Resilience

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

Resilience

 

My teacher taught me to be more resilient today.  I fell and I cried, and I was embarrassed she saw me.  But my teacher said, “life can be like that.  Just pick yourself up again, and get on with it.”

It started out an ordinary day.  I had to get to school.  Da’ had come round to the flat last night.

My maw and da are not living in the same house.  Maw’s nerves are bad.  Da makes them bad.

Me and Iain had been out lookin’ for maw.  She goes out sometimes and forgets we can’t get in.  Somebody grassed and my da came round and hit the door through.  Maw was in the house after all, but she had had some of her medicine and hadn’t heard us. Da shouted at her that he couldn’t have the we’ans coming round to his in case he was reported to the social.  And maw flew at him with a bottle.

Iain gets all upset when they fly at each other.  I tell him to get behind the couch and get down.

Da caught the bottle on the arm, and telt her that if she did that again he’d cut her.  She said if he didn’t get the bleep out, she’d have the polis on tae him.  He jist said, “keep them we’ans aff the street at this time of night or I’ll have ye seen tae.”

He had her seen tae one night outside the flat.  That oul’ woman at 9b came out and pelted the guys with clothes pegs, like that could help.  But they ran away, and she brought maw into her house.  It was a really nice house.  Warm, with lights.  Maw was in some state.  And they guys had taken her bottle. After she was fixed up, maw and us went back to our flat and maw telt us never to speak to that nosey oul’ biddy again.

When da’ went back out of the flat, maw give me a leatherin.  “why the bleep did ye go to that bam,” she shouted.  I say bleep ‘cause I don’t like bad words.  Maw and da say them aw the time.  They fly like broken bottles across the street from their gobs when they see each other.  After she leathered me (I don’t cry, ‘cause that can make it worser), she telt me she was sorry and things were bad and that I was a pretty wee thing.  Her wee Norah.

Onyways, Iain and me, we went and slept on the same mattress in the other room.  We’ve a duvet each an’ we can share.

I don’t sleep all through the night.  Sometimes its ‘cause maw is singin’ and dancin’ after her medicine. Sometimes, its just ‘cause I’m listening out for da.

I woke just when the light was startin’ and I crept through to see where maw was.  She wasn’t in the flat.

Our flat isn’t warm.  It isn’t light. Sometimes people in school talk about when they get up out of bed and they get their breakfasts from their maw’s and they have a shower and stuff.  Our maw isnae like that.  We do get showers, especially when the social worker is coming.  But maw hasn’t been good in the past few weeks.  She gets the depression.

The water is cold, but I make Iain wash his oxters and face an’ hauns.  Iain is older than me, but he has special needs.  Or the depression.  They seem the same to me.

Our school Uniform isn’t in the flat.  An’ I know what maw has done.  She has done it before and promised not to.  The social will be roun’ later, because the only thing I have to go to school in is a pair of shorts and a vest.  Iain has a ripped pair of jeans and a power rangers pyjama top.  She mustn’t have been able to fit our welly boots into the plastic bag last night, or maybes people don’t want to buy wellies.  She calls it, “robbin’ Peter tae pay Paul.”  Paul must be the skinny man who she gets her medicine from.

When we are leaving, I leave the door on the latch.  Maw might not have remembered her key, and if she has a lot of medicine in somebody’s house, she might not be hame tae the morra.

The school isn’t too far.  I don’t know the time, but I know when the morning rolls are being delivered to Detsy’s, its near breakfast club time.

When we got to the school, Charlie the breakfast club guy, said, “Youse must be freezin’!” and he gets us uniforms, socks and trainers.  People in the school give them in when they are too wee for them.  He lets me choose, and I choose the ones that look the oldest, so maw won’t try an’ sell them again.

Breakfast club is great… walking in here, into this big new building, with its big hall and light and warm and things to do is like sunrise.  It’s like when I had a torch and I was able to light our room one night when it was scarey.  This place is the only place my forehead doesn’t feel tight.  Sometimes I feel so happy here, I get a bit out of control, and the teachers shout at me.  But its not like da’ or maw shouting.  Its safe shouting.

