Tag Archives: social history

Leeds Other Paper : A Memoir

Leeds Other Paper: A sideways look

Copy.Deadlines.Publication.The sweat of the printshop,the raw adrenalin of the editorial office.The rythms of being a freelance journalist with ambition,desire and something new and different to say.
My political and Trades Union activism goes back to 1975,the CPGB and then SWP and its 2 most vibrant off-shoots, the Right to Work campaign and the Anti-Nazi League.Back in ’79,after Callaghan and Labour managed to lose to Thatcher,APEX the clerical workers union(800 members) at Yorkshire Imperial Metals aka The Copperworks at Stourton came out on strike.I contacted LOP with a story and some inside info and the rest is history.
Occasional political satire pieces on the letters page as “The Man in the Queue” morphed in October ’83 to “The Man in the Stand”,Rugby League correspondent.R.L. in general isn’t what the alternative scene let alone the Broad Left at the time “did” or were remotely interested in.
My columns ran mostly uninterrupted through to the infamous demise of Leeds Other Paper’s ill-fated successor, “Northern Star” early in ’94.
But through it all,when there were doubts I ate them all up and spat them out as week by week Man in the Stand match reports and latterly as match previews.My labours of Sisyphus featured and commented on occasionally by wider national media including BBC Radio 4’s “Wilko’s Weekly”which featured LOP nationally in ’88.
There you go.
I always enjoyed and still do enjoy the notion of copy,deadlines,publication.In November ’99 I became the Rugby world’s (in either League or Union) first official Poet in Residence at a Rugby club with the history and pedigree of Wakefield Trinity.Less than 18 months later, Wakefield Cathedral invited me to become their first ever Poet in Residence.Since 2010, I became both Founder of Destiny Poets UK and Editorial Administrator at www.destinypoets.co.uk
But ’83 to ’94 were the visceral years,the coal face years of community and political activism; of leaflets and ineluctably and indispensibly Leeds Other Paper.
Those were the days my friend, and for some of us they never really came to an end.

Louis Kasatkin
( The Man in the Bath Chair )

Hide & Seek (by Russell Crabtree)

Hide & Seek

Hide and seek,

Close your eyes and do not peep;

Count slowly one to ten

All the kids run off and then,

They start to hide

Lots of fun

Even for the one who’s ” On “;

Today it’s me let me see

Where have they gone?

” Jack, it’s you I can see your shoe! “

” Bill, you’re ” dead ” I can see your leg!”

” Mary, you’re there I can see your hair! “;

All the boys and girls played,

Knew all their names

Played lots of other games,

Now nearly all caught and back to base

Still one I’ve to got to trace

Excitement built tension to the hilt

Searching for the final kid

It’s that crafty Sid;

There’s a noise down the ginnel

I must go, steady steady steady;

It’s my Mother

” Russell, your tea’s ready!”

it’s a brilliant game

Hide and Seek

(Russell Crabtree is a member of Writers Assemble – the local community development initiative of Destiny Poets)


Fog & The Duke

Fog & The Duke

Seated imperiously at the breakfast table
the Duc de Charlatan gazed disconcertingly toward the window,

“What is it doing here?” he enquired of his servant,
who following his Excellency’s gaze gave a meek shrug of his shoulder,
“The fog,idiot,the fog!” and in that vein continued;”Go and fetch the Mayor to me this instance,I will not stand for this a moment longer!”

Thus commanded his servant set off to fulfill his Excellency’s peremptory order.

Upon arrival having exchanged such pleasantries as protocol required,the Mayor gave the appearance of listening attentively;
The Duc de Charlatan made plain his displeasure gesticulating toward the window,”What are you going to do about it?”

As the Mayor stood there non-plussed,his Excellency took it as a signal to expound his learned thesis;
“I have a most pressing appointment with my Tailor this very morning for a preliminary fitting of an ermine coat;how on earth is my coachman supposed to navigate punctually through the town in this miasma?”

Whereupon the Mayor self-effacingly enquired as to what he was supposed to do.
Being somewhat acquainted with the most learned works of the nation’s foremost Natural Philosopher,Doctor Cretine,
His Excellency spoke of the fog being an outward physical manifestation of the evil spiritual miasma generated by political rabble-rousers spreading their seditionist poison abroad in taverns and by selling scandalous broadsheets across town.

