cover size 210 x 148 mm (A5)

John William Hosey (Sean)		John Hosey
Friday Night is Music Night		Mike Pentelow
It passed on by			Robert Moore
The Loner				Bill Eburn
Hello you walrus faced bastard		John Hamblett
The Lions of Longleat		J Cooper Clarke
Manifesto				James MacVeigh
Nietzsche's Birthday			Ken Clay
Poem				AR Whitfield
In Memorium			Les Barker
National Dried & All Bran		J Cooper Clarke
Saturday's Savings			Robert King
Santiago Sunshine			Ian E Reed
Old Albert			Vivien Leslie
Strange Grafitti			Vera Leff
After an Ultimatum			Pat Arrowsmith
Remember			Keith Armstrong
Encounter at London Bridge		Michael Balchin
The Magic Medicine			Jean Pooley
Woman's Question			Frances Moore
Poor Albert			Michael Ferns
Meditation in a Folk Club		Connie M Ford
Derelict 				Keith Armstrong


"Voices now has an Editorial Board of six members: ALAN ARNISON, FRANK PARKER, JOHN COOPER CLARK, TED MORRISON, LES BARKER and BEN AINLEY. A decision is pending about a woman coming on the Board. All those named are contributors to "Voices

We welcome the activities of the S.E. group which operates in the London area: people in South East England who want to make personal contact should write to Ian E. Reed, 58 Lenham Rd., Sutton, Surrey SM1 4BG, or meet the group on March 19th (see below).

In a recent review of "Voices" in the "Morning Star" Rick Gwilt suggests that this would be a suitable moment "to start including an edited selection and summary of the increasing volume of criticism that is being fed back" to us. We agree, and if the response warrants it propose to print in the June issue comments favourable and unfavourable to our publication. "Critical", of course, does not necessarily mean derogatory or niggling: it simply implies some judgment of what we are doing and where we are going. Please take this as an invitation to take part in this "critical feedback".

"Voices" we believe has a function to play among the literary journals. It is not a vehicle for established writers. It is a means of dialogue between writer, of working class origin and/or of socialist tendency and the workers and socialists to whom they address themselves.

The London Group of "Voices" which calls itself "Voices" (S.E. Group) is holding its quarterly meeting at the Metropolitan Tavern (corner of Farringdon Road and Clerkenwell Road) on Thursday March 19th at 7.30 p.m. ( Tube Farringdon). 

Ben Ainley 


JOHN WILLIAM HOSEY (SEAN)Arrested 28th October, 48 hours after arriving in South Africa from London.Kept in solitary confinement and brutally treated. Charged with five others - four black, one white citizen of Australia. They became known as the Pretoria Six.

A charge of conspiracy and distribution of anti-state leaflets was dropped.

Sean eventually charged with possession of two passes with intent to give same to guerillas. The judge (Boshoff) declared that prosecution had not proved his case but likewise that Sean had not proved his innocence, that is to say, had not proved that he brought the passes to give to a trade unionist.

He was sentenced to five years.

John (Sean's father) attended the trial, and wrote this poem.

You smiled quietly as you mounted the steps
From the cells below. I couldn't hear
As your lips moved, but I knew you said
Hello dad.

Your cheeks are pale
The flesh is taut
I will bring you some food tomorrow
Some apples and pears and oranges too
Am I staring too hard?
Have they broken you
With obscenity and cruelty
Joe Boshoff, surrounded
By a dozen Mein Kampfs
A court of jackboots
Make you tremble

I will watch your hands
To see if they shake
In submission
Perhaps tis not submission
But wrath
I am no good at guessing
Nor am I psychic
I will wait till I hear
If you condemn or condone.

My brain is afire
I cannot sleep
I pace the room
Accusations, accusations, accusations
That you
Hosey, Moumbaris, Cholo, Mthembu, Sejaka, Mpanza

Conspiracies, conspiracies, conspiracies
By leaflet, disturb the minds
Of peaceful people
Leaflets, leaflets, leaflets.
But did you succumb
Tomorrow I will know.

I don't like this V.I.P. box
I would sit with Cholo's mother
And hold her brave black hand
But I cannot hear so far away
And I must hear
To tell the world
The Actor man beside me
Makes me sick
He shouldn't be here
In this land of Apartheid

Regaling the 'Boss-man'
With his actor talents
Then acting still, remarks
They are all very brave

You looked at me
As you walked to the stand
And smiled in that delightful way
My heart was bursting
My son, my son
What would it be
Defeat or victory
And then I heard you
Loud and clear
'I'd do it all over again'
I clapped my hands in rapturous

John Hosey


Public bar paddies 
amid farts and darts 
burp and slurp 
Watneys Red, 
slewed eyes glued 
on three in a bed.

Saloon bar smoothies 
spurn the spitoons 
endlessly discuss dope 
that they've scored 
and how they are 
so terribly bored.

Cocktail bar snobs and slobs 
perched on their stools 
prattle pretentiously 
about their dreary careers

In the snooker halls 
everyone's full of booze 
fighting like fury 
with billiard cues.

Streaking down the street 
chop suey bill dodgers 
chased by cheerless Chinamen 
itching to chastise them 
with knives and choppers.

Slumped and slobbering 
behind the bus shelter 
drunken randy couples 
belch and squelch 
obliviously to orgasm.

Outside the fish shop 
chips, chewed and spewed, 
sodden and trodden 
into the gutter.

Mike Pentelow


Trecking eastwards towards Toronto one cold October day
Upon another travelling guy it was my fate to stray
Just a few miles beyond Osaquam along the Canada Way
As he sat there on a boulder by the shoulder of the road
To rest a while a wore out frame the burden of its load.
He looked so sad that lonely lad so weary downtrodden and blue
That I tried to be cheery came up with a smile
And greeted him with a "Waddayasaytheremanwhatsnew".
He answered me back with a shivery shrug
Said "By god man this just ain't bin my day
For it's sure bin quite it'll soon be night
And it looks like that frost's here to stay."
He was just about beat through sheer lack of heat
Clad in clothes that were threadbare and old
And he looked so sad that lonely lad
Sitting there all alone in the cold.
Such a woebegone sight I forgot my own plight
Yes, forgot my own hunger and cold
But I sure heard a sigh somehwere deep inside
Saying "Oh for a world without hunger and cold.
Vehicles on the highway had been very few that day
And the blue skies above were turning grey
Things were anything but bright we must have looked a woeful sight
When suddenly from out the west a green van came into view
And it was heading eastwards almost like a dream come true
For scrolled across the bonnet just below the windscreen

This great big slogan: BE HUMANE! could be seen. 
Now if what them "sky pilots" say is true and there are
angels up on high
It could be they heard our laughter when that RSPCA van sped right on by
For no sooner had it past us than the sky began to cry.

Robert Moore


For him the birds 
no longer sing, 
he'll never know 
the joys of Spring; 
seated alone, 
on a park bench 
far from home, 
he gazes with 
jaundiced eye 
at those happy 
who have found 
something to do 
than listen 
to Radio Two

Bill Eburn



What crime did they commit, 
but stand up for their rights.
The right to strike the right to picket; 
for that they were sent to prison, 
to be punished like common criminals; 
is this the fate that awaits all good
trades unionists?


500 they did come on that sunny day in Shrewsbury, 
and nearly as many building sites they did stop. 
The cancer disappeared that day - the lump! 
And remember not one arrest was made, 
that clean up day in Shrewabury.


On that date of 15th September 1975, it was over, 
the strike had lasted for three months.
Not all the demands had been won, 
but it was the biggest wages increase 
the building workers had ever won. 
Tories were screaming for blood; 
the employers were crying out, 'We've been robbed!'
The capitalist press were writing vicious lies.
It must have been because the strike had been
a tremendous success.
And then - six months after came the arrest of the 24.


On the 2nd October 1973, the first trial began. 
At that political trial at Shrewsbury, 
between state, police and court, 
those pickets didn't stand a chance. 
read the pickets' speeches from the dock 
On corruption and distortion.
And then the judge pronounced sentence, 
with all the might of bourgeois' law. 
Six trade unionists were sent to jail. 
At those political trials at Shrewsbury.


Did the trade union movement forget 
the courage of the Shrewebury pickets? 
Who went to jail for their beliefs.

John Hamblett


"You can read me like a book" she said, 
but there was that in her visage 
which caused him after one look 
hastily to turn the page.

