A poem for the day – Crowd Scene after Kung Fu – the Headcrusher

Alias raised a point last night about whether references in a poem to the facts or symbols or lexicon of local politics automatically made a poem political. And earlier in the week Pippakin said there was no reason why I should stick to ‘political’ pieces.

This, then, started life as an exercise in 1970s nostalgia even if it goes elsewhere en route. The crowds are hordes of kids leaving the cinema after a Saturday afternoon double-bill of kung fu movies (the titles are real.) A process of association brings in some of the other crowds that that space (Regent Street in Newtownards, as it happens) has seen over the years…

Crowd Scene after Kung Fu – the Headcrusher

Coming soon: The One-armed Boxer
and The Deaf and Dumb Swordswoman.
We flee the credits as they play ‘The Queen’.

We leap from the foyer with one leg extended
in the sham fight of each against each.
We chop and high-kick. We yelp like throaty hens.

In ten years Paisley’s Third Force will drill here
and years ago, so many came to see
George Formby in the flesh you couldn’t move.

But there are only dozens of us this Saturday,
our heroes badly-dubbed and foreigners
as disproportionately vengeful as ourselves.

Amn’t I the Shaolin novice? Aren’t you
the quare apprentice from the iceworks,
posed like some animal we don’t have here,

the snake, the praying mantis, or the dragon?

  • pippakin

    Excellent! but surely the praying mantis,was on both sides… As for me? Always the Dragon…

  • sonofstrongbow

    You do really seem to have a thing about the National Anthem. Passed over for Poet Laureate or something?

    But seriously the ‘arts’ quarter on Slugger seems to be populated by, how can I say this, those who seem happy to see unionists wearing thermals inside the house.

    Is this an expression of the old sectarian shibboleth that Prods don’t do culture?

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Again I like this one. Sheer narcissism, its referencing what I have seen and heard through my life – and that at least means that it chimes right. Just like Moochin’s stuff captures a lot of what I see in my own area.

    I can stands no more with these neurotic criticisms of supposed ‘anti prod bias’ . I don’t see it with the arts stuff. I see some stuff which fixes a beady and chastening eye, and some stuff which has a fond smile. Thats all to the good. I think we can see the warts with the freckles.

    So to my thin skinned compatriots, feel free to critique, but have your arguments grow a set. Thats King Billy on his horse, not f*cking Woody Allen.

  • sonofstrongbow

    “thin skinned compatriots”, ooh, get her! Feel free to “critique”, just don’f criticize.

    For the sake of clarity please provide us with your rules for commenting and appropriate modus operandi for expressing personal views. I only ask as I seem to have transgressed them.

    As you have utilized personal observation I can only assume that you find that acceptable. So in that case when you look down the enormous “set” you see is not what you believe it to be. It’s your moobs you’re looking at.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    SoS- No rules – heaven forfend- just a plea – we can’t have our co-religionists thinking we are whiney ginny annes who can’t look ourselves in the mirror…..

    PS Moobs? How do you know I’m not a woman, big boy? 😉

    ….Phallocrat.

    Keep plugging away Mr Mooney.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Below Irish Republicans and just above people who hold their cutlery like fountain pens I find the Sorry-Prod particularly odious.

    The Sorry-Prod:Patron Saint Tom Paulin, Icon Jon Snow;sorry about Crowmwell, sorry about the Plantation, sorry about Northern Ireland 1922-whenever, can feel Gerry A’s pain etc.

    You may appreciate therefore that I take the accusation of being a “whiney Ginny anne” as somewhat amusing.

    Now looking down on the likes of me from Olympus or Asgard or wherever it is you live as I crawl about in the Opinion Undergrowth I can understand how your delicate sensibilities would be upset by a public expression of a challenging opinion. However I too intend to keep on “plugging away”. So expect more of the same.

    Btw male, definitely male.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    ‘ Thats King Billy on his horse, not f*cking Woody Allen.’

    I refer you to mystatement above. Not many guilty prods in my street, I’m afraid. No cold houses for prods either. Its the boneys you know.

    See what you’ve done Mooney–your poetry is creating an argument….why can’t you write nice poems about digging peat or something.

  • But seriously the ‘arts’ quarter on Slugger seems to be populated by….

    … the same kind of people who make up the wider self-defined (and self-regarded) “Arts* Community” that Moochin so often takes it upon himself to speak on behalf of. And for these self-appointed (interesting how often that prefix “self-” can be applied when describing this Community) Guardians of Culture, a politically-correct target is required.

    In the rest of the UK that PC target is what the *Arts Community* would define as the Chav (ie white working-class); in NI it’s them there stupid working-class prods. Probably it’s still bigotry, be it class-based or sectarian but sure it’s the right kind of bigotry, so let’s not let ourselves thin-skinneds get too worked up about it.

