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Sneyd Snarls
By Steve Sneyd


How old was the oldest man ever put on trial in England? William Baines, in his 1822 “Yorkshire Directory", speaks of a man aged 140, along with his son, over 100, who were brought to court to face charges. It doesn't say what for, you've to guess what the hell there's strength to do at that age that's illegal? 

Whisper words to make a book perhaps, and there's my link into the Rushdie case. The nearest I've got to reading “Satanic Verses” is hearing a student at our Poly, doubling as barman at the Tudor pub, explain at length the plot to a customer who made the mistake of asking (brief summaries available for a SAE, if you want to be able to sound knowledgeable, without the struggle of actually ploughing through the pages), but that to enter Cliche City in spades is hardly the point. 

If Salman Rushdie had come on TV attacking Islam or any other religion, then it is arguable that the unkindness to a lot of lonely people whose only comfort against the circling, howling dark of the late 20th century “that came too soon and a little too late, just once too often”, is belief in a caring god somewhere would have been uncalled for, though certainly not a death sentence job. When there's a death-listing built into any sideways look at faith, in a book no one is forced to read, dammit, where the hell do any of us agnostics stand writing – freedom-wise. 

After all, if powers we wot not there be, “God of the Monobloz” or Kardashev 4s, or God Shaped Holes (GSHs to use the jargon) that own-goaled in the Big Bang, or even the fluffy, cuddly Jesus of Sunday school or the gods and goddesses of field and cliff and well that made polytheists treat their environment, out of fear, a bit damn better than “Me me me I'm individually saved, I'm going to heaven me so sod the Earth” monotheists do, surely (if you'll excuse the reversion back to traditional speech habits!) they can look after themselves to the extent of loading onto any “blasphemer”, real lightning, to anyone getting too near the knuckle. How can any sincere religion need human penalties, when the acid test is whether their Holy Whatsit is or isn't fully tooled for His own revenge? By the way, I wonder if that 140-year-old man was up for blasphemy, perhaps saying God's forgotten his ticket to Up or Down? 

Speaking of blasphemy as a crime, and so on, I notice that our rulers, from Thatcher on down, coupled their half-hearted defence of Salman Rushdie's freedom to write (wonder what they'd said if his name had been Peter Wright?) with apologies galore for any offence caused. I haven't heard many apologies to the Druids, who, no matter how confusedly, attempt to keep “the old true faith” alive at the Stonehenge Solstice, but are forbidden this year by the same powers who let the army grind historic “sacred” earthwork monuments into dust, with their tank treads yearly, all over Salisbury Plain. 

Looks like I've run out of space to upset you with the news that the £7 million a year grant to the Opera has only let them reduce ticket prices from £125, to £100 – diddums den, opera fans. Next time (if they let me back), a lost city in Yorkshire that stayed empty because the peasants voted with their feet against the Normans, hidden censorship of dialects by word processors, and lots more.

Reproduced from Peace & Freedom, No. 6, Vol. 2, Summer 1989

Born in Maidenhead, Berks, in 1941, Steve's writing, including much poetry on science fiction themes, has appeared in over 1,000 magazines, anthologies etc. in many countries, and on the Internet. Collections include SF poetry available: BAD NEWS FROM THE STARS (Ocean View Books, U.S.A.) & GESTALTMACHER, GESTALTMACHER, MAKE ME A GESTALT (Four Quarters Press, U.K.). His work has also featured on RADIO 4's STANZA. Steve lives in Huddersfield, where he runs Hilltop Press. Any (nice) correspondence can be sent to Steve at the following address: 4 Nowell Place, Almondbury, Huddersfield, W. Yorks, HD5 8PB, U.K.

Steve Sneyd Books available from
Short Circuits/Bad News from the Stars/Two Books in One (Ocean View Doubles) In Coils of Earthen Hold (Salzburg Studies in English Literature) The Pennine Triangle (Othername Press Poets) Neolithon (Kite Modern Poetry S.) Fierce Far Suns: Proto-SF and SF Poetry in America from the 1750s to the 1960s (Data Dump) Laying Siege to Tomorrow: Poetry in UK SFanzines, the 1930s to 1950s (Data Dump) Elsewhen Unbound: Poetry in American Sfanzines - The 1930s to 1960s Dreaming Scryers,True Deceivers: Six Science Fiction Poets Road at Oxford Spidergrams Medusa: A Poetry Anthology Entropies and Alignments: Poetry in UK SFanzines, the 1960s (Data Dump) War of the Words: A Sampler of Science Fiction Pomes Ape into Pleiades (Data Dump) In Space's Belly: Poetry in UK SFanzines Etc., the 1970s (Data Dump)

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