Bill Eburn


i have seen the lions of longleat eat
their toothless gums sucking meat 
as milk from others tender teat
i have seen the lions of longleat sleep
tossed on horns that honk and beep 
through matted manes ive seen them peep 
i have seen the vultures of longleat 
amid the promises of doom 
cloaked in clouds of smoke black plumes 
gliding on the petrol fumes 
above the marabars half consumed 
melting into afternoon
i have seen the baboons 
wearily wanking with nothing to do 
escape, scraper but where to? 
a less humane zoo
with cages and bars 
and no cars to break 
no crispS and cake 
no tooth decay or belly ache
i have seen the lions of longleat 
grannies in their passenger seats 
through the british summer sleet 
i have seen the lions of longleat 
over broken bottles on fagburnt feet 
marvelled at how fast and fleet 
they hunt the flying sweet
i have seen the lions of longleat 
in viscount weymouth's careful keep 
who rides his zebra painted jeep 
who sells bits of africa cheap 
who loses not a minute of sleep 
as the gods of the congo watch and weep

John Cooper Clarke


In rich men's cars and city bars
And alleys flanking shabby clubs
She lives a life of tarnished stars
And yellow breath, and furtive rubs
From men who grope at young girls' breasts,
From vicious porno-loving males
Who quickly jerk to feeble crests
And soil her legs with rotting snails.

They lick her mouth with boozy tongues
And drag her through the oral noose.
They buy her heart, her pride, her lungs,
Her blood - and pickle them in filthy juice.
They grovel for religious wives
Who live in worlds of polished chintz,
They snigger through disgusting lives
Depraving girls with tawdry hints.

They'll never peer behind her mask
Or watch her playing with a child –
They'll never stroll and bathe and bask
In love with her when sex goes wild
As I have done on sugar days.
They'll never feel her fingers turn
Like dancers in a loving haze,
Or see her when she wants to learn.

They wash their cars and now their lawns
And moralise about the Pill,
With plastic teeth and painful corns
Alert for any worthless thrill.
Their daughters go to Grammar Schools
(Their panties clean, their minds sincere)
And spend their lives obeying rules
And never seeing Daddy leer.

I'd teach those men to sneer and grin
By throwing acid in their eyes.
I'd boot their flimsy faces in
And laugh to hear their squeaky cries.
But subtler methods might derail
Their law-wheel more effectively:
I'll send them hymens through the mail
And give their daughters LSD!

James MacVeigh




         Ferny sat in a cloud of ozone practising fillet welds behind Henderson's screens.  The process fascinated him; the crackle of the current, the pool of bright metal moving in total blackness.  He lifted his rod when he felt Barrow's hand on his shoulder; the lilac light went out.

  'Where is the skiving get?' said Barrow.

Ferny shoved up his eyeshield.  Under its crust of slag the weld cooled into a perfect herringbone pattern.

  'Henderson? Trap three.'

     Getting down on his knees in the toilets Barrow could see, under the bog door, Henderson's boots which still bore their distinctive traces of red lead.  One day, when he had fallen asleep in the dinner hour, Wogga had painted them and tied the laces together.  Then he'd dropped a bin full of scrap iron right behind Henderson's head.  Henderson invited such assaults; he was a bit naive, a bit too serious, although everyone agreed he was one of the lads.

  'Now then 'Enderson!' Barrow affected an army sergeant's bellow.  'The shareholders aren't paying you sixteen quid a week to abuse yourself over pictures of naked women in company time! Just get yourself out here lad or I'll kick you up the 'ole so 'ard you'll be shittin' out the top of your head!'

     The silence was broken only by the sound of a turning page.  Barrow ran the tap.  Henderson listened apprehensively.  Water started showering over the bog door.  Henderson plunged out.

  'Ey! What the fuck! A bloke can't even improve his mind in this place without somebody interferin'!'

  'You dirty bastard!' Barrow pulled the magazine out of Henderson's overalls, flipped through it and stuck it back.  'How you fixed for a booze up next Friday?'

  'What's it in aid of?'

  'Not in aid of owt.  You don't need an excuse do you?'

  'I'll have to tell Brenda something.' Old Gobby walked in, attracted by all the shouting.  As the amenities attendant he was justified in considering the hardware his responsibility.  They called him Gobby because he had no teeth; he wore them only for weddings and funerals.

  'Boof up?' said Gobby.

   'My mate from Crosfields was telling me about this new club what's opened in Manchester ‑ the New Luxor Club its called.'

  'New Lukfor Club?' said Gobby.

  'A real good night it is.  They've got strippers on.'

  'Ftripperf!' said Gobby.

  'Strippers!' said Henderson.

  'You can booze until two o'clock in the morning.'

  'Two o'clock!?' said Gobby.

  'It's only a dollar for membership and two bob for a supper ticket.'

  'What about transport?' said Henderson.

  'A dollar?' said Gobby.

  'I can get a minibus for thirty bob.  What do you reckon?'

  'Aye! Strippers eh? I'll have to tell Brenda something though.'

  'I'll put you down then.'

Barrow put Henderson down on the back of an engineering drawing.

  'And what about you Gobby? Do you a bit of good mate.  I bet you've not had a hard on since VE night.'

  'I'd like to Barrow but itf me bowlf night.'

  'Bowls?' said Barrow.

  'Aye, we've got floodlightf now.'


  'We're fecond int league.  I couldn't let ladf down.'

  'Second?' said Barrow.

  'Ey Barrow?' said Gobby, 'are you takin' t'piff?'

  'All right then Gobby luv.  You'll just have to get Henderson to tell you all about it when he comes back.  All we need now is another eleven to fill the bus.'

  'Ferny'll go' said Henderson, 'and don’t forget Sikorski.' Barrow grinned:

  'Aye! Sikorski!'

     Sikorski was a queer hawk: he was Polish for a start.  That wasn't his real name but at least it did begin with the same letter as his real name which was generally considered unpronounceable.  Even the foreman called him Sikorski.  His Christian name was unpronounceable too.  He wore a pair of pince nez which he reckoned had been with him all through the labour camps of Kazakhstan and the Second World War, which he got into by walking to Palestine to join the RAF.  Nobody knew just how much of Sikorski's stories to believe.  He was never caught out bullshitting in areas where he could be checked, but, on the other hand, he never seemed to take anything seriously.  He had a trick of saying something apparently very profound, pausing to let it sink in, then opening his big mouth, full of oversized horsy teeth, and laughing his head off.  He was articulate to the point of eccentricity, probably the result of being married to a schoolteacher and having a passion for Victorian novels.

     Barrow found Sikorski and Fleet the student apprentice in a corner of the Instrument Workshop.  Fleet was spending some time in each department; he'd already done six months with Barrow in the Fitting Shop.  Sikorski was sitting on a tool box eating meat paste butties and drinking coffee out of a pint cup emblazoned with roses.  Fleet sat on a bench reading a book.  It was baggin time.

  'Fuck me! Don't you lot ever do any work?'

  'Greetings Barrow' Sikorski looked up.  'The increased mental strain of our profession necessitates, shall we say, a concomitantly longer period of recuperation.'

  'What's this rubbish he's filling your head with?' He looked at Fleet's book.

  'Nietzsche.' said Fleet.

  'Bless you' said Barrow.


  'I thought you sneezed?'

  'That's the bloke's name you ignorant puddin.'

  'Ignorant puddin?' Barrow put on a tone of deep hurt.  'Is that the way to speak about the man who taught you all there is to know about the Salt Plant centrifuge gearbox? Here, give us a butchers.' He took the book and read: 'Nietzsche was born in Rocken, in the Prussian province of Saxony, on October 15 1844.  His father, Ludwig Nietzsche, a Lutheran minister and the son of a minister, was thirty one...'

  'You read that very well Barrow, but I saw your lips move.'

  'I've not got time to hang about here muggin up on old Kraut headcases.  On to the real reason for my visit.  It just so happens we're having a do, and you two gentlemen, on account of your superior breeding, have been fortunate enough to get on my short list.'

He described the attractions of the New Luxor.

  'What's it in aid of?' asked Fleet.

  'Neechy's birthday' said Barrow.  'It's next Friday, October 15.  Your mate Neechy would have been 118 if he'd lived.  He is dead in't he?'


  'Well that's worth celebrating then in't it?'

  'A festival of Dionysus!' said Sikorski in ironical wonderment.

  'That too!' said Barrow.  'Better bring a spare pair of binks Sikorski.  What you're going to see will probably melt them crappy Polish bottle ends!'

