what and why
And wash in lavender water
And am disgusted by the coarse-cloth of the towel
Preferring the membrane of a flower.
 
 

ROSSENDALE WEAVERS UNION WOMEN MEMBERS   

 Jim Garnett

When you can't get through your work,
And you feel you'll go berserk,
Report it to your Union Rep.
She will guide you, step by step.
Remember then that old refrain,
Unions on the job again.
 
When the cost of living's high,
Goods so dear, you cannot buy.
Your earnings go just like a flash
We fight to get you some more cash.
Remember then that old adage,
Thank your union for your wage.
I'm in it now o'er sixty years
A union card that's always clear,
I've seen a lot of ups and downs,
Worked with men of good renown
Our Union then was run by men,
But how far back, I can't say when.
But women now are to the fore
And things are not the same as yore.
 
They go to classes in rotation
This improves their education,
When at the meetings, on their feet,
They've got their arguments complete.
 
They're not afraid to give expression.
They've rid themself of self depression.
I love to see them show their ego,
I say, more power to their elbow.
 
They show us men a thing or two,
Things we thought they'd never do.
So to our local Union lasses,
Let's give our praise, and raise our glasses.
 

GOD CAN'T CARE, REALLY 

Bob Dixon

God was in the garden
Blowing on a rose,
Jill was on the garden path
Hanging out the clothes
when along came death 
And turned up her toes.
 

DEATH-BED  

Bob Dixon

 
We lied to him about getting better.
Daddy, to humour us, feigned belief.

 


THIS MAN CAN BE SUCCESSFUL AND JUST MAYBE THE CROWD IS LETTIN' HIM, NOT FORGETTING WE ARE PART OF THE CROWD THAT HAVE BECOME WORDS ON THIS PAGE.

M.G. Askell

 

What makes for communication, communication that has no necessity, communication that when completed leaves people wondering why, or maybe just me, wondering; yet sensing this particular human quality.

It is possible to create atmosphere, to arrange an event towards a certain ending, known only to me the narrator; so we are warned. Central to this arrangement of words are:

A rope strop lying tangled
on a concrete oil stained floor,
with several strands broken;
noise. An omission.

be careful situations are always in the process of becoming other situations. Those marks on the wall have a fascination, my eyes drift along each day, nothing registering particularly, until I reach this section and then the wall is no longer a wall. The surface, the marks, the colour, the distance between myself and this section of wall, this narrow funnel of space has become a journey between my imagination and my reason. Why this piece of wall? Why those marks? What particular problems of technique are involved in reproducing this encounter, in understanding; how much of the surrounding area is influencing ... "Hey! What about the lifting gear in this place; I've just picked up a rope strop, and we are short on rope strops, and some of the strands are cut through." .... directing attention towards this small section

"Well tell the foreman; if it's dangerous, we can't use it."

"I've always said we haven't enough rope strops, and besides they should have labels on them, stamped up, giving the safe lifting load an' that."

"O.K. destroy it. That's the usual practice; or someone in a hurry may not notice it, and we could have an accident if it breaks on the job."

"If I do that, I won't be able to lift my job."

"That's right! We'll get rope strops quick enough then."

"Well? What are you going to do?"

"I just said, for fucks sake! Anyhow it will make a change for that machine of yours to be switched off, the row it makes."

An outside influence is now affecting this communication; the words on this will name such an influence - a) experience, b) history, c) conflict of interests, d) bloody-mindedness.

"I ain't gonna use it."

"Right."

Pure black, glistening, the warmth, tenderness, that rich flood of life setting fire to a staircase of colours.

"Well what are you going to do?"

Metal coming away from the rim of the shell, feed just right, sometimes everything so easy ... so bloody easy

"Well ?"

"What?"

"What are we gonna do about it; where are you going? Hey!"

It's soaked in oil, tough too, I thought my knife was sharp...

"You've just cut my strop in half. Now I can't lift my job!"

"That's right."

Look from this page, push the page away, as far as is necessary for the words to go out of focus; look towards the window, beyond its frame, another view, in the last few seconds it has changed, is changing, what are you thinking?

"There was no need to do that! I can't get on with my job now. You're mad!"

"What's going on down there between them two?"

 "I dunno."

"Well it's owt to do with us anyways."

"Yeah, about that Cortina you had, how many..."

Moving away from the City Centre, no longer travelling within these confines, or absorbed into its regulations, deliberately, consciously and subconsciously pushing out from the hub, through all levels to its rim. With this momentum the City highways are abstracted; re-lit, intensely, such light is informing, demanding of whom? The photographer, the painter, the neon minded commercialiser, the inhabitants, whose unquestioning industry oil this City's generators. Such light demands attention, its speed forces inwards, sweeps towards the hub continually; burning the edges of buildings against an unmoving sky, exposing the armour that relentlessly crawls, howling, snapping, devouring along these thoroughfares; passing the street of the house of anarchists, night ideas and dog days. Silhouetting those inhabitants, queuing six deep outside the palace for bingo, bland faces, their artificial adornment the chain mail chance of a jackpot. Sirens ebb and flow, a million voices repeating, nothing ... nothing ... alright alright. This light informs by the sharpness in the edges it infinitely re-exposes. What are you thinking? The light also shines on her hair.

"I'm going to tell him, that you've cut the strop in half."

"That's right! Go ahead, you just tell him I cut the bloody strop in half."

"Right I will."

When a person walks away, intent on purpose that is out of sight (site), in receding becomes the backcloth of an everchanging situation, the eyes that follow such purpose, whose origins are incomprehensible within the time allowed by action; have, even in anger in bitterness or hopelessness, a flicker from evolutionary understanding, of remorse and regret. The emotional fire is tempered by sadness, perhaps at the temporary lose of unity.

"What's going on with you two?"

"The same old story, not enough gear and we end up arguing with each other, for all the wrong reasons."

"Yeah, all they care about is getting the job done in the least possible time at the least possible expense. Ay, what are you doing dinner time? Going over the park for a game of football; most of us are except, (this exception could be ... you ... me ... sometimes us?) who is going into town but he reckons he may be back in time. Ay! never mind, it probably won't happen."

"Just maybe you're right, but it won't be for want of trying."

"What."

"Where's that small crowbar?"

"Dunno I ain't seen it lately."

just then, figures on

a far golden shore

touch hands, fingertips first,

ice petals tumble through sun spray,

each fresh breeze tenderly tells

of islands that dwelt in the past.

No sound from smiling minds;

the sand moved gently as a rhythm suspended.

In darkness deep of ocean's floor

intangible something, moved for the first time.

"I've seen him, he said you were wrong to cut that strop in half."

"Oh yeah."

"Yeah, he says that what we should have done was to give the strop to him and he would have cut it in half. He's going to see if we can borrow some from the other shop; in the meantime I've got to hang about till he gets some. You know what; I was having a look at my mortgage papers the other night, I've increased the payments, what with all this overtime an' that."

 


 

 

POETRY AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE (I)   

John Salway

 
Wield your words like axes
Cut from the nude rock
Knives lathed from the creeping fronds
Of steel
Entrenched round your bursting hearts
 
In the twilight world of factories
We bring your corroding flowers
And rhythms of bit and brace
 
We bring you edged poetry
To dissect your way
Through this insane and rotting jungle.
 
Everything should be melted down
Everything can be used.
 
We have taken the drooling words
Which drip
From the steaming swamps
Of supermarkets
 
We have taken
The cries of despair
Which eddy and swirl
From somebody adrift
On his soul
Like an ark.
 
We have alloyed
The insidious grit
Which grows on slagheaps
 
With suffering and hope
With the laser of your will
 
We would forge you
Tongues of fire.
 
 

WE CAME CRYING HITHER  

 Sue Cole

We came crying hither
We danced from the waterfall
Over the plateau to the tear
We absorbed the moonbeams
Now
stranded...
 
...   Barren -
We starved our own intellect
We took fruit from the tree
And made it gold
We took warmth from the fire
And made it cold
 
      We made it cold

 


 

THE CLOTHES PEG  
Gareth Thomas

A church clock struck three in the morning. Four dossers nodded and snored, sat in a tight circle around a dimly smouldering brazier. The fifth was awake and listening to the night. "That clock's fast," he mused, scratching at an itch beneath his faded once fawn-coloured duffle coat.

He looked at the brazier, the dull red glow a poor answer to the moon's bright message. Crossing his arms over his ribs, he rubbed his wheezing chest and arose from the blue plastic milk crate which served him for a seat. Turning slowly from the weak warmth of the brazier, shuffling on old unsteady legs - the same legs that had marched through France in his war-torn youth - he searched the rubbish duwp for more firewood.

A mouse crawled out from the tattered upholstery of a rusty car door. It crawled around the bent window frame, where a few chunks of laminated glass still stubbornly clung, and raised its whiskers to the stars.

In vain, the old tramp scanned the rubble, old tin cans, bricks, bottles and car tyres, discarded polythene kitchenware, and an old mattress which sprouted a forest of springs. No more wood on the dump. If only they had been more thoughtful when the night was young and the fire was bright. Now the embers that remained were poor armour against the frosty attack, the cold before the dawn.

He saw the mouse. A glint came into his eye, and he stooped to grab the nearest object to his feet. It was a clothes peg. The cold stiff fingers firmly gripped the missile and his arm drew back. He took aim, frowned, then slowly lowered his arm and looked at the clothes peg. Wood! Firewood.

He walked back to the brazier and ceremoniously dropped the new fuel into the embers. Sitting down once again on the milk crate, he studied the clothes peg and waited. A small flame began to lick around the peg, first green, then blue, finally yellow and bright.

The other four looked up from their drowsy shoulders and greeted the puny phoenix. Soon, five pairs of hands were reaching into the brazier and gathering the heat from the burning peg.

A second church clock struck three in the morning, and a barely audible mutter came from the hunched, duffle-coated figure. "Or maybe it's that one that's slow ..."

All five warmed their hands until the peg's flame died, and only a red hot steel spring-clip remained. Four heads nodded a salute to the remaining embers, nodded thanks to the bringer-of-firewood, and nodded back to sleep. The fifth remained awake and thinking in the night. "They could both be wrong.

