Most pictures and words from Anthony C Murphy

Thursday, 9 June 2011



Hunched and needy
Like a baby gull
I stalk the street
For sustenance
Stepping gingerly
The once
Tea bags
And broken needles
That spill from brightening bins
In the dwindling dawns of August

Once I dreamt
Of better days within this
Earthen purgatory
When I was brown and pretty
It was no job
To breathe more freely
But now I stalk the streets
Beneath the laughing mooning ball above
In between the raining drops 
By the graffi too shuttered shops
Into the maw
The muscled chops
The Royal Mail 
62-63 North Road

The lifers inside
So lifeless with pride
Good Morningly grunt their acknowledge
Let out to their wives at eventide
They are always back here stirring their porridge

Will be two hours yet as a coffee-god’s pet
Before I can summon a smile
I keep my weather-beaten head down
In the back of a Transit
On old copies of goals extra or extra goals
Or made up goals with moving posts
As the red valkyries descend
From the upstairs garage

Into the yard yawning with boredom
Like the back doors cold open wide
Waiting is time
And labour intensive
And work is last on the mind

A beardy they branded Jumanji walks by
And there’s Wazzer sungover again
And Grizzly Badams with his drizzly voice
And desiccated Ruth with a fag at her chin
And are they as desperate or do they prepare
And are they aware and of course do they care
About this all pervasive attitude
The constant twatting platitudes
For that’s all I hear


Shaven headed voices
Spitting casual brutalities
From their fascicle
There in an element that never forgives
Closed ranks of a herd
But this pack is bird like
Right wing they are
For a working union
A bundle of sour nazis
Who defend their misguide
With persiflage turning
To vicious whispers
And insult camouflaged by
Supposed camaraderie
Banter they call it
The fuckers

Otherdays not

For people can be giving
And love their children
Not unusually
Provision gives dimension
Even Postman Pat had three
Although that is hard to define
On a flatscreen tv

THE ART of STRIKING: A Human, Moving Installation

To get the greatest effect from this piece I was told to come early. It was situated on North Road, Brighton, for one day only - with possible extensions. I arrived at six a.m. the rain pelting me from the dark sky and soggy leaves soaking my feet. There was a small huddle of people outside number 63 with a placard declaring Official CWU Picket Line, so I headed for them. They were all men. Some were uniformed. One man held a banner and the big word UNITE was underscored. Another man handed me a newsprint brochure, which I read…

“Beneath hand-painted banners The Jarrow Crusade arrived at Westminster. It had been one month and three hundred miles from their starting point. The 200 marchers received no help from the TUC or support from The Labour Party, and were basically ignored by the Tory government. The Jarrow shipyard had been considered outdated and was closed down, leaving many in the town jobless. To raise awareness of their plight the men marched. They gained public sympathy but little else.

It has been said that in the current climate postal workers should stop moaning and be happy to have a job. But they are happy to have jobs and they are desperate to keep them.  Many postal workers feel that the Royal Mail will soon be no more. They see the current modernisation procedures as preparation for this inevitable event. It seems the Labour government no longer needs Royal Mail and therefore the country can do without this service. With only one real option to make their voices heard, 76% of voting workers opted to strike.”

… The rain eases for a moment and the men spread out a little and start to improvise. The conversation is of who has ‘gone in’. One name crops up but they are not surprised at this and the talk splinters into different topics. They ruminate on last night’s entertainment or the horses or football and they smoke cigarettes. The scene is multi-layered and interwoven yet somehow exclusive. I feel like an interloper but there is an air of expectancy so I stay to watch the drama unfold.

A car rolls up to the entrance where the men stand and it indicates to go past them. They are intrigued to see who is inside and are disappointed that it is only a manager. A box of take-out coffees arrives with another of their number and they gather for news. A rumour spreads that Portslade have all ‘gone in’. The men are visibly disgusted, but there is something else, sadness.

I am handed a bitter coffee and then participate in a boredom-relieving word game. A couple of the older characters ogle women on their way to work. They make half-hearted comments that are lost because of early carelessness. The cast is fluid as some leave to be replaced by others who appear from the approaching dawn. There is persiflage directed at each newcomer but it sounds well worn. They move around each other as conversation runs dry.  

One silence is punctuated by the arrival of a brand new Porsche. It parks next to our group. They are incredulous as they watch two stripe-shirted men unfold themselves and don orange, hi-vis, Royal Mail waistcoats. Managers from other offices brought in to do a postman’s job! In that car! Talk turns to manager’s bonuses and Crozier’s three million on the backs of the closures of post offices nationwide. On the backs of the 40,000 job cuts and still no profit! The men spit and curse their various gods and shuffle their feet.

A union man comes to give an update that means nothing; it disappears in the wind as the men return to the more pressing issue of breakfast. Then, from around the corner there comes a shout. Here they are! The Argus! And at last there is activity as the men assemble themselves like a rehearsed troop for a mug shot of proof.

I amble away at this point; my thoughts concerned with the men’s morale, which is low, and their direction, which is unsure. It is an arresting piece. They are together but their banter is hollow. These brothers have banded but it looks like they will not march together. They will simply drift away as the Royal Mail becomes history.


A few years back
We were pretending to work
In the P.O. yard

When Dan went silent…
He drank his coffee
Like it was relief
Like there was wisdom
At the bottom of the mug
He burned his tongue
Bit his lip
And his eyes met mine
And they started to slide
So I asked him what was up.

He said he thought she was gone
And it was all done and over
His breath full of grief
At the thought of the death of it all
And he just wanted to hold on
He said
It was what was real
And it was what was all
Not this yard or these vans
They disappeared
He just had to hold on
To her hand


I drive my van slowly
It is seven a.m.
I am bleary eyed
I can’t quite see
Sixes become eights when written by idiots
And everyone is an idiot
At seven forty five
I take a package
Flowers by post
To a door in the dark and ring the bell
A fat man huffs to the door
He is nearly naked
“For me?” he questions
Bewildered and also bleary
Yes, I say, Happy Valentine’s Day
And he asks me inside
At which point I realize my mistake

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