What do 1676 and 1976 have in common? Both years, yes. Similar digits, okay. But they are in fact the time-twins linked in a new poetry pamphlet by the redoubtable Bard of Peterborough, Cardinal Cox.
'Never Mind the Ballads, Here's a Blast of Broadsides' was produced for the Whittlesey Straw Bear Festival (16th to 18th Jan). If you want to know what England is about, it's about straw bears. And beer. And poetry. Anyway, the festival was revived in 1976 and more recently the Cardinal has graced it with his presence. In his festival he draws parallels between the turmoil and creativity of the late 17th century with that we all (well, some of us) remember from the Dawn of Punk.
Of course, being rude about a Labour government that now looks almost Utopian in its outlook is slightly different from the ups and downs of the Restoration era. There poems here have an almost ammoniac tang of fanaticism, a distinct whiff of gunpowder and a few (metaphorical) bloodstains. Here's an extract from 'Guy Fawkes':
And after Parliament gone
The King and his son dead
They aimed then to take over
To become the nation's head
Protestant priests would once again
In Spitalfields burn
If these pious Catholic Lords
Had had their faith return
Wanted to being back burning times
Guy Fawkes is no hero of mine.
He's quite firm, but fair, on Cromwell, too. But there's plenty of folklore, fantasy and humour here, not least in the little 'Street Cries of the City' that serve as footnotes.
You know you wants
To take a look'
If you wants to take a look, and why wouldn't 'ee, you can get a copy of these broadside/sheet ballads by sending a C5 SAE to:
or email the poet himself: