by Amanda Bates
This is a song by the British rock band Skunk Ansansie. It was the first song on their debut album, released in 1996. As such, it was evidently intended as a statement:
Yes it’s fucking political
Yes it’s fucking satirical
Do I agree with this? Actually, no. It’s a rock song, for heaven’s sake. Rocks songs are relatively simple vehicles, and there really isn’t room to make a coherent argument within one, however good the soundbite is. But it made me think, made me consider the idea. I recall being moved by the (loud, sweary) sincerity and fierce intelligence of the young, female singer, even though I could not bring myself to agree. I liked other songs on the album better.
However, I recognised that her experience of the world was very different to mine. On the face of it, being young, female and English was possibly all that we did have in common (she is black, and gay, more worldly-wise than I, a city-dweller). And perhaps her “everything” wasn’t quite so all-encompassing as it sounded. I came to the conclusion that, while trees and clouds and the distance between stars probably weren’t imbued with much in the way of inherent politicialness, social interaction frequently was, even if it wasn’t consciously so, or even significantly so, depending on context. It was seldom party politics, which was the first thing that came to my mind. Nor was it the sort of politics that dealt with war and governance, national borders or fishing quotas. In my mind I dubbed that “big politics” and gave it a capital letter: Politics. To be dealt with by Politicians, generally of the elected kind. No, it was social politics. Small politics – the words we use, the assumptions we make, the hidden implications (implied, inferred and sometimes misconstrued), whether intended or otherwise.
I’ve since changed my mind about trees, by the way.
They can be political. Most are planted, usually for a reason. That’s especially true in a small country with a large population and a long history, like ours. Think of boundary markers, hedges, commercial plantations… Ancient woodland? It’s not primeval. It’s not natural. It’s very carefully managed – or it used to be.
My drawing of looking into some trees outside my window, from the outside looking in.
Anne’s drawing during the session involved a contemplation of big and little p’s. She observed that the only real difference between a big P and a little p is its size.
Maija recommended the book: Gossip From The Forest by Sara Maitland
Wyndham’s Oak photographed by Chris Heal.
Anne Hitchcock writes: this particular photograph is by Chris Heal and was submitted to the exhibition I have on currently which features photographs of Gillingham taken by local people during lockdown. Interestingly, most of the images are of the natural environment, both in and around the town.