He picked up an empty wine bottle lying by the side of the crate, and raised it to see if any dregs remained. Raising the bottle to his bearded mouth, he held it vertically and a single droplet of red liquid ran down the glass and into his throat.

"Anyway - they couldn't both be right," he decided, conclusively. Satisfied with this answer, he smiled, lobbed the bottle in the general direction of the mouse, spat into the embers and dozed off.

He had fought for this freedom in two world wars.    

 


 

EYES  

Bob Dixon

 
I watch the children in the park 
From their eyes, 
My unborn children cry to me.
 
The demonstrators throng the street. 
From their eyes, 
There shines a world that is to be. 
 
 

YOU SEE ME SMILING? 

 David Tatford

Good evening one and all,
This is your plastic president
Speaking.
You see me smiling?
A greasepaint image
My witch doctor made for me,
The magic media man.
 
This is your plastic president
Talking
In words of simple syllables
Rolling
From a three-forked tongue.
I'm a nice man really.
The burning babies are a dream,
And anyway
They're better dead than red,
(though they'll never know
The service I did them
Unless they have T.V.
In heaven.)
 
This is your plastic president
Grinning
In skeleton likeness
Of those I killed.
 
You see me weeping?
The tears are glycerine,
Sweet as sugar
For you all to taste.
My grief is real -
I grieve for you,
Poor fools.
 

VIGILANTE  

 John Salway

Keeping awake
When cities yawn
And grope for heaven
 
Keeping one eye
Like a chip of marble
As the world seethes
 
And
Trembling
Like a seismograph
 
Keeping history
Like a hound
On a leash
 
But
 
Drumming the wild pulse
Of its rage
 
And
 
Tempering the blossoming ache
 
Of its heart.
 
 
 
 

NICKNAME ON A WAR MEMORIAL   

Rose Friedman

 (a one minute play for one voice)

It was a change of address
Brought a new morning' s walk
To reach my train
New roads, new gates, new trees
To learn
 
And a neat-small chapel
Whose glorious dead
- these lads once prayed here,
Bright gold on sombre black,
Concise and clear
As an open book -
Standing quietly by,
Became my new morning's landmark.
Habit dulls even the desire to sigh.
 
My stone heart lies in a stonewall bed
That much for your glorious dead
 
Until, one day, in sunshine? or in rain,
Who cares?
My glance strayed, chanced upon a name
Before unnoticed,
Caught me unawares.
Tom, it was a nickname - sweet and crisp
As a mother's fleeting kiss -
Put paid to my ostrich sleep.
Tom, soft and round as a sweetheart's lingering caress
Ah - that went deep.
 
Once was a baby
Tom Tom the piper's son
Loved his mum and a hot cross bun
 
That's Tom. That was Tom.
 
Once was a lad
Tom his fifteenth birthday reached
Thought about girls as the parson preached.
That's Tom. That was Tom.
 
Tom tinker tailor soldier sailor
Tom butcher baker and undertaker
Why that's Tom
 
A million lads have gone that way
And a million more will go they say
 
So glorious lad Tom
Gloriously dead Tom
You rang the bell to blast the wall
You blast the wall a million ways.
 
Tadpoles now to tear at my eyes
Flagpoles now to flay my flesh
Now the potholes leer and yawn
Dangerous and desolate
Deserted by Tom.

 


 

CITY BOY/BROWN BABY    
John Gowling

Between the cast-iron pillars of the railway viaducts I go, searching for a love, looking for a love. Past the scrap-metal yards, hedged high with rusty motor bodies, there I go, searching for a love. In between the sewerage aqueducts that span the boneyard valleys and canals, there I go searching for a love, looking for a love. Mountain climbing on the slopes of ash and scree, could this be you and me? Could it be? In between the railway wagons and the coal marshalling yards, there I go, there I go. Some day soon you'll be where I go but when and where and who will you be? and who will you be? Do you think that love was meant to penetrate the traffic gantries and signal stanchions above the steps of the subways, and if it was, how would we know? Beyond the kiosk selling cigarettes I wait, up abeam the iron bridge I hope you won't be late when you walk by. On the ferry, side stepping with the slurry barge I tend to think I stand a chance, a quick romance with you on the fire escape would do me fine.

Their old world is slowly coming down, but mother of mine, don't you know that it needs a little more than poured concrete and a few flowers to let love grow. The housing department won't rehouse the lodgers and they evict those that stay. They fire condemned blocks where families still live. What do they care when Urban Renewal means another tenement block to last another 60 years? What do they care? Vincinette's baby looks up from the pram to read the spray-paint on the stairwell wall. Vincinette looks down the cold clinical corridor which says: Your mother is mad, we've taken her in; your father is tired he wants to go home to Barbados. Every day too, she prays to the Father that her trails get harder so she will go the Heaven, midnight prayers deny her the goodnight kiss she so desperately needs. Her baby was not conceived in the art-museum or the movie magazine. Not in the park or the public cemetery, but on a mattress, away on the roof, beneath the stars, to the marshalling freight, the shunting engines and the traffic below. An apprentice's wage bypassed the gas and electricity, replaced broken glass with cardboard, rode a bike without a licence, and paid no rent

I pull out a screwed up note, from my pocket, I didn't care to send:

I don't want a black or a communist, I have given all this for you, who are neither. I am in love with you and that over-rules everything else. Because I never found a black or a communist but I found you. I've tried to tell you that it's you I want, and you encouraged this, you made this happen. Tonight you didn't take me to Rigby's or some white joint croastown. You asked to meet me in O'Connors then suggested the Masonic or the Somalie where I looked at no one there but you, and showed everyone there how much I loved you. How can you be so cruel to say that it couldn't work out, does it not seem strong to you that I can still love and understand you above this and constantly I've been looking for you and trying to find you and know every little thing about you. I made the effort, I don't believe one person can ever make again in one lifetime, only to find you now uncompromising. And you flung in my face about being your child, and being black and a communist. Can you not conceive that there are blacks who are not for me, and blacks who don't like me, and whites who are racist, and all people who don't like communists, and people that don't like me? Don't you think I don't know? Why did you do this to me? What did you hope to use me for? After I loved you and dreamt about being with you all times. I still want that. I never met a communist or black who I loved, but I met and loved and lay with you.

Silently I walk the city streets. It is 4 a.m. and not my town. I wake at 6 a.m. in a foreign apartment, put the first comb of the day through my hair and make to leave.

 


 

 

AWAKENING   

Betty Crawford

 
Swaggering forth from the stronghold of Capital, stepping in time to the Saint Louis Blues,
Celluloid heroes, with chewing gum and crew cuts, denizens of dollardom how could they lose,
Aircraft and troopships, goodbye hugs and kisses, 'Gotta little job to do for Uncle Sam,
Don't cha worry Honey, we'll sort it out in no time, bring you back a souvenir from Viet-nam.
Now you're in the war zone, get to know your buddies, black men, white men, Gentiles and Jews.
War seems never-ending, weary for a furlough, discussing things together makes you change your views
What's this goddam war about? and the folks we're fighting, Christ, won't they ever think of giving in,
Gotta hand it to them, they're costing us a fortune; Dad's letter's asking 'Do we think we're gonna win?
Gues I needn't answer, leastways in a letter, I'll tell him all about it when he meets me off the plan.
I'm lucky to be homeward bound, my wounds will heal real soon, but constantly my conscience says, I won't erase the
stain
Of unrelenting slaughter, of rape and torture too.
Yet midst the carnage, they were unconquerable, I'll give credit, where it's due.
There's a day of reckoning coming, for their years of toil and pain, 
For the tons of bombs and napalm, showering genocidal rain, Inflicted by us, on a people, who only dared to say, WE will choose our way of life, not the U.S.A.
It shames me to admit it, but we've been kidded all along, believing that we, are the land of the free, and everyone else is wrong.
When the verdict of history's given, the reason will show up real plain,
The White House sacrificed us all, for greed and political gain,
A stake in Indo-China, a base is what it sought, if Almight Dollars cannot buy, then battles must be fought,
Prop up reaction's puppet, 'To Hell', they said, 'with the cost'
It matters naught to those in power, how many lives are lost.
Then the voice of protest rises, ringing through the land, 'Bring the boys home' it says, this is our demand,
The Monster in the White House smirks, pretending to pay you heed, for another term as President, your vote is what he'll need
Sure, he'll pull the G.I.s out, if that is your instruction, but his weapons still will carry on the death and the destruction.  
Are you lost as a nation to Capital's spell? I ask that question, for I have seen Hell.

 


WIN WITH LABOUR! 
Jone o'Broonlea

'Colours o' this rosette
Tell ruefu' tale o' ther need o' us:
Red's for us - an' yeller for ' leaders:
We'st ha' to larn 'em yet!

 


A BOOK AT BEDTIME
Mick Jenkins

Bill Baker was a miner working at Rufford Colliery in Nottinghamshire. He was elected the Union Branch President, and re-elected each following year, and in 1945 was re-elected unopposed. He was elected Workman's Inspector at the pit. He was an authority on mining safety. His work on mining safety was known throughout the area. Like many other militants he was victimised many times following 1926. Later in the fifties he was elected full time Miners Agent for the Nottinghamshire Area of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Bill was a friendly type of person, always had something to say. He was deeply immersed in the problems of the mining industry and the struggle to lift up the standards of the miners, to improve their working conditions. An idea as to the type of fellow he was can be gleaned from an incident that occurred whilst he was working at Ruf ford Colliery. One day he came to see me at the Party Office. It was late afternoon, he had worked the morning shift. We talked - I don't remember about what - and when it was obvious we had finished he said to me, "Got anything good to read?" I said, "What do you want to read?" As 'it' was getting near to teatime, and I was going home, I asked him to come home with me, have a cup of tea, and we'd have a look over my book shelves.

On the walk home we talked about books, what he had recently read, what I had, the difficulty of finding time to read whilst doing an arduous day's work, attending meetings, doing Party work. We also compared notes on interesting books we had read. In the course of this latter exchange, I asked him if he had read "Germinal" by Emil Zola. He said he hadn't, but knew about it, and wanted to read it. I said, "Right, that's one book you've borrowed." We arrived home, had a cup of tea, looked through my bookshelves, and off he went with two books under his arm.

