The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

The Iron Forge
The Iron Forge by Joseph Wright

 

The History of an Industrial Revolution, Located in a Parallel Universe

There was a time before the steam,
The world was truly manned:
Each ditch was dug and plough was drug
By animal or hand;
And all the light to see by came
From tallow or the sun.
So lives would trudge on just the same,
Each short and brutal run.
There was a time before the steam,
The only help was wind or stream;
So up we moved to brook or hill,
Forever lashed to nature’s will –
We’d tap the earth to drive our mill.
A little better, maybe – but we’d only just begun.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was short and slow.
Our only fuel was ox or mule,
Or when the wind might blow.
And all the heat in winter came
From hearths of wood or peat,
With forests lost to make a flame
And give a little heat.
There was a time before the steam,
Before the pitch-black golden seam,
When all the energy not hooved
Could not be bottled, bred or moved.
Our lives could only be improved
By pilgrimage to power on our thousand weary feet.

There was a time before the steam,
The world was harshly ranged;
The days were long, yet swiftly gone,
And nothing ever changed.
But then came coal – the good earth’s soul,
The black and frozen fire –
And finally we took control,
And built our chimneys higher.
There was a time before the steam,
But that was then – before the gleam
Of pistons, valves and proud machines
Whose vapour-thrust provides the means
For endless and precise routines:
To serve our ev’ry labour and to never miss or tire.

There was a time before the steam,
To which we dread return;
But once the coke is up in smoke,
Well, what then will we burn ?
We’ve still got wind and rivers, sure,
But those have local clout.
Their power cannot take a tour
To where there’s folk about.
Will there be times beyond the steam,
A flywheel to prolong the dream ?
If only we can tame the spark –
The lightning bolt, the static arc –
And store it, then release its bark !
Or else we face an Age of Dark, when all the lights go out.

 

 

The Problem with Trolleys

asphalt blur blurred blurry
Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

 

The Problem with Trolleys

Help !  A tramcar hollers and wails !
Careering for workers, three, four, five.
A runaway tram is running the rails –
How will the navvies survive ?
But wait !  A set of points are looming –
Switch the switches, stop the dooming
Of the tappers, unassuming,
Unaware they’re barely alive !

But no !  The branch line also bears
A clueless worker – just the one,
Who hasn’t seen the tram that tears,
All twenty-seven ton.
And there are we, beside the junction,
Knowing points and how they function –
Can we act without compunction,
Should we do what should be done ?

And where has Health & Safety gone,
With workers present on the track ?
There’s something fishy going on,
If no-one’s got their back.
The dead man’s handle’s truly dead,
The brakes un-tripped, the lights un-red.
Reality, it seems, has fled –
Ah well, let’s give their quiz a crack…

They say a tram is loose and live,
So should we pull that fatal lever ?
Should we kill the one…or five ?
It’s easy – we kill neither !
Cut the power, wave our arms !,
And shout a warning, raise alarms !,
To keep all workers safe from harm –
Then no-one needs to be a griever.

Make the shrinks despise and fear us,
Scoffing their contrived disaster –
If they claim the men won’t hear us,
We shout louder !, we run faster !
Who cares for the rules they set ?
We’ve got our own, and better yet.
So will we stop the tram ?  No sweat !
For only we shall be our master.

It’s All Good Stuff

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It’s All Good Stuff

Hear the dozen tongues that trip
Around the top of ev’ry bus:
They’re London’s latest membership,
As once the immigrants were us.
Not whence we came, but chose to dwell
Is what defines our each success;
And though we are our past as well,
It comes to matter less and less.
We’re changing daily, ev’ryhow,
As our subconscious makes its choice;
So we belong to London now,
It’s in our eyes and in our voice.

 

 

Undone Town

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Undone Town

I rarely go to Walthamstow,
I never visit Hayes,
I’m seldom seen in Parsons Green,
Or Catford Bridge, or Grays.

It’s not their fault my doings halt
This side of Pimlico,
But now the thrill of Hampstead Hill
Is one I’ll never know.

You see, the catch with Colney Hatch
Is that it’s far away,
And Belvedere is not so near,
And nor is Harringay.

