I was named after him and I’m around the same age and I was expecting, I think, at least some kind of tonal recognition of what was on the TV last Saturday, on and off, in the other half of the room, expecting to nod in familiarity, but no, nothing. It was a tin can with sellotaped ribbons, tap it and you can hear how hollow.
This, a couple of weeks after the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry report into the minor public school I was at in the 1960s: violence, bullying, sexual abuse, from the 1950s through to the 2010s. Him on the chair with his orb was sent to a similar school in Scotland. They are a continuing institution, these schools: like the royal family, like hospitals, except these ones are designed to make you not better but ill, and then take out your fucked-up-ness on others, and they are good at this and at delivering prime ministers this country votes into power and they have charitable status.
I did say ‘the other half of the room’. That’s being a white male of a certain generation who lucked into housing when it was still possible. Others have far, far more reason to be angry. I’m not measuring my anger against theirs. A part of my own anger is of course anger at myself and at my own privileged generation that has wasted what was – late 1940s, early 50s – the promising start of a decent society. Today I put into rough proofs Katy Evans-Bush’s new poetry collection, Joe Hill Makes His Way into the Castle, publication early next year, which is angry not least at people like me. ‘Goddamn us all & our/ carefully sorted recycling’. She doesn’t take hostages.