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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, July 27, 2005
    Scene felt
    Take me back to Gotham City
    Take me where the girls are pretty

    All those damsels in distress
    Half-undressed or even less
    The Batpill makes 'em all say Yes

    Help us out in Vietnam
    Help us drop that Batnapalm

    Help us bomb those jungle towns
    Spreading pain and death around
    Coke 'n candy wins 'em round

    Help us smash the Vietcong
    Help us show them that they're wrong

    Help us spread democracy
    Get them high on LSD
    Make them just like you and me

    Show me what I have to do
    'Cause I want to be like you

    Flash your Batsign over Lime Street
    Batmobiles down every crime street
    Happy Batday that's when I'll meet

    - Adrian Henri, from Edward Lucie-Smith: The Liverpool Scene, 1967

    One of the most fascinating parts of the psychedelia exhibition was a display dedicated to the Liverpool Scene. Because there was a time when the Liverpool scene was the scene all others were struggling to keep up with, and the mid sixties was that time.

    What fascinated me even more was that poetry played such a central part in what was going on. Through a glass display panel I gazed at pages from Edward Lucie-Smith's 1967 collection The Liverpool Scene, which was a precursor to The Mersey Sound, featuring classics from Henri, Patten and McGough, but also a generous helping from humbler - though very good - poets (Pete Brown, Spike Hawkins, Henry Graham....). The Liverpool Scene was an event, in an event-full city, and the book's other element helps bring it all to life - quotes from the chief protagonists, liberally scattered throughout the pages.

    Since that day gazing at an untouchable display I've bought the book, second-hand, and having devoured it today I'm in love with poetry again; Poetry, as defined variously in the book:

    "Poetry is what people can like and enjoy" (Roger McGough)

    "You want to communicate it. I don't know why you want to communicate, don't really know that. I expect there's a very simple reason..." (Brian Patten)

    "Find a plastic flower. Hold it up to the light.'" (Adrian Henri)

    "One must get away from poetry as something that happens where there's a glass and a bottle of water." (Roger McGough)

    "'I've just about reached
    breaking point,'
    he snapped. (Adrian Henri)

    See what I mean?