What is shadow? Light blocked out leaves darkness, Around edge greyly forms torn penumbra, An area of interest to painters, Where reality begins and ends. The Shadow, greatest comic book hero, Paved way for Marvel in nineteen thirties. Shadows once did dance whilst they played Apache, On latest, modern, electric guitars. Black shadows roared on North Circular Road, Playing chicken on way to Ace Cafe, Silver Shadows pulled up outside dance halls, Where debutantes arrived to meet the Queen. Moon shadows totally block out sun, Eclipses, always cold, dark and quiet. Older people are sometimes said to be, Shadows of their former selves, rarely are. Shadowfax gallops by, Gandalf roaring. Some folks shadow others work, just in case, Labour Party shadows, locked deep away, In Chinese walled cabinet, speak only When shadowy Mandelson signs it off. Danger often lurks in darkest places, Nosferatu cast shadow ten feet tall, Like Blairite witch hunters in leaders thrall.
Such a beautiful little girl, In her garnet coloured dress, The perfect image of serenity, Carrying a pile of taboon bread, From her grandmother’s oven, Gold coins glinting on her cap, Smiling at lemons in the sunshine, With assured stillness of her head.
She stops before Crossing the road She crumples to the dusty ground, Another collateral obscenity An Israeli ricochet Brings her down
Are we crying yet?
Are we crying yet?
Are we crying yet?
Harry Rogers, In the old study, Sunday 16th September 2012, updated 11th May 2021.
Oh what a kerfuffle Keir lays out reshuffle Octet plays on the deck As steamer chairs scatter What the forensic heck, Blairite teacups shatter. Iceberg in Hartlepool, Sinks Progress cruise liner, The captain such a fool, Shitehawk at the diner. In newsroom studios, Old hacks powder their nose, Write next act of their farce, Prepare to kick new arse. Failure? ‘Twas ever thus, Clapped out spads kick up fuss, Throw tantrums under bus, Listen not one to us. Instal new sychophants, Show us who wears the pants, Prepare to fight on beaches, Drain red blood with leeches, Chipshop campaign prowler, Barred from pub in howler, In barrel it’s his turn, He yearns to slash and burn. Decisive? Acts too fast, Lives mainly in the past. Prince of darkness dictats, Anti Leftwing brickbats, Divide the young from old, Don’t let the truth be told. Time’s up, d’you remember? You were once a member, Dilemma arises, Financial crisis, That’s what makes this funny, They need fucking money. Yet still it’s all a game, Corbyn the one to blame, All of his supporters Will be the next to go, Backed up by reporters, End of new Labour show.
In his conservative conservatory, Bathed by the light of a losers blue moon, Keith draws twisted kris ready for action, Then plunges it into deputy’s back. Those weasel words of so few hours ago, Accepting full responsibility, Leads one to Question his integrity. Those on the soft left learn true treachery, Not one of them are truly immune now, Cesare Borgia’s ghost stalks Westminster, Memories of Kinnock in eighty two, Implosion drags Labour Party into Pasokian wormhole with no way back. Tony and Pete crack open the Bolly.
It’s not the vaccine bounce That led to Tory trounce. Mandelsonian ghouls Treat activists as fools. Nil respect for members Centrist message benders. PLP spin disgrace, Talk of one party state, Shit in their own manger, Starmer total stranger, Forensic grey man bore, Who knows what he stands for? Switch lights on, ring bells as He’s going to tell us, How to fix branch grassroots, Pulls on his kicking boots, Use old rules to remove More problems, he must prove How to mend things like new, Brings policy review. Sweep conference aside, Take broad church for a ride, Dump momentous motions, Expunge leftwing notions, New leader propulsion, Wheel out mass expulsion. Don red wall dancing clogs, New Labour manger dogs, Swerve to right direction, His own resurrection, He climbs down from his cross, Public don’t give a toss, They need more hope not fear, Curtains drawn on Sir Keir,
A deal is a deal, so many folks say, Except when it isn’t, like it isn’t now. Wave faux Falklands gunboat propaganda, Like a giant phallus, wanked into Channel, Yet another public divertissement, Away from the dreadful pandemic truths. Embargoed Cygnus report still hidden, Needless herd immunity murder tolls, Brown paper envelopes stuffed with our cash, Handed out in unmonitored contracts To friends, families, donors, crook elites. Expect haystack to pose with admirals, Rule Britannia played by marching marines, Blairing in Union Jack clad background, Splashed across newsrooms of the BBC. Still, at least people have savings to spend, So we’re told, by treasury officials, So perhaps that’s all right then, isnt it?
It’s party time, As votes come in, We’ll take a swig Of home made gin. Bo’s Eton mess, Keir’s pink blancmange, UKIP serves up Trump a l’orange. Take down placards, Wipe windows clean, Burn voting cards, Eat green ice cream. Watch as Lib Dems Stroll by harbour, Chasing rainbows, Life gets harder. Plaid Cymru smile As fortunes rise, A new day dawns For Adam Price. Communists reach End of tether, Some old comrades Blame the weather. Vote tomorrow, Watch it happen, At Friday’s count, Upticks flatten, Swingometer Pundits wallow, Crap excuses Hard to swallow, Old guards change At end of game, And yet it’s strange, Things stay the same. Forget about Democracy, Focus upon Plutocracy.
How thin the skin That keeps us in Thrall to power Weilded by hour. Haystack bustles, Money rustles, Minor Royals In fancy dress Wave from carriage Without finesse. Families fall Through Covid cracks, Old folks suffer Home heart attacks. Worldwide collapse Of probity, Double death of Democracy. End of old world. No more to say Public and yours, Dawn of winter As services Go corporate. Farewell local, Total global Conspiracy. Weep as social Democrats bang Last coffin nails, Seal themselves off Inside their tomb, Creates vacuum. Post pandemic Fervour takes hold, End of wartime Party spirit, Trestle tables, Dusty bunting, Wait for use in New street parties. Old jelly moulds And trifle bowls, And everywhere Union jacks, Big ones, small ones, People pissed on Spirit of the blitz, Reimagined By Tory shits. Paint disaster Opportune blue, Pot all the reds In snooker hall. Soon our big break Will be over, Look slow around. Who’s in clover? Someone’s gotta Pick up the bill, Here it comes now, Shiny and bright, I bring to you The New Normal…… It’s the same as The Old Normal, With more flags on.
YOU GO TO WORK EVERY DAY TO EARN JUST A LITTLE PAY. LATELY IT’S NOT A LOT OF FUN BECAUSE OF A CERTAIN SOMEONE. DON’T LISTEN WHEN THEY WHISPER IN YOUR EAR, DON’T LISTEN AS THEY FILL YOUR HEAD WITH FEAR, DON’T BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEY SAY, THEY KNOW MORE THAN YOU. DON’T LET THE BULLY DO WHAT THE OTHER BULLIES DO, DON’T LET THEM EVER GET AWAY WITH IT WITH YOU. NEVER LET THAT BULLY DO, WHAT ALL THE OTHER BULLIES DO. WORKERS GATHERED IN A ROOM, SITTING ON THEIR HANDS, ALL OF THEM FAR TOO SCARED, TO SAY THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND, BUT BULLIES HAVE NO RIGHT, TO SCREAM AND STAMP AND SHOUT, THOSE BULLIES HAVE NO RIGHT, TO EVER BAWL YOU OUT. NEXT TIME THEY’RE LOSING IT, AND STORMING OUT THE DOOR, TELL THEM TO STOP THIS SHIT, YOU WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. BEFORE I GO THERE’S ONE MORE THING, NEVER, NEVER, EVER, LET THE BULLY WIN.
The Royal Yacht is back on the table, We must turn Phillip into a fable, Two hundred million, cheap at the price, So say the royalists, quick, in a trice. Will Yum and Katie sail off on a cruise Back here the homeless continue to lose, Privileged sunseekers don’t float my boat. One thousand houses? Now that gets my vote. They don’t need a state room to cross the pond, Obscene luxury now one step beyond. Don’t cry out envy, enough is enough, They already have way far too much stuff. I won’t wave them off, no quayside wonder, For fuck sake let’s not give them more plunder.
I heard some guy on the radio say The amount of money needed to solve, Food hunger across the whole world today Is equivalent to twenty six hours Of all military expenditure.
Twenty six hours of peace, All it takes to feed the poor Is this really all it takes? Why ain’t we done it before?
Military industrial money Maintains the global status quo of war, Scientists, engineers, death designers, Bring sophisticated bombs to market, It’s an entrepreneurial bloodbath.
Let’s transfer our resources, From sociopathology Where human lives count for nought, To social ecology.
Centre left luvies argue for armies, As they pose laughing in theatres of war, Sleeves rolled up with squaddies, rifles in hand, Happy to reveal themselves on the news, Spent uranium shells litter the land.
Millions die in terror, Hungry, sick, and exploited, Collateralised masses, All for the sake of profit.
Food not guns, Food not bombs, Food not drones, Food not war.
Stand against fascists or let them kill all. Palestine or Kashmir, we must walk tall. Casual murder, new normality, This is a turning point in history. These are most dangerous days of our lives, Randian nazis sharpen up their knives. We sit before screens, zoom lights aflicker, Discuss design of new demo sticker, Plan in detail which direction to go, Ensure all our comrades are in the know. These days of hyper communication, Outreach no problem across the nation. In darkened bunkers old bill hackers sweat, Over all our words, we don’t get it, yet.
See the last tram to Broadway Rickety racking around the bend Like it has for all your life It’s become your special friend
Took you there and brought you back You remember every rumble Along tracks from home to town It never ever made a stumble
Last tram to Broadway Hear the ringing bell Last tram to Broadway Ding dong ding dong bell
Gliding past that old red house Where the station master used to live The brakes making the wheels squeal On this last day something has to give The driver wears a sad frown Silent passengers looking morose Their faces show how they all feel One cut too many now as it goes
Last tram to Broadway Hear the ringing bell Last tram to Broadway Ding doing ding doing bell
At the stop next to red House A harlequin dressed to the nines Dances aboard laughing loud Clouds clear late evening sun shines Stop frowning it’s not too late He sings as the sunbeams dance around Together we’ll stop this mess This tram will keep rolling along
Last tram to Broadway Hear the ringing bell Last tram to Broadway Ding dong ding dong bell
Bronze frogs and dreamy fish in lily pond, Blow bubbles in silver moonlit splendor. Humans sleep, wrapped in viral misery, Dreams of normalcy fill their cluttered minds. What though is normal? Myriad thoughts abound, No two experiences quite the same, Each second of existence different, Past times impossible to recreate, At best we may sometimes approximate. Memories fail in tandem with clapped out Computer hard drives, piled high, awaiting The rigours of the recycling plant. I recall the time when I too set off, As normal, to blow bubbles at the moon.
Harry Rogers, In The Red Bedroom, 29th April 2021.
Like mockingbirds come out to play On sandy beach after midday Young lads kick footballs on the strand Like boys in any other land Pass and shoot each one a mocker Of their favourite stars from soccer All day long they run and they shout Slender bodies leaping about
When ere the moon does beam so bright Like mockingbirds they play all night High above a drone flew spying Four soon lay dead, four more crying Two missiles launched in clear sunshine One more sad day in Palestine Into abyss Earth on the slide Young mockingbirds forced now to hide Distraught parents filled with anguish Truth lies masked whilst journos languish Remote pilots have all saved face Israeli judges closed the case
Justice seems so far out of reach For young mockingbirds on the beach.
The embodiment of global Britain, Thirty billion pounds worth, obselete Before it sails single nautical mile, Soon to plough through waves off coast of China, Loaded to gunwales with US hardware. Ancient sabre rattle cacophony Echoes around corridors of power. Health service finances wrecked across the land, Cancer waiting lists grow ever longer, Meanwhile Admirals play stupid war games With toys commissioned by corrupt MPs, Paid for by ripped off hard working classes. We must stop rampant militarism, The question is “How much do we want to?”.
Cross of Saint George flies high in beer garden. This flag, besmirched by racist history, Beloved by English Defence League thugees, Now adopted in sheer desperation, By those who believe they still mean something, To those communities so long ignored, Whose votes, taken for granted, in Blair years, Now needed again to bolster careers. Mandelsonian scoundrels in their last, London based, refuges, venture Northwards, In a futile attempt to emulate, A distorted vision of Englishness. Unlike Welsh, Scottish and Irish neighbours, There’s no English culture behind the cross. Artificial football loyalty schemes, Incorporated into Britannia, Cannot be subsumed by socialism, Without recognition of history. Labour on the cross? Self crucifixion. Desperation leads not to born again, Only to irrelevant derision. Hardie spins ever faster in his grave.
