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That you never wear all these clothes, is no excuse not to buy
more of that you'll never need.  The anodyne consumer dream must be fed,
Primark, Benetton and Walmart's greed, offers you the shopping buzz on which you feed
- come on you know you need it!
There are no cracks in this land of starvation wage
the rags for riches human trade, is too distant from our shores -
too costly to consider.
The fulfilment of our ordered sin, 
the garment of our desire...
adorning our wants 
in decoration
we forget of lives 
in lesser nations,
each time we shop in ignorance
we shall not pay a penance
or shed a tear for mortal woes
that we demand - in cheaper clothes.
While we embrace satanic mills 
souls will burn for sowing things,
spirits lie death bed bound,
the rubble grave - a burying mound.
If you abhor what's gone before;
then honour those without a voice
and change the world through informed choice.
Either way - do not shrug 
blame others
or turn to God.
Do not pray 
or look to clouds -
we're the consumer
                                turning lives to shrouds.
Note; a recorded reading of the above poem can be found below;
In a world where it is "always" someone else's fault - the notion that perhaps we are the monster of our own creation.  The hope in writing this was not to offer quick, easy and ultimately flawed solutions, rather the idea was to create a discussion where home truths are the starting point. 

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Laura Taylor

Wed 19th Feb 2014 16:43

Hmmm Ken - 'wearing a bit thin'? Not for me, certainly not for plenty of people I know.

As for 'it will always be thus' - nah, I 100% reject that. That smells very like a Powers-That-Be sentiment, or should I say, propaganda. 'It's always been like this'. 'Black is white'. No it hasn't. And it CAN change. Raising awareness one day/poem/chat at a time. Chipping away at the edifice.

Perhaps by continuing to highlight it, it could shame some people into changing their behaviour. It could bring into the light the exploitation and shameless greed behind it all - SOME people might not even know about that. Consciousness-raising, it used to be called.

Carry on Chris - belting poem. Both content and execution are spot on.

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Chris Co

Mon 17th Feb 2014 18:28

Glad you like the language of the poem Ken - thx

In term of the theme wearing thin. Odd that, as that is the complete opposite of what the rest of the world thinks - as evidenced by statistical data;

a) The rise of organisations like Change & Avaaz and the number seen in associated campaigns


b) the increasing number and success of ethical products and services that simply didn't exist 10-20 years ago.



The boycotting and adverse publicity of unethical goods and services, that again did not occur 10-20 years ago.

In terms of poems of this nature desensitising, I would say that rather depends upon your politics and who you are. I don't see Ian Whiteley, Dave Bradley, Julian Jordan, Laura Taylor, Bob Kettle, Vinny Spence, Allan Parry, Carl Allan, Dave Costello, Jeff Dawson, Tracy Bucknell, Dominic Simpson, Petrova Fairhurst, Isobel, John Darwin, David Mellor, Ged Thompson, David Subacchi, Jon Darby, Dave Morgan, Graham Robinson, Jim Pearson, Alan Johnson, Attilla the stockbroker, Joy France, Ian Dawson, Reece Goldstein, Aaron Murdoch, Gemma Lees, John Hulme, Brian Seamus Campbell Hart, Stella, Jennifer Smith, Stephen L Smith, Nicki Leighton, Mike Richardson, Pamela Moyle, Paul Nicholas Pyke, Stephen O'Neil, Natalie Wharton, Pete Slater, or many, many more displaying this desensitised viewpoint you speak of Ken.

Not saying all the above support or even like this poem, but they all display an attitude that contradicts your claim.

So locally, nationally and internationally - empirically, I would have to disagree with your claim, that things of this nature desensitise and result in some yea, yea attitude. The reverse is true in my experience.

And Ken, like MC you have possibly without realising it peddled the same old trope;

"This is just preachy and can't make a difference"

I'm not sure how much you have read, but I have detailed positive change over and over and over. It is hard to keep repeating myself. But to reiterate I made a small positive difference last week alone! People are doing the same in their hundreds of thousands/millions via the campaigns I have spoken of and via the use of their buying power. So Ken, you or MC or others can deny this reality, but it doesn't undo the reality.

Preachy - maybe, but only in so much as I have said WE are the problem, not him over there, or that group or politician - but we - us - me! Only preachy in saying we can make a positive difference and be part of the solution.