To which the Mayor stoically reiterated his earlier query.
Glaring malevolently,the Duc de Charlatan declared, ” Find and arrest the miscreants responsible for creating this inconvenience in the first place”.

And as the Mayor took stock of the proposal,his Excellency remarked,
“Well,why are you still stood around here for ,be on your on way fellow!”
“Yes indeed your excellency,” replied the harried Mayor ,” but I’m just waiting for the fog to clear first..”

Corpse & The Duke

The carriage alighted outside

his well-appointed townhouse,

whereupon the elegantly attired

Duc de Charlatan stepped forth

jauntily as the carriage door opened;

Yet within the blink of an eye

his aristocratic frame froze,

as if struck by some sudden palsy,

Awash with incredulity

the Duke’s visage barely managed

to utter the refrain,

” I say,you there fellow! be about

your business or else!”

his carved italianate walking stick

pointing accusingly at the object of his ire,

a person prostrate on the ground,

their frame interjected geometrically

twixt the carriage’s door and the front

door to the Duc de Charlatan’s habitation;

Two footmen were despatched with

immediate haste to confront what

seemed to be layers of still-bound

ragged cloth,

” Be on your way or we shall summon

the Constable!”

The directness of their invective

whilst assuaging his excellency’s ire,

had little effect on the person

remaining prostrate on the footpath;

” Why don’t you move silly fellow ?

before I tread on you!” exclaimed the Duke,

Having ascertained the scene for a while,

the Footmen were prompted,

by conscience perhaps,

to inform his excellency

that the person on the ground

was in fact deceased;

” Such churlish effrontery to persons

of higher standing, incommoding one’s

carefully planned morning!”

extemporised the Duke,

to which a passing neighbour nodded sagely,

as they stepped over the cadaver.



over at Maxi’s

next door to the Flamingo,

friday nite cool;

Coltrane on his Blue Train,

Philly Joe’s drums hustlin’

for space and time

tryin’ to fill a vacuum

that Coltrane never leaves;

piercing gliding whetted

Coltrane’s sax cuttin’ the joint

cuttin’ the nite into ribbons

of color,strands of splendor

intoxicating innuendo for

Hepcats their mint juleps

colder hemp harder

earthier like primordial notation

drivin’ that Blue Train along

outbound bound beyond

all talk all senses

over at Maxi’s

next door to the Flamingo

friday nite cool.

footnote on ” Hepcat “.
A stylish or fashionable person, especially in the sphere of jazz .

A 1960’s Northern Town

fading back the years,
to Friday-paid dirt-nailed
stand-up straight-razor guys,
smoke-stenched, beer-drenched,
immersed in Willy Dixon’s words
strung like wire
barbed across their hearts;
lost in deep resonances
of factory-line steam-hammers
raw and edged
like John Lee Hooker’s
drunk on too much scotch
and too much weekend parfumerie,
unrequited by Howlin’ Wolf’s
plaintive primordial lament
“ won’t you come back to me? ”
its timeless patina of weariness
covering the night that goes crashing,
its braggadocio getting swept aside;
the only consolation
is in the cold clear air
of Sunday morning.

Summer ’68

We wrote our own history

in an illegible script

with broken pencils

borrowed from empty classrooms;

We lit our fuses

with spent matches

discarded by all our yesterdays;

We sat and contemplated

the gathering gloom,

dark and heavy as velvet

shrouding the sun

that once shone on our

marching charging afternoons

along boulevards that we filled

with their peculiar fragrance

of tear gas and petrol.



It’s 50 years since ” Street Fighting Man ” was recorded by the Rolling Stones during the portentous summer of 1968.

Tram Journey

Silhouettes embark the

theatre on wheels,

bantering chattering

artistes of the verbal trapeze,

accompanied by accordions

of folding evening papers,

keeping time

with stone-tablet timetables

clattering through blackened

railway arches

circumlocating city square,

its familiar gargoyled spires

furtively conspiring

with fading autumns

our memory of them drained

dry of crumbled chimneys,

fogbound railbound cobblestone

terraced streets stripped bare,

shadows alight,

merging into air.

