Getting Cohen

November 26, 2016

​Just after hearing the sad news of Leonard Cohen’s death I realised I could still recite most of First We Take Manhattan. This is a song I was quite obsessed with as a teenager, when it had just come out. Also I’m Your Man. Luckily I had parents who had bought the album – it was certainly not marketed to my age group. I was fascinated by this dark, brooding, powerful character who could be manly and intellectual and threatening and tender; who perceived the injustices in the world and the tension between love and action. Who knew the New World Order emerging from the fall of the Berlin Wall was rotten inside and that, one day, we would have to fight. I did not understand then the reasons for my fascination. Cohen had lived more than me and knew how to express it. I’ve lived a bit now and at long last know what he meant.

Advertisements

I Saw it There

October 6, 2015

My country was in flames and then
I saw it there: the British flag,
a friendly face.

It was the worst day of my life.

Huddled and cold we were.
The trip was long, the night was dark,
but a warm soup lit our hearts.

It was the worst week of my life.

Daily shopping, the school run,
read the papers, bask
in the warmest winter sun.

It was the worst month of my life.

Walking through the masses
my eye catches your eye.
A spark, an understanding,
a shared life – so many plans.

It was the worst year of my life.

Because it gave me hope it was the worst day of my life,
because I felt that warmth it was the worst week of my life,
because I was at home it was the worst month of my life,
because I became yours it was the worst year of my life.

Because I’m in despair, so cold,
unrooted and adrift in this barren land
in flames no more – just smouldering –
this land that they call mine.

“THE HOME SECRETARY, THERESA MAY, HAS ANNOUNCED AN OVERHAUL OF THE ASYLUM SYSTEM DURING A HARDLINE SPEECH ON IMMIGRATION. MRS MAY SAID THAT, WHEREVER POSSIBLE, ASYLUM SEEKERS WOULD BE ACCEPTED FROM TROUBLED REGIONS, RATHER THAN AT BRITISH BORDERS. SHE ALSO SAID REFUGEES COULD BE SENT HOME, ONCE THEIR COUNTRIES BECAME SAFER.”

Six O’Clock News, BBC Radio 4
Tuesday 6 October 2015