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Thursday, 9 August 2012

My Militant Tendency: me at a meeting addressed by Peter Taaffe in 1984

Dr. John Cunningham who teaches in the History Department at NUI Galway sent me this photo via Facebook today. It shows part of the audience of a public meeting here in Galway addressed by Peter Taaffe, the leader of the Militant Tendency in Britain. That is me scratching my neck and yawning slightly. I have to say, I don't remember being bored. The meeting took place in the Atlanta Hotel on Dominick Street in the Spring of 1984, just before the Miners' Strike began in the U.K. I was a couple of months shy of my seventeenth birthday and a fifth year student at the Bish secondary school. Here is a relevant poem:

My Militant Tendency
It's nineteen eighty two and I know everything.
Hippies are people who always end up asking
Charles Manson to sing them another song.
I'd rather be off putting some fascist through
a glass door arseways, but being fifteen,
have to mow the lawn first. Last year,

Liverpool meant football; now
it's the Petrograd of the British Revolution.
Instead of masturbation, I find socialism.

While others dream of businessmen bleeding
in basements; I promise to abolish double-chemistry class
the minute I become Commissar. In all of this
there is usually a leather jacket involved. I tell

cousin Walter and his lovely new wife, Elizabeth,
to put their aspirations in their underpants
and smoke them; watch

my dad's life become a play:
Sit Down In Anger.
'My Militant Tendency' is from my 2008 collection Time Gentlemen, Please which is available from Salmon Poetry here

The poem also features in the 2009 Forward Book of Poetry which is available from Faber & Faber here