"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adrian Mitchell (24 October 1932 – 20 December 2008) wordsmith RIP

Scholars of Christ Church College, Oxford , the richest and oldest, endowed when Heny VIIIth was raping the monasteries, call themselves members of the House. The principal Quadrangle is dominated by Tom Tower whose clock maintains "Tom Time" pre dating Greenwich Mean Time and by which all college events are timed 5 minutes behind the rest of the world.

Tom Quad also has a door which leads to a mediaeval room in which new students "matriculate" by simply signing in a a ledger whose lists contain that of 24 Prime Ministers and outstanding people in every field of human endeavour over several centuries - inlcuding of course Wystan Hugh Auden and briefly, Auberon Waugh.

This elect crew develop a distinctive and apparently effortless superiority and an hauteur , of which Adrian Mitchell who died this week was a prime example.

Darling of the London literary glitterati, whose Hampstead drawing rooms echoed to his curious chanting and foot stamping , the self elected figurehead of the pacifists, peacemongers and as he saw it iconoclastic poet, he was a man of slight talent, but of considerable industry.

The Guradian obit yesterday by Michael Kustow ( in which he failed to mention his marriage to Maureen Bush, the mother of three of his children) provides the quote from his first collection "Poems" published in 1964 , an unsigned copy of which is a bibliographical rarity. "Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people."

Mitchell was a moderately competent wordsmith , had he applied his energies properly, he could have been a half decent advertising copywriter - take the above often repeated quote - with a little tweak it could be a strapline on an ad for any product ranging from fence paint to intimate female sanitary hygeine products.

He tried journalism with little success, famous only for the subjects interviewed but not the resultant pieces - unlie say Ken Tynan. His nemesis came when the Sunday Times fired him for reviewing Peter Watkins' embargoed anti-nuclear film The War Game.

We now realise of course that such films were in fact Government organiased propaganda, and that the faux hysteria about their cemsorship only sevred to widen the audience when eventually shown. Richard Crossman the head of British Psy Ops during WWII was a Minister in the Labour Governmen who had secretly built the British nuclear weapons. One of his triumphs was when he lost his trousers on London Glasgow sleeper, The press brouha ha on the eve of the announcement that prescription charges were to be introduced and free NH glasses would be withdrawn removed discussion from the Press and TV news.

Mitchell fanced himself as a voice of the masses and was one of the leading lights in the booming poetry reading circuit. It was through this that Lord Patel had arranged for him to read inside a prison (or Youth detention centre).

His late arrival on the train from London meant the day started badly as he missed his lunch. This delay was copounded by getting lost and arriving late at ther grey forbidding venue on the outskirts of Wigan.

First time prisoners up to the age of 21 were to be gien one of the ever changing schmes for a "short sharp shock" and had compulsorty education.

The teacher had left and the 20 whey faced, spotty, youths had been detained over an hour and were missing their tea - as were the beefy ex Military Police who were managing to maintain a stony silence.

Launching Mitchell on the working or even criminal classes was , evidently a novel experience to him. Totally unprepared, he launched into a loud wailing repetive hymn of spitting hate with the repetition of some spittle flecked line such as "Tell me lies" and sketching a picture of a post nuclear holocaustic winter.

Curiously there was a paradoxical mirror image - the feckless bored youths were arrayed in denims with loose ill fitting jackets and wearing large scuffed boots.

Mitchell was arrayed in a perfectly tailored cutaway light blue denim jacket with beautifully pressed jeans - the uniform of the louche troubadour finished off with prfectly polished stacked heel Cuban boots at one end and a cute Greek sailors hat at a jaunty angle.

He tried another.

Flailing, he asked the beefy gaulieter for some chalk, to illustrate a point on the blackboard. It was explained that chalk for the use of writing of was locked up . After a delay, searching for and jangling of many keys, a single piece was found. Did they have some red chalk ?

The sullen youths bcame more sullen, the blank faced guard became catatonic.

We fled.

In the uneasy silence in the car he said he wanted something to eat , which was tricky. We had to meet a train for him to travel on to Walney island to meet the poetry loving masses of Barrow where unknown to us they were already secretly laying down the keels of Polaris submarines.

On the outskirts of Preston we found a chip shop and Lord Patel could raise enough for a single bag of fish and chips. In the stony silence Mitchell scoffed the lot and was decamped outside Blackburn station.

Skilled in self promotion, unswerving in his belief in his role as a voice for the working class he was eclipsed by many. More poetry , and better was being written and performed - consider "She's leaving Home" from the Beatles Sgt Pepper album, troubadours like Leon Rosselson ,( Don't get married Girls, The man who puffs the big Cigar) Roy Bailey, (TONY BENN: "...the greatest socialist folksinger of his generation") and see Monday, September 11, 2006 Roy Bailey. Ex MBE and Working Class Hero and nor forgetting Andy Roberts, Viv Stanshall , John Fox, Lol Coxhill.


A Light Entertainer said...

Very interesting and vicariously amusing post Lord Patel.

I've shared stage space at the same time as Lol Coxhill which narrows my identity down to the tens of thousands :D

49 said...

When a body's barely cold,
the knifeman must be bold.

Alistair Mitchell

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish