Author Archives: teethingwells

Glasgow 1971

This punchy Edwin Morgan poem is in Worlds, an anthology of 7 poets that Penguin Education brought out in 1974. Adrian Mitchell, Seamus Heaney, Thom Gunn, and Red Hughes are also included. As with a lot of 70s school poetry there is some pretty good street photography too.

Glasgow 5 March 1971

With a ragged diamond
of shattered plate-glass
a young man and his girl
are falling backwards into a shop-window.
The young man’s face
is bristling with fragments of glass
and the girl’s leg has caught
on the broken window
and spurts arterial blood
over her wet-look white coat.
Their arms are starfished out
braced for impact,
their faces show surprise, shock,
and the beginning of pain.
The two youth who have pushed them
are about to complete the operation
reaching into the window
to loot what they can smartly.
Their faces show no expression.
It is a sharp clear night
in Sauchiehall Street.
In the background two drivers
keep their eyes on the road.

Edwin Morgan


Bovver Boots And Eyeliner Rool OK!

A punk writes about make up and her appearance in Spare Rib, number 93, April, 1980, as part of their feature on Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Bovver Boots And Eyeliner Rool OK!

I have been a punk(ette??) for some time now and I wear plenty of black eyeliner and bright eyeshadow. Am I wrong? I don’t think so. I support the women’s movement with fervour but I do feel I should be able to wear make-up if I like.
Female punks are not the most ‘feminine’ people you’ve ever set eyes on. I (and mes amies) don’t want to look all pretty-pretty. Jeans and Doc marten’s boots are lots more comfortable than tights and a flimsy wee skirt! In a way tho’ I contradict myself by wearing coloured stuff on my face. This is wrong because I am being monopolised by the people who make you feel that you must be beautiful for the men in our society. Posters and TV commercials shout at us from every angle “Buy new Wonder Lash and you’ll be a star overnight”. But then I simply do not look like a model. My make-up isn’t meant to flatter me!
My reason for wearing make-up is simply that I like it and it’s fun doing experiments on your face. If you’re depressed make-up is one form of release, too. It’s a laugh and experimenting with it can lead to an entirely new appearance – if that’s what you want. I believe that you should only do what you want to on your face – it does not belong to anyone else. of course, the same applies if you don’t want to wear make-up, after all it’s only a decoration. make-up is generally used to attract attention. Shame that it sometimes works in the wrong way.
Almost everyone knows what it’s like to be shouted at in the street – it can be very hurtful. Isn’t it funny (no, it’s to be expected) that females are generally on the receiving end of the hurled abuse? It’s my theory that many men are frightened of other males; fewer remarks are made about male punks, mods, boyfriends, husbands, rocks, skins, teds and so on. Could this be fear of getting involved in a fight? Men realise that most women will not stand up to them so they can get away with it.
I’ve had so many arguments with blokes about my eye make-up (I don’t usually wear any other kind.). How do you tell a guy who is about as broad minded as a cold chip that it’s nothing to do with him what you do with your face? They just sit there and once you’ve shot your mouth off efficiently (you think) they turn round and say – “But I don’t like it”! Ever felt like wringing someone’s neck?
Obviously many people think that it’s not up to the individual to do what they want to their faces. I’m sure that many young women (and maybe some boys) have been called into the head teacher’s room because he or she does not like the appearance of the pupil. When our headmaster told me to clean that “stuff” off my eyes during lunchtime, he also said that as head of the school he could have authority over my face. I left his office feeling really furious and humiliated.
But for all the shit and abuse I’ve heard and put up with – I’m still going to wear make-up. Lots of people have been reconciled to the fact that if I want to wear it, I’m bloody well going to!! Whatever happens, evan an anti-capitalist revolution, I think that make-up will always be used and I’m glad. It’s a great way of doing something different – however outrageous to some narrow-minded person – I hope it stays that way. Bovver boots and eyeliner rool OK!

Mairi Damer


The mighty Mo-Dettes have had better days than their third birthday party reviewed in the NME, 15 May, 1982.

