Somehow we all constantly focus on the end of the pandemic, that moment when when some sort of miraculous vaccine will come forward like the cure for polio and take us to a resumption of normalcy. Ever since the second century the word Abracadabra has been used on amulets as a magical word against diseases. In the second century AD it was believed to be a cure for malaria, Serenus Alexander, a great admirer of Serenus Sammonicus, ordered the word to be written in the form of an inverted cone, and declares it to be of virtue against all diseases. “Thou shalt on paper write the spell divine ABRACADABRA called in many a line, Each under each in even order place, But the last letter in each line efface, As by degrees the elements grow few, Still take away but fix the residue, Till at the last one letter stands alone, And the whole dwindles to a tapering cone. Tie this about the neck with flaxen string, Mighty the good ’twill to the patient bring, Its wondrous potency shall guard his head And drive disease and death far from his bed.”This is the same kind of guff we hear now from the Covid-19 denying spiritual anti vaccine brigade. Their denial brings on the disease by leaps and bounds. To waltz through the world in maskless bliss ignores what we face over the coming year. make no mistake, the just in time fetishism adopted by neo liberals in most democracies in the running of their public services only works when dealing with factors that we already understand. Introduce a rogue element into the equation and just in time won’t work, there is no time to play catch up. The health services across Europe and the USA are banjaxxed because the extra capacity needed to cope with a pandemic just isn’t there. All the historic attempts to rationinalise the British NHS, to slash costs, to privatise through bringing American style practices through the back door via Blairite blue sky thinking, the inevitable destructive folly that is commissioning, the crisis created by PFI debt that cripples the finances exponentially are managed within a creaky Heath Robinson structure that just about delivers a health service free at the point of need. Add in a crisis such as Covid-19 and everything goes out the window. The reason we are having lockdowns is, in large part, due to the fact that most of the politicians just cannot face the collapse of neo liberalism and the threat of years in the wilderness that would be their fate if the NHS completely fails on their watch. This is not just an attack on Boris Johnson and his cronies, though they are the essence of ineptitude, it also rests squarely with all those centrists on all sides in the house of commons who wholeheartedly embraced Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and Margaret Thatcher’s doctrines. This means that there is no contingency capacity to deal with the reality of a rampant Corona virus. The economic knock-on effects of trying to manage this situation with fire breaks, control of what businesses can and cannot sell, the collapse of agriculture in the USA, the destruction of tourism, the decimation of hospitality, the societal fragmentation, all of this and much more can be laid clearly at a catastrophic failure of management at a macro level. We all KNOW the maxim failing to plan is planning to fail. We also know that the British government carried out an emergency planning exercise only a couple of years ago that looked precisely at the effects of a corona virus pandemic and yet they failed to implement it’s recommendations. This is a truly scandalous set of events. They might as well have issued every household with Abracadabra triangle to post on their front doors and amulets to wear in the street. It’s not the fault of the people that we are in this mess, it’s a systemic crisis brought about through the implementation of the ideology of greed. Abracadabra? Unfortunately it’s impossible to magic a pandemic away, it always has been.
Harry Rogers, in the yellow room, 26th October 2020.
Nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin
Let’s face it, we have a problem, A problem with democracy. Politicians speak on the stump, Sell us all kinds of apple pie, Only when we vote these demons in Do we find out how much they lie. Focus on personality, The abilty to sell stuff, Divorced from our reality, The gilded tin, the powder puff, Make what never was great again, Put fishing top and housing last, Move quickly on, hide up the pain, Sweep past away and do it fast With faff and spaff and chunder Bring on new Dominic blunder Roll out the iron sheet thunder, Split all our old dreams asunder. Ignore what they said they would do, Each day one more shock of the new, Mix up the red with the blue, Spring chaotic bling wrecking crew. No free school meals outside term time, Democracy? I call it crime.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 22nd October, 2020.
That place where fear meets hope, Fire break, hot-spot, shielding, New Deja vu circuit Breaking the virus chain, Bonfire night, Halloween, Postponed during the clamp, Keep schools open for some, Close libraries and gyms, Shut universities, Pubs, gift shops, and campsites, We all pull together, Except for Welsh Tories Who will politicize Covid endlessly with Hyper local lockdowns. People before profit Is our rallying cry, We’ll pick up the pieces One bright day, by and by, Meanwhile stay safe, stay home, Keep one eye on the stats, Other on Boris and His asset stripping rats, Feels like last days of Rome. The poor, and the low paid Will bear the brunt again Sticking plaster fixes Won’t bring relief to pain. Universal credit For those who lose their jobs, Cannot meet commitments. Whilst knobs debate the R, Lists of rules grow longer, Save pubs, eat out, stay home, Lock down, wear masks, obey, Pursue a policy Of equal misery, If you’re not confused now Wait on, you soon will be. Make us blame each other, Sister grass up brother, The rich will cop for nought Blame us, it’s all our fault, We did what you told us, Perhaps we will again This is what they wanted, The ghouls in number ten, Like slick rugby players Pass the ball so quickly, Maintain power without Responsibility.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, October 20th, 2020
I sit in the darkened room at Madame Marta’s Edwardian villa in Swiss Cottage. Seated around the large, round, antique mahogany table I see eleven other people, like me, wearing silver masks and long red robes. I have no idea who they are, this is the first time I have ever attended a conjuring. The house itself exhibits gothic features, it is built in the style of a mid nineteenth century Italianate villa from the Borromean Islands on Lago Maggiore. The castellated tower which widens with height, is topped by a cloistered walkway, decorated with green and gold images of Chinese style dragons. It impressed me greatly when I arrived, and I found myself in the room at the centre of the cloister when the door opened five minutes ago. Madame Marta enters the room carrying an ornate basket containing a number of golden jewel encrusted amulets with red dragons inscribed on them. The dragons are attached to black ribbons. She also hands out some short, thick, black candles. She instructs us to all take one of the amulets and tie the black ribbon around our waist with the amulet image facing outwards.
Madame Marta attaches great importance to this saying, “The requests that you make here will only be answered if the dragon is facing away from you. If the dragon faces the wrong way then your desire will be reversed and that could be extremely dangerous.”
She then passes a burning taper around the room so that we each, in turn, light our allotted candle. At this point a heavy, cloying, perfumed aroma fills the room and I begin to feel slightly swimmy as I breathe it in. The characters on the ornate tapestries around the room appear to dance before my eyes. I am in a state of astonishment and am quivering all over.
I am not sure what this ritual is likely to achieve, to be honest I have always thought of the supernatural as somewhat of a hoax. I am only here because a friend at work told me that they knew of a sure fire way to get revenge on a bully or anyone that had mistreated you. When she had mentioned a conjuring I had laughed but after a few minutes of her sincere advocating my curiosity was aroused. She had given me Madame Marta’s card and thus here I am.
Focusing clearly, my memory takes me back twenty years and I see myself as a frightened eleven year old boy, sat as I await the electric enter sign to come on and usher me into Mr Jenkins’s study to face yet another ferocious beating with his cane for nothing more than failure to my homework. I recently took my eldest son along to view the local comprehensive school and was shocked to see Ronald Arthur Jenkins installed as the new head teacher. The very sight of this old bully brought back all my fear and pain, and reawakened my desire for vengeance. I determined that there was no way on god’s earth that my son was going to this school all the time Jenkins is head. Something has to be done.
Now I feel very strange indeed, I can smell the colours in the tapestries. Madame Marta takes a folio sized grimoire into her hands. This ancient book is covered in what looks like emerald green lizard skin, although I cannot be sure. She opens the book and begins to read from it in a language I do not understand.
We sit in silence until, after five minutes of reading aloud she stands and speaks; “Rise now. Take hold of the hands of the people either side of you. Slowly beat a rhythm with your right foot upon the floor in time with my handclapping.”
We do as she instructs. After a while she speaks again “Chant the following words over and over until I command you to stop:-
Please come to us
The chanting and the sound of the feet beating the floor has the effect of sending Madame Marta into a trance like state. She begins to utter soft urgent phrases in that same unknown language whilst moving her arms back and forth above the table.
I continue chanting and, combined with the rhythmic nature of the stamping, soon find myself entering a higher state of awareness, everything in my field of vision is assuming a sharpness. Then, slowly at first, a small undulating cloud is forming in the air above the centre of the table. From whence it emanates I cannot ascertain. I am thinking to myself that this is a very neat trick. The cloud is getting larger and moving strangely whilst hovering in the same position. It is so large now that I can’t see the other side of the table; Madame Marta is hidden from view.
Suddenly she makes a long, loud, howling moan, then shouts “Stop chanting. He is here. He is here.”
As I watch the cloud clears, and there floating before us is a red dragon with a man sized demon sitting astride the beast with a writhing python in one hand and a wavy edged dagger in the other. I feel shocked and frightened, and feel my legs getting wet as I realise I am pissing myself. It looks so real. I stand paralysed whilst Madame Marta reaches forward with a shiny black onyx bowl and holds it beneath the dragon. The demon bares it’s oversized set of pointed teeth in an horrifying grimace and looks around the circle before drawing the dagger slowly across one of the dragons feet. I can smell the stench of his vile breath as he leans forward with the knife. A bright red stream of steaming blood falls from the wounded creature into the waiting bowl. A few seconds later Madame Marta places the bowl on the table and bows low whilst uttering more words in the strange language. The demon stares at her with a definite lascivious look, and then, with a sudden loud noise, is gone.
“Prince Astaroth has gone but has left us with enough dragon blood ink to carry out the rest of our purposes here today. Please join me in thanking him by repeating the following words.”
“O Mighty Astaroth”
“O Mighty Astaroth”
“We thank you for your gift.”
“We thank you for your gift.”
“We shall repay it back one day.”
“We shall repay it back one day.”
“Thank you all, now let us move on to cast the spells you have come here for today.”
Madame Marta moved to a Chinese painted chest in the corner and opened a drawer from which she drew twelve sheets of the finest goat vellum, twelve black sharpened ravens quill pens and twelve lengths of black silk ribbon.
After handing these items around she then said. “Write the full name of your target nine times on the vellum using the dragon’s blood ink. Cover the name with your wish or command written nine times. Roll up the name vellum and tie it with the black ribbon. Moving back and forth from left to right, make 4 more knots in the ribbon – there should be five knots in total – including the one holding the rolled name vellum.”
I have no idea what the others are writing down on their vellum. Possibly some of them are seeking to bring a lover to hand for cheating on them, or are hoping to influence the decision of a judge, or maybe their boss is bullying them and they want it to stop, I don’t know, and, as I won’t see any of these unknown people again, never will.
I dip my pen into the dragon’s blood and start writing across the sheet. Nine times I write Ronald Arthur Jenkins in very shaky hand. I remember clearly vowing to myself that I would one day have my revenge and this time is now. I look at the nine lines of his name and begin writing across every one TAKE THIS MAN TO PURGATORY AND CANE HIM FOR ETERNITY. As I write I feel the satisfaction growing inside of me whilst the fear I felt in the demon’s presence diminishes with every word. As I finish I feel positively radiant.
As soon as the last person ties the final knot in their ribbons Madame Marta says “I have prepared some special oil for you and you must take it home with you and fill these lamps with it. Light the lamp and place the vellum scroll in front of it. Every night for nine nights you must sit by the lamp and say the following five times:-
O Mighty Prince Astaroth
Who entered the mountain and tied
Up the beast with your ribbons,
I beg you to tie up and dominate [insert name of target].
Help Me in my quest
Great commander of the forty legions,
For the oil which you will consume today,
For the oil which nourishes this lamp,
For the wick which burns away all impurities,
I dedicate this Lamp to you,
So that you may relieve me
Of all my Miseries
And Help Me to overcome all Difficulties.
