Category Archives: Ranters

The Test

Poem by Caribbean poet Una Marson.
She was born in Jamaica in 1905. In 1928 she published her own magazine, The Cosmopolitan, which covered local, feminist and workers’ rights issues.
Her first book of poetry, Tropic Reveries, was published in 1930.She wrote further collections and also plays.
She travelled to London in 1932 and became the first black woman to be employed by the BBC during World War II. In 1942, she became producer of the programme Calling the West Indies, turning it into Caribbean Voices, which became an important forum for Caribbean literary work.

The Test

The test of a true culture
Is the ability
To move among men,
East or West,
North or South,
With ease and confidence,
Radiating the pure light
Of a kindly humanity.

Una Marson

Still Out Of Order

Infa-Riot’s album reviewed in Sounds, 26 June, 1982 by Attila the Stockbroker in his John Opposition form.

Infa-Riot
“Still Out Of Order”
(Secret pre-release)*****


A pleasure. A privilege. It had to happen, and now it has; this is the one. All you cynics and fainthearted bores, all you fashionable fops who continually sound the deathknell of punk and passion, listen to this album and KNOW that Infa-Riot have come up with the goods.
So you that that the seething mass of energy, rhythm, noise and protest labelled ‘new punk’ was one long tuneless, mindless thrash endlessly reliving the past? I say you’re the ones stuck in the past, and with ‘Still Out Of Order’ I rest my case.
This album is unstoppable all round. Songs, production, lyrics, energy – it has the lot. It’s well put together (scotching the old farts’ myth that punks can’t play), intelligent )proving that punks can THINK) and varied (more than you can say for the majority of the synthesiser set).
Twelve tracks, each one with its own distinctive character; no turkeys fly here, Marcus. There isn’t a low moment from start to finish but if I was to pick out the highest of the highs then I’d take the following:
-Power’ is an even more power-ful version of Infa-Riot’s contribution to the ‘Wargasm’ LP, a vintage singalong anthem, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ has absolutely nothing to do with Bachman Turner Overdrive and everything to do with the reality of life in Thatcher’s Britain ’82.
“Under the carpet they go, the young, the weak and the old/Under the carpet they’re swept, but YOU HAVEN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!” OK, so we won the war, but there’s still the three million. They haven’t gone away.
The last single. ‘The Winner’, is as strong and powerful as ever but to these ears it isn’t the best track on the album which just goes to show what a classic the whole thing is. That distinction goes to the incredible ‘Friday Oh Friday’, a real rival to ‘Smash The Discos’ in the anti-disco stakes. “We hate your soppy music, we love to sing some punk/So stuff you f***ing discos right where they belong.” Too right! Play it at Tiffany’s! Saturday night beneath the plastic palm trees – with Infa-Riot!
The whole album is BRILLIANT and if you think the 1982 punk scene is sterile and boring, I dare you to listen to this. Some people think 1982 is cocktail year. I KNOW it’s Infa-Riot’s year.
John Opposition

Paul Poetry Weller

Angry Jam fan in Sounds letters page 19 January, 1980.

Rude Boys On The Radio
Well there I was with my cassette in taping the Jam at the Rainbow off Radio One when all of a sudden there was this bloody bleep. I thought there was something wrong with my radio but just as I was about to dove on the tuning knob I realised that it was just being used to obliterate the ‘fucks’ on ‘Modern World.’ Just what were the BBC playing at? It can’t be that they’re trying to prevent our ears being soiled by such language ‘cos we’d already had ‘shit’ and ‘bastard’ on ‘To Be Someone’. So why did the BBC ruin my recording with that beep?
Whilst I’m writing this letter I might as well get my money’s worth for the stamp and say what I think of the pillock who wrote in a few months back saying ‘Weller is a wimp’, the most pathetic example of alliteration yet. Poetry isn’t all golden daffodils tossing their heads in sprightly dance, like music isn’t just a form of expressing yourself which Paul does extremely well both in his music and poetry. – Ann Gree

Longkesh

Poem from the 1974 anthology Love Orange Love Green – Poetry of Living, Loving and Dying in Working-Class Ulster. The anthology collected work from across the divide.

Longkesh

The wind blows and whistles and rattles out its song
Amongst the cages of barbed wire all day and all night long
It blows in through draughty huts, it’s with you everywhere
It never stops exploring, relentless, monotonous, blustering.

Miles and miles of barbed wire, all around to see,
On top grill type caging keeping me here unfree
Someone said “It’s funny, it’s really like a zoo”
But it was made for the hippopotamus, and the seal and fishes too.

Eighty-five men around, twenty-four hours a day
No privacy, not a minute, to think, to write, to pray
And the chains that keep us imprisoned, are implanted on the mind
These endless miles of barbed wire, around our hearts they wind.

The wind blows and whistles, Winter and Summer long,
It brings the snow, the rain, the sun, each day the same old song,
The time that I’ll remember when I am grey and old
How we suffered for your freedom in the dampness and the cold.

Larry McCurry, Hut 86, Cage 10, Long Kesh

Frozen

Poem by Caribbean poet Una Marson, this was written whilst she was in London during the war.

Frozen
(Winter 1941)

Europe is frozen.
It is too cold for birds to sing,
For children to make snowmen,
For rivers to splash and sparkle,
For lovers to loiter in the snowlight.

The heart of humanity is frozen.
It is too cold for Poets to sing.

Una Marson

I Don’t Buy South African

This poem is from the 1984 Lancashire Association of Trades Councils ‘anthology of working class art and literature’ Different Drums, a Second Trade Union Annual. The boycott of Apartheid South Africa was carried out through the 80s by many people. The poem also references the killing of Steve Biko.

I Don’t Buy South African

Are they South African
She asked
Her voice nervous
And hesitant
As the oranges tumbled into her bag
Why do you ask?
I don’t buy South African
She said.
Why didn’t you say so before.
What’s wrong with them?
He snapped,
Taking the fruit back,
And I saw in her tormented eyes
Black people picking oranges
Slave labour
On Africaaner farms
Black children suffering hunger,
Families torn asunder,
And as her eyes blinked nervously
A man fell
From a sixth floor window marked Police.
She coughed apologetically,
I don’t buy South African,
And she left.

Bert Ward