T-shirts, T and poetry

Friends of the Earth inform me that it takes the amount of water to manufacture one t-shirt that would be needed to make 15,600 cups of tea. A thought-provoking statistic – but straight away, I start wondering if that’s why they’re called t-shirts. Or is tea named after tea shirts? Did British colonial officials once relax on the verandah having changed into a tea shirt to drink tea?

tshirt

Now I take t-shirts seriously, like them. I have quite a collection, many commemorating somewhere I’ve been (Georgia, Fair Isle Bird Observatory, the most south-westerly pub in England – The Saracen’s Head, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly – plus one printed with my own wording, “Ho, Johnny Wildman, where art thou?”).

Towards the end of a walking holiday, though, the dirty clothes do mount up and of course are dead weight to carry. Working on that FOE statistic, maybe I could convert a small fragment of a dirty, old t-shirt into cups of tea?

By the way, that personalised wording refers to a favourite snippet from my history reading. During the Commonwealth period when we were between kings, the radical Leveller group had fallen out with Oliver Cromwell, but one of their number, a Major John Wildman, had defected to Cromwell. His former comrades put out a pamphlet attacking him. You can imagine what this would be like today – a pamphlet or blog post from a far left group attacking someone who’d abandoned them. The Leveller pamphlet read,

“There was a great stone, and it fell in the sea, and it gave a great PLOP. Ho, Johnny Wildman, where art thou?”

 

Incidentally, I was at a reading last night by performance poet Luke Wright. I’d seen two of his poems before and thought one brilliant and the other rubbish, but this was all good. Few performance political poets have such subtlety and compassion, plenty of passion but nothing of bludgeoning you into assent.

New Something

This was a piece I wrote for a Chelmsford writers’ group on the subject of “New Beginnings for the New Year” and with an allotment of 1,000 words.

New Year

 

New Beginnings for a New Year

New beginnings? Isn’t that a whatdoyoucallit? You can’t have old beginnings. I suppose you could say the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War is an old beginning now, but it was a new beginning when it began, which was the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War, I think. I mean, there’s only any point in saying anything if the opposite is possible. Like…what’s the opposite of two plus two is four? Four plus four is two? I was always better at English than Maths. Or is it two minus two is four? Or minus two plus minus two is minus four?

I suppose you could just about say that an old beginning is something that really is a beginning, but it’s been used before for other beginnings – like pawn to king four. Or pawn to queen four. Whereas WHITE: 1: RESIGNS would be original, I think. “It was a dark and a stormy night” would be an old beginning, then. Or if you started your novel with “In the beginning was the word”, which is a pretty silly statement because of course in the beginning of a story there’s a word, in this case “in”. Now that’s a point: if I remember rightly, copyright expires seventy-five years after the death of the author, but if the author of the Bible is God, is God dead? I believe theologians and philosophers are still arguing about it. The theologians say he is and the philosophers say he isn’t, if I recall rightly. In any case, even if he is dead, when did he die? That’s crucial if you’re quoting from the Bible without paying royalties.

I suppose someone must have thought this through because some gravestones have biblical quotes on. Mind you, I’m not sure who the action for breach of copyright would be against.

What about new endings? Well, obviously if a story or a football match or something is new, the ending will be new – except I suppose if it’s old hat it’s not new, like Manchester United scoring in surprisingly long injury time or a book ending with THE END just in case you were tempted to start reading it back to front in which case it would say DNE EHT. Esle gnihtemos yas dluow ti neht. Sorry, I got a bit carried away.

So let’s go back to the new beginning. I make that three hundred and ninety-five words, which isn’t bad considering. Four hundred and seven now. Four hundred and twelve.

There was a man in a Len Deighton spy story called Harvey Newbegin, an American. He was called Harvey Newbegin because he wasn’t. I don’t mean he was like The Man Who Never Was, except of course he was, because he was fictional whereas The Man Who Never Was was real. And Welsh, apparently. This Harvey Newbegin was an immigrant to the USA from some Baltic country, which explains why he chose to rename himself Harvey. Anyway, the hero pushed him under a bus, which made him Harvey Newend. I did mention that this wasn’t true, didn’t I? I mean it’s fiction, not that what I’m saying about Len Deighton’s book isn’t an accurate summary, though it’s years since I read it so it might not be.

Who said “In my end is my beginning?” Was it Eliot? Someone did say he was anal retentive, so that might be right.