As You dominated the beast beneath your feet.
Grant me that [insert target’s name]
May not live in Peace.
In this way Lord Mighty Astaroth,
Grant my Petition and Eliminate My Misery.
Once the lamp is lit you must keep it burning throughout the nine days and add more of my oil as it burns so that it does not become extinguished. You must also be sure to wear the amulet of Prince Astaroth as a lamen whilst chanting the prayer to the Lord Of Truth. On the final word of the fifth chanting on the ninth day your command will be executed and all will be well. I thank you for attending the presence of the most mighty strong Prince among all the spirits, O Mighty Lord Astaroth, he that giveth true answers of things past, present, and to come, and can right all wrongs and discover all Secrets. Please enter your cubicles and get changed in silence and respect the privacy of everyone else here. Here are your lamps and bottles of oil, have a safe journey home.” With that she hands out some small brown paper carrier bags and leaves the room.
I quietly get changed and, seeing none of the other participants I go home.
As I drive I try and work out in my mind what happened in the conjuring. Did the demon really manifest itself before us or was it a sophisticated technological trick involving a hologram? I am unsure, it had seemed so real, the smells, dragon blood ink. Whatever happened I am now determined to see the process through and will light my lamp to Lord Astaroth tonight, after all I have just handed £1750.00p over to Madame Marta.
After keeping the flame lit for nine days and nights, and chanting the prayer to Lord Astaroth five times every night, the whole spell is now woven. I have not determined how I will find out whether it has been successful or not but I feel strangely elated at the prospect that it just might have happened.
This morning I see my friend at work.
She says “How are you Johnny?”
“I have never felt better.” I reply
“Did you go and see Madame Marta?”
“How was it?” she asks
“I am not sure. It blew my mind a bit and made me question reality.” I reply.
“OK, I will see you at lunchtime for a full rundown, laters!”
“See you in the canteen at one.” I say.
I go to my desk and there I find the in tray piled high with correspondence and newspapers. I pick them all up and place them in the out tray as I figure that anything of any real import will be bound to come back to me eventually. As I lift the pile today’s copy of the local newspaper, The Kentish Mercury, falls to the floor and lays open at the inside page where I look down at the headline which reads “Mysterious Disappearance Of Local Head Teacher, Police Baffled.” The first line of the report says Ronald Arthur Jenkins, Head Teacher at Deptford Comprehensive School, disappeared in a puff of smoke during Assembly whilst speaking of the dangers of magic in modern society.”
I sit down in my chair and strange wave of intense calmness sweeps over me, at last I think, I have revenge. I give thanks to the one and mighty Prince Astaroth.
2117 words. Harry Rogers, Aberbanc, in the hut, February 2017
Who do you support, Millwall or Charlton? Being brought up in East Greenwich this was a difficult question for a young boy in the 1950’s. It’s important to say that I have been a football fan from the get go, unlike my dad. He was a musician and his sole interest in life was the study of chord sequences on keyboards of various kinds. We never watched a match together, live or on tv. We had a very early nine inch black and white television with a large magnifier screen on the front of it back in 1953 and I used to secretly watch night time football matches on it when my mum and dad were out playing gigs in Croydon venues including The Star in Broadgreen and The Bridge Hotel on Spurgeon’s Bridge, where I was born in 1947. This illicit night time TV watching was not easy as I will explain. I was a resourceful seven year old and would stop at nothing to see late night television, especially if it was football. My grandfather on my Dads side owned a large four story semi detached house, 75 Wellesly Road. My mum and dad, my brother Bruce and I occupied the top two floors, my uncle Phil and Auntie Hazel the first floor and my great grandparents lived on the ground floor. An extended family. Bruce and me were not allowed out of our bedroom at night. There was a hook and eye on the outside of our bedroom door put there to keep us effectively locked in to stop us from creeping downstairs to the front room where the telly stood. I soon sussed out that if I slid the cardboard cover of a Marvelman annual through the gap in the door and frame I could knock the hook out of the eye and we were free. My parents must have known because eventually they took the doorknob off the inside of our bedroom door and that pretty much ended our escapades. Anyway, I remember very clearly one time watching a BBC outside broadcast of a night game from Molyneux featuring Wolverhampton Wanderers in a floodlit European cup match. I think Kenneth Wolstenholme was the commentator. Tremendous. Watching a match with large crowds cheering their team on was exotic, Bruce and me were hooked. The black and white image was not very good on this early tv. When ITV was launched as the second channel loads of TV engineers travelled the land converting old sets to be able to receive the new signal. Our tv was not able to be converted. When the engineer came to our place he tried but we ended up with BBC pictures and ITV sound or vice versa. Watching BBC News with the Murraymints advert sound was surreal. Bruce and me were devastated, we never did get to see Popeye in our house, we had to go round to our friends houses and watch there. Anyway the engineer left our house defeated, and we didn’t get ITV. My aunt and uncle downstairs did and my brother and I were allowed to go down to their flat on Sunday afternoons to watch Robin Hood. That was it. Still, despite the poor tech, football had us enthralled. When we moved to Greenwich we both went to Meridian primary school where every playtime the boys went football crackers. two teams of twenty a side rushed frantically back and forth across the playground. It was joyous. Some of these boys had tremendous ball control of a tennis ball. Once in while we would use a full sized plastic practice football, it was mayhem, totally anarchic but just about the best fun. These kids were either Millwall or Charlton Athletic supporters, and most of them used to go to watch one or other of these teams every home game. Quite a lot of them used to go and watch both teams. It was cheap entertainment in those days, especially for youngsters. The first time I went to a live match in 1957 I was taken to Coldblow Lane to see Millwall. Not by my dad but by my mum’s boyfriend Cyril who worked part time behind the bar at the pub and lived two streets away from the Den. Standing on the cop was thrilling, Millwall supporters are very vocal. I loved it. The very next week, Saturday 21st December, aged ten, I went to the Valley with my brother and a crowd of other boys from school. Charlton Athletic were playing Huddersfield Town in a second division match. Both teams were relegated from the First Division at the end of the previous season so this looked like being a big game. Bruce and I stood on the open terrace opposite the grandstand and watched as the Charlton players ran out onto the pitch to the sound of ” When The Red Red Robins Come Bob Bob Bobbing Along.”. Johnny Summers stood on the sideline smoking a cigarette. The twelve and a half thousand fans all cheered, the referee blew the whistle, Summers stubbed out his fag and stepped onto the pitch, and the match kicked off. After 17 minutes Derek Ufton, a Charlton player, was carried off with a dislocated shoulder. Charlton were down to ten men, there were no substitutes in those days. By half time Huddersfield were leading two nil. Charlton pulled a goal back just after the start of the second half but Huddersfield town were rampant and with twenty seven minutes left they were leading 5-1. Many supporters left the ground but me and Bruce stayed on. What happened next remains vivid to this day, Charlton scored five goals and led six five, with nine minutes to go. Five minutes later Huddersfield equalised, six all. In the last minute Charlton scored again, the referee blew the final whistle. The Addicks had won 7-6. Johnny Summers, the legendary Charlton forward, had scored five goals. The loyal Charlton fans invaded the pitch and carried the Charlton players back to their dressing room. A short time later the players came back out into the main stand to celebrate with their fans. After that amazing match I became a confimed Charlton fan, still am. Sixty three years later I am still bob bob bobbing along. Millwall or Charlton? Come On You Reds.
Harry Rogers, In the Yellow Room, October 15th, 2020
So I go down to the local town to buy my partner Jenny a birthday card and a present. I go into a gift shop owned by a good friend. I have a mask on and I sanitise on the the way in. My friend is not in the shop but her mother is at the counter wrapping up some pottery for a customer. I browse through the hand made cards produced by local artists and choose one with a view of a coastal valley in Ceredigion, the colours are beautiful, I am pleased. I move on to peruse the jewelry section and there I see a pair of silver earrings with jade coloured glass drops on them. Perfect, I often buy earrings for Jenny, I am a creature of habit, so I pick these up and stand two metres from the counter studiously socially distanced ftom the other customer. She leaves, I advance and I hand my purchases over for wrapping etc. We are now alone in the shop and we exchange pleasantries, after all we’ve known each other for more than twenty years. As she picks up some tissue paper from the counter top she turns the whole pile over and says something about having a new kitten who has walked over the paper and left a wet footprint on it. I say ‘Well cats don’t know about such distinctions I guess.’ She says ‘He’s new, he’s an adolescent boy, and you know what they’re like don’t you?’ I respond, flippantly, ‘Oh yes, there’s one of those in the White House right now.” There’s a pregnant pause before she says ‘I am a Trump supporter, I’m fed up with namby pambyism, I admire his straight talking.’ I look her in the eyes and I say ‘ But he’s a total nazi….’ to which she replies, ‘Well I’d rather have that than wishy washy liberals.’ We talk for a bit longer about home grown politics and she tells me she was all for Corbyn but since the election the new Labour leadership is not for her. We talk a bit about Greece and Spain, Then, as she hands me the dinky mini brown paper carrier bag with the card and the fancy wrapped earrings in, I pay, say goodbye and walk up the high street back to my car. I am very shocked. I remember back in the days when we were campaigning against the war in Iraq this woman was a staunch supporter of the local peace group and I have always thought of her as a comrade. I guess I’ll be buying birthday cards and earrings elsewhere in future. What the fuck is happening? I am confused. I take off my face mask, drive home, and pour myself a whiskey. I need it.
Harry Rogers, in the Red bedroom, October 12th, 2020.
Maybe tomorrow we make it better, Stand out on the streets or write a letter, One way or another let’s get this done, Let’s get together,one by one by one. Don’t bring us leaders, those who take a ride, Give us somebody to walk by our side. As we march, our hearts, light as a feather, Help us to smile through the stormy weather. Sing those songs of struggle from long ago, From Woody and Nina, help us to grow, We’ll march through the north, we’ll march through the south, Songs of love and hope filling every mouth, Face down the racists, the boogaloo guns, Up on higher ground shine like golden suns,
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, October 11th 2020.
Fol de fucking roll There’s another poll. The man with no soul Scores one more own goal, They roar four more years, Forget nation’s tears, Maskless down their beers, Ramp up all our fears, Reckoning soon come, For chump on the stump, When steroids wear off, As he plays down cough, He’ll beg for his mum, Fall down with a bump, Always remember, Third of November, Time for all to dump Madman Donald Trump.
Harry Rogers in The Red Bedroom, 11th October 2020.
Their aged poster boy tweets Lies from his hospital bed. He can’t accept his defeats, Says the first thing in his head, Which most of the time is him, Believes he’s some kind of god. In his blood virus does swim, Content to feed on his bod. Narcissists don’t understand How actions belie their words, Nothing he says stands as grand, Beligerently absurd. After spraying without mask, One thing’s for certain of course, No matter how much we ask, He won’t show any remorse. Sociopaths never do.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 4th October 2020
God Pays debts without money, So my mother used to say, Well I don’t believe in God, But sometimes it looks that way. Four Five walks to the chopper, He flashes a discrete wave, Somehow he came a cropper, Looks like a proper close shave. No-one knows if he’s got it, If he has it could get bad, The electors have a fit, Media go fucking mad, His videos feel funny, The tweets keep right on coming, His campaign needs more money, Fox News forever dumbing. Over here across the pond, We’re not quite sure what to think, Will there be some magic wand, Or another giant stink? I’m hoping he doesn’t die, We don’t need martyrs made fake, He’ll not let sleeping dogs lie, Can’t tell if he’s on the make, Could be one thing or other, Still got plenty of bunny, I keep hearing my mother, God pays debts without money.
