Sunday, 31 July 2016

"Keep on Rockin' in the Free World"

'There’s a warning sign on the road ahead,
There’s a lot of people saying we’d be better off dead
Keep on rockin’ in the free world
Keep on rockin’ in the free world"

I'm desperate! Dan

But where is the free world, Neil ?
Is your irony lost on me.

I no longer act  -  too numb to feel.
I guess I’ll go back to bonnie Dundee
Where D.C. Thomson publishes reactionary tripe
Twixt couthy lines frae The Broons and Desperate Dan
That scramble my mind and fog up my sight
Of the devil and detail of a usurer's scam.

The first stanza is taken from Neil Young's "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" to be found on his 1989 album "Freedom."

My photo caption is extracted from the script of Alan Bleasdale's "Boys from the Black Stuff" (BBC, 1982).

The statue of Desperate Dan created in 2001 by artists Tony and Susie Morrows shows the great man striding the High Street, Dundee.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Sitting on the kerb between the cundie and the lamp post in Clement Park

It's no secret that I have become very agitated by the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. I have attempted to slacken the tension by speaking with or writing to friends sympathetic to my views but I am sure their patience will run out soon. It seems I find the possibility of not having influence on the future unbearable. I have come to the conclusion that in part my anxiety can be explained as an unavoidable characteristic of my journey into old age. At first I was not conscious of it but now I see that I am beginning to understand, and to confront, my limited life span. I no longer have the physical capacity to do all the things I used to enjoy nor is there the time left to say all the things I wanted to say. The span of years, months and days which remain to shape the world in my way, is inexorably diminishing. This may sound pompous but my guess is that most of us have at least a vague notion of how we would like the world to be and after all we have no reverse dimension that allows to undo those things we wish we had not done.

My desperation is reinforced by the realisation that I will fail in my aim. This awareness seems to have crept upon me stealthily and unseen, but there is a sense in which I’ve known it all along. On the night of my 40th birthday I was working in a children’s home in the north midlands of England and while I sat on the upstairs landing waiting for the children to settle, it dawned upon me that I would never have the time to do all the things I had hoped to do. This was nothing to do with my abilities but more to do with spatial and temporal limitations. I couldn’t be in two places at the same time. 

How different from the prospect I had one sunny summer's day in the mid-1950s while sitting on the kerb between the cundie and the lamp post in front of our house in Clement Park. It was about 8.30 in the morning and I was waiting for JL and FJ to finish their breakfasts hoping their mothers would soon let them out to play. There were so many possibilities for the day. We could play fitba', or catty and batty, play Gerries and Britishers, or cowboys and indians or we could play Kerby or make a den or we could….….... The prospects for adventure were endless. The future could be thought of without fear.


John Stein comments : Your post really struck a chord with me.  I got the anxiety, and the wish I could do more.  I have written two letters to the editor of our newspaper, one about our fascination with guns, the other about police shootings, one near here in Baton Rouge.  I did not send them.  Those who already agreed with my points, well, they don’t need to hear from me.  Those who don’t agree--their beliefs would not be influenced in the slightest.

And then your letter about Jeremy Corbyn.  Sad to see some of the same dynamics in Britain that we have here.

My wife’s favorite quote:  May you live in interesting times.  Ancient Chinese curse.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Dear fellow members, re-Jeremy Corbyn and PLP Labour MPs who abuse power.

Here is the text of a letter I sent on July 1st, 2016, to the secretary of my local constituency Labour Party in Totnes, Devon, in response to the proposed agenda for our next meeting. It may be somewhat emotional in nature but I think the message within it is a reasonable one.

Dear fellow member,
I am rather saddened there is no agenda item to discuss firstly, the behaviour of Labour MPs who are attempting to ride roughshod over the wishes of a substantial majority of the Labour Party’s members and secondly to consider what to do about their inhumane humiliation of a decent man. Like many people I did not rejoin the Labour Party last year to be under the screw of  self-important Blairite media sycophants, who take the stance that they know much more about things than us ordinary folks and who feel it is their right to bounce us into doing what they decide must happen.

I also knew when I rejoined the Labour Party that a substantial number of Labour MPs did not like the members’ decision to elect Jeremy Corbyn. You’ll remember for instance the nuances of Ben Bradshaw's* contribution at the meeting for new members that was held around Christmas  at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel. Certainly at the time of that meeting it was clear there were people at Westminster who would work against Jeremy whatever he did.  In my view the attack against Jeremy Corbyn has been orchestrated by a number of Labour MPs for some time and the referendum result offered them an opportunity to do this when the entire community was in disarray. The funny thing is Jeremy Corbyn had a very good referendum campaign being perhaps the only leading political figure on either side who was honest and did not manipulate figures in order to generate fear. I can’t actually remember any great contributions made by other leading members of the parliamentary party, though no doubt there were.

 I write this all because these issues are not addressed in the agenda - in a very middle class English way it seems almost to have been denied -  let’s not mention dirty things like an attack upon a properly elected leader of the Labour Party by those who would abuse power. 

As for the referendum, there should never have been one. It came about as a consequence of the difficulties the Prime Minister was experiencing within the Tory Party and yet such is the power of the Westminster/ politico/media clique it ends up that the person being humiliated by this - is our elected leader.

I hope to be at the meeting on July 7th.** My temperature may be down then!

Best wishes,
Charles Sharpe

* Ben Bradshaw, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Exeter

** Since I sent this letter a motion deploring the action of the MPs of the Parliamentary Labour Party MPs has been placed on the agenda for the next constituency meeting on July 7th.