A doughty champion of his local culture.(Poet Tom Hubbard)Your performance at the city hall was soooooooooo good! Christoph thought it was excellent! (Carolyn)



Shakespeare and Company. Erdesdun Publications, Whitley Bay 1975.
Giving Blood. People's Publications, Newcastle 1977.
Pains of Class. Artery Publications, London 1982.
Love Poems. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 1984.
Dreaming North (book & LP). With Graeme Rigby. Portcullis Press, Gateshead Libraries 1986.
The Jingling Geordie: Selected Poems 1970-1990. The Common Trust & Rookbook Publications, Edinburgh 1990.
Poets' Voices. With Cynthia Fuller, Michael Standen & others. Durham County Council & Tuebingen Cultural Office, Tuebingen 1991.
The Big Meeting: A People's View of the Durham Miners' Gala. TUPS, Newcastle 1994.
The Darkness Seeping: The Chantry Chapel of Prior Rowland Leschman in Hexham Abbey. With introduction by historian
Colin Dallison & illustrations by Kathleen Sisterson. Northern Voices & Crowquill Press, Belfast 1997.
Innocent Blood: the Hexham Riot of 1761. With historian Tom Corfe. Northern Voices & Crowquill Press, Belfast 1996.
Old Dog on the Isle of Woman. Cold Maverick Press Legend Series Number 1, Sunderland 1999.
Our Village. Memories of the Durham Mining Communities. The People's History, Durham 2000.
Bless'd Millennium: The Life & Work of Thomas Spence. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2000.
The Town of Old Hexham. The People's History, Durham 2002.
Imagined Corners. Smokestack Books, Middlesbrough 2004.
Out to Sea. With artist Rolf Wojciechowski. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2004.
Sweet Heart: Erotic Verse. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2006.
Angels Playing Football: Newcastle Poems. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2006.
The Hive of Liberty:The Life & Work of Thomas Spence. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
Hermann Hesse in the Gutter: Tuebingen Poems (1987-2007). With translations by Carolyn Murphey Melchers. Northern Voices,  Whitley Bay 2007 (updated edition 2019).
A Blush in Staindrop Church. Christopher Smart (1722-1771) in Durham. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2008.
Common Words & the Wandering Star: Jack Common (1903-1968). University of Sunderland Press, 2009.
From Segedunum to the Spanish City. North Tyneside's heritage in words and pictures. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2010.
Grand Times. The story of the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth. Grand Hotel, Tynemouth 2010.
The Spanish City. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2010.
The Light in the Centurion. The story of Newcastle’s historic bar. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2011.
Splinters: Poems by Keith Armstrong. Hill Salad Books (Breviary Stuff Publications), London 2011.
The Month of the Asparagus: Selected Poems by Keith Armstrong. Ward Wood Publishing, London 2011.
Still the Sea Rolls On. The Hartley Pit Calamity of 1862. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2012.
North Tyneside Steam. Northern Voices Comunity Projects, Whitley Bay 2014.
Thomas Spence: The Poor Man’s Revolutionary. With Alastair Bonnett. Breviary Stuff Publications, London 2014.
Follow the Sun. Northern Voices Commmunity Projects, Whitley Bay 2016.
The Pitman Poet of Percy Main: Joseph Skipsey. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2017.
Wallington Morning. Poems by Keith Armstrong. Wild Boar Books, Lincoln 2017.
The Wooden Dollies of North Shields. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2018.
Tyne Anew. Celebrating Public Art in North Tyneside. Northern Voices Community Proects, Whitley Bay 2019.
Including: Revival,True Faith, Toon Talk, Red Pepper, Poetry Review, Iron, Aesthetica, The Poetry Business, The Ranfurly Review, The Penniless Press, Citizen 32, Morning Star, The Recusant, Kenaz, The New Statesman, Other Poetry, Poetry Scotland, True Faith, Dream Catcher, Episteme, Northern Echo, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Sand, North East History, North East Life, The Informer, StepAway, Northern Review, X magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ash (Oxford University Poetry Society), The Cheviot, The Galway Review, Culture Matters.
Recent anthologies:
Golden Girl. Poems on Newcastle upon Tyne. Credo, Newcastle 2001.
The Seven Deadly Sins. University of Groningen 2002.
Mein Heimliches Auge Erotic Yearbook. Konkursbuch, Tuebingen 2002.
Red Sky At Night: Socialist Poetry. Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham 2003.
War On War. Sub, Breda, 2003.
Paging Doctor Jazz. Shoestring Press, Nottingham 2004.
Microphone On. Poetry from the White House Pub. White House Press, Limerick 2005.
Paint the Sky with Stars. Re-Invention UK, Rayne 2005.
Miracle and Clockwork. Other Poetry, Durham 2005.
North by North East. Iron Press, Cullercoats 2006.
Revival. White House Poetry, Limerick 2006, 2007 & 2009.
Both Sides of Hadrian’s Wall. Selkirk Lapwing Press, Selkirk 2006.
The Wilds. Ek Zuban, Middlesbrough 2007.
Two Rivers Meet. Poetry from the Shannon and the Tyne. Revival Press, Limerick 2008.
Kemmy’s Limerick Miscellany. Limerick Writers’ Centre 2009.
Fishing and Folk. Life and Dialect on the North Sea Coast. Northumbria University Press, Newcastle upon Tyne 2008.
Emergency Verse. Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State. Caparison, Brighton 2011.
The Robin Hood Book. Verse Versus Authority. Caparison, Brighton 2012.
Anthology for a River. Danu Press, Limerick 2012.
The Blue Max Review. Rebel Poetry. Fermoy, 2012.
View from Zollernblick. Regional Perspectives in Europe. Grace Note Publications, Ochteryre 2013.
How Am I Doing For Time? Five Years of Poems, Prose and Pints. Harrogate 2014.
The Spirit of Tolpuddle. Citizen 32, Manchester 2014.
Anent. Hamish Henderson: Essays, Poems, Interviews. Gracenote Publications, Ochtertyre 2015.
More Raw Material: Work Inspired by Alan Sillitoe. Lucifer Press, Nottingham 2015.
De grote dikke hobbyrockencyclopedie. Uitgevers Passage, Groningen, 2016.
Half Moon: Poems about Pubs. Otley Word Feast Press, Otley 2016.
1916-2016, An Anthology of Reactions. Limerick Writers’ Centre, 2016.
Voices from the Cave. Revival Press, Limerick, 2017.
Word Sharing: A Literary Anthology. Kulturamt, Tuebingen, 2017.
Bleeding Sketches. With The Whisky Priests. Whippet Records, Durham 1995.
Out to Sea. With The Ancient Mariners, Jim Mageean, Ann Sessoms. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2007.
Sound City. With Rick Taylor, Bruce Arthur, Pete Challoner, Ian Carr & Bob Fox. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
The Elvis Diaries. With Jim Nunn. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
The Poetry of Percussion. With Bruce Arthur. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2008.
Mad Martins. With Gary Miller. Whippet Records, Ferryhill 2017.
Sing a Song for Henshaw. With Chris Ormston. Northern Voices Community Projects, Whitley Bay 2018.
The Pitman Poet from Percy Main:The Life & Times of Joseph Skipsey (1832-1903). North Tyneside People’s Centres 1991.

