Monthly Archives: July 2018

Jack The Ripper

Schoolboy skinhead poet Peter Kett is still writing aggro verse in 1971, from Stepney Words II.

Jack The Ripper

I lurk in the doorways of Whitechapel
In the mists
And the narrow roads
With my knife that is as sharp
As knife through butter.
I hide in the doorways
And slit the whores’ throats
Without them making a sound,
And the police are fools
They do not know that I am one of them,
But who would look for a killer
So terrifying
Dressed in the Policeman’s uniform?
Only me …
For I am Jack The Ripper.

Peter Kett

Stalin On Literature

In his 1962 book Conversations With Stalin, Yugoslavian Communist Milovan Djilas records three meetings, and his steady disillusionment, with Stalin.
During their third meeting, in 1948, conversation turned to literature.

Since my early youth I had considered Dostoevsky in many ways the greatest writer of the modern age, and I could never quite accept the Marxist attacks on him.
Stalin also answered this simply: ‘A great writer and a great reactionary. We are not publishing him because he is a bad influence on youth. But, a great writer!’
We turned to Gorky. I pointed out that I regarded as his greatest work – both in method and in the profundity of its picture of the Russian Revolution – The Life of Klim Samgin. But Stalin disagreed, avoiding the subject of method. ‘No, his best things are those he wrote earlier: The Town of Okurov, his stories, and Foma Gordeyev.And as far as the picture of the Russian Revolution in Klim Samgin is concerned, there is very little revolution there and only a single Bolshevik – what was his name: Lyutikov? Lyutov?’
I corrected him: ‘Kutuzov – Lyutov is an entirely different character.’
Stalin concluded: ‘Yes, Kutuzov! The revolution is portrayed from one side, and inadequately at that; and from the literary point of view, too, his earlier works are better.’
It was clear to me that Stalin and I did not understand one another and that we could not agree, though I had had an opportunity to hear the opinions of important critics who, like himself, considered these particular works of Gorky his best.
Speaking of contemporary Soviet literature, I, as more or less all foreigners do, referred to Sholokhov’s strength. Stalin observed: ‘Now there are better ones!’ – and he cited two names, one of them a woman’s. Both were unknown to me.
I avoided a discussion of Fadeyev’s Young Guard, which even then was under attack because its heroes were not ‘Party’ enough and Alexandrov’s History of Philosophy, which was criticized on quite opposite grounds – for its dogmatism, shallowness, and banality.
It was Zhadanov who repeated Stalin’s remark about K. Simonov’s book of love poems: ‘They should have published only two copies – one for her, and one for him!’ At which Stalin smiled demurely while the others roared.
The evening could not go by without vulgarity – from Beria, of course. They forced me to drink a small glass of peretsovka – strong vodka with pepper (in Russian perets means pepper, hence the name for this drink). Sniggering, Beria explained, in very coarse language, that this liquor had a bad effect on the sex glands. Stalin gazed intently at me as Beria spoke, ready to burst into laughter, but he remained serious when he saw how sour I was.

A Terror To Tyrants

Irishman, Feargus O’Connor was an MP and an organiser for the Chartists and known as the Lion of Freedom. He founded the Chartist newspaper Northern Star, that had poetry in all of its issues.
This song was written in 1841 by Thomas Cooper, these lines were sung at Chartist meetings throughout the country.
O’Connor is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Ivor Cutler Grills Kippers

The always entertaining Ivor Cutler had a couple of poems in the 100th issue of poetry magazine Ambit in 1985. It’s one of the better poetry mags. The 100th issue also had work from Peter Blake, JG Ballard, Carol Ann Duffy, Adrian Henri, and more.

I Stopped It

It seems bossy of time
to go on and on
so I stopped it with my finger.
You would think I was a woman
stopping it with a finger.
A real man would stop it with both hands
and maybe a wrench to keep it stopped.
All right, I thought, I’ve stopped time,
and moved my eyes carefully to see.
It was just the same.
I grilled two kippers
with a fried egg on top.
The rest of the day passed
and when I went to bed
I took my finger off the clock.
So now I tolerate time.
Let it go its own way.

Ivor Cutler

What About What About?

Salena Godden first read this poem from the platform of the July 2018 protest against Trump’s visit to the UK. It was inspired by media arse Piers Morgan’s whataboutery with the mighty Ash Sarkar.

