John Bitumen – This Joke

From the Nottingham lad’s 1988 pamphlet Personal Vendetta.

There should be more to alternative comedy than saying FILOFAX. This is a designer poem aimed at getting cheap laughs at an alternative cabaret based loosely on Mutabaruka’s ‘Dis Poem’ (apologies).

This joke …
this joke is not about laughing at our own jokes
this is a serious joke
this joke is not about laughter at all
this joke however, is funnier than Jim Davidson
this joke is NOT about the Irish, mothers-in-law, the size of breasts or limp wrists
this joke is not about the colour of skin, the fat and the thin medallion man and his fake tan
oh no
this is a new joke
this joke is alternative
this joke is middle-class angst
and justifications for watching Dallas
this joke is for half-sharp students
who can laugh at themselves (why not? everyone else does)
this joke is acne, muesli and a Citroen 2cv
this joke is wee-wee, VD, MSC, and PMT
this joke is the BBC, 18 to 30
the morning after a curry
the voice of God and the CID
this joke is social workers and Star Wars


Civil War – Katerina Gogou

Greek anarchist poet Katerina Gogou (1940 – 1993) was a child during the Greek Civil War of 1946 – 49. Her memories of her childhood during the war were published post-mortem in an unfinished poetical autobiography My Name is the Odyssey.  The war was called the Gang War by the monarchists.

Aaaaaaaaa! This is the gang-war.
Grrrrreeks with big hats, I know, they called them republicas.
Square, biiiig, with long coats and cabardines, they had guns in their pockets, maybe
more gun inside. With their hands in their pockets they shot other Greeks and they walked fast as if in a great hurry or as if someone was chasing them.
I wanted -they did not let me, they said- to go out. Out I wanted. There I wanted. To the “It Is Forbidden”.
In our corner, Lambrou Katsoni and Boukouvalla, piles of eaten cats and famine corpses -they called them trash- parents and children.
I saw through the glass a bullet hitting my left hand palm, blood and the trash breathing. My mother was in the kitchen and my father I don’t even know where, I open the door and I go to the trash.
And there I saw, and I don’t give a dime if you don’t believe me, the most beautiful boy I had seen in my life. He was covered there, holding a machine gun, he had a short blond beard and long blond hair. His eyes…I don’t know to tell their colour. He looked like or was the Christ. “Go little girl, go”, he told me, “away from here. They will kill me”.
I took a deep breath to run fast.
“Bend so I can kiss you”, he told me.
I was already home.
The first man and the last I ever loved was an urban guerrilla”

Not West Ham!

Another football poem from the 1971 collection of East End schoolkids’ poetry Stepney Words II.

One night I dreamt that one
day I was in the crowd
watching England v France.
It was such a boring game
that nearly everyone was
leaving. Whn a player
came off, Sir Alf Ramsey
was just going to send some
one on when I jumped over
the fence, ran to where he
was sitting and begged him
if I could play. The ref
went and consulted Alf, but
he said I could play. The
game went on and I done a
solo run up to the goal
line. I didn’t want to
become too selfish so I
passed it to Geoff Hurst,
and with no one in the goal,
not even the goalie, he
walked it up to the line,
ran back a little way, shot,
and it went wide. I stood
there wondering why Alf puts
stupid West Ham players like
him in the team. With five
minutes to go and the score
0-0, I collected a pass just
outside the area. I turned
quickly and shot. It hit
the bar, then hit the post,
then it went in. Everybody
cheered. At the end of the
match I received my first
England cap.

Peter Goodman

The Kids Are Alright

A write up of the mod scene from Bradford ‘zine The Wool City Rocker, February, 1980.

The Kids Are Alright

New mod music isn’tjust 60s music. It stems from a part of the 60s – possibly one part that will stand up & SHOUT OUT more, but still only a part of a decade of free love, high living & death.
In ’65 mods follow The Who & The Small Faces, but later many moved on to what was to become the ‘Northern Soul’ of the late 60s & the 70s. Otis Redding & Wilson Pickett led Motown & Tamla stars to the kids on the scooters.
The mods of the 60s went to all-night parties. This in itself is no big thing, but to keep the pace, they popped pills – blues, dex & valium & many paid the price for it.
In ’78, after 3 years of new & exciting music from the punks & the new wave bands a new scene arrived from London. Mods were back. By ’79 they were firmly rooted as a new movement for the 80s.
Locally, mods really began around ’77-’78 with people following The Jam & their ilk, but soon local bands started forming. The first Bradford mod band was The Drive who led the field until they split up early in ’79. Other followed – The Scene (Bradford), The Killermeters (Huddersfield), Handsome jack & The Casualties (Huddersfield), Beats Working (Bradford/Leeds), Moving Targets (Leeds), Yorkshire Mods (Wakefield), tc. The Killermeters have a single out that’s sold quite well since its release in August ’79 & The Scene have a single out this month.
Mods – very neat dressers – wear Fred Perry t-shirts, button-down collars, suits with small-collared jackets & the obligatory Parka. Since Quadrophenia came out, a new & more casual style of dress has been seen, with macs similar to that worn in the film by Sting.
The Who now deny being the mods or fashion-setters of ’65, but there’s nop way Pete Townsend can deny cultivating mod now.
During ’64 & ’65, most local mods, like their London counterparts, had a favourite spot in which to hang out. In Bradford, The Hole In The Wall cafe (Godwin St.) was a big meeting place. Today, pubs more than cafes provide the liaison points for new mods. The Turf & The Queens are the places to go. Another notable difference between the 60s mods & new mods is that they now begin much younger.
Local mod Mick Smith “When I first became a mod in ’78, the only places to get the right gear to wear were shops like Oxfam.” But now the commercial boys are in, turning what used to be plastic punks into plastic mods – but you can’t blame the kids for this, because they naturally want to wear similar gear to that worn by the bands they follow.

Dave Green