Nae Fuckin’ Pasaran!

Now, I haven’t seen the movie that’s previewed below but I’ve read about it and I love the idea of some wee guys from Scotland refusing to work on planes that would be instrumental in the suppression of a people. The title of the movie is ‘Nae Pasaran’.

And those guys made the difference by not doing their job. Queer, eh?

I tend to go searching for information when I don’t know what something’s about. So, when I first heard of this film – a couple of years ago – I had to do some research. And you all know how to read so  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nae_Pasaran.

East Kilbride is just up the road from me. I go shopping there. There’s a fab, country hotel where me and my best friend have spa breaks. It’s one of the so-called new towns, created post-war, and has successfully grown to be a thriving commercial and residential community. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Kilbride

I’m in the Cambuslang bit that’s mentioned. Once the largest mining village in Scotland, according to my late father. And who am I to argue with him now that he’s long gone or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambuslang? And I’ve no intention of altering info on Wiki.

After reading about what the workers, at the Rolls Royce factory, had done to help the people of Chile and thwart the efforts of Pinochet, I felt all warm and proud that ordinary working men had played a significant part in altering the course of history.

If they could do it just by refusing to work on the planes, then why couldn’t we? What was to stop us – ordinary punters – from doing something similar when we encountered injustice?

For the most part, most of us tend to live quite ordinary lives. We rise and shine (sometimes not so much with the shining) and head about our daily responsibilities and, if we’re lucky, we get to relax and commend ourselves on another day well lived. We hope.

We fend for those we love; we feed and clothe them; we help educate them and form their characters. We’re busy. Busy loving and tending.

Then an opportunity comes along that we’re not looking for. Something we could do that might benefit someone else. Do we take it? Do we fit another thing into our busy lives? We’ve all been there. Sometimes we do it. What did it cost us, after all? A few minutes? A few pounds? Some hugs and a bit of extra love for someone not directly attached to our families?

Sometimes, we don’t.

And it’s the don’t part that bothers me. Or maybe it’s the don’t part that could make all the difference.

Over the period of time that we’ve been living this different life that the pandemic has forced on us, I guess a lot of people have had time to think about what constitutes a typical day. And how much of our time is taken up with repetition and grind.

We’ve all heard and read the urgings to return to work and get the wheels of the economy back on track. And, interestingly, those shouting loudest are those least likely to have to put themselves into any potential risk situation. But we do it anyway. What choice do we have? We have to eat, don’t we? We have to pay bills, for sure.

A helluva lot of huvtaes.

And, in the midst of it all, the world appears to be doing somersaults while we navigate the risks of the huvtaes.

In the space of a very short time, we’ve seen and read incredible things. The Black Lives Matter protests. The knock-on effects around the world. The fight for justice. I don’t know about elsewhere, but Scotland is having an ongoing argument that’s turning a bit nasty, at times, about gender recognition and the implications of it. The fight for equality.

Meanwhile, there are ‘leaders’ spouting forth on multiple subjects that they are not qualified to speak on while they ignore the advice from experts because, you know, what do experts know? The incessant lies from these so-called leaders have also given rise to a growing awareness of how little they are qualified for their roles and how much the decisions they take are based, not on the good of the people they profess to govern, but on the marketplace that so many of them are heavily involved in.

I, for one, am sick of being a cog in the machine. Fucking sick of it.

I’ve loved my job. I’ve done it, to the best of my ability, for over thirty years and, in the not too distant future, I’ll retire from it. I won’t entirely give up the role. I’ll do supply work when needed and I know I’ll miss it for so many reasons.

The main reason I’ll miss it though is because I’ve always worked. Since I was 13. Yes, 13. I had a job in a café when I was 13. Fifty pence an hour was what I earned. That’s about 25 cents, I think. Although exchange rates are a volatile business, at the best of times, so who knows?

Let me list the places I have worked.

After the café, I had a job in a small grocery shop, a stint in Woolworths – loved that job! – a pub-come-function suite that catered for special occasions. I wasn’t even legal to do so at the time, being under 18, but the owner didn’t ask and I never thought about it. My birthday was only a few months anyway, so who cares, eh?

I worked in a variety of other pubs, one I even worked in twice after I packed it in and returned a few months later. In between times, I had gone to work in a disco on a Greek island where I wasn’t paid if no customers came in. That happened one night. But my drinks were free so I figure I won that night. Dance floor to myself too. The moves! Helluva hangover the next morning though.

During my three years at college I spent each summer working on the same Greek island. I did some chambermaiding. Euch! Do you know what they did with used toilet paper back then? Those bins were not pleasant to empty. But, hey, I was living the dream. After I was robbed, by a fellow Scot – bastard – I also worked, during the day, in a restaurant, making souvlaki and Greek salads, peeling spuds and chipping them to later serve them to holidaymakers at night. Didn’t see so much sun at that point. Or people. Or places. Not quite living the dream.

I worked in a biscuit factory on the outskirts of Athens where, I, unfortunately, gummed up one of the conveyor belts with a tea towel. The biscuits were hot! Only stopped production briefly, so that was okay. Turned out I was going too fast. At least, that was what my developing Greek picked up. ‘Look at that wee Scots lassie go!’ would be the rough translation.

When I graduated college. I applied for a job in Athens and taught 5-18 year olds how to speak English. Most of them were lovely. Some of them were cheeky bastards. Same as here. The joy of not letting on that I could now understand what they were saying then answering them in Greek was precious. Works in Scottish schools too. Swearing in Greek is the best. Facing the board, obviously. I’m not stupid.

When my contract was up there, and while I was trying to decide whether or not to stay on, I had to find other work.

I looked after a Doberman Pinscher that mauled me. He was a bastard too. The woman that employed me was a bitch. American she was. Worked for Citibank. It was a live-in job and I had to shop to a budget – producing receipts, of course – cook and clean while, in between, walking the beast from hell. And sewing the trousers of random strangers it attacked on the beach.

I gave it three weeks. Enough time to gather money to pay my rent and utilities. Then I worked in a bar in Athens. I loved that job too. The craic was great. That was where I first heard Men At Work – ‘Do You Come From A Land Down Under?’ Gawd, I heard it recently and I was cast back in time in seconds.

Umm, what else?

Oh yeah. When I came back home, I started training to be a nurse because there were no teaching jobs to be had – one of the reasons I had gone to teach in Athens, in the first place. I went to college and did my first stint on a medical ward. The most tiring job I’ve ever had in my life. Used to fall asleep with my clothes on as soon as I got home.

Then I was offered a teaching job. Temporary one. What to do? I wanted to keep nursing but, word had it, that there was a shortage of nursing jobs upon graduation and I didn’t want that again. I took advice. ‘Get your foot in the door and there will be other teaching jobs’. So, I did.

Two years of temporary placements, between two separate schools, before being offered my first permanent teaching job. That was how they did it back then. Very different now. Very different.

I spent two years in that job, applied for a transfer the year I was getting married – 1987. Twenty-six and multiple jobs under my belt. And that’s without counting random waitressing jobs. I seem to remember working a restaurant shift at the greyhound racing one night. Transfers don’t happen now. Pity that. It was a great way of, essentially, moving between departments. Now, it’s all, annual interviews and promissory contracts, if successful, with the process repeated annually. Not interested.

Spent 14 years in that school. By the end, it felt a bit like I should get time off for good behaviour. I moved to another school and did only a year there because I was pregnant with my sixth child.

I resigned.

I figured this would be my last baby and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her.

But, mainly, and I cannot stress this enough, I was heartbroken and couldn’t face returning. In my class, in that school, was a boy whose mother was a drug addict and prostitute. His father was in prison. He begged for food, with his two-year-old sister in tow, round the doors of the local area. I wanted to take him home. My husband thought I’d lost it. I had.

This kid was the original Harry Potter, at least in terms of where he slept. The first book had just come out and one of the kids had brought it to school and asked me to read it to the class. When I discovered that HP slept under the stairs and that, laterally, that’s where wee J was sleeping, at his aunt’s house, I was undone.

When no one appeared for him at a social work meeting that I had only found out about that day, I was finished. My mum was minding my kids while I was waiting for anyone – anyone – to show some interest in this one. Mobile phones weren’t a thing back then and the meeting started straight after school. I left my kids and my mum not knowing where the hell I was while I hoped for someone to show an interest in my wee waif.