    I would let them fire (metaphorically) away SoS.
    They’re only self-congratulating themselves in their own echo-chamber anyway, probably not that much damage done in the real world where most of us determine our cultural preferences on an individual basis, far removed from the elitest groupthink which the Community attempts to impose on us.

    *Does Arts require an apostrophe in this case?

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Careful we don’t stray into ill informed nonsense here.

    I see the unionist working class looking at itself with insight, affection and criticism in the work of people like Graham Reid, Sam Thompson and Stewart Parker. Wouldn’t say any of them fit the bill of vol au vent pocketing grant chasers. Don’t think they were looking down on anyone. Couldn’t judge whether Mooney’s poetry or Moochin’s pix are in anywhere near the same artistic class, but their stuff has the same sort of authenticity- don’t detect anti prod bitterness, but I recognise some of the scenes and people. That’s a step in the right direction.

  • oneill (profile) 5 August 2011 at 5:15 pm

    “that Moochin so often takes it upon himself to speak on behalf of.”

    I speak for myself and no one else.
    Whats your problem with the arts sector/community? Did you not get any crayons at school?
    You really are thinned skinned and TwilightoftheProds has so far come up with the best analysis to date of what i’m doing on here.
    Like it or not it is there all i ever do is document it (obviously with the intention of winding up the thin skinned!)

  • sonofstrongbow

    Oh dear o’neill it seems we have rattled the luvvies cage. Thin-skins, or in their case should that be translucent parchment perhaps, appear to be pretty common in the ‘arts sector/community’.

    If poor Prods are their muse let them as you say fire, or snap, away. We both know of at least one stage door Johnny who’ll be there to cheer them along.

  • takes more than a few anonymous keyboard warriors to rattle my cage sos…now try reading what i said but then you’d rather ignore the message and shoot the messenger.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Methinks thou doth protest too much.

    However setting that aside what is your “message”? Do tell then I will feel more informed to judge you oeuvre.

  • And methinks you don’t get out enough
    and if you do you’ll have your blinkers on so that you don’t have to see some of the stuff i document.
    Rest assured I’ll be giving up the day i start to worry about the judgement of me and my work from someone named after a particularly cheap and nasty cider.
    So once again i tell you to try reading what i said and the comment from TwilightoftheProds

  • I see the unionist working class looking at itself with insight, affection and criticism in the work of people like Graham Reid, Sam Thompson and Stewart Parker. Wouldn’t say any of them fit the bill of vol au vent pocketing grant chasers…

    Considering two of them are no longer with us (and haven’t been for quite some time) and the other has produced nothing meaningful for last two decades, then yes, you’re probably right. One more playright from more recent times which curiously you’ve omitted… and that’s it?

    Moochin

    I speak for myself and no one else.

    Really?

    Forgotten already your witty response when Nelson McCausland appeared on here re the Black Watch play, you know the one where you said “The Community” would be pleased to see the back of him? I may have also passed a remark on your pretentiousness at that point. And how about this from last month:

    The decision by the Council to award the running of the parade was a surprise to the rest of the arts community (and dare i say it, a slap on the wrist) to the Beat Initiative…

    That made me think that you were assuming the responsibility of speaking on behalf of a homogenous unit with identikit attitudes and opinions.

    Whats your problem with the arts sector/community? Did you not get any crayons at school?

    A rather snide question. But, leaving that aside, my main issue with “the arts community”is that it’s a… homogenous unit with identikit attitudes and opinions and its lack of honesty in acknowledging that reality.

    No, you specifically don’t “document” what you see as an impartial observer, you have an agenda and you use your photographs to reinforce that agenda. There’s nothing wrong per se in doing that as long as your honest about your motives in doing so. And you’re not.

  • SoS, think we got off on the wrong foot with this one. I genuinely failed to notice that it made two poems in a row with a National Anthem reference. This one’s different: this is the flight from the cinema by folk of all denominations and none when the anthem played at the end of the show. Not through any lack of patriotism, in general, but because there was a bus to catch or mates to batter lumps off outside, re-enacting the ridiculous moves you’d just seen Bruce Lee make.

    I don’t know that the arts v real life argument that you and Moochin are (were?) having adds much to the gaiety of nations. But the dialogue between you and Twilight is something I’ve been interested in for years. The ‘sorry Prod’ was your term, I think; in the shipyards I’m told it was the ‘rotten Prod’, somebody from a protestant unionist background who wasn’t himself a loyalist.

