Shame: After Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King

After Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King

I’ve tried to step out the shame of this. Even now the guilt piles
high like records racked on an old Dansette. I was a youth lost
in a bedroom mirror, my James Brown moves flickering light
bulbs, fuelling hate in the building site politics of my father. 
For this, I became his family secret. The boy who surrendered
to the funk and the darkness of ‘Blues and Soul’ magazine –
the cut outs of Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King sellotaped to a wall.

At after school discos I would stare at Floyd. His body
poured burnt treacle in a woollen hat, the greatest dancer
I have ever seen. He would beckon me over to join him,
to share his gyrations. I was good but never authentic.
How could I be? Lectured in the rudiments of old Enoch,
I walked away into the Basildon contradictions of 1977. 
Punk Rock or the National Front? A terror of belonging.

Time lifted my heart skywards, from Colin Maclnnes
to MLK. Reciting ‘The Revolution will not be Televised’
I began a life inside the black and white. I marched
the southern suburbs protesting reasons for those hurt
by a lack of love, justice and connection. Sometimes,
returning home, head down hard, I faced the family 
I loved through blood, but never tolerating their traditions.

And tonight, I am older in a once industrial northern town,
swaying to the music that took me, that partially unlocked
a life. I want to be immersed walking these streets, I want
to dance with every Floyd, share our spins, our moments
lost in mirror balls, backflips and tepid lemonade. I can’t. 
The heavy feet of our histories still sink me to the floor.
How do I shed a shame of nurture? Am I late for the world?



◄ Monday Morning in the Rain

Other Colours, Other Clocks. After W.H Auden ►


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Mon 13th Jun 2022 20:38

An excellent piece of urban history triple wrapped with all the goodness inside, a roller coaster ride Ralph!!


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Ralph Dartford

Sun 12th Jun 2022 14:55

Thanks Greg and Graham. I love Tom’s song. Yes, I agree, nothing much has changed.

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Greg Freeman

Sun 12th Jun 2022 08:52

A wonderful chunk of autobiographical poetry. I suspect you will find much more in this seam, Ralph. As an irrelevant aside, I was watching Tom Robinson's superb performance of Glad to be Gay in the late 70s on TV last night. Spitting out the words. At the risk of offending one or two on here, I fear the police haven't changed at all. Oh, and great profile pic, too!

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Graham Sherwood

Sun 12th Jun 2022 08:45

Not easy to read in this format but a brilliant write right from the go. Fascinating how our insecurities tarnish us for life to some degree.

Super work, well done Ralph.

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