Harry Rogers in the Yellow Room, October 3rd 2020.
Alone on that high wire That stretches over hell They took away the safety net That caught you when you fell Check out Maggie’s death spooks, We thought they were long gone Now they’re back on our TV sets , They drone on, on, and on. Are the people happy? They really need to know. Universal credit, The furlough has run out, Talk of viable jobs, Trash the precariat. They will measure your wellbeing To work out how far can they go. Are the people happy? A scale of one to ten, Decimate benefits, Again, again, again.
Aberbanc: Halloween, 2016. Revised in the Yellow Room, September 27th 2020
The dotard prince wanders around He drags his knuckles over ground The ice queen of celebrity Frozen by mediocrity Hides away a month and a day Lost in the mists of Mandalay Buggy rides from high tea to tee Drive the green between thee and me Steals our cash across the nation Cinderella situation. Takes colonial pith in vain Messiah complex rules again Judged not the fakir, blonde, insane Injects the bile into each brain Convinced the proletariat That hate not love is where it’s at A tragedy that says it all Nobody’s going to the ball There will be no recreation Cinderella situation
Empty libraries, no-one in the stacks, There is no research, no-one sifts the facts. Refectory shut down, lecture halls too, Union bar gigs gone, nothing to do, Students in garretts, now banged up all day, Campus isolation all for 9K. Laptop screens flicker in room after room, Headphones on bonces, new learning on Zoom, Tiers, pods and bubbles keep distanced apart, Fears, gods and troubles, is no way to start. Fresh faced freshers no way will stay quiet, They will learn something, new ways to riot. Curfews on campus, they’re all getting ill, No track, and no trace, there’s no magic pill. Still, just so long as students pay their fee, They’ll get a University degree.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, September 28th 2020
IN NINETEEN SEVENTY THREE JOHNNY, BO, AND ME SAILED ACROSS THE SEA HEADING FOR THE ZUIDERZEE ON DOWN PAST GRAVESEND OVER THE SHIVERING SANDS PAST THE END OF THE THAMES GOING TO THE NETHERLANDS
NEXT DAY ON THE HORIZON BO SAW A PLUME OF SMOKE WHILST JOHNNY GOT HIS BINS OUT I TOOK ANOTHER TOKE “THERE’S TWENTY FOOT FLAMES IN THE SKY” SAID JOHNNY, CHANGING OUR WAY WITH NO THOUGHT OF WHAT OR OF WHY WE WERE GONNA BE HEROES THAT DAY
THE CREW ON THE DECK OF THAT SHIP LAUGHED AS WE PULLED ALONG SIDE THEY WERE BURNING OFF CHEMICAL SHIT WE SAILED OFF NURSING OUR PRIDE SAILING ACROSS THE SEA HEADING FOR THE ZUIDERZEE IN NINETEEN SEVENTY THREE JOHNNY, BO, AND ME
So you say you will stay. I have already left. Don’t tell me again of The only game in town. I have seen it before, Felt the cold hand of grief, That wither of disdain, Sunken dreams in defeat, Bold ideas trashed away. We are left socialists, They do not like us, They do not want us, They don’t respect us, They won’t work with us, They can’t abide us, They don’t deserve us. So stay if you want to, Bow to new leader cult, I cannot stomach this, Beneath mass union jacks, To garner red wall votes That don’t really exist, Spad statements from London, Ersatz in the extreme, That shout out Britain first Will fool nobody now. Is this what Jo died for? I shan’t come back again, One has to draw the line, And this is the somewhere.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow room, 25th September 2020.
THE RETURN OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON A modern fairy tale. Thence, beyond this time, in a far away land, on a planet much like ours, lived a vengeful orange coloured king with yellow hair named Oswald who ruled his people with a heavy hand. Laws laid down by his forefathers over many years no longer held sway having been revoked by Oswald and his carefully chosen courtiers. The people were unhappy, but spent their whole time devising ways to make the king happy because in that way he might be persuaded to turn his attention to those from other countries, who were also frightened by him. King Oswald lived in a fortress with his wife Queen Emeralda, his two sons, Prince Victor and Prince Wyn and his daughter, Princess Lusha.Every person in the land secretly hated him but were too scared to do anything about it. Even his wife could not find anything to love about him. Queen Emeralda would always wear a painted smile when ever Oswald looked in her direction, but inside she was sad and almost broken. Prince Victor adopted the same traits as his father, listened to nobody, believed he was as big a genius as King Oswald professed himself to be. Prince Wyn was different. He read books and understood the needs and feelings of the people.One day King Oswald overheard Prince Wyn and Princess Lusha in the garden.’I wish I knew how to make our father behave better. He is so cruel to everybody and everywhere I go people are sad and poor. If I were king I would change things. I have ideas from the old manuscripts I found in the crypt. Lusha, there is a better way, Life was once so much happier.”How do you mean happier?’ asked the princess.’In the days before our grandfather there lived a golden dragon who ruled the world with peace and wisdom, all the peoples of the planet loved each other.”What happened?’ she asked.’The dragon was summoned to another galaxy where there was much trouble and strife. He left our grandfather in charge because he was a kind man and all was well until his death when our father took over and brought cruelty into the role of kingship.’King Oswald, angered at hearing this from his youngest son, turned a deeper shade of orange. He leapt out of a hedge, eyes blazing like hot coals. He shouted at his son,’How dare you speak of me, your father, your one true king, in such a disrespectful manner. I am minded to have you locked away in a cold dark dungeon for the rest of your life.’ He bellowed ‘Guards, guards, come here immediately.’Two royal guards rushed forward. He ordered them to seize the young prince. Princess Lusha began to cry. She loved her brother dearly, with a tremulous voice she said,’Please don’t lock Wyn up father, I beg you, let him free.’The king looked at his daughter, then at the young prince and he said,’This is your punishment, I banish you from this kingdom, you shall be transported to the other side of this world where you must stay, never to return. Guards, take him to the harbour, put him on the next ship with the other deportees.’As the guards took Prince Wyn away, Princess Lusha thanked her father for being merciful.Life continued under King Oswald’s rule in much the same way, The people became more miserable as the King extracted larger taxes than ever. Oswald started wars just for the sake of being able to boast about how powerful he was, but, of course, he was no warrior. He was above combat being so intelligent and clever and, therefore, could not be put into harms way because the people could not do without him. He organised bigger and bigger displays of his might and power with grand parades and colourful tournaments in his honour that everyone in the land were ordered to attend.After six months Prince Wyn arrived in the most inhospitable land in his fathers territory. He had only the clothes he stood up in and no money. His only possession was a gold ring in the shape of a winged dragon given to him by his grandmother. Eventually he found poorly paid work as a stable lad and boarded with the horses. This suited him as he loved animals. By day he worked hard looking after large horses used for dragging logs out of the forest. By night he sat in a corner of the stable, writing poems for his sister and mother. One night as he slept on a straw pally-ass he dreamed a golden dragon appeared and said to him,’Prince Wyn, you must go into the world and let the people know that I am returning. I am a long way away at present and I need a good person to prepare for my homecoming. Nearby you will find a boat builder called James Butt. Seek him out and ask him to build a special boat to take you home. Show him the ring I gave your grandmother that sits on your finger, he will be expecting such a sign. He will build you the finest dragon boat ever seen and you must sail straight home and stand in the square outside the fortress and read out a prophecy that you shall have written whilst Mr Butt builds the boat.”Will you be there?’ The Prince asked.’No but I will send a sign and all will start to change for the better before I arrive.’With that the dream ended and Prince Wyn awoke with sweat on his brow. The next morning he set off to seek out the boat builder. After two days he came to a small bay where he saw a single whitewashed stone cottage with a pile of lobster pots at one end and and a large open sided barn with a slipway down to the sea at the other. Inside the barn he spied a wooden bench covered with wood working tools and paint brushes and large hunks of pungent oakum. Nailed above the door of the Cottage a sign read James Butt, Master Shipwright. As he stood looking at the sign a broad man emerged from behind the lobster pots and said,’Who are you?”I am Prince Wyn and I have been asked to command that you build me a boat.”Asked to command have you? Well I don’t take a lot of notice of commands, I only build what I wants to build and when I wants to build. Why should I build for you?’The Prince was about to reply when the man’s eyes fell upon the glinting golden dragon ring as the Prince held his hand out to explain. He immediately took the young Prince and clasped him in a powerful embrace and said,’I have been expecting you for some considerable time, at last we’re going to get back to where we belong, away from the madness. Come inside, I’ve crab and lobster and fresh made bread a plenty, we’ve much to talk about before we start the work.’ The shipwright worked diligently for three months and Prince Wyn helped where he was needed, and in between times he set about writing the prophecy. Eventually the boat was ready and James Butt and Prince Wyn stood admiring their work. The clinker built boat stood proud and sleek made from the finest juniper and cedar woods, and at the prow James had carved a magnificent dragon’s head and neck covered in sheets of gold leaf. Two giant rubies were placed in the eye sockets and they seemed to radiate a bright red light. All was ready, they toasted each other’s fine work with cups of mead, and launched the craft into the sea. Prince Wyn carefully rolled up the vellum scroll on which he had written the prophecy and tucked it into his shoulder bag.’Will you come with me to my homeland James? I may need help with navigation, and besides I like your company very well.’ said Prince Wyn.”No I’ve much to do do here and besides, you will not need me now, the boat has magic properties, the Dragon Eyes will guide you home, all you need to do is let it lead you over the waves. Tarry no more young man, you’ve important work to do.’Once more the two men embraced and the Prince clambered aboard the boat. No sooner had he sat down on the bench at the stern when a strong wind blew up and the boat began to sail across the bay. Prince Wyn turned and waved at the shipwright on the jetty.The boat ploughed through the waves at an incredible speed and the Prince arrived home after only three and half months. A few merchants and sailors stood on the quayside as the dragon boat sailed majestically into the harbour and drew up alongside King Oswald’s Royal mooring. The small crowd immediately gathered alongside the magnificent craft and began talking about the strange light shining from the eyes. Prince Wyn threw a rope to one of the sailors and then pushed a gangplank out and sprang ashore. He spoke to the crowd in a steady voice, ‘I am Prince Wyn, I have a message to deliver to the people, follow me to the square outside the main gate to the royal fortress.’A buzz of conversation spread amongst the gathering crowd as Prince Wyn headed purposefully from the harbour. A few young sailors ran ahead spreading the word that something important was about to happen. By the time he arrived a large crowd had gathered and there was quite a lot of noise as more came running to hear what he had to say.King Oswald sat in his counting room with a cup of coffee as his Chancellor read out the latest figures from the treasury. Suddenly he heard a large cheer from outside his window and he turned to look down into the square. When he saw the large crowd he immediately ordered the royal guards to go down and disperse the unauthorised gathering. He dismissed the Chancellor and hurried to his main chamber where a balcony overlooked the square.Prince Wyn stood on the steps outside the Fortress with a crowd of more than three hundred gathered at his feet. The royal guard marched out and stood looking as the Prince unfurled his scroll. The crowd fell silent and he began to read,’Herewith find the prophecy of the return of the Golden Dragon. At first there will appear in the distance afar, a small twinkling bright shining golden star. No one will recognise this portentous sign, nor realise just how blindingly bright it will shine. As it gets closer there will be panic and fear and nobody will know what’s about to appear. Flying serenely on high, way, way up above, shimmering, sun like, with peace and with love. The richest, deepest, darkest, crimson most red is found at the very centre point of the heart. This is what makes it the true colour of love.The flickering flames tinged with the colour of love spilling with a terrifying sound from the Dragons golden lips will sweep majestically across the green swards of the land bringing the return of the very sweetest form of peace, where all the varied flags and pennants across the world will bow down in obeisance before the highest golden standard flying. When all the women and children in the world will stop weeping and crying, when all men will lay their weapons down and all people shall join together hand in hand in hand, when all endeavour shall be turned towards the purification of the oceans, the cleansing of the air and the healing of the land. Then shall we know that the new age of the Golden Dragon has arrived and the beginning of the end of the misunderstood days of mistake has started and the making of true civilisation will, at last, have begun. Thus will be that great magical day when we behold that mystical beast imbued triumphantly with the strongest powers of peace and of love. Then shall we behold the true magnificence of The Golden Dragon. Thus prophesy I, Prince Wyn, true servant and devotee of the bringer of happiness, peace and love.’The crowd cheered mightily whilst at the same time King Oswald became angrier by the second, so angry that his skin had turned the colour of a tangerine. He rushed to the sill of the balcony and screamed at the Guards,’Arrest him, arrest him, he is a traitor and a false prophet, it’s all lies, there is no truth in what he says, the words he uses are fake, it’s all fake.’ The guards looked at him and then back at the crowds, many of whom they knew as their friends and family. They stood their ground not moving and clearly disobeying the Kings orders. King Oswald was apoplectic with rage, and he shouted again,’I am your king, you must obey, seize the traitor and bring him in to me now.’At that moment there began a total eclipse where the planet’s largest moon moved in front of the sun. The crowd became silent, King Oswald was dumbfounded, this was a significant omen. At the moment of totality the people looked up into the dark sky and there they could clearly see a twinkling speck of gold and they knew that the horrible years of austerity were finally coming to an end. King Oswald was no fool, he ran inside the fortress, tried to persuade his wife that they had to leave now or else something terrible would befall them, but she refused and told him that if he left now he would have to go alone, Prince Victor was the only person who stood by him and together they rode out of the servants entrance of the fortress never to be seen again. Rumour had it that they lived in deep, impenetrable, forest where they raised pigs for the rest of their lives. Queen Emeralda and Princess Lusha came to the square as the moon moved across from the sun and the light flooded back into the world. Prince Wyn called them up onto the steps and the people cheered as he embraced them both. The Golden Dragon duly arrived one month later, to a forest of ancient flags and pennants that the people had saved for just such a day. Prince Wyn was appointed president after it was decided that there would never be a royal family ever again, and, as far as is known, there never has been since. The whole world lived forever and a day in perfect harmony.