He eventually went in to care which was probably for the best.

I resigned.

Three years later, after my then youngest started nursery, I applied to do supply work and figured occasional days would do. The Education Office had other ideas and asked me to go full-time doing what is called Area Cover. This involves going to whatever school, in a given area, needs cover, for whatever period of time necessary.

I’m still doing that thirteen years later.

Love it. The variety! The experience. The number of schools! I’ve lost count.

So, yeah, I think I’ve worked hard.

I think I’m due retirement.

I think that ‘leaders’ who cry, ‘Get back to work!’ know shit about the real world.

And I really think that, having had no experience of the real world, they should be banned from holding office until they know what the real world involves.

Experience and learning from it. Education and learning from it.

Not a background in how to make money from others’ efforts and a degree in how best to do that.

During lockdown, we haven’t stopped working. Technology is a wonderful thing. At times.

What it’s not so good for is giving these no-marks a platform to air their agendas.

Now, I’ve waffled on for ages here. Jeez, you should know me by now.

What I started to say – a long time ago – was that those guys in the factory in East Kilbride were guys just doing their jobs and they made a difference. By not doing them, as it turned out.

We have no idea of the impact we have on the lives of others and all we can do is do our best in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

I have absolutely no interest in politics other than the fact that everything politicians do and say affects my life and the lives of those around us. Those we love.

Lockdown has been an education. An eye-opener. Things, already previously thought about, have crystallized.

The world is awaking to a new reality. And it’s not over yet. What do we do with that? What will be our part in the changing thoughts and feelings of those of us who have too long felt and recognised systemic injustices and party political manoeuvrings that exist to serve only those who may benefit from policies designed to keep us in our place?

Do we down tools like those Rolls Royce workers? Make a difference in the simple acts? The effective acts? Or do we do as we are told and suck it up?

I’m coming up on sixty. I’ve no idea how that happened. Really. I was 18 a wee while ago. I was full of hopes and dreams and doing whatever I could do live the dreams.

I’m still dreaming. Dreaming of what I can do after I retire.

For sure, hubs and I will explore more of this beautiful country we call home. For sure, we’ll be here, god willing, to continue to do what we can for the seven children we’ve been blessed with. Oh yeah, Anna appeared when I was 46. In between shifts.

Because life goes on. It goes on and on. And we have an impact on it. We do. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

We can down tools.

I think an international strike may be in order.

A strike that says, ‘Fuck off! We’re not doing all this for you! We’re living for our families, for our neighbours, for our communities, for future generations, for all people – creed, colour, gender and religions, not an issue. We’re living. We’re dreaming. We’re here. And, so long as we’re the ones keeping the wheels of industry oiled, we demand better! We are not cogs in your machine to make you richer and more powerful. You are charlatans and thieves. You are liars and corrupt. You are what we are fighting against. Not each other. You!’

And then we change how the world works. We make it better. Fairer. Happier.

We look at outdated systems of governance. We redefine governance and we ensure that representation means just that. People. Real people. Experts. Ordinary folk. Workers. United.

We are one.

Nae fuckin’ pasaran tae would be fascists and dictators!

P.S. I started writing this tome because I read a post on Cole’s page about that arsehat in the US and a guy who, through personal experience, knows a cult when he sees one. We really need to be bigger and better than cultists and followers of whatever eejit happens to hold the reins of power because, as sure as fuck, very few of them are doing whatever they profess to do for us.

We can do anything we put our minds and backs to.

Or not.

P.P.S. I went back to Youtube to check out the name of the band and noticed this comment underneath. The only comment.

Πολυ ωραια μουσικη πολλες αληθειες

And I could still remember my Greek.

Very beautiful music, very true.

Dead chuffed.  Remembering is important.