    Well, backgrounds are backgrounds. We’re not stuck with them, but we can’t always shake them off. But we can criticise them from many perspectives. There are many things about the culture I largely grew up surrounded by that I didn’t like then, and like less now. That doesn’t mean that I explore it from a sectarian perspective, I hope, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I write solely to undermine it…

    But anyway, the poem at the head of the thread isn’t about loyalism or protestant culture, except insofar as that was the environment I grew up in but was never wholly part of.

    In fact, maybe the poem’s enjoyment of foreignness is precisely about feeling, for brief periods every Saturday, utterly outside the competing cultural narratives on offer here.

  • Best not mention Gary Mitchell who had the temerity to write about his own PUL community eh oniell?

    As for me being pretentious you clearly don’t know me. (Oh yeah thats because you’re an anonymous keyboard warrior).
    Anyhoo please feel free to enlighten me as to what exactly you think my agenda is. Not forgetting to mention the bit about me wanting a society free from sectarian bigots and paramilitaries.

  • Martin i meant to mention that you were clearly having a dig at the “sorry prods” or “rotten prods” everyone knows that the best sham fight is in Scarva 🙂

  • MP, not having a dig at anybody. The ‘sham fight’ reference is deliberate, but so is the next phrase … a play on Hobbes, partly yes for political commentary on what I saw (in hindsight?) going on in the adult world (we’re talking 1973-4 here) but also on how we lived as kids (and how I imagine kids lived right across these islands) beating chunks out of each other in play and in earnest for no discernable reason…

  • My comment was entirely tongue in cheek Martin

  • lamhdearg

    in 1970s i always stood to the end, in the royal avenue as the queen was played, we walked home so no bus to catch.

  • MP, just making sure. Lamhdeargh, but didn’t you need to practice your Kung Fu? Seriously though, it feels to me that unless one had been schooled in hardcore (British) patriotism, standing for the anthem was by that time an etiquette that had outlived its time? Especially as it was kind of enforced?

  • lamhdearg

    not for me and mine, i also do not remember that much shuffling around me. but maybe it was on them nights only and in belfast, i did not get to go that often.

  • Best not mention Gary Mitchell who had the temerity to write about his own PUL community eh oniell

    Look before you leap Photoman- who was I referring to here do you think?

    One more playright from more recent times which curiously you’ve omitted… and that’s it?

    Hmmm?

  • sonofstrongbow

    MP,

    So no “message” then. Thanks for clearing that up. I think o’neill has you bang-to-rights: it’s the agenda stupid. As to “anonymous keyboard warriors”? I’m in town regularly on business rest assured I will endeavour to introduce myself if I see you dandering about with your box brownie.

    Martin,

    No wrong feet, although I find it interesting that the Anthem link didn’t come on your radar when you read the poems before posting. I assume you do read them over before posting? It seems to say something about where you’re at.

    The Sorry-Prod/Rotten-Prod thing is misunderstood by you. The Sorry-Prod is not a non-loyalist Prod. He is a creature who is embarrassed by his background, particularly his political heritage. You can liken him to the white liberal’s angst over his ‘white guilt’ about everything from Third World poverty to underachieving black boys in inner-city schools.

    I do not tick the loyalist boxes; I do not belong to the Loyal Orders, I don’t do flegs and I’d be happy to see every loyalist paramilitary locked up and the key thrown away but I’m no Sorry-Prod either.

    As to MP and adding to the “gaiety of nations”. Perhaps you’re right. However I regard him as little more than a pseud. As o’neill has pointed out he has a little disguised agenda, despite his recent attempts, following on from criticism by others, to move away somewhat from ‘documenting’ East Belfast. Besides he is at best a pretty pedestrian photographer.

  • “whether references in a poem to the facts or symbols or lexicon of local politics automatically made a poem political.”

    Martin, it’s not just the references that are in but those that are withheld that may give rise to certain perceptions. The politically correct brigade and those who insist on balance might ask why you’ve left out the Provo crowd clearance activities in Regent Street in 1993.

    I see Newtownards or part of it was formerly known as Ballylisnevin. Perhaps I should start a campaign … :L

    As for the yelping hens, dogs yelp and hens cackle …

  • PJ Maybe

    I suspect I’m the only one who notices the irony of someone clothed in an alias – “Moochin Photoman” waggling an indignant finger at “anonymous keyboard warriors”.