Ten Pole Tudor
The Barracudas

Zig-Zag Club

Following in the footsteps of many great gatecrashers I accepted the dare to slip into something big, to be precise the Mo-dettes third birthday party.
The local luminaries were out in force, falling foolishly into the fun and frolics. One of the guests was already up doing his turn…and a real stinker it turned out to be! Ex-band The Barracudas were more like a beached guppy than some scourge of the deep. They lacked something – credibility. The embarrassing debacle they portrayed with such zest was the first in a long list of party poopers. It is indeed a shame to see a grown man kick a mike stand so many times under the delusion of notoriety. The Barracudas feeble attempt at musical accomplishment was thwarted by their persistent efforts to cross the Small Faces with early Clash – an exhibition that most parties can do without.
Party fears two. With a quick stop for the essential musical chairs the fare continued with our hostesses the Mo-dettes. After the first turn they had probably thought of opening with “It’s my party” but their music fell with a dying beat – the original impact, all gusto and guts grinding to an extended halt. The pyrotechnics from the roof were of more interest than the exotic but harmless indoor fireworks on stage. A lack of innovation was poorly covered by the dour dub pulse and the short skirts.
Maybe the effect of playing second fiddle at their own party had taken its toll. All I knew was that the feeble excuse for a party was wearing me down. The Mo-dettes need to think more of their guests’ appetites. It looked like a beautiful cake but my fears that it had grown stale over three years were confirmed.
I thought that the parents might come back, the lights go on and the party come to its well deserved end. But no!
Tenpole Tudor are definitely in the mould of the men that won the War of the Roses. Eddie himself performed like a road runner on speed – a Buster Keaton of the eighties. The party took on a new light that rekindled the dormant spark in most of those in attendance. Opening with the hoorah henries favourite ‘Swords’ the Knights proceeded to joust with the audience – lancing the boil of an evening and crowning all at court with savage, boisterous sound. The music was second rate but their presence was all – Eddie covered more ground that the floorboards, jumping about like a demented jester.
It was plain to see that this was a loud, rash and ultimately futile sound – famous on other bands failures. But I took my leave numb and headless thanks to the block and axe that Tenpole calls pop.

David Dorrell

Free Speech

This poem is from Rising Tide, an anthology of poetry and prose from the London Voices Poetry Workshop. There’s no date on the anthology but 1984 looks a good estimate. The Workshop met monthly at the Crown Tavern on Clerkenwell Green and was a member of the Federation of Worker-Writers and Community Publishers.
The poem is by Bill Eburn. He was born in 1911 and was a postman and POW in the Far East.

Free Speech

to lock
the door
behind me

I write boldly
on a piece of flimsy
‘Smith’ (our foreman)
‘is a bastard’

which carefully
I flush away,
content at last
to have had my say.

Bill Eburn

The Sick Journalist

From E. Nesbit’s Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism 1883 – 1908 published by the Fabian Society in 1908. That’s Edith Nesbit of the Railway Children and Five Children and It.

The Sick Journalist

Throb, throb, throb, weariness, ache and pain!
One’s heart and one’s eyes on fire,
And never a spark in one’s brain.
The stupid paper and ink,
That might be turned into gold,
Lie here unused,
Since one’s brain refused
To do its tricks – as of old.
One can suffer still, indeed,
But one cannot think any more.
There’s no fire in the grate,
No food on the plate,
And the East-wind shrieks through the door.
The sunshine grins in the street:
It used to cheer me like wine,
Now it only quickens my brain’s sick beat;
And the children are crying for bread to eat
And I cannot write a line!
Molly, my pet – don’t cry,
Father can’t write if you do –
And anyhow, if you only knew,
It’s hard enough as it is.
There, give old daddy a kiss,
And cuddle down on the floor;
We’ll have some dinner by-and-by.
Now, fool, try! Try once more!
Hold your head tight in your hands,
Bring your will to bear!
The children are starving – your little ones –
While you sit fooling there.
Beth, with her golden hair;
Moll, with her rough, brown head –
Here they are – see!
Against your knee,
Waiting there to be fed! –
I cannot bear their eyes.
Their soft little kisses burn –
They will cry again
In vain, in vain,
For the food that I cannot earn.
If I could only write
Just half a column or so
On ‘The Prospects of Trade’ or ‘The Irish Question,’
or ‘Why are Wages so Low?’ –
The printers are waiting for copy now,
I’ve had my next week’s screw,
There’ll be nothing more till I’ve written something,
God! what am I to do?
If I could only write!
The paper glares up white
Like the cursed white of the heavy stone
Under which she lies alone;
And the ink is black like death,
And the room and the window are black.
Molly., Molly – the sun’s gone out,
Cannot you fetch it back?
Did I frighten my little ones?
Never mind, daddy dropped asleep –
Cuddle down closely, creep
Close to his knee
And daddy will see
If he can’t do his writing. Vain!
I shall never write again!
Oh, God! was it like a love divine
To make their lives hang on my pen
When I cannot write a line?

