Citizen Ship Belfast 2013. Nos 26.
Are you just waiting for change like a carry out?
So long as things aren’t too bad here we sit and wait for good things to happen. With regard to the flag situation in Belfast, it’s so obvious that we need something new, to show who we are, our leaders are fully transfixed with fear. No one is brave or imaginative enough to take the first step, mouth the first syllable, make the first effective decision, as both sides are the same two wheels of an auld cart. Stuck in a rut, unable to change or move in a new and positive direction.
An over simplification, but you know what I mean . . .
Jobs for the boys, status quo maintenance, complacency, political obesity, sniffing up the power off a table, yet not coming up with the goods for the citizen when it comes to peaceful progress in the world of flags.
The banjo plays a lonely tune in the alleyways, beneath the lamp posts of Belfast. In the long awaited sunshine our necks seem to be getting fatter and redder. “Welcome to Banjo Country”, could be our new tourism headline.
Sadly the fear of the bogey man persists to keep us stuck, doing things, which in any other country, would seem backward, slow, ineffective and just plain “DUH?” big lad.
We burn plastic, metal, rubber and huge quantities of pallets, yearly, which must contravene our local environmental laws. We say we are encouraging peace, yet most of us live in political, social and mental ghettoes, consuming too many anti-depressants, watching ever bigger televisions with body shapes, cars and egos to match.
“It’s part of my culture . . .” Which part? . . .”The plastic.”
Like it or not, we are not as free as we think we are, nor as democratic, liberal or forward thinking. If I went out into my garden and set fire to the kind of stuff that will be burned this summer, by both sections of our community, the fire brigade would be round in minutes, because I’m not a threat to anyone in a uniform.
They say there is one law for the rich and one law for the poor. In this case it seems to be the other way around.
The debate over flags continues, yet no one seems compassionate enough, inspired, engaged, or committed enough to involve our collective local imagination, to come up with some far reaching solution for us all. For everyone here. Could that actually be possible?
Traditionally our wee province has produced an amazing array of inventors and creative people. The need is so great to move forward now, it feels like reporting from a “new flag” famine in a dried out Lough Neagh. The skulls and bones of long dead concepts like the “British Empire” and “Aggressive Irish Nationalism” lie about us.
When will our society be irrigated with the flowing waters of imaginative new emblems, symbols and “free expression without the fear of violence”, which reflects the positive changes in our society, amongst the majority of our law abiding citizens?
When I next head out for a carry out, I don’t expect to find a new flag amongst my sausage supper and onion rings. The situation at the city hall in Belfast resembles more, a gravy chip in a greasy brown paper bag. You’ve had it all before and the next day all you will do is pass wind . . .
By Randall Stephen Hall. 21.7.11©
You rarely see a cow
Opening a gate on its own.
They generally stand and wait
You rarely see hospital patients
Operating on themselves.
They wait too.
We wait in queues.
We choose, we are conditioned
For buses, taxis, planes and meals on wheels.
For babies, birthdays
For friends to arrive.
We wait to live.
We wait to breath.
We learn to wait
With our parents.
They hold our hands
And show us how.
We grow to wait.
Like the great and the good, the un-washed.
We tumble, tongue and chew our cud.
Standing by, in our own rude fields.
Gawping, we cogitate.
We wait and wait.
Cow like, we lick, flick
Then shake the flies off our backs.
While the movers and shakers
Make the earth rattle like a piggy bank.
Go about their business like a tank.
All barrel and tracks, they attack.
But can there only be so many
To move and to shake?
While the cows, the sheep
And the odd docile goat
Choke the plains of the earth
With their red remotes?
We stand like a field of flowers.
Daisy chained, grounded with one breath.
Waiting for the storm.
To trample on our roots.
One more step in the procession.
To be processed.
To quiver at the slaughter.
To finally move and to shake.
There was a time
When I didn’t think about waiting.
But waiting in a dull hospital room.
All telly visioned into submission.
Doped up, with the others from my herd.
Waiting suddenly seemed like a chore.
I don’t want to wait anymore.
Citizen Ship Belfast 2013. Nos 26.
By Randall Stephen Hall ©