One of the times I do feel bad is when people are getting points for bringing in their homework.  I never have mines done.  I cant do it.  I don’t have time. You don’t get told off for not doing it, but its like one of maws slaps when Kylie Loft gets points.  She’s horrible.  She wouldn’t give me a share of her big bag of Doritos last Tuesday, even when she gave Maisie, Tina and Mohammed some when we were playin’ tig, because she says, “Norah never shares anythin’.” I wish I did have some stuff to share.  I feel bad when its my birthday and’ the teacher sings happy birthday.  Because I never have a cake or sweets to give the class.

Our teacher is nice.  But I wish she’d stop giving points for things my maw and da’ can’t do, like best costume on World book Day, or for wearing all your school uniform, or for healthy snacks or home learning projects.  I don’t mind people getting points I suppose.  But all them projects are mostly done by people’s maws.  Their maw hasn’t got the health my maw has.  I can never get points.  And that’s like a punch in the stomach sometimes.

The school dinners are the best.  I pretend I hate them like Tina does.  I know Tina loves them like me.  Where do you get food like that?  Its all different colours!  Things you just don’t get normally in the chippy or outta tin. Mr Singh behind the counter likes me.  He gives me extra stuff and winks.

Onyways, after lunch, it was gonna be circle time.  I like afternoons an aw, but I get a wee bit sad because I know its nearly time for home, and I knew it would be cold, and I knew my maw wouldn’t be there.  And sometimes I get angry at my friends because they haven’t Iain to look after, or maw to clean or da’ to hide from. And on the way up the stair to class, I tripped and I fell and I didn’t want to get up.  And I wanted Mrs Madigan, the classroom assistant to pick me up and give me a wee cuddle and tell me things would be awright.  Mrs Madigan says, we have a jar that you have inside you that should be filled with cuddles and love, and when you feel sad, you can use one of the cuddles and pieces of love from your jar to help you keep going.

But our teacher came back just before Mrs Madigan and told me to get up and taught me resilience.

Resilience is when you pick yourself up and brush yourself down and start all over again.  So my teacher says.

I count the cuddles and love going in to my jar.  I don’t have much in there, but when I get them, I clamp the lid down tight and remember and remember them. Because I know that one day Iain and me might need them.

Written by Neil Scott

 

Weesht For Indy – Not…

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Weesht For Indy – Not…

I am part of a political group that agrees to disagree on pretty much all of the razors of political analysis that cause splits, tantrums and forked tongued statements.  Ungagged is a website and political podcast that has pretty much every left view somewhere in its archive, said by people ranging from Trotskyists, Tankies, Blairites, Anarchists, Greens, Nationalists – all from the left spectrum of politics.

We respect the fact that others going to sometimes say, organise or promote an aspect of left politics we don’t agree with on the podcast, or written on the website.  And the fact that quite a few of us are from different parts of the world with different experiences, or different parts of Britain and Ireland, with different experiences, or different parts of Scotland with different experiences, informs us, rather than divides us.

My political background is as complex as anyone’s, but to summarise it, I was brought up in Northern Ireland in a protestant/unionist community and found myself at odds with that community.  I read literature and had experiences in Northern Ireland that convinced me the UK was not conducive to equality – in any way or aspect – and when i moved to Scotland I became involved with left and pro-independence politics.  I was a member of the SSP EC in the late 2000’s; co-opted again during indyref, and elected again onto the EC, twice. I left the SSP in late 2015.

I don’t see independence as a tactic.  I don’t see independence as being about my identity.  I don’t see independence as an income stream. I see independence as a way to break a state that at present is reinventing its imperialist past as somehow glorious – a state that is “dripping with blood from head to foot.” A state that is a key block, still even in its weakened state, in the curtain wall of capitalism.  A wall that hems in the poor and working class, while the rich and corporate world can fly free, borne on wings built with our bones, fueled by our blood and fed to obesity while we starve.

