Monthly Archives: November 2018

Turning The Clock Back

A song, that’s sadly bang up to date, by Geordie singer Alex Glasgow (1935-2001).

Turning The Clock Back
(Alex Glasgow)

My granny tells me that she’s seen it all before
And at 94 she’s seen a thing or two
She’s seen the stockbrokers all sighing
And the speculators crying
And the millionaires relying on a war to pull them through

And they’re turning the clock back I can hear me granny say
Yes they’re turning the clock back and the working man will pay

My Gran remembers the way it used to be
with Baldwin and MacDonald in the chair
She fetched the soup from down the kitchen
Heard the speeches
Saw men marching
Read how Churchill brought the troops in
Which the papers said was fair

And they’re turning the clock back I can hear me granny say
Yes they’re turning the clock back and the working man will pay

My granny tells me that they’re at it once again
The nobs can’t get their profit quite as high
And Tom and Dick and Harry
Have forgotten that they carry
On their shoulders all the parasites
That sucked their bodies dry

And they’re turning the clock back I can hear me granny say
They may call it social contract but the working man will pay

My granny tells me that it’s getting very late
And we’ve got our silly heads stuck in the sand
She says she has a nasty feeling
We may very soon be reeling
From the evil dealing jackboots
As the Blackshirts haunt the land

And they’re turning the clock back I can hear me granny say
Yes they’re turning the clock back and the working man will pay

Rhyme With A Reason

This poem comes from Hidden Voices, which was a small magazine put out by East London Women Against Prison in November 1981.

Rhyme With a Reason

Pride in their uniform so blue and bold
Perhaps their Integrity keeps out the cold?
‘G’ for the Guts they so often display –
I was told these three mean ‘PIG’ today …

Thy knocked the pride out of me, with a starvation diet;
Integrity won’t turn any water to claret.
Guts? I threw my bread on the floor,
A screw kicked me in mine as he came through the door.

Three days on the boards, straight-jacket and all-
“Give in my dear, stop being a fool.
We’ll love you so much if you’ll only grass
On your husband and friends, from the first to the last”.

Annie Clifton

Dennis Smokes Tabs

The weirdly wonderful Wavis O’Shave in Danny Baker’s singles reviews for the NME, 7 April, 1979.

Wavis O’Shave
Dennis Smokes Tabs EP (Company)

Well the big guns are certainly out this week! do you know I’ve got singles by Public Image, Costello, Blondie and Mickey Dolenz still in the pile but it doesn’t look like they’ll fit just yet! Now here’s my point; if you’re gonna take the time and effort to slap out your own record, why act like Joe Blow and hope that by wrinkling your brow and doing your best you’ll get results? Not Wavis O’Shave! The outfit might only have an acoustic guitar and a bass but you know what they’re about.The chaps improvise all other instruents orally, including a rather unconvincing drumkit, and with titles like ‘Mauve Shoes Are Awful’, ‘You Think You’re A Lady Because You Don’t Eat Fishcakes’ and the title track, they thankfully manage to steer clear of being meerly ‘whacky’ – and Lord that’s a damning adjective – and dish up as entertaining a handful as youcan find this side of Smumpox, Montana. Apart from their tendency to wear an idea thin, there’s nothing can stop Wavis O’Shave now … barring another rise in the postal charges. (Company Records, Fort Barnes, Rookery Lane, Lincoln, LN6 7HQ)

The Exploited

The Exploited reviewed live in Sounds, October 25, 1980.

