It’s all go here in Eastleigh. Normally this is a quiet town with a penchant for mobility scooters and cutting-edge dance (our local arts centre The Point does a fine line in the avant-garde). But what with our local MP having an affair (I presume it was torrid) and making his soon-to-be ex-wife lie about his speeding tickets we are all in the news. Chris Huhne announced his departure from politics and now we will have a by-election. We are hot stuff now. All the lads came down to visit us. David Cameron even used the facilities of the pub in Fair Oak. We are so blessed. Here’s a picture of Eastleigh taken this Saturday morning. We chatted to the lovely lady to the right of the picture. She was very sweet to our kids. She is also wearing her handbag around her neck.
Myself and the Nice Family strolled on past the Lib Dems hastily avoiding eye-contact. They did look a little desperate truth be told. A little bit further was the Big Issue seller. He is a ‘gas man’ altogether and we always have a chat whenever we are in Eastleigh. And he often jokes around with Tara and George. George doesn’t scowl at him so that’s a good thing. George does tend to cast a malevolent eye over the general populace. Anyway, our local Big Issue seller comes from Romania. And guess who was standing beside him? A hairy UKIP lady. Why are UKIP members so misshapen? Is it part of the entry requirements? It was all a little awkward. There she was with her ‘Romanians are criminals’ literature and there he was, being uncriminal, standing beside her.
All this anti-Romanian propaganda got me to thinking about ethnicity. My husband and I have talked before about how being Irish is now an acceptable ethnicity. We are considered the twinkly-eyed feckless poets of the English-speaking world. I’m too tired to be twinkly-eyed (have a two-year-old insomniac) but am somewhat feckless and while I am not a poet I do like poetry. I felt like I needed some poems in my life to combat an excess of electioneering and bigotry. The local Sainsburys in Eastleigh sells The Irish Times which usually has a poetry section on Saturdays. So off we went to the supermarket, stocked up on orange juice, real and imaginary butter and papers for Irish ladies.
And at the expense of sounding pretentious it worked. I found a great poem on page 12, When Will I Get to Be Called a Man. It’s written by Liam O Muirthile and translated into English by Gabriel Rosenstock. It’s dedicated to the great Cork guitarist Rory Gallagher and this is how it starts:
I hear the Delta whistling up from the old marsh / Cloisim an Delta ag feadail anios on seanriasc
in the riff of blues, like a curlew’s call. / i riff na blues, mar a bheadh glao cuirliuin.
I think this poem grabbed me because it talks of the local and the universal: the music of the Delta in a poem in Gaelic, in honour of a Corkman who loved the Blues. Feck UKIP and their like. They can’t stop the music can they?