Harry Rogers, In The Red Bedroom, 26th April 2021.
The ghost of the spud headed spad Stalks the ramparts of Number Ten. Something rotten in Albion Stinks like dead mice down the sofa. Populist tactics drafted in, From those chums across the pond. Skeletons queue up for release, From inside Downing Street closet. More than a whiff of change in the air, Feels like, could be, final hurrah For last of the Bullingdon boys. No-one quite sure who to believe, The how nor the why nor the what. We wince as our cash is trousered, By fly by night crooks via phone, Still haystack bonce rides high with those, Who couldn’t wait to get it done. They made our bed with hidden tacks, Now all of us insomniacs.
Harry Rogers, In the Yellow Room, 24th April 2021.
We spend our whole lives searching out Reasons why and what it’s all about Priests and teachers offer choices wide But hardly ever do we take a look inside When we were babies we tasted anything Hot or cold we picked up every single thing Tested out the world and all that was new Somehow along the way we forget what to do We let other people show us their way Sometimes listen to what they got to say Occasionally it’s more than just show We put it on the pile with the other things we know
But when you meet your maker You won’t know what to do ‘Cos when you meet your maker You’ll find out it is you
We let politicians show us their way Sometimes listen to what they got to say Once in a while it’s more than just show Put it on that pile with those other things we know
But when you meet your maker You won’t know what to do ‘Cos when you meet your maker You’ll find out it is you
We are what we do We are what we do Yeah when you meet your maker You’ll find out it is you.
Harry Rogers In the old study, 2011. (Archived lyric)
The Hot Club de France on Radio Three, Listen to Cou-Cou from nineteen forty. Whistful memory, my dad in fifties, Plays Django classics on accordion, I miss the news through sunshine afternoon, Catch a quick glimpse as BJ denigrates Climate activists as bunny huggers. This serial adulterous liar, Who ignores all rules, decries probity, Claims to support football fans against greed, Agrees special deals for tax avoiders, Comes across on zoom more coked than his spads, His stats based on policy not yet writ, Spreads public funds with casual largesse. Put aside crazy pandemic capers, Who, despite all these shortcomings, commands A fourteen point lead in the latest polls, Treats future citizens with crude contempt. Bunny Hugger? Silly bugger, Pension mugger, Tory fucker.
Harry Rogers, In the Yellow Room, 23rd April 2021.
Send Tony Blair to Point Nemo, Forsaken spot in Pacific, As far away as one can be, From broadcasting technology. Ensure no microphone access, No platform to pontificate, Nonsensical, his mass debate. Mass murderers have not the right, To pollute airways, day or night. He feels need to spout on vaccine, This jaded ghoul bobs up, obscene, On my digital radio, Gives support to equal pultroon. I press off switch in red bedroom. Each time he speaks to slimy hack, More tears well up for dead Iraq.
By Poppit Sands, hawthorne and gorse Bloom spectacularly in April sun. Above our garden watch a magpie Harry, and torment, a large red kite, From village, on, down the valley. Tulips overtake daffodils, Trees, well budded, ready to burst, We tend our vegetable plot, Spring brings new possibilities. Far away, in palace of dreams, Veneers peel to reveal more lies, Spads rehearse corrupt alibis, First lord of the treasuary, Teflon coated in new playpen, Rises still higher in the polls, Super league crumbles into dust, Working class heroes, shit or bust, Cry out “It’s Boris wot dunnit.” Meanwhile, in second division, Lord labour gets barred from a pub. I watch robin in the birdbath, Wait for news of my second jab, Get tools ready to build a gate, The sun shines, blossom starts to fall.
You Are Still Here, words etched on glass mirror. I stand at Fundació Joan Miró In Barcelona, for one more birthday, Four months before pandemic disaster. I like his idea, reflect on being, Whilst I look at reflection of myself. How long ago that trip now seems to be. I’ll go there again, when the way is clear, When latest pale rider trots out of here. Meanwhile, the thing that fills my heart with cheer, More than a glass of golden foamy beer, More than desire for gigs later this year, Cuts through all the media induced fear, Is the very fact that YOU are still here.
Harry Rogers, In the Yellow Room, 19th April 2021.
Exploit me, I’m young, unemployed, and scared, No furlough, hours zero, I’m unprepared. My parents have split up, I’m on bleak street, My sleeping bag’s damp, no socks for my feet. How did I get here, outside Debenhams, With other unwashed, without any mums. Grandparents gone, Covid took them away, Can’t carry on, I am hungry again. In my head I’m alone, don’t have a friend, Nobody trusts me, it feels like the end, Soup kitchen came here, a few days ago, Gave me a sandwich, cheese and tomato. In Cardiff the police made me move on, Now I can’t stop coughing, I’ll soon be gone.
“Don’t shoot.” They shot. The truth? They lied. His mum? She cried. Her son? He died. The hurt? Inside. The gun? Thrown down. His hands? Both up. What for? Who knows? The world? Fucked up. Police? Gone mad. Result? More stress. I feel, Distress.
Dreaming of live music as I sit in my writing hut I decide to go to a gig in 1968 at The Filmore East and The Filmore West with Jefferson Airplane and this is a little taste of their iconic song Somebody To Love on their live album Bless Its Pointed Little Head, released in 1969. Halcyon days. Live music is what it’s all about.
Take flamethrowers to Chinese walls, Burn them down, break old school rules. Barbarian civil servants Take people for bloody fools. Walk away from competition, Grease paths to slide treasures out, Blue sky thinking ramped up, insane. Sped up Randian looters, Carve prime cuts from service buffet, Inner sanctum eruption, Bullingdon brown stuff hits blue fan, Eton mess seeds corruption, Slowly BBC drags its heels, Gradually revealing, Radio and smellyvision, News presenters rise from knees, Manipulate podcast hubbub, Paper over Tory sleaze.
Harry Rogers, In the Red Bedroom, 15th April 2021.
I sit out on the deck Watching your children play Chasing bright red fireflies In last rays of the day Old knees worn out now Else I too would chase Pleasure comes from sunset Lighting up your face
Spent a long long time Chasing fireflies Spent a real long time Chasing fireflies Now there is no time for Chasing fireflies
There are things I would Like to do on the day I die Just for the briefest moment Hold a bright red firefly Listen to the nightingale Singing as it flies up high Know that you are smiling As we say goodbye
Spent a long long time Chasing fireflies Spent a real long time Chasing fireflies Now there is no time for Chasing fireflies
Pssst, wanna buy a service, It’s all up for grabs today, Don’t even have to tender, We’re giving it all away. Everything is on the list, Meet us in committee room, Or down the boozer, capiche? Can’t make it? See you on Zoom. Knock down prices, going cheap, Now’s the time to flog it off, Whilst it’s reeling on the rocks, As it deals with virus cough. Nobody will protest it, Pass new laws to mask the stink, Even let you keep the name, National Health Service Inc.
How scary is that moment, when fiction Becomes reality in front of you, Ninety nine year old anachronism Dies and the full blown ministry of truth Springs to action across all media. Terrestrial tv and radio, Drenched in long prepared film tributes, Interviews and orchestrated faux news. Journalism sinks to its lowest ebb, In what can only, truly, be described, As naked state control propaganda, Where Patrick McGoohan meets George Orwell, Via smart digital media platform screens. Insidious portrayal of normal, History of elite a straight jacket, Tightened as anti leftism is ramped, As black clad “news” presenters spoon feed guff, To bolster prisoner style fallacies That maintain the necessity to keep The Haute Bourgeoisie in existence. Flashy mirages of democracy Float ghastly before the electorate. How can such anti democratic lies Continue? How can aristocracy Survive? Hereditary royalty Is ludicrous, Our Constitution is a total sham. The combined Royal power, Church power, Legal power and commercial power, Link together to keep us in our place Through the artifice of parliament. Gerard Winstanleys thoughts still register, Some recognise the nature of the state, See through games and slick modern charades, See validity in a republic, A land owned in common, where wealth is shared, Knowledge is for the benefit of all, And all our children are treated equal. Since sixteen forty nine, the truth be known, Only now is it so blatently shown. Arrogance, bombast or paranoia? Perhaps a combination of all three. Whatever, we see your glib advisors, Your royal correspondents on the news. We won’t shut up, we’ll never be quiet, We have waited long enough for justice, It really is time for you all to go.
The ship of state lies Crashed upon the rocks The rich and the famous Are checking their locks One hundred starlings Fall from the sky Some precious darlings say “We’re all gonna die!”
The world is getting dopier We’ve emptied cornucopia We never reached Utopia And it’s Boom-time in Dystopia!
Whilst we lie Sleeping in our beds Drones are flying Above our heads The CCTV is Watching me and you None of us are quite Sure what to do No-one stops to think About the honey bee Only the cult of Celebrity Airheads all scream, And shout “Hooray!” “someone’s got a new Pair of tits today!”
The world is getting dopier We’ve emptied cornucopia We never reached Utopia And it’s Boom-time in Dystopia!
We lie around drinking Pomegranate smoothies Watching brand new Counterfeited movies Nobody pays for their Music anymore Nobody believes that They’re breaking the law And what does it matter Any fucking way There aren’t enough cops To nick everyone today And now the Assembly’s Gone extra craven They’re gonna pour boiling water Into Milford Haven
The world is getting dopier We’ve emptied cornucopia We never reached Utopia And it’s Boom-time in Dystopia!
Copyright: Harry Rogers, 11th March 2010, Recorded with Critter and Sean in LTS Studio Llanon, October 2019.
Fountains of creativity Spring higher from the Grateful Dead Their legacy will keep us young, That’s what my good friend Critter said. On the road to Fenario, Drive in a syncopated dream, Ripple across the universe, Mountain fire never gonna die, All the time people play guitars, Songs echo from hotel on Mars, Get on by down by the river, Live elixir under willow, Gonna stay young forever more, Truckin’ on through with dead head lore.
Drink coffee number one flat white, From a paper cup, Outside the Cardigan Guild Hall, Christmas tree’s still up, All of last years flowered face masks, Look rather tardy, I swig a nip from Easter flask, I’m feeling mardy. Plastic snowflakes fly forlornly, Midst the bunting flags, Shoppers queueing uniformly Cling on to their bags. Yet still some children smile gaily, Skip along grey street, Parents get more glum news daily, Warily they meet, Weary of the constant babble, Spewed from media, Pumped by inconsistent rabble, Jab vaccinia.
I sat in The William Malcolm Hardee buying drinks Arlene was behind the bar Running fingers Through her hair The Four Tops on the jukebox The Same Old Song Was playing I asked Arlene out with me Said there was a film to see She said “I’ll meet you there” but I don’t know Where there is. There could be anywhere It might be with The Faeries I never found there And then she was gone.
Who Knows Where There is? Who Knows Where There is? Arlene? She was gone.
Open up the camp sites, Clean up your glamping gear, Forget those foreign flights, Perhaps until next year. Repeat twenties Zugzwang, We’re stuck here on board ship, Here comes second big bang, End of Premiership, Mindful of the danger, End games are hard to play, Not over till over, The finish? Hard to say. I am getting weaker, My night is drawing in. Watch the high street open, Drink up another gin, Party through the summer, The gigs, the games, the beers, Go dance on moonlit beach, Forget long covid fears. Next winter get ready, Pale rider is still here. Test kits, trace apps, vaccines, All of the patching up, Not enough to stop it, Whilst experts on TV, Mass of contradictions, Scare the shit out of me. Glad I’ve got a garden, Somewhere to escape to, Mend the rabbit fences, Plant beans, courgettes and fruit. Boris launches moonshot, We’re pulling up ivy.
The first Oscar is the person That people think he is. The smart arse homosexual, Ready with quickest quip. Mixing with the glitterati Of the fin de siecle, A dandified lecherous queen, Sporting carnation green.
Next we spy another Oscar, The one he really is. Hardworking diligent artist, Birthing art for arts sake. Believing aesthetic beauty, Valuable above all, Searching so hard, trying to find A saviour for mankind.
The final picture of Oscar, One he wanted to be, Forever young, in his heyday, Living riotously, No care about morality. Indulging all pleasure Plucked ripe from a nihilistic tree, Always being set free.
Desire seldom is reality, Poor Oscar, rarely free, To fulfil all his fantasy, Is two, not one, nor three.
Harry Rogers, Frog House, Deptford, 25th May 2017.
