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The Badgers of Slad

The paintings of badgers on the posts at Slad,
Are beguiling and deceptive in their art,
Seemingly comic and anthropomorphic,
Each one contributes to a tragic tale,
Summarised in that curt and cruel word: cull.
They look like Tommies facing execution,
Tied to their posts at dawn’s first red-streaked light:
What passing-bells for those who die for cattle?

‘Only the monstrous anger of the guns,
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.’

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Radical Pub Crawl: Loomsday

A pub-crawl is something I associate
With my youth – indeed, I have never ever
Typed ‘pub crawl’, before, but I am surprised
To find a green line advising me to
Hyphenate and create a compound noun.

The word was never hyphenated
When I used to go on a pub crawl:
There was a noun and there was a verb,
The noun was a sort of synecdoche,
Whilst the verb ‘crawl’ said it all:
The evening started vertical
And ended with a slow, meandering
Horizontal, hands and feet slowly,
Gradually, inching along pavement.

And that was a pub crawl, sampling lots of
Different pints, and different pubs,
Different prices, and atmospheres,
Collecting and clocking the pub names,
The different tastes, strengths and breweries,
In a sort of localised and active
Sociological nuanced survey:
It made you observant through the smoke.

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Why Is There an L in Samon?

Dear Stuart,

MY EARLY YEARS

I was born in Liverpool in 1952. It seems strange looking back but Liverpool was still a bombsite as it was only 7 years after the end of the war. We lived 300 yards from the docks and through a child’s eyes everything seemed to be in black and white. I was the second oldest of 5 children. My mother had her children before she was 21 and we lived in 2 rooms in a privately rented house.
My father was pretty useless and he preferred the company of his mates in the pub and I remember him spending time in prison but my mother told us that he was working in Butlins holiday camp during the periods of his absence.

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NOT ONE DAY MORE: Overton’s Window

I’ve just come across the term ‘Overton’s Window’,
In an article by Owen Jones,
Also called the ‘Window of Discourse’:
The way ideas are viewed by the public,
In a spectrum of judgement that runs from
The Unacceptable, to the Radical, the Acceptable,
The Sensible, the Popular,
And finally: Policy.

It’s obvious that the way this window –
Or Zeitgeist –
Is now defined,
Has been revolutionised
By social media, activists and clicktivists,
While any notion of ‘the public’
Must now accommodate a whole new Generation Y:
The dispossessed millennials are taking the reins –
Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch and co.
Can still ride roughshod,
But only in their own heft now.

It’s a weird thing for me,
Someone who first read Marx nearly fifty years ago,
Someone who has been marginalised
By mainstream orthodoxy’s definition of common sense
For nearly half a century,
To see a 2017 Labour party political broadcast,
Where a voice demands the full fruits of her labour:
The revolution will be televised!
So this Saturday’s demonstration:
NOT ONE DAY MORE
#TORIES OUT NO MORE AUSTERITY,
Hosted by The People’s Assembly Against Austerity,

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Momentum Is The New Chartism

When the Daily Express and the Daily Mail tried to control
The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, back in the thirties,
He commented in his masculine way:
‘What the proprietorship of these newspapers is aiming at is power,
But power without responsibility,
The prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.’
In the 2016 referendum,
We had Arron Banks:
‘Facts don’t work, and that’s it …
It just doesn’t work.
You have to connect with the people emotionally.
It’s the Trump success.’
And the General Election of 2017?
The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express,
With their slew of headlines,
Make it difficult not to think of John Heartfield,
And his Weimar agit-prop:
Big business pulling Hitler’s puppet strings;
What a coincidence that Boris Johnson should speak on the very subject
Of Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘soft on terrorism’ trope,
The very day before The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express
Splashed their similar views all over their front pages –
I think this means that we now have a new category
Of political system for the text book:
A liberal-democratic 21st century variant of Fascism:
‘Strong and Stable Government’; ‘Coalition of Chaos’; ‘Brexit means Brexit’;
‘We make no apology for drawing attention to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn
has spent a lifetime siding with people who want to do Britain harm,
would weaken our defences and make our country less safe …’.

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Jo Cox Memorial Walk: the Ghosts of Five Valleys Past and of London Present and Future

9.3 % Swing

A red island in the sea of Cotswold blue
A red outcrop in these blue remembered hills
We’re not 25 grand smug shepherd’s huts
We’re red brick, spit and sawdust, woollen mills

A red rose amidst the snarling thorns of May
A red flag sewn from Stroudwater Scarlet
We’re not the headmistress’s blue-rinse smile
We’re the crimson kiss of a wanton harlot

We’re not Farrow & Ball “complacent blue-tit”
We’re not weekend waxed-jacket and tweed knickers
We’re not honey-dipped, chocolate-box bollocks
We’re not mimsy-boo-boutique more tea vicars

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