A HOG IN ARMOUR, A PIG IN LIPSTICK…

The day after Thatcher was turned to ashes,

I crossed the channel by easyJet, noted

the busy shipping lanes, then saw England’s coast –

Dungeness and Romney Marsh, Dover’s cliffs –

and the North Downs towards Canterbury

becoming obscured by rain as we banked

for Gatwick. Once home, I caught up on the news.

 

She was fêted in Chelsea, reviled

in Barnsley. Her official biography

was due to be broadcast as the BBC’s

Book at Bedtime. And her policies,

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THE CITY AND THE RIVER

From Woodside to the Pier Head by ferry

is a mile and a bit on waters

that smell always of mud and oil. Eastwards

is Overton Hill, the sandstone ridgeway –

westwards the Liverpool Bar Lightship,

Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea,

and, far, far beyond, the widening

Atlantic skies where the weathers are made.

 

The Saxons named the river – a boundary

between kingdoms –  the Vikings the place,

with their numerous settlements on the heights.

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LAISSEZ FAIRE

‘Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defence of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.’ Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations.

 

I am contemplating, in the Walker Art Gallery,

Liverpool, the statue of William Huskisson, once

the city’s Tory MP and sometime President of the Board of Trade

but much better known as the world’s first railway fatality

at the opening of the line to fetch cotton quickly and cheaply

from the Mersey’s docks to the mills of South East Lancashire.

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ST JAMES CEMETERY, TOXTETH

The graveyard had been a sand stone quarry

before Victorian memento mori

filled it. Here were held the obsequies

of gentry and skivvies, cotton kings

and seamen. In the ‘60s, it was unkempt,

the unfinished Anglican Cathedral,

in machine cut sand stone, pristine above it.

 

The bell ringing practice would start at 9.00

every Saturday morning – the heaviest

eight bell peal in the world.  It’s oh so English

chiming cacophony filled the houses

of Liverpool 8’s grand Victorian streets.

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AFTER THE RIOTS

A skyline as idiosyncratic

as Manhattan’s, Chicago’s – its totems

of wealth, faith and dominion – belies

the city’s cruelty: fortunes from famine,

despotism, slavery; licensing

of squalor, bigotry and despair.

 

In the park where the Orange Lodge drummed out

The Twelfth, a rape was immediate headlines –

white girl, black youths. In Toxteth – its decayed

squares and terraces built on molasses

and cotton, some street signs repainted green,

gold, red, the colours of Rastafari –

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