Excuse me, 2017-by guest blogger Dyer Wilk

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Excuse me. 2017?
How do you do? Can we speak please?
I know you’re new, so we MUST talk
Since New Year’s is around the block
I have requests I hope you’ll grant
Though, to be fair, my hopes are scant
I only want the usual things
Good will towards men and Earthly peace
Perhaps you’ll save some poor folks’ jobs
And focus less on rich ones’ gobs
And if inclined to alter fate
Could you please drop the murder rate?
And while you’re at it, lessen hate
And find some homes for those displaced
I want to love you, ’17
To feel as if you’re family
I could, you know, if you are good
But you must help us, understood?
I’m sorry for these tough demands
I’m sure that you have other plans
Just promise me you’ll be a lesser
Evil than your predecessor

Missing

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Take me back in time a year,
before we lost our stars
The place was very different and
We still had Alan Rickman
And gods they fell to earth, perhaps from Mars.

Let me be back there again, when Richard Adams wrote
A planet with Dave Brubek meant
we still had time-out music
And Charon still had spaces on his boat.

Would that I could travel there, back to the past so rich
When Wilder’s Genes lit up the screen
And Garry Marshall was still here
And Ali fought his fight out of the ring.

We would share the air with them; their artistry we’d keep
Then Harper Lee’d write number three
There’d be two more in ELP;
Guitars would sing – they wouldn’t need to weep.

On Christmas Day George turned a different corner at the end
Choose Life he said, but died in bed
So musically thoroughbred
A loss so hard for us to comprehend

Postcards were sent from the edge
A life so unrestrained
A daughter died, a mother cried
And due to all the pain inside
She left to join her girl, to sing in rain.

I wish that I could write us there
Let Cohen’s days return
Erasing all the loss this year
So Doves won’t cry their purple tears
But me, I am no Caroline Aherne. image

WALL – by Dyer Wilk

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A head on TV said it’s like this and that
Then another head joined into this little chat
The two heads then talked and yammered and yawed
With no full cessation of flapping of jaws
And of earlier times, they did reminisce
Though every word spoken was quite meaningless
Expounded they did on American greatness
Insisting so much that white men were thankless
But this greatness they wanted so much to restore
By showing the brown folk the exiting door
And then flashes of fascists appeared on the screen
King Asshole on stage, flanked by Asshole Queen
King Asshole then smiled, his mouth like an ass
And by freak of nature his voice was then shat
He said, “Thanks for the crown and the loyalty, too,
But I’m loyal to no one. The joke’s all on you.”
Then he won the election, ascended to throne
And he dropped every pretense that he had a soul
He rounded up brown folks and started some wars
He killed many children, I hope they weren’t yours
Yet he’s emperor crowned and we’ve all grown so tired
Now we’re against a wall and we wait to be firedimage

I’m being racist, but…

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I’m gonna go ahead and tell you that I knew a black person once. That’s what white folk do to prove they’re not racist, after all. So yeah – I’ll do that. I’ll tell you about the black kids I grew up with, and how black people have affected ME throughout my life – because that’s what we Caucasians do. We make it all about us. And I wouldn’t wanna disappoint. Plus, y’know – when white folk speak favourably of people of colour, they get all the cheers and accolades. Because white saviour, right?

So…

…as a little kid, I kinda sorta wanted to be black. It wasn’t that I particularly wanted to be unwhite, it’s just that, well, goddamn it – black folk were cool. They were smart, beautiful, funny, and lookupable-to. Yes – all of them. In those days, (late seventies – early eighties *I am a ‘little’ old – ahem*) you didn’t have to have a clone with whom to identify (otherwise in my case, there would have been some freckled ginger kid with an enormous nose, rubber lips and gozzy green eyes, presenting Blue Peter).

The tellyfolk I admired the most were people of colour. (Making sure you still know I’m not a racist) From Sesame Street’s Susan (now my son’s YouTube favourite, to make sure you know I’m not raising racists) to Playschool’s Floella Benjamin, it was THEIR skin that stopped me in my six-year old tracks. I still don’t know why. I think maybe I was a little bored of everybugger being white – ’cause those folk sure all looked the same…

My street was ethnically-diverse, too: two doors down, there was a white woman who married an Indian guy, and they had two Indlish kids. And yes – their house always smelled of curry, and it smelled FUCKING AWESOME. He was teaching her how to dabble in the kitchen with experiments in his native cuisine, and I (being a pal of their kids) got to taste the experiments! Me! How lucky was I?! (Loving foreign food:not racist).

