william letford

Wit is it? by William Letford

Having a laugh. Taking the piss. Bit of banter. Up for the craic. All are the stereotypical currency of conversation in the workplace. All assume a set of common of interests and culture amongst the workers: betting, beer, birds and football (obviously male dominated ones that is). And certainly a lot of such talk goes on in the mail rooms, building sites, pubs and changing rooms across the country.

Image 1However, you wouldn’t necessarily assume that such a group would be talking about something ‘deeper’, about who they are, their purpose, or the meaning of life itself. But in Billy Letford’s poem, Wit is it? such a conversation is going on, presented as an unknown question answered differently by the stonemason, plumber, sparky, labourer, joiner, gaffer and roofer. ‘it’s aw in yur heed’…’It’ll ‘stope yur hert deed’…’It’s aw in the mix’…’wit diz it mettur‘.

I can imagine this as an opening scene of a Samuel Beckett type play; them all in their positions on a building site looking down at something beneath them that we can’t see, that we never see. (more…)