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THREE SONGS FOR MAYDAY MORNING

Written by: Barry Tebb | Biography
 ( I )


for ‘JC’ of the TLS

Nightmare of metropolitan amalgam

Grand Hotel and myself as a guest there

Lost with my room rifled, my belongings scattered,

Purse, diary and vital list of numbers gone – 

Vague sad memories of mam n’dad

Leeds 1942 back-to-back with shared outside lav.
Hosannas of sweet May mornings Whitsun glory of lilac blooming Sixty years on I run and run From death, from loss, from everyone.
Which are the paths I never ventured down, Or would they, too, be vain? O for the secret anima of Leeds girlhood A thousand times better than snide attacks in the TLS By ‘JC’.
Fuck you, Jock, you should be ashamed, Attacking Brenda Williams, who had a background Worse than yours, an alcoholic schizophrenic father And an Irish immigrant mother who died when Brenda was fifteen But still she managed to read Proust on her day off As a library girl, turned down by David Jenkins, ‘As rising star of the left’ for a place at Leeds To read theology started her as a protest poet Sitting out on the English lawn, mistaken for a snow sculpture In the depths of winter.
Her sit-in protest lasted seven months, Months, eight hours a day, her libellous verse scorching The academic groves of Leeds in sheets by the thousand, Mailed through the university's internal post.
She called The VC 'a mouse from the mountain'; Bishop of Durham to-be David Jenkins a wimp and worse and all in colourful verse And 'Guntrip's Ghost' went to every VC in England in a Single day.
When she sat on the English lawn Park Honan Flew paper aeroplanes with messages down and And when she was in Classics they took away her chair So she sat on the floor reading Virgil and the Chairman of the Department sent her an official Christmas card 'For six weeks on the university lawn, learning the Hebrew alphabet'.
And that was just the beginning: in Oxford Magdalen College School turned our son away for the Leeds protest so she Started again, in Magdalen Quad, sitting through Oxford's Worst ever winter and finally they arrested her on the Eve of the May Ball so she wrote 'Oxford from a Prison Cell' her most famous poem and her protest letter went in A single day to every MP and House of Lords Member and It was remembered years after and when nobody nominated Her for the Oxford Chair she took her own and sat there In the cold for almost a year, well-wishers pinning messages To the tree she sat under - "Tityre, tu patulae recubans Sub tegmine fagi" and twelve hundred and forty dons had "The Pain Clinic" in a single day and she was fourteen Times in the national press, a column in "The Guardian" And a whole page with a picture in the 'Times Higher' - "A Well Versed Protester" JC, if you call Myslexia’s editor a ‘kick-arse virago’ You’ve got to expect a few kicks back.
All this is but the dust We must shake from our feet Purple heather still with blossom In Haworth and I shall gather armfuls To toss them skywards and you, Madonna mia, I shall bed you there In blazing summer by High Wythens, Artist unbroken from the highest peak I raise my hands to heaven.
( II ) Sweet Anna, I do not know you from Eve But your zany zine in the post Is the best I’ve ever seen, inspiring this rant Against the cant of stuck-up cunts currying favour I name no name but if the Dutch cap fits Then wear it and share it.
Who thought at sixty one I’d have owned a watch Like this one, chased silver cased Quartz reflex Japanese movement And all for a fiver at the back of Leeds Market Where I wander in search of oil pastels Irish folk and cheap socks.
The TLS mocks our magazine With its sixties Cadillac pink Psychedelic cover and every page crimson Orange or mauve, revolutionary sonnets By Brenda Williams from her epic ‘Pain Clinic’ And my lacerating attacks on boring Bloodaxe Neil Ghastly and Anvil’s preciosity and all the Stuck-up arse-holes in their cubby-holes sending out Rejection slip by rote – LPW



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