Monday, February 16, 2009

A lickle facktri up inna Brackly

Linton Kwesi Johnson published his poetry collection Inglan is a Bitch in 1980. LKJ is certainly one of South London's most distinctive voices - based for years in Brixton, he also studied at Goldsmiths in New Cross.

The title poem of Inglan is a Bitch mentions a crockery factory in Brockley (Brackly) - does anybody know if there really was such a factory? Anyway here he is performing it back in the day:

dem have a lickle facktri up inna Brackly
inna disya facktri all dem dhu is pack crackry
fi di laas fifteen years dem get mi laybah
now awftah fiteen years mi fall out a fayvah

mi know dem have work, work in abundant
yet still, dem mek mi redundant
now, at fifty-five mi gettin' quite ol'
yet still, dem sen' mi fi goh draw dole


Brockley Nick said...

I've been wondering the same thing. It really is a great poem.

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with LKJ the moment I heard Want Fi Go Rave playing in a beer hall in Zimbabwe. Wicked bass lines.

The other line I enjoy from Inglan is a Bitch is:

w´en mi jus´ come to Landan toun
mi use to work pan di andahgroun
but workin´ pan di andahgroun
y´u don´t get fi know your way around

Does he still perform?

Transpontine said...

Yes he's still performing occasionally, still living in South London I believe. That line about working on the underground really reminds me of the novel The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, one of the first books written about Caribbean migrants in London in the 1950s.

Anonymous said...

I have heard of the Lonely Londoners but have not read it. I shall put it on my list.

I realised what LKJ was on about with the underground part when I first came to London and, after a month or so of using the tube, figured out that most of the tube stations in Central London are within walking distance and came to understand that by just relying on the tube, you never get a real sense of where you were, as you would do by walking or other means of transport. Obvious now but not so obvious when you are faced with a city of this scale for the first time.

It is one of those songs where you have to have lived in London to appreciate and understand. His ability to give the various problems and struggles humour is quite brilliant.