Category Archives: Poetry and Music

To The Woman That Went In Front of The Train At South Kensington Station

[Update 23/5/2016 4:50PM]

I have just spoken to British Transport Police in case they needed a witness statement. I can report that the woman was struck by the train, went under it, but was rescued by emergency services, though current status regarding treatment is unknown. Contacting next of kin is ongoing according to the initial press release of the incident.

The incident is not considered suspicious, but the investigation is ongoing. So if you were on the tube platform at around 22:43 Saturday 19/3/2016 and witnessed, please contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40.

I have changed the blog post heading to reflect she did not die at the incident. The heading reflected my disbelief as an eyewitness someone could, and of course I hope she makes a full and speedy recovery. I regret not being circumspect in the heading, as I was in the poem. 

The response to my poem has on the whole been positive. However, one person has suggested I deleted it in case anyone is offended or distressed by it.

I can only answer the poem is how I am dealing with the incident, and if it helps further witnesses to contact the police with their investigation, then that is something positive. 

I have no idea how the people that witnessed what they saw on the metro in the recent Brussels attacks will cope, or express themselves. My advice is to let them. It might be by tweets, blogging, poetry, art or just talking. But they need to be able to do as they can.

Now, here is the poem as originally blogged.

Full of life full of joy

Revellers, flags in hand

Waved to the Land

Of Hope and Glory

Marched as a high spirited army

To South Kensington from the Albert Hall.

————-

The tube came in

A collective gasp raised

That sucked in the air

Flags were pointing to the ground

No one was making a sound

And all I could think to ask

Was did she jump or fall?

————-
The army, shell shocked went 

Above the ground

To the siren of evacuation

The solidarity of silence broken

As people scrambled for cabs.

Life had returned in the open air

Save for one 

With alternative travel arrangements

Left deep underground by all. 

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Email: JSargeant78@gmail.com

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Silent Night By The Westboro Baptist Church

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The Huffington Post reports (and has audio) of the Westboro Baptists Church take on Silent Night.

Silent night, awful night, You have no peace; you’re full of fright, God’s righteous anger is close and near, His hate for this nation is painfully clear, Behold the wrath of the lamb, Behold the wrath of the lamb.

Mercifully they do not go carol singing, as the cult ban Christmas for not being Christian. Though they have been known to picket churches at this festive time.

The only unchristian response is pay them back in kind. Rather then turn the other cheek, I say kiss my ass.

Here is my effort:

Silent night, freezing night
You’re full of hate, at the sight
Of gays and lesbians over the place
Showing their love in warm embrace
Who gives a fuck what you think?
Who gives a fuck what you think?

A more restrained analysis of the Westboro Baptist Church can be read here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Remembrance and Inevitability of War

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I recommend the film “Waterloo.” Released in 1970 there is no CGI that makes you feel disconnected from the men fighting. The tens of thousands of extras used produce a spectacle worthy of the term epic. Not least when from above you see the red coats formed into squares as French Calvary run around and into them. After the battle there is no victory to savour, as Wellington (Christopher Plummer) trots slowly through the thousands upon thousands fallen. The hills are alive with the dead, one of them crying out why were we killing each other?

The modern day narrative is “for whom?”

Those questions echo still, where at my school the final double history lesson was watching “Blackadder Goes Fourth” and the English Literature exam was on Great War poetry. There is a hatred not just of conflict, but of those that led the carnage.

The First World War is seen as a senseless war, caused by diplomatic miscommunication (“37 days”) and railway timetables (AJP Taylor). Let alone Industrial Age mass butchering of people, done by all sides in the name of advancing imperialism and capitalism. With the patriotism of the working class masses manipulated, their blood oiling mass production of war.

Beware history used to fuel such a political philosophical narrative. Historian Dan Snow wrote debunking myths around the Great War 100 years ago.

By late September 1918 the German emperor and his military mastermind Erich Ludendorff admitted that there was no hope and Germany must beg for peace. The 11 November Armistice was essentially a German surrender.

Unlike Hitler in 1945, the German government did not insist on a hopeless, pointless struggle until the allies were in Berlin – a decision that saved countless lives, but was seized upon later to claim Germany never really lost.

The English Civil war had a greater proportion of the population killed than WW1, and the death toll proportion of those serving was higher in the Crimea War. 200 generals were killed or wounded, the posh officer class were more likely to be killed than the serving working class soldier, and technological warfare changed rapidly in those four years.

Fifty years before WW1 broke out, southern China was torn apart by an even bloodier conflict. Conservative estimates of the dead in the 14-year Taiping rebellion start at between 20 million and 30 million. Around 17 million soldiers and civilians were killed during WW1.

This Remembrance Sunday we remember the fallen in the UK’s bloodiest conflict that started 100 years ago. It is honouring those that served to end German imperialist aggression in Europe, and those that served to destroy fascism in Europe in the Second World War. Let alone all who served their country.

The idea that they should have been wars to end all wars is regrettably a hope which previous wars should have indicated was unlikely. War will be a part of the human experience as long as there is a humanity. That is summed up in this familiar quote on WW4:

“Unless the free people of the earth unite to avert World War III,” he said, “it is probable—as some sage recently prophesied—that World War IV will be fought with bows and arrows.”

Or even rocks, as Einstein suggested. Warfare has been part of our history. The carnage and horror has never been enough to prevent it.

(Who originally said a version of this quote is investigated here).

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The British Empire, achieved by military conflict, is rightly no more. The achievements of colonialism built on oppression and the foul stench of long since rotted corpses. The legacy for generations that were not alive when these offences were given, is something we have to come to terms with now.

Some cannot. The poppy for them is accepting the loss and carnage of war, therefore allowing it never to stop. Assed Baig made those sentiments clear when mentioning why he never wears a poppy:

Most of all, I don’t wear a poppy, hoping that people will move away from jingoism and realise that it is not a symbol of respect and honour for the dead, but by wearing it and accepting the current narrative, it does the opposite – it glorifies and promotes war.

(My Post on wearing poppies can be read here)

Regrettably neither ISIS nor Russia see a problem in going to war to carve out territory for themselves – four thousand have died in the Ukrainian conflict while now an uneasy ceasefire holds. With ISIS the need to fight clerical fascism is pressing, however there is a hesitancy with Russia as a new Cold War looks likely to be firmly in place this coming winter. The appeasement of Putin as he annexed other territory formerly in the Soviet Union should have made it clear a showdown of some sort would eventually come.

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This month we also commemorate the 25th anniversary when the Berlin Wall fell. Obama has talked about remembering the lessons of Berlin with regard to Russia and Ukraine (see above). We will never know how many lives were saved by avoiding a direct confrontation, let alone mutually assured destruction, during the first Cold War. Too many died in the proxy wars that took place in their stead.

Sometimes wars have to be fought to end conflict. There is nothing just about the means of war, which require hot metal at high velocity enter another’s body. There is, just like death, an inevitability that wars will happen throughout human history. We can dream otherwise, but somewhere in the world people are waking up to bombs. Or forever sleeping because of them.

It calls to mind Alan Seeger’s poem “I have a rendezvous with Death” with which I close. An American fighting in the French foreign legion, he died July 4th 1916 during an attack on Belloy-en-Santerre, like the warrior poet he was.

“I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air —
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

“It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath —
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

“God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.”

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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A Love Letter to Scotland For The Union

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My first experience of Scotland was a Haggis hunt with the fuzzbuzzes. To the uninitiated, the fuzzbuzzes were created as stories to help children with phonetic sound and reading issues. I will forever be grateful that while at infant school I was singled out for special funding. The extra tuition included using these story books, while taught one to one. Without this support, I doubt I would be able to read, let alone blog.

One slight draw back – I really did think Haggis was a two legged creature that was hunted in the Glen. I can quite understand people of Scotland feeling that the English are similarly naive about their desires and wants for an Independent Scotland.

I have no say over your future. Rightly so. The decision is for Scotland alone. All I can tell you is that my love for Scotland started when my love for reading was kindled as a little boy in Hampshire.

Finding out Haggis really did not have legs, was an offal experience. However, it led me to the poetry of Robert Burns. The different sound of the Scottish dialect when reading aloud the poems. There was a joy in the language. Also, that my birthday is the day before Burns Night. It fired my imagination – and my love for Scotland went from a fictionalised world to the real one.