What about what about

Whataboutism or Whataboutery functions as a diversionary tactic to distract from the original criticism. For example, when one criticises the Trump administration, people often respond with What about Hilary’s emails? What about Obama?

I’m no fan of Trump but…
What about her emails
What about Obama
What about her emails
What about Obama

What about Bush
What about Reagan
What about Thatcher
What about Blair
What about Cameron
What about Johnson
What about May
What about Corbyn

What about Grenfell
What about food banks
What about period poverty
What about Brexit
What about saving the NHS
What about Yarls Wood
What about the Calais jungle
What about refugees drowning in the Mediterranean
What about those baby concentration camps
What about Melania in that jacket

What about her emails
What about Obama
What about her emails
What about Obama

What about Clinton
What about Monica Lewinsky
What about Stormy Daniels
What about enough is enough
What about I believe her
What about Times Up
What about Me Too
What about autonomy and choice
What about equality
What about the gender pay gap
What about the system is broken
What about being the change you want to see in the world

What about Putin
What about Syria
What about Palestine
What about Afghanistan
What about Iraq and Iran
What about Africa
What about the first nations
What about America
What about England
What about Colonialism
What about Reparations
What about Windrush

What about what about what about
What about Black Lives Matter
What about the arms trade
What about the oil and the gold
What about your blood diamonds
What about fracking
What about the last war being the last war and the war to end all war

What about here and what about now
What about how about we get to work
What about we all stop with the whataboutery
What about today and what about right now
What about the here and what about there
What about today

What about Trump and May up a tree
K.I.S.S.I.N.G or maybe just plain
B I G O T R Y Trump and Putin up a tree
World War 3 ?

WHAT ABOUT – Children shouldn’t be separated from their families
WHAT ABOUT – Women should have control over their own bodies
WHAT ABOUT – Racism should be fought every step of the way
WHAT ABOUT – We save our human rights
WHAT ABOUT – Protecting our planet


Salena Godden

Blood Groups

Lydia Lunch and Nick Cave’s the Birthday Party share a stage (and hairspray?) in this gig review from the NME, 12 December, 1981.

The Birthday Party
Lydia Lunch

The Venue

The air was thick with anticipation. A cult queen was about to create yet another debut. No one ever knows what she’ll do. She can be disaster or salvation. She began as Teenage Jesus, then she was the Queen of Siam, tonight she is just Lydia Lunch.
A soundtrack plays, the theme from some tacky horror movie, moody and evil. The drummer enters with the look of every butler who has opened the castle door. Severin, her guest, crosses the stage and takes up the bass. An anonymous guitarist under a full face rubber hood begins to crank out long screetching, whining notes. This band are new and as usual precariously impermanent. Lydia loves chance and change.
She slouches on. Undr a big hat, her eyes burn. She swillsher lager down, proud and arrogant with her back to her audience. She is Teenage Jesus, she is Queen of Siam. She holds herself up with the mike stand, leans heavily across and bellows “Nooooooo.” One very long no.
“Pools of blood in my bed,” she stretches her words out, neither singing or talking.
Someone points their video at her, trying to commit her to history. She seems so impermanent and hellbent. Lydia Lunch wants to step into some nether world, but we won’t go with her. She dances horrifically, jerking her limbs in slow motion. The macabre atmosphere thickens.
She takes her hat off, reveals a thatch of hair with singed flame roots. She lays on stage; she doles herself out in tiny doses. “God will wait forever.” She looks her audience in the eye, we’re gift horses.
What Lydia Lunch does in the here and now is understandable if you know her past; what she’ll do in the future makes her presence significant. Listen carefully.
The Birthday Party bound onto stage, over-energized, loud and reckless.
Nick Cave jumps into his adoring audience. They tear at him, reach for his hair, shake him up and down. I fear for him. Somehow he manages to scream and retch his words out. The roadies drag him back up onto the stage, and he doesn’t miss a beat.
The Birthday Party are a band that inspire total commitment in their fans. They entertain, in a rock tradition with a solid beat and intense guitar. Their originality lies in their unique non-melodies, the weird key changes. Nick Cave’s self-destructive footwork. They break musical rules and yet keep right in line. They finished with Iggy Pop’s classic “I’m Loose”, and although following in Pop’s path isn’t very new, it was strong and effective. Rock death and live sacrifice. As cave left the stage a long thin stream of blood trailed down his back.

Laura Hardy