Author Archives: teethingwells

The History Man

Malcom Bradbury goes Howard Kirk on Julie Burchill in the NME letters page, 7 February, 1981.
If you’ve not read Bradbury’s The History Man, or seen the 1981 TV series: I heartily recommend both.

For Julie Burchill’s information, a value judgement is a statement that cannot be substantiated by an appeal to empirical evidence or established fact. Therefore the vast majority of her Dangerous Visions column is comprised of value judgements since it is merely expressing her own untestable hypotheses. Does that make her a liberal zombie? I think we should be told.

Malcom Bradbury “one of the old halls of learning”, London School of Economics.

Reggae Regular

A short interview with London reggae band Reggae Regular from Telford’s Guttersnipe ‘zine, number 2, 1978. In 1977, when the two sevens clashed, Reggae Regular were the first people to have a record out on the game changing Greensleeves label.

Woman Of The Eighties

Punk fanzine Scrobe, No. 5, 1984, from Whitehaven, Cumbria, came with a booklet of poems by Oggy.

Woman of the Eighties

Lace up boots and peroxide hair,
Woman of the eighties she don’t care.
Drugs and drink become her life,
She don’t want to be one wife.
All she wants is eternal youth
Behind her eyes she’ll hide the truth.

But cometh the day when all shall be told,
In the morgue lies the body stiff and cold.
The monsters have come to take the key.
To unlock the tale of the rhapsody.
The gate shall open, uninviting
While hollows open hot and stifling
A tear trickles from an onlooking eye,
A woman of the eighties screams
Her last goodbye.


Skinheads RAR

Luton zine Impulse, number 7, 1979, writes after aggro at a Scritti Polliti RAR gig in Hitchen and the NME (what a surprise) blew the whole thing up.

Gareth Dent (Stevenage R.A.R) Looks At Skinheads…..

Trouble one happened when five or six pissed skins became involved in scuffles with members of Stevenage RAR and Scritti. A few cuts and a fair few bruises were dished out & £15 worth of damage done to the PA.
Trouble double happened after the gig – Scritti had just left the college when they were involved in a head on car-crash. Two people were treated in hospital and several thousand pounds worth of damage done – Scritti’s van was written off. It’s plain as day to me which event was the nastiest – yet nasty doesn’t equal newsworthy – the press went to town on the skins no mention of the crash.
The local press talked of rioting/rampaging skins swarming onto the stage & NME (in typical big words) spoke of how the skins “… commenced widespread trashing maneuvers around all and sundry…”
A point I tried to get over in a letter to the local paper the following week, was that only a few of the skins at the gig caused any aggro. As far as I’m concerned talking about skinheads as if they were all the same is as stupid as talking about racial minorities as if they are all the same.
Having said this, I don’t know what will stop aggro at gigs. All I know is alot of skins turned up at our last gig and didn’t cause any trouble.
Some of the Stevenage skins are in a band, The Royal Family, and they will be doing a gig for us.


Gretel Explains Feminism

Commended poem from the Write a Poem to Speak Competition as published in Speech & Drama, Vol 39, No 2, Autumn 1990. This was a Spoken Poetry issue.

Gretel Explains Feminism

Why should your name come first?
It’s not even alphabetical sense.
Yet here it is –
‘Big H and his sister
have adventures in the woods.’
Smacks of incest if you ask me.
‘Old woman offers sweets to a boy.’
Not even a mention this time.
Look at the anonymity of this one
‘Children bring house down.’
And this last really takes the biscuit.
How macho can you get?
‘Girl rescued by man with big chopper.’

John C. Desmond

Yee Loi

One of my favourite bands of the last few years, and easily the best for sheer exuberance, is Yee Loi. The band’s name means ‘two girls’ in Chinese and the Liverpool duo bring their Ramonesy best to some great punk songs.
Their videos certainly brought some cheer all through lockdown. They’ve now got an album out, No One Eats For Free’, which you can order here: 1 2 3 4!

Tug O’ War

Michael Horovitz in Sounds, 13 March 1982, puts in a watercolour of a letter after an article on that years Poetry Olympics.
Comrade Paul Butterfield gets a mention, who was often at the Orient with his dad.

