This poem owes a lot, style-wise, to Sean O’Brien’s ‘Timor Mortis’, and a lot, content-wise to a group of Facebook friends from whom I crowdsourced the ideas. But I wrote it to support a cause I strongly believe in. The Sun began Page 3 in 1970. Women stripped to the knickers in a ‘family newspaper’ sends poor messages to both men and women. If you want to understand the sexual intimidation and bullying women still have to put up with, take a look at the Everyday Sexism Project. Then ask yourself whether Page 3 is likely to make the situation A) better or B) worse.
Big in the 70s
Sometimes it’s good to bring to mind
all the naff stuff we left behind;
Fanny Cradock, nylon sheets,
avocado bathroom suites,
Bernard Manning, Love Thy Neighbour,
crinkly Izal toilet paper,
Stylophones and Irish jokes,
‘I mean that most sincerely, folks’,
public payphones, party lines,
crimplene and Rise ‘n’ Shine,
Bob Monkhouse and the Golden Shot,
the decade that all taste forgot,
Checkpoint Charlie, dolly-birds,
Brut and ‘Are You Being Served?’
blacking up for Minstrel shows
how that was normal, no-one knows.
George and Mildred, Benny Hill,
seaside postcards, sleeping pills,
OMO, Gary Glitter, flares,
Kevin Keegan’s curly hair,
incense sticks – patchouli-scented,
all dead, all gone, all unlamented.
Flowery wallpaper, New Faces,
cigarettes in public places,
Stars on Sunday, Uri Geller,
Austin Allegro, Ford Cortina,
Confessions of a Window-Cleaner.
Showaddywaddy, Paper Lace,
all disappeared without a trace,
Dennis Wheatley, Robin Day,
no legal right to equal pay,
Playtex girdles, Dr White’s,
Vesta curries, orange tights,
Inflation, twenty-five percent,
Mrs Thatcher’s government,
the Vietnam War and Watergate,
golliwogs with marmalade.
Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball,
we didn’t need them after all.
Ali Bongo, Whitbread beer,
the Yorkshire Ripper, Slimcea,
Jimmy Savile, Legs & Co.,
apartheid, birching, Chopper bikes,
the three-day week and all-out strikes;
ideas whose times have come and gone
and almost all of us moved on.
But while there’s knockers on page three
the Sun’s stuck in the Seventies.
So, support the petition, please. No More Page 3.
photo from Tim Ireland’s excellent blog: http://www.bloggerheads.com/page-3/
And so very true!
I was drawn to your blog by the piece you wrote “What’s wrong with poetry” and loved the debate. This piece so reminded me of Billy Joel’s song ‘We didn’t Start the Fire” that (I hummed the tune as I re-read your poem!) it prompted me to wonder if the similarities & differences between songs and poems might initiate a similar debate? Your piece clearly has a different purpose and impact to Billy Joel’s – the point you make, I think is a worthy one, though it felt a little submerged under all the allusions (would a few references to ‘page 3’ in the body of the poem have been inconsistent with your purpose or ‘art’? Whatever, I look forward to your blog with a lot of interest. Pete Ak
Well, Pete, glad you liked the controversy!. It is a ‘list poem’ and those are much despised by the cognoscienti of the poetry world. Billy Joel’s song is the same, and so is Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ and the old classic ‘These Foolish Things’ which was covered by Roxy Music. The humour, if any, comes from juxstaposing very disparate things: ‘singalong a Smokey and porridge oats’. I suppose I could have put some Sun references earlier but I was having too much fun thinking of seventies things that we no longer think are cool. Some of the ideas were crowdsourced from my facebook friends.