Monday, June 29, 2009

Did somebody die?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

James Stephens (1882-1950) -


Let the man who has and doesn't give
Break his neck and cease to live.
Let him who gives without a care
Gather rubies from the air.

or was it "Let he who ..."? Easy to memorise so I didn't write it down. Now my memory and my grasp of grammar fail me. Ná bac leis.

Friday, June 26, 2009

" ... it seemed like the Astana team could face its biggest goal of the season, the Tour de France, without distraction. But the team that takes the start in Monaco could be a badly fractured squad, riven with trust issues and power struggles that, under the pressure of the Tour, could explode."

So that's Contador out of the running, and forget about Armstrong. Nobody seems to fancy Carlos Sastre and his team. The search for the Yellow Jersey goes on.
So what's the agreement in the Lindsey sackings dispute? According to the Guardian -
Union sources say it includes a commitment that the 51 staff who were made redundant would now return to work at the site. The 647 construction workers who were fired by Total for walking out in support will also be reinstated.
"We understand that the contractors and the unions reached a deal last night," said a spokeswoman for Total, who were not represented at the talks. "We hope that the workers will be back on site as soon as possible, and that construction work will be completed on time."

TV news reports mentioned an agreement that workers at other sites sacked for coming out in solidarity will be reinstated. Those reports made no mention of the original 51 redundancy victims.
What I'm asking is, how can an agreement between the unions and contractors at Lindsay be binding on employers elsewhere? It can't, and presumably relies on the goodwill of those employers. There is no goodwill, but there might be a fear of provoking more walkouts.
Just as there is no genuine agreement over workers sacked elsewhere, there is no agreement with Total, who were not involved in the talks and who are the puppetmasters behind the contractors. Perhaps this what the trainborne loudmouth in Stuart Bruce's tweet meant when he said, "If we dress it up as the Jacobs solution, we'll be OK with that." They can ignore an agreement that doesn't involve them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What are we to make of this, one half of a telephone conversation? Is it a wind-up?

"... on Tuesday, an official, presumably from the French oil company Total, sat on a commuter service from Leeds to King's Cross discussing what tactics should be deployed in the dispute triggered by job losses at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire. Passenger Stuart Bruce was kind enough, via Twitter, to relay the whole thing to the world.

"If we sit down with the union, what shall we ask for?"

"How could they stop us going down that road? So why are we talking to them at all. We don't need them."

"We'll just tell them we'll shut down the whole project with the loss of however many jobs."

"If we dress it up as the Jacobs solution, we'll be OK with that ... We don't want to tell the press but in another week the project might not be there."

From the Guardian Diary.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I've hesitated long, but I have to post it; Jacques Prévert's "Barbara", just about my favourite poem. The translation here is Ferlinghetti's, which I'm not crazy about. So I put the original first and the translation follows on. The translator's word, "shitstupidity" for "connerie" strikes me as particularly clumsy, but I suppose it's difficult to come up with a word that combines the meaning with the right level of vulgarity.
Gore Vidal called Prévert a bad poet but a good screenwriter.Well I like his poetry but I don't know what all the fuss is about over "Les Enfants du Paradis". Still, I hope to see "The Crime of M. Lange" one day.