They say our institutions aren’t racist, Special report says it’s no longer there. It’s like Black Lives Matter does not matter. MSM headlines gaslight all of us, Whole country sees script writ large in whitewash, On giant white boards, neath white fluffy clouds, White people focus in on being black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups. White, skew whiff, feelgood, statistics rain down, Spaffed from Whitehall windows by white PM, Whose biased screeds, scrawled not unconsciously, Point us to the essence of the matter. In mirrors, clarity identified, We can see our problem is being white.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, Good Friday 2021.
The sun shines in Newcastle Emlyn. I set up Bill’s wheelchair on the pavement outside the Plaid Cymru office in the disused shop at the top end of town. This is the weekly meeting of the anti war group Bro Emlyn For Peace and Justice. I don’t know how I started taking Bill to the meetings. As his independent living personal assistant I must have told him about the group during one of our frequent political discussions as I drove him around the countryside of Dyfed. He is opposed to Tony Blair’s decision to support George W Bush in the invasion of Iraq, as am I. When he asked to come along to meetings I said I’d take him.
” There is a BEPJ meeting this Friday at 7.30pm!” I’d said.
“Great, pick me up at 7 then.” and here we are.
As Bill manoeuvres himself into his chair the Plaid full timer turns up with the key and opens the front door for us. I move Bill to a spot with his back to the shop windows because, even though he still has some vision left, his diabetes makes direct daylight uncomfortable for him. I set out fifteen stacking chairs in a circle and sit down waiting for other group members to arrive. The office had once been a confectionery shop but it has been stripped back to bare walls and floorboards and is in need of a lick of paint and a good sweep out. The local Plaid Cymru MP holds his monthly constituency meetings here and during election times it’s a campaign office but most of the time nothing happens there aside from our meetings. The Americans and British are well into Shock and Awe and cluster bombs fall all over Iraq. A significant percentage of these are not exploding as they hit the ground. Children and adults get maimed and killed when they move these mini bombs. The situation is, in my view, obscene. Bill and I had discussed this situation the day before as we sat on the beach at Llansteffan and I had decided that I would suggest that BEPJ might carry out some direct action in Carmarthen to highlight the plight of everyday people in Baghdad. At seven thirty 18 of us sit in a circle reporting back on what had happened the previous week. Robert, Graham, Louis, David, Hippo, Gilly, and Celia ran the weekly stall in Newcastle Emlyn handing out leaflets and getting signatures on the Campaign Against The Arms Trade petition against the manufacture of cluster bombs. Jeremy had set up the new website. Maggie is rehearsing a show about the whole situation in the middle east to be performed in St Dogmaels. David is building the new free peace and justice library with books donated by many of the 120 members on our mailing list. I have set up a new course on Peace Studies with Carmarthenshire Adult Education services. We are a busy group of activists with many successful meetings and events under our belt.
After reports we move on to talk about future actions. Fiona suggests we should have a social event with a local band at the Emlyn Arms to raise funds for medical aid for families in Fallujah and this is agreed. I then make my pitch for my idea for some non-violent direct action.
“I’ve been thinking that we might raise the profile of the issue of the growing use of cluster bombs when we have our next stall in Carmarthen. Supposing we all made some replica cluster bombs, say a dozen each, and spread them all over the streets of central Carmarthen. This might make people understand what the plight of people in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq is really like.”
Vanessa is keen, as she always is when new ideas are introduced, “How big are they?”
“About the same size as a can of Coca Cola.” I say.
People are enthused, we’re in total agreement that this is a brilliant idea and that everybody will make their imitation bombs in time for the next Friday’s meeting when we will finalise arrangements for the action on the Saturday.
Celia raises an important issue, “Might it be a good idea to let the police know what we intend to do? You know how they are, better safe than sorry.”
It’s agreed that she will telephone the local station and let them know our plan. They’re always civil to us whenever we decide to do something and always thank us for letting them know. I take on the task of contacting the local media. The meeting finishes at 9.00 pm and I drive Bill home. He’s very animated and says that he will get his wife to help him make his bomb-lets. I’m happy that we’re going to get this issue cemented into the minds of local people in a different way to the usual leafleting strategy.
On Monday morning I get a phone call from Celia, “Hello Harry, I’ve just come off the phone with the Dyfed police and we can’t do our action on Saturday.”
“They say that whilst they understand our concerns about the use of cluster bombs in Iraq they would rather we didn’t carpet the streets of Carmarthen with imitation bombs because there was the slim chance that someone might put a real bomb in amongst the replicas and this could be both dangerous and extremely difficult to deal with.”
“I see. Hmmm they do have a point. I guess we will have to think of a different way of using the artificial bombs.”
“Maggie suggested that we might do some agitprop theatre instead, give her a ring and see what you think.”
“OK I’ll call her later, shame we can’t do it though, still it can’t be helped I suppose. See you on Friday, Celia.”
“OK, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, byeee.”
I ring Maggie straight away and she outlines an idea for me and her to do some improvised street theatre based on the Arms Fair in London. I’ll be Flash Harry, a cockney arms trader down from the big smoke trying to drum up trade for the latest in cluster technology and Maggie will play an American dealer looking to make a few dollars. I am up for this.
On Friday everyone turns up to the meeting with their bags of cluster bombs. They vary in sophistication. Some are very crudely done, others have been designed very well. Everyone is disappointed when I tell them that our plans have been thwarted by the rozzers. However we come up with an idea for running a lucky dip as part of the Agitprop. We decide to use a tea chest filled with wood shavings, the imitation cluster bombs and a few real prizes of cheap trinkets from Woolworths. Enthusiasm rises high and we adjourn to the Ivy Bush pub.
Next morning we set up our stall in Guildhall Square at ten o’clock and start collecting signatures for the Campaign Against Arms Trade petition against the International Arms Fair in London. All goes well and we get a good response. At eleven thirty Hippo and Gilly arrive at our stall. They look very pleased with themselves and Hippo says, “We’ve put our bombs out.”
It is at that point that I realise they hadn’t attended the meeting last night and so didn’t know that we we weren’t spreading bombs all over Carmarthen.
I explain the situation and then ask, “How many did you make?”
Hippo says “ Twelve.”
“Well you’d better retrace your footsteps and bloody well collect them up and bring them here.”
They set off and we continue petitioning. Half an hour later Hippo and Gilly return with a carrier bag full of bomblets.
“Did you get them all?” I ask
“We could only find ten of them, We can’t remember where the other two are.” says Gilly.
“Oh well, I don’t suppose that will make much difference, after all, we have told the police about it, so if anyone finds one they will know what it is. Don’t worry, it will be fine.”
The afternoon is a stonking success. We collect almost 400 signatures and the street theatre is a hoot. Maggie and I draw large crowds.
We call out to people, “Roll up, Roll up. Free lucky dip, Win a prize,…… chance your arm,….. Find out what it’s like to take pot luck just like the people of Baghdad.”.
We do an improvised sketch about the way in which Arms Companies and Governments keep the profits rolling into all kinds of nefarious pockets. We hand out masses of leaflets against the war and at five O’clock we pack up our stuff after a wonderful day of nonviolent direct action. We all hug each other and head home, a happy bunch of anti war protesters.
On sunday morning I get a telephone call. It’s Celia.
“We’re in big trouble. The police just called me. Hippo and Gilly’s two bombs have been found.”
“So, what’s the problem? They know the bombs aren’t real, they know they’re ours.” I say
“Apparently the staff on the switchboard changed shifts this morning. Those on duty until six o’clock this morning knew about it. The new shift didn’t.”
“So what happened?”
“At half past five an early morning street cleaner found one of Hippo’s bombs and phoned the police. They told him they knew about it and to put it in with the rest of the rubbish, which he did.”
“Yeah, then what?” I say
“At seven a.m. an office cleaner found the other one in a doorway as she was about to go to work. She phones the police and the new telephonist knows nothing about it. This has triggered a full blown crisis in Carmarthen. The police have evacuated the area, closed all the shops and are awaiting the arrival of the bomb squad to get there from Wiltshire. When they arrive they are going to carry out a controlled explosion. The police are livid. I am very worried about this.”
I reflect for a few moments and then I say “It’s not our fault, they have made a procedural cock-up. We informed them of our plans. It is a shame that Hippo and Gilly couldn’t remember where they put the two missing bombs but they are getting on a bit. It’s just one of those things. Sit tight. All will be well. If they call again give them my number, I’ll talk to them.”
“Thanks Harry, I am very scared of having anything to do with the police.”
I tell her I’m not scared and we hang up.
It’s important at this point to point out that Hippo had been online and downloaded info which showed the words printed on actual cluster bomb ordnance and his replicas looked very real indeed. He used tin cans and had printed very convincing cardboard sleeves with proper serial numbers etc in the manufacturers font style.
So it was that the Bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion on a tin of Heinz Spaghetti Hoops in the centre of Carmarthen. At our meeting on the following Friday we talked about the implications of what had happened. The police said that they accepted that they had made a faux pas.
I say to the meeting, “We could not have planned this any better if we had tried. All week long we have been contacted by the local and regional press about the story. On Thursday Bill and I and a handful of us met a journalist and photographer from the Western Mail and had our picture taken with armfuls of bombs, Bill’s wheelchair looked stunning. They have given the story massive coverage and we have a full page centre spread in Red Pepper magazine. It is my belief that we have raised people’s consciousness about carpet bombing civilian areas with these disgusting weapons.”
I also believed that the local police got some valuable experience out of the whole event as it enabled them to test out their counter terrorism procedures.
All in all a win win situation, nobody got hurt and we raised awareness. Peace and Justice for all.
Harry Rogers, posted in the Red Bedroom, 2nd April 2021
It was one of those typical warm September days when the memories of a washed out summer are erased from the brain by the sheer beauty of the light shining through the window of the classroom and your whole being becomes totally mesmerised as you squint your eyes and watch the myriad particles of chalk dust dancing about in the sunbeams near the blackboard. It was the first day of a new year for me at Addey and Stanhope grammar school in New Cross Road, Deptford, SE8. Not just any year, this was 1962, the start of the 5th year, I was almost 15, when everything is geared towards getting you ready for choosing a path for life. I was engaged in my reverie watching the dust in the golden rays of the sun and thinking about why is it that it is always sunny when you go back to school after the soggy holidays when I became aware of my name being mentioned by our form teacher. I turned to look at her and she said that there was a new addition to our class, his name was John Stewart and he was re-sitting the fifth year, and he would be sitting next to Howard Rogers (me). John was a squat boy with a thick head of black curly hair, a wide face and thick black rimmed glasses. He wore winkle picker shoes and his uniform was a bit scruffy (much like me really). I didn’t realise it but this was the most significant event of my whole time at school, a life changing moment that set the tone for the rest of my life. I had seen John before at break times etc but, as he was a year above me, I had never spoken with him, nor paid much attention to him. It was John that started calling me Harry, on that first day, he said he would never remember Howard, and Harry was easier for him. I didn’t say no to this, in fact I adopted it readily as I had always hated my name mainly because the only word that rhymes with Howard is Coward and this had caused me to have many fights as a child trying to prove I wasn’t one. On this day things started changing, at break time I introduced John to my friends, John Radford and Paul Delroy (now sadly dead) and we became THE group of oddballs in our year. John R and Paul were both into music by the Hollies and The Beatles, John Stewart was into Jazz and Blues, and I was into early Phil Spector and Buddy Holly stuff. We used to go to the Café in Friendly Street at lunchtimes where we listened to pop music on the radio, drank black coffee and smoked old Holborn rollups, and talked about how shit it was at school, girls, rock and roll, films, and books. We hit it off fantastically well and were friends for the rest of my time at school. John and I became very good mates and I used to go back to his house after school where he showed me his drawings and paintings. He was a great artist and had lots of nudes that he had sketched over the previous few months. He was a beatnik really and he introduced me to Jack Kerouac through his books “On The Road” and “The Dharma Bums”. Also he had a collection of modern jazz records that were very cool including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk, also some folk albums including one by Odetta with “The House Of The Rising Sun” on it. I was impressed and he was always turning me on to new things. One November lunchtime in the Friendly Cafe he asked whether I fancied going to Catford Library that evening to attend a blues appreciation society evening meeting. I said yes and that night we arrived on the first floor of Catford Library where we found a circle of seven or eight chairs in the centre of a cold and draughty room with a Dansette record player on the lino covered floor in the middle of the circle with a few Long Playing records piled up beside it. Sat on the chairs were John and I, a couple of men in their thirties, and a younger man who was the tutor for the group. We spent the next two hours listening to tracks from LPs by artists such as Sleepy John Estes (Milk Cow Blues – recorded in Memphis by Victor in 1929), Robert Johnson (Crossroads), Son House (I’m Leaving You), Muddy Waters (I Can’t Be Satisfied), John Lee Hooker (Boogie Chillen), Howlin’ Wolf (Moanin’ at Midnight), Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Memphis Slim, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, Victoria Spivey, and a host of others over the next couple of months. I was knocked sideways by this introduction to the blues, music like I’d never heard before1. We went to these for 6 weeks.I was born on October 6th 1947 in the Bridge Hotel, Wellesley Road, West Croydon, where my father (Ken Rogers) was a musician playing piano and piano accordion and all my life I had listened to him playing popular songs from the shows and also Jazz standards by the swing bands of the thirties and forties (he could play a mean boogie woogie piano which he claimed he got from listening to his favourite piano player, Fats Waller.). He was keen on jazz pianists such as Errol Garner, George Shearing, Oscar Petersen, Count Basie and Duke Ellington and could play in all their styles at will (no mean feat!) . My mother (Pauline) was a singer who loved Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and my father would accompany her while she sang in the bar of the Bridge Hotel, and later at The Bricklayers Arms, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich2. People loved them and the pub was packed out by early evening every time they played, and it was OK, many of the songs they played and sang came from the second world war, it was a right old sing along South East London pub where anyone could get up and sing, or play an instrument. My dad seemed to know all the standards of the day and more, and if he didn’t know a song he would buy the sheet music, sit in the upstairs toilet, otherwise known as the music room, sometimes for hours at a time, and learn it in time for the next session in the saloon bar. He was amazing really and practiced on the piano and the organ for at least two hours a day for his whole life. Music was absolutely everything to him. Also there were a lot of musicians who used to turn up and jam with Ken and this often led to late night lock-in sessions with a lot of torchy Jazz (Moonlight in Vermont, Autumn Leaves, On a Clear Day, which I find quite nostalgic when I hear them now) being played. My brother Bruce and I used to serve drinks to the chosen few, (mostly local villains and their girl friends, and ageing musos) who would sit around chatting with Pauline, and joining in the music, sometimes until dawn. Looking back at this nocturnal activity it is no wonder I flunked it at school, however I did learn a lot about people in these sessions and this served me well when I started my forays up West. However, I didn’t dig it very much, serving booze and fags to these old timers, because I was a young boy with other things on my mind I guess, and also it all seemed a bit square to me at the time, but not so much in hindsight, age is a strange lens in the way it can change perceptions. Once I had started listening to the Blues though I was well and truly hooked on a different form of music (and still am) and I guess I always will be. Eventually I discovered the whole West End club culture and the vibrant music scene that was roaring along there but it was those few draughty evenings in Catford library that set me on my way and ultimately gave me the grounding that my Mod taste in music would be built on, and for that I owe a great debt to John Stewart (or Angel John as his Beatnik mates called him), I wonder where he is now, last time I saw him was in the early 1970’s he was living in Clapham and seriously strung out on smack (heroin), I hope he managed to kick his habit and is out there even now living a happy life.
