Page 94 - November 2020
P. 94

November 2020           94
                      Litterateur




                                                THE CYNICAL REVOLUTIONARY


                I was thinking about our protest marches of the past. The Leon Trotsky Tara Street
                Collective – ten to twenty of us at most, clad in jeans and combat jackets – flanked
                by as many bemused Gardaí, marching on the Dail. If the wording could be agreed
                something like Revolution Now! would adorn a huge banner hoisted by the ablest
                duo that’d have been chosen to lead. If not, which was often the case, we’d wave
                red flags preserved from previous marches.


                I looked around the carriage again. God, it wasn’t meant to be like this, not by a
                long  shot.    We  thought  ourselves  the  leaders  in  waiting,  the  vanguard  of  the
                working  class  in  revolt.  Every  theoretical  ‘t’  had  been  crossed  on  the  party
                programme  for  action  in  those  acrimonious  meetings  in  our  cramped  sixth  floor

                office overlooking the Liffey, every ‘i’ dotted. I waited, and waited, and waited for
                signs  of  the  roused  masses  hunger  for  leadership.  After  a  few  false  alarms  had
                petered out - a bus drivers’ strike, an occupation in a biscuit factory - doubt set in. I
                got bored by the repetitious prattle about the great Trotsky, till I learned he was a
                cruel a monster, no better than Stalin. That’s when I quit. My instincts led me to
                poetry.


                “You’re betraying the working-class comrade” they accused me, “you’re a traitor
                to everything you believe in.”


                “Maybe I’ve changed my beliefs. Radio 4 is the programme I listen to now.”


                In the years since I’d seen the group shrivel and die as one comrade after another
                opted for a career in journalism, tenure in a university or the wig and gown of the

                law courts.


                “I used to do banners myself, once upon a time,” I said.


                “Oh, you did then” said Phonsie, “anything the likes of these?” He flicked his head
                backwards and upward.


                “I bet you enjoyed writing on the banners,” I said.


                “I was working on mine till the small hours, and it took me as long again to get the
                paint off my hands and arm,” May said. Her pursed lips contrasted with the glow
                that spread from her rosy cheeks to the sparkle in her eyes.
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