He put them both down and left.  That Sikorski! thought Barrow, he's unbelievable! He could talk for half an hour without anyone knowing what the fuck he was on about, yet any workshop get‑together and he was there straight away: bowls, darts, cricket matches, booze‑ups! And a bloody good sport he was as well.  Get him and Stanier together and we won't need any comedians!

     Ignoring the bell and its notice 'Please ring for attention' Barrow slipped under the counter and into the gloomy body of the stores.  At the centre of this maze of racks was the office, or rather the cubicle, of Ernie Hardman.  Sikorski called it the Temple of Aphrodite.  From floor to ceiling, on all three sides, were sellotaped pictures of women.  Hardman obviously had a preference, not to say fetish, for big tits.  Even the most grossly inflated five gallon dugs with areolas the size of dustbin lids failed to jar his aesthetic sense.  His pursuit of size knew no limit.  In the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet, always kept locked, was his collection of hard‑core.  Ernie, reading, didn't notice Barrow creeping up on him.  Barrow got close enough to make out the print over his shoulder.  Together they silently, synchronously read: 'His hand moved feverishly over the smooth silky border of her stocking tops and on to the soft resilience of her magnificent thighs ...' Taking a breath as silently as possible Barrow bellowed out the next sentence as though he were addressing a large audience.

  'His hot throbbing member forced itself urgently against her...!'

  'Wha!? Ey!?..Bloodyell!!' Ernie jumped violently, spilling tea over a pile of requisitions.

  'Barrow! You dozy bugger! What's the bloody game sneakin in like that!? Jeezus I nearly had a flamin heart attack!'

  'Sneakin Ernie? I could have loaded half the stores onto a ten ton truck and you wouldn't have heard.'

  'Spilt me piggin tea now an all!'

  'I don't know how you get away with it Ernie, honest I don't.'

  'Get away with it?! I'll tell you how I get away with it.  Who the hell d'you think'd do this job for eight quid a week? Cooped up in here all day, no winders to look out of, no‑one to talk to.  Can't go out for a walk round like you whenever I feel like it! Get away with it he says!'

  'Very homely though in't it Ernie? Family photos on the walls.  This IS the missis here in't it? This blonde piece with the big knockers?'

  'Well how would you like to be starin at steel bulkheads all day?'

  'Say no more Ernie.  I've come to offer you something better than all this paper rubbish.  I've come to offer you...' He leaned close, staring hard into Ernie's wide open eyes.  '...the real thing!'


     Jud Stanier's face took on a look of concern as the pitch of his mechanical saw altered from a low, rasping grunt to a higher, skidding squeak.  Barrow offered an observation:

  'You could do with more skilly on that Jud.'

  'Gerrout! I don't want that stuff splashin all over t'place!'

  'They say it gives you cancer of the scrotum.'


  'Balls Jud.'

  'Aye.  It sounds a right load of balls.'

  'Can't imagine a company of this size exposing its workers to such a risk though can you Jud?'

Jud grinned but refused to take the bait.  He switched off the saw and took a new blade from a nearby locker.  Inside the locker door was pinned a photo of V.I.Lenin. Next to it was an unfaded patch about the same size where J.V.Stalin had been.  Stalin had been taken down following the criticism of the Cult of the Personality at the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party.  As his body had been transferred from the Mausoleum to the Kremlin Wall so Jud's photo had migrated from the locker door to his tool box.  Some reckoned Sikorski had talked him into it; others thought Jud had moved it just to have Sikorski on.  Lenin looked up inquisitively with a gaze of penetrating comprehension; it was one of the 1917 photographs.  He seemed to be saying: 'It’s that 316 stainless Jud, wears blades out in ragtime.' Jud turned off the coolant valve and looked closely at the six inch diameter bar in the machine.

  'It’s this bloody 316 stainless' he said, 'wears blades out in ragtime. This is the third I've had in today.'

  'I'll have the old one off you mate, they make good scrapers.' Barrow crouched down by the machine and put the new blade in.  He knew Jud was a sick man, ever since he had been gassed ten years ago on the Phosgene.  He had difficulty breathing.  His face was a mass of broken purple veins.

It wasn’t long before Barrow got him to go over the incident again. It intrigued Barrow. He was constantly on the lookout for stories of industrial atrocities or incidents which illustrated the cruel, inhuman side of capitalism. Jud’s case seemed to be all those things and more. His treatment, it appeared, verged on the criminal. In fact Barrow was almost ready to agree that they’d tried to do Jud in.

“I was working on the Thionyl Chloride then; used to be down the bottom end, it’s closed down now. Let me fill you in on the background.” Jud was always keen on the background: it must have been his Marxist training.

“Remember Barrow in them days, we’re talking now about 1952, just after your lot lost its nerve and let that bastard Churchill in, in them days this place was completely unorganised. This wasn’t the Liverpool Docks you know, just a piddling little Warrington Chemical works. Half the labour was trained up bog Irish, not that I’ve got owt against the Irish, it’s just that, historically they’ve always represented a pool of docile, cheap labour for British Capitalism to draw on...” Barrow saw the danger. If he didn’t head him off it could be eyes down for a lecture on Cromwell’s wars, Wood’s Halfpenny and the Potato Famine.

“But you sorted that out, eh Jud?”

“I did my bit towards raising consciousness. Before long I had the whole yard in the old Chemical Workers Union; this was before it merged into the T and G you realise. Next thing you know we’re on strike. I was Steward of course. The first bloody strike this company had had since it started forty years ago! What an eye-opener that was Barrow! That toffee-nosed get Saunders wouldn’t even speak to us! He was works manager. Wouldn’t even speak to us! Anyone would think we’d shit on his desk. He thought we’d fold before the end of the week. They got the bosses trying to run the plants. What a laugh! The maintenance men told us about it. Dashing about like blue-arsed flies they were. This was before the days of big, fancy control rooms Barrow. We weren’t sat on chairs pressing buttons like they do now mate. Anyroad, three weeks later the whole works is flat on its arse. Saunders talked to us then all right. Tried to come the hard-nosed stuff at first; offered us half of what we’d asked for, but the lads weren’t having any. Solid as a bloody rock! And some of these buggers hadn’t even been in a Union a year ago! Never underestimate the proletariat Barrow! All we were doing in the union was just channeling the discontent that’d been building up for years. You can shit on the working class for only so long Barrow. What was it Engels said?..”

Barrow considered quotations an even more dangerous distraction. Jud had an unnerving habit of digging out books from his locker and rummaging through them for underlined passages.

“Then when you came back off your summer holidays?”

“Then when I comes back I’m on the night-shift; leading hand I was. Patterson had left a note in the book; he was the Plant Manager. ‘Increase main feed flows to the reactor to four point five and twenty eight metres cubed an hour’. Well you’d have to use the auxiliary lines on those rates, anyone new that. And it wasn’t unusual to run the plant flat out at night because of all the shit it pushed out. Jeeesus! If the locals could have seen us they’d have had the law on us!”

“Same as the power station; they just don’t bother controlling smoke density at night.”

“Course not Barrow. It’s maximisation of profit int it? You don’t think big business cares about stinking out a few local slums do you? It wasn’t dropping on Saunders’ house now was it? He was living in bloody Lymm,damn near twelve miles away!”

“But that auxiliary line had gone duff the week before hadn’t it?”

“Gone duff!? There was an expansion piece there with a crack in it you could get your hand in. It was down in the book as a maintenance request but they were too pulled out to get to it: the usual thing. Didn’t even have a bloke spare to spade it off. Anyroad it would have meant a shut down and this twat Patterson was trying to make a name for himself by breaking all production records. So about eleven o clock I goes down and opens the valve. Now there’s another thing; that valve was as stiff as arseholes. I reckon some bastard had tightened up the gland on it. Next thing I know I’m in the middle of a bloody great cloud of phosgene. Five minutes in that stuff Barrow and you’re dead! Its a bloody killer! My first reaction is to run like hell. But somebody’s got to shut this off, its coming straight out of A forty ton liquid stock tank. So I’m wrestling with the flaming valve trying to shut it down again. How the hell I got to that phone I’ll never know! I was in the Borough for forty eight hours on pure oxygen; that’s all they can do. It was touch and go. Then I was off for three months. When I comes back in they gives me this bloody job on the saw. I’m not much good at running up and down stairs anymore.”

