Monthly Archives: April 2018

Aidan Cant

This poem is from 1981. Aidan Cant talks and recites on BBC’s Something Else TV programme also from 1981.

Anyone For A Jelly Baby?

I’ll only eat jelly babies on one condition,
that you’ll let me shape them into politicians,
and let me pluck their tiny hearts,
and bite off all their private parts.

“A bag of politicians, mister
and a 1/2lb box for my friends,”
in with a bullet, slip down the gullet,
and start the game again.

Yum yum Mrs. Thatcher yum Michael Foot yum
yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum
Cyril Smith
and start all over again.

Aidan Cant

Football And Poetry

Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s (1932 – 2017) writes about two his great passions in his 1963 A Precocious Autobiography. In this exert he is fifteen years old.

At night I wrote poetry and in the daytime I played football in backyards and on empty lots. I came home with torn trousers, battered shoes, and bleeding knees. the thd of the bouncing leather ball was, to me, the most intoxicating of all sounds.
To outflank the defences of the other side by feinting and dribbling and then to land a dead shot into the net past the helplessly spreadeagled goalkeeper, this seemed to me, as it still does now, something very like poetry.
Football taught me many things.
When I became a goalkeeper myself, I learnt to detect the slightest movement of the adversary’s forwards and to anticiate their feints. This was to be a help to me in my literary struggle.
People prophesied a brilliant career for me as a footballer.
Many of the boys I played with at school became professionals. On the rare occasions when I meet them now, I have a feeling that they envy me, and I catch myself out envying them.
Football is in many ways easier than poetry. If you score a goal you have concrete evidence: the ball is in the net. The fact, as they say, is indisputable. (The referee may after all disallow the goal but only exceptionally.) Whereas the likliest thing to happen if you score a goal in poetry is for thousands of referees’ whistles to shrill out to disallow it – and nothing can ever be proved. And very often an offside is declared a goal.
In general, in spite of all the intrigues and the dirt that go with it, sport is a cleaner business than literature. There are times when I am very sorry I did not become a footballer.

Jellied Eels To Record Deals

An album that I played a lot reviewed in Sounds, 10 November 1979.

The Buzzards
‘Jellied Eels To Record Deals’
(Chrysalis CHR1213) *****

There’s nothing quite as nifty as a last minute winner,the 33-1 outsider who comes from nowhere in the last two furlongs to steam past the post a head and a half in front of the favourite and furnish you with beer money for a week.
Most people had the Buzzards marked down as no-hope outsiders, one hit wonders with a one way ticket on the tube back to Leyton, and I’ve gotta admit I wouldn’t have bet the rent money on ’em either. Neither, obviously, have Chrysalis ‘cos ‘Jellied Eels’ has got ‘cut-price’ stamped all over it.
It comes in cheapo packaging, consists of their singles, some Peel session stuff and some demos, and retails at four quid … but screw me with a rag man’s trumpet if that ain’t more to do with punk than 98 days with some flash yank producer in a posh recording studio.
And all packaging and rhetoric aside the album is a guaranteed, last minute winner diamiind in the rough, the Buzzards’ story so far told in 18 trumpeting tracks of noisy pop and sod the niceties.
Now you don’t need to be Bamber Gascoigne to work out where the Buzzards are coming from. All the influences of Mott, Clash, even Slade, are here for all to hear in a happy-go-lucky collection which probably explains why the band have found recognition so elusive. They were inspired by punk but fell by the popular wayside by refusing to toe any strict tribal stance.
The brace of excellent 45s included here illustrates their diversity well, from the hardcore punk anthem of ’19 And Mad’ (“won’t reach 20 and I don’t want to”) thru the slow credibility Kate ironies of ‘Art School’, the magnificent lightly-reggaed nostalgic toast to growing up to reggae of the ’69 kind in ‘Saturday Night’, the poppy ‘Hanging Around’, and the raucous New Wave Slade manifesto ‘We Make A Noise’.
Elsewhere we get shar young pop of ‘Land Of The Free’ and ‘Sharp Young Men’ (an obvious next single with Harley and Hunter vocal throwbacks); a stabbing reggae singalong in ‘British Justice’; silly covers like ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’, a Status Quo pisstake on ‘People On The Street’ and riproaring punkouts like ‘Mixed Marriages’ and ‘No Dry Ice And Flying Pigs’ – another catchy tongue-in-cheek manifesto.
Like Mott, the band write about themselves a lot, and possess a nice line in strory-telling as exemplified by the excellent ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’ which is a sort of biblical account of punk’s rise and demise (“right before my eyes I see my dreams destroyed with fire and brimstone”)
But if you wanna know what the Buzzards are about check out the lyrics to the great should-have-been-a-hit single ‘We Make A Noise: “The music climate’s turned against us so it seems/We’re full of East End promise but we’ve lost our dreams/Now everybody says we’re a noisy band/We’ve got a one-way ticket back to Garageland”.
My only niggle about the Buzzards is that I’ve come across them so late. But then again as that bloated Tory twat Winnie says in their ad: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Garry Bushell

