Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Long Live Mrs Chippy!

"To a bagpiper's lament, a cat that was part of Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated 1914 Antarctic expedition has finally been reunited with its owner in a New Zealand graveyard."

So ends the sad and sorry tale of Mrs Chippy.

Murdered by Sir Ernest.

According to an anonymous hack writing for the BBC, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton "has become an example of brilliant leadership ability". According to a report in the Telegraph by Paul Chapman, however, Shackleton's 'brilliance' rested on the unacknowledged expertise of a humble carpenter by the name of Harry "Chippy" McNeish. While the BBC hack may attribute the safe return of Shackleton's expedition to the South Pole in 1915 to "his skill as a leader of men", according to the Telegraph report "[i]t was McNeish's carpentry skills that ensured Shackleton's boat, the James Caid, withstood the battering of some of the world's roughest seas during its 800-mile journey to South Georgia. Unlike many other crew members he was not awarded the Polar Medal - the result, historians believe, of a bitter rift with Shackleton."

Why the rift?

"Antarctic historians say McNeish never forgave Shackleton for having Mrs Chippy shot along with the sledge dogs when the crew became marooned on pack ice 350 miles from the nearest land."

The moral of this story?

Sir Ernest was a rotten, incompetent, murdering bastard; Mrs Chippy was an innocent victim; and Harry McNeish is the latest to join a long list of neglected working class heroes with a heart.

The last word goes to McNeish's grandson, Tom McNeish:

"I think he would be over the moon about the statue. The cat was more important to him than the Polar Medal."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Friday, June 11, 2004

Beasley Street

"beasley street"

far from crazy pavements
...the taste of silver spoons
a clinical arrangement
...on a dirty afternoon
where the fecal germs of mr. freud
...are rendered obsolete
the legal term is null and void
in the case of... beasley street

in the cheap seats where murder breeds
somebody is out of breath
sleep is a luxury they don't need
...a sneak preview of death
belladonna is your flower
manslaughter your meat
spend a year in a couple of hours
on the edge of beasley street

where the action isn't
that's where it is
state your position
vacancies exist
in an x-certificate exercise
ex-servicemen excrete
keith joseph smiles and a baby dies
in a box on beasley street

from the boarding houses and the bedsits full of
...accidents and fleas
somebody gets it
where the missing persons freeze
wearing dead men's overcoats
you can't see their feet
a riff joint shuts - opens up
right down on beasley street

cars collide, colours clash
disaster movie stuff
for a man with the fu manchu moustache
revenge is not enough
there's a dead canary on a swivel seat
there's a rainbow in the road
meanwhile on beasley street
silence is the code

hot beneath the collar
...an inspector calls
where the perishing stink of squalor
...impregnates the walls
the rats have all got rickets
they spit through broken teeth
the name of the game is not cricket
caught out on ...beasley street

the hipster and his hired hat
drive a borrowed car
yellow socks and a pink crevat
nothing la-di-dah
watch the three-piece suite
when shitstopper drains
and crocodile skis
are seen on ...beasley street

the kingdom of the blind
...a one-eyed man is king
beauty problems are redefined
...the doorbells do not ring
a light bulb burst like a blister
the only form of heat
where a fellow sells his sister
...down the river on beasley street

the boys are on the wagon
the girls are on the shelf
their common problem is
...that they're not someone else
the dirt blows out
the dust blows in
you can't keep it neat
it's a fully furnished dustbin
...sixteen beasley street

vince the ageing savage
betrays no kind of life
...but the smell of yesterday's cabbage
and the ghost of last year's wife
through a constant haze
of deodorant sprays
he says ...retreat
alsatians dog the dirty days
down the middle of beasley street

people turn to poison
quick as lager turns to piss
sweethearts are physically sick
every time they kiss
it's a sociologist's paradise
each day repeats
uneasy, cheasy, greasy, queasy
...beastly, beasley street

eyes dead as vicious fish
look around for laughs
if i could have just one wish
i would be a photograph
on a permanent monday morning
get lost or fall asleep
when the yellow cats are yawning
around the back of beasley street