It’s quite a trek to Tooting Bec
To tax my weary feet;
To all who dwell in Camberwell,
I guess we’ll never meet.

I’m at a loss beyond King Cross
In Wimbledon or Cheam,
And hopes to race to Enfield Chase
Are but a wistful dream.

My view is dark of Belsize Park,
No matter how I look,
I’ll never gain on Rayners Lane,
Nor wade in Stamford Brook.

My plans to rove in Arnos Grove
Will never come to good;
I can’t head down to Kentish Town,
Nor fly to Falconwood.

They’re much too far from Temple Bar,
Though hardly by design;
It’s just today I rarely stray
Beyond the Circle Line.

 

I was aiming for a modern version of Bow Bells, but what with property prices these days, it’s already thirty years out of date.

 

 

News Snooze Cues Muse Schmooz

selective focus photography of two orange drinks
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News Snooze Cues Muse Schmooz

I met her in the silly season:
Ace reporter Lisa Leeson –
Met her in the Summer, as it moved from high to late.
She said she newly had the time
For chilling with a gin and lime,
And meeting with a stranger for a secret steamy date.
Until the real news arrived,
She churned-out waffle, faffed and skived,
To dodge the z-list luvvie-spotting at the village fete.
And so we spent the Summertime
Away from wars and wonks and crime,
And nothing went on happening in law and trade and state.

Not a love-nest, romp or threesome,
Just myself and Lisa Leeson,
While the ever-greedy presses must procrastinate –
And so we joined our choice of queues,
With not a thought to check reviews,
For visits to the restaurants, the movies and the Tate.
But Summer changed to Autumn brown,
And cooler breezes teased the town,
And she could hear the calling of the headlines and the hate.
So Lisa Leeson bid farewell,
And broke our silly Summer’s spell
By quitting idle drifting for a world that would not wait.

In Priase of the ‘Leaf’

Leaf
Silver Wanger by Norman Foster & Ealing Council

 

In Praise of the ‘Leaf’

Well done, Ealing !  Macho, strong !
Build your towers, probe the sky,
Pump your concrete, raise your steel –
Bring the low-rise wimps to heel.
Bravo, Ealing !  Far too long
You’ve languished only four floors high;
Never felt the bracing breeze
When funnelled through a cut-price Mies.

Lord it over Christchurch spire,
Just a finely-sculpted fop;
It looks too good and stands too proud,
It mocks too much to be allowed.
Now we find when building higher,
So our expectations drop:
Mustn’t cling to ancient primes,
For now we live in av’rage times.

Your flats will sell before their sheen
Has moldered-off or ghetto-greyed.
So price them at a hefty wad –
For no cheap housing here, thank god !
And finally can Haven Green
Now bask all year in deepest shade.
Don’t be subtle: rage and shock,
By showing them the finger-block.

Well done, Ealing !  Ditch the mild !
You’re pissing down to raise a stink.
It’s meant  to be so out-of-scale,
This temple to the Thrusting Male.
Bravo, Ealing – stay beguiled !
And who cares what they locals think !
Quit the Nineteenth Century,
And welcome Nineteen Sixty-Three.

 

 

The ‘Leaf’ was a proposed wanger for Ealing in West London back in 2007.  Alas, this was ditched in favour of the Dickins Yard wangettes of only 14 floors, which is only three-and-a-bit times too high.  But just think what we could have had !

 

 

Falling Standards

abstract architecture attractive background
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Falling Standards

I know a modern architect who really loves his jazz.
The hypocrite ! Still clinging to his Monk and Duke and Chas !
The music of the moment is the only sort allowed –
Hip-hop, pop and drum & bass – played endlessly and loud.
For any newly-written jazz is just a quaint pastiche,
So councillors and plutocrats must keep it on a leash.
Keep it stark and minimal, without such syncopation –
For finely-crafted solos are just needless decoration.
And as for old recordings: don’t restore them, but adapt:
Saxophones now synthesized, and melodies now rapped.
Drum machines inserted, so’s to tell the new from old;
Gut ’em out and fit ’em up – it’s brutal, brash and bold !
We’ll wipe the records clean to make the space for noises new,
For songs are just machines for lis’ning to.