“You reckon he’d set it all up though, Patterson?”

“Well what can you think? It’s impossible to know for sure. I thought it was just one of those things till Harry got talking to me. See, they used to leak test those lines with a nitrogen purge before we went onto the high rates, especially if we’d not been using them for a while. They’d done this while I’d been on holiday and found the crack. I thought I’d got them then, but the only real evidence is in the Maintenance Book. Comes to look for it and its bloody well lost int it? Bloody well lost see? And even if Patterson’s in the dock and has to agree he knew that line was in a dangerous condition he’d probably say those rates could have been met without using the auxiliary lines. How’s a bleedin halfwit magistrate going to know any different?”

“Christ Jud it makes you think!”

“I’m not saying he was trying to do me Barrow, but he got what he wanted in the end. After I came in here that arsehole creeper Gibson gets the Steward’s job. It all adds up mate.”

He restarted the saw and turned on the coolant valve.

“Its fishy about that book I reckon Jud. He must have felt guilty to get rid of it.”

“Them Maintenance books did get lost sometimes Barrow, but that bugger vanished the next day according to Harry.”

“And Patterson? What happened to him?”

“He disappeared too, about a month later. They say he got a kick up the hole for the accident but look where he is now?”

“Aye, works manager at St. Helen’s in charge of a place four times the size of this.”

“They think I’m a bit cracked in here Barrow, you know. Not about this; I don’t go blabbing it to everyone, I’ve got more oil in my can. I know it’s a serious matter and I know I can trust your discretion as a fellow trade unionist. But some of these young uns! Harold McMillan’s told them they’ve never had it so good and they’re running around in cars, up to the eyeballs in HP. They’re getting as much as eighteen quid a week on bonus and they think the sun shines out of Hodgkin’s arse. They don’t want to listen to me, but it’ll change Barrow. They’re living now on the fruits of our struggle. They haven’t had to go through it like we have, but their turn’ll come! That’s the only real teacher Barrow: struggle, confrontation! Its a dialectical necessity. They won’t read Marxism but they can’t avoid living it! Their turn’ll come!”


What was going on inside Fleet’s head? That day, as usual during the dinner hour, he sat on a flaking length of creosoted pine and read Nietzsche down by the canal. But why Nietzsche, that lonely, loony prophet of the Superman? Sikorski had something to do with it but it wasn’t that simple. At first he’d fed Fleet his own passions: Jane Austen, George Eliot and Trollope. Revulsion was all Fleet felt. The delicate ironies of Miss Austen couldn’t enliven a subject of mind-numbing narrowness; the inflated turgidities of old Horseface bored him rigid; and the superficial narratorese of tripy Trollope reminded him of the soulless, middle-class stories of Somerset Maugham he’d had to slog through a school.

Then Sikorski brought in Joyce; volume one of the two volumed Hamburg Odyssey Press edition of Ulysses. At the end of the week he was asking for volume two. The poetry, the fierce, concentrated individualism, the apparent omniscience, the dazzling melange of styles: he was bewitched. He went out and bought it: it was the first book he’d ever owned. Almost immediately followed A Portrait of the Artist, Dubliners, Stephen Hero, Exiles and even Finnegans Wake. The tone of proud separateness was exactly in tune with his own adolescent sense of isolation. Sikorski was stunned. He’d never been able to read Joyce, and what he had struggled through confirmed his impression that Lawrence had been right in calling it ‘old fag-ends and cabbage stumps.’

He decided to test his prodigy further. Nietzsche was the natural progenitor of Joyce; the quintessential philosophic base of that post-Yeatsian elitism. Besides there was an arrogance in Fleet that needed tempering. What better to subdue this proto proletarian polymath than the dense, allusive ironies of Nietzsche. Writing of such compact rapidity that even Freud found it bewildering. Fleet struggled with the text. The meaning came and went like the sound of a distant brass band on a windy day, but what he did understand intoxicated him. As with Joyce, in which there must have been a hundred words which weren’t even in his dictionary, he was gripped spasmodically by the transfixing sensation of a great mind setting up reverberations in his own. Nietzsche’s manic tone illuminated his grey, factory existence like sheet lightning.

It was as much an emotional response as an intellectual one; a response which Sikorski hadn’t reckoned with. He observed Fleet’s reaction with alarm, admiration and amusement. Sometimes he felt like a hedgesparrow watching a cuckoo bursting its nest. He tried to flatten Fleet by probing his comprehension of such Nietzschean mysteries as the theory of Eternal Recurrence but he remained uncrushed like a religious zealot in contact with the source of some life giving truth:

“Only an idiot demands total understanding” he said with an eerie poise, “I’ve reached a point where I recognise that anything I can understand straight away isn’t worth reading.”

It was a remark worthy of Sikorski himself; he laughed out loud.

“Perhaps Stanier could lend you Das Kapital, such a passion for Teutonic mysticism should be indulged to the full.”

“I’ve had some stuff off him but it doesn’t touch me here.” Fleet put a hand to his heart melodramatically.

“I imagine” said Sikoraki, “that Vladimir Ilyich was aiming for a higher organ.”

“Besides” said Fleet, “the print on those pamphlets reminds me of the Watchtower”.

They both laughed.

As for Sikorski, well, Fleet had come to the conclusion that he was either a genius or a phony; if such divergent options can be called a conclusion. Perhaps the thing he admired most about Sikorski wasn’t his knowledge, or the erudition, and certainly not the taste which he so often disagreed with, but the style. The elegant ironies of his latest mentor contrasted sharply with the honest, dogmatic simplicity of Stanier whom he had spent so much time talking to in the Fitting Shop. But was there ever an adolescent who preferred the ethical to the aesthetic mode of life?

Stanier saw the familiar signs; the cynicism, the self-absorbtion, the single minded passion for judging social events by an abstract moral code without reference to their historical context. And, following on from that, a profound ignorance of European history itself. Fleet had a keen mind and an argumentative eloquence but he was, Jud reckoned, on the way to a lower middle-class job, probably in the drawing office. Some of Stanier’s points had left Fleet dumbfounded but his as yet unrecognised interest in preserving the status quo placed him beyond recovery; a lost soul, a hopeless case. Especially now he was doing six months with that bugger Sikorski!


     Barrow needed one more to fill the bus.  He knew just the bloke and planned to detour on his way back from a job on the Glauber Salt plant.  As soon as he walked into the Carbon Electrode Machining Shop with his labourer Owen and his apprentice Trellie, he heard Screawn shout above the noise of his lathe:

  'Hey Barrow! Here a minute!'

Because it was next to the Chlorine Production Unit the average temperature in the shop was eighty degrees.  Screawn was an extraordinary sight: carbonized, purple and glossy, hair stood on end, with sweat tracks down the side of his face, he looked like something off the cover of a science fiction magazine.  They reckoned he wore nothing under his overalls.  He liked to grip Barrow about the new starters in the Bagging Plant.

  'Got a fag?' said Screawn.

  'What's that behind your ear?' said Owen.

  'A brain.  What's behind yours?'

  'Fuckinell! You got out the wrong side this morning!'

  'To me the outside is the wrong side.'

  'Every one a gem' Barrow offered him an Embassy tipped.

  'You don't want them coupons do you Barrow luv?'

  'What are you saving up for? A mechanical cunt?'

Screawn's activities were well known: he was the works' ram.

  'I've already got one; it's fixed between the wife's legs.  Fuck me! I tried it this morning! No kidding, it was like sticking it between two house bricks! Talking of cunt though...'

  'Subject normal' said Owen drily.

  'Have you seen that one on the stitching machine with Big Irma?'


  'Real horny Barrow luv.  Just left school, fifteen or sixteen.  Should see her skirts! What a leg!'

  'Stretches right up to her arse does it?'

  'S only flesh though in't it Scraggy' said Owen, 'Think of all the mither you'd have to go through to get your end away.  Is it worth it for a few hours' pleasure?'

  'Anyroad if she's only that old she's not going to be interested in a dirty old get like you' said Barrow.  'Sounds to me like she's more in our Trellie's line.'

Trellie looked uncomfortable.  He glanced at the big clock at the end of the shop hoping to flush Barrow into an early retreat.

  'I'm not greedy' said Screawn spreading his hand palm downward in a gesture of altruism.  'I'll let Trellie here break her in.  After all its a big jump from candles to a hampton like mine.'

  'Spoken like a gentleman' said Owen

  'What do you say Trellie? Shall we get Scraggy to send her round Saturday night?'