Rappelle-toi Barbara
Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest ce jour-là
Et tu marchais souriante
Epanouie ravie ruisselante
Sous la pluie
Rappelle-toi Barbara
Il pleuvait sans cesse sur Brest
Et je t'ai croisée rue de Siam
Tu souriais
Et moi je souriais de même
Rappelle-toi Barbara
Toi que je ne connaissais pas
Toi qui ne me connaissais pas
Rappelle-toi quand même ce jour-là
N'oublie pas
Un homme sous un porche s'abritait
Et il a crié ton nom
Et tu as couru vers lui sous la pluie
Ruisselante ravie épanouie
Et tu t'es jetée dans ses bras
Rappelle-toi cela Barbara
Et ne m'en veux pas si je te tutoie
Je dis tu a tous ceux que j'aime
Meme si je ne les ai vus qu'une seule fois
Je dis tu a tous ceux qui s'aiment
Même si je ne les connais pas
Rappelle-toi Barbara
N'oublie pas
Cette pluie sage et heureuse
Sur ton visage heureux
Sur cette ville heureuse
Cette pluie sur la mer
Sur l'arsenal
Sur le bateau d'Ouessant
Oh Barbara
Quelle connerie la guerre
Qu'es-tu devenue maintenant
Sous cette pluie de fer
De feu d'acier de sang
Et celui qui te serrait dans ses bras
Est-il mort disparu ou bien encore vivant
Oh Barbara
Il pleut sans cesse sur Brest
Comme il pleuvait avant
Mais ce n'est plus pareil et tout est abîmé
C'est une pluie de deuil terrible et désolée
Ce n'est même plus l'orage
De fer d'acier de sang
Tout simplement des nuages
Qui crèvent comme des chiens
Des chiens qui disparaissent
Au fil de l'eau sur Brest
Et vont pourrir au loin
Au loin très loin de Brest
Dont il ne reste rien.

Remember Barbara
It rained all day on Brest that day
And you walked smiling
Flushed enraptured streaming-wet
In the rain
Remember Barbara
It rained all day on Brest that day
And I ran into you in Siam Street
You were smiling
And I smiled too
Remember Barbara
You whom I didn't know
You who didn't know me
Remember that day still
Don't forget
A man was taking cover on a porch
And he cried your name
And you ran to him in the rain
Streaming-wet enraptured flushed
And you threw yourself in his arms
Remember that Barbara
And don't be mad if I speak familiarly
I speak familiarly to everyone I love
Even if I've seen them only once
I speak familiarly to all who are in love
Even if I don't know them
Remember Barbara
Don't forget
That good and happy rain
On your happy face
On that happy town
That rain upon the sea
Upon the arsenal
Upon the Ushant boat
Oh Barbara
What shitstupidity the war
Now what's become of you
Under this iron rain
Of fire and steel and blood
And he who held you in his arms
Is he dead and gone or still so much alive
Oh Barbara
It's rained all day on Brest today
As it was raining before
But it isn't the same anymore
And everything is wrecked
It's a rain of mourning terrible and desolate
Nor is it still a storm
Of iron and steel and blood
But simply clouds
That die like dogs
Dogs that disappear
In the downpour drowning Brest
And float away to rot
A long way off
A long long way from Brest
Of which there's nothing left.
In a comment on an article in Today's Guardian a right-wingnut called "Sam Widges" writes -
The BBC has admitted there's a left-wing bias "ingrained" so deeply into the system that it's be "virtually impossible to eradicate". Does this mean they're not even going to bother?

I'd love to find the source of these quotes. I suspect they were first aired in a dream of the poster's.