Further information: Northern Voices Community Projects, 35 Hillsden Road, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE25 9XF, England. Tel 0191 2529531. Email: k.armstrong643@btinternet.com



It's worth celebrating the birth in Newcastle upon Tyne on 21st June 1750 of radical fighter for human rights Thomas Spence.

Happy birthday Tom from everyone at The Thomas Spence Trust, responsible for the commemorative Spence plaque on the Quayside and an extensive series of events and publications dedicated to him over the years.



It’s good to welcome the establishment of The Thomas Spence Trust, founded by a group of Tyneside activists intent on celebrating and promoting the life and work of that noted pioneer of people’s rights, pamphleteer and poet Thomas Spence (1750-1814), who has born on Newcastle’s Quayside in those turbulent times.

Spence served in his father’s netmaking trade from the age of ten but went on later to be a teacher at Haydon  Bridge Free Grammar School and at St. Ann’s Church in Byker under the City Corporation. In 1775, he read his famous lecture on the right to property in land to the Newcastle Philosophical Society, who voted his expulsion at their next meeting.

He claimed to have invented the phrase ‘The Rights of Man’ and chalked it in the caves at Marsden Rocks in South Shields in honour of the working-class hero ‘Blaster Jack’ Bates, who lived there.

He even came to blows with famed Tyneside wood-engraver Thomas Bewick (to whom a memorial has been recently established on the streets of Newcastle) over a political issue, and was thrashed with cudgels for his trouble.

