Monday, 29 October 2018

The Bat and the Union Jack

That night, hounds howled in fear more than wrath
Milk turned sour and all bread rotted to black.
The sky, overcast, save the silvery moon,
Thoughts sank into depths of gloom.
All Old Wives got out their pens and pads
Added to their tales, secretly glad
An extra few warnings and worries entered the world.
Along the corridors of the house, it could be heard
A groaning and moaning and finally just breath
As the creature was born upon the grand bed
The father, all monocle and splutters, was sozzled
The mother, in pain, snatched his brandy bottle.
The Doctor made the sign of the cross and vanished.
The bed, a wreck, inexplicably damaged.
The Nanny was happy, but only because she was paid
Smiling politely through this end-of-days.
Aside from some crying and glugging, silence preserved,
And the child, made no sound, it simply observed
It nodded at the staff, and they nodded back
It wrapped itself in a shawl, the colour of midnight black
It looked out the window, and seemed unimpressed
The father, now with brandy down his expensive vest
Went off to bed, needless to say his dreams were cruel
The mother, simply stared into space until the next noon.
The candles flickered, the room was cast in a slight glow
Or...did...could...the child...did anyone know…
The baby didn’t seem to cast a shadow...
The Household’s name was Vice-Moore
The kind of rich that like to spit on the poor
Not in public, obviously, but internally, and with pride
Some of that had leaked into the child’s piercing eyes.
And the child sought no nipple.  It turned to the Nanny
Eyes like pale moons reflected in a river
It bit down on her fingers
With teeth like needles.
If she felt pain, she didn’t show it.
After all, she was being paid
And the little monster, somehow, knew it.
The staff looked on, steeling back the sick
Was their minimum wage worth the risk?
They knew, deep-down,
This creature was destined for politics.

They didn’t sing on trains or buses, there wasn’t a street party
Though some families had friends round for a tot of brandy
The votes had been counted, the swing-ometer had swung
The Party led by Humphrey Vice-Moore had won
The new PM, with a devilish grin
Was now, officially, In.
A cunning ploy by his PR team decreed
No photos of the new PM, please
Just portraits.  Ceremonious and proper,
Besides, Humphrey knew he wouldn’t show up well through a camera.
“He’s so...aloof” his champions would agree
“He’s just...better than me”
Even his opponents, sat in Trade Union Halls
Agreed, there’s something hypnotic about it all.
Charming, aspiring, perfect and safe
The PM had taken to wearing a black cape
And, he’d requested, if it wasn’t too much hassle
Instead of Number 10 he’d rather live in a castle.
Now he'd been invited
The country was to be stifled.
And his evil power began to take root in policy
Across the country, services would bleed
Sliced and cut, access removed
Bitterness brewed.
A clawing vision
Narrow the education curriculum,
Fund the Armed Forces, forget the shelters
Mental health? Pull out the heart of the sector.
Carve up the NHS like a hunted corpse
Howl at protests with baton-wielding force.
Punching downward, hating thy neighbour
But, what was more stranger
Humphrey Vice-Moore added a bat
To the Union Jack.

Amazon sold out of pitchforks
B&Q all out of flaming torches
Argos mirrors, Millets stakes
The working class went to Lidl
The posh went to Waitrose
Regardless their class, the people bought up garlic cloves.
They piled out of meeting places, enraged and raucous
Ticket inspectors on trains pleaded
Don’t light your torches until they are needed
Be careful with those pitchforks, paramedics declared
It’s health and safety gone mad, some of the mob feared
Twitter was trending #whatsatstake
Cassetteboy had his own unique take
Memes popped up comparing the PM with Christopher Lee
Even sceptics had to admit, yes, lately it has been unusually foggy
His defenders said, look, just be glad
It could be worse, he could be a 2nd Vlad
Some tried to reason, said, let’s wait for an election
Others shrugged and said, it’s natural selection
"He’s the best man (or whatever he is) for the job
I’d keep him in no matter the cost!"
Well the cost was rising year-on-year
And the population had started cowering in fear
No more!  Time for the slaughter!
Let’s vote with our feet and casks of Holy Water!
The fire brigade conscripted hundreds of vicars
Never before had they blessed water quicker.