Firstly, no BBC spokesperson would ever admit to such a bias.
Secondly, such an admission, I mean claim, would be an outright lie, admittedly not a new departure for the BBC.
Thirdly, the BBC, nolens volens, has a right-wing bias, a result of its craven submission to the British secret police in its news reporting. In the past all BBC news reporters, news readers and commentators had to be approved by a resident MI5 operative, whose office was in Room 105 at Broadcasting House.
The BBC claims that MI5 no longer vets their news staff - they would, wouldn't they. In fact, at the time in which we now know the vetting took place the corporation had a policy of "categorical denial". But even if that is true the people who now supervise the selection of news staff would themselves be the latest in a long line politically acceptable employees. The right-wing bias, having been carefully planted and nurtured over generations, would be self-perpetuating.
One disqualifying factor in MI5's selection process was membership of the Labour Party. Needless to state that anything to the left of Labour received the same short shrift, pacifists too.
I was interested to note that when the political reporter Nick Robinson left ITN for a berth at the BBC he felt free to reveal that he was a member of the Conservative Party, something he did not shout about when at ITN. In the same vein, the BBC Newsnight frontwoman, Emily Maitlis, is being openly touted as future star of the Conservative Parliamentary Party. In contrast to this mute acceptance of a potential Tory bias the BBC was horrified, and said so, when one of its radio presenters, Melvyn Bragg, was ennobled as a Labour peer. I seem to recall that Lord Bragg was immediately relieved of one of his broadcasting roles.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Round one to the Lindsey refinery workers. They stuck together against the intimidatory tactics of Total. Now the bully boys have to go to ACAS arbitration because the attempts to divide the sacked workers failed miserably.
If ACAS or the union bureaucrats (most likely both) demand that the men return to work while negotiations are in progress they should refuse. Once they are back at work a sellout can be agreed on.
Total was within its rights as an employer to sack the striking workers. Unofficial strikers forfeit legal protection. Add to that the fact that official strike action, to be within the law, can only be taken in a way that renders it ineffective, the gaffers can't lose. That is if the workers play by the rules. So an unofficial strike that's 100 percent solid, supported by other workers, is the only effective action under present conditions.
Interesting to see placards at the picket with the old slogan, "Workers of the World Unite", no doubt a message to the BNP who are trying to muscle in on the action.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What's happened to Mick Hall's blog (Organised Rage)? It's been AWOL for a few days now?
Yesterday's poem on John MacLean reminds me of the Matt McGinn song

"There was nane like John MacLean
The fighting dominie"

which can be heard here.

I wrote at the beginning of the poetry season that I'd met three real poets, meaning published poets. Well, if I add Matt McGinn, the singer songwriter, that's four.
I was introduced to Matt by a mutual friend who demanded (the right word) that Matt recite for me a poem about "The English Royal Family", and he did so. I later found out that Matt sang these lyrics to the tune of "An English Country Garden". Still, no harm, it was poetry when he spoke it.
The other poets I have Met; Ken Smith, as I already mentioned, John Heath-Stubbs, and Seán Hutton. Seán, to my knowledge, writes his verse exclusively in Irish, which makes his inclusion here ... What, unlikely? Maybe not, here's a very short one I've found -


Tá an chrois in áirithe
an sciúirse, an casúr is na tairní;
tá an choróin spíne fite.

seo chugainn Iúdas
chun póg an bhraite a bhronnadh.

(published 1986)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Back to the poetry, and once more to Sorley MacLean. The poet served in North Africa in World War II, and these verses commemorate a fallen comrade in arms. This is MacLean's own translation of his Gaelic original, "Curaidhean" -


I did not see Lannes at Ratisbon
nor MacLennan at Auldearn
nor Gillies MacBain at Culloden,
but I saw an Englishman in Egypt.

A poor little chap with chubby cheeks
and knees grinding each other,
pimply unattractive face -
garment of the bravest spirit.

He was not a hit 'in the pub
in the time of the fists being closed,'
but a lion against the breast of battle,
in the morose wounding showers.

His hour came with the shells,
with the notched iron splinters,
in the smoke and flame,
in the shaking and terror of the battlefield.

Word came to him in the bullet shower
that he should be a hero briskly,
and he was that while he lasted
but it wasn't much time he got.

He kept his guns to the tanks,
bucking with tearing crashing screech,
until he himself got, about the stomach,
that biff that put him to the ground,
mouth down in sand and gravel,
without a chirp from his ugly high-pitched voice.

No cross or medal was put to his
chest or to his name or to his family;
There were not many of his troop alive,
and if there were their word would not be strong.
And at any rate, if a battle post stands
many are knocked down because of him,
not expecting fame, not wanting a medal
or any froth from the mouth of the field of slaughter.

I saw a great warrior of England,
a poor manikin on whom no eye would rest;
no Alasdair of Glen Garry;
and he took a little weeping to my eyes.

Alasdair Ranaldson of Glengarry was the vainglorious coxcomb immortalised by Walter Scott as Fergus MacIvor in his novel "Waverley". In his poems "Two MacDonalds" Sorley compares Glengarry with his brother James, a hero at Waterloo. Of the former he writes -

"He cleared the tenants in Glengarry -
the few of them left-
and he cleared the tenants about Kinloch Nevis,
and he cleared the tenants in Knoydart.
He spoiled Clan Donald."