At sixth form studying economics there was a chance to meet another Scottish hero. One, unlike Burns, that believed wholeheartedly in the Union. Adam Smith – the father of economics and moral philosopher. I combined those two elements by reading Economics and Politics at University. Which taught me among other things:

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At university I discovered David Hume, and the significance of the Scottish Enlightenment and the English Enlightenment to the United Kingdom and beyond. Never was synergy in thought more apparent in the day to day actions of human activity. The reverberations are still felt around the world.

Skip forward to now, and what the United Kingdom does still impacts on the world. In a globalised community, perhaps there has never been a better time to go it alone. The British Empire is rightly no more.

Yet a world with more borders, where common bonds of humanity are broken down, should give pause to think again. Fellow citizens becoming neighbours. Neighbours becoming competitors. Kin becoming strangers. A shared heritage becoming estranged.

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Going to back to Junior school I remember a simulation about protecting Osprey on the old Acorn computers (showing my age now). Using funds in such a way to maximise the number born.

Nearly thirty years later they are still an Amber List species due both to low breeding numbers and illegal killings. This fishing bird of prey truly is an awesome sight to behold in action. It inspired this poem by Jeremy Wyatt:

Old stones weep in the rain
their darkling gaze unblinking
Glowering with ancient pain
of distant glories thinking

Preening Lords arrogant in imagined might
would quail could they perceive
The majesty of osprey flight
True rulers still of Threave

If you wanted to understand why we need no more borders – poetry and birds never should have barriers – read his description how he came to write the poem:

Written two years ago after a dreamy day at Threave Castle viewing a Welsh osprey who moved to Scotland (via Africa) [Source: Poem called “Osprey Flight”]

There are no borders for a flying bird of prey. The land is one. Such lines are a human invention, a tribal longing for terroritry, to allow distinctions. To make narrower ties at the expense of making others forlorn strangers. Nationalism is glorified as a patriotic form of sectarianism.

We have shared an identity, our heritage and way of life for so long. That is what is at stake tomorrow. I hope that we can work together to make this island better for us all. Rather than start to look at each other as foreigners, and prevent other children growing up to care and love each other.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Christian Right Try To Intimidate Vicky Beeching On Equal Marriage

 

Vicky Beeching is a theologian, writer, broadcaster and hosts “Faith in Feminism” which I have reblogged and commented on several times while blogging.

I only just recently found out in a post by her that she is also a singer. Not the best of ways of finding out though. Her support of equal marriage has upset the US Christian Right:

I say all of that to give context to why I have been so afraid to stand up for equal marriage; I knew not only my conservative friends and relatives in the UK would be unhappy, but also the large base of people in the States who have followed my work for the past decade. Many of them are dear friends and colleagues.

So speaking up about this has not been without great thought and personal cost. My bills are paid in part by royalties from my songwriting career. As a result of raising my voice to support equal marriage, I’ve received lots of messages from conservative American churches saying they will “boycott my songs”. If they don’t get sung in the mega-churches of North America, my royalties basically stop.

So the cost of me speaking up about equal marriage is, essentially, my salary. Hopefully that emphasises that I am not just ‘appealing to culture’ or ‘trying to be popular’ as many conservative Christians are concluding.

This is not just about trying to punish Vicky for being “the wrong kind of Christian.” It is an attempt to warn others that, if you do not toe the line as we see it, we will organize a boycott to financially ruin you. So keep it to yourself.

A small gesture on my part is to suggest buying a song from iTunes. One I like is “Precious” the seventh track from her album here.

Precious are the moments
When I know that You are very near
Precious are these moments
As You meet me here
As You meet me here

CHORUS:

Here with You
Here with You
Your loving arms are holding me
Safe with You
Safe with You
There’s nowhere else I’d rather be

Treasured are the moments
When I know that You are very near
Treasured are these moments
As You meet me here
As You meet me here

One of those songs that universally applies to love. Even the one that others hope dare not speak it’s name.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Filed under America, atheism, Poetry and Music, Religion, World