Trouble at the barricades

I thought up a poem. It’s just that time of year I guess.

 

 

Riot Season

Rioting in primrose costume

bashing on the shields of equinox.

Looting fields of nesting fleece

from barbed wire frontier cops,

stamping territory on private keep out land.

Cuckoos scam my password secrets every time.

Mug – I click your link.

So hold it there.

Summer tempts you in with dreams

of permanence and power.

Hold it there

rock and youth in hand.

 

Sock It To Me Babushka.

I grew up in the shadow of the nuclear bomb and the cold war. A common form of conversation in the 1950’s was what would you do in your last four minutes of life. Many young people said “Sex” but I was a bit too young to know what that really meant. Nowadays 4 minutes would just about get me out of my poet’s overalls. The proposition was that 4 minutes was the length of warning we would have of Russian nukes arriving at a town near you. No one knew why they would be launched and we only knew that our boys were ready to do the same to them. I did not know where Russia was. I was very conscious of Cuba in 1962. When I joined the Metropolitan Police in 1977 we had to receive nuclear war training from two instructors who were dubbed “Nuclear Ned” and “Roentgen Ron” who explained to us about shooting starving looters and dealing with the thousands casualties beyond help. It was at about this time I began to wonder if the world controllers were necessarily the best guys for the job. The 1986  film “When the Wind Blows” which looked at Civil Defence in time of attack makes salutary viewing.

So, let us look at the Eurovision song Contest. The Russian entry has been chosen. As I reported to my American readers last week, the UK has chosen Eurobert Humperdinck (75yrs) to represent this Sceptred Isle, this Mother of Parliaments etc. We may as well give up. The Russians have won and for sure have my vote already. At first the choice of a band of grannies in traditional costume singing in Udmurt and (I think) some English may not have seemed calculated to win. However, their performance is so genuine and full of love that it will sweep the board. Check out the clip and at the beginning look at the old lady on the far left. A younger stronger woman next to her has an arm around her and they exchange a glance which is beautiful. It is about friendship and support. Seeing other cultures, their loves,comedies and struggles is the end to War. Ladies and Gentlemen here is Buranovskiye Babushki singing “Party For Everyone”.

I don’t know about you but I found that quite emotional. Look at those socks and remember that we were all going to annihilate each other a few years ago.

At this very moment my collection of poems “I Threw A Stone”  is free on Amazon KDP. Come on guys – just click on it. You do not have to read it. This could be the first time a living poet has got into the charts! It comes with MP3 Audio. Here are the links:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

Eurobert Humperdinck

Eurobert Humperdinck

Just as the junk mailers start to tempt me into sheltered accommodation for the elderly and doctors line up to plot my graph into decline, an ageist thunderclap splits the certainty of the Universe. Englebert Humperdinck is to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision song contest at the age of 75 years.

As I listened to the radio this morning I heard Rick Santorum speaking in Ohio about how the Founding Fathers had saved Americans from the colonial monarchy. This is very true. What he did not say was that they also saved America from the Eurovision song contest. If I were one of his speech writers I would definitely have stressed this important constitutional point. For those kind Americans who read my blog, let me explain that winning the contest in recent years has little to do with quality of the music. Some 43 loosely Euro countries vie for the prize and voting is political  between blocs and cliques. If I were a professor of politics or a Westminster advisor I would make this show compulsory viewing. Wars and alliances can be predicted since the votes reveal a candour unknown elsewhere in diplomacy.  All the same some mega stars have emerged from the schmaltz fest into glittering careers. Both Abba and Celine Dion have ploughed this furrow.

The whole horrific cultural smorgasbord is a great festival in the Sparrow cave. The more corrupt and absurd the better. In 2009 it was reported that 6 Azeri (Citizens of Azerbaijan) had been arrested by the police for voting for the hated Armenians. Play to win – that’s the way to do it! Here is one of my favourite ever entries. Oh yes – this year the contest will be held in Azerbaijan.

Yesterday, in my arty poet’s vest, dark suit, trainers and scarf I went to an exhibition of Art at the Pallant Gallery in the beautiful cathedral city of Chichester. The artist was Robin Ironside (described as a Neo-Romantic Visionary) who often painted with a one haired brush with the aid of a magnifying glass. His work is so detailed that you have to study it intensely. Seemingly he never slept and stayed alive on a cocktail of drugs. His work is staggering and this was the first time I had seen any of it.  The exhibition runs until 22nd April.

Front-line 2011

Here in the UK the news is that the news is about what happened 30 years ago. Government papers from 1981 have been released and we can see all the secret memos between ministers and know all the things we did not know at the time. 1981 was the year of the riots as all the major cities were swept by mob violence. In London huge fires burned that were clearly visible from Westminster. Mobs looted shops and houses. The Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher. Police constable L368 was an unknown poet called Oscar Sparrow, stationed at Brixton. One of the main bus routes was and is Railton Road. It was called locally “The Front-line” to denote it was a social frontier. It was never dull. In the picture above the poet is the second cop about to walk into a lamp post if he doesn’t pay attention. I never put on that uniform without feeling that I was in fancy dress.

I have several observations about civil disorder and rioting. It is exciting and terrifying in equal measure for both the good and bad guys. Everyone thinks they are the good guy. Despite all appearances, most people are just helplessly stuck in the middle. Nearly all these folk are poor and have very little themselves. After a while everyone wants it to stop. Then it stops and people turn up at the police station to say they found a wallet or lost their dog. It is not for unknown poets to pontificate on the politics or the social dynamics of inequality, race, unemployment and urban alienation. I could, but it would add nothing to all that has been said since and doubtless will be recycled when, inevitably, it will all re-run for a newer generation. If I were a modern day cop I would almost anticipate a mob throwing iPads, being filmed by officers with smart phones. Alternatively both sides would turn up with such an array of filming equipment to capture one another’s brutality that nothing would happen, except maybe a few aggressive zoom sequences.

I know I should not appear flippant about such serious affairs because people do awful things. There are rapes, murders, ghastly woundings and arson. I was far less of a revolutionary once I had sampled just a little of its flavour. A mob running wild is awesome, but if the batteries on the remote are low, manual control is bruising. The best rampaging mobs are on TV. Petrol bombs burn you. Large fellows with swords can make one very aware of one’s sphincter. 2012 approaches and one can sense certain straws in the wind. We never learn you know………

I was a cop because it was a job that I thought would give me stuff to write about. I loved Brixton and South London. It was a cacophony and a choir, a rhythm and a rag-bag. It was a fist in the face and a handshake. I wrote a poem at that time and it is in my collection “I Threw A Stone”

You can hear it here and read it below:

Frontline ’81

Red London buses
blood corpuscle bustle
past a drinking club
which is a terraced house
with fifty men,
one hundred whites of eyes inside.

Drinkers piss al fresco unperturbed
on pavements trod with butts of blow.
Dead cans of Red Stripe
barber pole along the dismal gutter.
Ragged Bee- Em- Dub-Yews cruise,
boozed bleached whore-cats
pussy sway to reggae beat
subliminal in chest and throat.

On a corner an ambulance.
White cop say
“How d’ it start?”
Black girl say
“Wid slave-ree”.

In the alley a trembling bitch
fucks a pack of sperm rage dogs.
A circling runt denied, accepts.
Sirens down the Brixton Road
announce aloud a further haemorrhage.

By Oscar Sparrow

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