Which was not how the Tory snob Scott saw Glengarry.

Another poem by Sorley commemorates his fear cinnidh, John MacLean, the Red Clydesider. Again he uses the expression, battle-post (ursann-chatha), which I take to mean a brave, or perhaps a strong, champion and defender.


Not they who died
in the hauteur of Inverkeithing
in spite of valour and pride
the high head of our story;
but he who was in Glasgow
the battle-post of the poor,
great John MacLean,
the top and hem of our story.

I've lifted this article unchanged from The Nation of Duncan -

Supported by Keith Gibson ex LOR strike cttee, Trevor Grewar Hull Amicus/Unite branch chair, John McEwan national stewards forum, Steve Jones LOR steward (all in personal capacities)

The Facts:- Last Weds 10th June, 51 Shaws workers were give “imminent redundancy notices” to take effect from Friday 12th.

THERE WAS NO CONSULTATION. On Monday 8th June, Blackett & Charlton (RBC) had taken on 61 recruits in almost identical numbers and trades to those being sacked by Shaws.

The Shaws workers were given NO OPPORTUNITY TO TRANSFER. Remember that RBC are only at LOR as a result of the 102 new jobs created by January’s strike which was provoked by a third of Shaws contract being awarded to anti-union firm IREM.

On Thurs 11th, Shaws workers walked out of the gate, supported by scaffolders from S.G.B, electricians for B.K., and other trades from B.I.S.

O’Hares and RBC, and have all stayed out on strike. Jacobs’ management, who’s strings are being pulled by Total, have refused to negotiate unless there is a return to work.

But have stated that the 51 will still be sacked anyway. Faced with this ultimatum, a mass meeting of LOR workers yesterday (Weds 17th) voted unanimously to continue the strike until the 51 redundancies are withdrawn.

It is clear now that the LOR bosses are using this dispute (caused by their own mis-management and their reneging on agreements made in February) to seek revenge for their forced climbdown by the strike earlier this year.

Taken with the leaked ECIA advice to employers on subverting the official union strike ballot, the bosses have declared war against the trade unions, shop stewards and the NAECI agreement.

That is why we appeal for your support. Unity is strength. Together we will win. AGAIN.

Continue the Strike at LOR until 51 redundancies withdrawn
Place pickets at all LOR gates and appeal to tanker drivers not to cross
Call for solidarity strike action across all NAECI sites
The BBC is reporting that the following sites walked out on strike today in solidarity:

At the Ensus site at Wilton in Teesside, all 1,100 workers have walked out, according to a company spokesman.
About 300 workers are protesting outside Aberthaw power station in south Wales.
More than 100 contract maintenance staff have walked out at the Stanlow Oil Refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Shell says the action will not affect production but may delay routine maintenance projects.
Some contract workers have downed tools at Ferrybridge power station in West Yorkshire. Scottish and Southern Electric say the plant is operating normally.
The sacking of 900 workers for taking strike action is unprecedented in recent years and indicates that construction industry bosses are preparing for a serious fight (as this leaked memo on dealing with the ballot for the industry wide strike action also shows).

This looks to be shaping up to be a long and complex dispute with striking workers involved in a three way fight between employers and the parasitical behaviour of the British National Party eager to hijack this dispute that basically has nothing to do with them.

This makes sending solidarity messages all the more urgent:

Email: or
Text: 07706 7 10041

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My son informs me that Real Madrid want back the £80 million they shelled out for Ronaldo. They've just found out that they could have bought a big girl's blouse from Primark for four quid.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I feel a prediction coming on.
Poor old Gordon Brown is having an inquiry into the Iraq war, in secret of course.
I'll have a guess at the findings.
After much investigation - stretched out by long breaks - and much collection of expenses, the committee will deliver the following devastating results -
The war was "probably" illegal
(one dissenting committee member will find that the war WAS illegal).
Try as it might the Committee was unable to apportion guilt or identify any guilty parties.
The committee will deem that it was all so long ago that a witch hunt for guilty parties should be avoided at all costs.
The government should introduce reforms to ensure that the nation will never enter into an illegal war (which is not to allege that it ever did).
The government (whoever) will accept the findings and promise to introduce safeguards
The government will then do nothing.