1 – I heard someone on the radio say that his introduction to music written and performed by black people in the 1950’s was a shock to the system and had changed his whole life, from that moment on music really meant something and made him feel “cool” for the rest of his life and that is exactly how I feel about this experience. As a fifteen year old know nothing kid this was mind blowing and paved the way to my life long love of Blues, Jazz, R & B and Soul.
2 – Later to become known in the 1970’s as the site of Harry’s Bar where many musicians from the Punk Rock era were to be seen and heard, most notably Jools Holland and Squeeze).
We play desperate pool in The Fountain, While Brookmill Road runs alive with old bill, Saturday night climb up Deptford mountain, Via St John’s Vale, kebabs make us ill, We sing Realist songs very loud, As we head for that party in Brockley, Already roaring, the usual crowd, Once again get it on with the motley. In the kitchen there’s politics raging, Rock Against Racism top of the list, In the garden, laid on crazy paving, Last years hippy sleeping dreamily pissed, In the rose bush a skinhead takes a slash, I spout on impending right-wing backlash.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 30th March 2021.
The stimulus programme is, in itself, Artificial sop to society, Used to portray Tories as a party, That gives a shit about common people. They only care about preservation Of their position in power. Such a ludicrous constructed monster, Who behaves as if he’s the very state, Louis Quatorze minus the gilded bling, With mock American media room, Desperate to demonstrate worthiness, Of national love, ego gone awry, This greed is good joker, so dangerous, Somehow remains popular, even now.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 30th March 2021.
Separation is grim reality, Walls, checkpoints, drones, armed guards, stolen houses, Daily degradation is new normal. Denied access to pandemic vaccines, Dragooned in queues, kept for subsistance work. The state disrespects human outsiders. National flags fly high everywhere, Politicians always stand next to flags. Protesters are clubbed, tasered, gassed and killed, News briefings tell of state security, Rights are denied in public interest, Society split deliberately, Us and them, us and them, over again, Britain, Israel, Palestine? Your call!!
We work in the garden to mend a fence, A viciously cold gale blows from the west, We now know what we need to renew gate, Replace broken off poles, and chicken wire. After an hour we head back to the house, Black shape glides peripherally in view, Six feet above my head red kite hovers, Still in the teeth of this wild West Wales wind. I see it’s head move slowly left to right, Slightest twitch of wing lifts bird over trees, For thirty endless majestic seconds, It arcs across the field, loops back to me, Soars high over our house then disappears, Free to fly wherever the wind takes it.
I’M SITTING IN THE ANCHOR AND HOPE DRINKING WHITE SHIELD WORTHINGTONS THE BOY FRANKY’S MOORED AT THE QUAY AND I’M STARING OVER BUGSBY’S REACH I ALREADY KNOW SHE’S LEAVING ME GUESS THAT’S WHY I’M GETTING DRUNK THE RIVER LOOKS A GOLDEN PICTURE A RED SAILED BARGE HEADS INTO THE SUN
I CAN’T CRY NO MORE I KNOW IT’S OVER I CAN’T CRY NO MORE I KNOW IT’S OVER
THERE IS A ONE EYED RIVER CAT SLEEPING ON A COILED UP ROPE JOHNNY EDGE SITS IN THE SUNSHINE SPINNING UP MY LAST PIECE OF DOPE OLD NORTON FROM THE BOAT YARD TELLS US SOME CLAPPED OUT JOKE I’M WAITING FOR THE TIDE TO TURN BEFORE I SAIL OFF A SINGLE BLOKE
I CAN’T CRY NO MORE I KNOW IT’S OVER I CAN’T CRY NO MORE I KNOW IT’S OVER
WHEN YOU CAN’T CRY NO MORE YOU KNOW THAT IT’S OVER
Harry Rogers, written in my car, sometime in 2010.
Virtually real nostalgia resides In old, long lost, cobwebbed memory banks, Below bottomless steep digital learning curves. How many people can access archives, On ancient pre internet floppy discs, Locked securely in heat proof data safes. Reports, novels, poetry, non fiction, Social history, cultural milestones, Sitting in lockable plastic desk files, It’s not that the data is not wanted, Nobody has the hardware or software, Everyone moves on 2,3,4,5G, Now, a CD stuck in my car player, Still plays, good job I like John Fogerty…..
Like lichen rampant on prunus hedges, Union flags flutter from public poles. Relentless theft of enemies clothing, Plus non stop foment of fear and loathing, Stream of consciousness policies spew forth, Articulated from our leader’s cuff, Bright blue passports for pints in British pubs, Refugees stockaded in dank wormwood, Children with prospects? Who the fuck are they? Surely we should treat all kids just the same? September, seemingly, so far away, Pregnant with austere fiscal promises, As next budget pushes non block chainers, Over post furlough unfungible cliffs, We’ll revel in long covid new normal, Jabbed full of fake algorithmic dream memes.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 25th March 2021.
Dial down the democracy dimmer switch, Strange conundrum as the light fades away, In the darkness clarity increases, Horses, dogs, armour clad riot police, Brought sharply into crystal clear focus, Batons weilded against young activists, Young non violent direct activists, Clubbed as they sat, serried, outside cop shop, Provoked beyond anger to protection, Erupts into the mayhem of riot, Such smooth precision duly delivered, Gift wrapped to home secretary’s doorstep, For her rehearsed despatch box diatribe, Power of darkness now simply blinding.
Wealthy glide by in slick electric cars, Feed fake dreams about holidays to Mars. I wonder how much lithium there is? Will gig economy slaves earn enough, To purchase these fantasy carriages? Days when families drove to Lake Como, Or to cheap French campsites near Biarritz, Seem impossible now ports are shut down. To take the ferryboat to Tremezzo, Sip Apparol Spritz in Alpine sunshine, Beguiled by clouds tumbling from peaks to lake, Such memories so fin de seicle. As quiz show prizes rise ever higher, Europe is become a funeral pyre.
The chain of command stretched beyond repair, Gaps in links appeared where least expected, New laws proposed, pushed life to the limit, Now we see the consequential damage. Sat in the street the young poked out their tongue, As the young will be ever prone to do. Who gave the order to smash in their heads? Who issued armour? What was in their heads? The force prevails as we all count the cost, Thoughts of public service lie trashed, and lost. BBC concentrates on burning vans, Sick politicians wring their blood red hands, Information age turns right in the dark, London high command instigates the spark.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 22nd March 2021.
It’s dusk in South London, Towards Clapham, red sky Deepens, darkest crimson, Reason fades like sunset. In a Vauxhall garden Scattered white bread slices Adorn the darkling lawn. On deck, expectantly Sits urban wild life freak, Camera in one hand, Chardonnay in other, As he awaits his guests. Radio newsreader Is switched off in kitchen Whilst announcing sad death Of our democracy At the bandstand vigil. Last vestiges of light Fade as the hedgerow parts And the fox family Trot acrooss flowerbeds, No longer timidly, But bold as bold can be. In cells old bill scupper Their community links, But here, they pour more drinks, Foxes enjoy supper.
I’ve been spending my precious time Watching the nags standing in the field Lately I’ve been wondering what they see and feel As they toss their matted manes into the air
Some days run kicking their heels up Like they did when they were young young colts They mooch staring though rheumy eyes Waiting for that something to happen
Old horses in the field Old horses in the field Treat them well Treat them well Old horses in the field
In summer the smell of the orchard Drives old stallions wild again Come winter mud around hooves Leaves running legs mired and tired But oh the urgent nudging and nuzzling People stand at the old five bar gates With carrots and apples in pockets Sweet treats for hard ridden mates
Old horses in the field Old horses in the field Treat them well Treat them well I know just how they feel
Remember when Wasn’t a crime Sit on the beach In Summertime. Down to Penbryn With picnic box Where crystal sea Runs through the rocks, Blanket and book Four pack of beer Pencil and pad Heaven is here These are the days Written in rhyme On Penbryn beach In Summertime Is this the year? Go there again Soak up the sun Don’t need a plane More than five miles Away from home Still on lock down Not in that zone All that I want Is to spend time On Penbryn beach In Summertime.
Opportunity to ride on coat tails, Taken by bleaters who blow with the wind. Not the vile murder made them change their minds, Afore common vigil, all set to abstain. Now that the people rise up in protest, Not enough to say they didn’t vote for, Behind gritted teeth they must vote against. Such a dilemma, oh what a to do, In the circus impossible to ride, Two horses split, no longer side by side, Forced to choose. To the left or to the right? In Mandelsons coop chickens are spinning, Watch them spit feathers, conundrum revealed, Brave women have spoken upon Clapham Fields.
The abuse of pandemic rules, By rozzers who take us as fools, On Clapham common, truth be told, The old bill clobber young and old. Now see the state intent revealed, Women grieve on West London field, Heavy hands push speakers to ground, Arrest anyone who makes sound, The gauze is torn from front of eyes, Now, at last, people realise, The path that we are going down, Across the land, in every town. Right wing Tories ramp up power, They watch us all each hour by hour. Soon they’ll pass new legislation, Activist incarceration, Lock us up, throw away the keys, They’ll kick us whilst we’re on our knees, Tell us all we must have order, Prison camps preserve our border. They’ve gone too far, what will it take, To reign the rich, the cruel, the fake? Strong resolve, point up solution, Bring on velvet revolution, To overthrow draconion, Nightmares from crazed Etonian.
Aggravation will drive me to action. When ritzy apologists treat us like Wasps trapped inside hand carved wooden bottles, As they poke us with sticks through tiny holes, To make us buzz for their perverse pleasure, That’s the moment I get aggravated. The way establishment figures believe, They have an inalienable right, To continue to behave as if they Are, in some strange way, better than we are. Entitled to exploit us for profit, Entitled to avoid their share of tax, Swan around in Sunseeker luxury, Stir up racial hatred to break our class, Destroy all semblance of right to protest, These are some things that will aggravate me, So yes, you can say I’m an activist, And also, damn right I’m aggravated, It seems now, as people are promised a Return to the old normal Shangri-la, Is the moment to enact a state coup. They can criminalise activism, Through ill defined state run aggravation, Their problem is they can’t defeat ideas, Join us as Aggravated Activists. Pissed off by the descent to fascism? Join A A today, you know it makes sense.