The Exploited
Edinburgh

I came to bury The Exploited, not to praise them, and yet I cannot ignore the facts. Despite all my prejudices and cynical hopes, they took the foreboding cavernous Playhouse Theatre by the scruff of its staid neck and shook the bugger until it screamed for respite.
Of course, they were helped by bthe 400-strong Exploited Barmy Army (soon to be dubiously immortalised in 45 form), a ragged but dedicated following of dead-end punks and skins. These are the real nowhere kids – those on the dole, those still at school and hating it, those too lazy to investigate more stimulating music, those too young to know any better and those who feel the Exploited are their own golden representatives. Hell, it may not be much, but what else have kids like this got?
A third-on-the-bill slot supporting the mechanically trashy Ramones and the limp 60s posturing of the Spectres (it was so ironic that Glen Matlock’s chirpy “Ello Edinburgh” was greeted by total silence from the hordes who probably became punks immediately after the Grundy TV debacle) hardly seemed the ideal setting for such roustabout ‘ready to ruck’ rabble-rousing, but the Exploited admirably overcame the traditional problems of transition from small club to large concert hall – no problem!
Indeed, such overly enthusiastic and physical reaction featuring mass pogoing and riotous applause hasn’t been generated by a local band since the heyday of the Skids as fledgling punk heroes. But Wattie Buchan on vocals and swearing is very much a man of the people – he understands their motivations, their expectations, their aspirations; and he uses it all to his own advantage.
He charges about the stage like some lunatic caged animal, snarling and spitting, whirling the mike around his head in some bizarre distortion of Daltrey on speed, as he strips to the waist, his Mohican hair-style glowing danger, and harangues the mob below to further outrage.
The addition of the energetic Gary on bass and the behemoth ‘Little John’ cradling his guitar like a weeping infant as he throttles it to death, has galvanised the Exploited into a dynamic adrenalin-rush attack of screeching frenzied rage. Subtlety and versatility are virtually non-existent as they thrash through ten or so numbers barely distinguishable from each other.
“Army Life”, that alternative chart fave, is still really the only song they have (though that won’t stop them from having hit singles) – the rest of the set is a garbled charging incitement to violence and hypocrisy. It must be faced – the Exploited are senseless bigots. Their pathetic tribal hatred, as encapsulated by ‘Fuck The Mods’ and ‘I Still Believe In Anarchy’ (at three quid a ticket?) is childish – but more than that, it is dangerous.
Aw hell – I’m confused. I went to the gig to do a hatchet job and came away dancing. But what happens when the twinkling toes are inside jackboots?

Johnny Waller

Proletarian Literature

Brendan Behan, that marvellous fellow, has this magnificent piece in Vogue’s Gallery, an anthology of 50 Famous Authors and Artists, yes that Vogue, from 1962.
The anthology collected work that had been in Vogue over the previous few years, and alongside some chic photos there’s some fine work therein.
Behan’s book Borstal Boy is one that that we all us yobs read, along with Colin MacInnes, and New English Library youthsploitation.

The Woman On The Corner Of The Next Block To Us
As it became clear to her that I had resigned from the building trade, she’d shout sadly after me,
“Do you never think of your poor mother?”

I am driven to write by murophobia – the fear of having to paint walls, or doors or anything else, or having to work at my trade as a house and ship painter.
There is no better way of escaping hard work for a boy without capital or a religious vocation than writing.
The first thing you have to do is to get the idea into other people’s heads that you are a writer.
I started by going into pubs in Grafton Street and writing for little magazines about being a house painter. There was one of these magazines called the Bell and it went for this sort of writing, and writing about Donegal fishermen and Monaghan bogmen and Belfast shipwrights.
Any day of the week, in the Bell office, you could meet these fishermen and bogmen taking up their manuscripts, and getting away from fishing and turf-cutting by writing about it.
Those of them who could speak Irish I could exchange greetings with, but I could not understand the English-speakers very well. I speak Dublin, Belfast, Cockney, Geordie, rhyming slang, but like Nehru, I have no common tongue with the majority of my countrymen from the interior. Especially when they had a few issues of Horizon digested and mixed the names of the English literary great into their speeches:
“Ha sure Aydit is a naice semple wamman at the back avitt, aye shewerly, aye. And more betoken and where would you lave Satchamrverell? Aveleen Waw has the Ting, aye, an’ Sirril, an’ Graves – but you wouldn’t be sure a Raine, owenly sometimes.”
I didn’t know whether I had the Thing or not. What I did know was that whatever about the pen being mightier than the sword – it’s lighter than the stockbrush.
And I envied these bogmen one thing. Half their battle in stting up in this business was won by the time they got on the train for Dublin. They were amongst new people who would accept them straight away as literary men because they had never known them in any other guise. Dublin people would accept them as literary men the more readily because they looked like bogmen.
But I had to go back through the roads of Crumlin Corporation Housing Estate, and pass the woman on the corner of the next block to us. She’d shout from the window or from the garden, “Can you not get e’er a job?”
In the morning she was as bad. I’d go down the road about half-past nine to have a good walk into the city and chew over in my mind a short story for the Bell, which by this time was being printed on a paper made of oats or something, so that it looked almost as wholesome as its content, and she’d shout, “Do you know what time it is? All the men is gone to their work two hours ago. Have you a bad way of lying that you couldn’t get up?” And I’d snake down the road hiding from the woman amongst the schoolchildren.
Sometimes there were literary parties and I’d come into my own, as a house painter, and a proletarian, and I’d come home in the dawn, with my head filled with Portuguese burgundy and Cork gin, a little unsteadily but happy, the sounds of old ballads and Pisan cantos still in my ears, and hear her, risen on her elbow from beside her sleeping lord, screech from the bedroom window, “Are you on the night shift these times?”
As it became clear to her that I had no intention of painting any more, and that I had resigned from the building trade, she’d shout sadly after me, as I fled down the road towards Grafton Street, “Do you never think of your poor mother?” and, “Are you going in with them that will neither work nor want?” That was one evening she saw my name in the Radio Eireann programme, and thought I had become an actor or a commentator on Gaelic Football matches.
Since those days I have been asked, and publicly, many awkward questions; did I plead guilty or not guilty, was I drunk on TV, but I fled from them and went back home, myself and Beatrice, and lived in peace – till one day ago Beatrice said I should go up and see my mother.
I went up to Crumlin in a taxi, and cowered down in the back as we passed the house of the woman on the corner of the next block. I needn’t have troubled. She was in the house talking to my mother.
I pulled out a handful of English gold and suggested we adjourn to the Floating Ballroom for a drink.
She greeted me a bit weakly, but rallied when we got to the pub and asked, “Do you not think it’s a bit early in the day for you to be drinking a glass of whiskey?” And after she had a couple of glasses herself, she asked when I was going to pull myself together?
We were joined by her two sons, and she said “These is Mick and Shameus, and-” indicating one gloomy-looking youth- “he’s an I.R.A. man, and he’s a Common-unionist.”
“Listen,” said Mick, “are you a bourgeois decadent?”
“No,” says I, “but I’m saving up.”
“Well,” asks Shameus, “is it true you’re going to let down your country by writing for a stage-Irish magazine called Brogue?”
“Yes, ’tis,” said I, rolling my eyes languidly – my first exercise since we opened in the West End.