Prediction number two:
The Independent (sic) Police Complaints Commission is to investigate taser-happy officers in Nottingham used excessive force in controlling a troublemaker.
I predict that they'll find that the force used was proportional to the threat.
They might add that further guidelines on the deployment of tasers (which regularly kill people) would be helpful.
The Minister for State Repression (whoever) will agree.
The minister will do nothing.

Addendum 17th June:
I've just read that the Iraq war committee is not going to be allowed to "apportion blame", so some of the above is redundant.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I have lifted these rules from Angry Arab's news blog. Our media follow them faithfully -

Western Primer on elections in developing countries
Some Western principles in assessing elections in developing countries:
1) When the favored candidates win, the elections are free and fair. And when they lose, elections are certainly unfree and stolen.
2) Violent protests against elections that produce winners favored by the west, are to be strictly condemned and protesters are to be called terrorists, hooligans and mobs (can you imagine if Lebanese opposition supporters were to engage in violent protests against the election results in Lebanon), while violent protests against enemies of the US when they win elections (like in Moldova) are to be admired (and the protesters in those cases are called "democracy activists".
3) It is not against free elections to have Western governments interfere in elections and in funding candidates through Western groups for the promotion of democracy.
4) Candidates (or even dictators) who serve Western interests are automatically labeled as "reform candidates" (even the Saudi tyrant is referred to as "reform-minded"), while candidates who oppose Western economic and political interests are to be labeled enemies of reform.
5) Candidates who are not strident in their language about Israel are always favored.
6) Western observers of elections are always on hand to declare an election unfair and rigged if the favored candidates lose.
7) The corruption of pro-US candidates (like the March 14 bunch) is preferred to the non-corruption of, say, Mugabe.
8) The democratic credentials of dictators immediately improve if they change their policies toward the US and if they express willingness to serve US economic and political interests.
9) Countries where dictators do a good job in serving US economic and political interests need not hold elections.
10) If favored candidates can't guarantee electoral victory (like the PA tool, Abu Mazen whose term has expired months ago), they don't need to hold elections and will be treated as if they won an election anyway.
11) It is just not logical to assume that people in developing countries can freely ever decide to make choices that are not consistent with political and economic interests of the US.
12) Elections that are held under American and Israeli occupations are free and fair if the preferred candidates win.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"What is Spain's greatest club: a dumping ground for Ferguson's rejects and rebels?" asks Paul Hayward in today's Guardian. Well Real Madrid may be, but Spain's greatest club is not.

I always think of Real Madrid as Franco's boys.

Adeus, Plastic-Features.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

James Hope of Templepatrick, County Antrim (1764-1847), weaver, Jacobin, and, as his gravestone informs us, a soldier in his country's cause. Also a poet, and here are a couple of his works -


These are my thoughts, nor do I think I need
Perplex my mind with any other creed.
I wish to let my neighbour's creed alone,
And think it quite enough to mind my own.


When tyrants wage unbounded war,
And suffering nations groan,
When dreadful tidings from afar
Cause mothers' hearts to moan;
When judgement dread in thunders roar
Against the human race;
From pole to pole, from shore to shore
They banish blessed peace.
While sanctimonious men in prayer
Give thanks for battles won,
Or call for Heaven's propitious care
And shed more blood, anon.
But know, proud man, that God won't deign
To answer your request,
While murder's in your heart and brain,
And vengeance in your breast.
Go learn the way that Heaven commands,
And righteousness obey,
Undo each yoke, and burst all bands,
And quit your tyrant sway;
The hungry feed, the naked clothe,
The prisoners' fetters break,
The poor that's at your gate, don't loathe,
But kindly act and speak.
Then shall your light as morning shine,
And every cloud dispel,
Whilst every gift that is divine,
Shall in your bosoms dwell.
This is the fast that God demands
Throughout his Sacred Word,
And none but this in mercy stands,
Or tells with mercy's Lord.
This be your off'ring - these your fasts,
Strict fast from pride and blood,
And keep them while existence lasts
If you would please your God.