From 1792, having moved to London, he took part in radical agitations, particularly against the war with France. He was arrested several times for selling his own and other seditious books and was imprisoned for six months without trial in 1794, and sentenced to three years for his Restorer of Society to its Natural State in 1801.

Whilst politicians such as Edmund Burke saw the mass of people as the ‘Swinish Multitude’, Spence saw creative potential in everybody and broadcast his ideas in the periodical Pigs’ Meat.

He had a stall in London’s Chancery Lane, where he sold books and saloup, and later set up a small shop called The Hive of Liberty in Holborn.

He died in poverty ‘leaving nothing to his friends but an injunction to promote his Plan and the remembrance of his inflexible integrity’.

The Thomas Spence Trust organised a mini-festival to celebrate Spence in 2000 when it published a booklet on his life and work, together with related events, with the aid of Awards for All.

Trust founder-member, poet Keith Armstrong has written a play for Bruvvers Theatre Company on the socialist pioneer which has been performed at St. Ann’s Church and other venues in the city.

Now the Trust has successfully campaigned for a plaque on the Quayside in Newcastle, where Spence was born. The plaque was unveiled on Monday June 21st 2010, Spence's 260th birthday, with a number of talks, displays and events coinciding with it.

A book 'Thomas Spence: The Poor Man's Revolutionary', edited by Alastair Bonnett and Keith Armstrong, was published by Breviary Stuff Publications, with launch events, in 2014, the 200th anniversary of Spence's death.

Further information from: Dr Keith Armstrong, The Thomas Spence Trust, 35 Hillsden Road, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE25 9XF. Tel. 0191 2529531.

 (photo in Holborn by Peter Dixon)














Down by the old Quayside,

I heard a young man cry,

among the nets and ships he made his way.

As the keelboats buzzed along,

he sang a seagull’s song;

he cried out for the Rights of you and me.

Oh lads, that man was Thomas Spence,

he gave up all his life

just to be free.

Up and down the cobbled Side,

struggling on through the Broad Chare,

he shouted out his wares

for you and me.

Oh lads, you should have seen him gan,

he was a man the likes you rarely see.

With a pamphlet in his hand,

and a poem at his command,

he haunts the Quayside still

and his words sing.

His folks they both were Scots,

sold socks and fishing nets,

through the Fog on the Tyne they plied their trade.

In this theatre of life,

the crying and the strife,

they tried to be decent and be strong.

Oh lads, that man was Thomas Spence,

he gave up all his life

just to be free.

Up and down the cobbled Side,

struggling on through the Broad Chare,

he shouted out his wares

for you and me.

Oh lads, you should have seen him gan,

he was a man the likes you rarely see.

With a pamphlet in his hand,

and a poem at his command,

he haunts the Quayside still

and his words sing.




I am a small and humble man,
my body frail and broken.
I strive to do the best I can.
I spend my life on tokens.

I traipse through Holborn all alone,
hawking crazy notions.
I am the lonely people’s friend.
I live on schemes and potions.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow ike wine,
my words just flow like wine.

I am a teeming worker bee.
My dignity is working.
My restless thoughts swell like the sea.
My fantasies I’m stoking.

There is a rebel inside me,
a sting about to strike.
I hawk my works around the street.
I put the world to rights.

For, in my heart and in my mind,
ideas swarm right through me.
Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,
my words just flow like wine,
my words just flow like wine.


(from the music-theatre piece ‘Pig’s Meat’ written for Bruvvers Theatre Company)

A, B, C

You landless horses have you heard

The power of the written word

By making clear what once was blurred

I’ll raise you up above the herd

Like you I come from poverty

But grammar brought me liberty

Now with my grand repository

I’ll break your chains of slavery

Pronounce with me

These words you see

It’s as easy as A, B, C

My alphabet will set you free

It’s as easy as A, B, C

Rhyme and rhythm and repetition

Real reading made easy by definition

It’s my passion, it’s my mission

All it needs is your permission

Believe in me

And you will see

It’s as easy as A, B, C

Our language offers mastery

It’s as easy as A, B, C

So when you escape your desert isle

Spread the word through rank and file

The Spensonian Method is worthwhile

In teaching through phonetic style

Who needs elocutionists

Wordsmiths or philologists

For your mother tongue she now insists

You can all be cunning linguists

Come read with me

To your own degree

It’s as easy as A, B, C

Words and sounds in recipe

It’s as easy as A, B, C

Say after me

“I will be free”

It’s as easy as A, B, C

Knowledge is power, just turn the key

It’s as easy as A, B, C

Gary Miller

"Dare to be Free"

Where is Thomas Spence?, his song needs to be sung. Born in poverty, died in poverty, imprisoned for his ideas. He wrote the real Rights of Man. He was the bane of tyrants, the scourge of pirates, the man behind the pen.