Both yourself and MC express a notion of "so it ever is" and "so it ever will be". I don't know if both of you have been living in caves in the Borra Borra or not, but the world is changing quite rapidly, it is changing all the time.

Social media and the campaigning that has grown up around it has to some extent democratised the internet - itself another relatively new invention. These campaigns have given us a new form of democracy, or at least a new arm of democracy. Its reach is both home and abroad. I could go on and mention wiki-leaks and much more. We have fair trade and local sourcing of products - neither existed in the past, both stem from public opinion and ethical buying power.

The world is changing, in good ways and bad. Part of the good is increased awareness of ethics in the western world when it comes to goods and services.

Kenneth Eaton-Dykes

Mon 17th Feb 2014 12:56

COMPLICIT. excellent poem, well engineered, but the theme's wearing a bit thin. A subject done that often, ones reactions are a desensitized "Yeah Yeah"

Can't see the point in constantly highlighting
the inherent greed we all possess, a condition from which some poor wretches suffer more than others

I'm afraid it will always be thus until we evolve, or are genetically juggled (whichever comes first)
into nice chaps.

There! that's a thought provoking bit of negative refreshment.

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Chris Co

Mon 17th Feb 2014 00:56

Thx for taking the time to see the ethics and thought process Isobel....Harry.

How much money does it cost anyone to put a signature to an online petition with or in order to pressurise Primark, Walmart or Benneton etc?

The answer to that is - nothing. It can be done from an Internet cafe. How does anyone know about issues like this though? They need to have their consciousness pricked, or raised. That is what poems like this seek to do. So a clear gain can be made from simply being - aware.

So practical success can be achieved very easily from poems, blogs and essays etc. In terms of buying power and shopping. It is easy to think ethical decisions must cost more money. This is not so.


I bought goods from Amazon this week. Amazon do not pay their fair share of tax - they are an unethical company in this regard. So I bought my goods via Amazon traders, that is independent traders on the Amazon site. These traders do pay their fair share of tax. The goods bought cost exactly the same amount of money.

I got my goods and the UK economy got its fair share of tax - that to me is an ethical result.

I always check ebay and ahead of Amazon, if I can buy economically from those sources ahead of Amazon - I do. Each time I buy from an alternative source, that is a sale lost to Amazon. The more people do the same, and quite a lot of people are doing this and boycotting them where possible - the more that will hurt them. The end goal is to force Amazon into paying the correct amount of tax.

Bennetton is not cheap, it is easy to chose an alternative that ethically sources their manufacturing. In terms of Walmart, which equates to Asda, other supermarkets with comparable prices source more ethically

Also it is not even about, every purchase, it doesn't require that - that is a key point too.

Primark might be a cheap source at Christmas, I understand that, who wouldn't? Price comparison websites can give an indication as to where some things can be alternatively sourced for similar or lower cost. Where that is possible, if you pick those things up from a more ethical source, you hurt Primark.

Small changes can make big differences.

It really does not have to be a costly exercise - not at all, i've proven that this week alone.

None of this is just me hehe. This is not a one man band, or a hippy impractical love-in. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of other people feel the same way. Otherwise there wouldn't be the campaigns. I have spoken about, Change and Avaaz wouldn't exist - neither would fair trade products and a lot more besides. The fur trade would still be alive and well - it isn't.

In terms of political decisions and joined up thinking. Even if we wanted that, and many people do, there isn't the political will in order to get things done. Too many political and economic vested interests for such joined up thinking.

Besides which, demand effects everything else, effect demand and you effect everything else.

The UN doesn't give us fair trade goods, no political body affords us a way to affect Sodastream's support for Israeli settlements in Palestine (breaking UN resolutions for over 40 years). No political body brought down the fur trade....public opinion, desire or lack thereof = demand.

If ethical goods and services are demanded they will be supplied. If the demand for unethical goods and services decline, those companies either adapt and survive, or in the end they die. I'm not saying cost is never an issue - it is. But you would be surprised how often it is not a factor or is negligible.

The issue is, once we show what is happening and how easy it is to be part of a solution - are people interested enough to want to make the change?

With busy lives, that is the difficulty... I think your definitely right in terms of that Isobel. Convenience and a state of un-thinking can also be something to overcome. Can enough of us care enough, to overcome busy lives and convenience to put in a small effort...