He made his way back to his council estate house in Mansfield, had a meal, slept for an hour or so, washed and went to the 'local' for a pint. Came back home about half nine and began collecting his things for the shift the following morning; he had a sandwich and a pot of tea and was about to make his way upstairs to bed when he remembered the books. "Where did I put those books I brought home?' to as many of his six children as were present. They were produced, and with "I'll just have a glance at them" he sat on the sofa in front of the fire.

Naturally, it was "Germinal" that he opened up, flicked through the pages, read an odd sentence or two thinking at the same time as he turned back to the front page "Going to take a long time to reads" He glanced at the clock on the mantlepiece and decided he would pinch half an hour off his sleep - but "can't afford to lose a shift". The half hour stretched into an hour, and then two hours. At 1 a.m., he had now been reading for about three hours, he decided he would finish that chapter and go to bed -he had to be up around 5 a.m. he had managed shifts before on four hours sleep. At 7.30 in the morning one of his children woke him from deep slumber on the sofa in front of a dead fire. He finished "Germinal" that day. Next time we met he greeted me with "Your book cost me a bloody shift!"

 


 

RUE  
Jone o' Broonlea

 

      Cockchif ft at neet-fa',

      pisspreawd coom morn,

      'Days hoo's nooan reet, tho',

      mon tholes forlorn.

 


 

 

AUGUST 1945  

 Crispin

The mushroom cloud
Herald of terrible death,
Had it. seeded beginning
In sources of new life.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Names now synonymous
With hideous and suddem holocaust,
First saw it. shape.
But still it rises,
Seen in Nevada and Sahara,
Spreading its blasting flame
Promise of new destruction.
To meet its challenge,
The tide of Easter marchers
From Aldermaston to Washington
Pledged to build not bomb.
 
Politicians with their "power"
Need to remember its source.
Generals can "command",
But both depend on "people".
A bomb to H.
Concerns me ... you ... and us.
We can decide, Life or Death,
And end the mushroom cloud.
 
 

BOYS AND GIRLS COME OUT TO PLAY    

 C. James Mac Veigh

Trouble with the drunken boy,
Propped up against the wall;
Trouble with the restless girl
Who hears the money call.
 
Trouble with delinquent boys
Who want it all, not some.
Trouble with the slum-grown girls
Who make the clients come.
 
For angry boys can stab and kick
To snatch at what is theirs,
And sweet-life girls who'll turn a trick
Have thorns for pubic hairs.
 
 

SELF-MADE MAN  

 John Salway

I want to be free
He said
 
So he tore his
Ancestral roots
From the earth
 
And
As the tolling bells
Filled out the acres
Of his home
He tossed himself
 
Onto the oceans
At night
His dreams rose and fell
On currents of gold and silver
 
With Scylla crooning
He circumnavigated the world
 
As his sails flew
As his blood pounded like a piston
In his wake
He grew
An archipelago of Edens
 
He trawled
For new worlds
And the hearts of men
 
His eyes glittering in the darkness
His coiled back crowned with coral
He snaked onwards
Into the choked undergrowth
Of his fantasies
 
And the stirring
Of the darkening sea.
 
 
THE WINTER'S BEACH     
 A.M. Horne
Glistening with the memory of a recent time,
Reflecting the cold blue winter's sky,
A deserted forum of summer pleasure.
Buckets, spades, freckles and sunburn,
Forgotten behind frosty windows
And tasting the salt from icy tears,
Wrapped in the same wind as the moving sand,
I tread the beach listening and looking
Throwing a pebble and taking a sea shell
One set of footprints on a newly scrubbed floor,
And although freezing feet stamp urging me to the bus-stop
I promise myself another visit.

 


 

SURGEON WHO LOST SON INDICTS THE KILLERS 
Patrick Lane

ASSASSINS HAVE 'CENTRAL GUIDING HAND'

'Come let us make a muster
speedily:
Doomsday is near; die all
Die merrily."

The words of Hotspur in "Henry IV" are relevant to Northern Ireland today, although there is a total absence of any cause for merriment.

The words have their origin in a civil war power struggle, and the troubles here are basically about the maintenance of that same power and the overthrow of forces which tend to erode it.

In a previous paper I attempted to show where this power resides and reiterate briefly that it resides with the executive in England and not with the Legislature at Westminster. The latter has control of the laws and social changes and the general running of the national economy (the housekeeping budget) but the executive controls the power (the bank balance).

The course of history in these islands shows a central and continuous effort directed to maintenance of power and this is what rebellions, wars and diplomacy have been all about. From the nature of power, moral considerations do not enter its acquisition or maintenance. Diplomacy or ruthlessness, are used as the occasion demands, if they are deemed to be the appropriate weapon. This point is not made by way of condemnation specifically of British power. The argument is applicable to all power blocks and their struggle for continuance.

There is no reason to think that "enlightenment" or a change of heart have suddenly come about at any time during this century and that the theme mentioned above does not still run through contemporary affairs. Indeed, it would appear that from the point of view of the ordinary inhabitant of the globe, the world is a much crueller environment than it was some centuries ago, despite enormous advances in science and technology.

A brief look at the history of Northern Ireland over its half a century life, will show how the thread of power ran and still runs. Industrial effort here based largely on the linen, textile and ship building industries, changed gradually to an alternative dependance on such activities as the new man-made fibre production, of which Northern Ireland is now said to be fourth in position in world output. This is in no small measure due to the presence of a docile labour force.

There has scarcely been a strike of note and the trade unions are an impotent force.

A carefully set up Unionist Government was cossetted by a deliberate blind-eye approach to ensure that the working labour force remained dormant and rejected any liberal thinking that might be thrown out by an occasional Northerner like James Connolly.

Discrimination and sectarianism were necessary weapons as the nationalist minority community - Conveniently identifiable as Catholic -rejected the state and its institutions. Adverse comment from outside was avoided by making a convention that the affairs of Northern Ireland were not open for discussion at Westminster and this state of affairs existed until 1968.

The lid came off with the growth of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968/69. This should have been anticipated by the power-that-be as the movement was global and was making itself felt in the streets of France and in the campuses of American universities and elsewhere. Even though the case of discrimination and social injustice was accepted and proved, the movement was countered by a behind-the-scenes provocation of sectarian reaction. There is no doubt that this was deliberately aided if not instigated by British Power. 

There were many instances where local rabble-rousers, many of whom are by now prominent politicians could have been made subject to the law on charges of incitement or sedition but they seemed to be working under legal immunity. An attempt was made to blame the underground Republican Movement

- I.R.A. - an organization ticking over from the days of the Independence struggle in the South, and depending for its existence on the dedication of its members, who cannot have been many, and on ill defined sympathy among some of the minority chiefly in the Catholic ghettos. At about this time its strength, such as it was, was depicted by a split into two wings roughly republican separatist and republican socialist.

The early success of the civil rights movement was countered by the advent of sectarian clashes in 1969. There is little doubt but that the hidden power found a few local willing tools able to foment this outburst and bring it about. The people of Hooker Street and Palmer Street, having co-existed as neighbours for years, suddenly found themselves to be enemies.

As was foreseen at the time, the I.R.A. used the sectarian violence to further its own fortunes and did so successfully and an intangible force of "civil rights" ideas threatening power, was converted into a physical one which could be met by physical means. World opinion was assuaged by the sight and word of British forces laudibly keeping the peace in the streets of Ulster. To most of the minority, however, the reality is otherwise. After a brief honeymoon (the word of Gen. Freeland) the campaign began -the one sided harassment, one sided searching and seizure of arms and a one sided use of the courts and legal machinery, culminating in one sided interrogation and torture and internment.

It had the desired effect of increasing the strength of the I.R.A. and polarising the struggle to one that could be met with by well tried conventional methods. Two miscalculations were made. Firstly the resistance which guerilla forces will put up if they are motivated only by dedication to their cause and have little or nothing else to lose (a dedication which cannot be appreciated by those who have). Secondly the details of torture and interrogation have become public knowledge and are now the subject of charges against Britain at the European Commission of Human Rights.

Miscalculation has meant that Northern Ireland has now endured a horror about as long as each of the world wars with no end in sight. Tactics had had to change. It was felt that if the I.R.A. tactics caused sufficient horror their ultimate strength - the ghetto sympathy - would melt away. This did not happen even after the disastrous bloody Friday episode. I cannot explain why this and other horrors and intimidation have not caused this rejection. Perhaps, there is a rough decision in favour of the lesser of two evils or a more intelligent assessment of cause and effect among the people with very little to lose than among those whose judgment is influenced by position and privilege.

A large part of the horror has been a steady stream of sectarian killings coming in definite waves indicating a carefully planned pattern.

I do not believe that these are perpetrated as such by one community on the other. It is not in the nature of ordinary humanity even when banded into secret sectarian terrorist groups to act thus on such a scale. It is true that communities at each others throats can indulge in severe violence culminating in murder, as happened in 1969 and has happened recently on a wide scale in Cyprus. These episodes are invariably self limiting if only through exhaustion and no communities are capable of sustaining such hate to continue assassinations for several years.

There is no doubt that some psychopaths capable of an occasional killing may be on the loose, or some, motivated by a score to settle, may also strike. The steady and relentless stream, however, with peak waves occurring in the early autumn when the tensions of the summer marching seasons have died down, point to a central guiding hand controlling the assassin.

Morality or even emotion do not enter into the calculations. Ostensibly the choosing of the victim does not make sense. The usual victim is an innocent labourer or tradesman. The message, however, would seem to be that the general public and especially the minority community must conform or else. Perhaps, there will be minor concessions such as nominal power sharing at local level in return for conformity. In the old days the situation of dealing with a threat to power would be met with a Culloden and Highland extermination manoeuvre, but the pressure of world press and T.V. cameras would now preclude this here. It is only an Eastern power bloc would employ such a measure nowadays, where they are prepared to ignore world opinion.

In terms of human suffering and terror the long drawn out effort is as bad if not worse than the quick massacre.

I do not suggest that the terrorist groups on both sides are not capable of or have not committed, outrages on their own initiative. They are, however, carrying all the blame in the propaganda exercise. There can be no doubt that all the organisations have been infiltrated by the Secret Service machine. It is probable that many, if not most of the killings emanate from this source through the use of agent provacateurs or through unfortunates on whom there is a hold for some other serious crime.