Where is Thomas Spence? The end of aristocracy, public ownership of the land, a social gurantee for those not able to work, the rights of all and infants to be free from abuse and poverty. Where is this man who gave his life so the people could be free?

What thinks Thomas Spence about the progress that's been made? Tax havens for the rich, Council tax, income tax and VAT for all the rest. He'd see that nothing much had changed beneath the fancy rhetoric. Just desparation for the poor, the lame and all the sick.

Where is Thomas Spence now we need his utopian thought? A country run for crooks will never cut the cake. A people tired of lies and schemes, distracted by a press half baked is not the kind of world you saw. Where are you Thomas Spence? We need to hear your voice once more!

Trevor Teasdel


A humble son of Newcastle,

Born in 1750 into discriminating grim poverty,

He looked destined for the Great North scrapheap,

Instead, he grew to be someone of immense utopian vision,

Integrity, courage and righteousness:

A pioneering true socialist, a minter of coins, a printer of pamphlets,

A champion of the working classes, a martyr to the common man.

He wrote and spoke passionately about human rights, the abolition of slavery,

Cruelty, justice and land for all long before it became fashionable or cool.

He constantly challenged undemocratic government practice,

He tirelessly railed against aristocracy’s unpardonable moral corruption

and tyranny.

Truly inspirational beliefs that, regrettably, were completely rejected by the powers that be.

Dynamic campaigning took him only along the prejudiced, tumbrel track

Towards imprisonment and ostracism.

Parliament’s persecution outrageously robbed him of a rightful place.

I often wonder, and hope you all do too,

What the Workers' World would be like today

If Thomas had not been shunted unceremoniously into bleak anonymity.

A memorial black plaque on a Quayside wall does not tell it well

Or adequately describe the life of a unique man born ahead of his time.

Robert Lonsdale



Universal benefit

Freedom and passion

A common wellbeing

We are indebted

A visionary of Tyne

Thomas Spence

Shelter for all

Glorify the council house


In Memory Of Thomas Spence

I believe you will not disappear.

You will not die; in children’s hopeful eyes;

In every living human heart

That dares to dream beyond its scope

Beyond the grateful peasantry

Of this compliant Kingdom.

The old, rampant tribes are beating their chests

Raising their flags & their fists against the tide;

But I still cling to the singular rose of your vision

Amidst the ruins of tainted modernity

If you were alive now you would weep great rivers.

If you were here now you would advice us to:

Awaken from the deep sleep of self servitude;

Awaken from gleaming crass consumer dreaming;

Awaken from the mass media’s circus of distraction,

Awaken from the spellbinding delusions

Of sordid symbol manipulators

& awaken with the sun of new born awareness.

Dominic Windram

the hive of liberty

God gav thi Irth to u

And not unto a Fu

But aul Mankind

& still we build

drone & dreamer

beyond each epoch’s

bleak indenture

making & amending

each pristine cell

to house the progeny

of our rights

a scaffold thatch

of vehement words

the lathe & daub

of hope & want

each glossed with the blood

of a ranter’s raw throat

Paul Summers

The Ballad of Thomas Spence

Thomas Spence strolling through a wood

When a bounty there he found,

Of ripe nuts fallen from the trees

And scattered across the ground.

He was gathering this harvest

When through the bushes there came

A Forester who demanded

To be told the poacher’s name.

“I’m no poacher!” said Thomas Spence,

“I take no rabbit or deer.

I have but one intention, which

Is gathering these nuts here.

“Would you inquire of a monkey

Or a squirrel making free

With natural sufficiency?

If not, why then question me?

“Do you think me inferior

To wild creatures such as these?

Do I have rather less right to

Garner what’s fallen from trees?”

The Forester was much aggrieved

And declared, “As you well know,

You’re no more than a trespasser

Who must answer to the law.

“The Duke of Portland owns this land

And all that grows and falls here,

He holds all the deeds and titles,

So his right is very clear.”

But Thomas Spence was not subdued,

“This wild wood grew here unplanned.

It has not been cultivated,

Nor planted by human hand.