Brendan Behan

What You Should Know To Be A Poet

This Gary Snyder poem appeared in New American Review, number 8, January 1970.

What You Should Know To Be a Poet

all you can about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
names of stars, and the movements of the planets and the moon.

your own six senses, with a watchful and elegant mind.

at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;

dreams.
the illusory demons and illusory shining gods;

kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels and maidens perfum’d and golden-

& then love the human: wives husbands and friends.

childrens’ games, comic books, bubble gum,
the weirdness of radio and advertising.

work, long dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and livd with and finally lovd. exhaustion, hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, extasy
silent solitary illumination, enstasy

real danger, gambles, and the edge of death.

Gary Snyder

Like Spoons No More

Like Spoons No More

She came from
Waaaaakefield,
and pronounced
it like she was
half-asleep.
Having heard
me and mine
excited
so often over
pie and mash
she said she’d
cook some.
She served
the pie
crust side up,
smothered
in gravy,
and gave me
a knife and fork.
In truth,
it did nause me.
I ate
with a spoon
and scraped
the dish
‘til it sang.
Cos every meal,
every day,
every body,
with love
is sauce…
innit?

Tim Wells

One Of The Lucky Ones

Sister Nita was born in Birmingham in 1959 and spent most of her childhood in care.
“I see myself not only as a black person living in England but as a black ‘woman’. You see: first they say we are second class people, then they say that women are inferior to men and black is inferior to white. I try to get my ideas across, feelings from which I can identify myself with and 300 millions of other women out there.”

I’m One of the Lucky Ones

Hey, I’m lucky you know
no matter how the day goes
I still have a roof over my head
and a big warm cosy bed
If there’s no food in my house
I’ve got friends who can help me out
and if I have no money in my pocket
There’s a million and one ways to get it

I saw a thing on the tele
where the kids had swollen bellies
Their life was far from sweet
they had absolutely nothing to eat
No strength to fight simple diseases
No walls to protect them from the bitter night breezes
A long time since rain fell from the sky
Thousand of miles barren and dry
Relatives lost along the way
Hundreds dying, day by day
But I have to admit
I have my doubts
Ethiopa’s problems isn’t just drought
As usual black people are put to the test
Manipulated to support East or West
Black people, killing one another
Weapons supplied, by them big white brother
People killed and injured, not even knowing the cause
Innocent victims of long savage wars
Beautiful black people just wasting
On the whole the effect is devastating

Hey, I’m lucky you know
no matter how the day goes
This kind of suffering
I have never known,

Sister Nita

This Is A Man’s World

The April 2012 American skinhead ‘zine Dance Crasher Byrdzine has that weird American take on skinheads; where the envelope of style becomes the regimentation of brands. The zine is full of pictures harvested from the interweb and from across the decades, there are 4 of my ex-girlfriends, which is worrying. The zine follows the usual septic style of a Jenny Woo interview, pics of pony tattoos, and an uncredited Steve Friel cartoon which appeared in Zoot! in the 80s.
Despite that there is some passion to the zine and an interesting look at women in subcultures.