Clearly James was a religious man, a deist at the least. Probably a Christian, as the reference to God's "Sacred Word" attests. Certainly not a Christian of the Bush- Blair variety, wading through the blood of innocents; more like the Catholic Worker variety.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cut their pay? I'd cut the throats of some of these unprincipled parasites.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Idris Davies (1905-1953), his best known poem must be "Bells of Rhymney", thanks to Pete Seeger's setting it to music. I like this one, not least because it mentions Hull. The Hull dockers were always generous to striking miners, though it was the men of the Yorkshire minefields who benefitted most. I hadn't seen this poem for some time and had to search the net for it. I found it here, along with a couple of others and some biographical information. In my memory this is called "Send out your pigeons, Dai", but maybe it was homing pigeons. I'll stick with my memory, true or false -


Send out your homing pigeons, Dai,
Your blue-grey pigeons, hard as nails,
Send them with messages tied to their wings,
Words of your anger, words of your love.
Send them to Dover, to Glasgow, to Cork,
Send them to the wharves of Hull and of Belfast,
To the harbours of Liverpool and Dublin and Leith,
Send them to the islands and out of the oceans,
To the wild wet islands of the northern sea
Where little grey women go out in heavy shawls
At the hour of dusk to gaze at the merciless waters,
And send them to the decorated islands of the south
Where the mineowner and his tall stiff lady
Walk round and round the rose-pink hotel, day after day after day.
Send out your pigeons, Dai, send them out
With words of your anger and your love and your pride,
With stern little sentences wrought in your heart,
Send out your pigeons, flashing and dazzling towards the sun.
Go out, pigeons bach, and do what Dai tells you.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Today the swastika flies over Yorkshire. The enemy my parents' generation fought to keep from these shores has been invited in by racists, paranoiacs and cretins. Of course the greater part of the blame lies with the business friendly (and worker despising) Labour Party. It turns out that in both areas where a Nazi was elected the actual vote for the British Nazi Party fell. It was because Labour supporters decided they had had enough and voted with their backsides that the Nazis snaked in.
Now they will link up with parties who don't lie about their intentions or their programme - Eastern Europeans plotting the final solution of the Roma problem; fanatics who can't stop their right arms shooting out Dr. Strangelove style. The true nature of Nazism-lite will become clearer.

As for our new representative in Strasbourg, Andrew Brons, I heard one news reporter comment after the result was announced that perhaps Brons had not been completely honest about his past. I suppose he meant that the media had soft-pedalled on Brons's past. If they knew something the electorate should have known why keep it under wraps?
"Brons, 61, started his nazi career in the National Socialist Movement, an organisation that was deliberately founded on Hitler’s birthday by Colin Jordan, the British nazi leader who died in April aged 85. NSM members were responsible for an arson campaign against Jewish property and synagogues in the 1960s.
"Brons appears to have approved. In a letter to Jordan’s wife, Brons reported meeting an NSM member who 'mentioned such activities as bombing synagogues'. He declared: 'On This subject I have a dual view, in that I realise that he is well intentioned, I feel that our public image may suffer considerable damage as a result of these activities. I am however open to correction on this point'."