It took me 5 minutes to find an Amazon trader, rather than buy off Amazon. It took me the mental effort and 15 minutes to think, not Asda for clothing, not Benetton and take a look at articles on the web about ethical sources.

It took minutes to sign up to Avaaz and Change. It takes seconds to sign up to their consumer ethics campaigns - a short but variable time to consider each issue in turn.

Will enough of us care enough...poem or blog - a starting point.

I would guess both yourself Isobel and Harry, like Dave Bradley, would if you could buy goods and services that are more ethical. I would hazard that, because you are concerned with mankind.

I don't think any of you believe in a total separation of economics from morals. I doubt any of you, like many other people believe in the kind of rampant individualism that dismisses ethics entirely and treats us as a world of individuals.

If we are really concerned about our fellow man, we have ethical considerations. The funny thing is, we don't even need to invoke socialism in order to pursue such beliefs. All we need is the free market - oddly.

Like I said earlier. Demand is a human construct. Ethics can be a significant factor in our demand.


I have at NO point suggested a removal of custom. That is VERY important. I have spoken of sourcing from ethical suppliers.

This idea that sourcing ethically equates to a removal of livelihood for poor people abroad. Where does this come from?

I was hit over the head with this by MC. Now i'm hit over the head with it by our lovely MC again hehe. Ethical sourcing of goods can relate to improving wages and conditions - as part of the process. The complete opposite of this argument.

Best of

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 17th Feb 2014 00:24

Since the world and his dog is surely aware of
the ininquities of what goes on in the context
this post, it is legitimate to pose the
question of the solution against the possibility
of those hapless souls losing what little they
have by the effects of a high-minded withdrawal of custom in a hard real world. I am quite open to having my observations "de-constructed"
but preaching doesn't solve the basic inherent
quandary posed by the content. What to do?!
And that means in terms of the world as it is -
and, one can argue, as it has always been. By all
means point something out, but it doesn't end there.
That may be simplistic but I'll stick with it.

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Harry O'Neill

Mon 17th Feb 2014 00:00

Speaking from the humble level of a (middling) economics A mark this discussion fascinates me.

Regarding cheap goods and sweatshops it is significant that China - a communist state operating a capitalist system ( due, as Lord Turner said, to its enforced one child policy ) achieved greater national prosperity and is – due to the recession - deliberately stimulating its domestic consumer demand. (No doubt relieved by the knowledge that that the extra consumption goods required will be available from the un-consumed consumption of those tiny Chinese mouths that never quite made it to the consuming stage).

Probably this will result in the Chinese grown ups expanding just like their reportedly obese (and predominantly male) little single offspring and becoming as fat as our own meagre-childed populations in the prosperous West.

No doubt that - like ourselves–their depleted numbers will be replenished by hordes of immigrants (In China? what a delicious thought!) and that these in their turn will themselves become meagre-childed and fat as well.(isn`t this what a `better life` is all about?)…and so the eternal escalator will continue.

Oh, for the days when excessive consumerism was called gluttony and certain wastages of the human spirit were reckoned to be caused by it.

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Sun 16th Feb 2014 19:24

I'm sure people probably do get what it is you're saying Chris - it's just that topics always meander off course and people naturally start to consider other issues.

Graham, I also regret the loss of basic skills amongst young people. How many kids sit down to make anything now - we live in a throw away society and it costs more to buy the materials to knit a jumper or sew an item of clothing, than it does to buy it from Primark and other cheap shops. Likewise, if you are prepared to eat unhealthy processed shit, it's much cheaper and easier to do so rather than buy fresh meat and vegetables.

Chris's poem raises the question of whether we the consumers should feel guilt for the suffering of others, those who slave to produce our products, with none of the choices we enjoy.

Regrettably, I think we are too physically removed from the reality of that slavery to feel guilty enough not to shop in the likes of Primark - particularly as we are all squeezed financially at the moment. Whilst I don't do a lot of shopping there, my kids love it at Christmas, cos they can buy all their presents for not very much.

Human nature is at question here - and human nature is to put unpleasant thoughts to the back of the mind. I like the way your poem challenges this. The changes needed should come from the United Nations - there needs to be a global political effort to address this kind of exploitation - and serious intervention from all developed nations to ensure that imports are all ethically sourced. That's the only solution I can see - though I realise you aren't asking for solutions - just asking the questions.

A very thought provoking poem - and brilliant in performance.

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Chris Co

Sat 15th Feb 2014 15:13

What you've surmised isn't what I was saying Graham, it isn't what the poem is about. You've got hold of the wrong end of the stick.

The poem relates to the system that we as consumers are a part of and how that degrades human life. It is about coming to terms with our own complicity. Only by acknowledging what goes on in our name, only by first seeing that and seeing the problem can we hope to change it.

Change can come through our consumer power. By making ethical buying decisions. This is not pie in the sky, either. It has happened, it is happening and it will continue to happen. It is why we have fair trade coffee, it is why the fur trade has been crippled, it is why Sodastream is under attack, it is why some people are avoiding Amazon, it is why some people steer clear of the brands I have mentioned. The economic effects are very real and they can change the way manufacturers behave.

The issue is not cheap clothes or cheap shit. I can only assume that is latching on to a surface level and one line taken literally in the poem. Also the word was 'cheaper', not cheap - big difference! You could buy a cheap Ferrari, Benneton are anything but cheap. Cheaper relates to the driving down of cost, in order to increase profit margins and increase sales via moderate pricing (relative). This is achieved, usually through very poor working conditions, with limited to zero health & safety, very long working hours and very, very low wages.

This is the issue - the system. We are not simply a part of it, we are at the top of it. Without us, the consumer there is no demand and there is no business.


This is a lesson for future I think I might only post poems that are much more transparent and of a simple or surface level.

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Graham Sherwood

Sat 15th Feb 2014 15:04

Sorry what i also meant to say was, if young people still had lessons about how to make clothes and how to cook instead of all trying to be pop stars whilst at school, they might just be better prepared for the harsh realities of life afterwards.

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Graham Sherwood

Sat 15th Feb 2014 15:02

Having seen the extensive rhetoric in this critique I am a little reticent to comment further. However, the sentiment that I get from this is one of the age-old "why do we buy cheap-shit, sweatshop clothes from third world manufacturers.
Whilst I have no experience in the ragtrade I did have extensive experience in the food trade and the same happens there.
Every week my wife visits (as a volunteer) young women who nned some support to make ends meet and she tries to show them how cooking from scratch is both cheaper and healthier than buying cheap processed food from the food equivalents of Primark and Walmart etc.

Unless we educate the problem will not go away. As for clothing, the never-ending circus of fashion will always seek to obtain cheap, short-life, easily disposable for the less well-off.

It's so easy to criticize the cheap shops but until the poorer off can do something for themselves (through better education) Primark will flourish.

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Chris Co

Sat 15th Feb 2014 14:43

It's one, as in singular poem M.C, one small poem. I never said otherwise, despite your snotty implication.

It is just one, small singular poem which has no more effect than one signature in a campaign. But like one signature in a campaign, when joined it becomes - something.

This is just one of many, many poems from many voices. The common theme makes a difference because poetry makes a difference.

I'm sorry I had to deconstruct your questionable assertions, semantics, spin, and dodgy logic. I would rather you hadn't brought any of it bear, but you did. can be as upset as you like.

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 15th Feb 2014 14:10

Goodness me.
Excuse my simplistic response to your worthy
words surely aimed at leading us to a wider understanding of humanity's damnable failings.

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Chris Co

Fri 14th Feb 2014 02:07

Of course, we are ALL consumers. But setting
the scenario and allocating "guilt" is one
thing. Supplying a solution in a complicated
world, another entirely.

Of course we are all consumers - I don't think so M.C, not in the way I have implied.

I have implied that we all part of the problem, but can all - to a degree be part of a solution - or part solution. There is absolutely NOTHING obvious about this usage at all!

Your limited and literal interpretation is FAR less than I have implied and lacks all nuance and understanding.

Moving on from which;

To suggest that any poet, or any one person has all the answers, or 'THE ANSWER' would be, frankly ridiculous M.C. Yet that is what you are attacking me for - for lacking the impossible, for not claiming the impossible.

Of course there isn't a 'single solution'. But then again, I never said there was - something else you have via implication leant against me.

What I have done is tried to raise consciousness, in terms of the decisions we make. That we, as in everyone can to a degree take ownership of the problem - be part of a solutions of sorts that arise from the KEY step (of accepting we are part of the system, the issue and can be part of the solution).

I have done that rather than simply allocate blame, political or otherwise. If you can't understand that, if you can't reach that understanding - my poem is wasted on you. You have been informed, whether you have understood that or not is for you - not me.

I have poetically implied, that the problem is ours - that it stems from our demand. If you can't from there get from A to B and come to understand that as consumers, we have choices? That we can change our buying habits and vote with our wallet to affect a positive difference...

I can lead a horse to water, but...

Now when it comes to consumer choice;

Whether you like that or not it ABSOLUTELY is a solution of sorts, in that it can, and in fact DOES affect positive change - again whether you like it or not.

Again feeling the need to constantly re-iterate in the absence of understanding...

I wont be lectured on not offering a solution for all circumstances and all world ills of a global, socio-economic basis. The task at hand was to poetically raise consciousness and make people think - which can make a difference.

I wont be lectured for raising a solution of sorts that can and does affect positive change. I wont be told off for that, no matter how hard you try to lay false interpretations and false meaning at my door.

Your aim seems to be primarily at conditions in rag trade sweat shops

That is the literal nature of the poem, and a surface understanding.

But that is not the only aim. If you can't see how this opens up a discussion into other related areas and issues of consumer ethics, using the poem as a starting point - then you have lack imagination. One person has already replied to me in private regarding just this. His related ideas and thinking was most enlightening.

Your aim seems to be primarily at conditions in
rag trade sweat shops - and I can think of a few countries that fit the bill - in which wages
paid to employees are very low indeed. How
to address those sorry situations is another
matter altogether in lands steeped in various
ways of life and varied cultures.

Actually supply and demand depends upon demand - first and foremost. Anyone who knows basic supply chain economics understands this. Consumers can, if in the know, if they are conscious of the issues at hand; make decisions based upon ethics.

Ethical considerations can, if the consumer chooses be as big a buying factor as price point, quality etc - anything!

If you doubt this, all I can say is - where is the fur trade in the UK?

Like I have said it is all about consciousness raising, that is te KEY step. From there we can have informed buying decisions where ethics plays its part. In a market place, the products and services that people want survive and those that people do not want go to the wall. It is adapt and survive - or die. With enough pressure, this affects multi-national conglomerates irrespective of industry. This an affect everything from Primark wages in Bangladesh to the actions of agro-business in South America.

Of course consumer choice is a very powerful tool in its own right, but when this is also combined with the right campaign via,, SumOfUs.Org, Amnesty International, Reporters without boarders, Liberty International, and a whole host of other organisations...

Then we can congregate social awareness, afford good and bad publicity, affect governments and corporations. we can generate big campaigns that builds up and lets loose consumer choice.

Pretty decent solution wouldn't you say!!!

Can it or will it fix everything - no. It will have differing degrees of success. This solution of sorts I speak of has made a real impact on a whole variety of issues. On some issues it helps to a degree or it heaps pressure on those that may at a latter date buckle. It is imperfect - I make that clear. But it IS something. So don't try to lecture me on solutions - this is something, especially when you yourself offer nothing!!!

Who is going
to ensure an "untouchable" in India gets "fair
play" when the country itself is hardly rushing
to reform centuries of such discrimination and
social demarcation.

Not you! You are going to do absolutely nothing - bar complain about other people. You're going to complain put this at the door of others - me for starters. Irrespective of whether we are necessarily still on issue here or not.

Again - ridiculous to try and suggest that I am at fault, or not having a positive impact in some very small way - for not providing solutions to all the world problems in all there complexity.

What I would say is that consciousness raising enables. it leads to informed consumer choice and buying power, it also leads enables people to politically influence matters via the organisations I have detailed. The bottom line is this can have an impact on working conditions. It can have an impact upon minimum wages and investment in ethical goods and services. In engaging people politically in campaigns - via first raising consciousness, it can affect issues across the world. No guarantees of course and change will often come from within and take time - nobody has said any different. None of which lessens the importance of the what I have detailed.

working souls have a percentage of something
rather than 100% of nothing from those who, by
buying what they make, can supply income "from

Or they could burn or be crushed to death in a factory. Or they could barely survive on starvation wages, or they could face all manner of deprivation at the hands of multi-nationals.