Why do we want new beginnings for a new year anyway? The break-off point for the year is purely arbitrary. Up until the eighteenth century they began the new year in spring some time, not on 1st January at all, which plays havoc with dates, so for example if a Civil War battle was fought on 21st February 1645 according to accounts at the time, that’s actually 21st February 1644 to our way of thinking. No, 21st February 1646, I think. See? Chaos. What if the Royalists turned up on 21st February 1644 and the Parliamentarians on 21st February 1646? Could be a bit awkward for any Royalists commemorating their easy victory, but it would have kept the casualty figures down. That is, of course, if we were fixing the battle at a point on the map, which because of the earth’s rotation and the earth circling the sun, would be quite a long way in space from the same point on the map a year or two earlier, assuming no-one had moved the map. No – would it be at the same point in space because what goes round comes back? But then there’s the expansion of the universe to take into account, so that would mean the Parliamentarians turning up somewhere in deep space, which would be unfortunate, though how they’d get there I don’t know.

Did you know the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing? We’re all rushing apart faster and faster according to Stephen Hawking, which means that our feet are ageing slightly faster than our heads, which I’m not sure is true of me at all, though remembering when I last looked closely at my feet, maybe it is. But in Australia it’s the other way around. Old heads on young feet. With other bits in between.

Some people make resolutions at the New Year, but usually they aren’t new beginnings at all because they’re the same resolutions they made last year or the year before, like eating less or writing a novel. Or writing less and eating a novel. Personally I find Dickens indigestible.

Some people just go out, get drunk and sing badly. It’s usually not new beginnings in their songs, though, it’s bits in the middle or at the end that are new. Getting drunk is known as getting rat-arsed, though I don’t understand that at all. I have not observed that drunken people have small hairy arses, though some Welshmen have. And they had them before they got drunk. Not that I’m any kind of expert on Welsh backsides. Er…

The Poetry of History

I’ve got a History degree – apparently one of those unsaleable degrees, which is stupid since History teaches you so much about human motivation, how people behave in groups, how societies and organisations change, how people can change things, how to assess and marshal evidence, how someone’s perception of things subtly or grossly changes the account they give…oh, and the origins of countries, customs, beliefs…

 

No, we just want to think one year ahead and five minutes behind.

 

So how does my knowledge of and interest in History influence my poetry?

 

Well, obviously in some cases because I have written historical poems. My particular interest was in the English Civil War and Commonwealth period – Oliver Cromwell and all that – and over some years I wrote two poems about that period.

 

One apology at this point. as before, I’m hitting “remove formatting” and the unspeakable formatting is still appearing in the post. It is not experimental poetry. It’s a nuisance. But if you think it’s marvellous poetry, enjoy it!

 

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MARSTON MOOR

 

On Marston Moor the rubbish grows

Beside the road, great pile on pile

And those who choked on their own blood

If they could see, would wryly smile,

 

If they could smile, at this New World

Which marks their death with rusty iron,

Snapped plastic, aluminium;

And those who tried to build their Zion

 

Or serve their King, may hear the chant

“Behold, we’re making all things new:

The bloody rout on Marston Moor

Is no concern of me or you”.

 

The Yorkshire soil is doing its job:

Fed deep by Scots and English blood

It brings forth cabbages and beans

Where shattered horses writhed in mud.

 

The moorland’s gone, the muskets too,

But over flat and docile land

A harsh wind blows and voices call

Of hopes we would not understand.

 

Marston Moor was one of the most important and bloody battles of that civil war. Outside York on 2 July 1644, forty thousand soldiers in two armies clashed and at the end over 4,000 were dead. The decisive victory for the combined Scottish and English Parliamentarian forces over the Royalists helped decide the outcome of the war.

 

The poem grew from my experience visiting the battlefield. The land was once a mixture of farmland and moorland, but is now all flat, fertile farmland. I found a 19th century memorial surrounded by a wrought iron fence, against which the farmer had stacked bales of hay. On the other side of the small road was a big rubbish tip. This shocked me. Could we find no better memorial?

 

In the poem I use ideas and vocabulary from the time. This was a time when the American colonies were being developed and many people in England were fired with the idea that these colonies represented a new start, a chance to do things better. So to describe the modern world of the rubbish tip as a “New World” is bitter irony. “Zion” does not refer to the political and philosophical movement  behind the state of Israel, but to the immediacy and importance of the Bible to 17th century English and Scots, especially on the Parliamentarian and Scots Covenanter side where some saw the political turmoil as a chance to build an ideal state in harmony with God.