BRONS, is it an English name? Sounds a bit Jewish. Could be another Bronstein who changed his name (cf. Leon Trotsky).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Looking at the website of Los Desterrados I was intrigued by their list of influences, viz. -
Gipsy Kings, Flory Jagoda, Stevie Wonder, Emil Zrihan, The Beatles, Yasmin Levy, Joni Mitchell, El Lebrijano, Sergio Mendes, Gerard Edery, Steely Dan, Francoise Atlan, Led Zepplin, Santana, Ruth Yaakov, The Police, Sting, Los Pasharos Sefardis, Earth Wind & Fire, Savina Yannatou, Vincius de Moraes, Janet & Jaq Esim, David Bowie, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Zappa, Gloria Estefan, Prince, Henry Rollins, Camarón de la Isla, Paco de Lucia, Parliament-Funkadelic, John McLaughlin & Shakti, Ahinoam Nini, Hendrix, Kate Bush, Ray Barretto, Steve Vai, Bee Gees, Beach Boys, Nick Drake, Doobie Bros, A-ha, David Bowie, Vangelis, Yes, Rush, Black Sabbath, The Who, Nancy Wilson, Minnie Ripperton, Nina Simone, Taj Mahal, Herbie Hancock, John Lee Hooker, Bill Withers, Bert Jansch, Stephen Glass, Paul Simon, JS Bach, George Benson, Art Blakey, ELO, Shlomo Artzi, Zohar Fresco, Bustan Abraham, Omar Hakim.

Have they missed anybody?
What would a band playing music influenced by all the above sound like? To me they sound like a folk group singing in Judezmo-Spanish, but music writers detect folk,jazz and flamenco in the mix. As the band comprises six members I suppose they've all listed recording artists they like. Interesting line-up, a bit like the Bonzo Dog Band's "Intro and Outro"
I have no problem with the falling out of thieves, though I don't believe that honest men inevitably benefit thereby. However, I have to declare that the Blairite "bastards" attempts to overthrow Brown really stink to High Heaven. Blears, Flint, Purnell, these people really are the scum of the earth.
There's a way to stifle the BBs, with a little luck suffocate them. Poor old Gordon Brown should call a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, demand a vote of confidence, and inform them that if he loses the vote he'll call a general election. The BBs, and many other Labour MPs know that a snap election would see them off to find some other dishonest means of earning a crust. Their bluff would be called.
Dealer's choice.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Back to the dead white men - the Austrian Karl Kraus (1874-1936), better known as a journalist and playwright, but he wrote poetry too. Looking around for references I read this quote and had to have it here:
"I and my public understand each other very well: it does not hear what I say, and I don't say what it wants to hear."
The English version of this poem is by Karl F. Ross -


That in gloom some are despairing
so the sun be yours alone;
that your burdens they are bearing
in addition to their own;
that their nights your days would earn you
that their chains your freedom built -
that this never did concern you,
who can rid you of that guilt?


Dass im dunkel die dort leben,
so du selbst nur Sonne hast;
dass für dich die Lasten haben,
neben ihrer eignen Last;
dass du frei durch ihre Ketten,
Tag erlangst durch ihre Nacht:
was wird von der Schuld dich retten,
dass du daran nie gedacht.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A rabbi's advice to his co-religionists -
“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”
This is Rabbi Manis Friedman whose surname means "man of peace". Time for a name change, Rabbi. I suggest Machamovis.
A departure from the the parade of "dead white men" who have featured in my poetry season. Jayne Cortez is a living black woman, so that's all the PC boxes ticked in one fell swoop, and back to the comfort zone. Just kidding, honest!
I love Jazz, I love its history, it's characters. I tolerate its shits (e.g., Miles D.) on account of their talent. But I'm no jazz buff. Sometimes I'm listening to some old recording with a mate of mine, and he comes out with something really arcane. He can tell you every individual in the Basie line-up that day, who was off with a cold, and who went out for the sandwiches. Me, I just listen to the music.
All these names have some significance, for me and for others. It's good to see them all name-checked. There's that film "A Great Day in Harlem", similar thing, people who are fans listing the people they admire. As Dave Frishberg says in his piss-taking song, "I don't blow but I'm a fan".