Edith Nesbit

Glasgow Girls

Punks, rude girls, and mods in Glasgow from a feature on Glasgow and Edinburgh, Spare Rib, 93, April 1980.

All Girls Together

To anyone on the outside looking in, it would seem that the streets of Glasgow have a confusion of youth cultures, walking around in their tartan bondage strides, or Levi Sta-Prest. In fact there are two main divisions; punkettes or rude girls (who are all ex-punkettes anyway), and modettes.
Surviving punkettes are in the 15-19 age group, and if not still at school have a conventionally female job – office, factory, shop type of thing. There are punkettes and punkettes, and the posey types with their immaculate dyed blonde Siouxsieque hair, Miss Selfridge trousers and jackets, leather bags and monkey boots don’t think much of the hardcore types, in their Doc Marten’s baggy coats, PVCs, with metal adorned ears and Woolies’ spikes (a quiant local expression for an amateurish spikey hair cut). Both these types laugh openly at those who crawl out from the skirting board to go to concerts and can easily be recognised by their ripped shirts, chains of paper clips, safety pin earrings, dayglo footless tights and tea plate sized badges.
However this rare and exotic species, in true chameleon style, is on the whole putting aside its Sham 69 mirror badges and scrawled over gym shoes in favour of black and white panel dresses (MOD DRESSES – £12.99), white tights and sling back shoes (KITTEN HEELS TO CLEAR £1). These self styled modettes, hardly into their teens, think that slipping on a hairband, pinning a Madness badge or two onto their PVC mac and buying Two Tone singles is achieving something/making somepositivestatement/rebelling against society, when all they are doing is falling for a craze started by some nice looking boys who play hashed up Prince Buster and have been turned into a thriving industry. The Madness concert in Glasgow was the first I’d been to since Gorgeous Gary Numan where boys were in the minority, which I would have considered quite healthy if most of the girls hadn’t giggling, swooning, buying rip-off merchandise, eating Rolos, and dancing like Hopping Woodstocks. The whole thing is a bit oppressive.
Glasgow doesn’t have much to offer in the way of things to do. When there is a gig at the Apollo, it is usually very good, but the bouncers are very heavy handed (avergae weight about 16 stones, height 6′ 2″) and tickets cost upwards of £2. Most people still hang around the record shops on Saturday afternoons, tapping money and moaning about how lousy Glasgow is. The Countdown bar opens at 5.30 so it’s down there for pints of ridiculously overpriced beer, and bitchy conversation until 8 or 9, when it is cool to go up to the Tech. The Countdown (still nostalgically called the Mars Bar which was its name until Cadbury’s objected) used to solely used by punks, then just mods, and now it is frequented by anyone who hasn’t anywhere better to go. The Tech (Glasgow College of Technology to you) offers for £1, a reasonable bar, a good disco, and live music, some of which is good, a lot of which is indifferent. The only problem is finding a student to sign you in, but this is not insurmountable.
So that is the Glasgow scene – singularly unglamorous and very cliquey. You start off being a punkette, or a rude girl or (persih the thought) a modette to get out of the rut, fight apathy, and do something different. You end up apathetic, in another rut, doing the same thing every week, the only difference being you’ve got loads of other girls to do it with. That’s Glasgow all over.

Anna Burnside