“Therefore, this is nature’s storehouse

Where in nothing is reserved,

And the only law that applies

Is first come is then first served.

“So the Duke of Portland must be

Much faster and more aware

If he is to get here in time

To claim and gather his share.

But if he invokes privilege

Then what’s this country to me,

If by gathering hazelnuts

I commit a felony?

“I may serve in the army’s ranks

To defend this country, this wood,

Yet, just what of mine would I be

Then defending with my blood?

The enemy would laugh and jeer,

They must take me for a clown

Who’s not allowed to pick a nut:

I should throw my musket down.

“I’d say to the Duke of Portland,

And he could not ignore it,

If this wood is yours alone, then

You alone must fight for it.

“These nuts the hazel trees produce

Fall freely upon the earth,

It’s only when I pick them up

That my labour gives them worth.”

The Forester stood there struck dumb,

The argument made such sense

He couldn’t in all conscience deny

The right claimed by Thomas Spence.


Dave Alton


1. Captain Swallow’s Return to England

I bring you news from Spensonia

glistening in the sun

of its own making,

a single speck of land

breeding and trading between republics

on Poseidon’s map.

Imagine it.

At first, the classic text,

the greatest storm

and a besieged ship -

all hands on deck –

heave, ho!  But soon floundering

at god knows where.

So pray for deliverance

or take the punishment.

But this time go one better

with a double saving,

two mariners:  brothers,


beached like two big wet fish

without a home.

2. The Marine Constitution.

All around them is sturdy wood,

such greenery for a canopy

under a burning sun and monsoon torrent.

At their feet there’s much stone,

axe heads to make

and shape walls, an entrance.

One stone rubbed against the other

emits its rewarding flames,

a busy warmth for the fur-clad

corralling wild beasts, propagate.

They reseed lush fruit, in fact,

anything edible for the craggy table

while a perpetual spring

gives them such blessings,

seasonal observance.

But this is no Protestant Work Ethic,

no individual creed for Albion’s shores;

but an island of many hairy and soft hands.

Two brothers, two bearded wonders

heeded father’s advice.

In the carved words of their manifesto

it tells of a land made whole made real

just as between tall sails and wind helped guide them

so for each person’s need.


Ode to Thomas Spence

A radical from the Quayside, rebellion in his bones

Speaking up for people, and decent homes

Universal suffrage - access to the land

Famous penny pamphlets and ‘The Rights of Man’

So Landlord, shove your rent book where the sun will never shine

I’ve got ‘Pigs Meat’, I’ve got Tokens, I’ve got Freedom in my mind

Education, Liberation, his Phonetics will reveal

An end to class distinction, and this one sided deal

To Hell with Aristocracy, we’ll be what we will be

A fanfare for the common man, if you dare to be free

So Landlord, shove your rent book where the sun will never shine

I’ve got ‘Pigs Meat’, I’ve got Tokens, I’ve got Freedom in my mind

Imprisoned for high treason, without a legal trial

Harassment and surveillance, in a military style

This poor man’s revolutionary, couldn’t be kept down

Spensonian Utopia, will never run aground

So Landlord, shove your rent book where the sun will never shine

I’ve got ‘Pigs Meat’, I’ve got Tokens, I’ve got Freedom in my mind

John Leslie (The Sawdust Jacks) 






Northern Voices Community Projects aims to offer a platform for the views and experiences of those people living in the North East of England who are normally denied a voice and contributes to the culture of the region through a projects, publishing and events programme which celebrates its diverse communities. The list of projects has included: a celebration of Thomas Spence; a commemoration of the Hartley Pit Disaster of 1862; the story of the Birtley Belgians; Hexham and Sedgefield Races; the Hexham Riot of 1761; the Martins family of Tynedale; a touring show in Northumbrian churches; performing poetry on the beaches; working in the community of Spittal; profiling Whitley Bay's Spanish City and the Marsden Rock in South Shields; celebrating the Newcastle writer Jack Common and the Durham links of poet Christopher Smart; performing and recording with folk, pop, classical and jazz musicians and exhibiting with visual artists and photographers. Important projects have been carried out with organisations as diverse as Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Council, Durham County Council, East Durham Community Arts, the Community Foundation, the Tyneside Irish Cultural Society, the Soundroom Gateshead, the North  East Labour History Society, the Worker's Educational Association, the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, North Tyneside Town Centres Management, North Tyneside Twinning Association, The Centurion Bar, the Grand Hotel Tynemouth, Durham School and the University of Durham’s Department of English Studies.