Reality, so easily transformed, Perceptions nipped, tucked, manipulated. Politicians, artists, tricksters, each day, Glide effortlessly between truth and lies. How gullible, accept artificial Replicants that live fake lives behind screens, On screens, in front of screens, beyond the screens. Immersed in games that shake life foundations. Android companions now cherished daily, Truth is irrespective in brave new world, Millions live virtually, revved up In Avatar existences, fed by Rich cast iron blockchain cyber junkies, Who care not one jot for consequences.
Hear the river sing Songs among the rocks Gurgle in the pools Swish on down the race, Crash over the falls, Ripple in shallows, Swirl beyond the bend, Roar after the storm, And yet we long to Swim in the hollow, As early morning Mist whispers the song, Of a Teifi summer. It will be here soon, We’ll drift to the sea, Beneath clear blue sky, Covid behind us, Older but wiser, And happy again.
Lyric:- She’s sitting out, in Greenwich Park, Upon a bamboo chair, Looks through a purple telescope Whilst brushing out her hair. This garden is a secret place, She knows not what I dare. I have been stealing apples for My family to share Her dress is white with gold damask, Translucent skin so fair Around her waist a chatelaine Of silver she did wear She looked so fine, I wanted her, As swallows need the air, But, deep inside, the truth I knew, For me she’d never care. Tomorrow I’ll be back again, I hope that she’s still there, While I scrump more of her apples, Perhaps, even, a pear. Next morn I spy her burning house, Smoked flames reach everywhere. Beside the purple telescope? Her empty bamboo chair.
Harry Rogers Aberbanc – In the hut: 22/11/2016 Ballad – Subject: Class – Unrequited Love
Selling art on the railings all day long Tourists come and go looking for deals Need a cold drink and something to eat Take away the dusty taste of the street Go to Shepherds Market across Park Lane The sun still shines but it smells like rain Heading for the pub where the red light glows A champagne pink dog and her working clothes
Whispers in my ear “Coming home dear” Softly in my ear “Coming home dear”
Pink dog in the red light Smile breaking my mind Pink dog in the red light She’s looking kinda kind
Get a bottle of Schlitz and her a pink gin She watches the door as the night draws in Bottles empty as the thirst gets slaked Can’t tell if that smile is real or faked Couldn’t care less really ‘cos it feels nice Another pink gin with one cube of ice A squeeze of the thigh a tip of the wink Another warm smile a drain of the drink
Whispers in my ear “Come on home dear” Softly in my ear “Come on home dear”
Pink dog in the red light Her smile breaks my mind Pink dog in the red light She’s looking kinda kind
In the taxi We’re going home With a pink dog Going home
Harry Rogers, In the study at Pencnwcau 29th September 2014
From Sandy Springs to Mableton, That’s where I long to hang. I’m on the plane in twenty two, To meet my homie gang. The Green Room The Green Room Gotta get back there The Green Room The Green Room Gonna fly back there The thing I miss the most of all Is jamming in Atlanta. That southern groove a music school, Love jamming in Atlanta. With Critter and Sean in Tucker, Watch shadows on the moon, Roosters strut and pandas pucker, God how I miss that room, Moonshadow, Moonshadow, Go jamming in Atlanta Moonshadow, Moonshadow, Miss jamming in Atlanta I watch Ten Thousand Pontiacs Roar at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack I howl the Wolfs’ Red Rooster blues, I’ll soon be winging back. The lovestorm, The lovestorm, When jamming in Atlanta The lovestorm, The Lovestorm, Love jamming in Atlanta
Illiterate economists, Never ever on the level. Across the North they spew their bribes, False sympathy from the devil. At home restless activists click, Huddled all night over hot screens, Build rainbows across boundaries, Spun from the finest hope filled dreams. A reckoning is on its way, Whilst Tories cream the public purse, Smell the rotten speculation, Beneath rock bottom things get worse, Bent City dogs eat each other, Pandemic gravy has run out, No place left to run for cover, No more margins worth half a shout. When the system runs out of gas, Gangsters do what they always do, Promise bigger crumbs from tables, Then screw us all, from me to you. Organise now, we must not wait, Barbarians are through the gates, If we do not then we will see Tsunamis of austerity.
Hancock has his half hour in a lab gown, War declared on obese covid victims, Health workers slapped in face with one per cent, After the claps, the rattles of the pans, We expect heroes to be tret better. Paltry sums for those who give us their all, Hancock, white gowned, as faux as faux can be, Trumpets his victory delivered by Those workers he insults with every word. Soon road map will lead through gate to “normal”, Beaches will fill with holiday fakers, Throughout summer freedom ramps up and up. No places left for crap leaders to hide, We know they’ll take health workers for a ride.
Chill winds blow across our spines, Ice cold, so unexpected Green shoots break warm surface soil, We shake and tremble, worn out After these twelve fearful months. Thoughts of a third wave too much. Every day across media Shop keepers and publicans Voice their need to trade again, Such incessant clamour galls, Journos do not have the balls To call out this pantomime. The qhastly opposition Helps maintain austerity, The already unprotected Are joined by millions more, Rains fall until September, When dams burst, as taps turn off, When the wards fill up anew, Nouveau poor left nithering, In total bewilderment, Unable to understand. Where lies Bentham’s safety net? Full of rents and gaping holes, Discarded by Thatchers clones, It is all but cut away. What follows is hard to tell, Inside Pandemonium, The dark capital of hell, Fear of “the other” plotlines Are dreamt up in Downing Street. Once more draw Damocles’s sword, Machiavelli ignored, All the way to final hour, Insanely cleave to power. Provoking insurrection In order to smash it down, The whack a mole strategy. All the while new variants, Propagate willy nilly. Yet hope still springs eternal, Friends, family, and comrades Go further than sympathy. Trust in each other utmost In community action. If ever there was a need To share and pull together Against those who would have us Take the blame and pay the price For something not made by us, It surely must be right now. And yet Princes of darkness Abound around and around, And I feel too old and tired, To run down the extra mile, It’s up to those we brought up, To pick up all our dropped reins, And bring these wretched ghouls down.
Level up, level down, red wall, blue wall, Tax up, tax down, oi lend me half a crown, Put a levy on, hoover up some crumbs, See the CEOs twiddling their thumbs, Extend the furloughs, varnish over cracks, Bring back two for one, pork pies and Big Macs, Keep Matts’ health contract, no-one has read it, Deny his big lie, forget he said it, Big up the vaccines, claim a victory, Consign the mistakes into history, Tell all the people first thing in your head, Soon life starts again, don’t mention the dead. But the truth is, none of this is over, In fact we’ll find it’s only just begun.
That lighthouse on Tybee Island Shines the river to Savannah Where those old duelling pianos Stomp Georgia rock blues all night long I’ll ride the Amtrak from New York To get me where I long to be Way down south back to Savannah On the riverboat in Tybee, With a bowlful of shrimp and grits, Fried green tomatoes on the side, Some ice cold IPA to drink, Then play stud poker as we ride. Will I ever go back again, The way things are, without the planes, There is no way to live my dreams, Locked down? Locked up is how it seems, Still the light shines bright gleaming beams, To guide us all back to Tybee.
Beneath evening snow moon murmuration, Hopeful dreams of spring take tentative shape, Snowdrop flowers quiver, daffodils burst, Their yellow heads bring the first real colour, Into the dank, pandemic cloud filled gloom. Such yellow assaults our burnt out senses, Orange flecks joyfully intoxicate As late afternoon sunbeams blow our minds, As this darkest winter comes to an end. Soon tulips will dance beneath waking trees. Tomorrow we will take a warm, dry, walk, On down the hill to Henllan post office, Which still offers community service, The ghouls from Westminster are not here yet.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 26th February 2021.
Never before, so blatently, Have crooked politicians shown How little they care about truth. Corruption goes right to the top, We all know, yet they never stop. If they came into your kitchen, If they robbed your biscuit barrel, Of your rainy day cash savings, With ghastly smile and silly joke, Right there, before your very eyes, You’d punch them on the nose, no doubt, With no ado you’d throw them out, You’d kick these bastards down the street, You’d slap their heads, stamp on their feet, Never would they rob you again. Somehow, when they are on the news, When questioned hard about contracts, Given willy nilly to friends, Unmonitored, brown envelopes, For artificial work not done, By unqualified, fly by night, Toffee nosed, silver tongued buffoons, Who trouser billions of pounds, You just turn away from TV, Accept this as normality. Yet whilst they rob your Jack and Jill, You must suck on this bitter pill, They do not care if you are ill, With your money their coffers fill. Your cash has gone, your future spent, Your cookie jar no different, How foolish, all this trust you lent, To popinjays who turn out BENT.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 25th February 2021.
There is no bliss in ignorance, Not there in Starmerville, Diktats reign down from up above, That’s life in Starmerville, Their world, filled with indifference, Rules all in Starmerville, They’ll never move from hate to love, Not there in Starmerville Rules we once made now count for nought, Torn up in Starmerville, Forget about democracy, It died in Starmerville, Imposed candidates without say, Lord it in Starmerville, Nobody listens to the left, Today in Starmerville, You can’t speak out, say how you feel, Not there in Starmerville, There’s only room for patriots, Out there in Starmerville, Wrap yourself up in union jacks, That’s it in Starmerville, All my comrades have had enough, Pissed off in Starmerville, Times can move on, our hope dies last, Fuck you in Starmerville.
Harry Rogers in the Yellow Room, February 25th 2021
Elected cabinet politicians, Behave as though they live above the law. Worse still petty opposition leaders, Forget their role and what they are there for. It is not forensic to back away, These Tories are not your bosum buddies, Not your colleagues in your cloistered chambers, Neither are they worthy recipients, Of any congratulations at all, When the law finds them guilty as liars, We want them held up strongly to account. The sad truth is that a large percentage, Of people died because they failed to act. Stand up strong, call out failures when they fail, Don’t join them in some cabalistic pact, For crying out loud get a fucking grip.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 21st February 2021.