This Is A Man’s World
By: Joanna W

With subcultures mainly being a boy’s game, I’ve always looked closely to the few females involved as a support group. You would think that with females being about one to every twenty men (if not less) in these subcultures, they would be tight and appreciative to their sisters in the game.
Sadly, this is not a reality…
It seems that in the years I’ve been involved in this subculture, I’ve seen women become more or so “frienemies” rather than a stable support system to each other. This deeply saddens me, as I too have seen this first hand. I guess I am perpetually naïve to this, or just hopelessly optimistic to find nice women who are looking for sisterhood through music. I am not saying all females are like this, but there are quite a few out there who are.
What causes this? Why does it happen? Who are these females? I’m going to go forward and explain my views and opinions on this subject. These are strictly my opinions based on my own personal experiences so you are more than welcome to disagree.
Although a lot of teens come into a subculture looking to rebel and be non-conformist, they are just joining another conformity and rules. These ‘tribes’ have their own sets of rules and dress within themselves. There are usually unspoken rules of how to act, and who holds what seniority. This does vary from subculture to subculture, but they all have the basic skeleton from subculture to subculture.
Those who have been ‘in’ for the longest usually have the utmost respect., and typically, they feel they have the right to put those younger and less senior ‘members’ in their place. Women have a similar yet very different set of rules. Women cut each other down almost endlessly.
Womens rules in these youth cults are those in the same to men, however I feel that they are much more harsh. Typically, it starts out with how you got in. Usually, it’s one of the two – you got in on your own will or from your boyfriend. If you got in from your boyfriend, the rest of the local scene usually knows, as you showed up on the arm of Johnny Subculture at a random gig. If this is the case, respect for you is typically next to nothing – even if you truly do become part of the subculture in the long run – guy or not. You’ll almost always be known as so-n-so’s girlfriend or ex-girtlfriend. Men do not have this problem. They do not have to deal with derogatory names such as ‘oi toy’, ‘scene whore’, or something similar to that. This sexism runs rampant from both males and females. This in itself starts a vicious cycle of women’s roles in youth cults.
Youth cult or not, women tend to run in cliques and groups of friends in which they trust those few friends and hardly anyone else. I often hear young women from every cultural, social, and ethnic background say, “women are such bitches, I can’t stand them!”
Although they’ve made a few friends, what prevents their clique from being ‘bitches’ to each other? Again, youth cult or not – women tear each other down and can be harshly judgemental to each other to their faces or behind their backs, The sport of tearing down other females isn’t a pretty one, but it is often played. In my personal opinion, I honestly think women who tear down others for no apparent reason iss just a verbal venting of their own short comings and insecurities. To me, those who bash on other people who have not done anything to them are just insecure cowards trying to build themselves up by tearing others down. In the subcultural view, I often think that this happens because some women are not 100% comfortable with themselves and the role they play within a subculture. They often come off as they have the world to prove to others. The ‘pros’ of the bashing game for one who plays is typically to brag about how many girls they’ve driven away. This, I think, is a result of the need to be an alpha female.
Socially speaking, a woman with lots of male attention is considered highly desirable – appearance aside. If a female in a niche culture is surrounded mainly by men, logically, she should have plenty of potential mates and attention – boosting her ego, esteem, and popularity amongst males. This makes her an alpha female. Competition gets ripped down without a second thought. Typically, she will do just about anything to keep this status.
This is highly detrimental to the female side of a subculture. Hazing and driving new kids out leaves the scene stagnant and does not allow it to grow or evolve. With the same girls constantly around, this leaves slim options for the males who want to date within the scene. If these girls are single, they will be surrounded mostly by men, and probably have their internal feelings of alpha females pumped up, and will not want new females coming around. Another reason why this can be extremely harmful is that if people within a local scene date amongst each other. With only a few females around dating the men in the subculture, this will typically cause drama. Say, if there were only 6 males and 2 females in a local scene, this would definitely cause trouble. Also, if a female dates amongst the local scene quite often, this can lead her back to being accused of being an ‘oi toy’ or a ‘scene whore.’ Even if she didn’t get in because of a boyfriend, she can be accused of these things, and her intentions within a subculture can be questioned just because of her dating habits. Most women outside of subcultures don’t get called such names when dating around. The dating world for females within subcultural boundaries can be dangerous, dramatic, and disheartening. The need to prove that she is genuine and an individual while dating a man in a subculture can cause many issues within herself and her relationship.
