Written from memory in 2014 from a diary entry that should have been made in 1986 but didn’t.
Well last night turned out to be a bit of an odd event/gig.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a poster in town advertising a gig by the ranting poet Attila the Stockbroker. I have a couple of his recordings on cassette and one on that Cherry Red compilation and I have seen him a few times on the telly so I thought “Why not?”.
He seems like an interesting chap and his views and opinions, whilst not entirely in line with my own more anarchistic ways of thinking, seem pretty sound to me. The odd thing is that it was advertised at the local Polish Club – Dom Polski which isn’t far from me so a nice easy walk.
Dom Polski was set up [I believe] some time after the Second World War as a social venue adjacent to the Polish Church of SS Stanislaus and Lawrence to accommodate the influx of Polish refugees during and after the war. I have been there to parties and the odd gig and it has a decent sized stage with those theatre curtains and all. Surprised it isn’t used more for gigs being honest.
I talked to a few people and there were a few of us going. Its best to try and support stuff like this as it encourages other bands to play here and maybe some more ranting poets. Who knows.
So a few people came round and we walked up together and paid our £1.50 to get in, and having saved a few quid from my dole money meant I could have a few beers as well. Oh and Dom Polski also happens to be quite cheap on the beer front – a bit like a Working Man’s club. Just before we left to walk up there someone asked if I was sure it was at Dom Polski and not The Black Lion. I assured them that this was what I had seen on the poster and thought little more about it. The Black Lion was more likely to have been the venue or even the Roadmender, but that’s a big venue to fill with a ranting poet.
Anyhow. We walked into the club and I was surprised, to put it mildly, by the low turnout. I guess there were maybe twenty or thirty people there. And in the large room we all looked a bit lost. The bar staff seemed a bit bemused by it all too. Not sure how much the Polish bar staff knew about English Punk Poets or the motley assortment of punks and alternative/bohemian types who had decided to infest their club for the evening.
We had a couple of drinks and I expected more people to turn up. But only a few stragglers drifted in and a couple of Polish lads who, again, seemed more than a little bemused by events.
There was a general rumour going round that the gig was actually taking place at The Black Lion and I think a few people actually left us to go down there and find out. I was adamant that the gig would take place here and wasn’t leaving. I do confess that I was somewhat relieved when Attila actually turned up or made his appearance on the stage. We all [20/30 of us] stood up and walked towards the stage as Attila tuned up and generally got himself ready. He was peering out at us early on from underneath a hand to shield his eyes from presumably the bright disco type lighting in the venue.
[This is a more current picture of the venue taken from http://www.polishnights.com but it gives you an idea of the kind of venue it is/was. It seems it hasn’t changed much as this is exactly how I remember it!]
Attila played a song or two, gave it a bit of a rant on the poetry side and then stopped. He had realised that for whatever reason he was playing to a pitifully small crowd and he began to chat with us a bit. And then he made a decision saying words to the effect of its pointless me being up here on this massive stage in a huge room. I’m coming down and perform in the bar for you guys if that’s ok? [I may be misquoting the bard here as by this point I was a little jolly from alcohol and a pre-gig joint or two].
So we all shuffled back to our tables, placed down our pints and waited whilst Attila came over and set up in our midst. It was very intimate and Attila was certainly much happier. He ripped through his set and did a few covers as I recall. Notably Ace of Spades on his little Mandolin and all the time staring down upon us were the disapproving images of previous Catholic Popes. It was quite a surreal event but great fun and I think we were singing along to the songs we knew before the end [Or maybe that is poetic license by me?].
I’m not a massive fan of the chap but I do really enjoy what he does and I hope he continues to do it for years to come. He was certainly very much a good egg. He could have walked off in a huff at the poor attendance. He could have acted like a prima donna. But he didn’t. He spoke to us, engaged with us, danced around playing his Mandolin and walking between tables and generally was having a laugh. He seemed happy to be performing to a small audience and he joked and quipped between he poetry and his songs. All in all it was a great gig. Small and intimate. The only piece of his I knew with any real conviction was “A Bang and a Wimpey” which he performed with some gusto spitting out the words rapidly like machine gun fire.
Attila chatted with a few people after the gig and had a pint or maybe two and then made his way home. I wonder what he made of it all?
All in all it was a great gig. Thank you Attila the Stockbroker.
[Text taken from Not Just Bits of Paper to be published later this year as a sequel to Tales From The Punkside available from Amazon or direct from eBay.co.uk]