Inklings of this situation came out in the Littlejohn and the Baker affairs. Another pointer is that the killers seem to be able to work with immunity in spite of the heavy presence of security forces checkpoints and up to date radio communication. On the other hand freelance murders, e.g. those motivated by robbery are often caught and brought to justice.

The latest move in the dismal picture is that the terror has now been taken to the innocent civilian population of England. Motivation for this by a terrorist organisation is illogical and irrational. One result which is not to the benefit of the terrorist organisation is that the British public is now conditioned to accept a much tighter control of "law and order"; and encroachment on individual rights. If the necessity arose, the death penalty could be reintroduced overnight without much dissent.

Disclosures in evidence reported at trials in England would suggest that again there is collusion between infiltrators and young misguided dedicated members of the I.R.A. who are induced to travel over and wreak havoc in England. The ease with which many are picked up straight away suggests that their actions and the possible results are known before they start. The usual speed of arrest contrasts strangely with the average delay in the case of ordinary criminal acts where a large section of the police force may be extended for a considerable time.

This assessment of the Northern scene is not given by way of condemnation of Britain only. Any power structure will act in similar fashion. France and Spain are indulging in similar measures against minorities where the activities of the Bretons and the Basques threaten the integrity of central power.

It is only if my thesis is accepted that the dreadful evil of internment can be understood. A child could tell that its declared purpose to confine terrorists and deter others is just nonsense. It is there to stay until the minority community gets the message. The archives show that indefinite confinement in the prison bulks of the Medway successfully extinguished the remnants of Gaelic culture of the Scottish Highlands following the '45 rebellion. The weapons of power do not change with time and the reason of humanity. This has immunity from all appeals to measures to retain it, and has always been so in man's history.

What can we do in this situation? It is of little help to engage in idle condemnation of any or all of the parties involved. we are all involved by our existence here. Wide discussion is necessary to understand the problem. My own view is that all efforts of reasonable men should be directed to mobilising public opinion to press for the complete departure of British power from our shores so that we can live in peace and with justice and harmony. It will mean that on our own we will have less affluence but life should be adequate for all.

This may be regarded as a dream. I would counter by saying that the present and the alternative is a nightmare. 

The writer of the foregoing article, Surgeon Patrick Lane of Belfast, is a well-known worker for Communal reconciliation in Northern Ireland. His son, Peter, a 24 year old medical student was the victim of an apparent sectarian assassination in the North almost two years ago. In connection with the murder of Peter Lane, it is probably not without significance that his father had compiled evidence of tortures inflicted on detainees by the security forces.

Surgeon Lane detects a carefully planned pattern of sectarian killings with a central guiding hand controlling the assassins. He has no doubt that all the militant organisations have been infiltrated by the British Secret Service machine and that most of the killings emanate from this source. 


 

NO FLOWERS IN MAY   

Robert Moore

 
Gone are the homesteads and valleys so green
For a twenty mile radius no grass to be seen
Now a nightmare of smokestacks has darkened the sky
And gone are the haystacks where we used to lie
Just a landscape of black that once was so green
Until big business came and shattered a dream.
Where no birds are now winging or singing their song
All the trees in the meadown have withered and gone
No fish in those waters is there to be found
Where once sparkling trout did so gaily abound
From those rivers and streams where no fish now play
All the muskrat and beaver have roamed far away.
No bush on the hillside to shelter the bear
The deer and the antelope have moved on in despair
And gone are the rabbit and fox that lived there
Gone now those pastures and meadows of green
Where once grazing cattle and sheep could be seen.
No longer do cocks crow to herald the dawn
Where no bees are buzzing or bumbling along
I don't need convincing there's something far wrong
But wages are high in the smelters today
Creating the myth "It's a great place to stay"
Tho the work might be hard you'll make plenty pay
Where everything's dying and filled with decay
And the countryside's black and the skies are all grey
But ain't life short enough, why hasten the day
So I am hitting the road out of Sudbury today
Where the faces of wage slaves get withered and grey
As they process the ore into nickel for pay
Bought by the hour selling sweet life away
Where there's still showers in April but no flowers in May.
 
 

BLUES

 Frances Moore

Like the storm thrush beneath the rain
I have to sing
to live outside my pain
 
Goodbye my darling 
may the guns shoot wide 
How cold our bed is 
with you outside.
 
Lullaby darlings 
while the big bombs fall 
Hold on to mother 
who's no good, no good at all.
 
Like the storm thrush
beneath the angry sky
I have to sing
to pass my sorrow by.
 
Children are growing
and must be fed
I must labour to rear them
And help earn their bread.
 
Lads must go courting 
a lass of their own 
Out of work, mother, 
and emptying home.
 
Where are you darling now we have time
to be together
after so long, so long a time?
 
Out in the rain love 
trying to wake 
the sullen people 
their own lives to make.
 
The sullen people 
whose shattered faith 
trust no-one to lead them 
to a better life.
 
You upon one beat
I on the other
How can we meet
and hold together?
 
Like a storm thrush 
in the snow storm 
I have to sing 
to keep my courage warm.
 
Like a storm thrush 
singing in the sun 
I have to sing 
for every moment won.

 


TRELLIE
Ken Clay

When Trellie was very young, during that bleak period of austerity in the late forties and early fifties, he was taken to the pictures every week by his mother. All the heroes, it seemed to him, played the piano very well or quoted long pieces of Shakespeare flawlessly. His father venerated these accomplishments and could himself quote two lines from John of Gaunt's death-bed speech in Richard II. He made a point of committing the couplet to memory after coming across it in the monthly magazine of the Royal Society of St. George.

Then there was Arthur Mee's Children's Encyclopedia, the only set of books in the house apart from the Home Doctor and the Daily Express Book of the Garden. They were all kept lying flat under blankets in a drawer in the wardrobe; it didn't seem worthwhile buying a bookshelf. From these Trellie received the first stirring intimations of the power of great art. Not from the works themselves - the Encyclopedia did indeed contain whole sonnets by John Keats and Milton in addition to blue toned photographs of Michaelangelo's David and Moses - but from the grandiose, overblown language of Arthur Mee himself. Surely, thought Trellie, if these things can move people like Arthur Mee to deliver such extravagant praise they must be the most important things in the world. When he looked at the poems and statues the sonorous phrases of his guide made his flesh creep once more in a frisson of awe.

Later he wrote poems: it was easy. Then he started to keep a notebook of thoughts which one day, when he'd got enough to publish, would undoubtedly appear in Encyclopedias of the future under the heading 'Immortal Ideas Which Have Changed the World'. As he grew older the ideas of others began to pollute his stream of thought. Eventually the notebook became an intellectual rag and bone cart piled up with rubbish whose variety bore witness to the totally undirected nature of his reading.

It was this notebook which he produced at Neville's one Sunday afternoon and read to him the following quotation. Not because it struck him as a profound idea but simply because it puzzled him. The sentences had a peculiar property. Although they were written in English, and although he'd re-written them substituting the dictionary definition for each word he didn't understand, he still found them completely incomprehensible. They defied penetration. It was a deeply disturbing moment in Trellie's life: his first confrontation with philosophy. He read the sentences out to Neville hoping to impress him with his erudition and at the same time provoke a discussion during which their meaning would be made clear.

"Modern thought has realised" Trellie read, "considerable progress by reducing the existent to the series of appearances which manifest it. Its aim was to overcome a certain number of dualisms which have embarrassed philosophy and to replace them by the monism of the phenomenon". Neville squirmed in his chair, arranging his arthritic hip in a more comfortable position. He looked at Trellie as he would at one of the paintings on the wall. Looks are really the only thing worth bothering about he thought, they can even compensate for this tedious adolescent thirst for culture.

"Its from Being and Nothingness by Jean Paul Sartre", Trellie went on, staring straight at Neville with a look of powerful concentration: the kind of look often found on the faces of people who spend a lot of time reading books they don't understand. Neville sipped his Algerian red wine and gazed up into the far corner of the room as if the sight of anything more interesting would be a dangerous distraction.

"Philosophy is difficult not only because it uses ordinary words in a special way but also because it manipulates abstract concepts for which there are no concrete corelatives. The English temperament", he almost said the proletarian temperament, "is essentially a positivistic and empirical one, disinclined to give serious attention to metaphysical speculation. What they fail to realise of course", he went on, emancipating himself easily from this narrow national category, "is that this apparently common sense view of the world is itself a philosophical posture no more certain than any other. We have merely become used to it and somewhat seduced by the success of its application in science."

Fuckinell! thought Trellie, he talks just like a book himself! He felt a strong urge to turn round and see if the words were printed on the wallpaper. "No concrete correlatives?" asked Trellie, going back to the point where he'd lost the argument.

"Precisely", said Neville. Trellie felt vaguely flattered but couldn't think why exactly. "You should really read Hegel before tackling a work like that. It's virtually nothing more than an expansion of the Self-Consciousness section of the Phenomenology of Mind". Neville realised he was speaking to himself but he regarded even one-sided conversation as good practice. The discipline of shaping sentences fascinated him, as did the sound of his voice. Trellie too was intoxicated by these compliments to his intelligence. All in all they were both having a fairly good time.

Outside Neville could hear the thwack of boot on football. It was a Sunday league match on the park. One could hardly stand behind the rubber plant ogling those lusty thighs through the French windows in front of this screwy little poseur. He gulped again at the wine. "why do you read such things anyway?" The working class, he thought, what an astonishing collection! They imagined they could just pick up culture like a pint pot. Only the other day his cleaning woman had told him she was going to night school to learn Russian.

"I'm interested in philosophy", said Trellie.

"Excuse me a moment." Neville got up with difficulty and retired to the upstairs toilet to fart. Trellie heard it distinctly; at first he could hardly believe it. Yet there it was, a real rasper, the kind which Ferny, the boilermaker s mate, followed by sweeping an imaginary shot gun up to his shoulder. If it had happened at home his father would have said, 'see better now can yer?' But Neville, already back in the room, left specifically for that purpose out of deference to his guest. The mysterious abyss between the classes opened up once more.

"What have you read up to now?" said Neville.

What a sneaky question, thought Trellie. Here he was, engaged in a task of extraordinary moral grandeur - nothing less than the search for a code to live by, a system of rules and stirring exhortations to replace the mind-numbing Protestant imperatives he'd had stuffed down him as a child, being forced to answer Neville's question with a pale list of titles. "I've had Descartes and Karl Marx out of the library but I've never been able to get right the way through."