 

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FORLORN HOPE

 

Stand firm behind the Good Old Cause

The King is subject to the Laws

The People are the true sovereign

Though they were robbed, to great lords’ gain

 

The fight is won, the Norman yoke

Is in the dust, the crown is broke

But now the new lords stand on high

For what, then, did we fight and die?

 

The Cause is down, the free are sheep

The Spirit does not die but sleep

Those who are blind will one day see

And those in chains will soon be free.

 

This is a more personal poem about the same period, written as if from the mouth of a Parliamentarian soldier with Leveller or similar radical beliefs. Each verse stands for a period: during the first, the Civil War is being fought; the second represents a later time when the military struggle has been won but the radicals face political disappointment; while the third speaks of the restoration of the monarchy, the crushing of such people’s hopes but also a survival. Again I’ve used language of the time. The Good Old Cause became the name used by Parliamentary supporters for their cause, continuing into the 1680s (a plotter against Charles II referred on the scaffold to “That Good Old Cause in which I was from my youth brought up”). That the King was subject to, not above, the Laws was common ground on the Parliamentary side, but the idea that the people were the source of power and the true sovereign was much more radical and new. The Levellers believed traditional English freedoms had been crushed by the Norman Conquest in 1066: royal and lordly power were “the Norman yoke” and the Civil War was a war of national liberation. Cromwell and his senior officers were nicknamed “grandees” and accused of acting like the lords they’d defeated.

 

This is getting quite long, so as Hilaire Belloc might have said,

 

“I’m getting tired and so are you.

Let’s cut the blog into two”. Or three even.

 

I’ll return to this and look at how I’ve reflected other historical subjects and also how History has had a subtler influence on what I’ve written.

 

Images and Symbols

I want to think and talk a bit about images and symbols. I’m posting this on my poetry blog and not on sibathehat on blogspot, so I see this as leading hopefully to some perceptions about images in poetry, but I’m going to start by looking at some images outside the literary world in the hope this will shed some light.

 

In Britain there are three major or fairly major political parties operating across Britain (Northern Ireland mostly has its own local parties). They all have badges or logos which are extensively publicised.

 

Symbols or badges in politics are nothing new. The first in England, as far as I know, were the sea-green ribbons worn by Levellers during the Civil War and early Cromwellian period and revived by the Whigs of Charles II’s reign (in other words, mid to late 17th century). As far as I know, no-one else wore ribbons then as a mark of political allegiance, so you could argue that the ribbon AND its colour stood for the political movement; but by the 18th century rosettes (descended from the ribbons) were in wide use and the message was conveyed by the colour. In the early 19th century, for example, Byron wrote in a poem “I still keep my buff and blue”, meaning he was a Whig at a time when the Tories (using red) were in the ascendent. By the late 19th century Liberals (mainly descended from the Whigs) mainly used yellow, and Conservatives (Tories) blue. The Labour Party, when it rose in the early 20th century, used red, which had socialist and revolutionary connotations.

 

So here’s one point of interest: a colour itself can have a figurative meaning. Red = action, strength, warmth, but also danger and conflict; blue = safety and coolness (even though in the U.S. the POLITICAL meaning of these colours is reversed); green (as in the Green Party) = nature, restfulness (it’s the most restful background colour) and life. So mention of a colour in a poem might not be a straightforward description, but might indicate a mood, or danger, renewed life, or whatever. Also some of these meanings may be hard-wired into all humans, but others are culturally determined: red among Chinese suggests good fortune and prosperity, while white in south-east Asia generally is the colour of death (as black is among Westerners) and is not, I think, associated with purity.

 

The Labour Party used to have a torch (enlightenment, education, leading people somewhere, but a bit dangerous) but now has a red rose. The red appeals to Labour traditions, but a red rose is a powerful and common image in literature and painting. It can mean sexual experience as opposed to the virginal and pure white rose (not, I think, what Labour had in mind) but it is also a traditional image of England with any number of references to the English rose: an “English rose” is usually an attractive English girl, but English rugby players have red roses on their shirts and Rupert Brooke wrote, comparing England and Germany, “There roses grow as they are told/ Unkept about these hedges blows/ An English unofficial rose”. The rose suggests attractiveness and tradition, but is not a very dynamic image (roses, after all, stay still unless they’ve been cut). There was also another problem for Labour: the rose being a traditional ENGLISH image, it annoyed Welsh people and even more, Scots.

