Renewal

 

Renewal

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So long with hate

So tired, its load

Drag it round like fate

Blame the toads

 

Lie and lay

Light to light too light to dig

Dig my own grave today

See if I still fit

 

Familiar with its shame

Shame waves over errors

Thank them all for the blame

Never learnt from Terrors.

 

Dig again

Dig with the pen

A father, son, husband and friend.

Good enough. TEN.

 

To stand in the light and pass.

Pass. Pass away.

Pass to me. Class.

Let me play

 

To begin, like sand

Dragged out, by the tide.

Pressed down by land

Become rock, wide

 

That no waves can hurt?

Worn by time and tide

Eventually to give,

Sand again.

 

Loss

Gone now, passed away

A life given to faith

Memories flit, special days

A face, a family, a taste

Touched your lives and ways

Fought through woods and waste

And love and hope were blazed.

Time flits and leaves in haste

Has gone to somewhere hazed

With memories softly placed

And though our minds are ‘mazed

The truth our lives it traced

Faith to show the way

Faith to face our days.

Sonnet for Autumn

From hedgerow’s roots autumn flits

Firey tongues and berries climb

Seasons start and nearly fit

Among the ivy berries wind

Look through leaves against our wits

Hold onto lives hearts entwined

Clench our teeth, jaws grit

Drink the cup of summer wine

Hold and hope against time

And in the chair a vacuum sits

Where to next,hold the line

How to join those broken bits

Lift our hearts and go again

Truth it lies in dust and dens

The Scarecrow

Andy was a farmer. Worked the land, hands hard, worn with work, face like a wedding cake left out in the rain, year in and out, ploughed the chocolate sillions , planted the crops, kept the wildlife in the copse and out of the fields. Burly, broad, thickset, tall, dressed in the wear of work. This years’s crop was planned, soldiers in the field, left,right,left, when it was ripe it would blow in the wind, waves of crops crashing against the copse and picket fences around his land. Corn, wheat, barley,oats, planted to the horizons, hedgerows and ditches breaking the landscape into a patchwork of farms and farmers. In the rural zone, neighbours where close but far, in that strange village way, where everyone knew your business before you but not your character or dreams. Harvests were his livelyhood, and Andy tried to control what he could. The weather came, its rain and sun, hail and frosts, and there was little to do but plant three fields early and three fields late, and three fields in the middle. This made the work hard, and in good years he’d harvest three times and bad years once or twice, and in the worst not at all.

So every February , along with the other farmers, into the copse they would go to cut branches or collect fallen wood and fashion the staves and crosses to make the frames for the scarecrows. A kind of competition with the county. Farmers would spend the evenings sewing corn sacks or seed sacks together, a few would wander round the local villages with barrows , ringing the bell for the rag and bone, and of course collecting old clothes for a few coins. In the parishes, children grew ,people died and so clothes were either passed on to kith and kin or sold for scraps to the paper mill, or, when really worth nothing, sold to the farmer for his scarecrows. But the competition every year meant that sometimes farmers would pay a premium if the harvest had been good, or, if someone died with no kith or kin, a scarecrow or two would, rarely, be decked out in crinoline and bonnets , or Sunday bests , the splash of exotic in the landscape of humdrum.

So it was that Andy blustered and swore, hammered and painted his way through the scarecrows, creating as many as he could before sewing began.

He thought that ten would be enough, and with the rags and scraps he’d fashioned nine now, one more to go. He’d nailed the struts to make a cross structure and all he needed now was some clothes. Old Bert next door might have a few scraps. But when he’d trotted the 5 miles to next door, Bert wasn’t answering the door. Bert was a loner, a hot and cold .

Yes, he and Bert would set the world to rights in the local in over a tankard of stale weak warm ale, or argue about where his land began and ended. So it was in the country, at the edge of wealth, boom or bust.

Wooden Poles

Paul was standing outside the family saloon, a dirty cheap car, where family arguments took place. As usual his parents were busy blaming each other’s parents for the situations they found themselves in, as if responsibility was somehow genetic. Wagging fingers and raised voices, shedding tears and misunderstanding, things said in anger that would echo in their ears for decades, blown down those dusty roads , the crumpled crisp packets of our dreams , falling out of family saloon cars , blown by anger, fueled by emotion, crisp packets crumpled in our hands, frowns crumpled on our faces.
So Paul watched, turned, looked at the floor, the sky, the knot-hole in the fence, and then he saw, through the hole, the man sitting at the edge of the kerb, through the keyhole, knot hole. Grey trousers, white shirt, chest bobbing sobbing, weeping, ruffling his hair and wondering, what thoughts flitted through his mind. Paul reached in his packet, for a sweet, or something to cheer up the man, something to forget the heat, the row, the shame. He found a bank note, a gift from a relative, the one they’d seen, smelt–of-wee-whiskered lady, skin paper thin veins like a road map, stretched by years, slipped him a note and winked, she’d known what age does to us all and that we’d never be cool once bladder control had gone. Poked it through the hole, and said to the sobbing man “Here, take this”. He stood up shaking his head, weeping, sobbing, shaking, seeping. Took the money, wrote a name, poked it back, and fled.

