An everyday story of leftwing folk

Friday, 1 July 2016

Brexit and the Policy Police

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, I thought I'd take a few minutes and write about this.

My prophesy for the campaign (see previous post) indeed came true. As soon as one of the "big hitters" for either side opened their gob, I wanted to vote for the other lot. About a week before the big day I found a few of my old policy police cards in a jacket pocket. I thought, "what would the Policy Police do?" And the cards told me....

1. Your friend wasn't so lucky.
This told me that either way there would be losers as well as winners. Either way people I knew would be disadvantaged. The point as not to treat it as a personal thing. It was serious and I had to come to a decision I thought was right in my heart of hearts.

2. And if it all comes crashing down?
In the epilogue to Up Close and Personaliased, Angelus tells the Kid that in that case we pick ourselves up and start again. Having kept sheep for a couple of decades I can recognise the look of dread panic in the eyes of people in work or the media or the stock exchange. With sheep they usually get over it. Or they die. Very occasionally. You just can't keep panic up over the long term. So you pick yourself up and start again.

3. You know what to do.
This was the clincher for me. It was my Martyn Lewis moment. I knew I had to go with my gut instinct. People who know Policy Police know I'm no friend of the State. So the chance of a smaller state trumps the chance of a bigger one. Job done. I knew what to do.

4. Didn't know you had it in you.
It's only afterwards that I've realised the full implication of this. That it was a brave decision. Since, so many people have been having the screaming abdabs and pouring out bile. I now realise I've committed a great faux pas in polite circles. There's a kind of Bateman cartoon in there somewhere. "The man who praised Brexit in the university common room."

At the time I took the card to mean that I had to hold my nose and choose one of the options on the ballot paper. Up until then I had kept alive the 3rd option of drawing a huge cock and balls on the paper. But that wouldn't have been brave. Just silly.

So that's what I did. Voted leave. You can say it's cuz I'm old, or stupid, or a xylophone saxophone thingy. But I regret nothing. And the Policy Police showed the way.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

I'd laugh, but...

Oh dear. Got my first EU referendum propaganda through the door today. From the "in" side. These things are always so awful - a fake newspaper full of hooky statistics and scaremongering. Makes me want to vote "out". Only I know that as soon as I get a communique from the "out" lot, I'll want to vote "in".

In the end it may well come down to which side aggravates me the least.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Anna Bloom - first drypoint

I bought the ink, but everything else was lying around the place. The plate is a piece of caravan-roof aluminium from when I built a teardrop trailer. I used a needle in a dentist's tool holder (our previous house had been a dental surgery prior to us moving in, so I inherited a lot of grizzly stuff). I'd already made a press for bookbinding from wood and a car jack. Children's craft foam substituted for the felt blanket....

The picture shows my original drawing, the plate and the first print. I'm reasonably pleased with it. I wasn't sure about how the text would come out, but apart from the crabby letter "c", its at least readable. Wondering whether to go over it.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Translation studies

I went on a course last week to learn about collagraph and drypoint printing. Taught by Christine Tacq an Leonie Lachlan (see here ). I had lots of fun getting covered in ink and getting to grips with far less forgiving and precise techniques than the computer-based stuff I've been doing lately. Most of what I did was inspired by a postcard of Kirchner's "Panama Girls" - this is one of my favourites:
I want to try more of this stuff now, so as I was already thinking along the lines of early 20th century german, I thought I'd try and work on some illustrations based on Kurt Schwitters' poem "Anna Blume". When I looked at the parallel german and english versions in Hans Richter's book on Dada, I realised that they were saying some different things. I can see why the translator went for "they don't know a hawk from a handsaw" for "sie wissen nicht, wie der Kirchenturm steht". They are both obviously colloquial metaphors vaguely connected with building... but I felt "they don't know how the church tower stands" was far less... cryptic. Having now translated the whole thing myself, I feel that the english translation was far more poetified (using "beast" instead of "animal") and more surrealified ( saying "icy fire" instead of "cold embers") than the original. To me, Schwitters was a practical man (witness the various Merzbaus) and lived large chunks of his life in grotty poverty (so will have seen many a fire go out). So this is my translation, for what its worth. I also decided to translate the name, for the sake of a pun.