The idea of chaperoning an ephebe through the labyrinth of European culture made Neville's soul swoon with delight. His mind, however, an organ more susceptible to cynicism, had become wary over the years after a series of failures. The most grievous had been that of his permanent companion, Dickie, whose proximity during two decades to three thousand volumes and a collection of modern paintings so large that half of them had to be stored on racks in the attic had left him regarding books as objects to be put back on the shelves when the coffee table began to look untidy and paintings as highlights for the wallpaper, only worth looking at when they contained lots of orange or cats.

Yet Trellie had a certain raw intelligence. That gaze! His look was never less than one of intense curiosity. Sometimes in his presence Neville felt vulnerable to ridicule. "What you need is a systematic course of reading."

Trellie brightened. "Yes, I was going to ask you if you could let me have a list."

"Municipal libraries are ..." Neville was about to offer a disparaging tirade on the contents of the town library but realised that this might expose him to a question about his reasons for going there, "not very good on the whole." He stretched out to a nearby bookcase, "Read this and we'll have a talk about it when you come again." He handed

Trellie the paperback version of La Rochefoucauld's Maxims. He left in a state of exalted fervour. Just as a pig in a slaughterhouse pen becomes invaded by a sense of dread so Trellie, poised blindly on the precipice of transcendental metaphysics, was somehow aware of the vertiginous, mind-warping prospect before him. His brain buzzed and flashed like a pinball machine as new cerebral circuits sprang into existence in an attempt to comprehend Neville's words. The world outside had that flat, airy, natural look which he had come to know for the first time years ago on stepping off the Ghost Train at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach.

 


 

TO A LANCASHIRE UNITED BUS    

John Gowling

 
Manchester-Bolton-Westhoughton-Hindley-Wigan-Atherton
St Helens -Prescot-Liverpool.
 
To a Lancashire United Bus
You trip from town to town
In search of a countryside you'll never see.
The mispent unhappiness of the hive of British slag and
Chemical waste,
Ride on, Ride on in Majesty.
 
Ride on, Ride on
You red and silver double decker bus
Belch out your beautiful black fumes
Over the yellowy white disbelievers
Belch out your beautious body odour
Over those who choose to stay.
What can grow on the spoilt earth
The sulphur rained-on streets?
Where will you go, you tuberculer Bolton pigeons
When the mills cease to serve to roost?
Or the atom bomb dropped?
It is being dropped in slow motion into the hair
Of those of Warrington, Widnes and St. Helens every day.
 
You Lancashire United Guy Arab Bus,
Grow on young man,
You dirty-old, labour-rearing, thrown-at pram
You perished and corroded bricks and mortar,
You dusty, varnished, brown sideboards and yellow porcelain alsatians.
Belch out your beautiful black fumes.
While they beat out their rugs in your path,
And slip out to the shop along that eternal terraced block that
Stretched from Liverpool to Hull.
You Lancashire United Guy Arab Bus,
Someday they'll throw you away.
Like a spent human carcass.
And as your air doors close over Hindley
They'll ring again in vain.
 
 

BLACK AND WHITE  

 Bob Dixon

In the day, 
the white light shines on all men 
and casts black shadows.
 
We are shackled by the heel
to our shadows.
We are prisoners in our skins.
 
As well try to scrub your shadow white
as lighten your skin.
 
In the night, all shadows merge.
All cats are black at night.
 
 

RESSANO GARCIA   

 Barbara G. Smith

A little morning music -
and winter's lucid sunshine sweeping the dusty bush; 
and the train tilting, twisting slowly along the valley 
to cross the river.
And we singing, and loudly laughing, and shouting, 
drunk with hope, and holiday home-coming.
 
And you were there, Mzuzu, 
gay excited; the cracks in your deformed
tin trunk glimpsed gifts, a shining pan, 
bright cloth, some tins, meagre rewards 
for dark submerged humiliation buried deep 
in your quivering soul, as your body quivered 
daily deep in the dark weighted narrows 
of the rocks of gold.
 
And you too, Nkonsome, eyes alight, 
tongue live with fluent speech, the leaflet 
brandished, a spear of triumph, in your hand. 
Wonders you spoke, of churning change, of freedom 
fought for within our grasp; perhaps, you breathed, 
daring, perhaps we need return no more 
to anxious apartheid labour, perhaps worthy work, the work 
of progress, awaits us, 
needs us there, in our homeland!
 
The river - oh, jubilation; briefly we taste
the freedom of our dreams. But first the frontier post 
-the past survives in barriers, curt question, 
brutal examination, old customs clashing
with our quickened aspirations. 
Hau? Shooting? incredulous shock; death's 
silence ... our joy had forgot the white-faced 
senseless fear of a fear-free future 
when no-one will name man Master, 
and when comrade calls to comrade, comrade to 
comrade will reply. Till then
Ressano Garcia.

 


 

 

AN UNMARRIED MOTHER -A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE 
Vivian Leslie

The unmarried mother - ten years ago she reigned supreme as society's problem child. She was the subject of earnest debate and pontification from a righteous host of eminent sociologists, clerics and T.V. pundits. Her situation within society scraped raw by the intimate probes of women's magazines, documentary T.V. programmes and statistical reports, she was under a spotlight for public spectacle. Yet her problems remain. The fact that the focus of public concern has shifted towards the teenage drug addict/pusher, the vandal and the football rowdy, only conceals the fact that despite her solo performance as the sociologists' star turn, very little provision has been made, through either law reform or a change in local authority attitudes, to enable the unmarried mother to exist in our society on a comparative level with her married friends, either economically or spiritually.

The following article contains no comparative statistics, draws no broad sociological conclusions and is not intended to be a nationwide survey of the situation. It is simply the experience of one unmarried mother and her son, and the conclusions she came to from her experience. I've drawn some things from the experience of girls in similar circumstances where their experience differed from mine, but though our family and economic circumstances were very different, the problems we met were surprisingly identical. One conclusion we were all agreed upon, it is a fact that it is no easier for the unmarried mother and her child to emerge sound in mind and limb from the early critical years now than it was ten years ago, despite the hysterical assurances from the media that we live in a permissive society, that people are more tolerant and that the State looks after its poorer people. Now, as then, any situation is easy for the rich (in this situation, they can have a discreet abortion) but the majority have to claw their own way out of their problems, with very little aid from the institutions that could, but don't help them.

Even for t he super-confident, the humiliations of being disguised as "Mrs." while in hospital, being "forgiven" by family and friends, being regarded as a parasite by the SS (Social Security, but the coincidence is so appropriate) and being discriminated against by money-grabbing landlords and company-minded employers, is hard to take, especially in the post-natal period when emotions and nerves are inclined to seesaw wildly, often tipping the sufferer onto the downwards spiral of post-natal depression with successive blows against the confidence of the new and nervous mother. To a young girl, any of these experiences coupled with the enormous responsibilities of caring for a young baby, can seem insurmountable. This is indeed a danger period in which hasty marriage or premature adoption is often the result of the subtle but relentless pressures that society brings to bear on the unfortunate girl to conform. At a time when she needs every scrap of her confidence to cope with her changed life, the noose tightens, and the clear judgment she needs to guide herself and her child through their situation, is inevitably strangled by the consequent worries and doubts. None of us came through this initial crisis unscathed.

It is much harder to resist the gentle pressures of those we love and may be made to feel we have offended, than the more impersonal ones of a distant and abstract society. The guilt feeling, which plays so large a part in the reactions of the unmarried mother, may be intensified if she is living with forgiving but disappointed parents, who may not be able to, or even wish to, hide their disapproval from her. These destructive feelings can grow to manic proportions in a sensitive girl, leaving her emotionally deformed, unable to rid herself of a feeling of inadequacy because she does not feel the guilt and shame she is expected to feel. She suffers from a secondary guilt feeling brought on by other people's expectations of her, which she is unable to meet. Neither I, nor any of the girls I knew at the time, felt any guilt or shame for our pregnancies -any guilt we did feel was associated with having fallen foul of our parents' aspirations for us. We felt shame on behalf of our parents. I know that parents who support their daughters without moral recrimination or evidence of distaste can be of immeasurable value to the unmarried mother. I know of none who did so.

In order to avoid these frictions, the obvious alternative is to seek some form of rented accommodation, to work to pay the rent and a baby-minder, and to be as independent as possible. In purely practical terms, there are very few girls with a large enough earning capacity to be able to afford the rent of a self-contained flat, plus the wages the baby-minder will require. It is not an ideal solution even where it is financially viable, since it robs the mother and child of their precious one to one relationship. The baby comes to know his minder better than his mother, the mother can be quickly disenchanted with the role of mother when all it appears to consist of is an ever-growing pile of washing and ironing to be done, and only moments of real baby-care. Doing a full time job when there is no-one to share the chores with will rapidly tire the most healthy person, and with the broken nights she will have to endure, she may become inefficient at her job through tiredness, which in turn will lead to worry, because she is worried she will not enjoy her baby as she might otherwise, and the whole situation is in danger of degenerating into a tightening circle of depression, harmful to mother and child. Severe cases of depression can be the first steps that lead to attempted suicides, baby-bashings and often, a desperate promiscuity in search of a man, any man, who will take the load, even partially, from her shoulders. Most of the girls who did work at a full time job were the ones living with family or relatives who helped, more or less, with the care of the child.

It is incredible to reflect that there is no acceptable alternative to the natural mother's care in our society. There are many situations where, perhaps because of illness or a need to work on the mother's part, that the natural mother is unable to look after her own children, even inside marriage. These women are caught in the same trap as the unmarried mothers - they have to rely on kindly relatives or paid minders to look after their children. State nurseries open at hours impossible for a working girl to meet, they have a high teacher/child ratio, few will accept a child under the age of three and the lack of comfort and home atmosphere make them a poor substitute for the natural mother's care. (This standard of nursery care is also a severe problem to the percentage of women who feel intellectually starved in the role of wife and mother, who need the stimulus of a demanding job to present a relaxed and happy face to their husbands and children. At present, these women have only a bitter choice between a childless career or reluctant motherhood before them, either one a cheat). Having said that the ideal situation is one in which the unmarried mother is able to look after her child with the same peace of mind and financial security of her married friends, I will go on to show how impossible it is to achieve this humane solution.