  'Oh aye.  I think I can fit her in.' Trellie tried to play along. it was the only way.

  'Can she fit you in though!' cackled Screawn.  'That's the question.'

  'See to it then Scraggy.  I've been getting a bit worried about Trellie lately.  He's wanking so much he can't hold a chisel steady these days.  What he needs is a good, steady supply of young, fresh, succulent, virgin hole.'

  'Don't Barrow!' moaned Screawn lifting his leg off the floor, 'I'll get a hard on!'

  'That reminds me.  Next Friday we're going to a strip club in Manchester; I suppose I can put you down?'

     As they left Screawn held up a polished black thumb.  Suddenly, as if it had just occurred to him, he shouted:

  'You're not taking Trellie as well are you?'

  'He can't make it' said Barrow, 'He sees his married piece on Friday nights.'

Owen, behind him, flexed his arm and winked with his whole face.  Screawn started to laugh, stopped, and then raised his eyebrows.

  'Perhaps he is an’ all!' he bellowed, projecting his own obsessions onto innocent young Trellie.

     At the end of the afternoon, as Barrow was getting his moped out of the bike sheds he saw Henderson crackling bluely on the Caustic Shed roof.

  'Doing some overtime then you grabbing get?' he shouted.

  'No, just practising my fillets' said Henderson.

  'Hey! The strip club trip ‑ tell Brenda it's in aid of Neechy's birthday'

  'Neechy?' shouted Henderson.

  'Bloody Neechy'.  Barrow bumped over the wet rails and headed for the time office.  Henderson turned to Ferny who was squatting on the vent fan casing holding a bunch of number eight rods.

  'Must be that new starter on the horizontal borer'.

Peering through his violet, slag‑spattered eyeshield he struck the arc again.

Ken Clay



Age long, life long juice of my body 
flow to the sea
and run down to the deep ocean buried silt, 
Let my bones welcome the plow, 
kiss the sweet earth
and hobnob with the ground worms. 
My flesh ignite with the air, 
take it, and be taken
in a whirlpool of flesh and air.

A.R. Whitfield


In a lonely field in Flanders
There's a stick of rhubarb standing;
It standers
As a monumole
To Captain Richard Prongs.
It commemoroles his landing
In Flanding
By parachute
In his officer's suit
Richard, devil-may-care
From a very tall horse.
This tall equine brute
(Whose name one should know
Was Walter)
Didn't want to go
To war and called a halter
At a field in Flanders
Where rhubarb now standers
As a monumole to his rider
Who floated down like a deflating prider
Lions pricked by a thorn
Or worn
Down by five years in the trenches
Sat astride a horse;
There's nothing worse
Than riding up to your fetlocks in British and Frenches
In the muck and bullets trenches
And nothing to show but menches
In despatches
With mud on your stirrups
And blood on your spats:
And that's
Mere infantry blood
And not very good
For your boots
Not that the nobility gives many hoots
Especially when they're dead.
And let it be said,
Solitary, noble, deceasted Captain Richard Prongs
Lies all alone with his wrongs,
Aloof from the masses
The bleeding classes
Who never
The late
Captain Richard Prongs
Lies remembered
By a solitary stick of rhubarb
That is forever

Les Barker


when i was young and in my jeans 
and shirt all empire made
i played the national slot machine 
and i was never paid
the U.S. kids they rocked and rolled 
over here the kids just rolled 
on the crest of a brylcreem wave 
while jets and sharks went shootin pool 
with names like larry and buzz 
it was weetabix and off to school 
for post war prefab us
suez and conscription 
bromide in the tea 
the age of non description 
rationed by the B.B.C. 
woodbines work and wireless 
playing mantovani's strings 
they'd service with a smile us 
robbery with violins 
the gaffer was a bastard 
who fought the war with quids 
he thought he had us mastered 
and i suppose he did 
"up yer arse wi yer fuckin job" 
said a cinema full of teds 
bill haley opened up his gob 
and they ripped the place to shreds 
for about 2 years they had their fling 
and then like any square 
they married - did the proper thing 
for the slippers and the easy chair 
the party political pantomime 
its wondrous ways to work 
says wedlocked slavery can be mine 
i demand the right to smerk 
here's to the Youth Of Britain 
YOB let' say for short 
is your future to be a ballpoint pen 
on the ration book of thought

John Cooper Clarke



There was never enough money for the following week after everything had been paid out on a Saturday. 

Richard stood leaning against the mantle watching his mother pushing a penny in one pile and a threepenny bit into another. She rested her head on her arm and sighed.

 “Jawch” she shook her head, "I'll have to owe Davies the shop another fourpence for last week That will be three and six I owe him altogether. He won't like it."

"Cut the milk down by a pint mam, we will have to go without in our tea," said Richard.

She looked at him and tried to smile. "Good for us the milk is see ... can't afford to cut down on it ... where will you and your father get your strength from...

"We'll manage mam, don't worry." 

She looked again at her figures and moved two pence from one pile to another. Then quietly she said, "P'haps I. will tell George to leave one pint less. I owe him two bob, too." She blinked back a tear and then went upstairs. 

Richard turned and looked at the fire. He felt the bitterness twist and burn his stomach. His mother worrying about tradesmen and food. The worry making her grey years too soon; making those once bright blue eyes dull and shallow. She was a small woman, but strong and good willed. It hurt her to owe money to anyone - but it seemed the only way for her to keep her family fed and clothed. Pennypinching and scraping was the birthright of our family - for we had always been in coal: and consequently had always been arranged and pushed aside by the colliery owners like animals more than human beings. 

Yes, he was bitter: angry at watching his mother tormenting herself about who should have the extra penny or ha'penny. And he, too, didn't help by being a shift short last week and his father two shifts short. Not that it was his own fault -he had gone to the pit only to be told there was no work ... come again tomorrow ... there might be work tomorrow. Colliery owners didn't care about feeding hungry mouths ... Children could die and old people could die, it did not concern them. All they worried about was coal and keeping the worker begging.

"Damme them?" he cursed and spat into the fire. 

It was still early evening and the sun was about a foot from dropping behind the Drumma mountain. He went outside and took his last but one Woodbine from the packet that held five. He looked at the wall that hid the garden from Dudly Street. It was not a well kept garden; his father and he were not attached to flowers and the like. As a result the weeds grow happily and everywhere. The fence between them and Mrs. Williams was broken and what was standing was rotten. All the gardens on Rectory Road were the same; some a little better, of course, but in the main the menfolk were not lovers of gardening. His mind was full of ideas as he looked from the wall to the lavatory, then to the rear of the house to the broken fence. The tap next to the back door was always dripping.

"Dic, hello Dic." Richard turned and faced little Wally from next door.

"Hello bach. Out late aren't you? When I was your age I was abed hours since." Wally smiled.

"Ah, but I'm getting a big boy now. My Uncle Donald said so when he gave me a penny."

"A whole penny!" said Richard. Wally nodded proudly.

"Dic?" he asked slowly.


"Do you dream at all?" Richard looked at him with amusement.

"Dream, Wally? Yes, sometimes."

"Oh good. 'Cos I do too." Richard lit his last Woodbine and drew hard on the blue smoke with enjoyment.

"Tell me about your dreams, Dic." Richard was silent for a moment as he considered this unusual request.

"Well, Wally, bach ... dreaming is a wonderful pastime; so easy, so cheap, so effortless ... It can be done at day or at the night time ... more often at night though..."

"Yes, it is at night that I do it best," said Wally.

"You can climb mountains, win races, drive cars, ride on trains, have a good, regular job with good money, you can travel on trips to the seaside in a train instead of walking to Jersy Marine like we've got to ... there is nothing one can't do in a dream. I dream about having money to spare. If I had money to spare I would be able to buy my main a nice, big house with a fancy garden and a gardener to tend it ... I would buy her a car and a chauffeur to drive it ... I would buy a headstone for my poor brother's grave ..."

"Which brother is that?" asked Wally.

"Bert. He died in the colliery before you were born. A good lad he was too. But there it is killed trying to scrape a living from those grasping bosses!"

"My dreams are about horses mostly, Dic. I don't know why, but I'm riding them very fast and there is a lot of shouting and everything. But I am up there with them ... I am one of the best." 

Richard laughed kindly. "P'haps we've got a jockey 'ere, is it. Walter Williams rides the favourite! Walter Williams wins the Derby! Dreams are wonderful, Wally, bach. You keep on dreaming and from time to time we will have a chat and swap them. It should be very interesting."