I have honestly never understood the ‘hazing’ into a subculture. When I think ‘hazing’, I think of some dumb frat guys putting a new house member through humiliation. What’s the point? Isn’t that the sort of mentality we wanted to get away from when we chose to stray from the norms of mainstream society? Why do you want to scare away potential new members of a band, future DJs, or life-long friends? Shame on anyone who participates in these pointless and degrading tactics – male or female. Having a healthy, thriving subculture relies on having new blood coming in, and often. Driving new people away, believe it or not, has a domino effect within your local town.
First off, driving people away by not accepting them in the local scene or stating that they need to be hazed in makes you come off like a total jerk. Where ever they’re from, they’ll tell their friend back home (or non subculture friends that are local), “Yeah, I came here and they expected me to do this, that, and the other to hang out with them. Yeah, I know, ridiculous.” Honestly, these games make participants look like total childish buffoons and make said person ashamed to be involved in a subculture. Also, this makes you look like an awful example of a subculture. If you’re playing these sorts of childish games, you should honestly do some questioning of your personality and how you treat others in general. As harsh as it may sound, I believe it’s true. This could also spread around to other places and give your town a poor reputation.
Second, the less people you have in your town, the less often bands will come around. Say a fantastic band comes through your town once, but no one shows up. The impression your town will lay on them is that your town is not a money maker. Most bands don’t even get guarantees on the road and solely rely on merch sales to keep their tour afloat and stomachs filled with food. If your town has no one going to shows, they’ll skip over your town in future tours, Make sense? So, driving fresh blood out of your scene may also eventually drive out touring bands you want to see.
Another thing I’ve never understood is why older members within a subculture are so demeaning to younger kids. They, too, were once that age. I’m sure they didn’t pop outta mama’s womb in full subcultural attire with a stellar record collection. They, too had to go through the ins and outs of growing up and discovering who they are, and I’m sure they had some embarrassing records in their collection at one point. Being condescending to these kids is downright hypocritical. If they were treated like that when they were younger, they should be empathetic. Treating new kids like they were treated is wrong, and those two wrongs definitely do not make a right. If you truly love a subculture and music, you want it to grow, evolve, and last against the tests of time. Sharing your love of all these things with younger kids who really don’t know where to look helps the subculture grow and forms a brotherly and sisterly bond that is so highly idealized. What is the point of hoarding information?
Rarely do you see younger kids coming around these days who are taken in by older members of a subculture with open arms. If just that were to happen, if people could just get off their mighty high horses…they’d see that most slowly dying subcultures would gain new life. Sure, you may think that these kids are dumb and hopeless, but SO WERE YOU! Don’t haze them, don’t demean them – just be a positive influence. Being an older “brother” or “sister” can be very rewarding!
Younger girls especially need this positive influence to help prevent them falling into all the sexism and gender roles that subcultures dole out. They need to know that it IS okay to be in a subculture and not be sleeping with someone, or constantly causing drama. They need to know that you can be yourself with outside interests from a subculture. Girls in their teens especially need guidance to help their self-esteem, identity, and peer pressure issues. I would assume that most of these girls’ parents don’t quite understand why they are expressing their femininity in a boy’s game. My mother thought I was mental. If I had a female to look up to at that age, those years would’ve been a lot easier.
I hope things change in the future. I would love to see more women reaching out and cultivating a sense of sisterhood amongst themselves instead of breeding jealousy, cattiness, competition, and two-faced behaviour. Negative behaviour such as the types I’ve discussed (from males or females) is detrimental to any subculture. Period. It prevents the cultures and scenes from evolving. Why act in such a manner? No one will benefit from it. Acting with class, dignity and grace will never go out of style and will never be looked down upon. Be secure with your place in the sun and don’t concern yourself with anyone else’s. Honesty, no one has the authority or right to drive someone out of a subculture – seniority or not.
To those whom have a sense of entitlement – think twice first. Your actions will speak louder than your words.