Seven years ago, when I was investigating ways and means of supporting myself and my child, a visit to the local SS office provided me with the information that we would receive approximately 5 weekly from the State for our upkeep. If we lived alone we would qualify for a rent allowance, free milk (one pint a day) and help from the Welfare Department for our clothing needs. A question from me about how to budget for two on that amount elicited the reply that we weren't supposed to enjoy ourselves on SS money - no indeed. The economics of the situation need no explanation - it just couldn't be done, not even seven years ago. I might add here that I had always had an aversion to taking money from the State - taxpayer that I had been, I thought it not unreasonable to be able to live above a mere existence, and I was shocked to discover that the SS regarded this as superfluous, arid in the instance of the particular official that dealt with me, that she retarded her role in life as being that of protector of the State coffers from sinister claimants like me, who intended to rob the coffers at the rate of 5 weekly. (Nothing changes - a recent report from the Citizen's Rights Office contained a case in which an unmarried mother was refused money to feed her baby on the grounds that "Babies that age don't eat much.").

I did, in fact, work full time after a month at my family's home. Though allowing us a degree of financial independence, working had many disadvantages. I saw far too little of my son, when I did see him I was tired, my mother wasn't able to cope with the needs of four adults and a baby and though I helped where and when I could, some friction was inevitable and distracted us from the main task of bringing up baby. Looking back, I might have fared better on the SS pittance, but I felt than, and I do now, that the unspoken demand from the State that the parents should supplement the incomes of their "errant" daughters is a vicious imposition on the goodwill of the parents. It is making a moral judgement on the people involved, by making their lives more difficult than they would otherwise be, surely not the lawful business of a State Department, and a "Welfare" one at that.

In the early days, one of the worst problems we encountered was the lack of a place for us girls to be together to discuss our peculiar problems. Few of us could afford baby-sitters, carrying babies through cold evening air was not advisable, so the only place we could meet was the local Baby Clinic, where we were heavily outnumbered by the married mothers who chatted gaily to each other about their homes, their husbands and their cars. They looked at us with pity, well meant but debilitating in the extreme, how we longed to be accepted among them as mothers. We were unfortunate in that the Health Visitor attached to the Clinic was a solid Christian lady, who treated us as if we were imbeciles - perhaps she thought we were - but her impatient waving away of our questions and her general attitude towards us prompted me to neglect to take my son to the Clinic for two weeks when he developed a patch of scurf on his head (a thoroughly normal occurrence, as I since learned), but I was afraid she would label me a "dirty mother", most heinous sin in her rule book. She never "liked" our babies - they were always too heavy or too pale, too warmly dressed, or, in my instance, were walking too soon. We certainly felt that we were "on inspection" when we attended the Clinic and our babies were scrubbed twice as often as they needed to be, almost defiantly. 

Perhaps it was only our imagination that prompted us to think that our babies were scrutinised with extra zeal - I think not. If only someone had told her how much we needed reassurance that we were doing well - we couldn't do it, we were far too frightened of her frowns and moods.

(This is obviously only one instance of a Health Visitor - the one who attends my second son is a lavender lady of advanced years who insists I list my religion as "agnostic" instead of "atheist" because, she says, "There's more hope that way.").

One of my friends who did manage to find acceptable rented accommodation she could afford, had other problems. She had to run errands, help with other tenants' housework and generally debase herself for a landlady who exploited her vulnerability by threatening to turn her and her child out on to the street if she refused. This girl had been rejected by her family and had nowhere else to go, she was desperate so she accepted her humiliating part in this bargain without complaint. Because she was existing on SS money, her regular boyfriend could not visit her in her attic in case he jeopardised her benefit (SS officials assume cohabitation where a man makes frequent visits to a claimant, not necessarily overnight, and cut off benefit immediately - no such nicety as a hearing). She could have had a succession of male callers, one every night of the week but the visits of one man were a luxury she could not afford. Inevitably, the relationship starved to death, as did several others that succeeded it. We used to laugh at the anomoly - we could be prostitutes on SS money, but not have a regular boyfriend whether we slept with him or not - we used to laugh but after a while, it just wasn't funny any more, only unfair.

Another sadder case was the girl, staying with parents who tried to persuade her to return to t he Church she had been brought up in, who fought to resist these pressures for three years before she capitulated. She then "repented" of her "sinful ways", had her son christened, married a man her parents and priest approved of and is now living in a three bedroomed semi with garden and garage, has another child and is only a bleak echo of the happy girl she was. She went under through lack of support and understanding from supposedly Christian parents and friends who took it upon themselves to "reform" her. Reform her they did, she now has lost even her faith in herself and has gained only a facade of respectability - she will always be the "fallen angel" to her family, they do not let her forget it. She told me that she had not wanted to marry, but was heart weary with the constant battle with her family and friends to preserve her self-respect, in the face of their efforts to undermine it at every opportunity. She told a sorry tale of the months preceding her reconversion to the Catholic faith - of sessions with her priest who used every session to seduce her back to the confessional with promises of an easy mind as reward. She said she felt guilty at the sham - she did not believe but was tired of fighting every inch of the way for her right to be. She said she was a traitor in the camp. Another broken spirit for the Church.

My own experience with clerical attitudes was not as devastating but along the same lines. A certain misguided friend took me unawares to the house of a Methodist minister, ostensibly for an evening's conversation, but for a prearranged heart-to-heart talk about a spiritual crutch for me in my troubles. The conversation lasted about ten minutes, in which time I imagine that the minister came to the conclusion that I was either a complete heathen or hopefully, that I had no need of any spiritual life-raft. The conversation ended and so did that particular friendship. My particular hardships did not incline me towards a religious way out, though it is probably true that unmarried mothers, along with other people in social distress, are likely conscripts.

I have deliberately left out the morality of the question - I make no pleas for acceptance or tolerance for the unmarried mother. It is my personal view that our society is fast outgrowing the Victorian morality it has been saddled with for so long - we only need the courage to embrace a newer, wider morality that will, in fact, tolerate the social "deviants" among us. I am aware that there are large numbers of people, homosexuals, commune members and people who choose to avoid the existing family structures, who have a just claim on society to tolerate them financially and morally - we stand together stating our existence and our right to be an integral part of the society we live in. Paradoxically, we wtill zealously harass the sexual "criminals" in our society, the lechers, the adulterous wives, the pornographers and the whores, while ignoring the viler acts of t he landlords, property tycoons and land hoarders - who are the real pirates of our society, the real corruptors, but their turn will come.

It needs to be stated that the greatest and least measurable harm is done by the double standards of t he society that the unmarried mother has to live in. The emotional turmoils of each girl are different, the extent to which she is prey to guilt feelings, inferiority complexes and a mass of interconnected neuroses is different. Few of us are personal anarchist enough that we can live at ease in a society that on the surface accepts us, but which continually undermines our quality of life by not providing the legislation to control discrimination against us in tenancy agreements and employment contracts, that provides no acceptable nursery care, or that renders us financially impotent to support ourselves, even with the State benefits that are so immorally low. These things are a living nightmare to us - we have to plan for a future that intimidates many of us into hasty marriage to escape the draining insecurity that is our permanent lot, a future in which we can have no council house without a husband, no mortgage without a man behind us, and no real prospect of a full life without a man, because our society is geared to the nuclear family and provides for no alternative family structure. No, we are not all desperate to marry - many of us would sit out our problems if it were possible to do so without impoverishing ourselves and our children. It may seem to some that there is a brand of arrogance in the fact that we will not accept our given role of second class citizens, we will not take the leavings, the poorly paid jobs, the slum accommodation. We will retain our simple human dignity, our place in the shade if you like, but not in the cold. We are ready to shoulder our responsibilities, but not the punishment that is often meted out. How can these girls plan the lives of themselves and their children calmly and practically with the weight of these injustices stacked so firmly against them - always pushing them into marriage, nudging them into conformity, because it's tidier for the taxman that way?

In this situation the most important person is the child - I've said little about the child in this article because it is the pressures on the mother that affect the child most. There must be some kind of legal enforceable protection for these children. They must not be allowed to remain the pawns and victims of greedy landlords, reforming clerics, impersonal social-workers or unwilling grandparents. Most of all, they must not become the victims of their mothers' desperation, by abandonment or physical abuse. Both mother and child must be steered well away from this final black hole where the helpless panic and drown one another. we must work to help society to bequeath to these children a secure and worry free mother, their first and prime human right. What we as a society must do is to tinker with our morality and language enough to make the word "bastard" obsolete.

 


 

 

THE LIVING SEED  

 Angela Tuckett

Only upon the bleakest top
Still lies the drifted snow,
Out of the sting of the wind's whip,
The noonday glow.
 
Only upon the cliff's north face
Freezes the bitter rain
Hushed in a passionless embrace
Silent again.
 
Tangled tussocks everywhere
Contend with barren stone;
Once more the stripped earth brown and bare,
Never yet sown,
 
Awaits the not impossible
Beneath perpetual snow
The living seed waits only till
Our firestorms glow.
 
 
 

POINTS OF VIEW   

 Maurice Wiles

Ephemeral fly
On window pane.
Outside, aspen leaves
Tremulous on twisted stalks:
Green-shadowed patterns
A flickering crisscross made
Of random light and shade.
 
Progress? said fly.
Nonsense! said fly -
The universe is made
Of random light and shade,
My myriad eyes can find
No planning mind
That lies behind.
 
Poor curious fly!
Spider came by
Long-legged and hungry,
Caught him in clutching web
Before summer's ebb.
 
Gorged spider
Safe in webbed lair
Saw autumn and winter come,
Leaves turning yellow and brown
Then falling down
Leaving twigged branches here.
 
A fool, that fly, said spider,
Wisdom was denied her.
Decay in all I see.
The universe collapses into death
At autumn's chilly breath.
 
Wise cat with topaz eyes
Caught spider by surprise:
Cat's paw ended her.
Long legs did not save her.
 