Bushell’s rampage with Attila the Stockbroker (Sounds February 27) sabotages the credibility of its promotion of Attila by being so scornful of everything and everyone else spat on in passing. Just seven examples for the record:-
1: To kill a few myths before rumour becomes ‘fact’: by Attila’s own definition of the ‘gig-crash’ – “jumping on stage uninvited and having a go, invariably half-cut”, he and Seething Wells most certainly did not “crash the Poetry Olympics at the Young Vic ‘for a crack'”.
If you ask Attila I’m sure, being an honest lad, he’ll confirm that the two of them (hitherto completely unknown to me) came up and asked if they could do a short spot. As this would be cutting into the advertised poets’ time, but not wishing to reject two apparently serious young contenders out of hand, I in turn asked McGough, Paul Weller & the rest, each of whom was gracious enough to agree.
2: It wasn’t “the blubber mountain Nuttall” over whom comrade Butterfield hurled his booze, but me. Since this anorexic seizure of the stage was merely prolonging the delay before my introduction of Bushell’s hero & mine, Attila (else why would I be presenting him at prime-time on my show?), it’s hard to see how Butterfield’s veritable gig-crash can be blown up to the stature of “the prole v-sign to the whole farcical event” Bushell’s account suggests.
And the yells of “Shame! Stinker! Lout! Off! Off!” he correctly reports came from “the offended portion of the crowd” who disliked the look of Butterfield or felt his contribution to be a crashing bore much as Bushell himself did most of the others. I found Pierre’s little vision of the Thames full of shit quite a laugh myself. But the argument against unscheduled additions is they rob the punters of their due from the performers they’ve actually come to hear.
3: Attila’s notion of busting “the gates of the Poetry Establishment with a pen in one hand and an axe in the other” is unworthy of him, and the last thing that’s going to fan “the smouldering embers of a working class poetry explosion” in Britain. The image of embers implies there’s been something of a conflagration – which there has. But if the pen is to prove mightier than Maggie’s iron-thatched farm, let alone the international capitalist military-industrial complex, it’ll be because the entrenched bully-boy Divide-&-Rule policies of the guvnors and owners are overwhelmed by the enduring power of the living ideas & voices of its opponents.
You can bet your life if it comes down to a clash of brawn, the axes that prevail will be those ground by yer ruling classes & swung by their hirelings, the brainwashed mercenaries worldwide. if the giant steps taken against that continuing direction by the likes of Joan Littlewood (Mother Courage of Stratford East), Tom Pickard, McGough, Patten, Weller & the rest are themselves assailed as The Enemy or The Establishment by would-be new wavers, the net result is surely that all true poetry & revolutionary aspiration gets that much more easily wiped out by the Tory Philistinism & economic demoralisation virtually all the oral poets are continuing to fight.
4: I chose the Young Vic & Stratford theatres for these Poetry Olympics shows exactly because they’re two of the most working class & multiracial (& least sectarian or class-ridden) venues in London. So far from representing a “bourgeois, snobby, out of touch… alien world of dirty looks” the Theatre Royal’s a deliberately community orientated anti-racist youth centre, built up over the years with the bare hands & heads of Littlewood, Brendan Behan, Shelagh Delaney, Frank Norman & loads more. This tradition of a people’s theatre was extended the night your reporter looked in & left again with his Bushell of prejudices intact – extended by Attila, but also by the black/alternative/racial/rock communicators James Berry, Jeff Nuttall, Adrian Mitchell, Pete Brown, Patrik Fitzgerald & several others.
5: OK, none of us is getting any younger, but for Bushell to assume that because a few of the above may be around their middle years, we’re necessarily also “middle-class, smug, self-satisfied, & stiflingly self-congratulatory” when he admits he only started to listen the fourth time he left the bar for the auditorium, to Butterfield and Attila, leaves him hoist by his own petard his presumed ‘radicalism’ too is gonna be ’emasculated’ if he pays attention to no-one but his mates. At risk to their self-approbation, he & his might pause to consider the possibility that to be a poet or revolutionary at 20 is to be 20, to be them at 40 is to be a poet & revolutionary – as Mitchell, Nuttall, Heathcote Williams (who didn’t get a hearing at Stratford cos of the time waste of all the aggro & interruptions) still turn out to be.
6: Bushell applauds Attila for standing at the mike “in leather jacket, football scarf & DMs, spouting forth about there here and now. If he’d been in the theatre for the others, as distinct from reacting against their clothes, he’d have been able to tell your paper what each of them read & sang about present day realities too. Why should a conformist of one kind mean more than any other – more than that it’s wearer’s mentality or desired public might be uniform – propaganda for proper geese? I wear cords cos they cost £2 on Portobello Road, whereas leather gear’s pricey these days, being chic, I’ve also written quite a lot of soccer poetry, but that doesn’t mean I wear soccer clothes to perform it in, or want to spout it to soccer fans only.
7: The Stockbroker’s claim that JCC made his forerunners “redundant in ’77” by showing that “poetry should be for the people and could be put across to anyone” is unhistorical to say the least. Coops drew on the spadework of the Beats & Dylan & Henri & all of us concerned (like Attila) with “making the audience part of it” – just as we ourselves had benefited from the pathfinding inroads of blues shouters & Dylan Thomas & the Russian revolutionary bards. No real poet is ever made redundant by any other – it’s what makes poetry more like music than say, machine-part assembly. Lennon’s Working Class Hero didn’t replace Ginsberg’s Howl any more than Elvis Costello does Presley. What’s real in art is always contemporary – though the mass of what’s contemporary is not, alas, always real.

Michael Horovitz, Poetry Olympics, Piedmont, Bisley, Stroud, Glos.