And with that the lad's mother was shouting, "Wally!"

The lad made no move to go indoors.

"Wally Wall-y!"

"I had better go in, Dic," he said. Richard nodded.

"Ay, we don't want her in a mad temper, do we?"

"No," he said and left Richard to his thoughts. 

Richard waited for a few minutes in the silence of the early evening before going indoors, He thought about various things: last Saturday's match at the Knoll, his walk with Brenda Bando up past the Ivy Tower on Sunday night, the leg-pulling at work the following day about that walk. And did he worry as Terry Samuel began to talk in his loud echoing voice, telling everybody within a hundred yards radius and his father due out of the canteen any second. He had sweated then for his father was strict about such things. Heavy with the Welsh baptists was Joseph James. This religious trait could be traced back along the family line to his grandfather whose roots were firmly imbedded in the rich soil of Kidwelly, Camarthenshire, Wales.

Robert King


How black the sea rolls
against this solid shore,
but how it leaves a slime of blood fresh from the ocean's floor.
how the high specked seagull climbs, 
its lonely voice like a death knell chimes 
lost in the ocean's roar.

Now the winter drags its cloak across this passing year,
but how like fast approaching night
it shrinks the Earth with fear. 
What gangling marionette of death
has played its song and breathed its breath, 
what nation paid so dear.

What superstructured might
has stabbed the day and breathed the night, 
and thrown its shape against the light 
that poured across from Chile.

For what deadly masquerade 
was this bloodshed chess game played, 
that needed all that many slayed 
that drank the sun, in Chile.

The tank and gun and fascist boot 
made human life its legal loot, 
it's torn the flower from the rest 
and ripped the soul of Chile.

All this to satisfy the wealth
of some faceless fiends who used their stealth, 
to finally destroy the health
of youth and love, in Chile.

The wind it howls and pleads and screams 
throughout this deadly night, 
passing on such stenchfilled scenes 
ever present in our dreams and never far from sight.

Let our fury like stormclouds swell 
in all determined might, 
let this thunder be the knell 
of those purveyors and their hell,
those butchers of the light.

Let those ghoulish souls be weighed 
in all of mankind's sight 
and reckoned up with all they slayed. 
Against their grisly masquerade
all humankind must fight.

Santiago sunshine, 
blackened by the night 
Santiago sunshine 
soon it will be light,
soon it will be light.



He had scraped through the years with empty pockets
But had never known the poverty of intellect
That beggared his neighbours
When they poured their growing wages down their throats

lie only joined them after a page or two
Even than the drinking was behind the talk
Which he steered with strategic facts
What passed in him for drunken aggression
Was tolerance at a low ebb
When drunk, his isolation closed in and alienated him
From the family who walled him out with ignorance
And sent him scurrying to his bed and books

When I caught him like this I would corner him
And spike his socialist guns with laughter
I loved the passion in his face as he argued
Circling fists in emphatic motion too
Long into the nights we performed
While his petrified wife sat straining
waiting for the angry word or blow
Expecting an explosion that never came

Father and daughter we might have been
Two shades of a hue we were, flame and spark
Better than drink or books it was
Socialist garbles in a pit kitchen

Vivien Leslie


The past is a fast, and far receding wall 
where strange graffiti have been near-erased, 
blurred by so many winters' sodden fall. 
Those savage words whose fury's gone to waste 
are echoed now by new, old anguished cries 
torn from the living flesh, and dripping blood 
upon cold stones.

Each child that dies
maimed in a world of plenty, swells the flood 
of guilt sweeping us all along, whether or not we care.
We know it in our bones. The dead past knew 
and left unheeded records of despair. 
And we can only cry - what can we do?

We can try love - for hate will drown us all. 
That, is the writing on the wall.

Vera Leff


I have been here before –
in this waste of littered slag-heaps, derelict huts, 
wrecked cars.

I have already smelt
this stink of dumped rubbish 
ashes, rotting cabbage, rusty tins.

Too often my root have squelched 
ice-wet across this weed-choked sludge 
mined with broken bottles.

I had hoped
never to shudder again in this February wind, 
trudging towards a grey horizon 
humped only with more slag-heaps.

Pat Arrowsmith



when we walked through vendelpark together
with all those hippies sprawling on the grass around us

keep to the path you said

yes i said

all the way to Vietnam

Keith Armstrong



I was just enjoying a quiet drink in the refreshment room at London Bridge Station when a perfect stranger came up and said -

"I see you're a member of the Society for Planetary Travel." I opened my mouth to explain that the badge I was wearing was for members of the Stoke Pages Temperance Society, but it wasn't tea I was drinking and explanations can be difficult sometimes. Anyway, it seemed a promising opening to a conversation, and it isn't often that a pretty girl seeks my company. I said she was a perfect stranger and 'perfect' is just the right word to describe her looks.

"You're a member then?" I asked.

"In a way I am," she said. "I'm from Venus."

I wondered if I'd heard aright. She was just like any other girl - except that she had four eyes; no, she hadn't. I get a bit of trouble with double vision now and again. I tried to guess her age; she looked to be about twenty, but what did that mean on Venus? The year on Venus is two hundred and twenty five over three hundred and sixty five and a quarter comes to ... but I can't do sums like that in my head and I wasn't sure that it shouldn't be twenty multiplied by three hundred and sixty five and a quarter over two hundred and twenty five.

"From Venus!" I said. "Where's your saucer?" She stared at me.

"I haven't a cup yet," she said, "so - oh! I see what you mean. You surely don't believe that nonsense?"

I took the hint and fetched her a cup of tea.

"Then how?"

"Simple," she said. "Just a matter of telebiotransitation."

"Of course, of course," I said. "I can't imagine why I didn't think of it myself. Any special reason for coming here? 

She explained that they'd been listening to our radio. broadcasts for the past fifty years; previously they'd been quite unaware of our existence. Because of the very thick clouds around Venus, they can never see any stars or even the sun. So when they managed to understand our broadcasts it was the talks on astronomy which really excited them, especially when TV began -Patrick Moore is a household name on Venus too. The broadcasts stimulated them to think of space travel, and, as their scientific development is far in advance of ours, they soon managed it. Of course, they learnt a great many things from our broadcasts - not all on the credit side. 

The trouble was that the more impressionable Venusians had been adopting some of the customs they saw here. This was a matter of great concern to the authorities, and it was decided to send investigators here to discover the reasons for the curious practices which were leading their people astray. One of the investigators went to the Soviet Union and came back an absolute mine of information about the production of pig iron in Omsk (or was it Tomak?). Another went to China and returned humming "The East is Red" and reciting the thoughts of Chairman Mao. A third went to America and became an expert on Watergate - he was very nearly appointed Attorney General -but not on anything useful. And now she had come to England, hoping for better success. 

"What have you found so far?" I asked.

"Well, I had an interview with a parliamentary under secretary, I think he was, but all I got from him was a lot of waffle about a blue print for a new society; wind of change; in this day and age; at this moment in time; etc., etc. Then I tried people in the street, but that was no good either. It was 'Sorry, I've a train to catch' or 'The wife's expecting me' or 'You'd better ask my husband' or 'Not today, thank you'." I ought to mention that she said that she'd made an intensive study of English before she came; certainly she had an astonishing fluency. "But you'll help me, won't you'" she pleaded, giving me a lovely smile that made me wish I was fifty years younger.

"Of course," I said. "What do you want to know?" She plunged straight into the deep end.

"All these religions - Christianity, Buddhism, Bingo; however did you come by them?"

I knew the answer to that one. My next door neighbour is a rabid atheist, and when one of these earnest folk spreading the Gospel comes to his door old Sam lets fly so that all the street can hear.

"Religion," I said, "is based on fear and ignorance -" but I got no further. A bunch of football fans came in, arguing loudly about a game. I hoped that Venus's vocabulary didn't extend to the language some of them were using, but it did. She frowned.

