YOU WERE SPECIAL
To Terry Hall
You could have been Peter Sellers firstborn, despite the fact
He died younger. You had the same stare, equal features,
And a slight sonambulance to your stance. Depressions, too,
We were told, which your forlorn soul mixed with humour,
And like tragic Peter, you ‘gooned’ your defiance with every
Footstep in the 2-tone Punk led dance. And now a new band
Has enlisted you as their singer. That early voice, sharp and nasal,
Softened and smoothed over time. It is just what stars need
When they strive to retain what feels human; something small,
Witheld, fragile and yet reminiscent of city streets and torn rivers;
Boulevards for the broken eager to regain the composure
Of a romantic refrain to the mind. Our Lips are Sealed was the song
You wrote with Siobhan Fahey. You had a short relationship with her;
Two English pop singers moving to become something more.
And then Walk Into the Wind, with and after she’d married
Dave Stewart in the equally short-lived dim-lit band, Vegas,
You seemed more Beatnik, and yet more soul-stung and sweet than before.
In The Specials your look was one that Annie Lennox soon copied;
Close-cropped hair, close to orange, with a slim-jim suit uniform.
Setting the stride for every socialist soldier and singer,
And marking the sad streets as asylums in which the sane
Had been sanctioned and subsequently told to conform.
But now the Ghost Town reappears; a Shangri-Lo!
For those living. With its secret song, where those singing are part
Of a quite different clan. And which exists beyond our ken
And Jerry Dammers; these spectral streets escape Thatcher.
They exist in a class set apart for each man. Now you walk
Through a new Colourfield, where water weeps
Through the grasses, and where skies capture soul-scapes,
And light itself textures towns. And where your small, sweet
Horn of a voice can play through cloud as sound spirals
Across a place where Too Much Too Young achieves balance
And where the joys sourced with Mushtaq In The Hour of Two Lights
Finds fun’s clown. With Horace and Lynval you laughed. Lifting
The stare that glared starkly. In and for Terry Hall we now gather.
Singers in death become prophets; filling the air in high spires
Of whatever faith stars share, with their sound.
David Erdos, 20/12/22
FROCK AND SHOCK
for Dame Vivienne (Swire) Westwood
April 8th 1941 – 29th December 2022
Yesterday’s dress will now shine
Despite the dark of death’s cupboard
As you close the door to the showroom
And walk the way shadows walk
into a new form of light
Where the saintly will now meet the sequin
And where the young girl from Derby’s
Still designing as her crowds comprise deep
From war baby to Dame. From SEX
To Branson’s Virgin Air Stewards
Your control of the image and the shape
Of female need shifted seams
From unfashionable gusset to gain
And then on towards glamour
You polished the diamond
That with a punk stung swipe made spit
Before smoothing all as the clothes
You made became anthems
Of outrage, and liberation as motion
Turned to World movement and the ripped
T-shirt as totem stood in a fiery field
Of its own. The leather dress walked
Your way. Fishnet and basque broke desire.
As your art framed all women or as women
Framed you, dares were thrown.
And courted by you. Whether beside or post
Malcolm. When he shot the bolt
With the Pistols you were remaking it
Across thread. Each stitch was a stance.
Each template a teasing. Each ease
And constriction a way to make a dress
A thing said. If not a poem, a song
Or a cinerama of being. Dear Vivien
Today, shoulders are colder as your streak
Of sensation follows the untimely trek
Of the dead. But as you step aside,
A new catwalk continues, bridging
Dimensions as angels and stars
Vie for you. They’re after a new outfit now
For which you can reimagine the astral
Let’s have God look like Lydon
And then dress the Devil in punk pink
Like Jordan or like something from Jarman
In a pretty boy spunk stained blue.
English rose, you raised thorns
Into fashion spiced buttons.
You made from dresses desire
And changed with one sketch, attitudes.
So, stake your claim with such stars.
The women weep. The men shudder.
Your uniforms for love’s armies
Win more than mere platitudes.
You changed the way we behave.
You made clothes destination.
McQueen and Versace and the scene
Shapers still here dream of you.
Just as you dreamed for them.
Vivien, what are you wearing?
What will we wear when time takes us?
Angel’s wing? Fire? Somewhere perhaps
In what’s left us we will at last in fading light
Glimpse what’s true.
David Erdos 29/12/22