Recession Sessions # 3 : Proletarian Restitution

The third in our series of songs inspired by the economic crash

As the third in the Recession Sessions series, rapper and poet Elayne Harrington, aka Temper-Mental MissElayneous, performs 'Proletarian Restitution', a song about class consciousness and spirituality.


Rapper and poet Elayne Harrington, aka Temper-Mental MissElayneous, plays us a song about class consciousness and spirituality. She has released a short album, the excellent Big Words (available here: and a clutch of singles. She is also starring in Break, written by Amy Conroy, which runs at the Project Arts Festival this month from the 5th to the 21st as part of the Fringe Festival.

“Proletarian Restitution was written around my ever evolving realisation of social division by class,” she says. “The work is timeless because it is relevant to human experience; past and present, personal and universal – perhaps one day it will be obsolete, other than to pose as a reminder of a once decadent, classist society. Here, I have bound the subjects: working-class consciousness and Godliness/spirituality and their relationship to one another.”

Part of the piece was a response to being arrested at a protest during the Queen of England’s visit in 2011 (charges were withdrawn). “On this day I was reciting a poem called Sugar-Lump and playing bodhrán, just as you can see me here.”

Proletarian Restitution
by Elayne Harrington / Temper-Mental MissElayneous

A whole lot of nothing to lose, surrounded by family units in ruins,
You can’t see the emotional bruise, re-opening old wounds.
Can you give me a distraction and can I inject it straight raw?
Gives me gratification when I get tested by the so called “law”.

And when I test my own fate, always selecting the shortest straw.
They’re the gate keepers and hunters,
We’re the subjects and bait.
But there’s one more flaw.

We’re our own prey when we move fast to feel.
All the same we need pain to experience feeling real.
There are no straws. Realise where we’re coming from is thriving on hate in their eyes.
Blind to the generosity and camaraderie, despite the suicide rate.
So afflicted by poverty, can’t afford to spend time.
Outsiders view it as one-dimensional as “resorting to crime”.

Too tight-fisted to give to ourselves, but its not born of greed.
It’s from adapting to fisticuffs, fighting for life, white knuckling feeding a need.
Brought up, cut down, if you’re falling short you pick yourself and stand tall, yeah.
Stay concussed by the glass ceilings and oppressed, backed up against the working class wall.
Calloused palms from bricks and mortar, just to offer a bi-product of boredom,
A son or daughter, to carry on the legacy - the saga will continue.

Leading our own offspring to the slaughter.
These aren’t parables, no place for a moral at the end of the story.
The straight and narrow’s unmanageable when there’s no space for a paragraph to be narrated in all its’ glory
The sequels details’ll be gory, parental advisory self-explanatory.
Blame and betrayal :
Two themes that are mandatory (tut) ...
Mindless mayhem motivated towards brutality.

They would love our creativity to be senseless criminality
As opposed to what the reality is, it’s unlimited solidarity.
The old Arabic proverb states : “God judges a tree not by its’ fruits but by its’ roots” ,
Well, our God-less world demonstrates, a likely false idol of hate, could put it up for debate.
If God is monetary and we’re broke, then we’re heretics corrected,
A physical expression of humility,
Genuflect only to get connected,
Concrete wise,
Stay grounded and keeping street. Urban psyche ability.
Trusting that all our gift horses have impeccable teeth.

There hereafter heroes of the metropolitan ministry.
At the entrance to Heaven, pounding woebegone on its’ gate.

Where honesty is treason,
Here the truth doesn’t set you free.
See, heresy is reason
Our era caught the tail end of Christianity.
This is where Eden yields, blessed underdogs, from the underworld
Our Elysian fields.

Dragged up by accident,
Loved by default, admired from a distance, told off and not taught.
Ask and you shall receive, yet should be seen and not heard,
Encouraged to conceive a narrow minded Gods’ Word.

Got us in the palm of their hand, social control taking a stand.
Eliminating one virus for another on demand.
I’m afraid of failure, weed subdues the care.
Convince myself I’m reflecting deep, when I’m lost in a stare.

I can’t handle reality, I don’t wanna be facing life
I believe in Anarchy, but I’m too busy chasing strife,
To apply principled ideas to my routine.
Scared not out of cowardice, but because we’re human being.

Mother Nature will suffice and God’ll provide survival mode.
We just mimic behaviour, can’t comprehend “Do as your told” .
Because our mothers were busied with strains of woman-hood profound
We learned that silence is golden, hyper sensitive to every sound.

The combination of a dishonest environment with a surplus of woe,
So much falseness the extinction of imagination is a requirement putting a time limit on us to grow.
Whether brought up kicking and screaming or cradled into this existence;
Truth seeking is our full time occupation, never slacking off, building stamina and resilience.

Wielding candid brilliance, courage to hold your own,
The ripest apple of the unseen eye, home sweet broken home -
A far cry from juvenile delinquency.
Innocence is bliss, but with responsibility comes discomfort.
If you never had luxury independence won’t be met with reluctance.
Putting your hand out to be smacked
Submitting to “keeping in line”
Retaliate or retract, with duty comes decision time.

The curiosity will kill us,
Uprooting thoughts from between listening ears.
Consecrating, yet desecrating with mantras spoken over whispering prayers.
Benefitting humankind, releasing pent up: (‘shhhhh’ whatever....)
Unmentionable - thinking is intellectual, but not necessarily clever.
Compliment to the full extremities of ego boiled down to self worth
Given a fair ration of expression and understanding but in saying that,
The deal that I was dealt still hurt.

Take what you are given, I steal what I want
God watches my back.
Spiritually rich, what you have in the material your soul may lack.
A heroic couplet isn’t limited to poetics,
See, stolen from some sacred paper - imitated prosthetics.

The Lord’s an Indian giver, gives it in grievance in greater good, I grab it.
Like a sucker I suffer sorrow, forsaking the Sabbath.
Salute me on the battlefield, a balled up fist and violent fantasy,
Same self sustain and suffrage in the situation salvages sanity.

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