The Green Tree Anthem



The Green Tree Anthem

The People’s Trees are greenest green –
They’re marching forth since Halloween.
On chilly days and snowy nights,
They proudly bear their fairy lights.

So raise your verdant branches high,
And hoist your red star to the sky –
Though humbugs scoff and scrooges sneer,
We’ll keep the green tree growing here.

When Christmas time is ruinous,
With profiteers pursuing us,
Their simple charm bring us delight,
And help us through the silent night.

So raise our battered spirits high,
And help us keep our powder dry.
Let bankers curse and workers cheer –
We’ll keep the green tree glowing here.

Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum,
For needlekind we’re pining.
Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum,
We’ll keep the green tree shining.



Democracy in Action



Democracy in Action

You’re blue or you’re red,
All others are dead,
You’re blue or you’re red or you’re bluffing.

You’re red or you’re blue,
All others are through,
You’re red or you’re blue or you’re nothing.

All others are splitters,
All others are chumps –
The heaviest hitters
Are holding the trumps.
All others are losers,
All others are fools –
We may be the choosers,
But they set the rules.

You’re blue or you’re red,
Or you’re red or you’re blue,
There’s no other colours for you.

You’re vote isn’t for –
No, you’re vote is agenst:
To settle a score
And to see them dispensed.
You’re vote isn’t aye –
No, you’re vote is a nay;
But don’t waste your cry,
Cos you’ve only one say.

You’re red or you’re blue,
Or you’re blue or you’re red,
Not orange, not yellow, not purple instead.
There’s no hope in green and there’s no hope in pink,
Cos who gives a toss what the voters may think ?



Your False True-Colours



Your False True-Colours

America, no !  You’re doing it wrong !
It’s red on the left, and blue on the right.
The rest of the planet can all get along,
But you Yanks as usual are picking a fight.
For red are the hands that must labour and toil,
And blue is the blood that possesses the soil.

It hardly takes NYPD or the Feds
To spy just how blurred is the choice of your hues;
With red-meat Republicans labelled as Reds,
And New England Democrats down with the Blues.
But red is for passion, and rage, and hard knocks,
And blue is for loyalty, culture and stocks.

America, No !  What you practice today,
We follow tomorrow – and follow you blind:
Our system for centuries soon shall decay
As crimson and cobalt get quite misaligned:
Then blue are the collars that lefties much cite,
And red are the necks of the folks on the right.


I debated whether I should leave out the superfluous ‘u’ in colour in the title, but I just couldn’t let logic overcome my desperate need for identity.





To arms, comrades !
And hands and feet –
Let’s take this to the street,
Across the land,
By arm and foot and hand.
Mile by mile,
And brick by brick,
We’ll build and style the future quick,
We’ll sling the clay to see what sticks,
We’ll string the wire,
We’ll raze the spire,
We’ll kick the soil to drain the mire.
Let’s use our teeth to smile,
Our claws to pick,
Our boots to walk on fire.
Comrades !  Raise the alarms
In foundries and farms,
To lay down our guns
And ready our arms !




ballot boxes



A vote was held.
For all we say we do not like
The outcome it has spelled –
A vote was held.

It’s too late now to criticise,
Or grumble how the populace
Should leave such matters to the wise,
Or how they fell for clever lies.

Or claim opinion has moved,
And new votes must be undertook
To catch the latest public mood
To verify what polls have proved,
To show our ranks have swelled.
But no.  A vote was held.

If we should challenger ev’ry time
A vote should happen not to chime
With what we thought it ought to say,
We’d be about the booths all day !
And though the outcome couldn’t be much closer,
Nor, to our outlook, grosser,
One side had a slightly upper hand:

Their hand.
So there you go, and here we are, you understand ?
The rule of law is far more precious
Than a little politics.
A cynic’s tricks are less than gracious,
And the outcome must prevail –
To undermine the vote would be betrayal !
We cannot say “we won’t obey,
For just this once, but never more –
Just once, and then we promise that we shall !”
Too late to slam that stable door
When pitchforks march upon the Mall.

The day was theirs – the future too, for now.
It has to be this way.
Don’t pull the “it was only to advise” –
You know that’s lies, to disallow their say:
We asked them what they wanted,
All these working-hard civilians,
And on the day, undaunted,
So they told us in their millions !
Advisory ?  Then take advice:
It’s time to pay the price.

