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Paul Sutton


A Turnip takes the Veil

Now as I traverse this land, which
hath made a fearful wreck of itself,
I shall chronicle such tales as befit
a buffoons’ buffet - sandwiches of shit.”

(Dave Turnip, “Pindaric Odes to Diversity”) 

Like any old Victorian madman,
Turnip controls time, watching the sea widen
between boat and shore. 

Eliot’s nocturnal pergrinations, his wording
soothing as a bath - to roll in such water.

Reading to his father - and a blind woman,  
the smoke tincture of midwinter England,
now minus faith but still with its poets. 

To wear a burkha fits his smog and hatred:
why not Dave Turnip enshrouded?

Memories of his sister,
grabbed by an Arab woman
to size clothes, in 1970s’ Brent Cross.

Basingstoke is perfect,
vague as a paperclip.

First a supermarket butcher, to purchase products
utterly porcine, swinish even,
snuffling on acorns
from dark woods to the slab.

For good measure, a Koran is carried.
His energy of release burning through the clothes,
“Allah Akbar, Mustava a Salami, Shaslik, Boona.”-
cosmopolitan monoculturalism.

With little delay a squad car arrives.
A mob has gathered, defrocked,
scurf infested.

Their smells give raptures, half-memories of
hair gell in drizzle; African Lynx, Old Spice.

Turnip deracinated, recalls Sheringham, 2010 - 
Islamicist swimming in her binbag.

He was eating chips, discussing integration,
provoking uproar in a pub quiz
(“Who was St Kevin?”
“The Patron Saint of Pikeys.”).

Seeing his people beyond redemption,
meals at Harvester, their gross weight,
the landlord declining his suggestion
(a weighbridge, to avoid congestion).  

But in cities, 
the weight of people is
impossible to resist. 

How can it exist -
a home? Surely the mob
would tear it down.

Turnip wasn’t mistreated, enjoying prison:
no doubt we’re safer with him inside. 


Turnip In His Own Words

A. Mea Culpa

God alone knows, I’m a non-entity.

Still, this account details how I acquired my “nom-de-guerre”.

Boredom as the floodwater. Its incessant lapping, hesitating, hiding (add what you want); concatenating - a term from my chemical days - is just such a trick.

Like most of my class, educated in the free 80s, dragged through that nauseating zone where academia meets liberal privilege. Haunted by unreasonable - often cruel - resentments.

It comes from years of lies, fake empathy and non-guilty professions of guilt.

Luckily my politics aren’t of the Left.
B. Reification of such contortions

I attend an open-floor limbo dancing club, in Harlesden. Disguised in my retro-parker and ponytail.

Alternate Tuesdays, Polly Toynbee attempts to lower herself under the bar, jeered at and showered in lager by the very class she patronises - once appearing in her office cleaner’s uniform; perhaps you recall she did an Orwell and got such a job - “seeing what it’s like to live as an unskilled worker”.

C. My incident (not in the Tottenham Court Road)

I arrive and park; strange crowds coagulate, waiting. Blind ravens before an execution.

An enormous burger woman is kicking her child, using alternate feet. Mobile tucked between slabs of chin;
removed once, to snap then send images.
Once I would have reflected.
Running at me, down the street,
an emaciated and naked figure,
genitals painted phosphorescent green.

People step aside as my arms are pinioned then lower garments removed. From the drive of a pebble-dashed bungalow, a large canon is rolled forward.

His twiglet fingers grasp my shoulders.
I am invited to kiss the gunner’s daughter.

D. The effect

My first evening of lone drinking was a disaster. Every pub showed a looped clip of my aforementioned ordeal.

Close-ups of my grimacing face drew howls of execration and massed conga dancing.

E. The aftermath

I dined in Pizza Express. That enormous bitch was there, douching with garlic butter and force-feeding dough balls to her bruised son.

Social mobility.

F. The plea bargain

I am bitterly aware how unexceptional was my experience and how pointless and unreadable is this account. In mitigation, I can honestly say how lacking in pungency and bite has been anything else I could recount.



copyright © Paul Sutton, 2014