So…

There is an attitude in the Yes movement at present of, “disagreement is not healthy,” or “don’t challenge people – we are all on the same side.” I loathe that. That is nonsense, and designed to shut down debate, just as those on the left who prevaricate and hide the analysis they share within their particular cult shut down debate.

In order to come to agreement as to what sort of Scotland we are fighting for, we have to disagree, hone our arguments etc. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.  And both those who tell us to shoosh for Indy, and those who hide their true analysis and hide behind their moderately successful tactic of the past independence referendum are, mistakenly in my opinion, really doing their best to stop education through engagement.  They are building walls to a synthesis of feet on the streets, together, during the next campaign.

“Shoosh for indy,” seems to be the order of the day, not “unite the diversity,” though many of those telling us to wheest cry, “why is the movement not as accepting of difference as it was between 2011-14?” and,  “Why cant we all just raise a flag of truce and deliver a saltire to each door?”

I strongly disagree with some people who want independence, or those who at this juncture feel it is “a good tactic.” I strongly agree with some others.

Some I disagree with, I would trust with my life. Some who seem to “agree with me,” I really trust no more than crocodiles resting just below the water.

And this attitude is coming from all sides. If you criticise the ultra nationalists careering around social media, expect to be trolled. Raise points about people making money (rather than raising funds for expenses) from independence, and you are a traitor. And criticise some of the left “analysis” and you are accused of all sorts.  Let’s not, however class all of those we disagree with in the same category. For example, I have recently seen criticism of Darren McGarvey after his interview with Owen Jones. I don’t entirely agree with Darren, but I totally respect the guy (I honestly went from a position were I didn’t rate him, to once having met him, perhaps “getting him,” to now feeling, as a teacher concerned with ACES, the guy is pretty cool). He is absolutely honest in what he is saying… Which is where I get annoyed by some other folk who write about or speak about, independence or social change or socialism -their hiding behind words and “analysis,” as if those words and analysis are objective and self evident. Hiding behind analysis as “objective,” is deceiving (and in some cases this is exactly what the writers and speakers intend). All analysis is subjective. Darren never pretends his writing or words are anything other than his opinion or experience.

The pretence at objectivity from left individuals and small organisations is breathtaking.  And the pretence that what some of them are doing is for the common good is just damned depressing.  The narcissism of some just makes me want to run as far away from some of the left in the independence movement, but Scotland an the independence media being so small, they seem to be everywhere.

The great thing about the Yes movement between 2011 and 2014 is that it was allowed to shift and expand and then it took on a life outside the original Yes Scotland “diversity plan.” After September ‘14, there were statements and manifestos drawn up in our name, without our input; read out in halls and we were all expected to cheer.

I am a democratic radical socialist. And I am not part of a cadre or vanguard or group with vested interests in how the campaign takes shape and is run. I have always, within the movement and when I was in a political party, spoke my mind and called out dishonesty and worse.

I, like many, have views about what should happen post indyref. And I, like many, have views on how we should as campaigners and activists, be represented in the press, and on political bodies growing up within the movement. And at the moment there are far too many self appointed spokespeople for me. Few of whom speak for a movement of butterflies, and a majority of whom seem to want to stick the butterflies in boxes and tell them to shoosh for unity etc. while they tell us what to think.

To argue, to disagree and to call out tactics and vanguards and manels and pyramid schemes seems to cause great ire.

The people who do are the ones I trust.

A Gift Comes Calling…

Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Neil Scott
This story also appears on Neil’s blog
As the scientists looked at each other in disbelief, outside their Lower Withington building across the street, Corey stood up, turned his head from side to side, stretched and took his first tentative steps in the 31 years he had been on planet earth.

No one had ever wanted Corey, not even his mother, who had abandoned him on the steps of the Cathedral, just a mile or so away from the spot he sat every day in his wheelchair, begging for change. On the run up to Christmas people felt guilty. Those people who walked past him trying not to meet his eye, as he said, “Have a good day.” He could afford to eat something most days.