Some edits to the poem on 22 August 2014:
  • Removed "beef" from tallow as I decided it was unnecessary
  • Added "so" - now says  "How can people talk so?" works better rhetorically I think
  • After much struggling with "ungezahltes Frauenzimmer" I decided on "undocumented" instead of uncounted - I remembered Amanda Palmer's TED talk, so undocumented it was. Frauenzimmer is either an archaism along the lines of gentlewoman or something slightly disrespectful, maybe like "her indoors" - I went for "lady" as being something old-fashioned a love-sick loon would use.


O you, beloved of my twenty-seven senses, I love you! - Thee thy thou you, I you, you me. - We?

This doesn't belong here (by the way).

Who are you undocumented lady? You are - - are you? People say, you would - - let them talk, they don't know how the church tower stands.

You wear your hat on your feet and walk on your hands, on your hands you walk.

O, your red clothes, sawn with white pleats.

I love Anna Bloom red, I love you red! - Thee thy thou you, I you, you me. - We?

This belongs in the cold embers (by the way).

Red bloom, red Anna Bloom, how can people talk so?

Prize question: 
  1. Anna Bloom has a bird. 
  2. Anna Bloom is red. 
  3. What colour is the bird?

Blue is the colour of your yellow hair.
Red is the cooing of your green bird.

You simple girl in everyday clothes, you dear green animal, I love you! - Thee thy thou you, I you, you me. - We?

This belongs in the ashcan (by the way).

Anna Bloom! Anna, a-n-n-a, I trickle your name. Your name drips like soft tallow.

Do you know, Anna, do you know yet?

One can read you from behind, and you, you fairest of them all, you are from behind as you are from the front: “a-n-n-a”.

Tallow trickles caressingly over my back.

Anna Bloom, you dripping animal, I love you!

Kurt Schwitters

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The State and I

I hate the State bureaucracy. There's something about encountering it that can leave me paralysed. In the US it's still just about possible to try and escape it and go live in a shack in the woods... but only just. Here in the UK it's been impossible most of my life. I can remember a guy who lived in a chicken shed when I was a kid, but that's about it...

Anyway, I ended up working for the State by accident. I sort of bumbled my way into it. I thought I was going to work at some kind of charity. I was, but it was one of those Fake Charities that are set up to do the State's work while allowing the State to fiddle its own tax returns.

I was surprised to find out that:
a) we had no constituency that supported our work through voluntary donations or support;
b) people I worked with aspired to to be "proper" civil servants. Weird.

But I hung in there. Well, first of all I needed the money, and second some of my work was interesting. And third I could kid myself that I was being of some wider benefit.

It didn't last. Couldn't last really. I found it increasingly hard to convince myself I was doing more good than harm. But why did I stay?

There came a point when I realised that the Organisation had no future and that the redundancy package on offer was a good 'un. Trouble was, this was before the 2005 General Election. So when the same ol' government got back in, I knew I was in for 4-5 years more. But. You bite the bullet and get your head down. And invent Policy Police.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Marchers: Number 9

Phew. After an enormously long time, I managed to fit this into my busy schedule. I love the way that "the girl" has elbowed her way into this little strip. She didn't exist at all when I started out on this one. And here she is - poised - at the beginning of a wonderful new career. That's young 'uns for you.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Workers Institute of Marxism Leninism Mao Tse Tung Thought

When the story of the three "domestic slaves" set free the other day included "Brixton" and "Political ideology" and "1970s", my thoughts immediately turned to these guys. And it looks as though it really was them.

Back in my old scuffling days we used to look out for these people when on demonstrations, especially in London. They used to sell a closely-typed duplicated newletter that carried stories about the "desperate antics of the fascist bourgeoise" and heart rending tales of various "worker comrades" and the terrible oppression they met on a daily basis. And the "gang of four in the imperialist heartlands - Birch, Baines, Reakes, Evans" (these were the leaders of 4 other tiny British Maoist groups). We spent hours rolling about with laughter at the truly bonkers ranting of this lot.

And they're here (I was going to say the rump of them, but you can't have a rump of something that was so small to begin with), still barking after all these years. Part of me is really glad to know that.

PS Added 26 November. Reminded by a news report this morning that it was "this very year, 1977" that the People's Red Army of China would sweep out across the globe and liberate mankind. I never knew how they squared 1978. Apparently they then claimed that China had used computers in satellites to take over the West and the Soviet Union. Turns out that bit was true.