And in the Palaces of Westminster, Humphrey could hear them stomping
Chanting, like some protest, but this time with an added something
A sense of rightness, of duty, or purity
Humphrey licked his teeth purposefully.
His cabinet consisted of his oldest allies
They huddled, terrified under his soul-wrenching eyes
“I think it might be” suggested the Home Secretary
“That people believe you’re a…” his words faded away uselessly.
Humphrey scowled.  What was all this fuss?
They didn’t mind when the public services were cut?
Why now are the population in revolt?
Why was the Foreign Secretary sat inside a circle of salt
The Deputy PM stood up, braver than ever before
But still shaking like he’d been selected for war.
“The thing is, Humph, there’s a rumour going round
Believed in every village, city and town
Now, I know it’s all silly speculation
Stuff about coffins and desecrated soil accumulation
And I don’t mind Igor, the chap you appointed as whip
(not quite sure you needed to give the hunchback an actual...whip)
But the sitch is this, now, heard it through the wire
The nation believes you’re an actual vampire…”
Humphrey paused.  Bemused. Puzzled.  He laughed.
That’s rich.  That’s bizarre.  That’s a little bit...sad?
A member of the undead?  Me? I may be in charge
But I’m not some monster with a dark arcane art!
And just as PM Vice-Moore was about to ask how did this rumour start...
The Leader of the Opposition charged in
and stabbed him through the heart.
The blood washed all over the cabinet, the intruder cheered with fervour
“Bloody got the bugger!”
He looked down at his chest and the stake:
And he realised his one, great fatal mistake
The public can stomach the blood-sucking attacks
With tax havans and tax cuts and private sector contracts
They love to treat the workers like a buffet of snacks
But what they really can’t abide, a great British failure
The public had assumed Vice-Moore must be a vampire from Transylvania
(of course a region of Romania).
They didn’t mind being ruled by a British fiend
But one from abroad, well that was obscene!
So endeth Humphrey Vice-Moore, not-quite-vampire, who only liked
cricket bats.
The Times-reading, anthem-singing, flag-waving, dying,
blue-blooded aristocrat.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

7 upcoming York Theatre Royal shows you won't believe you should check out

It’s been a bit quiet over at Blogger Towers whilst I do a lotta other stuff.

So as I live in York, I thought I’d pop up a post giving a plug to some rally great pieces of theatre coming to York Theatre Royal in the coming months you should definitely be checking out.  

The Twitterverse tells me a lot of good things about Gecko (the theatre company, not this chap) and their show, Missing, looks like a mesmerising fast and physical piece of theatre.

New Nigerians
New Nigerians brings some necessary voices to York in the form of the Black British story.  It looks funny, delightful and full of charm.

Women of Aktion
You know me, friends.  Bloody lefty through-and-through.  So naturally I love a spot of nostalgia around past struggles, and Women of Aktion is the tale of 1930s radicalism, factories, the working class struggle and Joan Littlewood’s part in the anti-war struggle.

Narcissist In The Mirror
I had the pleasure of being beaten by Rosie Fleeshman earlier this year in a Leeds slam.  The Manchester poet’s show Narcissist In The Mirror is dark comedy about ambition.  Rosie is a superb performance poet with a lot to say.

A Super Happy Story About Feeling Super Sad
I’m really looking forward to A Super Happy Story About Feeling Super Sad.  The show has received huge acclaim and it looks like the theatre I totally admire:  Playful, messy, joyous and, essentially, about mental health.

Here’s an interesting little show called Sid about Sid Vicious.  I love the Sex Pistols and their legacy, but I find Vicious a problematic figure.  I hope the show doesn’t present him as a rock ‘n’ roll suicide, nor an angelic na├»ve boy manipulated by others. 

Women’s feminist history sometimes erases the working class voice, and hopefully Canary will tell the story of factory women risking their health and lives.  Looks a nice spot of physical theatre too!

Beyond that into 2019 Wise Children and Noughts & Crosses co-productions will be coming to the main stage and look charmingly exciting.