When this is all over: May Day

The fat lady sang at midnight. The narrative now is organisation and admin.

Because I have little confidence in my management of folders and files, I’m going to ask you to check that your name is on the list that follows. If you sent me a poem and your name isn’t here, mea maxima culpa and so on. But just resend the poem, making sure that the email address is all in lower case. I know that autocorrect has a habit of capitalising the ‘J’, and sometimes your mail won’t be delivered. To be definitive. The email address is


Here’s the list as it appears in my records:

Ina Anderson,

Andy Blackford, Val Bowen, Carole Bromley, Jane Burn, Stephanie Bowgett, Bob Beagrie, Robbie Burton, Ama Bolton

Mark Connors, Bernie Cullen, Anne Caldwell, Lou Crosby

Paul Dyson, Sarah Dixon, Tracy Dawson, Rachel Davies

Hilary Elfick

Mike Farren, Alicia Fernandez, Helen Freeman,, Lisa Falshaw, Jack Faricy, Tim Fellows

Linda Goulden, Anthea Fraser Gupta, Moira Garland, Niamh Griffin-Shaw

Bob Horne, Gaia Holmes

Paul Iwanyckyj

Sue Jarvis, Mick Jenkinson

Nigel King, Wendy Klein, Lydia Kennaway

Jill Munro, Julie Mellor, Mary Matusz, Sarah Miles, Jan Michna, Lydia Macpherson, Maggie Mackay, Char March

Christopher North, Steve Nash

Matthew Paul, Laura Potts, Wendy Pratt, Ian Parks

Su Ryder, Sue Riley, Maggie Reed, Hilary Robinson

Emma Storr, Claire Shaw, Richard Stephenson, Di Slaney, Copland Smith, Adrian Salmon, Jean Sheridan, Lydia Streit Machell

Pam Thompson, Grainne Tobin, Maria Taylor

Ruth Valentine, Liz Veitch

Zoe Walkington, Paul Waring, David White, Stella Wulf, Regina Weinert, Anthony Wilson

Martin Zarrop

If you’ve been missed off, then tell me. It’s inadvertent, truly.

Let’s finish with a sort of May Day poem, dedicated to Jim Connell, who wrote The Red Flag, and to Alicia Fernandez and her grandfather.


Ca Pinet

Morning:  Pla de Petracos; white, dry;

airless, bakehouse hot;  a cave

high under a limestone overhang

scoured out by an unthinkable river.

Cave paintings in pale scoops of rock.

Shapes like mantises, creatures with arms

like double-handed saws, and things

that might be eyes. Undecipherable.

The vanished ones meant something by it.


Alicia  Fernandez  Gallego, today

I thought of you, I remembered  I owe you

a story; remembering your grandfather

who, in the middle of a battle, swopped sides,

legged it, ditched his pack, joined Franco.

Maybe he hoped for better boots, or bread,

oe maybe he’d had his fill of Anarchists

who hated Socialists, or Communists

who hated both. Just up to here with dialectic.


Early afternoon: Ca Pinet. We are pilgrims,

ardent atheists, here to eat paella

under the gaze – benign, stern, disapproving –

of Allende, Che Guevara, La Passionaria;

under the bloody banners of the Red Brigades,

the Republic’s blood and gold and purple.

¡Solidaridad  con el Partido  

Obrero de Unificacion Marxista!

¡NO PASERAN! They meant something by it.


The P.A. plays the Internationale.

The olives in the salad are peppery and sharp.

We’re offered wine from a greasy porron.

Someone who’s read Hemingway says:

it tastes of herbs. Another says: of goat, of resin.

Someone says: the paella’s on the dry side.

The Internationale unites the human race.

Rosa Luxembourg looks as though she means it.

A Russian folk song starts up. The day gets hotter.

When it comes to pay the bill, no one’s sure

what to do about a tip. We’ve read our Orwell.

No one complains about the food burned dry.

We leave a tip. Not obviously. We leave.


Alicia  Fernandez  Gallego, I’m thinking of you,

of your grandfather, and also of Jim Connell,

the Belfast boy in Donovan’s who wrote 

The Red Flag. 1898. Who sang it

in the pubs of the Shankhill and the Falls.

Jim Connell, who tried to teach the Taigs

and Prods there was just the People’s flag.

      Forget the Union Jack, the tricolour.

Ach, he united them alright. Papes and Proddies

as one man gave  Jim a kicking , kicked him

out of Ulster. One side kicked him for the Pope,

the other for King Billy and the Queen –

the wee gobshite, godless Bolshevik.

No Surrender. Nothing changes. No Paseran. 

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