Harry Rogers, In the writing hut, Aberbanc, revised 23rd September 2020.
Come sailing with me In the Irish Sea Sail out to Skomer Where chuffin Puffins Fly beside your boat Where seals and dolphins Duck, and dive and sing. Anchor outside Dale On red sunset sea, Neath starry bright sky, Real ale and good kif, Ramble through late night, Then sail off at dawn, Cut through the rollers, At ease in the breeze, Back to the haven, The perfect weekend, Away from chaos. Some time soon I hope.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, September 23rd 2020.
Zugzwang is a zeitgeist word Situation now absurd, There is nowhere left to turn, Every option crash and burn. Capitalists in the shit, Can we make the most of it? Dodgy academia, Propping up the media, One more televised fraudcast, Engineer a new fly past Trouble in the tea room soon Calls to ditch the blonde buffoon. He says the troops can backfill Shortcomings of the Old Bill His warning stands, don’t break rules, Exponential growth you fools. Spread the fear, around, around, Never ending new lockdown. Stuck upon this roundabout Feels there’s no easy way out. We’re stuck inside a Zugzwang, Heading for one great big bang.
Harry Rogers in the yellow room, September 23rd 2020.
Zugzwang (Noun) Being forced by circumstances to do something which you do not wish to do. Where whatever move you make it ends up bad.
Astride a black shadow, head into the night, Hand on the throttle, you open it wide, Wind tugs hard at your hair, you are in flight Away from yourself, unconscious suicide. This is the ultimate, final night ride Into the Autumn forest of your life, Where there is no point in trying to hide What you can’t cut with a selective knife. Misspent youth memories used to be rife, They fall from fading branches of your trees, The last clear picture of your loving wife, Lost in crisp yellow brown up to your knees. Still you roar into the darkness unknown, Speeding up, now you’re finally alone.
Harry Rogers: Aberbanc – In the hut. 24th November 2016
abab, bcbc, cdcd, ee – Spenserian Sonnet Subject – memory/dementia
I saw that Q a forming On a hot Saturday morning, Without too much of a warning, They gather in Trafalgar Square, They hug and kiss without a care, Mass selfishness truly laid bare. Watch as pale rider gallops through, It searches for carriers new, Infects tin hats and fascists too. Rumours of hype and hoax are spread, They freely mingle without dread, No care or thought of future dead, On Nelson’s head there sits a bird, Immune, unlike this gathered herd, He swoops down low and shits a turd, Anti vaxers sing same old song, Conspiracy feeds on and on, I spy the British Q anon.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, September 21st 2020.
Today I watched TV news for one hour, and wrote down a list of key pandemic words and phrases. With such a blitzkrieg of conflicting information is it any wonder that people are distressed, depressed or have stopped listening.
Whack a mole Moonshot Sudacreme Test and Trace Crush the curve Corona surge Bottleneck Areas of intervention Support bubbles Shielding Circuit breaker Night time curfew Hospitality shutdown Keep checking the regulations Rule of six Back to school Back to work Demand outstrips capacity of world class system Processing backlog Trend analysis distortion Tighter restrictions Open up the economy Quarantine list Non essential travel Informal informing R number Warning signal ICU Exponential growth Work from home Don’t visit other people’s houses Premier League football to restart with socially distanced crowds No mingling Swabs to your nose and throat Infection survey Wake up call All in it together Universities are open Critical point Nothing is inevitable Protocols Sticky blood Tipping point Reducing backlog Turnaround time slippage Self isolation the key National Lockdown Sobering week Community transmission Lighthouse lab system Novel disease Community responsibility Do the right thing Plan for the worst Work for the best Only people can make a difference Wear a face covering No engagement of four governments Vacancy at heart of the UK government Cytokine storm Covid toes Royal mint not making new coins Furlough ending New Year’s Eve fireworks cancelled Stringent national lock-down Accelerated uptick Hoping for a drop-off in infection The last line of defence Christmas is coming, who knows where we go from here on in. Me? I’m going to be self isolated most of the time. Stay safe, as Arthur Lee said “The news today will be the movies of tomorrow.”
Harry Rogers in the yellow room, September 18th, 2020.
Whatever you do don’t mingle, When you walk your dog through the park, If there’s six friends in the dingle Don’t dwell for some sport or a lark. If you want to go kill a grouse With gundogs on a Scottish moor, Plus twenty knobs from the big house, You’re OK, that’s within the law. Go buy yourself plus four britches, And a fluffy checked woolen cap, Drink whiskey with hounds and bitches, Be a killer so full of crap. Toddy toasts sat on shooting stick, Sets bougeois hearts all a tingle But if you’re no upper class prick, Whatever you do DON’T MINGLE.
Harry Rogers in the blue bathroom, September 16th 2020.
It’s open sesame today, Parliament has had it’s say, Home secretary stirs the pot, Soon we’ll be banged up for, Calling out the government. No carping against the leadership, His words are sacrosanct. Get it all done, don’t ask questions, Spread the fear, ball of confusion rolls again, On a daily basis, the spads furiously churn out, Aspirational propaganda, On a daily basis. Stay frightened, Obey, Grass, grass, grass. The left wing smart ass intellectuals Are the enemy, Grass, grass, grass, Stay scared, Don’t believe anyone but us, We are your friends, We are all in this together, Except for grouse shooting parties, They can, as usual, Do what the fuck they like. Grass, grass, grass. Effectively, On a daily basis. It’s a World Class System. New Normal, Informal informing, Stay safe, Grass grass, grass, We wash our hands, of responsibility, We keep our distance from you, It’s for your own safety, GRASS, GRASS, GRASS. Stay scared, We’ll say anything necessary, On a daily basis, We’re the best in the world, You voted us in, Thanks.
Pretty pictures hang skewed on ruined walls, Their scorched frames stark against blackened plaster. Burnt out shells of cars buried as ash falls, Four five visits photo op disaster. One more failure to accept evidence Of chronic climate change on the West Coast. Once more spouts total anti-state nonsense, Blame people on ground, his latest false boast. There’s no global warming. Does not exist. Problems of management not lack of rain, Scientists lie, their research is fake mist, Perfectly coiffed ogre on steps of plane. Waves as daylight obscured by umbre dust, Golf cart awaits, so it’s In God We Trust?
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, September 14th 2020.
Wwhhhaaaattttt the heck is happening? One hundred billion pounds? For something not invented? Can’t they see how this all sounds? Are we run by lunatics? Which spad came up with Moonshot? What, like shoot the fucking moon? This ain’t nineteen sixty nine, We’re not taking giant steps, More like gross leaps in the dark. This absurd fake lunar shit, Is it full moon, or blue moon? What kind of moon will we be Shooting into our raddled veins? Every day change the rules, Hold out possibilities That perhaps things will improve, If we all wait a few months, Life will get back to normal. Not the old normal we loved, But a new shiny normal. A normal where we can be Sure there’s no society, Where Atlas has truly shrugged, Where all phones are really bugged. When was the last time we used Cash to pay for anything? Capitalism? What’s that? Barbarism, new normal, New rules, New Randian ways. New zombie apocalypse, Created to confuse us all, To convince us that we’re small, And big, rich, poor, sick and well, That this is no living hell, Each new day moonbeams glitter, Spad vampire bats do flitter, Take a moonshot in your bum. This IS Pandemonium.
Harry Rogers, in the yellow room, September 13th 2020.
Welcome to Greedville where dinosaurs thrive, On top of towers are sharks that survive, Oppulent décor that oozes with gold, Tasteless faux artworks purport to be old, Divorced from real worlds, sultans on the take, They have the gall to say we’re fucking fake. Family lords it, like they’re in the know, Strut in their threads, some throwback freak show. The leader’s a ghoul too big for his pants, Surrounded all times by sick sycophants. Today radio comes on with the proof, Knew, but did nothing, obscured the truth. As all the alt right suckle his nipple, He looks for next state service to cripple.
Harry Rogers in the Yellow Room, 10th September 2020
No party raves in the front room Friends and neighbors have got to go. Reapers again clean weaponry, New wave rolls on in Autumn sun. With speed of light crash now arrives, Us boomers, isolated still, Watch fearfully behind curtains. New normal unfolds fitfully, Tory game unravels, full pelt, No deflection can close our eyes No political alibis, Their spin has spun, we see through lies, Watch piggies in Westminster stys, As they place blame upon us all Charades and faux walls start to fall, They can’t placate us with football, Where’s the people’s clarion call? The whole facade is out of hand. You need a test? Go to Scotland. Don’t own a car? That’s your lookout, Spads now deaf as we scream and shout. Understand what it’s all about, The immune herd, the truth is out, Statistics no more carry clout, Their information counts for nowt, Nobody listens anymore, To those who do not know the score, Boris seems to be having fun, Smirking as he gets Brexit done. Glib postures won’t seal up the crack Through which the knives fly to his back, Thrown by his own, through smoke and flack, This then the cost of being slack. Tomorrow we go to the sea, Must get away from misery, Spend precious time with family, Time flies, we might be next, d’you see?…….
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 9th September 2020.
Brexit is back on the box Truly electrifying, No Deal is braced on the chocks Soon Boris will be flying. Hide pandemic behind cloud, Move back onto safer ground, Shout Get Brexit Done out loud, Spike 2? Let’s not make a sound. Tariffs just round the corner, We eat our pudding and pie, Pull out plum like Jack Horner, Meanwhile we’re all gonna die. Pritti is all in a twist, Extinction comes true this time, Freedom and truth will be missed, Rebellion is now a crime. Djocko headlines the papers, The virus hides on page four, I’ve a touch of the vapours, Feels like we’ve been here before!
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 7th September 2020.
BBC to only set agendas That fit with the government of the day. Forget tenets of democracy, Just tell us what ministers have to say. There is no such thing as journalism, No research to look behind fake news, Faux presenters wheeled out to parrot, Scripted burnt midnight oil advisor views. So rarely, if ever, pop a question, That puts royals or generals on the spot, Always put a shilling in the meter, To make socialism’s collar nice and hot. This is how it’s always going to be, At the bourgeois preserving BBC.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 4th September 2020.
Citizens emerge from the woodwork and claim the right to bear arms against anyone they deem to be not on the same page as them. These villainous vigilantes place their freedoms above all other rights and obligations. Even above the ten commandments of Christianity that most of them claim to believe in. The whiff of cordite is in the air, threatening to usurp the alcoholic odour of hand sanitiser. Boogaloo boys and others wander the streets of US towns and cities dressed in paramilitary clothes and armed to the teeth with outlandish weaponry. As tempers flare over racist atrocities, so the orchestrated insanity gains in intensity. All of this plays to the crude theatre of the surreal that American politics has become. I can hardly bring myself to tune into news bulletins for fear that the madness has been further ramped up. I try to occupy myself with distractions, today I finally framed two Japanese ink paintings that I made in 1999. Whilst I looked for pins to fix picture hooks to the wall with I came across a gold wedding ring in the bottom of a tin of assorted DIY bric-a-brac. I have no idea how it came to be there, nor who it belonged to. I’ve not opened this tin for a good twenty years, but this piece of 9 carat gold weighs in at seven grams. Scrap 9ct gold currently fetches up to £18 per gram so that’s a cool £120 I never knew I had. Luck it seems is unequally distributed around the globe. I cannot stop the thoughts of bullets severing spinal chords that enter my fevered brain. Not even this joyous piece of serendipity can supplant the feelings of horror that overwhelm me as I watch Trump’s Red Death Masque unfold minute by minute, lie by lie. The situation is grossly obscene, somebody or something, please take me out of this mindset, away from the pornography of ritual anti democracy and unconstitutionality as performed by four five and his perverse family on a daily basis. Unfortunately I know that when I awake tomorrow it won’t be over. Sure enough I wake to news that a seventeen year old boy has opened fire on unarmed protestors in Wisconsin. I worry for all my good friends in America. The fork tongued ghoul exhorts his followers to call for twelve more years. Twelve more years to wage war on his own people, sow division between wasps and everyone else. The first lady glides onto my TV swathed in khaki and delivers the most egregious speech calling on people to pull together whilst her husband sends in the national guard.
Reason, democracy, trust, These things lie trashed in the dust, Bile poured by unbottled djins, State fabric smashed like ninepins, All the rednecks drink it up, Yet they too lap hemlock cup. Empire’s end, never pretty, Nihilists bring mendacity, One aim, protect privilege, Rob, lie, burn, spurn tutelage, Announce new normal, rain chaos, Wave sweet reason adiós, Dream’s over, now demons bask, In light from Don’s blood red masque.
Harry Rogers, ranting in the Yellow Room, 27th August 2020.
The pale rider saunters into the car park at Tesco’s. She fiddles with her pearls as she observes the obedient socially distanced queue who, in turn, wait patiently to purchase their fuel for the future. The rider hides her identity behind a cloak of invisibility, dismounts from her temporary steed, and slides microscopically along the line in search of a new carrier. Most of the people deny her entrance because they have taken the precaution to bar the way with masks and bandanas, but there, almost at the front of the queue, stands a non-conformist. Unmasked, proud of the T Shirt he wears with the slogan Masks Off, Let’s Be Real emblazoned across his chest. The rider does not hesitate, she wraps her wispy tentacles around his head and pulls herself sinuously into his sinus cavity and awaits his next breath to carry her deep into his unsuspecting lungs. He remains haughty and unaware that he’s been chosen. Inside his lungs the rider leaves some seeds and then departs on the next exhalation from which she floats languorously back to her invisible charger. She remounts and they slowly trot past the front of store security guard and amble by the table with the hand sanitiser dispenser and paper towels, on into the fruit and vegetable section. She rides up and down the aisles, she deliberately follows the red arrows marked out on the floor, and, once, spurs her mount to leap over the shelves straight into the midst of a family group as they gently argue about ice cream flavours. More seeds are sown and eventually the rider leaves for pastures new. She spurs her invisible horse down to Aldi. Another hotspot, more human receptacles, the breeding goes on. Meanwhile other riders await starter’s orders in a variety of situations. Waves lap gently, waiting for the inevitable rollers to break on winter shores.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 27th August 2020.
Soon your tower gonna fall I heard your whippoorwill call Shreiked in the middle of night Now it’s time to put things right. You tell lies the easy way Like Jimmy McGill they say Two hours on make up and hair Spread snake oil everywhere. Better take off your golf shoes Listen to reckoning news Go downtown and take a look Put away Goebbels playbook. Young folks are your nemesis They can’t stand your wind and piss Your shallow state is not free, Hang you from Joshua tree Pittsburgh rusts on in the rain We won’t hear your voice again Whimper beyond your last scream As we end your bad daydream People on the streets will jive After the fall of four five. Once more hope anew we’ll bring Then we will hear skylarks sing.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 24th August 2020.
Two young refugees paddle a kayak, Watch as the flycatchers circle this craft Not a high spec sea going pro kayak Able to cross over English Channel Only a cheap inflatable kayak For recreation in pool or still lake. Only a faux imitation kayak. For two to try and paddle such a craft From Calais to England is sheer folly Embarked out of utter desperation Resulting from unjust situation. One boy drowned the other demoralised Meanwhile millionaire British bankers Circle the globe in super yacht Sunseekers Fifty four metre luxury cruisers Tell me, where’s the fucking justice?….. Where?….. Where? Human Rights? What are they?
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 24th August 2020.
This, the ultimate expression Of complete social distancing Is now open public knowledge. The Sunday newspapers are full Of column inches about yurts, Staycations, fences and trespass. Photographs of Prime Minister In Knitted wooly bobble hat, And hipster lumberjack checked shirt. Just another ordinary Geezer on summer holidays, Cut off from civilisation, Plucking strings so pizzicato, In private Caledonia. Have his grades gone up or down? Are his algorithms working? Kitchen spad cabinet smirking, As we are played again for fools.
A Welsh golden eagle dies in the hills, Student high fliers well know how this feels, Llywodraeth have failed to act fast enough, No wonder young voters will cut up rough. Demise of justice, first ministers fault, Education system not worth its salt. Meanwhile, on his jollys, Johnson’s away, So nobody knows what he’s got to say. The Brexiteer Reich grinds close to it’s end, Cummings events? Dear god, heaven forfend. Control slips away, they go round the bend, It’s all got too much for this lot to mend. Whilst bailed MP deletes his twitter feed Pandemic chaos is too hard to read.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 18th August 2020.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 18th August 2020.
I wrote this for a friend who had a falling out over social distancing.
MAKE YOUR OWN HONEY
Covid, Brexit, Marmite, Starmer, There’s always gonna be something. Art and music, TV, Fashion Humans all have different views, Sometimes things flare up with passion, Heard from the pews, or on the news. Sometimes one has to stand ones ground. Go dancing to a brand new jive, Be the one with the coolest sound, Fly home each day to your own hive. Life can be sad, can be funny, Press on and make your own honey.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 14th August 2020.
New normal in New New Labour, Where new general secretary Implements new instructions From new leader To newly depleted CLPs On the new scenario For new style meetings. This is the brave new world That new centrists have created. New old ideas from New old prognosticators No new debates On new reports, Or new expulsions, Lead to new lows in membership levels. A new party may come soon, This is nothing new. Will a new day dawn? I wish I knew.
The special relationship between kleptocratic assassins who cannot see beyond the maintenance of the corner that the ultra wealthy have painted themselves into, has created the condition of misery for millions. The turn of the millennium policies that wholeheartedly embraced globalisation jointly espoused by neo liberal politicians has dragged us into the maelstrom of rapid decline in manufacturing, public service provision, infrastructural repair, and the welfare of social structures. This is not some fictional ramble along a bramble choked coastal path that we can easily turn back from and go back home to the comfort of tea and cucumber sandwiches enjoyed in the rose tinted past we are encouraged to think we relished in the make believe idyll of the post second world war years. This is a full throttle roar along a Randian dragstrip, paved with the failure of individualism, exposed as a dystopian nightmare by the paucity of intellect, and will, now so clearly revealed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when the major capitalist economies transmogrified from being democracies into kleptocracies, perhaps behind the scenes there has always been a certain amount of brown paper envelopes filled with public cash being transferred into the bank accounts of senior politicians and their families and friends but surely never has it been quite so blatantly obvious. The handing over of more than a hundred million pounds for the supply of faulty facemasks to a company with no previous experience in PPE is treated as a mild mistake by the media. Had this been a Labour administration the right wing monolith that passes for a free press in this country would have been howling from the rooftops. As it is parliament is in recess, the new normal is in full swing, confusion rules, panicked residents in coastal and rural areas are fearful of the much trumpeted second wave as people flood in for good old fashioned staycations. Denial by groups of anti vaxers who terrorise shop workers as they try to do their best to implement ever changing rules and guidelines demonstrates clearly that the New Normal is a place where the wafer thin veneer of civilisation has given way to barbarism overseen by leaders who wallow in decadence. Winter is coming and the kleptocracy shows no sign of slowing down, I try not to dream of a no deal Brexit. Unfortunately there is no where to run to. In these circumstances lock down is the only haven of safety.
I watch the Axios interview Special with Four Five Not seen American president Tell so many Lies. Shuffles papers, points to fake graphs, Checks manuals and books, Four five reads ghost stats, no one laughs, Not even white house crooks.
“If you test more, you find more, We test more than most Fake media lie about the score.” He believes his boast. The one fifty K? He shrugs his shoulders, “It is what it is.” It is what it is? Is it what it is? Is this what it is? This is what it is, So four five told us.
Now we know for sure Know he does not care About the people and the poor, Neither the rule of law
Sociopaths play politics Promise greener grass Smash young people with riot sticks Gas them on their ass. This is what it is, Naked Fascism. It has come to this, This is how it is, It is time for change, Four five got to go.
Harry Rogers, In my hut, Thursday, 6th August 2020
How are things in El Dorado, Now that the curtain has drawn back? Have you found all of the fool’s gold, The meth, the cocaine and the crack? There’s nobody left to score it, Since Corona came down the track.
Fool’s gold Fool’s gold Y’all been chasing Fool’s gold
There is no more Ambrosia To feed your artificial gods. All your rock stars and their shite words Have been devoured by techno hogs, Power brokers now rule nothing, The people have let loose the dogs.
Fool’s gold Fool’s gold Y’all been chasing Fool’s gold
Things now can change for evermore, Behind the masks we all get real, If we want to love each other We tell the powers how we feel. We stand together on the streets Shout it loud, we will never kill
Fool’s gold Fool’s gold We will not chase Fool’s gold
El Dorado El Dorado How are things in El Dorado?
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, midnight 3rd August 2020.
New new Labour with new leader spouts new policies about new normal and yet nothing new happens. Just the same old same old from the same old crew, whichever way they dress it up, there’s nothing new! New direction from new Boris, reborn post covid, new baby, new diet, new phrasebook, new lies. Soon the thing they set out to do will be done, we’ll be gone from the EU, with no deal. For me and you there’s nothing new! Same old same old from the same old outlets. Normally the level of anxiety remains static at just above normal but in the new normal anxiety levels are abnormally high. No matter what we normally do there’s nothing new, only more of the same. S.N.A.F.U.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, Wednesday 29th July 2020
Today there was so much shit in the air, That old fan finally gave up the ghost. Careerist lawyers have all blown a fuse, Now their shenanigans are in the news. Stand by my window, look up at the stars, Focus on Mars, try to collect my thoughts, Is this the moment for left versus right, To smash socialism inside the courts? Parliament’s empty of popinjays, They have all gone home for their holidays. BBC scrabbles round for bones to gnaw on, Comrades stand firm now, there is a war on. All the lost jobs, through Covid and Brexit? Yesterday’s chips and nobody gets it.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 1.00 AM 25th July 2020.
After new normal is over Where will there be birds left to sing? After new normal is over Will we believe in anything? When tundra has melted away, On the brightest hot April day, Too late for singularity To be born in time to save us. Clocks have already struck thirteen. No time to dream of could have been. Pristine armour, unused truncheons, Boxed up bullets, racked up rifles, All locked away and useless now. Empty roads, nothing on TV, No internet, nor mobile phones, Not since daily temperature Got stuck at one hundred and four. Somewhere, in an air conned bunker, Inexorably almost dead, Dwell the last of the bourgeoisie. Everyone else already gone, Victims of Covid-fifty three. Only cephalopods remain To see the beauty of sunsets Across darkening smoke filled skies. We had the choice to abandon Fossil fuels, but we just blew it. One chance, and we didn’t take it. Evolution is ironic.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, midnight 21st July 2020
Here come sporadical lockdowns, The latest order of the day, Leicester one day, your place the next. What powers are needed for this? Are there any sporadic apps? Or are these just the random thoughts Dreamed by wily spad conjurers Who have to give their ministers A semblance of something to say In order to confirm that they, In their wisdom, actually Do something, or do anything. In the vague hope that chaos theory Will somehow come to our rescue, These dark prestidigitators Foist their sleights of hand on us all Daily. As media trumpets Blare out latest tossed off press release, Funded by magic money trees We all slither down on our knees, Smeared and mired in Tory sleaze. Wild campers pitch tents everywhere Furloughed workers stand down and stare, Weeks go by as the deadline nears, All are filled with sporadic fears Somebody said six million, That’s just a random estimate. No-one really knows how many Will draw universal credit, Welcome to Sporadicity.
Revisit the seventeenth century Hang Abracadabra outside your house Invent new magical spells for our times, Boriscadaboris might do the trick. Sniff nosegays, dance Ring-a-ring-a-roses. Judges try cases in nightingale courts, Up on Blackheath soon football will restart, Witness the show world versus the real world. Amulets and incantations abound, Rat flea Covid deniers run around Through shopping malls and half filled bierkellers They utter naive cabalistic charms, “Let’s take control of the invisible, Slow down, push down, control, don’t hang about, Roll out the Nuclear lock-down option.” Bring on magical inexactitudes. Well, whatever we do, just don’t tell the truth, Get back to work, we do not need real proof.
Harry Rogers, in the yellow room, Sunday 19th July 2020.
I recall the exact moment Aged seven, nineteen fifty four, When I moved out of childhood. Out to lunch with Auntie Barbara, In Kennards swanky restaurant. North End, Croydon, Department Store, I sit opposite Auntie B Look around at the finery, Post war women in hats and stoles, Silver cakestands, profiteroles, Seamed stockinged legs, mingled perfumes, Permanent waves, waitress service, Heady stuff for inquisitives. I don’t remember the main meal, “Would you like something for dessert?” She says, passing me a menu. The choice is vast, ice cream sundae, Banana split, Apple dumplings, Even Knickerbocker Glory. I fixated on these two words, Crème Caramel, sounds exotic, “I’d like a crème caramel please.” “Are you sure dear, not an ice cream?” I insist on Crème Caramel. Cornucopias of Ice cream Piled high with wafers and syrups Sail past our table as I wait. Eventually mine arrives. A small white china ramekin Filled with glazed, almost burnt, sugar. Inside my head I’m mortified. I don’t let on, I smile sweetly, Aunt B looks on, in sympathy. I pick up the teaspoon and crack, Sugar shatters like broken glass, Cream coloured custard oozes forth, Scoop some into sceptical mouth. I learned that it’s not the biggest Nor the flashiest that is best. Now sixty five years further on There’s only one dessert for me, Crème Caramel, brulé of course.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, Saturday 18th July 2020.
I wrote this short story in my hut on a rainy afternoon a couple of years ago. Recently I recorded it and sent to my old friend Ashley Cadell in Melbourne Australia. He added the background music and produced the final product. To listen just click the link below.
Leonard Cohen takes my mind to a hunt. In the woods I’m not sure whether he is The hunter, nor when he is the hunted. He is self assured, dangerously so. His future has arrived with a vengeance, He’s not here, but imagine if he were. An avalanche of hidden invective, Each and every verse carefully crafted, Mirror polished to reflect cristal clear, Chaos landslides slip abstractedly by. The earphones help me to realise why He had fingers on the pulse more than most. In raincoat with beret, arrow and bow, Len strode through the flames, on fire yet unburned.
Harry Rogers, In the yellow room, Friday 17th July 2020.
See the anti vaxer shitehawks Feed at the middens of despair. They pick at fake crusty wishbones Rave baseless drumbeats through dark air. Wiser birds watch them eat their fill As they feed each other false scraps Stripped from carcus that makes us ill, They howl when caught in their own claptraps. Locked in gardens, we smell the rose, Marvel at depth of scent supreme Such hot weather sharpens the nose, We sniff reality through dream. Snarky flea bit politicians Try to avert the world mind’s eye Towards old warmed up new cold war Their agenda studded headlines Seek to keep us up till half four. Forget patchouli faerie folk With flying fanciful false flags On dragon breath they soon will choke, Covid as real as plastic bags. One hundred years ago we saw Pandemic kill far more than war Stop these silly invocations, Instead bring inoculations.
Harry Rogers, In the Red Bedroom, 3.00am 17th July 2020.
Now we watch as West Side Story Becomes Night of the Living Dead There’s no time for Morning Glory Not since Sars got inside our head We stand masked up at the bus stop, Somehow still find the time to queue, Before we shuffle to that shop Where police serve the people’s stew. Covid bulletins are long gone The MPs don’t know what to do, The whole world hums funeral songs This corona ain’t fucking flu At start of end of first lock down We bathed in the light of false dawn Virus deniers yelled cross town We’re scam victims of fake news porn Second waves crash on urban beach Tsunami floods each chicken shed, No more teachers are left to teach, We’re now the West Side Living Dead.
Half past five in the red bedroom, 15th July 2020.
Don’t bring me your mythology Your clapped out ideology For I can watch your wars no more Don’t quite know what a god is for Except to drug the people’s mind With one true way, an only kind, Of being young or being old Whilst others stuff our mouths with gold To ensure we do what we’re told For if we don’t they soon will scold, Not quite enough to set us free, You can’t be you, I can’t be me. Dont need fake beings up above, Together, all we need is love In sixty seven John was right There really is no need to fight. So you be you and I’ll be me, Together set each other free.
Blow those whistles louder, Before they come for you, Let not them stuff your gob With gold to shut you up. Shout it from the rooftops, Tell us all that you know, If you’ve got the emails, Flood them to the net. Copies of the contracts? Tweet them from dawn to dusk. Write truth in your memoir, Spill the beans with gusto. Bent ministers and spads? Please kick them where it hurts. Time to clean the stables, Flush all the crooks away, Throw them to the lions, Cummings and baby Gove, Let’s take them down today!
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, Saturday 11th July.
Steer Kharma, forensick, at despatch box, Mewls as Haystacks gang shoots fox after fox. Cummings has stolen all Jeremy’s clothes, To wave them beneath New New Labour’s nose. Forests of money trees bloom at the bank, Quantitavely eased with clink and clank. Billions of pounds are drawn at a stroke, Millions of workers now left for broke. Advisory rules now go up in smoke, Health ministers stats now called out a joke. The track and trace app? A pig in a poke, Changes in benefits soon to revoke, Dole queues grow longer, this mess is severe, Still, grab a meal deal, don’t say it’s austere.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, Friday 10th July 2020
Here, in the disunited fiefdom, where a man with what looks like a storm blown stook of straw on his head rules the roost, us mere mortals have been offered a meal deal instead of a new deal. Up to ten pounds a punter to cover 50% of the cost of eating a meal out every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as a way of enticing us all to get back into socialising whilst at the same time saving the businesses of restauranteurs and publicans. Meanwhile Covid spikes all over the place and we learn that indoors two metres is not much of a defence against an airborne virus. Jenny and I are staying right here harvesting our raspberries, weeding the vegetables and reupholstering the old sofa bed. Still, the muse of the iambic pentameter is ever present as the sonnets pour out of my fingers and into my phone at an alarming rate, and I am surprisingly jolly. The birds are as busy as ever, swallows and swifts swoop over the hillside lunching on the wing and woodpeckers use our nut feeder as a crazy kind of swing. Life is precious. One love, companero.
Who wants to be a Blairite millionaire? Exploit Labour voters without a care. Denigrate socialists everywhere, Start needless wars, cultivate silly hair. Lord Blunkett spouts tosh on Radio four, Whilst our Rebecca is wheeled out the door, Mandelson unsheaths his back stab once more, New new Labour now shits over house floor. In Gaza families quiver in fear, As the keys to their houses are stolen, Some of us shudder as we shed a tear, The future does not look quite so golden. Pander to petrolhead racist bullies, Electable in post Jezza woolies?
Please tell us where the buck stops, if you can. The powerful deny it is their man. Whenever there’s a crisis it’s the same. Politicians will never take the blame. Haystack bonce points to owners of care homes, These shitehawks from Westminster catacombs, Irresponsible power at the top, However can we make false spinning stop? Pass the blame, fend off shame, guilt trip others, It will be our fault, sisters and brothers. No one’s job is safe, the walls tumble down, Once again we turn our gaze to the crown, TV and Radio stand complicit, Funny how the bucks never stop, innit?
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, Monday 6th July 2020
Can you tell me how Long is a moment? Eight point four six seconds at start of match? Eight mins forty six seconds knee on neck? Is it one hundred days during lockdown? One thousand one hundred days since Grenfell? Is time elastic? Can a moment stretch? Some moments expand, Some moments contract, Twenty seven years since Stephen Lawrence, Murdered at bus stop? Is that a moment? The years since Brixton, Toxteth, Notting hill? The centuries of slavery subsumed Into literature slowly consumed? These transitory periods of time, Are these all just moments that don’t matter?
Harry Rogers, in the Red bedroom, Sunday 5th July 2020.
Cocktails, ginger ales, Ipa, Lager, Pale, Wine and Whiskey, how ever can it fail? From 6.00 am one can drink from a pail, Down Covid river we merrily sail, Go out on the booze, you slick alpha male, Let’s see just how many end up in jail, Meanwhile spaff away, so says Daily Mail, Wetherspoons and buffoons shall make a sale, Public servants all a-quake and a-quail, Stay now at home, hit the head of the nail, They’ll lock drunks away, without any bail, BJ and his pals pursue holy grail, In my garden watch as bird eats a snail, At least snail won’t eat my curly kale.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow room, 1.00 a.m. Saturday 4th July
My Labour Party membership is at an end. I decided to put down my thoughts on my Labour Party Membership in 2020. It is important to say that in 2003 I resigned from the Labour Party over the decision by Tony Blair to take Britain into illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the following years I involved myself in the activities of the anti-war movement. It was not when Jeremy Corbyn was put forward as a leadership candidate that I decided to rejoin the Labour Party, rather I rejoined the party to oppose the election of David Miliband as leader and the continuation of neo liberalism in the higher echalons of the party, I rejoined to vote for Ed Miliband. Currently I still hold a membership card, indeed I am also the elected Chairperson of Ceredigion Constituency Labour Party. Since I joined I have paid close attention to political events inside and outside the Party. As a left wing socialist I was delighted when Jeremy Corbyn became the leader and the membership set to and produced the impetus for the 2017 election manifesto. Despite the actions of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, both in launching the failed leadership bid and consistently working against the wishes of the membership the party almost won the 2017 general election. At that time I knew there were some problems in the Party administration but I put that down to ineptitude during a period of great change. Having read the leaked report on anti-Semitism I now realise that I was wrong. Paid workers in the General Secretary’s office alongside large numbers of the PLP systematically worked to nullify my and tens of thousands of party members efforts to bring about a Labour victory. Reading this report is a sickening experience, but those who haven’t read it are now disbarred from having sight of it. Since reading it and also watching the party slowly move away from socialism under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer I have become increasingly uncomfortable. The introduction of a range of decisions designed to further undermine and smear my good friend and comrade Jeremy Corbyn has been difficult to take. All around me good comrades from across the whole of Britain have already left the party. Other good comrades still in the party are saying stay and fight, don’t leave because that’s what Starmer wants you to do, stay and hold the line, we can still get the manifesto policies implemented, unity is strength, and other such epithets. Some say the only way to defeat the Tories is to stay in the Labour Party, it’s the only show in town. To all these pleadings I have been struggling internally to dampen down the pain I feel following the defeat in the 2019 General Election. I tried to stay staunch, working alongside my excellent comrades on the CLP Executive Committee here in Ceredigion.
I did believe that we were on the road to building a truly significant local alternative social, economic, and community development strategy for the people of Ceredigion. Recent events within the the Labour Party heirarchy have dented and now, finally smashed my belief to smithereens. It isn’t just the decision to sack Rebecca Long Bailey on spurious charges of anti-Semitism, though that is a disgraceful enough episode, nor is it the fact that it is impossible to have any political influence in the decision making process of the Labour Party due to the pandemic lock-down, nor the latest attack on left wing members by Swansea MP Nia Griffiths where she outrageously accuses all comrades who have supported RLB of being anti-semites. It took a conversation with a dear friend of mine to make me stand back and look dispassionately at what I really feel about my ongoing membership. All the blandishments from different sections to stay and fight actually feel painful to me. As if, to paraphrase my friend, I am being blackmailed into staying in an abusive relationship. Tommy Cooper used to tell a joke about a man who goes in to see his doctor and says “Doctor, every time I go like this it hurts.” to which the doctor replies, “Don’t go like that.”. I have always believed that if you are doing something that hurts you should stop doing it. Being in the Labour Party has become too painful to bear so now is the time to stop hurting myself. I have no respect for the leadership, or belief in their strategies or actions. My relationship with The Labour Party as an organisation is over. I hereby resign.
Harry Rogers Monday 29th June 2020.
Postscript: Since leaving Ceredigion Labour Party I spent the whole of July and August thinking about my options. Disengaging from politics left a hole in my lufe. I attended a number of People’s Assembly Against Austerity online ZOOM meetings and became aware of Left Unity Wales. I checked out the party website, read their manifesto statements, and attended a couple of online meetings. I realised that I need to be politically engaged with like minded comrades and I joined Left Unity in September. I am so glad I did, the atmosphere here is just so much better. Forward in solidarity to a socialist future, Harry Rogers, Left Unity Wales Sunday 4th October 2020
Countdown To Carnival, fourth of July, Jokers are wild, medics break down and cry, City street parties now are so hot Lockdown sacrifices gone and forgot Sun shines on the beach, drunkards spew and fight Pent up frustration raves on through the night. Respect for security thinly stretched Ochlocracy no longer seems far fetched Oi, you there with the blond haystack hairstyle Who claims to be a fit prime prime minister Fit as a Butcher’s dog in such short while. You and your clique are really sinister, Fake power, no responsibility, Your actions deny true ability.
Be careful that you Don’t breathe in Blue Air, Make sure you don’t go Dancing toe to knee It’s dangerous So dangerous Blue Air Blue Air So dangerous So dangerous You can’t be yourself Life’s a pantomime Looking behind you Looking beyond you Blue Air Blue Air It’s dangerous So dangerous Target on your back So invisible You can’t know it’s there Waiting behind you Blue Air Blue Air So dangerous So dangerous When the knives are out, And the lights go out…..
Harry Rogers, Past Midnight in the Yellow Room 26th June 2020
Sir K welcomes the Tory Lockdown thrust, Uptick high street sales of discounted stuff, Wetherspoon boozers must now make a crust. People are ready to ingest this guff? Union jack briefings just ain’t effective, Mothball the lecterns, put experts away, Leaders united, easing invective, Not laws, just guidance, what more can they say? From two to one, leave your name at the door, Burger house cinemas open once more, Not quite the same as it once was before, Rife abnormality, stuck in our craw. Next door they’re mowing, watch as swifts follow, New bugs on the wind, so hard to swallow.
That old ill wind now blows ever stronger, Whilst the food bank queues grow even longer. The furloughs and bailouts will all soon end, But just like Viv we have to spend, spend, spend. Look to the city, brokers do fiddle, Watch as they play both ends against middle. Someone just called for a giant hoover, Covid, they said, is boomer remover. Super superlatives fly from hip lips, World beating software will solve our hardships Privatised whiz kids on heightened day rates Are new barbarians, there, at our gates. Charging us fortunes for things that don’t work, Ministers theive as they quietly smirk.
Turn that old t-shirt into a face mask, Get on train with The Beatles on your face, Soon only a Dune Stillsuit fits the task, Public transport now total smile free space, Pubs get ready to open doors again, Menus can be scanned onto your smartphone. Without Android or Apple, well, what then? No beers, no meals, carry on home alone? Processed meat workers go down like ninepins, Hairdressers ready to shear lock-down locks, High street store windows sport clean mannequins, Stock market braces for new fiscal shocks. With secateurs and saw I start to prune, Ain’t gonna be normal anytime soon!
An economic calamity comes Said a radio presenter today, Watch the Chancellor struggle with his sums, Quantatively easing pipedreams away. Rags and calumny fall from Tory lips, False promises bring incredulity, From home cooked meals to greasy fish and chips The lock-down ends without human pity. We must cram children back in classrooms small, Labour Lords crawl out from obscurity, The second wave now looms above us all, No fiscal vaccine brings immunity. Theatres are closed but tragedy plays on, The tinted spectacles are almost gone.
Harry Rogers, In the red bedroom, Sunday 21st June 2020.
From alert level four To alert level three Now we start panicking About economy. Let’s reopen the schools, The pubs and restaurants, People meet in bubbles, Wear masks upon the bus, Stay home and watch football, All one metre away, We scrap the test and trace, Soon we’ll have the finest, Test and trace in the world, Expect teachers to teach, Only those who turn up, Can’t go down to the beach. Us fogeys, locked away, We don’t know what to say, So we fill bird feeders, The woodpeckers need nuts. Soon all do what they like, We wait for second spike, Or the permanent spike. In the nineteen sixties Janis succinctly said, “It’s all the same fucking day man!” She was not too far wrong.
Harry Rogers, 2.00am In the Yellow Room, June 20th 2020
Somebody has to do it, You know? Red, white & blue it, We watch as Johnson blew it, Whilst, mostly, we go through it, The Tim Tam suck, don’t chew it, Union Jack jet? Who flew it? Globally we outgrew it. Murdoch’s chums will review it, Donald tries to outdo it, Pandemic? Oh, just screw it. They told us they would do it, Now lockdown’s dead, eschew it, Still, we all fucking knew it, Austerity? Renew it.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, Thursday 18th June 2020.
You can go to Primark or Debenhams You can’t go visit your dads or your mums. Did you hear Boris’s spud headed spad Spilling his Durham beans in the garden? The whole country tuned in to his blather, Together we say, “We beg your pardon?” The things we hate most are fucking liars, Piled high on Westminster funeral pyres. Cornered with cabinet floor paint on hands Drive through bluebells, oh the sheer arrogance. The sun shone so kindly there by the lake This then is the truth some claimed to be fake. Get out our wallets, Covid is stopping, So soon we can all go fucking shopping.
A nest of incestuous investors Lies behind cloak of bombed out BJ Hand grenade drops through Brexit pill box slit Wounded spads analyse pin puller disguise Desperate to find who will benefit Us cannon fodder voters, smoke in eyes, Watch in stunned terror as panto unfolds, No-one shouts Look Behind You, in the wings Waits latest parvenu, heart all a quiver Soon, on centre stage, where he will slither, Highwayman new shouts Stand and Deliver Fresh spads snivel as the people shiver. Democracy turns to patrician mauve I really do hope it’s not Michael Gove.
Harry Rogers, in the red bedroom, Monday 25th May 2020.
Chomsky’s Dog chews papers in the background Every now and then makes a growling sound Naom proselytises without pause Dog scratches purposefully with all claws Advice for activists flows out freely Words spoken softly yet no less steely Offers hope for future generations Twenty years to save the fate of nations Wretched theives and crooks, wrecked economy Post Covid climate, lockdown anomie, Our world in danger, soon we will be toast, All now take action, don’t give up the ghost. He is compelling, get up off our knees Shred Tory lies like Chomsky’s Pekinese.
Harry Rogers, in the yellow room, Pencnwcau, 24th May 2020
Afflicted with addiction to power Vote with nasty right in new concensus Such news disconcerts me by the hour Perhaps Blairites are non compos mentis Whoever can reason for such madness? Strange bedfellows, bold enough to say Keep asylum seekers filled with sadness, Pander to the basest racist today Clap now for points based immigrant carers Phase out free movement, enlist unemployed, Conscript the workshy, we hear the bearers Of Brexit promise to the overjoyed. My radio sails through open window Enough of shitty BBC lingo.
Harry Rogers In the Yellow Room, Aberbanc 19th May 2020.
Teifi, afternoon, flash of bankside blue Kingfisher searches elver wriggles new Beneath Henllan bridge otter, trout in paws, Crunches his lunch whilst Senedd makes bad laws Guided by science there will be no tests Crashed trees block the falls, robins fill their nests Nurses in London block Westminster bridge Vulnerable kids stare at empty fridge Birds sing louder, the skies are bluest blues I burst into tears at the newest news Tenants evicted as they lose their work MPs and the spads won’t give up their perks Sun sets brighter now, we are past the peak So Boris tells us, when he deigns to speak.
Go down to Creek Road, get drunk on free beer, Walk through Greenwich Park, shoot a fucking deer Venison’s better than cheap minced beef pies Share surplus with neighbours, what a surprise
Oh the things that we do when we are poor
Take rod to river, hook stale bread on, Cast into slipstream, then pull out a swan Play bird as it flys up high in the sky Then kill it and pluck it, try not to cry, To roast in oven cut swan into four One more of the things we do, when we’re poor.
Go down Tesco’s fill up trolley and pay Go out to friends car, stack shopping away Go round aisles again load exactly the same, Plus one pack of brillo, forgotten, you claim With first bill in hand you’ve already paid Thus shopping’s half price, good game that, well played.
In desperate days we ignore the law, Oh the things that are done when we are poor.
