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.



Sunnis & Cartoonies

detail from Portrait of the Prophet Muhammad riding the Buraq, 1820-30 Indian


Sunnis & Cartoonies

Tell your children, tell your spouse,
Use a biro, use a mouse,
Ev’rybody in the house:
Doodle up Mohammed !
Take a minute, take a day,
When at your lunch or at your play,
Ev’rybody, sketch away !
Scribble down Mohammed !
Draw his eyes and draw his nose
Draw his fingers, draw his toes
What’s he look like ?  No-one knows !
Draw, you all, Mohammed !

Draw him as an analyst,
Draw him as a Knicks fan,
Draw him as an anarchist,
Draw him as a stick man,
Draw him seemly, draw him sleazy,
Draw him dreamy, draw him cheesy,
Draw him any way you pleasy
Draw your pen but not your blade.
Draw to show our common sense
Or draw to show we take offence
Or draw to show they try to censor.
Draw to show we’re not afraid.

Tell the Arabs, tell the Brits,
Use your pencils, use your wits,
Ev’rybody, Bics not blitz !
Don’t let’s awe him, let’s all draw him !
Ev’ry colleague, guest and mate,
Join the party, bring debate.
Ev’rybody: love not hate !
Come, let’s draw Mohammed !


Aves Rupulica

bird birds usa raven
Photo by Pixabay on


Aves Rupulica

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower;
Strange to think these scavengers
Should hold such royal power –
To keep the crown from toppleing,
They’re crippled in one wing,
To fawn and clown for punters,
(All still peasants of the king.)

But you should be flying, Raven,
You should have flown,
For what cares a raven for propping-up thrones ?
Be mightier, Raven, than magpie or rook –
For the higher you fly, so the smaller we look.

We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower –
So much like us, they’re savaged
Just to keep the nobs in power.
They’re victim of Victorians,
They’re prisoners to lore –
If only they could bring them down,
And goad them “Nevermore !”

For you should be soaring, Raven,
You should be gone,
For what cares a raven for owners of swans ?
Be mighty, oh Raven, and help us stand tall –
For the higher you fly, so the further they fall.


The whole myth only started in Victorian times, and to this day these magnificaent birds are denied their natural instinct to fly for the sake of tourist pounds.


worm s eye of white and black inside basket
Photo by Pixabay on



There’s a glassy ceiling above me,
Way up the greasy pole
But I’m still down in the basement
Just pence above the dole.
A fraction of us may hammer the ceiling,
Always demand more,
But most of us working stiffs are afraid
Of the rise of the quicksand floor.