A changing world

In 1985 or so, I can remember a lesson at school where we were discussing what made a superpower. We decided that land area (or empire) and population, resources and technologies were important factors. At the time, the USSR as was and the USA as is were the two big superpowers and we then thought about who else we could add or who else could be a super power. Off course, talk turned to the continents. We said as eager pupils “China” as it had/has a big population and a big area, but our teacher laughed and said” Never. its isolated, communist and has no sphere of influence, no technology.” We talked of past empires and how they rose and fell, looking at Greece, Rome, British Empire. Nodding our heads at the certainty of decline.  Then the Berlin wall came down in 1989 after I left school and went to university. Russia went bankrupt, and the state owned things were sold , the oligarchs came. Europe expanded and became a wannabe superpower, and China developed into the second economic power in the world. Today we have certain superpowers, The USA, China, Russia, The European Union, India, and then those that will become superpowers, Brazil, African countries such as South Africa and Nigeria. Perhaps Africa will develop its own equivalent to the European Union and show us how it’s really done.

Europe has fallen. Its still a rich and important market, but growth is stagnant and we now spend our savings instead of saving money. Even worse, our countries all have big debts, which we will have to take responsibility for eventually, and as we are now spending our savings, we are declining in Europe. We have no glue to hold us together, no identity, language or culture that joins us, and so Europe will fall.

What will take its place? Northern African countries do have a similar language, identity, culture and tradition. Perhaps they will form a block of countries to make a trading zone. Perhaps a nucleus of European countries will remain tied together, or even merge to form one country. Perhaps. Today canditad Trump has told us its the end of globalization and the beginning of Americanization, a clear vision that tells us America will now nolonger have influence in the Middle East and will look to Fracking to produce its oil, meaning American Military spending will be cut and that those zones of tension will undergo turbulence followed by stability. America will look to import less and produce more of its own things, a clear shot over the bows of the Chinese economic model of production, meaning China now has to develop its internal market or , go to war in the South China Seas as a way of uniting the population . If America turns its back on Japan, as looks likely if Trump wins, then Japan will have to change its pacifist ideals.

But Trump’s declaration forgets that business look to make the best deals. Where labour is cheapest. Where taxes are lowest. And business is no longer “heavy industry” but cutting edge and technogy/service based. China can produce more steel per year than the rest of the top 20 world steel producers combined, ten times what America produces per year and 8 times what Europe produces per year. China can control the supply of steel, cloths, electronics, raw materials, (except Oil) and has a powerful position. China will look at what it needs and try to take these things, as in Tibet (Rare earths) and Afghanistan (Rare earths/drugs) and Taiwan. If America makes the things , it has to sell them at a profit, which means that labour will have to be cheaper , or that raw material prices drop, or that robots do a whole load of things, and so energy has to be cheap. Perhaps Trump has understood the future involves a whole lot more robotics and so less work for people.

 

 

Letting go

Nothing to say
Just ink , spoiling pages
Churning waves in bays
Waiting for this months wages
Slave to grind, Slave for sale
Blocking the direct debits
Last month’s smoke, this month’s joss stick
Tied to a service I didn’t choose
Watching the food go mouldy.
 
Ball in heart, knot in stomach
Hoping to find a solution
Offers come in for later.
Now we wait,trust
Belief, Believe choose, choice, steal, thief.
Sticky as the keys,thick as thieves
Irregular verbs and lessons
Shaking with fear,or pain,or both
Panic comes.
 
Breathe. Hold out my hand.
Feel forward in dust
Stars will shine on our ashes
Long dead stars. Wish I must.
Land! Ahoy! Come into land,
Row , don’t strand
Oars turn to rust
Soup the sea
And drink up to trash
 
Ah ! Where do roads lead?
Frost told us the difference
And summer lanes ,wooded and hooded
Gnarled banks and rootballs bulk
Canopy shielding shading,shining
Green filtered light speckling down
Dust shod feet echo through ages
Pilgrims and poor men
On roads to life
 
Years later. Finally.
The pen hacks its way through the wood
Digging Heaney’s grave
O’Brien greets us
Under Chestnuts
Wooded lanes to nowhere
Love, late in life
Vote for fools, lies lose,
Oil on the fire
 
Lost in libraries
Perhaps time moves
Treacle in space
A glass.
Bring me my road
Warts on the toad
Rap and rhyme
Speak to me as I have
Nothing to say.

Age

Shaking woke me up

Not from drink

Pills to shore me up

Sit on the edge of our bed

Hold .

Sit and know

Tiredness in all pores

Worry about being up to scratch

Count the stars

The flowers in the field

Stars long dead, petals washed by wind and rain

Who is your brother now?

Share wealth hope happiness

Age washes up on the beach

Strange things dredged from our past

Leave them on strange beaches

Don’t drag them from  shores

Washed by tides and memories

You cant change them

Time changes them

Washes them into caves.

