Skip to main content

Black Gold in the Heart of Darkness

Part 1

It's an incongruous feeling to view the foaming wave of misplaced nostalgia from those who seek a revocation of the 80's like some brain-perverting smell from last year's grass cuttings where we buried the cat. These nobodies who wish they were somebodies again, feed flesh to the parasites of a decades-dead culture in the hope of the fattened juices once again oozing out to shrivel our tongues in rancidity at the return of singing Page 3 girls, shoulder pads, yuppies, Tories and -worse- Duran fucking Duran.

The 80's smeared a shimmering veneer to the dark infestations bubbling rancorously beneath. While people in outlandish quiffs and thick red braces called Piers or Crispin bellowed into their coffin-sized mobile phones, others endured years of unimaginable struggle and hardship, doomed to be picked off by the augeries of their demise, like harpies at a KFC trolley dash.

My dad was such a victim. His career as a crane driver in the local steelworks smashed against the rocks of 'restructuring'; his security and definition thrown onto a putrescent heap containing all his school friends, followed by a liberal sprinkling of quicklime to dull the rancour. I can recall him wandering in the garden, shuffling aimlessly in a soporific daze of disbelief that he was going to be made redundant. While never displaying the sort of militantism of some of his striking cohorts, he nevertheless was enraged enough to enlist on the picket lines, and emboldened by this unnatural rush of commitment, kick down the door of the fearfully abandoned payroll office. I don't know if he expected to find anything other than meaningless reams of printouts, discarded fag coupons and a saucy calendar, but he'll never convince anyone that it wasn't he who took a shit on the cashier manager's desk.

The dismantling of the steel industry by Thatcher and her chosen executioner MacGregor was akin to Victorian surgeons peeling at a wretched disparate strapped to a slab; excising all the healthy flesh and leaving behind a blob of writhing scabrous mulch. Thousands suddenly found themselves without a future, and although sales of betamax video recorders hit critical mass, so did the sight of grown men drunkenly staggering out of social clubs; their thousand yard stares framed in bloodshot eyes of hopelessness.

Taking on the steel (and rail) workers was Thatcher's little dress rehearsal for the miners. Like a precocious d├ębutante about to perform at the Albert Hall, trying out her apocryphal talent on a front room of squeaking grannies too shocked or timid to denounce the nauseating display of selfishness before them. Consequently, hitherto horny-handed and grease-daubed hardmen wilted in a pathetic display of capitulation not seen since the day Charles Hawtrey was gang-raped by Hell's Angels.

Eulogised by the Sun-reading masses only too keen to devour spurious pictures -amidst the tits- of a UK pauperised by unburied dead children and sneering blackened faces sticking their unwashed cocks into effigies of the Queen; Thatcher drew a line in the coal where uniforms and riot shields assembled to beat a rhythmic Zulu incant, before caving in the skulls of men trying to save their jobs and the heartbeat of their communities. 1984: The last great battle for the soul of Britain's society had begun ...and things would never be the same again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ground Zero

I meandered across from my Swansea Bay office to view the demolition of the Vetch Field, which for the less-informed is the abandoned former home of my cherished Swansea City FC.  This cathedral for the crushed optimist; this gathering place for the aspirant-cynic; a quiescent sentinel to penury yielding its soft concrete underbelly to giant excavators ripping away remorselessly at its bleeding soul like fireants in a termite mound. I was not alone in my curiosity and desire for a last nostalgic glimpse.  Several middle-aged men appeared singly and sporadically at the open North Bank gates accessed by the demolition crew, craning and elevating on tip-toes for a final look at the razing like paparazzi at a celeb autopsy.  One could detect the sort of moistening of eyes and grating-throatiness associated exclusively with Welsh men at a funeral. 

It then dawned on me: while events pass us by like vapour, it is structure that frames our existence and retrieval.  To crudely paraphrase:  if …

Hidden Town

I recently took a bike ride exploring areas of Port Talbot; largely off the beaten and corroded tracks of a tearful town dying on its gangrenous feet.  I wanted to visit the dark areas where the population at large avoid as if they were part of an exclusion zone around a spent Soviet atomic plant. I traversed narrow back alleys, where sagging brickwork and burnt garage doors held each other up earnestly over discarded sofas and TV sets that were once considered luxury items. Moving south, on the edges of the town I gravitated to an old deserted warehouse; a place I had long wished to visit to produce some suitably atmospheric and desolate shots to go with one of my suitably atmospheric and desolate albums.  This tired raped old shell of a structure sucked me into its myriad corridors and rooms, before spanning out into a huge space where shafts of sunlight spread like radioactive fingers in the asbestos dust disturbed by fleeing pigeons through roofing apertures. I inhaled an almost ove…

Down the Tubes

Now that Jamie Oliver has been sent packing with his hostess trolley full of macrobiotic earnestness from US schools content to pack the pie-holes of the nation’s waddling blimps; the story brought back an olfactory whiff of rancid memories from my own days in state primary school. In this case the life-changing lunch villain was liver and mash This brown lump of organic compound came in square shapes replete with protruding tubes like some hideous gravy-covered road kill from a Quatermass movie. The dinner ladies, no doubt knowing a thing or two about presentation, slapped it onto our plates like a karate auctioneer.

The real cuisine trauma though was reserved for the ‘scraping bowl’; a large metal receptacle into which we would dispose our uneaten food in the knowledge that local pig farms could share in the misery. The sight of a 3 foot high tottering tower of liver haunts my taste buds to this day, to the extent that any attempt to serve me dishes consisting of organs would have to…