Sunday, 26 June 2016

The European Onion

I’ve always wanted to rhyme ‘onion’ with ‘union.’ It looks like such a treat on the page, and sets up all sorts of fun… you get Student Onions, Christian Onions, and the Trade Onions Congress to play with. As a left-wing loony, I should know my onions; however, you won’t get me: I’m part of the Onion.

Joking apart, and puns aside, the events of the last few days have made me – and lots of people who share my political views, and many who don’t – very angry indeed. I have made a plea to all my Facebook friends, most of whom are artists, to utilise their creativity to tell truths about the current situation.

In other places, I’ve railed against people using poetry to bang right on about left-wing views, but I think at the moment, banging on is the only way: loud and strong. That said, I think that art, whether it be performance poetry or high literature, should be entertaining and uplifting in some way.

So, I have written a poem which I’ll perform at various venues in the coming weeks as we watch the aftermath of this disastrous referendum unfold. I hope there is humour and – despite the doggerel – a degree of craft in here.

It will come off better on stage than on the page, since I can apologise for the dreadful rhymes. But ‘onion’ with ‘union’ – come on, this is my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Then again, so was the recent referendum. Britain, you little idiots: you fucked it up. But first, from the writer of that awful poem, If


I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?



In Scotland we had a simple choice
with which to exercise our voice
and participate in democracy
with pretty scant bureaucracy:
a positive ‘Yes,’ or apologetic ‘No’
to retain the so-called status quo.
Of course, there was some controversy
and the usual lack of transparency
that comes with political machinations
concerning divisions of the nations.
The ‘Yes’ was based on a game of chance
that played on public ignorance;
the ‘No’ was a flimsy ‘we’re better together,’
as predictable as Scottish weather.

And yet, with the European Union,
the game was a similar peeling of onion;
Each layer of ignorant bullshit revealed
more false information as it was unpeeled
and thrown into the melting pot to sweat
in the hope that everyone would forget
the promises made, or the lies, told
to lure in the bigots, racists or the old
folk (apparently they’re in the same boat –
but, fuck it, everyone needs a scapegoat!)

So we had the usual play on words
that in politics always sounds absurd
(okay, as a poet, I like a nice pun,
but at least it’s only good, clean fun)
On one side we had the ‘Vote Remain,’
as if everything would stay the same:
a sort-of "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it"
was their reason for resisting an exit…
but we all know that’s not entirely true;
despite the gold stars on the flag of blue
there are many divisions within Europe
between right-wing greed and left-wing hope
(Yes, Hope and Europe rhyme on the page –
it looks better on paper than spoken on-stage)

As for the ‘other side’ – where do I start!
Being a wordsmith, I haven’t the heart
to call those idiots ‘the Brexiters,’
We’ll refer to them now on as 'Bullshitters.'
There was Boris the Bullshitter – what a buffoon
(don’t laugh – he might be Prime Minister soon)
who bandied his lies, damned lies and statistics
with abandon, using them as his shit-sticks
for stirring up bigotry, bullshit and hate:
don’t vote for this fuckwit – oh no! – too late.

There’s Farage, who defies the description
of Bullshitter; in fact, I’d like to question
if he’s actually a real human being:
but I can’t say the following without seeing
Cameron’s cock stuffed in Nigel’s face…
Farage is a racist pig! Ew. Regarding race,
Farage has made all that’s offensive
seem acceptable, and racism, normative;
he made the fake issue of migration
divide an already-intolerant nation.
Does he garnish his xenophobic sandwich
with derogatory names and offensive language?
No. No he doesn’t – he’s smarter than that:
he’s a Prime Bullshitter, and a fucking twat.

Then there’s the muppet-faced Michael Gove,
an Expert Bullshitter, who barely strove
to present information formed from fact;
his Bullshit was based on how to react
to the man-in-the pub, whose ‘expert’ opinion
was another layer of the Ignorance Onion
since the British electorate, easily swayed,
care little for how the facts are displayed.
It’s only when, the morning after,
they google the EU and find the disaster
that voting Brexit – er – I mean, Bullshit
has landed us all in. Ignorant fuckwits,
you could call them, and yet this story
is always the same for those who vote Tory.

How, then, shall we take this thing forwards?
I don’t think my ranting on with more words
is going to solve the mess we’re in –
but I’m just a poet, not a politician.
Yes: poets are prophets, visionaries, seers –
we’ve plied our rhymes for years and years.
You can’t accuse us of hypocrisy: ‘cant’ –
as Byron once said – is now stronger than ‘cunt.’
(Okay so his rhyme wasn’t a strong one…
at least he didn’t shoe-horn a rhyme with ‘onion.’)

So here, for those who don’t have a clue,
is a simple suggestion of what to do
when discovering that, in years to come,
all the lies that were peddled by Tory Scum
have sold your country down the river
with promises which they failed to deliver;
If the money turns out to be anything less
than the millions pledged to the NHS;
If your rights, your social security, sick pay,
maternity/paternity leave are taken away;
If you think Brussels was full of bureaucrats
but Britain is run by a bunch of fat cats;
If the referendum was, in truth, about greed,
leaving the disenfranchised in more need;

If immigration has actually gone up, not down;
If the markets have plummeted, and the pound
has no more value (or less) than the Euro;
If unemployment rockets, because we have no
expertise among our untrained workforce;
If, thanks to your vote for this messy divorce,.
our nation has split up, and of all its children
are caught in a bitter tug-of-love; if you, then,
at the next election, don’t know what to do:
vote the Bullshitters OUT – they lied to you.