Drags them out to the currents of thoughts

Patterns in your past.

 

Homing

Cant stop tears

Long coming

Hold my hand

Hold in my hand

Sand of hope

They don’t know

No idea of wading

Waiting for the waves

Wash over

No strength in my bones

Years spend  honing

Holding the pen

Stab in the heart

Mightier than swords

or cups, coins and wands

Lines in the hands

Lies in both

How far out the wader goes

Currents throw sinking sands

St Micheal on the Mount knew

Killed the dragon

Fire Earth Air and Water

Changing and balance, scales held

Blind eyes judging

Coming home

Drag through the door

Breaking the surface for breath

Water or tears

Dust

Home

The Road from Wigan Pier

Orwell wote in his book “The Road to Wigan Pier” about hardship and poverty, poor housing and hard jobs, your place in society and your expectations and visions of the future, how the working class , or at least the poor people who lived in the slum dwellings in  conditions of extreme hardhips weemed to be glad to have what little that had, as after that there was nothing. You might not have much, but you could , (as Pratchett noted), have standards. The second part of the book reads like a pamphlet .

He states that these conditions can’t continue (I agree, and they didn’t in the main post war)

He says that socialism is a solution infact THE solution to the problems. But he says that there are so many fruitcakes and weirdo’s, people who talk about the intricates ond mechanics rather tha the humanism that most people get fogged by the debate.

Common decency and fair shares was the basic objective. But he lightly forgets the role of time. Perhaps by providing the decent housing and  working conditions and health and eduation, the socialist government forgot that people take pride from their ability to provide and work. If you give people to much, they take it for granted and don’t maintain it, or even fight for it. Too many council houses became burn’t out estates. The doorstep so clean you could eat your dinner off it of my grandmothers Attercliff estate has been replaced by the platic bottles and burnt out sofas, the pizza box living rooms and bins rolling round in the kitchen. A personal view.

I’m not judging these people. Orwell points out that Northern people thought themselves the best, with the exception of the coal workers. He also notes the solidarity and communities, the middle class nblackleg aproach to stikes as this meant promotion, and the general sketch is probably flawed as it bounces on the path of stereotype. So even in the tightknight communities, outsiders were seen as different. Humans always look to put each other in a category. Class, and wealth, job and position.Country and creed, religion and race. “Them and us” rather than “we together”.

 

Orwell records the poverty he sees, and its a view of the shock of economic collapse and unemployment. The end of a society. Only ten years later, his view of a Socialist society came true, and perhaps the slums were almost completely cleared, Council housing was put in place by Conservative yes, Neville Chambelain  and Labour governments. Blocks of flats became the new slums, perhaps, and people forgot their pride when given things , at least in the long run. Good things came of this, the NHS and the welfare state, free education, nationalisation and so forth. But the years wore them down , as governments didn’t invest and finally sold them off in the 1980’s and henceforth.

Orwell notes the real power of coal, which has all but dissapeared in the years since. In 1920 over a million workers worked in the coal industry, in 1930 it was over 900 thousand. In the 40’s 750 thousand men. So we see a decline even before. As late as the 1960’s, 600 thousand workers worked , today, its 4 thousand workers. Before the strike of 1985 there wre 237 thousand workers, after in the 1990’s 49 thousand workers. Coal , and indeed many industrial jobs have declined or dissapeared. Shipping, steel, tin, many heavy and even light industries have gone to low cost countries. Only the industries that offer clear added value in terms of technology or quality remain. Of course, this isn’t entirely bad a smillions have come out of poverty in the developing world, and our economy has evolved to adapt to this.

It shows that socialism is a great idea , but when economics evolves, markets evolve and industry evolves it needs to adapt instead of which it becomes militant. The  road from Wigan Pier is this. The faiure of socialism to adapt, the birth and growth of neoliberalism, the privatisation of common assets, the movement of common wealth into private hands, the withering on the vine of education, health and other sercvices, arts, libraries, as we move towards the idea of price rather than that of cost.

We could say that all is  is inevitable. Globalisation moves jobs and money around. We could mourn the loss of comunities in the North of the UK as coal and steel and ship building dissapeared, or celebrate the fact that billions move out of povery in Asia. Companies look to save cash were they can. Eventually, everyone will earn the same wage. The flat world of Thomas Freidman. But this idea ignores the develpoment of idea, technology and the evolution of industries, just as socialism does.

Supply chain dynamics insits that no countries with highly integrated logistic chains can or even will consider war.The idea that our interconnected world somehow prevents war is shown to be fake with ll the wars around us. Oil, Opium poppies , influence, religion, dogma, all outweigh logistics.

Brexit seems to have thrown a brick through the holy stained window of all these ideas.

Perhaps now we’ll see the bug infested world of  wage slaves come to pass.Or perhaps something else. The road from Wigan Pier certainly will be an interesting on.

History show us, before socialism, we have to endure fascism.