A vote was held, a course was set,
And even though we might regret,
The threat that half our nation has rebelled,
So be it, let it be.
For we, who claim to be their betters, lost the bet.
And if the future asks us why,
We can at least still meet its eye, and help it see:
“A vote was held –
And far, far better this, than anarchy.”



Mutiny on the Waves



Mutiny on the Waves

“Caroline had to sing before London could swing”
                                                                    – Arthur Holford-Twigg

One hour per week – that’s all they give us:
One hour for Shadows & Beatles & Stones.
Just take what we’re given and don’t make a fuss
Of the hours and hours of classics and drones.
But lo !  Here come the free-marketeers,
With long hair and old spice and fresh new ideas !
And the great ship of state is under attack,
She’s running aground and unable to tack –
Her deck-chair arranging
Is only estranging –
The times are a-changing and cannot change back.

And into this fray comes the Gentleman Comrade –
What can he tell us to settle the storm ?
Sharp as a cutlass and slick as pomade,
And surely he favours free speech and reform ?
But lo !  It turns out that the new guard are blackguards
Their postmen are flatfoots, their viscount are braggarts.
The great ship of state is a quivering wreck,
With us in the galleys and them up on deck.
But the Spring tide is swelling,
The crew is rebelling –
The white heat you’re selling can’t keep us in check.

So who is the cutthroat and who is the tar ?
We’re hated by Churchill and hated by Marx.
We’re strung from the yardarm and lashed to the spar,
The system is rigged and we’re thrown to the sharks.
But lo !  The victory’s ours in the end,
And even these turncoats will learn how to bend.
The great ship of state has now squandered her rum,
So lay off the fiddle and bang a new drum.
A hard rain is falling
The future is calling
You’re only forestalling the booty to come.


I wrote this shortly after Tony Benn’s passing, and was reminded how BBC Radio 1 only came in existance due to his inability to shut down the (legal) pirate stations.  Such mixed lagacies we leave behind.



The Knockers

Stained glass at Frieburg Cathedral, 1330


The Knockers

Buckled-up backbones and crippled-up lungs,
Slag-covered faces and slag-covered tongues,
A long social ladder with negative rungs:
Who’d want to be a miner ?

The pit-pony sappers and donkey-work crews,
Collapses, explosions, and cancerous ooze,
Loyally coughing up union dues:
Who’d want to be a miner ?

Better to sweat in a mill or a diner,
Why, even the farmhands live finer !

Who wants to trudge out for an hour each way,
For a pitch-black and unpaid damn hour each way –
Well, maybe for Orwell, but hardly today,
For much has got better since then:

There’s gadgets that monitor gases, you know,
There’s baths at the pit-head, there’s lights down below,
And children were banished a lifetime ago.
So much has got better since then.

Of course, I’m just an outsider,
So what can I say ?
And yes, I see all of your pride
In your hard-digging day;
But is this your hopes for your kids
When it’s their turn to play ?
From Maerdy to Maltby, from Pittsburgh to Perth:
The sweatshops of Hell in the bowels of the earth.

Much has got better, but much is the same:
It’s ev’ry bit deadly and harsh as they claim,
And given the choice, who would stay in this game ?
Who’d want to be a miner ?

They’re breaking their backs as they’re earning their brass,
And working the hardest of all working class,
To lose out to the North Sea and natural gas.
Who’d want to be a miner ?

Ton after ton till your body is done,
And when will you next see the sun ?

Jet-black the spade-men – yet shining, their eyes,
From the guts of the planet they’re grubbing their prize,
In filthy conditions and filthier skies,
Let’s bring them back into the light.

They’re digging-up carbon from safe in its berth,
They’re warming our hearths as they’re warming our earth,
They don’t need to kill us to show us their worth.
Let’s bring them back into the light.

Of course, I’m just an outsider,
So what do I know ?
And yes, I see all of the pride
That your town has to show;
And were all the pits to close down,
Well then, where would it go ?
For deep underground there lies captured your soul,
With nothing left topside ’cept bleakness and dole.


I wrote this a few days after Margaret Thatcher died.  As one of the first politicians to take climate change seriously, can we imagine her destruction of the UK coal industry was all to save the planet ?  It certainly didn’t save the communities.

The knockers of the title were spirits in the mines who would knock the walls ominously just before a cave-in.