Northern Voices Community Projects attempts to be original and innovative in its programme and to seriously engage with local people and issues.

We are interested in developing links with like minded people and institutions, locally, nationally and internationally and in establishing specific projects of interest to Northern Voices Community Projects members and their associates by a commitment to collective action and to engaging in community action in an historical context. Recently, reciprocal links have been established with Limerick and Cork, Bradford, Liverpool, Lincoln, Sheffield, Penrith, Aberdeen and Edinburgh and there are significant international links with, for example, Groningen in The Netherlands and Tuebingen in Germany, stretching back over thirty years. Further similar links are actively sought in order to avoid literary and publishing activity being presented in overtly institutionalised, centralised and isolated cultural ghettos.

Such links also question overly cosy notions of  'The North' and celebrate North East England's place in the world and particularly in Europe.

We offer help to local people seeking to develop a voice. This can be through community development advice; the encouragement of new writing; production and promotion of publications; readings and meetings; song-writing; recording; illustration; study and documentation.

Over many years, we have organised several community arts festivals in the region and many publishing initiatives and literary events through such enterprises as Tyneside Writers' Workshop, Tyneside Poets, East Durham Writers' Workshop, Tyneside Street Press and the Strong Words and Durham Voices community publishing series.


In these difficult times, we want to strengthen our already impressive track record and use our expertise by working with a broad range of groups, institutions and individuals in the North East of England to help improve life chances and perspectives and to link the local with the international.

We hope that you’ll join us.



TEL: 0191 2529531  email: k.armstrong643@btinternet.com



Dobson and Grainger
were Giants of Men.
Men of Mark,
with huge hands,
they tore this town
in two.
Rebuilt it,
hauled in
rail lines,
puffed steam
into gleaming

Miracle workers
they were,
Walkers on Tyne.
So we gather in the tales
of our Great Historians.
But what of the true grafters,
the blistered and
the bruised?
What of the People
buried underground
beneath the library shelves?
What of the quiet men and women
who really built this town?



Grey –
this man and his brain’s conception,
clasped in stone.
Disdainful figure
on a firm, dry finger;
above a time-bent avenue of dwindling lights.

The Earl’s pale forehead is cool and cloudy;
he views us all (as we view him)
in the same old, cold, way –
through the wrong end of a battered telescope,
through the dusty lens of history.

Strip away the tinsel
and this city’s heart is stone.

Keith Armstrong



On 23rd August 1305, William Wallace was executed. At that time, the punishment for the crime of treason was that the convicted traitor was dragged to the place of execution, hanged by the neck (but not until he was dead), and disembowelled (or drawn) while still alive. His entrails were burned before his eyes, he was decapitated and his body was divided into four parts (or quartered). Accordingly, this was Wallace's fate. His head was impaled on a spike and displayed at London Bridge, his right arm on the bridge at Newcastle upon Tyne, his left arm at Berwick, his right leg at Perth, and the left leg at Aberdeen. Edward may have believed that with Wallace's capture and execution, he had at last broken the spirit of the Scots. He was wrong. By executing Wallace so barbarically, Edward had martyred a popular Scots military leader and fired the Scottish people's determination to be free.


Wave goodbye ye oafs of culture,
let your rootless dreams drift away.
History has come to drown you in blood
and wash up your empty schemes.

Yon tottering Palaces of Culture
are seized by the rampaging sea.
They are sailing back to the Equator
to burn in a jungle of fear.

Three hundred million years me lads,
unseen from these high rise days:
an ice sheet thick as an ocean,
all those hours just melted down.

Into rich seams of coal,
tropical plants were fossilised;
the sandbanks grew into sandstone
and the mudflats into shale.

And the right arm of William Wallace
shakes with wrath in this firework night.
It is waving goodbye to your history,
it is saying hello to Baghdad.

All the brains of your Labour Party
are stashed in a carrier bag.
Down Bottle Bank in the darkness,
you can hear Wallace scream in a dog.

And will you hang, draw, and quarter my home street?
Will you drop bombs on the music hall?
You have taken the bones from our loves
and taken the piss from the Tyne.

So give me your arm Good Sir Braveheart,
I’ll take it a walk through the park
and I’ll use it to strike down a student
with an empty shell of a soul.

And I’d give my right arm to make ships,
my left to stoke dreams alive.
And I will dance on in the brilliance of life
until oppression is blown away.


the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur