Monday, 28 April 2014

A Child's "Ed Balls Day" in Luton

One Ed Balls Day was just like another, in that motor town where the ball-bearing factory ran down to the railway now, as Leagrave Marsh oozed towards Lewsey Farm across a stream of people heading to the L&D after a bust-up in the First and Last on the other side of the rumbling M1, where the people of Dunstable went to bed smug at night and knew they would never vote for the red-rosetted, red-faced, tax-increasing Labour candidates  Luton returned on alternate election nights.

All the Ed Balls Days run down together as they fall down to the sky-splitting, factory-hooting, Nova-spitting Vauxhall factory, out on the way to the airport, where the Chevette-shoving, Cavalier-carving Lutonians would make a few duds on a Friday afternoon and head for the Brache, for the football-chasing, skittle-throwing, .22-bullet-shooting start to a Luton weekend. I put my hand into that clunking, unprofitable, downwards spiral of a production line, and I pull out Ms Harman and the Socialists.

I remember that Ed Balls eve, down in Ms Harman's garden as I listened to Mr Dromey explaining those donations, and all the time it was retweeting. It was always retweeting, on Ed Balls Day. Casting back through the straw-hatted memories, of the furtive men sneaking through High Town on the way back from the Bricklayers' and looking in dark corners for a secret fumble of an Ed Balls' Night, and the time Mrs Smith was always apologising for her husband, and Mrs Blair used to put a wig on during the day and be Miss Booth - or did Miss Booth put a weird smile on at night and pretend to be Mrs Blair?

And down I roll through those ancient days when I remember going down, down past Mr Blair's Carpet-Bombing Shop. He was never happy, that shape-shifting, skin-shedding, two-ways-facing Mr Blair. Always down the Two Brewers with his friend Bush, a guacamole lunch with Mandy in that fish shop on the Halfway House roundabout - the chips oozing, greasing, sweating with the precious lard - and then every night off for a fight with the Iraqis. And sneaking past Mr Blair (for he was never too safe to be near, always telling you how much he loved people of all faiths and then going off to start a fight in the Middle East. You never wanted to be too close to the hymn-singing, rosary-holding, dangerous old fool).  And down I plunge, towards the Red-Flag-singing Lea, wondering whether it was Marsh Farm that was burning.

Something was always burning, all right. Normally whatever country Mr Blair had thought was looking at him the wrong way in the "George", in those rock-and-rolling evenings when he would play with his band, then go out after last orders into that Bible-Black, biscuit-scented, ball-bearing-bearing Biscot,and look for someone to punch, knowing that whoever he chose, in that cloistering, darkening, soul-sapping suburb, his friend Mr Bush - jaw jutting, way-losing, confused but deadly as a viper in a Straw Hatter launderette washing basket- would be just behind him, posturing, politicking, drivelling and tripping over his shoelaces.

Always on Ed Balls Night there was music. And sometimes an uncle would sing "Things can Only Get Better". And Mr Prescott would let too much food get into him, and fall off a wardrobe, and sing "The Red Flag". And Mr Blair would say "That's quite enough of that," and go out and punch somebody innocent in the street. And then, while the fight was raging outside and Mr Bush was wading in and innocent bystanders were getting dragged into it, I would look out the window and shudder, and dread the thought there was ever going to be another Ed Balls Day. And I would mutter anxious words to the unhearing dark over Stockwood Park, and drift off to an uneasy sleep.


  1. Where is there a latterday Richard Burton to do justice to this?

  2. A very clever tribute (or is it a 'take-off'?)! As I used to live just down the M1 in North Watford, and now live in mid-Wales (near Perpetua, as it happens!) I can appreciate both the setting and the medium!! Great writing - and I totally agree with Perpetua, although the Luton accent isn't a patch on DT's Welsh (or RB's come to that)!

  3. Leave it art. Wodger mean? We Lu'oners speak de Queen's English. S'poetry in motion, ennit?


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