With the news today that Margaret Thatcher has died, I got to thinking about the real legacy of her tenure, and I remembered a poem that my bricklayer father and his friends wrote in the wake of the British recession of the early 1990s. A recession that resulted in my father, many of his friends, and scores of other tradesmen, having to seek work overseas as the country was crippled and ordinary families were pushed further into poverty.
I cried when I read this poem back today, written by a group of burly men over twenty years ago, not at all into poetry, but fuelled with passion and defiance at what was happening to them and their families. The poem is addressed to John Major, but be in no doubt, what it displays is the real cost of Thatcher’s policies to ordinary working class folk. This is for you, daddy. May you rest in peace.
Major this, Major that,
All in all, a Major rat.
Major promises he didn’t keep,
Major wanna sit and weep.
Made us leave home, trowels in hand,
Arbeiten wieder in Deutschland.
Major wonder just what for,
After all we won the war.
Major children less well taught,
Said it was the teachers’ fault.
Major sons just A.N. Others,
Major daughters single mothers.
Major nurses feel neglected,
Major doctors feel dejected.
Major country a poorer nation,
Had the cheek to blame inflation.
Said if it was nought per cent
Everything would be heaven sent.
Major lose your house and home,
Major streets unsafe to roam.
Major more and more aware
That all in all he didn’t care.
Major livin’ worth much less
All in all a fuckin’ mess.
Major poorer from the start
Major kids lose all heart.
Major get yourself in debt
Major unemployed and yet…
Major think you’d go much higher
All in all a MAJOR liar.
© English bricklayers in Germany, 1991.