His usual day would be like nothing these people had ever experienced. His Christmas would usually be a fight for food, a bottle or two and a fusty mattress in a spike (he called it that name, laughing, because the others in the dosshouse had no idea what he was on about), and middle class liberals assuaging the guilt they had for voting for less tax and a massive “defence” budget, served food on their once a year penance; food the local supermarket usually threw into the skip that his hungry, misshapen bones wouldn’t let him reach.

It had been reported as a rock, around 400 metres by forty, “Oumuamua,” “The Messenger,” and it had shot past earth, steady, silent and faster than anything that had ever been recorded in the solar system. And the scientists heard the warming, comfortingly embracing noise in disbelief, as everyone did.

Report of “Alien Spacecrft,” December 2017 HERE

Corey wasn’t the only life changed when the signal enveloped the earth. Opaque eyes saw colour and faces for the first time and cacophony, orchestra and whispers vibrated auditory ossicles newly formed in old ears.

Jessica, whose life support had been switched off while her family wept around her hospital bed in Belfast, suddenly sat up and laughed. She was 97 years old, and wanted to dance and no one, not even those expecting her demise were going to stop her.

Five year old Michelle clicked her knees back into place and the screams of her mother stopped as she emerged from under the fifteen year old Ford Escort, driven by the suddenly sober Iain MacHick who hadn’t seen her run onto the road to try to catch her pink rubber bouncy ball. MacHick cried, and was glad he would never need alcohol again to feel equal to the task of living. Michelle had learned not to run onto the road. Her mother glared at MacHick, took her child by the bloodied, but uncut hand and walked away from death.

All over the world, sickness, illness, inabilities and disability disappeared.

John, who had always wanted to examine the stars ever since he first watched Power Rangers twenty-five years before this moment, cried as he read the message on his screen. It had affirmed the message in his head. The knowledge he had regained. The lost feeling, he had lived with all his life, a background noise that everyone had fought, grabbed, self-medicated and stolen for, to muffle. Screens across the world were carrying the same affirmation of what everyone all at once knew. The knowledge they would gain later had yet to filter to them and TV producers and directors puzzled over who had intercepted their signals and minds.

Tina and Kodi pointed at the interactive smart board in Mr Kumar’s class. Mr Kumar was explaining how to use a speech bubble, when the board seemed to switch itself on.

Most of the class of eight-year olds could read the message when it first flickered onto the screen. And then they all could, even Demi, who had never been able to read her own name.

Demi knew it was a Christmas Gift. A Gift from Santa, who Jack had said that morning didn’t exist. She knew he did and he had given her the gift of reading by switching on a part of her brain that she had until now, not explored.

No one panicked, and everyone in shops laughed at the stupidity of the money they no longer needed.

Debts disappeared as they all knew, suddenly, how ridiculous the notion that people owned things.

The world started to feed itself and heal, and the hoarders and those who had accrued billions of everything were forgiven as prisoners were. They had not known what they were doing. They had been forced into a system that really was absurd, sick and had nearly killed the world by mistake.

People rushed to ensure no belly was empty. The horror of the old system hit everyone at once and they became free.

And the message that came with the cure, the first contact, the reawakening, the resetting of Earth became a message they all understood from the second the long cigar shaped craft enveloped their senses as it sped through space towards other galaxies long forgotten and left in the cold.

“Welcome back to the Universe. Sorry we took so long.”

Club Trumpicana

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

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Neil Scott

Good luck, American working class friends. Good luck world.

Perhaps by the end of this Presidential term we will all have gold doors.

That white bit around the eyes will become fashionable as sun beds become safer through millions of pounds worth of investment. In fact, USA, the jobs Trump was doodling about in his tacky Club Tropicana White House were all in the sun bed sector.

Imagine a world where everyone can have what Donald has. Greed; total disregard for anyone’s needs only his own and a personal set of those wee goggles you balance on your eyes when you are on a sunbed.

After today, we all live in Trumpton, an aggressive, bronzed, greedy punch in the face- every day until he is voted out or his Government falls.