The Young And Fashionable

This poem is from Henry Normal’s 1988 collection Love Like Hell.

How the Young and Fashionable are Feeling This Season

They’re wearing their
consciences well hid
this season. Hearts on
the sleeve are definitely
out. Compassion’s out
basically the effect is not
to distract attention
from the expensive clothes.

Henry Normal

Lucky Lene

Lene Lovich/Holly & The Italians/The Bodysnatchers
Lyceum London
from Record Mirror, 9 February, 1980.

The Normals were out in force to witness this ladies night at the Lyceum. Seven piece, girl ska band The Bodysnatchers were first on and their brand of infectious rock-steady beat soon won over the mild mannered audience.
However The Bodysnatchers’ set struck me as being a trifle ordinary. The girls haven’t yet managed to create a distinctive sound of their own.
A song about rape, which builds up into a frightening climax, was the only Bodysnatchers song which stuck in my mind after their set.
Holly & The Italians didn’t manage to win the same sort of response. At times their set reached magnificent heights but a lot of the excitement was wasted as Holly fumbled around changing guitars in between numbers.
For a three piece, Holly & The Italians make a helluva lot of noise. Some of the tunes would have been more effective if they’d been a little shorter. However as they stand Holly & The Italians are one of the best, and fastest, post-punk bands around. Holly’s guitar playing is simple and to the point.
And from one memorable voice to the ultimate screamer – Lene Lovich. It was obvious that she could do no wrong in front of a devoted crowd. Even though I’m a great fan of hers, she left me a little disappointed.
She went through all the right motions, with her expressive vocal chords reaching new heights. The band played exotically bouncy music with the keyboard player perfectly complimentingLene’s offbeat songs with his neat lin in swirling / tinkling hooks.
Lene is a more accomplished performer these days and she gave the audience exactly what they wanted with old faves like ‘Lucky Number’, ‘Say When’, and ‘Home’, mixing with songs off her new album. However the new songs don’t seem to equal Lene’s past achievements and at times they appear too predictable.
I’m sure Lene’s got the talent and imagination to experiment a bit more and occasionally songs like ‘Bird Song’ show that Lene can progress without losing any of her magic.
There’s no doubt that seeing Ms Lovich live is an enjoyable experience but I was expecting something a little different from her this time round.

Philip Hall

Iona Lee

Iona Lee is one of the finest young Scottish poets of the moment. She’s also a deft hand with beer and a haggis supper. She has a new pamphlet out that you can buy here. Well worth getting it is too.

The Poet is a Clown, The Clown is a Poet

Slava Polunin says
that clowns are in the profession of joy.
I know how to be happy
and I teach people to be happy.
It’s very easy actually.
Find a place where you feel harmony,
if you don’t have such a place
create it. Never do anything important
with people you don’t want to embrace.

Well then are poets in the profession of melancholia?

I know how to be melancholy,
I can teach you.
It’s very easy actually.
Find a place where you feel alone,
if you don’t have such a place
create it. Never do anything important
but do dwell on it.

A clown falls down
so that we don’t have to.
A poet falls down and then makes everyone fall with them.

Charlie Chaplin said
that it only makes sense to do comedy
if it’s filled with poetry.

I suppose happy and sad
are two sides of the same coin,
spinning and never stopping.
Never landing flat sunny side up
or down.

Iona Lee

No Pop No Style

No Pop No Style

Through her teeth, she whistled.
In the alley up Cazenove Road
she lifted her skirt, pulled down
blue, white trimmed, knickers
and let it all go. Between her legs
gold, the hopes and dreams
neither of us would ever cash,
ran away into the midnight.
None too gentle, the fine spray
caught the sheen of her brogue.
She whistled ‘Uptown Top Ranking’.
Through her teeth, she whistled.

Tim Wells