Wednesday 7 February 2018

The Wednesday Poem #37 - Action Shock

Distant hearts, Wont sleep tonight
They know their loved ones, 
Are going to die
A red stain on a battlefield
A drained body with a soul to yeild

Life, Mine's not for sale
Death, in an unmarked grave

One time, fun time come on son,
Forget peace man and grab a gun
Annihalate another man
It's easy son you know you can

Life, Mine's not for sale
Death, in an unmarked grave

You spend your life on a piece of land
But you are far cheaper do you understand
Bullets cost money, people cost food
That's the theory, where does that leave you

Life, Mine's not for sale
Death, in an unmarked grave
It's my life and you just can't save
It's my death, I'm not your slave

Distant hearts won't sleep tonight 
It's face to face, you and I 
One of us will not survive
Please not me I love my life

Life, Mine's not for sale
Death, in an unmarked grave
It's my life and you just can't save
It's my death, I'm not your slave

Copyright 1985 - Roger Tichborne, Allen Ashley, Paul Hircombe

I originally started writing Action Shock in 1982, whilst watching footage of the sinking of the General Belgrano. It was a surreal situation. I was in bed with my then girlfriend and the TV was on, with us ignoring it. Then there was a newsflash. At the time the MOD spokesman was a very dull, monotone person, who spoke with no emotion. I realised hundreds of people, who I had no argument with personally, had been killed. Whilst I despised the fascist junta running Argentina, both myself and Susan were frozen in horror. I realised that I wanted to write a powerful anti war song.

Many people say that religion is the cause of all wars. This is a complete fallacy. I believe that nationalism is. I have come to despise nationalist attitudes and wish that we could simply consider ourselves as citizens of planet earth. Following the battle of Goose Green, I rewrote the lyrics. The song is written from the point of an eighteen year old Argentinian conscript thinking of his mother as the far superior British Marines attack. He has realised the futility of his situation and is thinking of his mother weeping over his impending death. He is contemplating the futility of the situation he has found himself in "spend your life on a piece of land, but your far cheaper do you understand". But it is also a tribute to the bravery of our soldiers. Whilst I am in many ways a pacifist, when faced with fascist aggression such as the Nazi's and the Argentinian Junta, you cannot run and hide. The music of the False Dots is always with the men who have to fight wars for just causes. Our wish is that the politicians who never have to pick up a gun, never have to face personal loss and can rig the system so that their children and those of rich, powerful friends, can dodge the front line, finally get exposed and ejected from office and we start to see people running the country who value the lives of the ordinary citizens.

Like most of the lyrics and poems I write, it then got stuck in my shoebox, put in the sock draw and left. In 1983, Vanessa Sagoe, joined the band. She asked to see any lyrics I had. She loved the song. She asked if I had any music for it. Myself and Paul Hircombe then composed a very basic two chord pattern. We played it and Vanessa simply took the song and that was that. We never bothered to develop it any further musically, because Vanessa's delivery was so powerful.

When Vanessa left the band and Allen Ashley joined in 1985, I played the entire Falsedots set list from Vanessa to Allen. This was one of three songs that we took into the new line up. Allen made some minor adjustments to the lyrics.

The song has become our set closer.

Last year, we were working on the song and recorded a rough pre production demo. For Peace Sunday, I made a photo reel for it, chronicling the 100 years of wars that Great Britain has been involved in since 1914. We have since, finally properly worked out a more cohesive musical backing that does the lyrics the justice they deserve. However, this is how you would have heard the song between 1983 and 2017 if you'd seen the band.

I was inspired to post this as my Wednesday Poem today, in response to what is happening in the UK, in the wake of #Brexit. It seems that nationalism is rampant in the UK in a way we've seldom seen. We really need to wake up to the fact that we are all members of the human family. Labels such as British, American, etc simply mean that due to an accident of circumstance, we happen to be residing in a particular place and a particular bureaucracy have issued us a piece of paper that has those words on it. We need to recognise that anyone who seeks to get us to pick up a gun and kill someone over a turf war is intrinsically an evil person and not fit to be in public office.

I believe that one of the purposes of art is to inform. As an artist it is my duty to try and open peoples eyes and make them look. If we don't start looking behind the curtain, we could very well find ourselves in a situation where those we pay to lead us end up destroying everything we hold dear. There is one other point of note. I used to believe (at the time I wrote these lyrics), that the British were generally the good guys. Tony Blair and his Labour government destroyed that belief for me. Blair mislead parliament and started an illegal war. Hundreds of thousands of people have died or been injured. The middle east is in flames. We have a massive erosion of civil liberties, brought in to combat a threat that has been caused by these foreign policy disasters. All I can do to try and change things is write songs, make videos and write blogs. Is it enough? Probably not. Will anyone take any notice? Probably not. Does that mean it isn't worth trying? Well if we don't try then we will definitely lose, so yes. We should try. I daresay that Wilfred Owen in the trenches felt that writing his poetry was futile at times. He is a shining example of why art is important. His work had a reach that he could never have dreamed of. It is something that every artist  should aspire to.

The False Dots will be appearing at The Midland Hotel on Saturday 24th February. Entry is free. Please join us. We sing songs of love and war and people tell me we are rather entertaining. I guess we should be after 39 years. 


Anonymous said...

Ignoring comments you don't like?

Rog T said...

Lol, yep I never publish any comments that are even mildly critical. Especially from cowardly scumbags who post anonymously