Distracted, Abstracted

skin of papered onion 

peeled in pen and ink

as doodles crossing virginal

help me mull and think

with layers of lined abstraction

in markings freely made

thoughts and things I’m dreaming of

when words remain unsaid

while radio goes rambling

through the contours of my mind

in each portion printed pattern

discoveries I find

glassed in red libation

smoked in embers’ flames

onion’d contemplations

melt with those I’ve named

mid musings in a mindset

that meet where two lines merge

diverging while perceptions

collide and then converge

as news holds deep disturbance

tangents here to there

while my pen reacts to everything

in words I cannot share

Ceud Mìle Fàilte – To My Part Of Our World

I think I’m really clever

so coordinated

when I can remove

the remnants

of today’s make-up

with my right hand while

unhooking earrings with my left

after having

stacked

crockery and cutlery

in preparation

for twenty

having cleaned for the days

I didn’t

while working

teaching

clearing

sorting

finishing

one job

before embarking

on the next

 

I think I’m so organised

after

shopping

with my list

for food

drink

accroutements

the je ne sais quoi

of visitors

 

I think I’m on the ball

 

I’m not

 

I’m not on anything

but the same wheel

that we’re all on

you know the one

when we impress ourselves with our

own abilities to cope

under pressure

to be

to do

to act

to keep on

keeping on

 

I think I’m doing so well

and I am

 

I definitely am

 

I know this

by comparison

to when I’m not

and, oh, there have been times

when ‘not’ has been

the ‘it’

 

but now

right now

I’m doing well

as well as anyone can do

with

still

so much to do

 

I think I’m so clever

removing

with my right hand

today’s make-up

while

at the same time

my, oh, my!

such dexterity

disentangling dangling earrings from lobes

time-saving

knowing I have organised

am organised

will be

the hostess with the

enough

more than enough

to make them welcome

and

next week

I’ll abseil

and kayak

just for fun

 

these are the

holiday-days

the manage-and-do

and fill-the-days

with what is not the

everyday-do-days

these are the good

but also

busy days

 

as all days

 

I think I’m so clever

so coordinated

so resourceful

that I can do all this

and be

sane

 

while monitoring

watching

still

always

what is going on

in the realm of those

whose lives

coordinate

and manage

a different agenda

where

welcome

hospitality

ceud mìle fàilte

are not the operative words

I know

I’m doing well

and the earrings and makeup removed

two-handed

in a satisfied acknowledgement

of

the fridge

and dishes

ready

speak my truth

 

I’m clever

in some ways

in more ways

like so many

the everyday ways

we do

we are

the embrace

that love

to welcome

life

and loving

 

how clever

and resourceful

and full of life

are we

in spite of all

 

slainte

friends

 

these are the days

of life

living

and being

the welcome

to our part of the world

Remember, To Carry The Flame

We marched for you back then

You don’t remember

Crusaders for a kingdom

How we strived

Destitute, determined

Carried with us

Hope, appeal, intention

To survive

 

We stood for you back then

You don’t remember

Faced down the tanks

Deployed in George’s Square

Heard the Riot Act

Dismissed, resisted

Gathered for a living

Far more fair

 

We starved for you back then

You don’t remember

Force-fed prison time

For worthy aims

All but now forgotten

As the years pass

No recollections

Still done in your names

 

We died for you back then

You don’t remember

Someone from your family

Now deceased

Their legacy, the freedoms

Fought and died for

Bequeathed to you

So future would know peace

 

We lived for you back then

You don’t remember

Parents of a past

Lost in years’ layers

Gone, their cause forgotten

Present children

Remember now

And ask if you still care

 

We worked for you back then

You don’t remember

Unborn you were

But we had you in sight

Fighting for the future

Of all children

And conditions we could live by

Workers’ rights

 

We fought for you those years

You don’t remember

Distance lends enchantment

Or dismay

Forgotten, now, we are

We were foot soldiers

Who thought that we had

Surely won the day

 

We fought for you back then

You don’t remember

Battled for a birthright

Better ways

Took a stand

We fought for bread and butter

For a piece of

All created

By our hands

 

We fought for you back then

You don’t remember

In daily labour

Justice all we sought

Manned the streets, the trenches 

Raised our voices

We fought for you back then

As parents ought

 

We fought for you back then

You don’t remember

Torches dropped

As mem’ries fade away

Hopes were high among us

Generations

Would benefit in living

Brighter days

 

