Thursday, 17 February 2011

what's up wi' you? swallowed a dictionary or summat?

There were a number of extravagant furores in the Eighties as the moral-majority whipped itself into a frenzy over everything from Minipops to Cannibal Holocaust. One of the strangest was over the televising of Tony Harrison’s “V” by Channel 4.
The outrage was ostensibly over the number of “fucks” and “cunts” though more left-wing commentators suggested it was down to the poem’s and the programme's anti-Thatcherism. This is also something of an overstatement, there is a heavy-handed montage before the reading starts that may have been the reason why Harrison later moved into film-making himself as a way of exercising more control over the contextualizing of his work, but the poem is about divisions of all kind and certainly isn’t a straightforward polemic. To be frank it would be better if it were just the straight reading itself, and to further the frankness, I’m not sure HOW great a poem “V” is in retrospect, though I have been something of Harrison fan ever since.

More than anything on first seeing it, the quote that stuck in my mind was the epigraph from Arthur Scargill, just as the translation from Cornish that ends “National Trust” reiterated and re-affirmed it to me.

1 comment:

Fearlono said...

Thank you for posting V.
I must admit that this poem didn't make a huge impact on me when it was first transmitted (due to a lack of concentration on my part), but I was very impressed by it tonight.

I'm visiting Leeds next Monday, and will be sure to pack my dictionary.