For nine lives long
Cat mewed her philosophic song:
Leaves come and go;
Green follows dun
When winter's gone;
Dun follows green
When summer's done.
Spengler' s my man, said topaz-eyed.
Thought of progress I can't abide.
In rhythmic ebb and flow
The seasons come and go.
When all's said and done
Nothing's new under the sun:
Time's whirligig can only bring
Summer winter autumn spring,
And all's to do again.
 
But soon cat drew her final breath,
Her topaz eyes were closed in death.
 
But then man came along.
He sang a different song:
That aspen tree once grew from seed
Planted by man;
One day, when old, it will be
Cut down by man.
The window pane, the house that frames it,
Were made by man.
With spade in hand
Man made the glass,
Man axed the tree
And sawed the timber
And shaped the walls
And built the house
From blueprint preconceived.
Man prophesies no evil doom
Emerging from time's womb.
Man's speech creates a wealth
Of unseen knowledge
From solar system college;
His curious mind discovers
His birth in ancient time
From primal slime.
The laws of change man gets to know
And understands why things are so.
Man's labour, bought and sold,
Protects him from of old
From summer's heat and winter's cold.
Someday, with labour free,
He'll pull it down and better build
Homes with happy humans filled,
And with foreseeing mind
Plan homes for all mankind.
No human then shall homeless be,
Nor lack the time to see
The beauty of the tremulous aspen tree.
 
 
 

EXPLOITATION     

 John Salway

Take a case of bones
Rattling in the desert
 
And watch the last drops
Of blood
Drip
Into the ravenous sands
 
Take a gold mine
Yes
Take a gold mine
 
And paint your lady
With summer in Las Vegas
 
Take the world
And twist it round your finger
Tight-wad
 
And don't forget
To catch
The pennies from Heaven.
 
 

BLACK SHEEP 

 Jone o' Broonlea

Aye, 'e wur an' a,
A bloody card wur uncle Joe:
At 'time 'is dooms were provin' bad
E up to speawt, an' roost of ' lad -
im 'ere, i' Lych Lane
In 'is grave wheer Joe wur payin'
Lip-service, stonnin' on 'is stooan,
Fit to stir 'is iv'ry booan
As, turnin' in 'is tomb, 'e'd oss
To whummle this murtherin' bullshit boss
As'd sent a rook o' ther owd mates
Deawn Lych Lane an' through it gates
To back-o' beyond an' kingdom-come,
While mony another mun cringe awhum.
It a' come eawt, o' ' feaw deeds o' Joe's,
0' th'after 'ed'd cockt up 'is toes:
Stuff as we'd 'ear'd bur ud nooan believe
As heaw "one of us" could so deceive
Ut craeturs ud bloody ther 'ands o' this manner
An' wipe 'em, t'ide ' stains, i' ' blood-red banner
As leads us still.
Up at ' mill
T's a' modern neaw -
Onyheaw,
Beawt t'owd bastin' an' batin' life,
Tho' still ther's ' wark's estrangin' strife
0' ' rooad o' mackin' things
An' ' consequences ut it brings -
A'reet for them wi' profit goal,
Bu' niver same for us an' a'
For tho' they'n done wi Joe's feaw ways
Is aim ut based 'em a' still stays -Apin' ' Yanks: "Catch 'em up, then over-tak!"
Follerin' ther wake, as should ha' ta'en tother tack,
Turnin' eawt what's namoore na ther profitable lines
As desirable goods for ' good o' mankind's
Progress": this Jack-o' -Lantern chase
As peysons ' yearth wi it reckless waste.
They'n long-sin' ta'en Joe's likeness deawn frae ' wa's
An' we mun shak' 'is clawkin' paw off' Cause
Ut's eawrs, t'insense it in us mates what's reight
I' this fluctuatin' feight
An' nooan be flaid
0' new mistakes ut meht be made:
Let's mind o' Karl an' Fred an' hill,
For what they towt's as fresh 'ere still,
Tho' lots they wrote we'd tend t'owerbook
Sin' it didn't figger i' Joseph's book -
Long-ignored, it wur allus theer
An' reaches us neaw, like news-frae-nowheer,
That clear an' breet
We maun ne'er namoore base it frae eawr seet.
An we were bloody foo's an' a',
T'ha' set such store bi uncle Joe.
 

roost (of), praised; Lych, corpse; oss, try; whumnile, overturn; rook, large number; bastin , beating; batin' , cutting short; insense, make understand. (the substituted by a glottal stop, is indicated by an apostrophe: 'time, ' lad, ' feaw deeds, etc.).


  

TRAFFIC LIGHTS 
Gareth Thomas

Two overalled men threw their tools into the council truck and drove away, leaving behind them a brand new pair of traffic lights. They had installed many traffic lights before this pair, and did not get emotionally involved with them. Maybe they did not know how long it had taken to make a decision to put those particular lights in that particular spot. What did they know of the dead children, killed on that busy main road? How could they curse the council for not listening to its electorate? They drove off without seeing the pregnant women standing on the corner, laden with shopping and justified bitterness.

She just stood and looked at the lights. A controlled pedestrian crossing. Perhaps the child inside her would now stand a better chance of survival than the sister it would never see, the last child to be killed before the council decided to act. The fourth child killed on that spot before the council decided to act.

"We can't afford a crossing." They said that after the first child was killed. After the second child was killed, a Crossing Action Group was formed by local mothers, and the council generously said: "We're looking into the possibilities ..." While they were looking into the possibilities a year after the first child was killed, the third died under a continental juggernaut. This vehicle also demolished a lamp-standard as it swerved, in a belated avoiding action. Maybe the council looked into possibilities a bit quicker then, as a lamp-standard happens to be an expensive item. They paid a woman to hold a sign for children to cross. STOP - CHILDREN CROSSING. When this woman was in hospital, and the fourth child was dead, and the council was paying compensation, and the Crossing Action Group had won the attention of the press, the council agreed that it was a good idea to put a crossing at the point in question. Now, a year later, it was finally installed.

The pregnant woman with the shopping and the tired face watched as the first batch of returning schoolchildren pressed the button on the bights. The traffic stopped and they crossed safely, leisurely, happily pointing at the little green man-shaped pedestrian light. Wiping away a tear, the woman turned and walked home.

A fat man in a pinstriped suit was sitting behind the wheel of his big black limousine, fingers drumming on the gear stick, impatient to meet a business friend for drinks, glaring at the red bight. "Come on, blast you!" he cursed, glancing at his watch. The light changed to amber and he accelerated quickly away, swerving to miss a cyclist and hooting the horn loudly. "Bloody cyclists! Shouldn't be allowed on the road ..."

The man on the bicycle made a rude sign with his fingers. Well, how could he know that the car contained the councillor he had helped to elect?

 


 

LUVIN' TALLY        

Jone o' Broonlea

 
One-wi-tother, i'
Tooathri heawrs o'
Four-legged marbock, then
Five for sleep while t'
Six-o'-cbock rise an' off bi
Seven wi summat t'
Eight afoore t'
Nigh'n four-moore's drive as'll ha'
Ta'en a' mi time to mek
Elevenses wi t' missis.
(Ther's truth fon i' t'owd adage, o'
tother rooad-reawnd what's said:
Ther's summat moore na marriage to
Four bare legs in a bed).

 


4th NOVEMBER 1974
M.G. Askell

4th November 1974. That will have to do for a title, in any case I've always been suspicious of titles, they continually restrict, in an academic sense, or so it seems to me; and I am going to diverge considerably, in any case having read of the problems others undergo in the search for an appropriate title, I'll just say now that, if one appears it wasn't my starting point. What is, or, what was, you are entitled to ask; (maybe that could be the title; YOU ARE ENTITLED TO ASK).

You probably have heard, even asked, the questions that follow. What is it? What is it supposed to represent? What does it mean? and Hmm? Why do you do it? Most of the people I am in contact with, those that for a variety of reasons are likely to enter into the flat in which I weave the web of my personality, invariably connect these (objects) with a concept which takes form in the sound ... modern art. I am never worried at any of my levels by the sound modern, it's a contradiction as soon as the sound has passed. Art, this sound disappoints me, when it reaches me I understand vaguely that I am being committed to an act of separation. In this situation I am not al ease, either with myself, and consequently ill at ease with those who have produced the sound, art. It seems too long a journey to undertake at such short notice.

To continue, we are on a beach, which beach? I don't think that has any great significance, well I'm confident enough to say at this moment in time it wasn't the motivation, only the place. However, the we, as always, remains elusive, from the significance factor that is. I thought at the time about, how clean, (clean, as a state of being, not in the environmental clinical sense;) now, timewise, is. There are enumerous pebbles on pebbly beaches, neither of the two I collected, selected, retained, were in themselves initially sufficient, for their retention, maybe I would use them, it depended on, a) the strength of my memory, b) do the pebbles continue to assist in c) the development of, as yet an unknown recollection of that particular moment and its consequences.

On the beach there are many similar stones of the same material, some are broken, no, that isn't strictly correct, some are in the process of becoming smooth all over, being an uninformed geologist I would describe the structure of the stones as crystalline. On that bright everyday morning the broken stones sparkled while and clean, the two stones I retained are in one sense their future. Time has locked the past in practicalities.

That day during the afternoon we flew a kite, there was no wind in the morning, if there had been I doubt if I would be typing this. The kite was in the shape of a bat, the colour of the kite is black. When I was a boy I had an idea that kite's had achieved a magnificent freedom; from what? I didn't know; they haven't, they are attached, and that's what makes them work.

As for always in close proximity to the beach there stood those indispensable egg-timers of instantaneous enjoyment, or so I am led to believe, if for no other reason than their abundance, which I doubt, the amusement arcade, model-boating lake, on this particular day in the throes of organised model yacht competition, saddle your own canoe lake; we did, and I had my own thoughts. We did other things, people do, I said goodbye to a daymoment, we began to return, the four of us. The stones? in a haversack, inside a wrapper that once harboured our now eaten cheese and tomato sandwiches.

A piece of ordinary plywood 6' x 8" the surface has cuts and indentations a result of my activities in conjunction with others, some of these being:- the construction of a glider; framing of two drawings the work of two children, a brother and sister; cutting card into various shapes; a block to hammer on in order to save the table or whatever from above cuts and indentations. The piece of wood came from a carnival float, an off-cut, part of a side panel that now enjoys the imaginative reign of a group of children living in a council estate, the wind and all other weather conditions. Is now the ground.