Is that how you would rather have it M.C? I can tell you that is NOT how it is going to be, at least, many people are going to do what they can, with their buying power, their campaigning power. We're going to vote with our wallets, make ethical considerations, fight for human rights. And we ARE going to make a difference - we already have.

So forgive me if I take issue with you - from a factual point of view, from an economical point of view. Capitalism doesn't have to come with neoliberal right wing politics, or a we can't do anything attitude - people know that there is another way and are going to keep on pushing.


Try reading;

Pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Freire. Consciousness raising, as the core of an education system - that enables - you might come to understand a little. So powerful - it resulted in Freire being thrown out of Brazil by the military Junta in power as it empowered peasants, enabled critical thinking. To understand the book and Freire's teaching is to understand much of what I have been saying.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 13th Feb 2014 22:07

Of course, we are ALL consumers. But setting
the scenario and allocating "guilt" is one
thing. Supplying a solution in a complicated
world, another entirely.
Your aim seems to be primarily at conditions in
rag trade sweat shops - and I can think of a few countries that fit the bill - in which wages
paid to employees are very low indeed. How
to address those sorry situations is another
matter altogether in lands steeped in various
ways of life and varied cultures. Who is going
to ensure an "untouchable" in India gets "fair
play" when the country itself is hardly rushing
to reform centuries of such discrimination and
social demarcation. But it has to happen within. In the meantime, better that deprived
working souls have a percentage of something
rather than 100% of nothing from those who, by
buying what they make, can supply income "from
without" while history and change happens - as
it surely will.
"The most melancholy of human reflections, perhaps, is that, on the whole, it is a question
whether the benevolence of mankind does most
good or harm" - Walter Bagehot (1826-1877).

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Chris Co

Thu 13th Feb 2014 19:50

If you think this is simply condemning the consumer or people other than oneself, I think you've missed the point entirely M.C.

I am the consumer, You are the consumer...we all are.

Consumers have the power to inform themselves, consumers have the power to ensure they are not ignorant of what goes on in their name, consumers have the power to make informed decisions and take their buying power where they choose - to make ethical decisions. Consumers have the power of choice!

Instead of blaming others for what we demand, this is about taking responsibility.

If one statement speaks for where the issue and powers lies it is this -

I AM the consumer!

If you still don't like the ethos, or where this poem is coming from, that's fine, so long as we are clear about what is going on here


Ethical capitalism acknowledges, the market, it doesn't deny its existence, or try to paint a differing reality. It can make a real difference, in real terms, being both pragmatic and logistically sound - so it isn't pie in the sky idealism either.
It starts at the individual level and collects momentum.

Nowhere does it say in any sound economic theory, that part of a product or services appeal; that there cannot be an ethical dimension or desire that drives demand.

To leave no possible ambiguity here - I shall tell you what this is not. It is not, let's blame the consumer, where consumer is a cipher for everyone is at fault but me - let's blame the world. Neither is it decrying reality, in the hope the world will spin on its head and be something different. It is not anti-capitalist, rightly or wrongly. I hope that clears a few things up.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 13th Feb 2014 17:10

We're all driven by one need or another. The
consumer, wherever he or she may be, is by
virtue of purchasing, giving work to others.
Am I my brother's keeper? A question posed
aeons ago. Indirectly, the consumer feeds
another demand...that of the need to survive.
Is that cause for condemnation...or celebration?

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Laura Taylor

Thu 13th Feb 2014 09:34

I wish I could make it tonight Chris - been too long eh? However, we're off to Bob's mum's for her birthday so cannae be there I'm afraid. Hope it's a good night - it looks like it's gonna be a top do!

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Chris Co

Wed 12th Feb 2014 19:36

Thx Laura, for reading and your thoughts/kind comments - most appreciated.

Hoping to make Wigan tomorrow, it would be nice to say hello and hear you read if you can make it.

My Best


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Laura Taylor

Wed 12th Feb 2014 11:31

Can't listen to that just yet Chris, but wanted to say I think this is a spot on poem. Great rhythm, and the mix of horrific reality with that blind greed is a tonic to my eyes. Informed choice - damned straight.


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