PLEA FOR A HISTORY OF WORKING-CLASS LEEDS
I want a true history of my city
FUCK THE DE LACY FAMILY AND DOUBLE
FUCK JOHN OF GAUNT ESPECIALLY
And all his descendants
With their particular vilenesses -
I met one in the sixties
Who had all the coldness of Himmler
So svelte and adored by the cognoscenti.
I want a history responsive
To the needs of the working-class
One that will minute the back-to-backs
Spread over the city like a seamless robe
SO FUCK CUTHBERT BRODERICK’S TOWN HALL
BRIDEWELL AND MAGISTRACY.
I want a history of the culture
Of the working class and not
Hoggart’s slimy gone-up-in-the-world
Jabber for the curious bourgeoisie
He was especially maladroit
On working-class sexuality
A voyeur picking humorous moments
To show the ignorance of the class
He sprang from.
“Anything was an occasion” -
Or did he mean ‘excuse’? - “for intercourse,
Even a visit to the chip-shop”.
O for the gentleness
And the quiet intimacy
And joyful spontaneity
Of working-class sexuality
Reading Shelley’s ‘Defence of Poetry’
Sitting on a bus by a girl who, smiling, said,
“I told Jack if he was finished with me
He wasn’t having any but he pulled me
Into the bushes laughing all the way
So what could I say?”
I want a history of the warmth
Of working-class mothers
Explaining the mysteries of periods.
To their adolescent daughters and the
Revelations of working-class brides.
I want a history of family outings
To Temple Newsam where I saw an ass
Eating straw from the steel manger