Trump will think of us all. He thinks of “the little guy” often, tips them to make himself happy, has his shoes shined and his coat brushed and fires a few. They deserve it. They are not as successful as him. They didn’t work as hard at him to show off the wealth his father left him. In fact they are failures because they weren’t born into massive wealth and a dysfunctional,
Love free world.

Jon Voight, the great actor from “The Champ,” says – “Trump didn’t need to be President.”

Nope, he didn’t. But he wanted the power- he wanted the Ultimate job- the one in which “you’re fired,” can finger pointedly condemn poor people to death by way of poverty, missile strike or lack of societal compassion. Voight is right- Trumpet didn’t need the job- but he wanted it. He was incensed a black man was in the job before him, so much he had to try to prove the guy wasn’t an American. Yet again he felt like a failure because in his eyes, the eyes of a racist brought up in a racist world, the lowest of the low, the level below working class, below homeless “bum,” the blacks – had an American President before the successful, kindly, all powerful Trump family.

I have American friends. And this brass faced, greed personified, bling laden, crass, racist, misogynistic, dangerous man who will tell us God is with him, and guides him in his ripping up of Western Democracy and his throwing America back to the days before segregation and homophobia were written out of law does not represent who they are. God is guiding him. The God of unimaginable wealth; the God of bigotry; the God of no compassion or indeed love – the God created by white, imperialist, grab it all America rules supreme and will point at you and scream, You’re fired!” because you don’t have a Gold Door.

America is a progressive, changing society. A place were tolerance is spreading like wildfire. The bigotry of the past is on the wane- and the figures prove it. But the nasties who ruled the roost with their pumpkin pies and racism and bigotry and witch hunts are having one last hurrah at our expense.

Tracks of my Years

Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Neil Scott
This piece originally appeared on Neil’s blog

A loaded gun wont set you free…” -Lyrics in the context of my growing up in Northern Ireland that had meaning beyond the meaning Ian Curtis perhaps intended. As a young man I was continually questioning all that was going on around me. Growing up in a mid-Ulster market town, answers were difficult to come by. At 14 I joined CND and around he same time I read Cry Freedom and had my address included in Christian Aids anti apartheid (snail) mail list. I found out about racism in Australia by sending off for a report on the plight of the native Aboriginal people and the organisation I sent away to had the genius idea to include a report on Ireland north and south and the inequalities within the two states. A year later I stole a book about Marx from my “non-denominational” Proddy High school. I stole it, rather than borrow because Marx/the Cold War was associated with Republicanism and Nationalism by those around me. I really could not see anything within its pages that I disagreed with.

All of these things made me think.

I’ll come back to New Dawn Fades in a minute.

Of course other things made me think… challenged me… Made me realise that lots of these beautiful, wonderful, in other ways open, friendly and rational people were saying and supporting the most unreasonable things. Their entire house of bigotted cards was supported by an imaginary being I could not twist my belief system to believe in. And I tried! When seemingly reasonable, funny, kind people say that They had been found by God; were born again; found God; seen the light; were saved and so on, I tried to find what that meant. I looked at ways to think of God that wasn’t this beardy Marx like figure… to no avail. The house of cards of loyalism and unionism seemed equally irrational. “Directionless, so plain to see… The loaded gun wont set you free…” lyrics that could be applied to both sides in the war going on around me.

All around me, death and mayhem drove the engine of our personal and economic society.

And death and mayhem was being cited as a solution by all sides including a Government not elected by Northern Irish people. Thatcher’s solution stepped up the killings and brought bombs closer to me. I saw mushroom clouds, broken, mangled buildings, cars and people and the aftermath of death and revenge and the hatred it perpetuated. The people around me, including me, were in the midst of an undiagnosed trauma. A violated people. And seemingly all of those in charge were out of control… On one hand saying death and murder were wrong, but on the other hand arming more people, and sending in SAS death squads to bereave more people and to harden more and more hearts.

“I’ve walked on water, run though fire, just can’t seem to feel it anymore.” And the denial by all of us within the North of Ireland about the effect of the fire engulfing us, the numbing of our feelings for those around us, was plain to see by any outsiders who came to visit.

