Events

Bristol Doors Open Days

Bristol Doors Open Days
The Merchants’ Hall
indocilis pauperiem pati
‘One who cannot learn to bear poverty’

What did I learn about our ‘Island Story’
On a squally September rain-swept day,
At the Merchants’ Hall, and Redcliffe Caves?
Well, we formed an orderly queue at the Hall,
Bantering with the pinstriped beadle,
Before our guide escorted us to the hall,
Where our talk began.

It was informative, in a manner of speaking:
The chandeliers are cleaned every two years!
Sixty-eight people can sit at this table!
When a speaker addresses an audience here,
The chairs are moved to face the front!
Princess Anne likes the Merchant Venturers!
Here are pictures of the docks in the 18th century!
(No mention yet…)
Royal Charters galore!
Portraits galore!
One day there will be a woman on the wall!
And a female ‘Master’ of the Society,
And she shalt have the title of ‘Master’!
The voice went on about the Society’s charitable enterprises,
I glanced at a couple of their annual reports:
‘New Schools’ Trust Offers Diversity’
(Conventional trope of girl in a science lab.),
More stuff on academies, residential care for the elderly,
‘Social business’ (sic), almshouses,
The ownership of Clifton Downs,
‘Although some 460 years old, the Society
is fresh and full of vigour and purpose’;
‘ … The Society and Bristol prospered. Trading patterns changed
over the centuries, with the later years marked
by the appalling period of slave trading in the 18th century.’
It all felt a bit Kafkaesque,
An arcane, shadowy world of ruling class disinformation …
Where philanthropy and charity
Obscures the hierarchy of ruling class control…

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Stroud Fringe Walk: Place, Space and Time

Beneath the pavement, the beach! For here we have a line of houses called Streamside, And up there, beyond the Fountain pub, Lies Springfield Road and a plethora Of constant, subterranean springs, Springs! The genius loci of Stroud …

We walked down Lansdowne, To cross the Slad Brook, at Mill House, In search of the edgelands, Puddles, brooks and panel beaters, Car dealers, buddleia, car parks and cinemas, Past the Dickensian Omar L. Cottle, Monumental mason, The nominative determinism of a park, Named after a Park, Past strange continuities in the street: The chemist’s on the corner, Where in 1872, A chemist by the name of Joseph Banks Campaigned for a farm workers’ trade union, And no more payment in truck: ‘In sterling money, not fat bacon …or a couple of swedes’,

Then to Badbrook and weavers’ riots, ‘We had been working ever longer time for ever cankered pennies all the year. Something needed doing. So we laid our shuttles and looms to rest and joined the Stroud Valleys Weavers Union. This is my true and faithful account. I cannot dissemble. The Good Book tells us that we should get our bread by the sweat of our brow. We had the sweat but no bread. What could we do?’

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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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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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