Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees – A Found Poem Dedicated to Glenda Jackson

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Maidens in chambers

Wreaking as it had wreaked

The most heinous spiritual and economic damage

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Hospitals running on empty

Patients on trolleys in corridors

The death rates of pensioners

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Our schools

Parents Teachers Governors even pupils

Fundraising for the most basic materials

Paper and pencils Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

The plaster on our classroom walls were kept in place by pupils art work

Pupil’s artwork

And miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of sellotape

School Libraries dominated by empty shelves

Very few books and those books that were there

Were held together by the sellotape and by off cuts of teachers wallpaper

Off cuts of teachers wallpaper

Hang together by Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

By far The most dramatic & heinous demonstration of Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Across the whole country

Where every single shop doorway

Every single night

Became the bedroom, the living room, and the bathroom for the homeless

They grew in their thousands

They grew in their thousands

In their thousands

Thrown out onto the streets from the closure of long term mental hospitals

The closure of long term mental hospitals

It was called Care in the Community.

What in effect it was, was no care at all in the community

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

London became a city Hogarth would have recognized

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

A desperately wrong track

A desperately wrong track

Where

Everything I had been taught to regard as a vice

Was in fact a virtue

Greed

Selfishness

No care for the weaker

Sharp elbows

Sharp knees

Greed

Selfishness

No care for the weaker

Sharp elbows

Sharp knees

An aspirational society – aspired for things

Aspiring for Things – Things – Things – Things Things – Things – Things – Things

Selling off the family silver

The price of everything

People saw the price of everything and the value of nothing

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

I am beginning to see the re-emergence

Re-emergence

Of Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

And that total traducing of what I regard as the basic spiritual nature of this country

Where we do care about society

Where we do believe in communities

Where we do not leave people to walk by on the other side

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

The Extraordinary human damage

We as a nation have suffered from Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Talent that has been totally wasted by the inability to genuinely see the individual value of every single human being

Talents wasted by the inability to genuinely see the individual value of every single human being

I am of a generation of who was raised by women

The men had all gone to war to defend our freedoms

The women who I knew

Who raised me and millions of people like me

Who ran our factories

& Our businesses

Put out the fires out when bombs dropped

Put out the fires out when bombs dropped

They would not have recognized their definition of womanliness as being incorporated in Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Ok,

A woman but not on my terms

Put out the fires out when bombs dropped

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Where we do care about society

Where we do believe in communities

Where we do not leave people to walk by on the other side

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Sharp Elbows & Sharp Knees – A Found Poem Dedicated to Glenda Jackson

  1. Doing a poem for the Belgrano sailors?

    By the way, by “family silver” do you mean the politician controlled industries that were already in the toilet?

  2. I cannot underestimate how strong this is. Read it out loud. Mike Garry has turned a passionate speech into a work of art. This is a new genre. I had tears as I read this back, pure fire. This is poetry wrapped in the flames of memory and history.

  3. Unfortunately, Glenda’s little rant had as much in common with reality as her newly sculptured lips (save the NHS & down with private treatment eh?).
    The economic damage had already happened, the UK needed a Thatcher, even the far right Guardian begrudgingly acknowledged we need a Thatch http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/09/britain-without-margaret-thatcher.
    The myth of hospitals being starved of finance is just that, spending on health was ahead of inflation in the 80’s as it was in the 90’s, 00’s and now. The death rates of pensioners is a crazy claim, pensioners tend to die in their pensionable age, the life expectancy has increased steadily from the war years, in fact, the slope had slightly increased in the 80’s.
    Like you Mike, I was a school kid in the Thatcher years and the idea that our schools were crumbling around the children’s scribbles is simply a lie.
    The family silver may have been borrowed from Harold Macmillan but nevertheless, do we really need state owned travel agents, energy producers, road haulage operations, stationery supplies, car makers, media companies and Pubs? We’d even have a state poet if Wedgewood Ben had thought of it.
    Thatcher made some mistakes and perhaps it’s better to focus on the real mistakes rather than re-invent history.

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