I used to knock round with a black girl named M, who, despite having a white Mum and black dad, came out into the world even darker than he. Because genetics. Throwbacks. But there’s a thing, and the thing is this: if we throw OURSELVES back far enough, and climb that family tree high enough, we’ll find BLACK.

M had the darkest, smoothest skin. Dark brown, it was. And that’s all I’m gonna say on that matter – because, FYI, PEOPLE are not coffee or food. (Awareness of inappropriate vernacular: raceless). She also happened to be a World Champion Disco Dancer (no kidding), so to say I idolised her is the undermost of statements.  (Note: black childhood friend = I’m an awesome white kid).

Later on, in high school, I hero-worshipped this pair of lads who’d just joined the school. Twin boys from Nigeria, same age as me. One lad – K – was put into my class, his brother T in another. First thing I noticed about K was how smart he was. I don’t quite know what I expected but it wasn’t this: a boy from another country, speaking English, French, and now joining me in Latin class.

He became THE ONE. The one to beat. Everyone has that competitor, right? Well, that’s how it was. He was the genius of the class (*now an accountant in Paris, by the way), and the aim was to beat the bugger at everything. And ridiculous though that aspiration was, it made me better. It made me smarter, faster, and tougher.

*Making sure to point out that the man gone done good. Because I’m not racist. Wouldn’t want you to think he was a failure or anything.

Not once – not ONCE – did I experience any bullying being thrown his way. Neither was it thrown in the direction of any of the other black or brown kids in school – we just didn’t roll like that back then. Bullying happened, sure (to me, usually – because they liked to pick on swottery rather than hue) – but never white-on-black.

Now, though, things are different. They just are. I wasn’t a racist back then – I was a kid. You aren’t born into bigotry – you’re taught that shit.

Now? I’m TOTALLY racist. I don’t see people for who they are –  I see in colour. When I look at a black man, I see slavery, oppression, the past. I see white people in black people’s eyes, I see what we did to them, and that which we continue to do.

When I see a black man driving a car this side of the pond, I think how lucky he is not to be an Amercian – because I don’t see the individual, I see Messrs Castile and Crutcher.

If I see a black woman driving a megaquid car, or running a successful business, my first thoughts are “how fucking awesome”. I know how hard she must have worked and struggled to get where she is. And that, my friends, is racist.

I don’t do any of this stuff when it comes to white people. I don’t worry for my white friends when they go out wearing hoodies, or for any male friends who are asked to produce their driving licence. I don’t worry that my son will be shot to pieces for complying with the cops – because I don’t have to.

I don’t want to be a racist.  I don’t want to see in colour – but I have to. For now, I have to. I HAVE to treat black people differently; it’s what my heart tells me to do. I have to rant and shout that #BLACKLIVESMATTER until I’m blue in my pale face, because staying silent isn’t an option. And if this means I’m a racist, so be it.

And over here – whilst there may not be guns, there’s the GO HOME brigade. People of Colour or ethnic extraction being attacked at every opportunity. Bricks through windows from “people” (I use the term loosely) who like to see dead babies washed up on beaches.

I’m being totally racist but…now, I’m glad I’m not black. Because this means my son isn’t, either.

And if it keeps me AWARE, and if it keeps me EDUCATED, I will own my racist status just as I own my white privilege – and I will shout even louder. Alton doesn’t have a voice any more; so I’ll use mine to shout once more: BLACK LIVES MATTER. 

Don’t you dare come at me with that “All Lives Matter” horse shit. Don’t say “I’m not being racist, but..” and then go on to be a bigotty bastard. And don’t deny your white privilege. OWN IT.

Read between the lines. Everything’s not just black and white, y’know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeless Odyssey

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You know those viral videos of homeless people, where they turn out to be a gifted painter/wonderful musician/insert skill here? Have you seen ’em?  They’re really rather awesome and hit you right in the feeliest of feels.

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Watch this bum play the piano!
They passed this hobo a guitar – you will not BELIEVE what happened next!

What if they had no discernible skills whatsoever? What then?

But nah – it takes TALENT for a person to be deemed worthy. A video clip that makes you feel good about yourself, because y’know, THOSE ones – the ones with whom you can identify – are worth saving.

The mean old grumpy arsed stinkin’ man on the street is homeless. But fuck him – he can’t sing.

And as for that pisshead in Waterstones’ doorway? Why won’t she tap-dance for us?

Don’t get me started on that baggy old bag who sleeps under the rhythmless bridge. Can’t play for toffee.

Luckily, we will never have to see them. Nobody’d want to see that footage, so -thank fuck- they can stay invisible.

But rest assured – as not one of those people can hold a tune, so you should feel free to walk on by.