(Arturo, Lucca, Miguel, Frederick, Marco, Cruz, Pedro and Ivan were playing cards and chess. Lucca, Cruz and Miguel started to smoke clay pipes.)

”Nice angled bowl with a coat of arms, ” said Lucca. ”Yes, ” said Cruz
While smoking and relaxing, ”where did you buy them, Lucca? ”
”This one is made in Holland- a way to liberate your muse.”
”Give new life to a broken heart, ” said Miguel, ” It’s like Sambuca, ”

Laughed Lucca, ” Ivan, how could you avoid the army as a serf? ”
”As a yeoman having my own land, I had an accident, ”
Cruz asked him, ’’Did you receive some support from a dwarf? ”
”I broke my left leg when I fell from my horse- a strange event.”

”Interesting! ” said Marco. ”You became a rich merchant
In the Ottoman Empire.” ”Yes, I sold my land, ” smiled Ivan.
”You could go to Moscow, ” ”I didn’t want to be a servant.
I was a middleman in the fur trade, ” ”Let’s enliven

This game with some wine! ” ” These cards are unique, ” said Pedro.
”This rare pictorial pack is made in London, ” said Marco.
Lucca told Cruz, ”If you need new cards, I’ll give you pronto.”
”Give me the most immoral hand, ” laughed Cruz, ”come in, Fargo! ”

(Fargo entered to bring the wine, which was served using glasses. Ibrahim brought dried fruits, nuts, biscuits and small cakes. The women had spent over an hour dressing for this meeting because it was customary for the women to change their entire outfit for any event on that ship. Rosa, Geraldine and Erica were doing some needlework. Carla, Chiara and Pedra were reading some expensive books. Chiara chose to read a book written by Elena Piscopia, Carla was reading some philosophy by Mary Astell and Pedra liked the books written by Aphra Behn. Francesca started to paint and Bella was trying to play ‘’Capriccio stravagante’’ by the Italian composer Carlo Farina using her violin.)

Francesca said, ” The violin replaced the viol, ”
”The music written for it established its identity, ”
Said Rosa, ”I like the opera ‘L’Orfeo’ and its tale.”
”Through polyphony, Monteverdi has supremacy.”

Francesca continued, ”Chiara, what are you reading? ”
”A book about Christ written by the monk Laspergio and late
Translated by Elena Piscopia, a nun being
The first woman that graduated with a doctorate.”

Carla said, ”Francesca, what are you painting in that blue? ”
” I’m not Caravaggio, still I paint a medusa, ”
Carla replied, ”You used amazing hues, and it’s sweet in view! ”
Chiara said, ”It’s an image of the port of Siracusa! ”

(Francesca embraced Chiara.)

”It’s so lovely to see you together; you are good friends, ”
Said Geraldine while finishing her work, ”do you have children? ”
”I’ve married Arturo six years ago; now, our love ascends
After his long widowhood; Francesca is his daughter.”

Chiara took Geraldine’s hand with a noble gesture.
She told her that Arturo lost a fortune three months ago,
And this trip was offered by Lucca to change their life’s texture.
”Maybe Francesca painted to petrify the time’s flow.”

”Francesca is the sweetest child I’ve ever seen until now.
She’s adorable in this purity of her mind.
She’s shining like a star belonging to Ursa Major Plough,
And I love Arturo even in affairs he is so blind.”

(Arturo and Marco were the last passengers who left the room while talking. Arturo ended the conversation.)

‘’ Russia is a force needing an expansion quite quickly
But, unfortunately, her friends are not really her friends.
Pushing Russia, who is an honest power, clearly
Will turn the destiny of the whole world into dead ends.’’


Carla was a beautiful woman liking to dress in green.
Sometimes strong and other time weak, she needed to face the life.
Inside her, there was a child hoping to push the life scene
Into its own condition and the things into their right strife.

Her husband, Pedro, was very wise and precise -a strong man
Needing to gain stability while turning back from New Spain
To rebuild the life and to go forth on a new plan.
Their children and parents waited for them to come home again.