I crisscrossed with Monk
Wailed with Bud
Counted every star with Stitt
Sang "Don't Blame Me" with Sarah
Wore a flower like Billie
Screamed in the range of Dinah
& scatted "How High the Moon" with Ella Fitzgerald
as she blew roof off the Shrine Auditorium
Jazz at the Philharmonic

I cut my hair into a permanent tam
Made my feet rebellious metronomes
Embedded record needles in paint on paper
Talked bopology talk
Laughed in high-pitched saxophone phrases
Became keeper of every Bird riff
every Lester lick
as Hawk melodicized my ear of infatuated tongues
& Blakey drummed militant messages in
soul of my applauding teeth
& Ray hit bass notes to the last love seat in my bones
I moved in triple time with Max
Grooved high with Diz
Perdidoed with Pettiford
Flew home with Hamp
Shuffled in Dexter's Deck
Squatty-rooed with Peterson
Dreamed a "52nd Street Theme" with Fats
& scatted "Lady Be Good" with Ella Fitzgerald
as she blew roof off the Shrine Auditorium
Jazz at the Philharmonic

Look, no punctuation. That's avant-garde for sure.
I don't know the ins and outs of this "intellectual property" rip-off, which is why I prefer to stick with the deceased. I'd love to put some of Ian Duhig's and Sean O'Brien's poems up here, but I'm a bit wary. Never mind there's a rake of others to quote.
Tiananman Square, a chance for the British media to demonstrate their human rights credentials. Gaza? Sri Lanka? Somehow they missed those opportunities. Or perhaps they they filed those events under "detail of history" (copyright J-M Le Pen).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A few words from Joe Corrie (1894-1968), miner, poet, playwright. I thought I'd read somewhere that he was blacklisted after the General Strike, but I can't find anything to confirm that. Certainly he was familiar with the dole. This poem was written circa 1930 -


'Eat more fruit!' the slogans say,
'More fish, more beef, more bread!'
But I'm on unemployment pay
My third year now, and wed.

And so I wonder when I'll see
The slogan when I pass,
The only one that would suit me, -
'Eat More Bloody Grass!'

Monday, June 01, 2009

A couple of short poems from Jacques Prévert, translations by Ferlinghetti, plus the original French. One of my all-time favourite poems is Prévert's "Barbara", and that may turn up here soon. In the meantime -


They are at table
They eat not
Nor touch their plates
And their plates stand straight up
Behind their heads.


Ils sont à table
Ils ne mangent pas
Ils ne sont pas dans leur assiette
Et leur assiette se tient toute droite
Verticalement derrière leur tête


Near the end of an extremely important discourse
the great man of state stumbling
on a beautiful hollow phrase
falls over it
and undone with gaping mouth
shows his teeth
and the dental decay of his peaceful reasoning
exposes the nerve of war
the delicate question of money.


Vers la fin d'un discours extrêmement important
le grand homme d'Etat trébuchant
sur une belle phrase creuse
tombe dedans
et désemparé la bouche grande ouvertr
montre les dents
et la crie dentaire de ses pacifiques raisonnements
met à vif le nerf de la guerre
la délicate question de l'argent.
I lifted the following tale from Viola Wilkins' blog on the Aussie IWW website -

Five British surgeons are sharing a table for dinner following a conference in London.
The first, a Manchester surgeon, says: 'I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.'
The second, a Liverpool surgeon, responds: 'Yes, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is colour coded.'
The third, a Newcastle surgeon, says: 'No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.'
The fourth, a Birmingham surgeon, chimes in: 'You know, I like construction workers best...those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over.
But the fifth, a Glasgow surgeon, shuts them all up when he observes, You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. They have no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the head and the arse are interchangeable.
A couple of quotes; first Marina Hyde on Simon Cowell -
"... The Charles Foster Kane of unscripted programming." This is how Ms. Hyde believes that Cowell sees himself, as opposed to the Jay Gatsby figure she had discerned earlier.

"The expenses row has really put me off politics ... so I'm going to vote for racism, bigotry and hatred instead." From a cartoon in Private Eye, the work of someone who may be called Wilbur (difficult to make out the siganature).

Re Cowell and his carnival of freaks; I see that our Prime Minister has no more important matter to ponder than the condition of Ms. Susan Boyle. All the nation's problems have melted away, it seems.