‘June Would Be Clammy, January Crisp’ by Boris Slutsky

June would be clammy, January crisp;

and concrete solid, sand unstable.

For there was order. Real order.

 

People got up and went to work.

And then they watched The Happy Fellas

at cinemas. For there was order.

 

In pedigrees and in parades,

political police, and apparatus,

even in parodies – there was order.

 

People made fun, and were afraid,

only of those they were supposed to,

for there was order, real order.

 

An order of the bent and bashed.

In hours, in minutes, and in seconds,

in years as well, there was real order.

 

It would have gone on without end,

but then a certain person fell,

and all this order went to hell.

 

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий (Boris Abramovich Slutsky)

(early 1960s)

translated by G. S. Smith


Fun facts: Obviously the ‘certain person’ was Stalin and his era of terror where indeed there was order, compared to the era of thaw, but I was surprised to find actually ‘The Happy Fellas’ actually does exist! It is the 1934 film Веселые ребята a.k.a. ‘Jolly Fellows’ or ‘Funny Boys’ depending on how you choose to translate the title.

Jolly Fellows (Russian: Весёлые ребята Vesyolye rebyata), also translated as Happy-Go-Lucky Guys, Moscow Laughs and Jazz Comedy, is a 1934 Soviet musical film, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and starring his wife Lyubov Orlova, a gifted singer and the first recognized star of Soviet cinema.

The script was written by Aleksandrov, Vladimir Mass, and Nikolai Erdman (whose father briefly appears on screen as a German music teacher). It features several songs which instantly became classics across the Soviet Union. The most famous song — “Kak mnogo devushek khoroshikh” (Such a lot of nice girls) — enjoyed international fame, covered as “Serdtse” (Heart) by Pyotr Leshchenko. Music was by Isaak Dunayevsky, the lyrics were written by the Soviet poet Vasily Lebedev-Kumach.

Both Orlova and her co-star, the jazz singer and comic actor Leonid Utyosov, were propelled to stardom after this movie.

Slutsky, of course, is mocking how the film is sacchrine, state sanctioned, sanitised humorous entertainment with no challenging elements or anything that might make the audience think about their social hardships they are living through during Stalin’s era of non-conforming people being made to ‘disappear’ for speaking or acting out, gulags and starvation. Everything is fine citizen, watch the film and feel good about life… everything is in order. No one deviates, no one transgresses, no one thinks or acts differently. There is order – or else!

The British General Election Process 2015

So it’s that time again…

This year Facebook lets you put a thing on your page to say ‘yes I’m a voter’. That just seems like such a needlessly arrogant thing to have. Not because you have exercised your civic right, if not duty, but that in posting this are you not casting judgement on those who have not? Some are not eligible and it seems damning to demean them with your morally onanistic self-regard.

But then again there are those who could have voted but chose not to often for ridiculous reasons including, but not exclusively: Someone told me not to as a protest e.g. Russell Brand which is no different than political apathy as an act due to the same result; ‘they’re all the same’ – which leads to extreme far right parties getting power as they did in France; ‘couldn’t be bothered’ – deserve whatever the socio-political results are for them due to their apathy. Yet no doubt these self declared vox populi are the same people who will be down the pub later loudly condemning the government for their actions and having an opinion on everything declaring ‘if I ran things it would be different!’ But they don’t because they couldn’t even take the most basic political step of voting let alone running for political positions. The only way they would have power is through force and is the practise of tyranny so perhaps its best these people stay away from politics and accept what more, hopefully, level headed people have voted for.

The British voting process in brief step-by-step:

  1. Walk to the Scout’s Hall nearby… There are a lot of polling stations around the county and you could have voted by post if you notified them with enough warning. (You should look up some of the odd places they use due to a lack of suitable public places available).
  2. Give the card with my voting details on it to a staff member… I don’t have to – It says so on the card you don’t have to present it. They don’t check your ID. You could be anyone as long as you had a name of a local resident and got there before them. I took the card and they took it from me… so is it required or not? They check it. Still no proof you are who you say you are… well except I know one of the polling staff so they may acknowledge the name and face don’t match.
  3. (Take a moment to note the badly dog-eared doorstop sized novels lying next to a selection of gossip magazines and a few half eaten packets of biscuits.)
  4. They cross my name off the register… with a pen and ruler. It doesn’t seem the most sophisticated way of marking off who has voted.
  5. They give me a piece of paper with the candidates listed and say cross one box only… lest you spoil your vote and it is discarded.
  6. Go to the voting booth… i.e. a high table you stand at which has screens on it so no one can see what you are doing.
  7. Cross a box with a stubby pencil that really should be given a bit of a sharpening during the day… There must have been injuries in the past. Maybe they should replace it with a stamp or that ‘dented paper’ system that caused a lot of spoiled papers during USA elections when Dubya was given the presidency.
    Fold the paper… It feels pointless but I suppose it keeps anyone in the immediate vicinity seeing/guessing who you voted for.
  8. Put it in the ballot box… Probably need to shove it in a bit later on in the day as all the folded sheets will have unfurled inside thus filing the potential space.
  9. Leave… They say thanks, you say thanks, we all thank each other on participating in the political process (look at some of the children’s artwork which adorns the walls as I leave bright luminous things mixed with felt pvc glue stuck collages).
  10. (Back into the car park of the red brick Scouts Hall and a short walk back home…
  11. Bask in the self-righteous glow of having done your civic duty once more. Maybe watch the election night tv including channel 4’s alternative converage i.e. satirical comedy while BBC is serious and everyone else… are a mystery.

In the end the Conservative party won a majority which surprised many, Ed Balls quit as Labour leader, Nick Clegg quit as Lib Dem Leader in results which could easily make you think its the end of the Lib Dem party as they lost so many seats, Nigel Farrage stepped down as UKIP leader, the SNP dominated Scotland and took many seats and it was close run but there were no coalitions which seemed inevitable to commentators.

But of course what you want isn’t analysis but fun! You want interactivity!

Here is the Political Compass quiz to go do. It’s been around ten years now! It is lots of fun! Available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German… you would think they would do at least one new language per year. Waste of potential market potential there unless other nations have their own version…
http://www.politicalcompass.org/

Here is Political Compass’ assessment of the parties for the UK’s 2015 General Election.
http://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2015

Get your friends to do it too and compare notes! Maybe (i.e. more than likely) you’ll have similar views but maybe, MAYBE, you will have completely contrasting views and get into a very heated debate a.k.a the stuff of dinner parties that started off oh so well until someone had one too many drinks. Oh the thrill of it is palpable… or not. At least it wouldn’t be as bad as this…


As for my own political views… well that is my business and not something that affects this blog 🙂

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