 

So use an image in poetry, as in politics, and you can find others reading things into it you may not want. Tough.

 

The Liberal Democrats (descended from the Liberals mainly) made do without an image for a long time, though their striking orange and black posters were widely recognised (dynamic, distinctive, but if it was an insect it would have a sting), but more recently adopted a stylised bird known as “the bird of Liberty”. The image is a bit complicated (perhaps not instantly recognisable as a bird and also a bit like the Barclay’s Bank symbol) but it does look dynamic – the bird appears to be in motion and birds can mostly fly. As a symbol of liberty, change and independence it’s quite effective. It could have been a more naturalistic bird, but then it might have been unhelpfully associated with particular kinds of bird (pigeon or crow, not always popular, duck or sparrow, slightly ridiculous; hawk – definitely not). So here’s another link to poetry: make your image vague and it may confuse people; make it very specific and it may carry associations too specific for your meaning. If there’s an unfortunate subliminal message, it’s that the bird looks just a bit disorganised and more than a bit like it’s just been blasted with a shotgun.

 

At one time both Labour and the Conservatives were using torches as symbols. The red Labour one was tilted at a dynamic but possibly unsafe angle and the blue Conservative one stood safely, uprightly but slightly boringly upright. The Conservatives ditched that in favour of an oak tree. At this time their new leader, one David Cameron, was trying to present them as an environmentally-friendly party, and they are strong in rural areas and the “leafy suburbs”, so choosing a native British plant (shown in summer with a green, leafy top) made sense. So it suggested nature. The oak, like the rose, is a very old English symbol associated with the Royal Navy, but it doesn’t have quite the English nationalist tinge the red rose has and Wales has famous and extensive oakwoods (the Scots have a few oaks too, though they cut most of them down). So the symbol suggests traditions, as Labour’s does and the Liberal Denocrat one doesn’t. Oaks are solid, safe (relatively) and long-lived. Like the Liberal Democrat one (but not Labour’s) it’s stylised and might puzzle people for a moment. Probably the biggest unintended message is that Conservatives are thick, immobile and rather boring. That may not matter much except that a party symbol suggesting immobility (more strongly than Labour’s) may be a minus.

 

Used in a poem other than straightforwardly to describe the wildlife of an oakwood, mention of an oak by an English poet might suggest national pride (“hearts of oak”), age, tradition or solidity, but modern urban, computer-attached Britons don’t mostly think much about trees, less than they think about birds or flowers. So – another thing for the poet to consider. Is your chosen image widely understood and does it hit a gong, a bell or something much les noisy? There, I was using images and ran into a problem because I couldn’t think of something insignificant you could hit to produce a very slight noise. Well, I can, any number, but U.K. libel law is notoriously friendly to the supposedly libelled.

 

More perhaps on images some other time.

 

 

More explaining what I think I meant

In this post, the respected critic Simon Banks comments on the work of the obscure poet Simon Banks. In the last post I analysed, or at least commented on, Spirit Mountain and Knight at Arms. Now, proceeding from the earliest poems posted here towards the latest and selecting poems I think I’ve got something to say about, here are some more.

MARSTON MOOR

On Marston Moor the rubbish grows

Beside the road, great pile on pile

And those who choked on their own blood

If they could see, would wryly smile,

 

If they could smile, at this New World

Which marks their death with rusty iron,

Snapped plastic, aluminium;

And those who tried to build their Zion

 

Or serve their King, may hear the chant

“Behold, we’re making all things new:

The bloody rout on Marston Moor

Is no concern of me or you”.

 

The Yorkshire soil is doing its job:

Fed deep by Scots and English blood

It brings forth cabbages and beans

Where shattered horses writhed in mud.

 

The moorland’s gone, the muskets too,

But over flat and docile land

A harsh wind blows and voices call

Of hopes we would not understand.