Political music influenced me a lot. From the Specials, The Police (yes they did!) and Fun Boy Three through to Peter Gabriel And even Bono (who breeched the dam of Bloody Sunday denial). But the anger, stark, monochrome, industrial hopelessness of Joy Division did even more. It allowed me to realise that those around me might not have solution. The politicians and those they targeted with their biting, bigoted or rationalised violent solutions through to the preachers preaching difference through an imaginary, patriarchal deity were pulling us in ever decreasing circles of murder and hatred.

The track that sums up my freedom from the narrow minded sectarianism was not written with this in mind… But it was part of the freeing of my mind. “Different colours, different shades, over each mistakes were made…” and the shoots of hope I see at home beyond the marches and ire of some politicians as ordinary people reject triumphalism and violence as a solution give different meaning to Curtis words than he intended, once again.

Bits of Kids

Reading Time: 5 minutes
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Neil Scott
This piece originally appeared on Neil’s blog

We drank our tins of Satzenbrau shivering on the school roof looking across the streetlit mid-Ulster valley that was my hometown of Banbridge.  Another Friday night without a care.

Out of the six of us, I was the only one working. The others were all still in High School. We all loved the new found freedom of youth, drink and music- and some weekends, before we hit whatever pub we wanted to go to that week- or whatever youth club or nightclub, we listened to music from a mono battery powered tape-recorder and debated the merits of the synthesizer and its impact on guitar music.

Alex had eclectic taste- BA Robertson, Rod Stewart and chart stuff. Colin was into Jim Steinman in a big way. I was into my post-punk stuff, Joy Division, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire… The Mod was into the Jam, The Kinks, The Who and the likes and Roger and Jackie, the only girl with us that night, were into Punk. We took turns with tracks, but it was The Mod’s stereo. The Jam blared through the cool night air. The noises of the town wafted up to us, inviting us to join the laughter coming from the streets where the Rollerdrome, smoke filled and full of the confused noises of disco and Donkey Kong, Space Firebird and Defender vied for our attention with The First and Last, Campbells, The Coach, the “big church” youth club, Gowdy’s or just hanging about on the streets “gaunching” with people… asking about unseen pals; gaping,  stuttering at girls; feeling inadequate as Lutton took to the dancefloor and never stuttered once. Or playing snooker.

My favourite part of the night was the carryout. A few cans of beer and a bit of craic, usually freezing in a hedge, at the side of a gable wall or a school grounds.

The music was my freedom. It promised much. A world before us. A world we would change. The Mod dressed in his mod clothes, “target” on his back. Roger in jeans and grey denim jacket. Colin in a burgundy bomber, Alex in a fleecy, furry tartan jacket, me in black baggies, boxer boots, a flaming cross teeshirt and long trenchcoat- fashion victim extraordinaire- and Jackie in her forbidden makeup, pvc trousers and punk top she stashed in a bag in a friends house so her ma and da wouldn’t see.

We were ready for a new world- or at least a few more beers, a chip and gravy from the chinese and another box of fags.

Then it was Roger’s turn to play his tape.

The music didn’t thrash out in the way his choice usually did. It wasn’t California Uber Alles or Pretty Vacant. The guitar sounded almost like a sitar. The opening vocals  almost whispered.

“It was nothing like that in my day, not here in my town
We didn’t get things all our way till we were full-grown
Now they go into pubs and you’re gonna get mugged in my town…”

We stopped speaking over the music.

“It’s SLF’s new one.”

We knew of SLF of course. Alternative Ulster. Suspect Device.  Barbed Wire Love. Wasted Life. Tin Soldiers.

Loud shouts about the shite of  our wee world. This world we knew. One that visited this valley from the outside now and again. Driven in deliveries of mayhem that couldn’t and didn’t differentiate between catholic and protestant children, women and men. A world in which music had been a “legitimate target” when after playing our local big venue, the next big thing, The Miami were blown to bits and shot to death.

This was music that told the truth about murderous “sides.”

At the time through my rejection of the local version of rebellion- hard rock; meaningless Billy Idol lookalikes and Doctor Martens that did nothing to Kick Over the Statues, but instead marched to them to salute, I rejected punk.