Harry Rogers, In the Yellow Room, 23rd April, 2020.
Today I watch a video report of fucking Covid-19 denying murderers in California on the way to their personal raptures who have forgotten their own sky god commandment, thou shalt not kill. Idiots. I am angry.
Meanwhile in Hackney a thirty year old Sri Lankan single mother incinerates herself in the back garden during lockdown. I am crying.
Elsewhere a young English father is locked down with his wife and son unable to take him to McDonald’s for his fourth birthday party. He tranforms his kitchen into a mock up drive through take away with himself in a YouTube video on the tv in their kitchen. The child is happy with french fries and chicken nuggets. His wife loves the ingenuity of it all. I laugh and cry at the same time.
I feel twitchy, never has there been such social fragility in all my 72 years. The Brexit talks pale into insignificance as the rise of populism grows daily. Italy is on the brink of leaving the EU. You can smell something ancient in the phrases that are bandied about. Phrases such as ” It’s the media that’s the cancer, all their news is fake.” and “All the politicians are useless, all they do is lie.” and “China is to blame.” Even the middle classes are dazed and confused by the consequences of the lockdown as their jobs also disappear and they slip into negative equity. I have read about a similar situation in my collection of 1930s left book club publications. I lie in my bed unable to sleep easy.
Still, the sun is shining this week, yesterday it was the same temperature in Antarctica as it was in Los Angeles………
I have been sat in front of our TV as 24 hour coverage of this pandemic unfolds for weeks now. I am over 72 years old, I am not supposed to go out unless it’s absolutely crucial. At first I watched all the bulletins as the prime minister and a variety of high faluting experts stood at lecterns flanked by carefully folded Union Jack flags with the white background and red cross of St George clearly and deliberately to the fore. The early strategy where herd immunity was considered to be the way forward, where every bulletin encouraged everyone to wash their hands every time they touched something but otherwise everything carried on as normal, the roads were full, the trains were full, the airports were full, sports venues, bars, gigs, theatres, cinemas, restaurants, pubs, political meetings, all functioned as ever. This laissez-faire approach was allowed to continue for weeks despite the fact that the government knew in advance that the country could not handle a pandemic such as this because it had participated in an emergency planning exercise, Operation Cygnus, which spelled out exactly what would happen in the event of a virulent respiratory virus running rampant through the world. One question sticks in my mind, if the government knew that the exercise showed that the NHS was under staffed, under equipped and under resourced, why did they not address these issues? What is the point of spending millions of pounds on full blown civil and war emergency planning exercises if you’re not going to take any notice whatsoever of the advice given from the plethora of front line experts, strategists, and senior civil servants involved? And yet, despite all the delay, as the daily death figures rise exponentially, as the economy falls into a slough of despond, as draconian measures curtail freedom of movement, somehow large numbers of people put their faith in the newly elected prime minister, one Boris Johnson. This man who eventually encouraged us to adopt social distancing, made us aware of the dangers of shaking hands with anyone outside of your in house family, and then promptly ignored his own advice, shook hands with all and sundry including a wardful of Covid 19 sufferers and finished up in ICU narrowly avoiding his own demise, some people believe that he is some kind of hero of the people. How can this be the case? He had been infectious for some considerable time and yet continued to bustle around in Westminster and elsewhere, in all kinds of meetings where he will have put untold numbers of staff, colleagues, acquaintances and contacts into harms way. A monumental case of don’t do what I do, do as I say. It’s unacceptable behaviour of anyone, let alone the Prime Minister. The daily broadcast with the Trump style flag frame moved further backwards, where substitutes run through the same sets of statistics that are designed to show how well the country has carried out the government strategy continue unabated. Ministers come and go and continuously state the obvious, the roads are empty, the people, on the whole, obey the rules, all is hunky dory as long as we remain in lockdown. And yet, and yet, PPE levels are disastrously low in hospitals and care facilities, meanwhile health ministers say the government response is phenomenal. Health workers are told not to use equipment unnecessarily. Economic forecasts say that the crisis we are heading into is massive. The number of unemployed in Britain is set to head North of three and a half million. The current universal credit system that penalises those people who have fallen into poverty is not going to be accepted as sufficient by people who have done nothing except lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Current levels of benefit will not meet family commitments. Only a government prepared to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion by the richest could address this future catastrophe. The country currently is being run in a totally undemocratic way without adequate parliamentary scrutiny. These are scary times and we now appear to be trapped in the middle of a classic Catch 22 conundrum. Stay locked down, save lives and crash the economy, or ease the lockdown, save the economy and bury a lot more people. Either way it’s a grand disaster. At first I wasn’t sure whether this was just a straight folk devils and moral panics scenario with the government and the media cooking up a false flag emergency to get the ruling class in a position to carry on austerity led business as usual. Now that the death levels here are not falling it is clear that the reality of the situation is that we have an incompetent government, unable to act in favour of saving lives because the economy and their pals in the City of London come first, above human lives. The Prime Minister is possibly going to stand down due to viral fatigue, he will likely be replaced by Raab or Gove, either of which, in my view, are strictly second division when it comes to leadership. It’s a giant deprression filled mess which only ends in tears whatever the outcome, and whenever the end of lockdown occurs. Many people won’t be here to see it, for some of those death might be a blessing in disguise. The aftermath to this ain’t going to be pretty. I’m getting older by the day, there ain’t much I can do about this shitshow. I would like to be able to drive my partner Jenny down to Llangrannog Beach for a pub lunch and a walk by the sea this summer, but the chance of such a simple pleasure looks ever more remote.
Looking out through lockdown windows The world in view is too sombre My mind wanders to pastures new To party times with good old friends To singing in the Poppit dunes, Picking those lost forgotten tunes. Of how we’ll change the world to come A glass half full for everyone The gig economy we’ll shun, Eugenicists? We’ll make them run. Hold hands together down The Strand, Spill wine to our favourite band, We’ll dance together after dark Like lovers smooching in the park All this for future enquiry Written now in my dream diary.
It’s bizarre to sit and watch images and words flash across the myriad of screens each of us own at this time early in the third millennium and watch with a sense of horror as the major cities of the globe descend slowly into a state of anarchic pandemonia. Each city has the potential to a greater or lesser extent to metamorphose into, what Milton named as the Capital of Hell, Pandemonium.
What sickens me the most is the realisation that there is absolutely nothing I, or for that matter you, as individuals can possibly do about it. The major news media outlets are busy trying to portray the Covid 19 pandemic as just another major news story that can be presented to the people in the same old time honoured fashion that they done since the birth of Television. However, this time the story is too big for corporatations to control. Little snippets of truth about the sombre reality of this dreadful situation are poking out and are revealed on a daily basis. The never ending howling of ambulance sirens echoing along empty streets, the conversion of skating rinks and other civic amenities into makeshift temporary morgues, the requisition of football grounds and other sports stadia and conference facilities as sites for massive health treatment and combined hospice style centres. All this clearly visible for everyone to see but once the full horror of this disease takes hold then it is right to ask the following question. For how long can the media hold the line and continue to showcase reports that, it’s true, show the level of distress the people will be suffering?
To watch as country after country pass Draconian legislation enabling them to take extreme decisions when it comes to social control is alarming and will precipitate outbursts of fear, paranoia and anger. In Europe this might be easier to control than elsewhere, and in particular the USA. At the same time as we were stocking up with pasta, lentils, rice and canned vegetables, there were queues around the block at all gunshops and purveyors of ammunition across America. With politicians in leadership positions making difficult decisions on a a daily basis the pandemic is hard enough to deal with, but to have somone that makes last minute decisions based on his gut instincts instead of listening to experts in a plethora of important fields as President of the USA is not only frightening but is also indicative of the fragility of the whole geo political system of governance.
In my view The United Nations should be convened and should take over the handling of this crisis. It is too big for crazed egoist individuals to be allowed to have control over the future wellbeing of billions of human beings through the creation of artificial states of emergency designed to prop up their own deformed political, and often corrupt, ideologies for their own gratuitous economic gain. I doubt this is going to happen until after the grisly masquerade has played out and the whole world has to clean up in the aftermath.
The plural of Pandemonium is Pandemonia. Unless there is a global approach to dealing with COVID-19 it’s quite likely we will witness the emergence of a whole swathe of cities that, for a significant period of time, will become replicas of Pandemonium, the Capital of Hell. I hope I am wrong and Trump is right when he posits a miraculously speedy recovery. Somehow though, judging by recent history, I doubt it.
Millions of Brazilians Have witnessed all these scenes before Paliamentary pantomime Has locked down everybody’s doors The army ringed now around London Stock markets fall down through the floor There’s no knowing where this leads us The MPs bluster on, so sure Their nationalistic reactions Echoed loudly on radio four Butterfly show goes on and on No dreamliners fly anymore We are told it’s for our own good For the aged, for the poor Evoke the spirit of the blitz Best wishes from second world war Spout about spiritual health Whilst televising martial law Soon round up any dissidents Is that what this is really for?
Harri Rogers, in the red bedroom, Pencnwau, 19th March 2020
Now, see the vengeance
Reaked on the many.
Shone up for one day,
Like fake silver plate
Polished away, through.
Truth? Justice? Honour?
These tattered flags fly
Blown on the rubbish
Tips alongside rolled up
Banknote snorting tubes
Discarded by spads
With Randian lies.
Whilst they “Get IT done”
We drown on sun drenched
Flood plains developed
By slick racketeers
Who sail sunseekers
All over the globe.
Infects me and you
As well as the few,
Who will more likely
Stand within six feet
Of a carrier
In an airport queue,
Nature in action.
Too late, all fall down,
Red in tooth and claw,
Hail natural law.
In the red bedroom
28th February 2020.
NO MORE WILD SIDE
There is no wild side to walk anymore
All is normal now, we all know the score.
Sky God worshippers lay down holy law
Virus, hurricanes, capitalist war
Perfect storms rage together, globally
No wild side to walk, not for you and me
This is how it ends, locked in misery
No wild side to walk, not for you and me.
Take a walk
On the wild side
Walk the talk
No more wild side
Wild Side No More
Wild Side No More
All normal now
All normal now
In the yellow room,
28th February 2020
No stone rolling back across front of tomb, The land of hope has run right out of room No resurrection allowed this time round No angels arise above hallowed ground These modern Neo liberal Romans Busily launch their shiny slick showmen, Believe they have cracked it once and for all Tear down our leader and smile as he falls Crucify disciples, don’t hesitate, Nullify their love, replace with fake hate. Spinners turn his words inside upside down Whilst drooling sheep vie obsessed with The Crown In another place crooks get something done Turn taps on fully, soon the pound will run. J C, warns like so many times before Of rabid Etonian dogs of war. Nobody listens, the few rule alone, Rise quickly, we need a new rolling stone.
Harri Rogers in my red bedroom, Aberbanc 16th February 2020.
In November 2019 my friend from Atlanta Georgia, Chris Ricker, came to Wales for 22 hours. Whilst he was here with his buddy Sean from Florida we recorded this reworking of my lyric Boomtime In Dystopia at LTS studios in Llanon.
A poem written as we began canvassing in the 2019 election campaign. Seems kinda prophetic now.
From heartbreak to hope as losers we row, On past winners boat where slumped bodies loll, Tomorrow another race day beckons, Tactics change, different strokes to be pulled, Cox chooses channel, allays all our fears, Our blades cut the water at course’s end Row on past winners, once more we must pull, On down that river from heartbreak to hope. Way down, Way way down From Heartbreak to Hope Row on, on, on, Row on, From Heartbreak to Hope. Never stop rowing From Heartbreak to Hope.
Harri Rogers Pencnwau, Aberbanc 19th November 2019