 

Marston Moor was one of the biggest and most important battles of the English Civil War, fought in 1644 just outside York. The city of York was in Royalist hands but a Scottish army supporting the English Parliament had been besieging it with English support. A Royalist army under the loved and feared Prince Rupert, King Charles’ young German relative, marched to relieve the city. More English units had joined the besiegers, but, fearing to be caught between the garrison and Prince Rupert, the besiegers withdrew. Prince Rupert left the garrison in situ and marched after the besiegers to make sure they withdrew entirely. However, the Scots/Parliamentary army turned around and offered battle. What followed was the war’s bloodiest battle. The Royalists nearly won the day but the intervention of a rising Parliamentary commander called Oliver Cromwell was decisive and the Scots/Parliamentary forces won a great if expensive victory.

Some years ago I visited the battle site and was shocked to find it marked only by a 19th century monument, against the fence of which the farmer had stacked bales of hay. Across the small road was a refuse tip of some kind. The poem is about the battle and about the failure to mark it with proper respect – so about modern attitudes.

I studied History at university and particularly the Civil War and Commonwealth period. In the poem I use Civil War period terms:

New World: America was much in people’s thoughts in the 17th century as a New World seen as a new chance, but also many on the Parliamentary side saw what was happening back home as a chance to make a New World – a different, better society.

Zion: The Parliamentary side, including but not comprising only Puritans, used a lot of religious language and to them Zion was not an Israeli state in the Near East but a kingdom of God. This is contrasted with “serve their king” – which is what most Royalists would have said they were doing.

Making all things new: a biblical reference. The more revolutionary of the Parliamentarians used it to characterise the big changes in England and Scotland associated with the downfall of the king. But I turn it round to refer to the incomprehension my contemporaries felt for the Civil War period.

In 1644 the battlefield was a mixture of moorland and farmland. Apart from the tip, it’s now all farmland. The area is flat and fertile.

 

ARRIVAL

We will shortly be arriving

At a quiet dead end

Where the fallen coin on the platform

Has been there for over a year

And the door to the booking office

Swings open when you approach

Where the bench is empty

And always will be so

 

But you may sit down here

To regain your breath

You had some when you started

So you want it back

And a tabby cat will come padding

Down the platform and through the wall

Then a long-dead friend will join you

And turn to a mother you knew

 

On the other side of the wall

Where the cat has gone

A murmur of several voices

It’s not the kids in the yard

But maybe the gates of heaven

Or a shift change on the ward.

 

I used to travel to and from work by train. The Harwich end, where I live, is on a small branch line: my station is the last before the terminus. This poem draws on the reality of a quiet, usually unstaffed station – but after the first verse it’s an attempt to represent the experience of an old, confused person in hospital and near death – the end of the line.

WOLF

Cry in the night

A wavering yearning wail

Remembered

 

The pack all know their part

The smell of sickening deer

Bloods their comradeship

Torn flesh is life

 

Wolf dreams the voices in the leaves

The running of a long-lost mate

The tumbling play of cubs and then

Midwinter snowlock, icy breath

 

Fairytale devil

Hiding in homely things

Better to eat you, dear

Ravenous, clever

 

A chalice for our wish to kill

For rape and for rebellion

To turn the world right upside down,

Of chaos, and the homeland’s milk

Of law and lace for all time spilt

 

Wolves ride our dreams

In each dark wood

A half-remembered beast

Down each sharp slope

They wait, or wander like the wind

To fall on anywhere they wish;

 

The fearful grope

Of climber on the alp falls short

Because the wolf waits just beyond

But at his fall the wolf will stand

And soon have sport

 

A child is missing

Sheep are torn

A travelling brother never comes

Folk knew the wolf must be the cause

So hunted it with dog and gun

Until one lonely wolf was left

Searching for any of its kind

Into a trap and hung to rot

 

So who had killed the lost child now?

Some human wolves must roam the night

And must be burnt to break the curse

 

To wolves the random rage of men

Is like a maddened hurricane

That picks this up and sets this down

Safety and death in hands of clown

 

That wail again: no devils of dream

Unearthly through the forest stream,

But wolfpack hunting in the night

And not a tiger burning bright.

This is both about real wolves and about human fear of wolves and images of wolves. It’s set out to indicate two voices, opening with straightforward description of a wolf’s life and moving to the wolves of human dreams, myths and thoughts before finally returning to an attempt to speak for the wolves. The wolf is “a chalice for our wish to kill” – it represents a side of ourselves we can’t admit – and it’s a dream figure of fear and death, possibly referring back to our humanoid ancestors’ real experience of being hunted by great cats. Wiping out the real wolves, though, does not end evil, which is now sought in “human wolves” and persecution of human by human.

