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 The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!

All material copyrighted to © 2014

or to the various credited sources © 2014



Under the shadow of War, Heaven’s artillery thundered by 

The shrubs that blossomed from the shrapnel of numberless

Fathers’ mud-splattered martyrdoms, shuddered their thoughts

Like sudden gusts thrusting through willowing bulrushes,

And put splinters in their milk-weaned nerves –so Stephen

Spender enunciated in chilled tone: ‘What can I do that

Matters?’ Trope-strapped troops of a stormy peace, the inter-

War generation, more than any other before them reared

On guilt and an insatiable itch to prove themselves in some

Other type of war, being, as Edmund Blunden noted, and

Samuel Hynes interpolated, ‘bracketed by wars’ –but yet

The Tight Young Things were also strait-jacketed in

Conflicting pacifisms, hence their mantles of anxieties,

Both anticipating and dreading oncoming conflict,

A new Dark Age of aggressive energies their frayed nerves

Presaged, that snagged on the baggage of their thoughts

And triggered a generation’s edginess; but there was

A vicarious war to be fought on their doorstep, a rhetorical

Cri de Coeur on behalf of the poor, for the nation was still

Savagely divided between haves and have-nots, a state

Of ‘guerilla’ class war, farcical if it wasn’t so industrially

Fatal for its hopelessly under-equipped proletarian side –

Perennial shadow-conscripts pitted on an ancient battlefield

Of material brinkmanship, rigged-out in flat caps and ragged

Trousers for the long fight that has been so long no one can

Recount its declaration, nor the reasons it was declared –

Quite unlike the bullet-and-bomb rubricised crusade in Spain

Undertaken by volunteering Quixotes in berets, bandoliers

And corduroys, but against the same enemy: for what else

Is Capitalism but Fascism in camouflage, which fires on all

Fiscal cylinders using bills and debts and usurious credit

For ammunition (or sometimes water canon and rubber bullets

If its unarmed victims get a little restive)…? Adam Smith’s

“Invisible hand” is simply the white-gloved appendage

Of legderdemain that presages the pugilistic grasp

Of the full-blown Falange –the daily battle to survive that wove

The tattered backcloth of their lives, while their malnourished

Bodies were beset by turbercles and rickets, limbs’ dying

Pickets, ripe pickings for fiscal snipers of parliamentary

Hopefuls safely camouflaged against spotless green benches…



It’s a Battlefield, as Graham Greene depicted the class-riven

Thirties (in his “first overtly political novel”), its’ silver-

Spooned politics and atrophic class tensions, the divide-

And-rule drinking games of port-passing public-school

Politicians played out as national policies to stir up

Resentments as cigarettes stir up phlegm, get the workers

To resent the unemployed as “scroungers” once again,

Profligate dogs weaned “on the Lloyd George” –

In spite and particularly because of mass unemployment

In the face of overproduction and under-consumption–

And strikers as the enemy within, choicest peasouper

Politics of employers’ spin, just so much tabloid-ladled,

Long-spooned broth: throw the common folk into fog-bound

Isolation then put each to the peashooter of persecution –

Just as Raglan, Pennefather and Cathcart had once thrown

Their pauperised troopers (although more through strategic

Incompetence than malicious intention) into the thick

Of gun-fog and confusion at Inkerman –now a new Crimea

Was being re-enacted domestically, waged by wage boards

Against the besieged ranks of labour, but armies were

Separated in mists of administrative obfuscation and

Ministerial pettifogging, no green runner beans visible

After the gallop and headlong plunge of the Regulation-

Lite Brigade into the usurious Valley of Wonga…


Into the valley of debt

Strode the unfunded –

Capitalists to the left of them

Capitalists to the right of them

Capitalists in front of them

Capitalists behind them

It's A Battlefield
Graham Greene
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