"That's another thing," she said, interrupting me. "Half our young men now spend hours charging round a muddy field with a ball. At first they didn't understand the game - they thought they had to kick the ball into the net - but now they've got the message and they're kicking and tripping each other, swearing at the referee, spitting and pulling their shorts down; real First Division stuff. And the girls are now better," she went on, looking at a pair of platform shoes hobbling past. "Our girls are going around on stilts; those that aren't nursing broken ankles. And you can well imagine that neither minis nor maxis, which are all the rage, are entirely suitable for girls on stilts." Somebody turned on Radio 2 at full volume but fortunately only for a moment. "And of course," said Venus, "we've got groups mushrooming all over the place, each dressing more outrageously than the next, and waving their - what do you call them -guitars, isn't it? Some people thought they were musical instruments but as they were seen to be used like weapons it was soon realised that, like the painted faces, they were relics of some ancient barbaric rites. And each group has a horde of demented girls after them, screaming so that the group itself is, mercifully, inaudible. Mind you, our teenagers wouldn't fall for an elderly baldhead sucking a lollipop; no, no, - the current heart throb on Venus is a toothless ancient perpetually stoned on moths. But there are worse things than pop groups - LSD for example."

"Ah! You're out of date there," I said. "We changed over from Lsd to decimal currency some years ago - I forget when exactly."

"15th February, 1971," she said impatiently. "I'm talking about lysurgic acid."

"Sorry I can't help you there," I said. "I didn't do any chemistry at school. If you've finished your tea, shall we go? It's a bit stuffy here."

Outside, she looked up at the huge office building which stood empty for several years.

"We're building them, too," she said. "Just the outside walls, of course; if they're not going to be used, what's the point of putting in floors and stairs? But it's still a terrible waste of money, isn't it?"

"I can't agree with you," I said. "Spend three or four million pounds putting up one of these buildings; keep it empty for ten years and its worth fifty million. Good business, I call it."

Venus didn't bother to reply. "Look at these cars," she said, pointing to a line of them parked at the side of the street. "This one's Japanese, then German, French, Swedish, Japanese again and -why what's this? It's a British car! Why import all these foreign cars if you can make them yourselves?"

"But how could we sell them our cars, if we didn't buy theirs?" I was beginning to think there wasn't much brain behind her pretty face.

"It's worse on Venus," she said. "Anything you can do, we can do better. When we heard of your lorries from France coming over the Channel to Dover, going round a roundabout and then straight back across the Channel without unloading, we really took off. The thing now is to buy only those products - whether food or furniture - which have been sent round the planet and back again. I had the finger of scorn pointed at me because I was caught eating an apple straight off a tree in my garden. And my sister scarcely dares go out since she incautiously let it be known that she was breast-feeding her baby instead of adopting somebody else's baby and feeding it on powdered milk from another continent. 'Just like an animal,' the neighbours said, and their wretched little boys moo at her." 

The mention of food prompted me to ask if she would like a little something, and we went to a cafe nearby. It was rather crowded but we did find room at a table where two men were intently engaged on completing a pools coupon. They left after a few minutes, and Venus, who had been observing them with curiosity, begged for enlightenment.

"We heard many references to the pools on your radio and television," she said, "but couldn't quite fathom it."

"This is even more ridiculous than we'd imagined," she said, after I'd explained the pools system to her. 'You say that only about a third of the money paid in by the punters is returned by way of dividends? It’s absolutely crazy.”

"Crazy?" I echoed. "Not a bit of it. It's better than a gold mine for the promoters - they can't lose. You don't seem to appreciate good business." 

Venus looked exasperated, but didn't pursue the subject. "We've done some work on the origins of some of your customs. Cricket, for instance, this is clearly based on the stoning of the early Christian martyrs. The Miss World contests are a reminder of some barbarous custom of ravishing virgins captured in war. Boxing and all-in wrestling are obviously in a direct line from the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome, and the Grand National no doubt has its origin in the Charge of the Light Brigade." 

I lit a cigarette to steady myself after that farrago of nonsense; she declined one, rather acidly. "It's a good thing that the tobacco plant is unknown on Venus," she remarked. "But I believe they're experimenting with a plastic substitute." I felt I could safely assure her that there wouldn't be any future for plastic tobacco.

"But why the craving for lung cancer?" she wanted to know. I couldn't answer immediately - I had a sudden fit of coughing.

"I've been smoking for fifty years," I gasped, eventually, "so I don't think I need to worry."

"Well, I can assure you that we do worry," she said, rather heatedly. "We shan't be satisfied with a warning on a cigarette packet." I was getting a bit annoyed myself.

"Venus," I said. "You seem to think we're stupid because we let people smoke if they want to. It's a free country. But if they drink too much, we don't let them drive." 

"Big deal!" said Venus. "Hundreds of people are killed on your roads every year. You don't let blind people or babies drive, either, do you? You'll be patting yourselves on the back next because you don't let monkeys drive."

If I hadn't suffered another fit of coughing at this point I think I should have said something I regretted. However, Venus must have realised that she'd gone too far; suddenly she smiled, leant across to me and kissed me on the forehead.

"Do forgive me," she said. "I've been abominably rude to you and you've been so kind and helpful to me. And there's a great deal to admire about your way of life. What I like best of all is -" 

I was all agog to know what it might be that did meet with her approval but she suddenly broke off, looked at her watch, and said she would have to be going. She suited the action to the word, jumped up and nearly upset the table as she did so. I concluded that she had to get back to her own planet and, of course, the time of departure would have to be timed to the second.

"Good-bye," I said, and she gave me a smile and a hasty "Good-bye" as she hurried out into the street, nearly colliding at the door with someone I recognised as a matron from Guy's Hospital, which is very close to the station. She gave Venus a frosty glare and said something to her which I couldn't hear. 

By the time I'd paid the bill and reached the street, Venus was nowhere to be seen, but there, low down in the sky was the planet itself, shining brilliantly. It looked very red but as I watched it changed, oddly enough, to green; then a passing train blotted it from my sight. Perhaps the change of colour was a signal to her to return. 

I bought an evening paper and went to catch my train. I tried to absorb the news of the day but my thoughts were still of Venus and the headlines didn't register. There was more violence in Northern Ireland; a threatened strike in the Midlands; fighting between the Arabs and Israelis; and, because it was a London paper, an item about a stupid rag by students at a London teaching hospital. "Students at a London Hospital," I read "undertook an unofficial experiment to test the gullibility of the public." It seemed to me to be quite irresponsible for young men - and women too, I suppose - to behave so childishly. I couldn't help wondering what Venus would have thought of them. 

Michael Balchin


Once there were three men. There is nothing surprising in a world so full to the brim with men of every colour, creed, and shape, that a story should contain three men. But, said the signpost, "Beware", these men are different; even though they look exactly like any you would find in an industrialised town. 

The men were of varying heights, one of them being tall and spare, who seemed to live habitually in faded blue denim overalls; he also wore rimless round glasses. Another was of medium height, and build; he wore brown overalls, and hob-nailed boots. The third was quite a short man who was rather well protected by fat, especially round the stomach and behind; his clothes consisted of an odd jacket and trousers, with a loud checked shirt. Each, on week-days, wore a cloth cap, and a muffler to protect his neck from the wind, rain and snow. Two carried little bags slung on their shoulders by a strap, which had in them their sandwiches; the third disliked little bags, and preferred to put his sandwiches in his always bulging pockets. 

So far there is nothing to distinguish them from millions of other men. However as we look at their eyes (of which two had blue, one brown) we are aware that the eyes of all seem to have been deprived of the sight of too much green. We feel at once that here are six eyes whose only glimpses of green have been confined to a patch of grass in their back gardens, or for they all possess cars, seen reflected in the windows of these cars as they zipped along the motor-ways, in quick dashes to the country with their families at week-ends. 

There is another feature of the eyes, which is noted after a time; they always look straight ahead, not upwards or downwards, neither to the left nor the right. 

These three men were never late for work, never off sick, were always ready to do overtime, were kind to their wives, and children. Pocket money was never forgotten, nor was their regular Friday date at the Black Bull. 

Yet in view of all this seeming normality, everyone of these men began to be attacked by nagging doubts concerning the state of their health. The urge to work was absolutely overpowering, which usually got worse at Christmas. 

Their families were in the habit of thinking of them as lodgers, they worked until late in the evenings, on Fridays too, as well as at week-ends, so of course there were no visits to the Black Bull, nor dashes to the country. 

One day when it had seemed that their eyes had been more than usually riveted into one position, they noticed on coming back to their work bench, after the dinner break, that not only had they failed to examine their sandwiches before eating, to see what was between the bread, but that they were singularly apathetic in their conversation, and did not once discuss either racing, politics, religion or football. This caused them much surprise, they decided there and then to visit a doctor.' 

It so happened they were all on the panel of the same doctor, and decided to visit him together, without telling their wives. 