We fought for you back then

You must remember

Gains we made

Eroding by the week

Fight for us

As once we fought your corner

Supporting those

Who work for what you seek

 

We fought for you back then

Oh, please remember

The battle scars we wore

To pave the way

Conditions that we railed against

Remember

Vote anyone

But not for Maggie‘s May

Dissed

Dysfunctional, discredited

Disappearing in disdain

Dissocial, sans mercy

Distributing your pain

Disgusting, distempered

Distanced from the mass

Disproportioned wealth and clout

Disconnected ruling class

Disordering disdainfully

Distorters of the news

Dissemblers disfiguring

Dismembering facts and truth

Dishonourable deceivers

Disrespected dynasty

Dissociative governance

Dismantling society

Discriminating shamelessly

Discovered wasted space

Disciples of self-serving

Dissed by own disgrace

You’re Younger Yet

you’re younger yet and life holds full its promise

and I would not deny you all its claims

nor ever harness hopes or all that they hold

nor ever seek to squash the fire that calls your name

 

and I would not withhold from you each wishbone

that comes your way, upon which you may dream

nor burden you with harsher truths that years taught

I’d never blot the landscape of young life or all it seems

 

I have no aspirations to encumber the joy you know

for I, too, once believed the dreams you cherish and you hold

I once believed that all I sought was there for ripest taking

if I were, like you, courageous and so bold

 

I’d never take away your youth nor hope diminish 

by word or deed, the dreams we share, though altered, still unchanged

I cannot be the one who says the no to

life’s expansion, growth, by any name

 

life takes on a new form and I’d never challenge spirit

younger years, exuberance that dares

I’d only caution prudence, observation

as you climb the unknown, always have a care

 

as you go along the ridges, meet the strangers

hold within some doubt, please think of this

that somewhere, on the dark of all horizons

is the love that once betrayed with tender kiss

 

you’re younger yet and, out there, there are traitors

beware but still believe that life is fine

I’m older, always here if you’re discouraged

one flight away, one thought to keep in mind

I Knew Him Well

I knew him well, you see

the heart of him

the soul of him

the man

his gentleness

his kindness

his actions

bywords of the whole

no one except perhaps

the cruel or one broken

could have accused so

falsely, sent him into

purgatory, there to

await condemnation

or vindication while

we prayed, kept the faith

in truth, in justice and

in him, his voice broken

in forgiveness even while

understanding incomplete

as ours, knowing only that

these things are sent

to try us

he was

is not

never was

found wanting

I knew him well, you see

his heart

his soul

the man

The Final Phase

to all who looked

could bear to look

he was diminished

a skeleton of man

the faintest stamp

 

a vague tattoo upon

earth’s crusty dermis

his ink near finished

vibrant shades now

faded by his hands

 

a pencil etch-a-sketch

self-erasing shaken with

each dram and draw he took

a tracing watercoloured

in a wornout painting book

 

a disappearing frame on which

the cloth of life was worn

to disassembled threads

eliminating, obsoleting

even with each breath, he dreads

the final phase, the loss of vocal chords, the emptiness, the void of words – the stoking fear as death draws near, the absent smile, an unchecked tear – the fatal blow that takes him from those loved, those lost – the furtive reek encroaching, the avalanche, the bitter cost – the vapour misting, the misfiring heart, the solemnities, those torn apart – the shitting and the palour, the wasted times – the pungent puke of silence, he could taste the signs – his shell, it crumples, crumbles, vanishes and then – his one enduring, fleeting, ever-breathing thought that he should live, and live again – denying not his errors nor his sins long past – he sits, transfigured, mute, disfigured, and awaits his last-

behind the neutral mask

the fading screen

the maybe thoughts

of one still barely living yet

the might have beens

the deep regrets

desire to delay

the realisation

he cannot stay

a dying friend

and his careworn wife

the thoughts of death

the longing for life

no substitute

no greater bond

he sits and waits

for the not-so-great beyond

no consolation

in the years he had

too soon departing

husband, dad, grandad

a face resigned

while his heart’s aflame

no, no consolation

and I, I cannot him blame

for in the journey

we will never know

the choices taken

nor our time to go