SNOW MOON MURMURATION

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.

BENT

Bent Popinjays at “work”

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.

STARMERVILLE

Welcome To Starmerville

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

WHAT ARE LAWS FOR?

Forever Forensic

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.

ROCK AND TROLL

A short story.

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.

SPICE, THE VARIETY OF LIFE.

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.

FACT OR FICTION?

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

DANCING THE HEMPEN JIG

A supernatural short story about Blackwall Point in Greenwich

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

WE PLAYED DOMINOES WITH VICTORIAN CHILDREN

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.

My mother, Pauline Elsie Rogers and Johnny “Ghostie” Clemence in the early 1960s.

Harry Rogers, in the Yellow Room, 17th February 2021.

“GHOSTIE” a short story

“GHOSTIE”

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.

Harry Rogers, in the old study, 26th June 2013

BENEATH A HUNTERS MOON

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

Harry Rogers, 15-10-2019 in Harriboy’s Hut .

ACID REIGN

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

UNBROKEN PONIES

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

Harry Rogers, in my old study, 2011

CANNON FODDER

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

WISHLY THINK OF CHANGE

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.

IMAGINATION ABOVE FEAR

“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

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

BIRDS

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

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

HEY, VINCE, GET OFF MY RADIO…

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

CORRECT LINE?

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.

Harry Rogers, Pencnwcau, Aberbanc, 15/09/17

SAND RUBIES & SEA GLASS EMERALDS

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.

RIDE ACROSS THE PONDEROSA.

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.

THE ABRACADABRA FALLACY

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.

DO YA GO DOWN DEPTFORD ANYMORE?

Do ya go down Deptford anymore?
Do ya? Do ya?

Do ya go down Deptford anymore?

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

DREAMY FISHPOND AFTERNOON

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.

BANKSTERS SHANGRI-LA.

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.

DANDELION WINE

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.

HARRY ROGERS, Pencnwcau, JULY 11TH 2012