As each man entered the surgery, the doctor ,busy writing out prescriptions, had scarcely lifted his head, but merely barked "Yes?" in an interrogative tone of voice. He heard each of their complaints over the strong desire for work, the voices they had in their ears the whole day, insisting the more they did, the more presents they could buy their children, the fatter the turkey they could buy for Christmas dinner; in fact they feared for their sanity, for the voice even haunted their dreams. The doctor had only said that he didn't see that there was much wrong, but they had better be off with their shirts and down with their trousers. After a quick examination, he told them it was just as he thought, there was nothing wrong with them, that they should go back to work thankful they were lucky to be so fit, when he had so many poor creatures come to him, asking for medicine to help them keep working, the men had thanked him and returned, to work harder than ever, taking home an extra large pay packet. 

Their wives were delighted with the extra money, and very good humoured. In consequence, the men felt it was time to take the wives into their confidence about the visit to the doctor, and the reason for it. The wives however thought it was a huge joke, and didn't take the matter seriously at all. 

That night one of the men dreamed he was being followed by a red light. It upset his sleep so much he was almost late for work. He told his two friends of his dream, who seemed to think the doctor chap could have been wrong, as they thought such a dream was an omen, and decided to call on the doctor once more. 

They did not however mention this to their wives in view of their amusement over it. They went together as before. On stepping inside the surgery again, the doctor possibly remembered them. In any event he was rude. They were determined though this time not to come away without a prescription for medicine, The doctor, being as usual busy, wrote one out. It was easier anyhow-all their talk about having no time to do the things they wanted to do because of this strong work urge - he simply let go in through one ear and out through the other. 

Two weeks went by, until the day three women visited him. As each one walked into the surgery, he felt vaguely that he ought to know them. The first one interrupted his dawning recognition by saying that her husband had died yesterday. She blamed the medicine, and of course he couldn't tell her it was little more than coloured water. He only said that her husband must have been working too hard. 

The second woman astonished him even more, for she grumbled that since having the medicine, her husband had acted very strangely. He took days off from work. He had bought a fiddle with the money intended for a big turkey. In fact there had been great difficulty in consoling the woman, until she asked 'for some of the same medicine' in order that she too could spend her time fiddling like her husband. 

By the time the third woman came through the door, the doctor was prepared for anything, though he hardly expected her thanks, as she said that her husband - since taking the doctor's medicine -was a changed man, who was happy to stay at home, look after the children, cook and clean, besides finding time to paint beautiful pictures with green fields and trees in them. While she, who had always wanted to do a man's job and have the same money and opportunities, had been given her husband's job. 

When she had left, and the morning's surgery was over, the doctor sank into his chair. And if anyone had been close enough to hear, they might have heard him say, "Now I shall take some of my own medicine." 

Jean Pooley



Not, comrade, as a woman 
I ask for liberty, 
but demand equality 
as the right of a human.

It is but quibbling 
to call us different 
by the mere incident 
of animal functioning.

Neither of us alone 
can mould another life; 
without the womb of wife 
the shed seeds are unsown.

Neither of us alone 
can mould environment 
but jointly we have bent 
the cosmos to our own.

Who should be integrate, 
my slavery's your disgrace, 
I demand my place 
shoulder to shoulder, mate.

Frances Moore


He used to do the brake and clutch assembly 
and he was never absent or ever late, 
yet he was slowly dying from the slavery 
which began, as he came through the gate.

As he changed his clothes poor Albert worried 
about the long, hard day, which lay ahead, 
and as downstairs to work he once more hurried, 
thought, sadly, that he'd be better dead.

He had five kids and a sharp, nagging wife, 
a mortgage, and many debts to pay, 
but he faced up like a champion to a sorry life 
of slavery, every minute of the day.

He struggled on, did Albert, like a hero in the war, 
in and out of cars. IN OUT IN OUT IN OUT 
doing brake and clutch assembly on every shining car,
up an down. In and Out. Up. Down. In. Out. Lout. Lout.

His back and legs were screaming with the pain; 
bitter sweat was streaming down his face, 
and an awful worry paralysed his brain, 
that he couldn't - couldn't stand the killing pace.

He thought about the kids, the mortgage and the bills,
and about his worried, nagging wife.
He felt weary of the struggle, climbing all these hills
With a pain in his heart, like a knife

Poor Albert: as he reached to seize another door, 
he gave a cry and staggered back.
And as he slowly fell upon the cold, grey floor, 
thought, that surely he would get the sack.

"Stop the Line", someone cried, "Poor Albert's on the floor.
let's help the poor old bugger up, he looks bad he won't do any more,
and for a moment, they looked at Albert on the floor.

"Don't Stop the Line", the foreman fiercely cried, 
"You know that the line must never stop, 
even if old Albert's gone and bloody died; 
Well, that's it ... we work until we drop."

Poor Albert lay there dying, shivering with the cold,
and the foreman looked down at his blue face. 
"You stayed too long, Albert, and grew too bloody old.
Ah, well, I'll. get a youngster in your place."

Upon that floor, the cold, cold floor, Albert simply died;
He closed his eyes upon the scene and drew a gentle breath.
And in that place of greed and spite no one cried for Albert,
as he lay cold and still in death.

The hooter went ... the banshee voice shrieked out again 
and held the greedy line at bay.
In their thousands men rushed out to catch cars and train;
all but one ... for poor Albert died to-day.

Michael Ferns


He sang "The Peat Bog Soldiers"*
For him it was old enough to be cherished as 'Folk'
For me the courage and yearning stitched into that tune

Prodded old scars, still sensitive.
I was his age
When the concentration camps were an ugly rumour
Which the Left believed and the Right suavely denied,
While the Liberals kept their ever-open mind.

They hardly bother denying things today -
Just mop up the blood and carry on with football.
You say the Stadium stinks? How petty minded!
We sang "The Peat Bog Soldiers" in memory of friends.
I must learn to sing the songs of Santiago.

*Song composed and sung in Nazi concentration camps, World War II.

Connie M Ford.


derelict, and dressed in yesterday's headlines 
the down and out stretches in the morning light; 
lies on a city shore, 
lolls like seaweed, washed up in the night -

and all that drifts around him; 
the dancing office girls, 
the dry, drab businessmen, 
the plastic spoons, 
spins in a cold, cold sea;
spins and swims and skims his ashen face -

not that he cares, 
he knows he's sinking, 
he knows they're all sinking.

so, pulling the bottle back up to his lips, 
one eye on the clock, 
he wraps the headlines tightly around himself, 
and nods off through another crisis,

using dusty words for bed-clothes; 
for arm rests -

dried-up slogans.

Keith Armstrong

The first issue of the Communist Party literature journal Red Letters has just appeared.

' Apart' from Arnold Kettle's "Literature and Ideology" Sue Beardon writes on "Women in Victorian Poetry," Jackie Kaye on "Moby-dick: Capitalism as Epic" and Paul Lawford looks at the critical work of F. R. Leavis,

A year's subscription costs 75p from Red Letters, 16 King Street, London WC2E SHY. Single issues cost 25p.

Artery has been appearing for five years 'and its collective have, in the words of Geoff Sawtell the editor, changed it "radically since those early days and we have learnt a lot."

This issue has Bernard Stevens on Shostakovich, David Craig on "Revolutionary Literature" and an exclusive interview with Stefan Heym, writer of the German Democratic Republic.

Artery costs 25p an issue. Subscription rate £1 for four issues or 25 single copies, plus 15p fort postage from 2 South Villas London, NW1.

Voices 3 contains the usual broad selection of short stories, poems, criticism and correspondence. Several of  the writers are accomplished stylists, confident of their abilities, whether in tough realistic prose or savagely ironical verse. For example, a calm unsentimental poem by John Hosey describes his son's conspiracy trial in South Africa without bravura or rhetoric, and expresses Sean's (and his own) courage and dedication.

Other contributors are much more hesitant, obviously unused to venturing onto the "bourgeois" terrain of literary self-expression. Yet, despite the occasional awkward rhyme or clumsy metre, they still manage to convey the freshness and force of their ideas.

What is certain is that without magazines such as Voices these comrades would be muted; as it is, their publication should lead to their receiving the critical attention which will help to improve their technique and sharpen their expression.

Voices is obtainable from Ben Ainley, 13 Victoria Way, Bramhall, Stockport—and from a growing number of progressive booksellers.—GL.