Outwardly. To suit my image.

My “post punk” *self* image, because no-one here really gave a shit about how I looked nor did they care for the hopelessness of Joy Division or the inaccessibility of the lyrics of The Bunnymen.

Secretly, though, SLF touched me through the nonsense of being told, about my best friend, “but do you know Mickey’s a catholic?” And through the fear of the threatening phone calls my joiner dad got from paramilitaries for doing his job in their territory, SLF comforted me that others thought “sides” where nonsense.

Mickey’s mum’s Sacred Heart pictures on the wall were no reason to hate. And my rejection of religion didn’t make me a protestant for others to hate.

“So you read about it every day, in the headlines
How they take and take and drive away, sex and late nights
And it’s gotta be wrong, because they’re so young…”

My childhood was happy. A mother and father who worked hard to give us Blackpool once a year and a great Christmas. A childhood my society tried to steal. The big men who forced my father to hand over the few quid “protection money” from the corporation he worked for. A low paid worker forced to be the middleman between the multi-million pound rehousing project in Belfast and the Shankill Butchers.

After the cartoons, I watched Gloria Hunnyford tell me why my da’ might be late… “incidents” in Belfast, Lisburn or the Maze.

Our family were not outwardly “kissy,” but we loved each other. Our livingroom curtains could conceal me as I stood behind them looking down the road, waiting.  And on seeing the yellow Farrans van drive down the road my heart would leap, but I would control my relief and shout into the kitchen where my mum kept the dinner warm, “he’s home!”

“They’re only bits of kids, they’re only bits of kids
It’s always bits of kids today.”

“This is class, Roger.” Jackie loved it, so we loved it.

I wished we drank slower. But out of booze it was time to hit the town and to try to make the fiver stretch to a few more beers and a chinese.

“Where do yiz fancy going?”

We climbed down from our sniper nest and walked down the leafy lane to the main Newry Road. A road that took everyone from this end of town to work in Belfast, Newry, the Shoe Factory or the town.  I looked up the hill towards the factory where I would end up working in a few years time- a place in which there were sectarian quotas which were met through predominantly catholic offices and predominantly protestant offices; catholic run lasting lines and protestant run sewing machines. All controlled by English General managers sent to oversee us.

Roger and Jackie walked on. Jackie oblivious of the fact she had legitimised this meeting of nerds by her presence. Roger, Embassy Regal hanging from his mouth, and Jackie disapeared to somewhere cooler than The First and Last.

We walked passed the nursery school where I had been painting Humpty Dumpty’s for the wee ones on the windows when the bomb went off; passed the empty shell that was once Stevey Shepherd’s motorbike shop, across the bridge under which the controlled explosions were executed; past the shop the eleven year old boy died of shrapnel wounds and through the side door into the lounge.

A “catholic bar” where both religions relaxed, played “Crazy Climber” and snooker, and we were never questioned about our age. A few more pints into a world of gaunching with our mates.

” Broken cities ‘n’ broken hearts, bits of people who fall apart
In my town
It’s always bits of kids today
Bits of kids, we’re always, here in my town.”

Stiff Little Fingers are a band I have loved since. A band under valued. A band who, along with their rivals The Undertones and the others from the Good Vibrations camp and along with The Miami and The Shankill Butchers, bomb sales, parades and catholic and protestant quotas, shaped me.

#Yes2, the International Butterflies and the Screams of the Traditional Media!

Reading Time: 1 minute

Yes2, the Internationalist Butterflies and the Screams of the Traditional Media!

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#Yes2, Internationalist Butterflies and the Screams of the Traditional Media

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In this episode we have Neil Scott talking about the internationalist outlook of a new Independent Scotland,  Ruth Hopkins on the plight of the Native American Water protectors in North Dakota and Amber Daniels on the Screams of the Traditional Media and Chuck Hamilton on the mess that is the Middle East.

Featuring music from Hand of Dog, Travel Cat and David Rovics and poetry from the wee scamp Red Raiph.