While we’re at it, a couple more poems. First, I’d like to point out that asparagus is being farmed in Englandshire at this time of the year. At any other time, whether in or out of the EU, we don’t need to ship it from fucking PERU!

This is a Local Shop

Dear Tesco/Tesco Metro:
why on earth do you sell
asparagus shipped from Peru?

I’m fully aware – and so are you –
this stuff grows perfectly well
in the fields of Kent.

If you went there
to purchase your produce
it would not only reduce

your carbon footprint
but also, by dint
of boosting the country’s economy –

which is better for you and better for me,
and benefits everyone globally –
would bring down the prices on every shelf.

And, as we both know, every little does help.
So why sell Peruvian peas and asparagus?
It’s better for them and better for us

and certainly more beneficial to you
to sell broccoli, sugar-snaps, and mange-tout
that comes from the Garden of England.

Or better still, grown here in Scotland.

And second, a poem about greed. ‘Suilline,’ from ‘swine,’ pertains to pigs, – although this isn’t really about pigs, as you’ll see. It takes as a starter George Orwell’s Animal Farm. When the pigs learn that Farmer Jones is dead, they announce ‘the only good human is a dead human.’ This poem rather turns that notion on its head.

Suilline Greed


Let others say his heart is big –

I call it stupid of the pig.
                                                OGDEN NASH


Ogden Nash, if I’m not mistaken,
says that a pig supplies sausage and bacon;
to which he might well add pork and gammon:
the pig produces plenty of mammon.
This you will know – at least, if you’ve bred one –
To humans, the only good pig is a dead one.
That’s why the pig has a slot in its back:
a piggy-bank’s always kept in the black.

You don’t have to be Scully or Moulder
to work out that a piggy’s shoulder
doesn’t come naturally sausage-shaped,
or that gammon is salty before it is smoked.
The sort of pork people dislike the most
is the leftover carcass at a Hog-roast;
the pig, to the average British Shopper,
comes without snout or tail or trotter.

This is why bacon’s so popular,
because it’s imbued with faked flavour;
whether it’s streaky or collar or hock,
grilled or pan-fried, gammon or back,
people prefer meat in fillets or strips,
and very few meat-eaters come to grips
with the fact that they’re eating animal-flesh
if it’s cooked in a casserole or a pie-dish.

We like our pork seasoned on polystyrene,
and clinically packed in neat cellophane;
cured, marinated, ready-to-fry
or whack on the barbecue – it’s never dry –
or slap onto a pre-heated George Forman Grill:
half the fat, half the taste, and half the thrill.
Bacon crisps are as flavoursome
as the chemicals pumped up a chicken’s bum.

Food must be trendy or sexualised:
pork only sells if it’s been pulverised,
pulled to pieces, shredded or diced,
pre-masticated, minced, ready-sliced.
Sainburys, claim as a ‘local’ shop
are keeping their customers on the hop;
as are  Morisson’s, Waitrose, Aldi, and Lidl:
a ‘local’ con is a corporate fiddle.

To bring home the bacon (or the pork chop)
it doesn’t matter where you shop,
surely, as long as it’s British
and not from Parma, or even worse, Danish:
that’s like buying lamb from New Zealand –
we’ve thousands of lambkins here in Scotland.
We’ve Aberdeen Angus and fresh fish of course, 
and in Tesco Lasagne, a wee hint of horse.

The reason why dogs always get given bones is
to bribe loyalty, and keep up with the Jones’s;
but piggies happily off in their pokes will
be content with mud, scraps and swill.
The pig is of little good use on the farm
(but unlike the carthorse, he’ll come to no harm.)
He snorts and squeals, grunts and snuffles,
and does the odd stint of sniffing out truffles.

The pig will eat any old crap that you give ‘em
(the same, then again, could be said of the human.)
If gammon is pumped up with sugar and water
we don’t give a fig if we think it tastes better.
Boiled or roasted, barbecued, grilled,
it makes no difference how the pig’s killed
if it gives you escalopes, spare ribs, or pizzle:
for farmers, it’s quids-in; for piggies, a swizzle.

For sure, you’re rewarded with pork medallions,
or if your prefer, with pork chops or loins;
from its innards, liver and kidneys are drawn,
and then there’s the pig’s head, a.k.a., brawn.
To market this little piggie goes smiling: may well he;
he gives us his spare ribs, his back and his belly.
There isn’t an inch of the pig that gets wasted –
you can puke it out if you don’t like how it tasted.

And finally there is the poor pig’s heart –
now used in humans as a spare-part –
the ultimate in personification
exemplifies this greedy nation.
For the filthy pig has now come to pass
as an object of mirth to the privileged class.
The sow’s ear is now a silk-lined purse; 
its streaky benevolence, a suilline curse.

This poem’s not about pigs, but greed;
exploiting the lowly and those in need.
Subverting four legs good; two legs, bad
it’s a diatribe, demonstrating how badly
we treat the subservient, yet notoriety
seems to be glossed over in Big Society.
“Let others say his heart is big” – well said!
You’ll be fucking the whole pig, not just its head.

Finally, to reiterate my pledge made on Facebook, to fellow creators: Make Art.

It might not be worth much in economic terms – nor should it be. It might not reach a huge audience – but who cares as long as it tells the truth.
It’s only through creativity that we stand a chance of fixing our broken world.

Create “…in an age of mediocrity and shattered dreams, images of abounding, generous, exuberant beauty.” (Michael Tippet, 1974)

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