(originally broadcast )

Proving it is hard to learn by his mistakes, James embarks on another series of Outsider In where we may find insight into the world of the ‘outsider’. In the first episode we find James accidentally embroiled in facing off the mainstream media when they assume he represents UKUncut… Heathcote Williams sends James a new anti-government poem which he will read out for the first time and live on air… this is underpinned by more candid UKUncut field recordings and advice on nuclear safety. James hopes you can put aside the 10 O’clock news and listen to something much more useful. Next week, Adam Bohman and Patrizia Paolini use their voices, in a good way….

Turner’s Subversive Boat by Heathcote Williams
The painter, Turner,
Hid in a boat on the Thames
In 1851.

He’d moored it mid-stream
So those taking the Census
Couldn’t question him –

He slyly ducked state snoops
Determined to snaffle up
His life’s last detail

For anonymous
Government authorities.
He preferred to be

Known for dream landscapes;
For ‘The Fighting Temeraire’;
For his red-gold skies;

Stonehenge at sunset;
Salisbury Cathedral’s spire
Wreathed in brooding mist;

Wreckers’ rugged coasts;
Seascapes of Northumberland.
He’d stay out all night

To catch next day’s dawn
Then he’d paint it as timeless –
The light of the world.

He’d beat cold weather
With layers of silk handkerchiefs
Hanging from his hat –

This man in a boat,
J. Mallord William Turner,
Freeborn Englishman –

Choosing to live by
Ignoring the powers that be
And plying his oars,

Looking for beauty
In whatever caught his eye
As well as for truth.

In Turner’s painting
‘The Slave Ship’, bodies in chains
Are thrown overboard

By the slaves’ masters
To be set upon by sharks –
A routine practice

When the slave owners
Found their cargo troublesome,
Or too ill to treat;

Unprofitable to feed,
Or just pining to be free.
The snares of the State

Are now much subtler,
But slaves are still rounded up,
Farmed for their taxes,

Spied on by cameras,
Questioned by nosy strangers
Filling in dull forms

Such as the Census,
So the State may know who’s who
If there’s civil unrest.

Bobbing in his boat
And never to be enslaved,
Turner ruled the waves.

 

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