The YouTube link arrived in messenger at 10.00pm last Thursday. I have not slept since then. When I hit the play button I almost fell off my chair with shock. My stomach felt as if somebody had tipped a gallon of readymixed concrete into it. Some people might feel happy, ecstatic even, to see a major performer at an international event singing one of their songs. Not me, not this song and not by this singer. I watched in horror as the singer nicknamed The Governor took my beautiful sensitive ballad, written for the only person who ever truly meant anything to me, and turned it into an overblown power ballad designed for afternoon Radio Two listening. I felt physically sick at every contorted vocal slide and shriek. He performed it to an audience of 50,000 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and they went mental as they screamed for more. Not only had he completely ruined the meaning of the song and turned it into a sickly sweet afternoon screwfest but he did something even more unforgivable in my book. He failed to mention that the song was mine. How dare an international superstar take my song and not attribute it. I watched the video on repeat for about two hours solid as the anger mounted within me. I determined then and there that I had to do something about it. I Googled his website and looked for his touring itinerary. He had a couple of gigs in London booked, one yesterday, one today. I bought a ticket for each, not cheap at sixty pounds a throw. I didn’t know exactly what to do but he had something coming to him. The whole idea of revenge took shape as the days passed. Sleep became difficult. As I lay in bed the pure injustice of what he had done whizzed and whirred inside my brain throughout the nights. The question of how to wreak my revenge on him grew from the centre of the pit of my stomach where that ache of unrequited love had been born in the first place. Any other song and I might not have reacted so strongly but this one was special. Usually I can write a lyric in under an hour, sometimes in minutes, but this one had taken weeks to hone and polish and get right. It required me to search deep into my psyche and explore exactly what she meant to me and how much I loved her. No ordinary three minute throwaway pop ditty but truly a heartfelt cry of passion aimed directly at her. I rarely perform the song these days because it hurts too much to revisit the memories of that time. I had recorded it on my second album, which had not sold many copies, but had been critically acclaimed. At that time it looked as though the band might make it big and I still harboured belief in the efforts of our management to get us the gigs and the airplay needed to propel us into super-stardom. Such a long time ago now but the memory of Jill standing in the wings as we played is as vivid as ever. Her winning smile with just a hint of irony drove me on then and haunts me now. The first time I read the lyric to her she burst into tears. She knew immediately that I had written it for her and wanted her to leave Pete, our lead guitarist, for me. At first she just turned away from me and made it clear that she belonged to Pete and that was that. Pete knew nothing of this and he even complimented me on writing such a great song and his guitar licks were simply beautiful. After we had recorded it we played it at every gig and, after about six months, it worked. One night in the dressing room at Dingwalls she told me she was leaving Pete and that she could not stop thinking about how it might be if we became a couple. From then on we moved in together and our life became as sweet as it is possible to imagine. Of course Pete was not best pleased but he knew that there was no going back and he wished us luck. Our relationship lasted for seven months and ended when she fell down stairs backstage at the Vortex and suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage. After that we just stopped playing it and the band quickly split up. Yesterday I arrived at the Apollo and the place heaved with fans wearing tee shirts emblazoned with phrases such as “There Is Only One Governor”, “The Governor Rules, OK” and “Listen To The Governor”. The smell of popcorn in the foyer overwhelmed me and the amount of people standing outside smoking and vaping added to the noxiousness. I handed my ticket to the security man who looked like something straight off Venice Beach boardwalk, with muscles that bulged everywhere. He asked if I had any cans, bottled water or food with me, I told him I didn’t and he handed me back the torn stub. I was through the turnstile and into the bar area where I bought a large whiskey and downed it in one. I sauntered over to the merchandise table and there were piles of his CDs and various clothing items but the display board with covers of the latest vinyl release caught my eye. Written on a sign were the words “The Governor will be signing Vinyl Album covers after tonight’s show”. The packaging for the album looked, I had to admit, superb. It needed to be to justify the asking price of twenty five pounds. The front cover featured a portrait of him superimposed over a photograph of the chariot and horses on top of the Brandenburg Gate with the words THE GOVERNOR – LIVE IN BERLIN. I looked at the back of the sleeve and read the track listing. There I saw at track 5 on side two “The Girl With The Smile In Her Eyes”. No writing credit to me, it just said Arr: The Governor. I could feel the anger welling up inside me. I walked away from the display and into the auditorium where I took my seat and began working out how to do what I knew I now wanted to do so much. Hatred had completely consumed my whole being. The lights dimmed and two thousand adoring fans started to cheer and whoop. Suddenly a single high powered white spotlight beam shone onto the centre of the stage and illuminated The Governor. He stood there in his worn industrial denims and checked flannel shirt with a mustard coloured Fender Telecaster slung over his shoulder. He looked like a true man of the people but I knew the truth. I knew what stood before them to be a lying, cheating cockroach that made a living out of ripping off fellow artists. The band started to play the first of a string of number one hits. Overcome with stifling emotion I got up and left. Tonight I returned to the Apollo, in my pocket a converted ball point pen which housed a super sharp steel stiletto blade. This time I watched the whole show, tears streamed down my face when he performed my song. A young woman leaned across to console me but I shrugged her off, I didn’t need her sympathy. The show ended and I went straight to the merchandise table and purchased a copy of the vinyl album. I loitered around in the foyer as a queue formed for The Governor’s autograph, I joined the end. Fifteen minutes after he had triumphantly left the stage he appeared at the stall, looking fresh, in a clean shirt and jacket. He smiled and chatted freely as he asked people their names and signed albums. I edged closer as the queue got shorter with my album in one hand and the weaponised pen in the other. When I reached the table I calmly handed the album sleeve to him. He took it saying “Oh, it’s OK man, I have my own pen. Who shall I make this to?” I looked into his eyes and said “Make it to Alan Banks, the man who wrote The Girl With The Smile In Her Eyes.” He stopped in mid signing. He looked at me and said “Wow that is fucking awesome man. We thought you were dead. We have a ton of royalties waiting for you. Why don’t you come with me to my dressing room and meet my manager, we can sort this out. I can’t tell you how glad I am to meet you, such a great song.” I slipped the pen into my pocket and walked backstage with him as he continued to praise me. “Don’t suppose you have any other blockbuster songs do you?” he laughed. “As it happens, I just might.” I replied as he handed me a bottle of what made Milwaukee famous. Funny how a bit of recognition can make all the difference. Harry Rogers, edited im the Yellow Room, February 18th, 2021.
Huddled beneath rainbow hoodie, Head bowed, feet bare, he begs, silent. I see him in shiver alley. On the way to buy food for birds I felt such a goodie goodie. Finches, sparrows, tits and robins, All friends in my kitchen garden.
Realisation strikes full force. Here on cardboard square sits a man, A young man with no belongings. I would easy spend thirty pounds On fat balls, nuts and mixed seed. He has neither home, nor garden. Open my wallet, take tenner, Hand him the brown note, he looks up. “That’s far too much man, far too much.” Shocked at how well spoken he is, The words tumble quick from my mouth, ” Do you have a bed for tonight?” ” I don’t, my girlfriend is away. She is coming back with money, We will rent a room very soon.” “Come to my house, I have spare space.” “I can’t do that, not right now man.” Scribble down name and phone number, Thrust paper into blackened hand, Hurry to garden bird seed land. Laden down with avian feast I pass him by on way back home, “Did you mean it? About the bed?” Awkwardly I blurt out “Of course.” See the tears tumble down his face. “Thanks, I might call you, some time soon.” He moved in fourteen days ago. His room is already unkempt, Empty spice bags litter the floor. When straight he is quite diffident, We talk all night when he’s lucid. Never knew someone with so much strife, The police woman very kind, Told me he never saw the car, That killed him on the roundabout, He stumbled from the kerb she said, The Jaguar killed him stone dead, Not yet thirty, a crying shame, I don’t know where to lay the blame. Spice, the variety of life.
Harry Rogers, in the hut, 24th April 2018
Many thanks to Angie for sharing the narrative behind this piece.
These are dangerous days, When it’s so fucking hard, To distinguish the line, Between ficticious truth And new facticious lies. Questions posed, never read, Surveillance plutocrats Reshape human demands, Influence how we think, When we think, what we think, Soon to be where we think. They rule us by knowing Who we are, what we like, What we do, where we go. We happily tell them Everything, every day, Every time we log on. But it is not the tech, That fucks up all our lives, It’s Capitalism In the most vicious form. Those who buy our data, Who mine our very lives, Undo democracy, Destroy skills and knowledge, Plough into the unknown, Elevate the richest, Denigrate the many, Google server goldmines, Rich veins keep on giving. Fill our heads with nonsense, Encourage Q-Anon, Keep our minds occupied, Whilst we stop watching balls. This social media, Filled with fact…. or fiction, Will it last forever? How will we ever know?
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 19th February, 2021
As he stood on the scaffold on Blackwall Point looking across Bugsby’s Reach, with his bright blue eyes, at the other gibbets on Cuckold’s Point Charlie Hendry was seething with rage. Not only was he about to be hung for something he had not done but these rotten king’s excise men had refused to let him say farewell to his fair Betsy. He could feel the blood drain away from his face as the anger grew inside him. The large crowd were gathered on the shoreline and he could see Betsy standing in the front row, wearing her best red velvet cape, being comforted by her brother Jack as she was clearly in some distress. Standing on the muddy stones at the bottom of the Scaffold stood a man with some paper in his hand and a quill pen, his ink pot rested on the bottom spar. Charlie guessed this must be a journalist waiting to record his last words. “Anything to say Charlie?” the scribe called up. “Tell my Betsy I’ll not forget her, and I will do my best to come back and find her,”, he replied, “and tell that lying son of a dozen fathers Ben Beak my soul won’t rest until I get my revenge for what he has done. Neither he nor his family will escape my wrath, no matter that it takes all of time I will wreak my vengeance upon all his spawn. Such a revenant as I will be will stop all hearts when first they see. Mark this well ink man, I am not to be denied my retribution for this heinous miscarriage. “ “You won’t be coming back from where you’re going,” , said the hangman as he tightened the noose around Charlie’s neck, “ain’t no way back from hell!” The priest began reading out the Lords Prayer and Charlie stared at the rotting corpses hanging in the cages nearby and he knew that soon he would be hanging in a cast iron body cage from the end of a gibbet at the low water tide mark. He knew the fate that awaited him, hung first then face painted with tar and white cotton mask stuck on, left to swing as the tide ebbed and flowed over his body whilst the flesh rotted from his bones. Exhibited as a warning to all who practiced piracy on the high seas. William Kidd, Charles Vane, William Fly, Jack Rackham and many other notorious pirate captains, he knew they had all ended up the same way. Ben Beak had sold his name to the excise men for a pipe of rum, falsely accusing him of being a pirate and robbing one of King George the Thirds war ships moored in the Thames off Greenwich pier. Charlie looked towards the crowd, shouted out “I am a’coming back for you my sweet lover.” and Betsy stared straight into his gleaming blue eyes as the crowd jeered whist the trap door was released and he fell through with his body wrenching his head and breaking his neck as he struggled to stay alive. It took a full two minutes before his body stopped twitching and he finished dancing the hempen jig. The executioner and his assistant cut him down, put his body into the body cage, closing the hinges on the arms, legs and head, then they carried him back up the scaffold and connected the link on the top of the head guard to the hook on the chain at the end of the gibbet and there was his final gruesome resting place, swinging in the wind as the red sailed barges and black sailed wherries made their way up the river Thames into the cold sunset on this new years eve of 1799. In 1999 it was New Years Eve, it was New Millennium Eve. Sir James Beak, chairperson of the events organising committee sat at his desk in his office inside the newly completed Millennium Dome sharing a glass of champagne with his Secretary, Betsy Ellison, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second, her husband Prince Phillip, Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie. Two security guards stood outside the office and everything seemed to be going smoothly. There were two and a half hours to go before the opening of the Dome at midnight, the rehearsal had been fraught but they all seemed to know what there respective roles entailed. The fact that the transport arrangements for all the politicians and the myriad of journalists and VIPs had gone completely to pot was something they could do nothing about. Tony’s legacy project was almost complete and there was no time left. “I must say Tony this is certainly a most magnificent structure. A fitting place to focus the eyes of the nation at this most important and exciting moment. Thank you so much for for all your diligence in seeing it through to this point.”, said the Queen “Oh thank you so much but I cannot take the credit for all of it, all of the hard work was done by Sir James and his team, I just kept a watchful eye as the project progressed.”, answered Tony Blair “Interesting place to put the blighter,” said Prince Phillip, “I heard that Blackwall Point was the place where the Pirates hung on chains in gibbet cages in the old days. One used to be able to order a plate of whitebait and glass of porter whilst looking at their rotting carcases swinging in the breeze through spyglasses in the local riverside taverns. Can’t do that sort of thing these days, more’s the pity.” “Take no notice of Phillip. he doesn’t mean it, do you?”, the Queen said as she shot Phillip one of her withering glances. “Eh, what? Oh yes, if you say so my dear. Still a most interesting place indeed.” Just as Sir James was about to offer more interesting information about the site there was a knock on the door and then the head of security came into the room. “I am sorry to interrupt your majesty,” he said “I am afraid we have received a telephone call saying that there is a bomb planted in one of the tunnels beneath the dome. We do not think there is anything in it, probably a hoax, but, just to be on the safe side, we are carrying out a search of all the service tunnels. We think it would be best if you all came with me and vacated the site whilst we do our check, just in case you understand.” “How tiresome.” said Cherie, “You would think people would let us have at least one moment of splendor. Everybody has been so horrible about this project right from the word go. The media, the politicos on the left and the right, none of them have had a good word to say about it. I will be glad when tonight is over and we can all move on into the 2000’s.” “If you would like to come along with me we have two cars waiting to whisk you all away to safety.”, said the security chief “I had better go down and see for myself what is going on,” said Sir James,”might be a good idea if you came too Betsy. I will see you all back on the platform at midnight for the opening, I am sure all will be well.” As the dignitaries left the room Sir James and Betsy hurriedly took out their yellow safety helmets and a halogen flashlight from the cupboard in the corner of the room and went out with the security chief. Underneath the dome there was another world. The service tunnel network carried all the services needed for a large structure. Water pipes, sewerage and waste disposal, telecommunications cables, electricity and gas supplies, plus a tunnel that led to the waters edge through which special guests could gain entrance by boat when there was difficulty with excess traffic on the roads. All the service tunnels had been checked within ninety minutes of the call and they had all been given the all clear, nothing had been found, it was looking like a hoax call after all. James Beak was feeling mightily relieved as last minute hitches were not the best thing in the world for his heart condition. This was going to be his last major project and he was looking forward to retirement. What better way to bow out than such a prestige event where he had nailed the biggest show in two thousand years of British history. He was feeling good about things again, it would not take long to get the Queen and The Prime Minister back into the royal box in time for the opening of the year long Millennium festivities. The security team came out of the tunnel that led down to the river and reported that it too was all clear although there seemed to be a strange musty smell in the tunnel but they had been unable to ascertain the source. “Betsy, we had better take a quick look down there just in case there is something that needs sorting out later.” Sir James said. “OK James, let’s get on with it, we only have 45 minutes to go before the start, we need to hurry.” she replied. They went through the double set of flood doors designed to ensure that if there was ever a tidal surge on The Thames it would not get into the network under the Dome. As they walked towards the platform and the landing jetty at the far end of the tunnel the lighting overhead began flickering. They looked at each other and both noticed the sudden increase in the musty rotting fish-like smell. The lights increased in brightness before going out with a loud sputtering noise as if water had got into the cables. They were in complete darkness, Sir James switched on the flashlight. “There we are my dear,” he said,” nothing to worry about just a short in the circuit. That must be what the smell is all about, I have often smelt this in the past when old plug sockets develop shorts.” Before she could say anything there was a loud rending noise in the tunnel wall just to the left of where they were standing. Sir James aimed the flashlight beam at the wall and watched as small pieces of concrete began flaking off and then larger chunks began to fall to the floor, within five seconds an enormous hole had appeared over six feet high and three feet wide. the surface behind the tunnel wall was composed of old compacted river mud which was giving a much stronger odour of the same rotting fish smell. Betsy was already moving back along the tunnel towards the Dome but Sir James stood there transfixed by what had just happened. As he looked he noticed that the mud appeared to moving, there was a squelching noise and then a whole section of the mud fell away revealing what looked like the outline of a body. Suddenly the shape moved towards Sir James from the hole and he could make out what appeared to be a corpse covered in stinking rotting flesh, it’s face draped with a disgusting piece of cloth with a hole where the mouth would have been. Sir James felt his heartbeat increase significantly as fear took over his entire body and his adrenaline levels surged. His heart went into arrhythmic spasm. Betsy had turned and screamed as she saw the Revenant of Charlie Hendry in all his gory majesty standing in front of Sir James. Then a strange sound emanated from the horrible being. “Beak, I said I would return and wreak my vengeance on you.”, Charlie Hendry said in a low pitched gurgling voice, ” Now as you die I will dance the Hempen Jig once more only this time it will be out of pleasure at your passing.” The figure began twitching and moving it’s legs and arms in the most alarming fashion, twisting its torso into the most abominable shapes and moving ever closer to Sir James as it did so. The last thing Sir James saw before his heart gave out was a large yellow and green eel emerging from the hole in the mask on the revenants face. James Beak collapsed dead on the floor. The revenant turned and looked up the tunnel towards the quivering secretary. “You don’t be MY Betsy.”, it gurgled and with that he completely disappeared in front of her very eyes. The lights came back on and the tunnel wall was somehow repaired back to it’s pristine smoothness as before. The strong pungent fishy smell had also gone. Sir James Beak lay dead on the floor. Beside him, slithering along the floor towards the steps down to the water was a three feet long yellow and green eel with the brightest of bright blue eyes.
This is a complete work of original fiction by me Harry Rogers, in my hut, Aberbanc, 14th November 2015
Drank in the sixties with my mum, In a South London public bar. Dominoes click on the table, We’re going to play batchy fives. Lonnie shuffles, Ghostie buys drinks, A pint of prawns, some pickled eggs, And four bags of Smith’s crisps, with salt. Pegs leapfrog round the cribbage board, The food and beers are bang on song, I marvel at end game tactics, Ghostie and Lonnie are old boys, Their glee as they win plain to see, That was the point it dawned on me, They’d been Victorian children.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 17th February 2021.
This short story is fictional based on the real life story of Johnny Clemence who my mother Pauline and I played many games of dominoes with in the public bar of the Bricklayers Arms in the late fifties and early sixties.
Ghostie and Pauline around 1961
1944 had one hell of a summer. Greenwich was one of those London boroughs that got a right pasting from the German bombing raids and the local mortuary in St Alphege’s passage was much busier than it had been for a couple of years. This was largely due to the introduction of the doodle bug, Hitler’s flying bomb. I guess you could say that they were the forerunners of the modern day drones, in that they were unmanned aerial vehicles. The people hated to hear the high pitched whine of the doodle bug engine because they knew that somebody was likely to die or, at the very least, get seriously injured in a short space of time.
Johnny Clemence was the attendant at the St Alpheges Field Mortuary and he had been working non stop for 36 hours solid. He decided he would go for a beer in his favourite pub, The White Hart, in Crooms Hill. It was not the closest boozer to the mortuary but it served the best beer in Greenwich by far and that was important in such times of austerity. He was careful not to waste his few shillings of beer money on rubbish and this was just a matter of common sense to him. He walked into the small public bar and there, sat in the bay window, was his best pal Lonnie Manchester. Johnny and Lonnie had grown up together, served in the First World War together and had worked as lighter-men on the Thames until the end of the 1930’s. They were such mates that people used to think they were brothers in their dockers outfits of flat caps, black waistcoats and white mufflers. Johnny ordered two pints of mild and bitter and took them over to the table where Lonnie already shuffled the set of black and white dominoes.
“Alright matey?” said Lonnie
“Knackered.” said Johnny
“I heard there was a lot of action in East Greenwich last night.”
“Yes, Jerry blew the back end off of the Queen Victoria in Trafalgar Road. Luckily nobody was hurt. If the buggers had hit the public bar it would have been total carnage. Apparently the local wood yard sent a van load of timber round there and they have patched it up as best as they could and they were open again at 11.00am and serving cider as usual.”
“This bloody war, it seems like everybody’s so used to it that they just carry on as if it is normal.”, said Lonnie with a resigned sigh.
“I know mate, it’s going on and on. I’ve had a bellyful of it though, I need a break, you know, a couple of weeks hopping down in Kent, or some time at my sisters place down in Lancing. Even a week would do.”
Johnny got his bread and dripping sandwiches out of his coat pocket whilst Lonnie dealt the dominoes for their lunchtime game. They usually played “batchy fives” using a cribbage board to score with and counted the scores in multiples of five. Both of them were experts and knew each other’s game too well and so it was not unusual for their games to go right down to the last domino, and this day was no exception. Johnny won the game by one point, the closest of margins and he picked up the two sixpences they had been playing for and put them into his waistcoat ticket pocket. He lifted up his pint glass and drained the last of the beer.
“Back to the grindstone for me, no peace for the wicked, I’ve got a load of people to get ready for the undertakers to take for embalming this afternoon.”
“OK pal,” said Lonnie, “same time tomorrow, I want to win back me tanner.”
They both laughed as Johnny took his glass back to the bar.
“Sees yer later.” he said and set off back to work.
The afternoon sun shone brightly as Johnny walked past the church and turned down St Alphege’s Passage. The pavement of this small street was made up of old headstones and, if you took your time, you could still read the names of long dead people from the 1700’s as you walked along. Johnny whistled his favourite Arthur Tracy song, “Marta (rambling rose of the wild wood)”, he particularly liked the accordion accompaniment, as he walked into the small park where the mortuary stood in the far corner, next to the children’s playground. By the time he got into the staff room the weather had changed and there was a typical summer downpour. Johnny turned on the radio and tuned it to the light programme, then he put on his white overalls and moved into the main area where the cadavers were stored after autopsy. Johnny had the unenviable task of clearing up once autopsies were completed. He had taken this job after he had fallen between two barges on the river and badly damaged his right leg. He could walk OK and people never noticed his slight limp but he was nowhere near agile enough to hop from barge to barge any more and so had been retired off the river. This was a source of great sadness to him as there was not a day went by that he didn’t miss travelling up and down Bugsby’s Reach on the Thames between Woolwich and Greenwich.
Johnny looked at the six bodies on the slabs in the main Autopsy room, three women, an old man and two young children, victims of the previous nights bombing raid, and he set about carefully sprinkling them with the Chloramine powder he used for stopping stinks, and killing flies and maggots, before he wrapped them in cotton sheets and put them onto the special sliding trays for insertion into the cadaver storage room. By four o’clock he had finished this task and was well into washing down the slabs and scrubbing the floor. He was a stickler for cleanliness and always made sure that when the pathologists and forensic staff came in everything was ship shape for them. He took pride in his work and, even though it was often gruesome, he saw it as something totally worthwhile. He finished washing down at six thirty and was just spreading the Chloramine powder on the floor when he heard the sound of a doodle bug approaching. “Oh my gawd,” he thought “not another load of work.” That summer in London and the South East there were over eight thousand deaths and tens of thousands injured by these terrifying, rocket propelled, war machines. Johnny was glad that he heard this one pass on by but a second doodle bug was right behind the first and he never noticed the engine cutting out. This was the moment that Londoners hated the most because when the engine cut out that meant that the bug was about to drop out of the sky and if you heard the whining stop then it was very likely that it was going to land near you. Johnny was putting the Chloramine away in the storage cupboard when the doodle bug hit the mortuary. He hadn’t heard a thing and was oblivious as the building erupted with a catastrophic explosion.
There were a lot of people in the Lord Hood public house in Creek Road who heard the enormous detonation of the bomb and many of them rushed around the corner to what remained of the mortuary. There was a large cloud of smoke hanging in the air and Billy Cole, the local butcher, said “There is absolutely no way anybody could survive that.”
As he spoke, there appeared a figure staggering through the smoke and ashes. What a ghastly sight they saw as he came towards the crowd. Johnny was covered from head to foot in the white embalming powder. Two women started screaming and Billy said “Blimey it’s a bleeding ghost.” They took Johnny into the snug at the Lord Hood and gave him a large glass of rum. The powder storage room had given just enough protection to save him from the main blast, although his hearing was never quite the same again. His fame as a survivor spread all over Greenwich and Deptford and that was how, for the rest of his life, he became known as “Ghostie”, one of the few to survive a direct hit by a flying bomb in what was called the “doodle bug summer” of 1944.
A gothic lyric inspired by the beach on the Thames in front of The Yacht public house in Greenwich, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
The light so bright Upon the shore I find that thing I had searched for Behind a rock Beneath the pier I never thought I’d find it here It called to me ‘Neath Hunter’s Moon Absurdly white On silver spoon Low waves did lap I snorted deep Amour filled dreams Whilst I did sleep Found Xanadu Through long lost door That magic place Seen once before Astral lover Meets with me there Glinting sapphires Adorn her hair But as I lay Beneath the pier An elver slid Into my ear The eel bit through Ear drum so tight As I dreamt on Into the night Eel found a way Inside my head Whence it would feed Till I was dead In Xanadu Lake did ripple As I caressed Astral nipple Moonbeams did bounce Upon each wave Whilst I became The elvers slave The tide eased in My feet were wet Still did I sleep Could not wake yet The eel chomped on Into my brain Dream visions then Became insane Soon dawn did break My soul arose I watched the eel Slide from my nose No way could I Get back in head From Xanadu For I was dead
Shadow ministers tout final lockdown. We climb up another steep learning curve, All last year’s lessons junked, lost, forgotten. False flags unfurled, run atop Tory poles, Rabid ultra right calls for total freedom, Open everything up asap, Bring back good old British normality, Let rip the remnants of economy, Ignore the science now we’ve all been jabbed, It’s over, we’re back, it’s tickety boo, Johnson guffaws as he gives good news, but There are no easy edges in the dark, Acid reign corodes, slow, but constantly. We fall, memoryless, into the void.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 15th February 2021
I wrote this lyric for my band, Scene Red, we recorded it in 2013 on our first album Tales From Dolwion on Deep River Records, available on Bandcamp, https://scenered.bandcamp.com/album/tales-from-dolwion . It’s a short memoir of my life as a fourteen year old boy serving after time drinkers in the Bricklayers Arms, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich, around 1961.