For me, the best verses are the last two and the last one still sends shivers down my spine, though I wrote it. There is of course a reference to William Blake’s “Tyger, tyger, burning bright/ In the forest of the night” – a brilliant poem, but I’m trying to reclaim the real wolf (and tiger) from the mythical images of darkness and power.

For the time being – that’s it, folks.

Forlorn Hope

Usually I’m reluctant to post any discussion or explanation before the poem as I feel it may unduly influence people’s reaction. In this case, though, the poem is deeply historical and specific to a place and time; it also draws on my unusual degree of knowledge about those specifics. So I need to explain.

At Cambridge I studied History and in the third year we had to specialise a bit, selecting one topic for a detailed study. I chose “Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution”. I’ve remained fascinated by the Civil War and Commonwealth (= Republic) period ever since. I found most sympathy with the more radical people on the Parliamentary side and this poem reflects their experience.

A “forlorn hope” was a military term for a small cavalry detachment – but it’s also, of course, a hope with very little chance of success.

The “Good Old Cause” was the name used by Parliamentary supporters for their cause and it extended well beyond the Civil War. Examples are “Where’s your Good Old Cause now?” (person in the crowd to Major-General Harrison – “regicide” – when he was being taken to be executed after the rstoration of the monarchy. Harrison: “Why, here it is,” (touching his heart) “and I go to seal it with my blood.”  Sidney, aristocratic Whig about to be executed for his part in the Rye House plot against Charles II some twenty years later: “That Good Old Cause, in which I was from my youth brought up…”.

I’ve mixed three political ideas in the first verse: the common Parliamentary one that the King was not outside or standing over the law, but subject to it;  the more radical one that the people should be sovereign; and the radical idea held by the Levellers that the English people were a subject people since their conquest by the Normans in 1066 and the Civil War had been a war of liberation. “The Norman yoke” was a phrase commonly used to express this idea.

After the King’s defeat in the war and the taming of Parliament by Cromwell, senior miltary officers (Cromwell the foremost) were widely seen as “the new lords” or “grandees”, though they did strive to limit their own power and find some kind of new political system. “For what, then, did we fight and die?” echoes the Leveller Colonel Thomas Rainborowe responding to Cromwell’s defence of a social hierarchy of nobles, gentry and yeomen – “If this be true, then for what did we contend?”.

The last verse reflects bitter disappointment after the Restoration and yet (history justified) hope that all would not be lost in the end.

 

FORLORN HOPE

 

Stand firm behind the Good Old Cause

The King is subject to the Laws

The People are the true sovereign

Though they were robbed, to great lords’ gain

 

The fight is won, the Norman yoke

Is in the dust, the crown is broke

But now the new lords stand on high

For what, then, did we fight and die?

 

The Cause is down, the free are sheep

The Spirit does not die but sleep

Those who are blind will one day see

And those in chains will soon be free.

 

Marston Moor

MARSTON MOOR

On Marston Moor the rubbish grows

Beside the road, great pile on pile

And those who choked on their own blood

If they could see, would wryly smile,

If they could smile, at this New World

Which marks their death with rusty iron,

Snapped plastic, aluminium;

And those who tried to build their Zion

Or serve their King, may hear the chant

“Behold, we’re making all things new:

The bloody rout on Marston Moor

Is no concern of me or you”.

The Yorkshire soil is doing its job:

Fed deep by Scots and English blood

It brings forth cabbages and beans

Where shattered horses writhed in mud.

The moorland’s gone, the muskets too,

But over flat and docile land

A harsh wind blows and voices call

Of hopes we would not understand.

Marston Moor, just outside York, was a great and exceptionally bloody battle of the English Civil War fought in 1644 between Royalist forces and combined English Parliamentary and Scots forces, and ended in a decisive victory for the latter. Many years ago I visited the site and was disgusted to find only one old monument with a farmer’s bales of hay stacked against it and on the other side of the small road, a big rubbish tip (hence the references to snapped plastic, aluminium). This is about the battle and my reaction to the way the site had been treated. I’ve deliberately used language which would have been familiar to the soldiers, especially Parliament’s – building Zion (God’s kingdom), New World (America, but also the Bible quote about making all things new) and so on. What would they think of our world?