Big Policemen

Poem from the first issue of Blackburn zine Fight Back, 1984.

Big Policemen Dressed in Blue

I lie down and I think of things
They revolve inside my head
I lie down and I cry a bit
But now I’m tired, I’ll go to bed
And as I sleep I dream a bit
Of being born and being dead
And slowly I remember
How my childhood started
I remember when I was two
Seeing pictures on the tube
Big Policemen and what they do
If you step outside the boundary line
Flames and fire, Police vans smoking
Petrol-bombs and people burning
Screams and shouts, people choking
I remember when I was two
Seeing these things on the tube
Then I grew up and understood
I began to differentiate
Some people bad others good
Oh! and I thought I understood
But that’s not so, it isn’t true
Big Policemen dressed in blue
You hound me and you beat me up
You shove me in your big blue truck
You drive me off without explanation
You curse me, drive me to damnation
You the Police Force of my nation
You my protector – you my satan
Things that shock, things that startle
But I’ve seen it all before
I lie in my cell my thoughts revolve
I go to sleep you lock the door.


Police And Thieves

Junior Murvin’s single reviewed in the NME, 12 April, 1980, and they’ve managed to find the one person in the world who doesn’t like it. Surprise, surprise; it’s Julie Burchill.

Junior Murvin: Police And Thieves (Island)

A sentimental world away from the Clash Battle Hymn of the People’s Republic cover; lovers rock practically, Joni-voiced Junior sounding like he should be singing “(I Check For) Police And Thieves”. I’m biased because I grew to loathe reggae via sitting through years of it waiting for punk bands to take the stage. They made a fuss about the violence – the endless reggae was much worse. If this version moved any slower it would get hauled in on suspicion.


Po Chu-I poem from 832AD. This is the Arthur Waley 1919 translation.

On His Baldness

At dawn I sighed to see my hairs fall;
At dusk I sighed to see my hairs fall.
For I dreaded the time when the last lock should go…
They are all gone and I do not mind at all!
I have done with that cumbrous washing and getting dry;
My tiresome comb for ever is laid aside.
Best of all, when the weather is hot and wet,
To have no top-knot weighing down on one’s head!
I put aside my dusty conical cap;
    And loose my collar-fringe.
In a silver jar I have stored a cold stream;
On my bald pate I trickle a ladle-full.
Like one baptized with the Water of Buddha’s Law,
I sit and receive this cool, cleansing joy.
Now I know why the priest who seeks Repose
Frees his heart by first shaving his head.

Po Chu-I

Packing A Punch

If you’re a short haired type of person who likes dressing well, reggae, and zines you could do a lot worse than get yourself Packing A Punch, a Brief History of UK Skinhead Zines.
Kicking off with Skins, put out by the Last Resort shop in 1979, and running through to Spirit of 69, which started in 2014, the zines that are covered are the sussed ones, but there’s a real look at what was going on with skinhead from the late 70s up to today.
Zines are given a write up and as much as an issue by issue breakdown as can be found. Many of these zines disappeared beneath beds or were thrown out by mums years ago.
The author has been a skinhead a looong time and has been deeply involved with zines. As was I, and the lad knows what he’s talking about.
Of particular interest is the look at Hard As Nails, the 1983 zine that ‘sussed‘ skinheads coalesced around. This zine was the focal point for stylish dressing, reggae and soul, and a rejection of the travesty the gumbys had made of skinhead.
Also important were zines like Bovver Boot, Suedehead Times, and Spy Kids. It was great to catch up with 1993’s , Skinheads Don’t Fear, a top drawer zine that brought a sense of humour that so many other zines lacked.
Most of the zines ran for half a dozen issues or so, some a lot more, some less. It’s an insular world, but if it’s one you’re interested in this informative tome one you’ll find essential. It’s 120 pages and comes in at a tenner pls p&p.
Grab a copy from

Oxford Street

From Jamming!, number 16, 1983.

Oxford Street

Morning sweeps into view, light punches
into my eyes, an underground train,
traversing crowds and escalators, gliding
upwards to face the rainswept streets,
pacing onwards in desperation, frost in the
air, traffic roaring past, clinging, congested
pavements, monolith corporation offices
pierce the sky … standing here alone in
perfect isolation, the hot tears scalding my
face … gazing all around, subways,
underground stations, the Post Office
Tower, mud, slush, thawing snow,
tumbling rain, and Oxford Street …
see those pretty girls in Oxford Street, all
dressed up with somewhere to go, speaking
volumes for my loneliness … those half-
opened doors and tentative glances, the
hands I grasped that slipped
away … buses and taxis in Oxford Street,
sophisticated window displays, ear-
catching music, video and hi-fi, fast food
chains, newspaper vendors, sex shops, and
January sales … drifting with the ebb and
flow of the crowd, I lose myself, my mind
disappears … but no, standing here on an
underground escalator amidst the
billboards selling newspapers and lingerie
I feel alive, the blood coursing in my veins,
aware of every new sensation, every last
drop of pain and desolation.

Pete May

Punk Pin Ups

ZigZag, No. 82, March/April ’78 had a luridly headlined cover that led to a kick arse editorial from Caroline Coon.