3 AM Monday morning In the Bricklayers Arms This old pub is losing all its charms Dad sits at the piano Playing autumn leaves I serve two villains Fresh blood on their sleeves The weekend’s nearly over I have had enough East Greenwich town’s Getting kinda rough I’ve got school in the morning Homework stays undone I’ll get caned again That won’t be much fun
Meanwhile, Unbroken ponies Running free in Greenwich Park Unbroken ponies Eyes shining in the dark
Shining, shining, shining Shining in the dark Unbroken ponies Running free in Greenwich Park
Two geezers spoofing Drink for drink for drink Their wives are waiting But they don’t stop to think Eddie’s in the old bar Giving head to a worn out queen My mum’s drinking brandy With a bunch of old has beens I watch the villains Stitching up their alibis This pony stands unbroken Defiance in my eyes This old pub Is losing all its charms 3 AM Monday morning In The Bricklayers Arms Pretty soon I will be Outside running free Running with those ponies That are just like me
Unbroken ponies Running free in Greenwich Park Unbroken Ponies Eyes shining in the dark Shining, shining, shining Shining in the dark Unbroken Ponies Running free in Greenwich Park
Trumpite cannon fodder lost to reason, Geed up by this joker without lipstick, Await their fate in the criminal courts. Dark full length crombie, tiny leather gloves, Clenched in wild mid air gesticulations, Urgently preaches his dark denouement. Suitably wound up his rabble march off, On Capitol Hill they do his bidding. The Don watches Fox from the dark, white, house As he polishes favourite driver, He sees the futile maul come to a halt, Where they soil the nest of democracy, Before they return to their hotel lairs Boldly exultant even as coup fails. Who knows if this is the start, or the end? At Mar-a-Lago Don”s golf cart awaits, He waddles obscene from fairway to green, He blames his poor chip shot on his caddy, Seventy four million folk believe That this orange pultroon is their daddy.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 13th February 2021
Scream as those bent politicians Run everything into the ground. Education reduced to CV ticks, Wishly think of what we would change, But it is not what we would do, It’s more like, how can we do it? Truth, hard to tell in these strange days, Untruth, the enemy of truth, Finds easy traction every where. Plutocrat vampires suck life blood From us whenever possible, Deeply infect society With overt acquisitiveness, Before they cash in, whilst crashing All long term hope, for short term gain. The what, the where, the when, the why, Important things to consider, Above all this though comes the how, It’s time for us to organise.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 12th February 2021.
“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”
– Ursula Le Guin
Fear trumps depression and drives us into acceptance of a completely dystopian reality.
Everywhere we turn there are people who are weighed down by depression. The Covid-19 pandemic means this state of being affects more people than usual. There are many aspects/types of fear, currently the world is consumed by mass paranoia induced by the media and the politicians over the Covid-19 pandemic. Twelve months of twenty four hour rolling news largely dedicated to spreading news that points up the failure of most Western capitalist governments to get a handle on what was a forewarned inevitability has ramped up serious levels of mental health problems. There are different things to be frightened of as a result of this virus and the confusion that surrounds it. Covid and death, Poor Government, Capitalist Greed, Fake news, Forced isolation, Further destruction of certainty, Social unrest, Populist exploitation of fear of the other, The fear of being alone, Euphoria deliberately manufactured for political purposes leading to dashed hopes again and again. How do we overcome the underlying fear? Build in your mind the future you want, Find others with similar interests, Where ever possible work with those on the points where your interests cross. Be ever aware that there is much to do to build a better world. Envision that world as a place beyond war, inequality, Racism and Injustice. The name of that place is civilisation. The raison d’etre of civilisation is the emancipation of mankind beyond the shackles of false political ideologies and artificial religious prisons. Many people talk of human civilisation as if we were already civilised. We’re clearly not. How can we call ourselves civilised when, as a species, we continue to resolve disputes through primitive ritualised military means? How can we claim to be civilised when there is such gross inequality between the richest and the poorest? A world where multi millions of the population live a totally precarious existence, never knowing where their long term future lies, where their food will come from, where they will live, and where often it is dangerous to think for oneself and question the status quo, is not a civilised world. A world where human rights are trampled on by rogue Randian states run by criminal power mad sociopaths is not a civilised world. A world where capitalism is the dominant arbiter of power and economic exploitation is not a civilised world. A world where the United Nations fails to ensure justice for the global oppressed is not a civilised world. What we need to strive for is global emancipation for all, the utilisation of the common wealth of knowledge and skills for the betterment of all, only then can we claim to have achieved Civilisation. To build for that dream of civilisation is one way to overcome state induced fear and depression. There is a better world, if we can imagine it we can build it. Let’s go forward and build a socialist civilisation together.
Harry Rogers in the Red Bedroom, 11th February 2021.
It’s not as if nobody knew, Brokers vaunted their shorts with glee, They pimped profits stolen from you In newspapers, and on TV Decked in golden debauchery, Luxury yacht marinas locked, Gated to keep the people out, Economy clock still Tik Toks, As we have fun truth comes clearer, Deflation dies, inflation rise, Super crash moves ever nearer, Once digital traders fall down, The rich will all have fled your town, Only crypto currency left, Paper money gone up in smoke, Pandemics come, but when they go, That’s when start of darkness begins, We stay in doors, take eyes off ball, The biggest crooks have robbed us all, Chickens struggle home to their roost, There’s no economy to boost. Nobody remembers too much, About manufacture, and such. Education is frowned upon, Celebrities run marathons, This ain’t no time to run in parks, We won’t see much, when it’s too dark. Who knew? Deep down all of us did.
Harry Rogers, In the Red Bedroom, 10th February 2021
THE HOBBY SWOOPS DOWN FROM A CLEAR BLUE SKY IN AWE I WATCH IT TAKE A SWIFT UPON THE WING IT’S FLYING SO FAST I CAN HARDLY MAKE IT OUT MEANWHILE OVER THE FENCE I HEAR A BLACKBIRD SING SPARROWS AND DUNNOCKS ARE BUSY IN THE HEDGE A MAGPIE TAPS THE GLASS UP ON THE WINDOW LEDGE OUTSIDE IN THE YARD THE SEAGULLS AND THE CROWS ARE PECKING PLASTIC BAGS FOR ALL OUR OVER THROWS I GET TO THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT AIN’T RIGHT HOW COMES THE BUZZARD IS DRIVEN OUT BY THE KITE? BY THE DRY STONE WALL HERE COMES JENNY WREN COAL TITS AND FINCHES ARE AT THE NUTS AGAIN SWALLOWS AND MARTINS SCREECH AROUND THE HOUSE THIS TIME THE HOBBY IS TEARING UP A MOUSE
Harry Rogers, 28th February 2011, revised in the Red Bedroom, 9th February 2021
Catkins are out in Aberbanc, Spring edges ever closer by, Nature is uncontrollable, However much humans might try. Soon it will be clear bright Easter, Buds will burst in total glory, Birds will fledge as usual, And we’ll read a different story. Some daffodils already out, New life is a joy to behold, TV doom mongers continue on, Vaccines, floods and the icy cold. Sure things are bad, they’re always bad, If that’s all we ever look for, But when warm sun plays on our back, We will know there’s a better score.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 8th February 2021
Vince said some people have got to be rich, It’s just part of the system we live in. This then is one of the many ploblems, The way in which millions accept this. Schools don’t, on the whole, teach the history Of how the landed gentry got their land. Or rather how the gentry stole our land. Tribal leaders through murder and pillage, Through naked, homicidal, plundering, Robbed common people of the common weal. Later they fought badly amongst themselves, Which led to creation of bandit kings, Who in turn passed laws to enclose more land. All this led wealthy landowners to trade, In what they wanted, to make more money. Slavery brought extremely high returns. For two hundred years these faux aristo Bullies plied their crass,miserable, trade. Through countless generations a system Built mainly on exploitation and fear Made creation of inequality, Pain, and misery inexorable. This is a crime against humanity, Kings and theives do not have a divine right To plunder, kill, nor to emiserate. This system, this capitalism stinks. Vince and his neo Liberal cronies, Spout Lockean bullshit all over town, Whilst Leviathan thrives inside their heads. Well Vince, people’s eyes have sprung open wide, Some people don’t have to be rich at all, Not if we don’t bloody want them to be. So take your new book, stick it where it hurts, Get the fuck off my morning radio.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 7th February 2021
Is there such a thing as the correct line? I hear comrades everywhere debating. Nothing seems to waste so much precious time, As socialistic procrastinating, Loudly in lecture halls and student bars, Ideas clash about what is to be done, Some come to blows over dead superstars, A few look upon this as good clean fun. Meanwhile transnationals laugh up their sleeves, They plough on, hardly believing their luck, Not caring what any “lefty” believes, We fight each other. They love it. We’re stuck. If we only, just once, joined together, Perhaps we might win, once and forever.
What is it I dream of post covid? I don’t really want an awful lot, Sit in the shelter, look out to sea, Fish and chip paper rest on my knee, Watch children search above the surf line, They’ll hunt all day long for beach jewellery, More than a year since I saw the sea, The gannetts, the gulls, and the plovers, I want an Italian ice cream, Pistachio, in a cone, no flake, To look on as kids display their hoard, Sand rubies and sea glass emeralds, It’s not too much to ask for is it? I’ve complied, I need a small reward.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 5th February 2021.
Come, let’s ride across The Ponderosa On warm sunny morn summer ninety three, Gallop down track on black Irish draught back, Wind tears at my hair, loud hooves pound the ground, My friend Guy and I join in with our kids Saddled up in the centre of Sheffield, We ride single file on roads out of town, Who knew horses farted as much as they do? Through Crookes Valley to open land, then back, Feed apples and carrots to our ponies, Then call in for croissants at Hunter’s Bar, We’re back home before the Archers begins. Read The Observer, drink fresh French coffee, Some life, back in the last Millennium.
Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 5th February 2021.
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.
Think back forty nine years The summer of seventy two Stalls on the High Street A few Rock Steady sounds
Mooch down Douglas Street For a glass of Sarsaparrila On the steps of St Pauls A couple short and tall Both of them know It’s the last throw Throw of the dice It’s the last throw Of confetti and rice The decked out Daimler waits Girls look on through the gates Flashbulbs pop then hit the floor The priest is none too sure
Do ya go down Deptford anymore? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya go down Deptford anymore?
Three old drunken scrumpy boys They stagger down Broadway Head towards Carrington House Someplace for their heads to lay Young mudlarks splash in the Creek Old Billy Bleach fights the law Totters flog a bent antique Lewisham boys try to score Jamaican patties on a stall Some cab drivers ride shotgun Hippy trippers ten feet tall Paddle in the Brookmill sun Students are all fussy There are no new builds The Oxford Arms is buzzy With tales from Crossfields
Do ya go down Deptford anymore? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya go down Deptford anymore?
HarryRogers – 2/11/2012, revised 3rd February 2021
Another dreamy fishpond afternoon, Shubunkins and Koi lazily glide out, From depths of lily pad shade to surface, Father checks out the aeration system All is well, he scatters flakes of food, Then gently feeds marshmallows to big blue, This very old fish was first in the pond, Must be almost thirty five years ago. Dad holds pink cube in finger and thumb, This champion koi takes it in his lips, Gently slurps it down, and moves slowly off. Such memories do not fade easily. Dad’s long gone but there are still dreamy carp, In the bottom of his treasured fishpond, Hope I see them once more, with marshmallows.
Harry Rogers, in the Red Bedroom, 2nd February 2021.
Bo lives down in Deptford Town With nouveau riche executives Things seem crazy, they churn round Young turks trade in derivatives Long gone the old Centurion The Mercury, Nobles, The Broadway cafe Eels mash and liquor at Manzes pie shop Knickerbocker Glories at Rossis, No way! The old geezers spike At Carrington House The Edward Street stables For the rag and the bone The state cleansing centre For the flea and the louse The Art Deco palace That was Odeon The Dockers, The Costers, All of them gone We now have to listen To posh gangsters Lah-di-dah Whilst the rest of us sing Some old Squeeze song Deptford is becoming, The banksters Shangri-la Yeah Deptford has become The banksters Shangri-la
Copyright: Harry Rogers, Aberbanc, 20th February 2011, Revised in the Red Bedroom, 2nd February 2021.
A song lyric based on a tragic event near Greenwich Park in the 1970’s.
He keeps photos and perfumed loveletters In a black and white Moroccan box In a trunk at the back of the attic Secured by two silver locks Once a year, round about harvest time, He gets them all out for a read, He never stops thinking about her That old wound continues to bleed It was always the end of the summer They bottled the dandelion wine She said it was almost like drinking Pure essence of golden sunshine Then came the day, momentous day, The day they drank out of their head All the way home laughed in the car, Hit the lamp post and she was dead He won’t go walking In golden sunshine, Don’t go drinking dandelion wine He keeps a flagon of dandelion wine It starts glowing near to harvest time Dandelion wine Dandelion wine Don’t go drinking Dandelion wine.
The seed arrived Without warning On an unknown Foreign Zephyr. Deposited Itself, neatly, Between dry stones. On spagnum green Softly nestled For duration Of summer warm Swollen with dew Bursting upwards Searches for sky Seeks out sunshine Stalkly groping Stronger each day Budly bursting Cerulean Bluely special Shiny dawning Unexpected Glory morning My windflower
Harry Rogers: Tea shop in Newcastle Emlyn, 8th May 2018