Labour’s Lost Boy – Jeremy Corbyn IS Peter Pan

corbyn-snag

WHEN I WAS preparing a short podcast on Peter Pan for some students it occurred to me that some of what I was talking about had a direct relevance to current left of centre politics. This can be boiled down to two points: the first is the overwhelming desire to live in a fantasy world where you do not need to grow up, and the second is the amnesia that accompanies that desire.

We all know that Peter Pan himself is a Lost Boy, who refuses to grow up, preferring to live in Neverland, where he can play to his heart’s delight without having to bear the responsibilities of growing up in the real world. Listening to any leftist is like listening to a Peter Pan promising utopia: you can do what you want, everything will be free because mummy state will provide it, and the rich will pay for it. You don’t have to worry about taking responsibility for your own life or actions.

Read on at The Fortnightly Review.

There’s more panning of such Peter Pan-nery in my by book that you should read.

“For whom the bell tolls…” – a reading of John Donne’s famous words.

My reading of an extract of John Donne’s Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, with its famous words about the bell. On my YouTube channel, English Readings. Please subscribe.

Three Men in a Boat – latest 3-minute lecture/podcast on YouTube.

Here is my 3-minute lecture/microlecture/podcast on Jerome K Jerome’s classic, Three Men in a Boat.

 

An Air That Kills – a 3-minute lecture on Housman’s “blue remembered hills” poem.

Poem 40 from Housman’s A Shropshire Lad is one of his most famous. Here’s a microlecture on it.

 

Dowson’s Cynara poem – a microlecture.

Another microlecture, this time on Ernest Dowson’s “Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae”.

A three minute lecture – Absent Mothers and Bad Fathers: Silas Marner.

Text:

Bad Fathers and Absent Mothers

Silas Marner is a fairy tale, one in which Silas, the wounded, childless patriarch with no family, is restored to psychological and social health through the intervention of the matriarch-in-waiting, Eppie. Through Eppie Silas regains his lost kingdom, that is, both a place in society, and his faith in humankind. With the marriage of Eppie to Aaron and thus the expectation of children Silas acquires a family and a stake in the future.

A major theme of the novel is that of flawed patriarchs. The book is notable for its bad or useless fathers and fallible men. William Dane betrays Silas in Lantern Yard; Squire Cass is a careless and brutal father, Dunstan is a thief and a liar, while Godfrey is weak-willed, self-centred and a feckless father.

But if the tale is notable for its bad fathers and men then it is equally notable for its absent mothers or matriarchs. Silas at the beginning is without both father and mother, though it is only the latter he recalls (and his dead sister). The Cass boys are also motherless, and Eppie becomes motherless as a child.

It is the women, however, who facilitate the process of reintegrating Silas the outsider into village life and human community. Dolly Winthrop, having taken pity on Silas, visits him, bringing him cakes. The offering and sharing of food is a primal activity that establishes and strengthens the bonds between people.

Dolly also brings along her little son, Aaron, thereby signalling the importance of family within the community. And Aaron of course will eventually marry Eppie, thus sealing Silas’s integration into village life.

The female, matriarchal principle is the civilising, humanising force at work here, healing the rifts between people and helping to re-establish a benevolent patriarchy as a necessary part of a stable society. As in a fairy tale, Eppie is the pauper girl who starts out with nothing and ends up as a kind of princess with family, husband, and a stake in the community; while Silas, the disenfranchised exile, not only establishes a new home for himself but also finds a role as a patriarch in his own household and village.

© Michael Blackburn, 2017

“Paradise”, a poem for National Poetry Day. #nationalpoetryday #poems #poets #poetry

PARADISE

Paradise is various and has no ghosts;
in it there is nothing to remember.

Only children can live there, unknowing,
part-time, between ordinary terrors.

Perhaps it is one great garden, rampant
with green, with fruit that force themselves

through blossom that’s still on the branch.
There must be water – a stream, a beck, a river.

It could be a street, the tap of a raindrop
releasing the spirit of warm paving stone,

the angle of shadow across bright red brick,
the smell of a warm car parked in a market place.

Fruit and flower still force themselves in,
through cracks in brick and kerbstone,

in guttering and old ledges, high up.
The animals, too, they walk, fly and crawl

as if they had never been away, flies
in the kitchen, black clouds of starlings

that turn between buildings, cat in the hedge,
woodlouse and spider in corners overlooked.

All built flimsy on earth, its deep miles
of rock and lava, its delicate blue membrane of air

all of a piece as we hurtle as debris away
from the lost beginning of the universe.

To be there would be to remember nothing,
to walk in the weaponless fields

before the clock had started. Now it’s only
sensed – in the movement of limbs into water,

in the whirr of a sparrow’s wings, perhaps,
or a sudden scent of dogrose, or something that

slowly develops, like the face of a friend
to a patient doused in amnesia, after a crash.

For someone it’s happening now, for the first time;
like that boy and his dog who tumble and run

down a sloping field of wheat, leaving dark trails
the wind cannot smooth away as evening come on

and motorway drivers flick on their lights,
eager for static destinations –

all of them moving through the in-between hours
when the glancing traveller catches

figures on forecourts like golden statues.
And when the boy who has cake for the asking

becomes the man who must struggle for his bread
he’ll think he lived in Eden once or twice

in a time when he could roam between stream and street
and everything lay before him like a sloping field of wheat.

 

Michael Blackburn. Published in The Ascending Boy, Flambard Press, 1999.