Now The Girls Have Hot Their Hard-Ons The Men Had Better…
(Read This – Or Start Hoarding Pin-Ups)

She’s really something else. Whether her her black leather jacket is unzipped or her nipples stick up through a grubby t-shirt, she’s got the dynamic looks other women want to copy and men drool over. Who am I on about? Gaye Advert pf course. But for arguments sake it could just as well be Debbie Harry, Patti Smith, Tina Weymouth, Joan Jett, Pat Paladin, Judy Nylon, Pamela Popo or Viv Albertine – the list is long.
These women have more than their sex and rock’n’roll in common. They’re working in a profession thick with chauvinists. Well, if it’s not old school M.C.P’s then it’s a new breed of men trying to be enlightened – and they’re just as difficult to deal with.
Gaye, you might have noticed, is on the cover this month, Big deal, you might think. So she should be. She’s sexier than Glen Matlock and a better bass player than Sid Vicious. But the liberally-minded ZigZag males are caught in an ambivalent tizzy. They couldn’t just publish and be damned for fear of being branded reactionary chauvinists. And yet, because Gaye is so eye-catching and therefore much more likely than T.V. Smith to increase the sales of this moth’s magazine, they can’t pass up the opportunity to exploit her beautiful face. Billy Idol never causes such problems.
ZigZag’s dilemma and guilt touches everyone in rock’n’roll. Managers, musicians, editors, critics and fans are all struggling with the idea, if not the practice, of equality. Efforts are being made to judge woman rockers on the basis of their talent rather than the size of their tits. Increasingly credit is given where it is due. Last year Poly Styrene, Siouxsie Sioux and Ari Up were praised not only for trail-blazing sexual equality but as lead singers who knocked spots off most other young performers on the scene.
And yet, for all the recent advances in attitude, when it comes to the crunch, the old hypocritical standards win through. Which is what you’d expect when 90% of those in power in the rock industry – company directors, A&R’s, advertisers and journalists – are men.
When nude pin-up’s of Gaye turned up, the rock press treated their publication like some lip-smacking Fleet Street expose. Some weeks ago ancient nude pin-up’s of Debbie Harry were given a gloating half page spread in Sounds. Time Out wasn’t the only magazine to rush into print with nude film stills of Patti Smith. In fact, show me a woman rock’n’roller and I’ll show you the editor who won’t rest until he’s searched the archives and published a nude picture of her. No amount of feminist persuasion from one or two of his staff will prevent him doing so.
And personally, I’m all for his decision to publish. Debbie’s nude pics are pinned above my typewriter. Most of my girlfriends like looking at nude pictures of women. Never make the mistake of believing the myth that women object to nude pin-ups because they are jealous of bodies which might be considered more attractive than theirs. It just isn’t true. And if you think this is a strange if not lesbian admission, then consider any Heavy Metal audience.
Crutch strutters like Status Quo or Ted Nugent perform almost exclusively to male fans. When those rockers strip to the waist, bearing their sweaty chests, they do so for reasons which don’t necessarily have anything to do with homosexuality. Bare flesh, male or female, is very sexy. Men and women enjoy looking at it. Who could be more obvious.
No, it’s not the gratuitous thrill men get from nude shots of women rockers which is objectionable. Nor can it be argued that pin-ups reduce an artist’s chance to be taken seriously – although the fear that they do is real enough.
What really galls women are the hypocritical double standards which still insidiously undermine their efforts to be treated as equals. Nothing is more symbolic of these double standards than the nude pin-up. Time and again they drive home the depressing truth that women can look sexy in pictures but woe betide those who dare act like sexual equals to men in real life.
Mention any male rocker you like, from Rod Stewart to Barrie Masters, and you’ll know they brag endlessly about the females they pull backstage. Very few men condemn the Rat Scabies/Jean Jack Burnell interviews where women are called ‘slags’, ‘boilers’, ‘mindless whores’ etc. etc.
Women who fuck more than one man in their lives are nymphomaniacs or worse. Men who get around are praised. They’re studs.
So what’s new. And further, what the hell! Objectors can step aside. Those who put down sexually-liberated women are in for a lonely future.
Editors who feel the urge to publish female nudes have my sympathy. They should think twice and consider their motives. And then they should publish. If they really feel concerned, all they need do is trim the balance, shift the bias, make the situation more equal, spare a thought for their female readers. Let’s have more male nudes, not fewer female ones.
There must be hundreds of women bored of seeing Joe Strummer in battle dress. We all know that Nick Lowe has a fine line in clean shirts but his bare body looks better. Some fine nudes of Mick Jagger in Performance would be a lot better than seeing him in that dreary velvet jacket again. John Lennon, always ahead, posed nude with Yoko Ono on ‘Two Virgins’. Iggy has done his bit.
And now I pause, trying to recall other male rock stars who have stripped. Very few. (J.J. Burnell doesn’t count, John Peel does.)
Nude pin-ups of male rock stars are rare because when they were poor, they had more lucrative ways of making money than stripping in Soho. Grave digging for instance. It pays far better than nude modelling I assure you! So does bass playing.
Which brings me to the most important point to make about the nude pin-up’s of Gaye, Debbie and Patti et al. They were all taken before these women made it – most likely when they were short of cash with nowhere else to turn.
Publishing the pictures therefore, is not exploiting female sexuality so much as it is taking mean advantage of women under economic duress.
Naturally, Gaye flinches when people rake over her model past, but she’s not moaning about it – nor will she bother to explain why she thinks the men responsible are sexist pigs. The time for exploitation has past. Action is what counts now. Like all the women mentioned here and many more, Gaye’s got her hard-on. Men who can’t take it had better start hoarding pin-ups. Unless they wake up very soon nude pictures are they closest they’ll get to the opposite sex.

Caroline Coon