If You Have a Floor

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imageI have this rug, right? And it’s a luxury one – to me. Less than a ton down the market, and about four inches deep.  I found myself staring at it the other day, imagining a family of six, seven, eight, sleeping upon it. It’s warm, and it’s dry.

Nobody should be homeless – and being that we are all descended from immigrants, we are they and they are us. They aren’t migrants, or infiltrators – they are REFUGEES. And if you have a floor, you have the room.

As a kid, I’d scribble my name and address down in the front of all my books – zooming further and further out into the cosmos as I went.

Wavertree Nook Road…

…Wavertree…

…Liverpool…

…Merseyside…

…The North West…

…England…

…The UK…

…Europe…

…The World…

…The Universe…

If you zoom out far enough, you can look back at Earth. What do you see? One big boat: and everybody’s on it.

We all hail from the same place in any case. Before any splitting of one great landmass. Before continents – and we – separated and divided. Before we started sinking.

You shouldn’t need 20/20 vision in order to see what’s going on – your mind’s eye should be enough. Mine shows me things I don’t necessarily wish to see, and sometimes I put those things to my  mind’s back. Store ’em in my RAM for later. But other times…oftentimes…I hear a scream, yelling me back down to Earth.

So, whilst I have a voice for writin’ and a pen for thinkin’, I’ll bloody well use ’em.  I have a floor. I have the room.

I also have a rug. Come and snuggle up. And stay.

Stay.

 

 

VENI, VICI.

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It was so late that it was early. I was walking with my father – a dignified (or so he thought) man wearing an awkwardly unstylish coat and sixty years upon his face. Despite being hideously embarrassed to be seen with my old-Old Man, I liked to try and up my game for him – watching my language, standing tall, that sort of thing. He may have been waaaaay older than most Dads but having been through t’mill of late, his age meant that I had to tread a little more respectfully.

Not this time, though.

This was the one occasion I had the chance to become UNCIVILISED and grotty and partake in some fisticuffs with a local scumbag. This one occasion would require me to be – well, to put it mildly, unrestrained. I was at my tether’s end with bullies as I’d never defended myself before, having adhered all my life to that parental “just ignore them” horseshit and the “they’re just jealous” claptrap. I’d ignored away…and it hadn’t offered any consolation or provided a resolution. But THIS? This was going to be cathartic, plain and simple.

SHE was fifteen – the same age as me but in the year above at school. Cock of the place, she was: a title that was essentially self-attributed and against which nobody would dare argue lest they be bloodily beaten to a fucked pulp. It was all bullshit, of course – any person who saw fit to declare themselves the hardest cunt in any gaffe clearly had something missing. SHE was missing many things: wit, compassion, brain cells – and to this day, she remains absent of name – for I didn’t know it then and never since took the trouble to find out. This chick had nasty friends in low places – two of whom I’d experienced for myself.

Up to me she bowled, calling me a middle-of-the-road insult in the middle of the night. I have no idea what we were doing being out at that late hour – I just remember the blue-blackness of a foreboding sky. This was also an untwinkling sky – perhaps its black-blueness helped mask a celestial observation of the imminent bloodfulness. The sky just wasn’t ready to see this. But was I? Fuck yes.

The backstory doesn’t matter so much any more – but from my nutshell perspective I can tell you the type of bullying involved. They’d picked on you if you had the wrong hair, they’d picked on you if you had the wrong clothes. They’d picked on you if you had Jaggerish lips or a bulb for a forehead. Hell – I was bullied for the way I turned the corner in the school corridors. Seriously – what in all fuckness?

It was being bullied for smartness, prettiness, or weirdness that had given birth to my quasi-empathy for HER particular breed of underdog. I don’t attribute that emotion ENTIRELY to bullies, but I can say that it definitely took me to Stockholm, where I found it extremely hard not to care about them and to wonder why they did it. But at that moment, right then, I didn’t care at all. Not for her – I wanted her blood on my shirt.

Did she REALLY speak to me that way in front of my father?Even back then, being called shit didn’t bother me – but it bothered my dad and THAT purpled my face with anger.

Me: Say that again.

She: Fucking SLAG.

She had it coming.

So I came.

I punched.

I conquered.

Just the one BOOF – and she was down. Her eyes told me she’d messed with the wrong person this time, and my seething voice told her the same through gritted teeth. And after they’d grut, those gnashers bit down on my hand’s back lest they bite down into her.

I wasn’t bullied again. I box with words these days, and I’m generally an easy-going pacifist. But being called a slag for being raped by two lads from school? Yeah – that’s a punchable offence.

It’s not your fault.

It’s never your fault.

And it wasn’t mine.