P1 – From the Cornish lass to the Rapid Response Poet: Reflections on Immigration

Deasy Bamford is co-founder of the Tribe of Doris. A born and bred Cornish lass  who has always admired the richness of the world’s cultures. Alongside her commitment and passion for creativity, Deasy has been a prolific member of the Bristol community for many years. Leading on social incentives and grassroots movements she has forged the way for communal mobilisation. Here she shares some thoughts on immigration as the Rapid Response Poet.

“I always had a streak of the socialist global person about me. One of my earliest political memories was of learning the Gum Boot dance at Christmas from a passing South African activist, somehow sent to our Cornish farm by the Africa Centre to hide out at a time of Apartheid. I was also an irritating table drummer. A fidgety,  ADHD sort of kid. The roots of Doris were sewn quite early. 

When I discovered live drums on the streets of London (by Swiss Cottage market to be precise) I was blown away by the delightfully free and liberating energy. It took a few more years and moves to reach Bristol and meet a guy who made drums at Ashton Court Festival. Still mesmerised by the infectious energy I’d said “I want to do that!”. He replied “find a piece of wood and I will teach you”.  So I did and he did.

The journey from Farm to City over these decades of history was always filled with music from many countries, with friends and inspiring people from all over the world, with kids and young people families and community. I have come to appreciate with every fibre of my being the fact that we are so lucky to be alive, that we all need  each other, that life would be miserable without  people from different places experiences  and backgrounds. I also recognise that its very easy to become insular and feel that there is a them and us and not see the we in everything. Inspired by some young 8 yr old rappers about 10 years ago I said to myself “I am gonna be a granny rapper” and I started to write stuff in response to the political insanity I saw. Now I am an actual granny I can say I am a Rapid Response poet. A couple of weeks ago a young woman organising a Challenging Islamaphobia  event, asked whether we knew any performers and Richie (our organisational administrator and rock) suggested I could write something. So here it is along with one of the first pieces I wrote after the young rappers  unlocked a poet in me:” 


The Immigration Debate

The great Immigration debate
Of the Nation, where the facts don’t matter
And the media chatter irrelevant details
As the politicians retail, the view of the few
And how it affects you.
The history of our making
Is not just the taking
Of hospitality
The honest reality
Is our society
Would cease to function
If three generations of immigrations
Put down their tools and left.
Hospitals, schools, transport bereft
Politics business, nothing left
Food and retail gone for good
Postal, Internet, telephones
Chemists, musicians, actors, songs.
The fabric of this nation
Is woven from Immigration.

Sailors came, millennia ago,
Other walked from India slow.
Some crossed the iceline
Bringing the blue eye.
All mixed up from north to east
Peoples journeys never ceased.
In and out the constant flow
Is how our odd shaped Britain grow.
A Spanish Queen a pirate low
A gypsy or a Hugenot.
A Roman, Pict or ancient Celt
Somalian influence now is felt
Saxon Normans paved the way
Immigrants all they had their say
Jamaicans, Asians pay their tax
An often unreported fact!
And so the mixing will go on
For this is immigrations song.
A joyful weave of hope and pain
To turn the wheel of time again.
Building a home to call our own
To share the time of life we have
To do more good than ever bad.
Do not be fooled by all your hear
So much of it is based on fear
An ignorance of the real facts
Hyping the worries up to the max.
Searching for someone else to blame
The enemy has no name
There is no them and us
There is only We.
Weaving the joyful fabric of a nation
By paying respect to Immigration.

Deasy Bamford April 2005


Read the second instalment from the Rapid Response Poet here



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