(Geraldine and Carla were talking on the deck. Carla started to confess.)

‘’Her name is Beatrice and he loved her for a while needing
To leave the family for a new meaning in this world.
I loved him secretly while her scent I was breathing.
I understood that I’ve lost him when our love became a sword.

I knew I was a mother in this combination of three,
And, sometimes, I thought that Beatrice should never exist,
And, other time, I wanted to leave everything to be free,
Or to end my life because it was so hard to resist.

I’ve tried to talk with her and the situation to explain,
But she laughed while telling me that Pedro is her lover.
I understood her laugh and that my efforts were in vain.
I was ill when we traveled to New Spain to recover.”

‘’ Carla, the things are not always as they seem to be.
You’ll overpass this moment because you’re a strong mother.
You must take care because nothing goes well as long as he
Doesn’t assume the responsibility of a father.’’

Bella and Miguel liked to live in their own world of two.
They had a house in Barcelona, and they traveled to see
The world; they stayed months in India to throw backward a new view.
Marco and Rosa wanted their spirits to be free.

They were turning home after living three years in New Spain.
Carla and Pedra traveled with their husbands who were twins.
Rosa convinced them that in that place their strength is spent in vain.
Life became a music coming from the water violins.

Carla said, ”the education helps the women make
Right choices in marriage.” Bella replied, ”What’s a marriage?
It’s not only a consecration in a church, an awake,
But it’s a contract, an act no one can disparage.”

Miguel said, ”it’s a transition from a moral conscience
To a pure concept of consciousness.” ”You start to see it
As itself, ” replied Pedro, ” to eat the bitter consequence.”
”It’s tied to the moral identity when love is in a fit, ”

Replied Bella. ‘ It has a Cartesian nature, ”
Said Carla explaining why love comes after the wedding.
”Then, the moral sensibility shapes it to our feature, ”
Replied Bella.Miguel smiled, ” tenderly in our bedding.”

” The disparity in intelligence leads to misery, ”
Said Carla, ”the marriage must be based on a lasting friendship
Rather than on an attraction experiencing agony.”
Pedro said, ” when love is distorted into a sword to rip.”

Miguel said, ” the marriage that is not consecrated
In a church has the same legal validity.”
” The lovers may marry secretly, but it’s complicated, ”
Said Carla, ”and it’s hard for the women of the nobility

To make an independent living.” Pedro started to grin,
” To secure a husband is an attitude having a great importance.”
”She’s an object of thought, ” said Miguel while touching Carla’s skin.
Pedro said, ”it happens only when we seek love in abundance.”

Carla said, ” the women’s career options beyond the mother
Are none; they cannot have the same opportunity as the men.”
Pedro replied, ” your impracticable thoughts make the father
Leave the family.” ” He’s not allowed to come back again.”

Miguel said, ”She’s allowed to express her sexuality.”
Carla said, ” it depends on how the woman perceives this thought.”
Bella started to play music to inspire some human morality
While using the violin to imitate- the cats’ sounds brought to naught.

(to be continued…)
Poem by Marieta Maglas

A Brief History of Britain ( Rebooted 29 November 2017 )

Faded ,forlorn the banners of our memories
once held high now cast aside ,cast down ,
trodden into the dust marched over by legions
of those who came after in ignorance ;
Even the ghosts have departed this empty husk
of a once was Power ,this paralysed parody of
those sceptered isles,that seat of Mars ,crumbled
overwhelmed by the same deluge that took
from our hearts, Atlantis ;
Those Venerated ,those Valiant whose deeds validated
all that we stood for ,all that we ever believed in
are now counted as the small-change amongst market traders
whom we let barter our very souls for a mess of pottage ;
Whilst entombed in our sonorous sloth ,
they took from us all that had once been
vouchedsafe by Viking ,Saxon ,Norman
for so long so very long an Age ;
In our belated awakening
we find ourselves naked ,
caught in the glare of a history
which no longer recognises nor has need
of us in this our unkempt beggarly state ,
of which those who once fought for us would be ashamed
that all their sacrifice and all their pain
had yielded such a paltry gain.