  • sos so i’m stupid ok thanks for that insightful comment. As for you being in town “regularly on business” that doesn’t make you any less anonymous does it? The box brownie reference is a bit a giveaway re your mindset….i’m all digital now (though i still retain the ability to use film should i choose to). Do keep up and move out of the past will ya ffs.
    Never been called pretty before though pedestrian is right as i do walk most places unless i get the bus.
    There are a number of reasons why i was posting shots predominately from the East and maybe it will be explained one day in the future but that really is none of your business. Oh and whilst i am on that if i am not documenting what i see day in day out then what am i doing. When alls said and done they are photographs, fragments of time captured as a record of what is there.
    As regards message you really should read what i write but i’m sure you will continue to snipe as is the want of trolling anonymous keyboard warriors.
    Which reminds me I really must not feed the trolls.

  • Ahh PJ clutch at those straws, the difference is that you can find my real name very very easily.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    ‘Stage Door Johnny ‘ -I am so taken with that I will have to work it in to conversation more.

    This sorry/ rotten prod thing is pretty interesting. Phrase I used to hear more (and use) was guilty prod. I don’t feel guilty on any of the boxes SoS highlights (well probably third world poverty but thats fair enough-and BTW I think Jon Snow is mostly colourful ties rather than substance), but neither do I wish to cover up flaws, eccentricities, and difficult spots in the unionist community makeup. There are some atrocious caricatures of ‘Prods’ in some respected ‘artistes’ of a nationalist background, but I don’t wish to counter balance that with something that skims over sensitivities and difficult questions. I don’t wish to even the score on anything . Its not football. I like the stuff from a nationalist or unionist background that isn’t blind to self criticism…..be it art, music, autobiography, poetry, whatever.

    Now to be a ‘Stage Door Johnny’ (toldja)…I’ve never met this bloke -but I found his stuff on Slugger and am a big fan. I double dare anyone to call him a sorry prod….Ian Livingstone-he’s got a blog called ‘Belfast Stories’ which is being produced as a book.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    many thanks Nevin, am obviously entering my dotage.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Ah, the ‘trolling’ jibe. Last refuge of the ……….

    Case closed.

  • wee buns

    The troll is easily spotted as not fit to respond to controversy without getting personal, derogatory and robotically repetitive.

    We used to go to film shows in the library/portacabin – in between it being burnt down – and that’s where I first saw Bruce Lee ‘Enter the Dragon’. No kids were turned away; not even nine yr olds like me. Talk about excitement.

    Fascinating that poetry has provoked controversy here. Very good! 😀

    It doesn’t matter that they are scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet or published far & wide. They depict and chart unique experiences of a unique era and are valuable social documents.

  • SoS and Nevin, you both touch on an issue than never ceases to fascinate and irritate me in equal measure: no matter how carefully I think I’ve written something, no matter how thoroughly I revise and others edit, things always escape conscious notice. SoS, not only am I rereading these poems before I post them, I’m having to type the bloody things out – I don’t have electronic copies of my older books. It might help put these discussions about artists’ ‘agendas’ in a different light if we bear in mind the fact that very little in a work of even half-decent art is the product of articulate conscious intention. For me, ‘themes’ emerge like recurring dreams, and I’m usually surprised when I see patterns emerging between poems that might have been written years apart.

    But of course Nevin is right: just because the patterns aren’t conscious, doesn’t mean they’re meaningless; and what’s left out should be scrutinised as closely as what’s included or ‘foregrounded’, as the literary critics say. Although in this case the Regent Street bomb isn’t mentioned because the poem’s set in the early 70s, and its flashbacks and flash-forwards are based on the image of the crowd.

  • carl marks

    TwilightoftheProds (profile) says:
    5 August 2011 at 10:51 am

    Again I like this one. Sheer narcissism, its referencing what I have seen and heard through my life – and that at least means that it chimes right. Just like Moochin’s stuff captures a lot of what I see in my own area.

    I can stands no more with these neurotic criticisms of supposed ‘anti prod bias’ . I don’t see it with the arts stuff. I see some stuff which fixes a beady and chastening eye, and some stuff which has a fond smile. Thats all to the good. I think we can see the warts with the freckles.

    So to my thin skinned compatriots, feel free to critique, but have your arguments grow a set. Thats King Billy on his horse, not f*cking Woody Allen.

    I think i like you

  • carl marks

    Moochin Photoman
    Rest assured I’ll be giving up the day i start to worry about the judgement of me and my work from someone named after a particularly cheap and nasty cider.

    im sorry mooch i like your work but if your going to insult my summer afternoon drink we may fall out.
    and i know that would upset you so let,s avoid it.

  • Carl and i’m upset to think you’re drinking that pish and threatening to fall out with me because you’ve never encountered Aspalls Cider.
    Hunt it out and thon chemical pish will never pass your lips ever again.
    Aspalls Carl
    Aspalls

  • wee buns

    ”Aspalls Carl
    Aspalls”

    That’s how you say ‘apples’ when you’re pished.