Lighting, colour, you could easily build yourself a box big enough to live in with the black and white tracts written on light and colour, still have adequate supplies remaining that would enable you to light a fire thus produce colour, that would be ridiculous? You think. Colour is there and costs nothing, all you need is to look. O.K. but seeing isn't just a mechanical functioning that depends on all the bits working well with each other to give every one the same exact image. It depends, on what, well I could say; on past practicalities. By which is meant? You may have heard the story. Someone is talking, about, it could be, he, she, X or Y, who is so, aware, sensitive, capable of such feeling which in turn causes: a) individual suffering, this is always suspect, b) to be such a creative person, the question is, in whose eyes? The only other buildings besides modern production units (factories) that place the windows above the eye level are prisons. You don't hear that kind of tale there, the factory, I mean. Like unused muscles you get to using them less, not because you choose to; simply because you forget they are there. Who? X, Y or Z, do you think you are? With your attitudes to have the audacity to question people who have received the very best that is available, educationally speaking, that is; and further more devoted a life time's work to it! They know they haven't won, or lost for that matter, as long as you don't answer. Point is we all do a life time's work and a few can afford opportunities for devotion, paid for by those who just work. Work in an environment that prompted this statement* "I was 25 years old before I knew there were colours in a tree. Before that I thought they were just plain fucking brown." That is how it can be, we have autumn curtains in the flat, the sunlight filters through, in silence.

I have no idea whatsoever if lists exist giving the number of hours rainfall for Saturdays, and Bank Holidays, they probably could be compiled, in any case, I've always thought somehow that we are cheated, that Saturdays and Bank Holidays are above average days for rain, perhaps Wednesday half-closing people think the same about Wednesday afternoons, some people are possibly unaware of the importance in Saturday skies, they are fortunate enough to be above to delay or rearrange to suit themselves. It was raining on the Saturday we went to find a frame, get the shopping, look in a bookshop, and so be it, dodge chunks of metal travelling at between 15-40 m.p.h. traffic transportation, self-destination, whatever you'll call it. "We are all heading for the same place, hipper, it's like a trip around the world, when you get back to where you started out from, the journey's all you've had, and I spent 30 odd years at sea, in one engine-room after another, lived as best I could by a set of rules that were said to be the only ones that would work, people being what they were. Now it's all changed I'm told, so I've a few more quid in my pocket now and again, but it wasn't much of a journey." Old Bert, ex R.N. Stoker, ex M.N. Stoker, boilerman in the machine shop where I started my apprenticeship, died some 3 months later, 59 years of age. I passed by the journeys end on a dark morning at 7.25 a.m. some 200 yards from the main gate of the shipyard where we worked. There were five or six men stood around a heap of overcoats at the side of the road, I only saw them at the last moment and had to swerve in order to avoid the group, nearly running into others on the early morning tramp to the yard. Someone yelled, "Watch it you mad little cunt." But I saw the boots sticking out, highly polished as always. In the cycle shed, a match flared, one of the chain-gang said, "Bert's snuffed it, down the road, only had them boots a week, too." Then it started raining.

We collected the shopping, browsed in a bookshop, dodged the traffic, bought (l0p) ample woodwork to enable a frame to be made, it was already painted red and silver, the frame is made. I haven't answered any of the questions posed or have I? It's a recollection of freshness; sometimes these days in a purely personal time, it makes for ... well not art. B's expecting a child early next year, she says she's happy on that side of things.

See ya.

*Nigel Gray. 'The Silent Majority' (Vision Critical Studies) 1975, Vision Press Ltd.

 


 

 

IN PRAISE OF COOKS      

Angela Tuckett

 
While driving rain joins sky to earth upon this holiday
Factories and Parliament alike are all of them at play -
(Except the statesmen organising profitable war,
Whilst politicians send another regiment to restore
Their kind of law and order to ungrateful folk abroad) -
See! Unemployed the members of the Unilever Board!
No company director toils to pass a dividend,
No artist's skill devoted to the slick advertisement
Debating the conflicting claims of Dreft and Surf and Tide!
Even the copy writer's arts today are laid aside;
No lawyer robs his client, nor the publican his guest,
And - can it be? Yes! Even the common people are at rest!
 
The British common people on all other days are found
Providing all the steady work that makes the wheels go round
A-weaving, turning, fitting, making everything that's made;
So lift your glass for once in praise of British craft and trade!
The mason builds the palace, church and mansion row on row
But he never gets invited to lead the Lord Mayor's Show;
The brickie and the tiler rear the steeple, tower and dome
Yet have to fight for overtime who never owned a home;
Each dawn the cowman rises and he plods through wind and mud,
Beneath that field the veins of coal are splashed with miners' blood,
And milk goes up a penny, so his children go without;
The Coal Board stops his house coal, so the miner's fire goes out.
 
Our Britain's rich in craftsmen, wherever you may look,
But one the poets never praise .E'll praise today - the cook
It is an attribute of god's perfection to create,
Whilst changing human nature is beyond the powers of Fate -
Or so they say. And yet the cook can change the sour to sweet.
Can soothe the sad in heart and make the sick sit up and eat.
Who else each day, through fair and foul, no matter what is sent,
Can take the most indifferent and make it excellent?
I don't believe in manna, nor to Heaven we should look,
I know it's not the Devil but Mankind supplies the cook.
Some reverence love of man for maid, some bank on love of Good,
But what love is more earnest than the love of man for food?

 


 

A FEW OBSERVATIONS ABOUT VOICES GENERALLY
Ken Clay

 

It seems to me that Voices suffers from too much didacticism, naive idealism and the worst kind of socialist realism.  

1. Didacticism Most contributors feel impelled to instruct the reader about the horrors of capitalist life. This is a worthy aim but it really has no place in a journal of creative writing. When didacticism comes in the front door art usually goes out the back. The proper place for such writing is in political pamphlets. Unfortunately most Party writers can never resist an opportunity to have a go. The result is a big yawn, especially as it is usually read by Party readers who have heard it all before.  

 2. Naive Idealism: Proletarian writers generally feel they have to start off writing in the best bourgeois manner they can manage. This leads not only to a strangled, over-complex syntax and the use of large words imprecisely, but also the acceptance of bourgeois language taboos and a rejection of a large part of their experience as unsuitable for literary representation. They imagine there is so much of working class life that is too sordid, obscene, trivial or degrading. I can only describe it as the Noble Savage syndrome and wonder if it isn't perhaps a product of the English movement's Methodist origins. Everyone seems to be straining to convince the reader of his purity of heart and, consequently, the goodness of the cause; again this may have a place in political tracts similar to those issued by the Jehovah's Witnesses on how I saw the light but isn't it a bit inhibiting when approaching creative writing? Language becomes emasculated; experience becomes filtered, processed, cleaned up; truth gets lost. Writers in this bracket aspire to become accepted by a middle class literary establishment and become corrupted in consequence. A strange corollary to this syndrome is the notion that literary incompetence has its own virtue and charm. That it produces, with its technical inability to deceive or take up ambiguous positions, a transparent goodness. This leaves the reader feeling totally superior, safe, and at best, patronisingly benevolent.  

 3. Socialist Realism: A discipline designed to produce parables rather than works of art. We've almost reached the stage where capitalists wear black hats and communists white ones. The writer begins with an idea and invents people mechanically to act it out. The story loses credibility; the characters are necessarily two-dimensional but the author's nobility of purpose is in no doubt. Unfortunately his readers fall asleep on the second page. By denying all human qualities to bourgeois figures we become unrealistic: by investing all proletarian heroes with absolute goodness we compound the error. That's a simplistic account of socialist realism but it's just that kind of model that proletarian writers seem readiest to latch on to. 

Now if these three features seen as virtues, rather than vices as I have described them above, constitute the criteria by which progressive writers are judged then it's not hard to see why my first piece failed. It carried no message; was inspired by no didactic impulse. Perhaps this is why you thought it cynical.

If anything it was anti-idealistic (using that word in its everyday sense rather than its philosophical one). The only candidate for the position of noble savage, young Trellie, is mocked. Nobody represents the pure in heart. The technique is 'knowing", 'sophisticated", opaque. where the hell does the author line up in all this? What's his position? It's significant that you should find that important, and I was gratified to note that you thought I wasn't a Communist. I have in fact been a Party member for the past six years.

The proletarian seems to come out badly when confronted by his bourgeois opponent who even utters such blasphemies as: 'The working class! What a collection! They imagine they can pick up culture like a pint pot!' Not a good parable at all. Yet I'd maintain that there's enough rope in that piece to enable the ageing queer to hang himself ten times over. And that, despite his inability to manipulate and comprehend the concepts of bourgeois philosophy, Trellie has an enthusiasm and intellectual energy which eclipses the shallow facility of his jaded mentor. Maybe all that was too understated. But aren't we patronising our readers by thinking so? Can we really not leave them to judge? Have they got to be protected from representations of clever middle class figures? If that's the case we'll soon be producing the literary equivalent of a Punch and Judy show. 

All this isn't intended to vindicate my piece which may well have been rejected for other valid reasons. I merely use it as an example. What I hope I have given you cause to think about is the effectiveness of Voices both as a platform for proletarian writing and an organ for the good of the cause. Like you I want to further socialism and I think that creative writing is one of the most powerful methods available. But to be artistic - and if we re not artistic we're nothing -we've got to reflect the reality of the proletarian experience rather than the ideal we suspect it is capable of becoming. We've got to credit bourgeois culture with its real strengths. We've got to create credible, even likeable bourgeois characters so that their spiritual bankruptcy will be all the more evident when it is finally exposed. We've got to be subtle, complicated: the reader shouldn't be able to say he's reading the work of a Party member after a paragraph or two. He's got to draw the moral not have it rammed into his head. And, dare I say it, we've got to entertain, otherwise nobody is going to read it anyway. I don't want to go into this in detail but Voices does seem short on that commodity. I think some of the pieces are getting by on novelty value alone, like a dog walking on its back legs.

I hope you find these remarks relevant even though I don't expect you to agree with them. They seem to have come out more severe than I intended and perhaps it's my turn to apologise for being too harsh. It should be apparent from this deluge, concerned as it is with the negative aspects of Voices, that I still find the idea of a journal of proletarian writing important and well worth arguing about.