The magnificent Kenneth Williams interviewed in Jamming!, number 34, November, 1985.
The chaps reviewed live in the Melody Maker, 1 February, 1986.
Queen’s University, Belfast
Raw, bloody and most certainly uncooked comedy from two more men in baggy suits vying for your thick, sweet peals of laughter – this was the “Scum, Vitriol And The Slash Tour” (soon to join the Red Wedge Comedy Tour) and the barbarism began very much at home. With the audience utterly pliable within minutes and in the midst of a bitterly argued national constitutional national upheaval, the gags about the RUC, UDR, supergrasses and Paisley and “Burn Again” Seawright singing, “You Don’t Get Me I’m Part Of The Union”, lash out with absolutely no regard for personal safety.
In front of the most partisoan (prejudiced?) audience they’re going to be up against on the whole tour, the unmitigated moxie was unbelievable – no testing water, treading water or pissing about, just hit the bastards where it hurts most with Clones cyclone, comedy that could well leave unsightly bruises.
Foresaking the all-too-familiar alternative comedy routine of sinecure sitcom ‘n’ ads sends ups (not to mention appearing in the bloody things) and other largely incestuous media coverage, Skint Video instead pick on the much ignored Sixties style animating satirical principle of Radio 4’s “Week Ending” and go for broke . . . and to hell with the breaks.
As rock afficianados you’ll love The Jones’s impression: “I would go out tonight/But I couldn’t find a vegetable who cared”, The Kinks’ Sun City opus “Zola”, spewin’ up with a shockingly pin-sharp Bragg take-off and the dead pop stars rock ‘n’ roll call eg “…drive a purple mini/Into an oak tree” to the tune of “Ride A White Swan”.
As clued-up world watchers, the ice cool commentary on French defence hi-jinx, “Somewhere Under The Rainbow”, and the affecting “Cecil Don’t Take Your Love To Town” will send you back to your “Spitting Image” videos demanding even more excess.
Horror fiction had a spikey writer kicking arse in the 80s. Horror anthologies were a regular part of a 70s youth and Clive Barker’s short story collections Books Of Blood brought some freshness to the genre, or as he puts it “The poetry of holding a guy’s brains in your hand.”
Jamming!, number 34, November, 1985 interviews the lad himself.
One of the earliest books on football hooliganism reviewed in Jamming! number 21, October, 1984, by Richard ‘Cool Notes’ Edwards.
Hooligans Abroad: The Behaviour and Control of Emglish Football Fans in Continental Europe by John Williams/Eric Dunning/Patrick Murphy (Routledge and Keegan Paul £8.95)
it seems rather ironic that three sociologists from Leicester University can attempt to solve the sickening problem of violence involving English supporters abroad after the FA, the clubs, the police, the courts, and UEFA have all failed. The authors avoid the usual mistakes of intellectuals trying to study ‘the proles’, by travelling and socializing with the fans, (even to the extent of getting arrested) and keeping the surveys and data to a minimum.
Though the majority of the book is balanced, there is an underlying biased complacency common in this country towards the trouble caused by English supporters aboad. There is also a heavy and sometimes almost naive emphasis on the social background of the offenders (‘The Lower Working Class’), but the authors do well to expose some of the less obvious factors that add to the problem.
Finally, the authors suggest a series of measures that might help prevent future trouble. These include colour coding match tickets for different supporters; only issuing tickets through club or FA travel schemes linked with a photo card membership; greater co-operation with foreign clubs and police forces over travel, ticket allocation, and segregation of fans; and the use of stewards on all trips abroad to supervise fans and report any trouble makers to the travel clubs.
Of course such measures wil have pitfalls, and it is sad that there must be restrictions at all, yet the growing threat of expulsion of English clubs demands that we face up to the problem and solve it. This book cannot provide all the answers but it is a step in the right direction.
Dave Robins’ book We Hate Humans, was the first book to look at football hooligans seriously. Several chapters were ‘the yobs’ speaking for themselves. This review is from The New Internationalist, 138, August, 1984.
We hate humans
The raw energy of the young frightens the rest of society. Politicians advocate a return to family life. But what chance is there for teenagers, asks David Robins, ‘in families where adults behave like violent, unpredictable children’?
TO sociologists, they are ‘the culturally deprived’. To educationalists, ‘the disadvantaged’. The police call them ‘slag’. Frankie Rice and Vincent John are both 16 and live on a big council estate in North London.
Frankie: ‘At school there was stabbings in the playground. The teachers, they didn’t know what to do about it. And then you’ve got them new teachers comm’ in and they think they know it hut they don’t. It’s just what they read in books. When we was 13, 14, we used to just go into school, get signed on and then bunk off. It was a load of crap, school. All we did was fight and we could do that just as well outside. We would give the little kids a kickin’ when they came out of school, nick their money, and then go home. We used to do that every day
To Vincent, all this is a picnic compared to what goes on in his own home.
Vincent: ‘I come ‘ome one day and my bed was in the skip! Me step-dad done it. ‘E says it’s cos the bill (police) come round the house Friday lookin’ for me. ‘E just done ‘is nut and that were it. My real dad used to get drunk and hit my mum an sister. But when he weren’t drunk he were all right.’
In the evenings Frankie and Vincent team up in search of houses to crack.
‘First you ring the doorbell to see if anyone’s in, and if they answer you just leg it down the road.’ Or there is always the odd vehicle left unattended, to take and drive away; or failing that, to let down the tyres and scratch up the paintwork. On Saturday afternoons, ‘We all form up into one big mob and go and watch the football.’ The consequences are predictable.
What are the answers? Law’n’ order? Short, Sharp Shocks? Detention centres hold no fears: ‘more like a holiday camp’. Besides, they have long been under the watchful eye of the police and courts, not to mention the social services. (‘There’s a social worker living in my kitchen,’ says Vincent.) They expect to get ‘banged up’ some day. ‘Probably for someink I didn’t do,’ says Frankie wryly.
How about Mrs Thatcher’s ‘return to the traditional values of family life’ as a solution? Sounds good. doesn’t it? Not a chance, in families where adults behave like violent, unpredictable children and the little children, glued to the pop heroics of Bowie, Duran Duran, Grandmaster Funk and the rest, try to behave like sophisticated mini-adults.
And what of the old cliche, the working class path to self-advancement through education? To a 16-year-old working-class school leaver whose parents are on the dole and whose own chances of getting a job are slim, that’s getting to be a joke.
Some observers would argue that no social tinkering could really help people like Frankie and Vincent. Are they not all the inevitable products of a modern class-bound society? Images of rebel youth may have changed, become more despairing than in the days of hippies and student radicals, but then, the underlying social inequalities have sharpened since the Sixties. Young people have been more severely affected by the recession than any other group. According to figures supplied by the independent campaigning organisation Youth aid, the rate of unemployment among the under 25s in the UK is twice that of older people. About a quarter have been out of work for more than a year. And the picture is the same in most of the Western democracies. Unemployment in the OECD countries has grown from 10 million to over 32 million in the past decade – and 40 – 60 per cent of the jobless are under 26. Absurd as it is, young people are among the first to be consigned to the scrapheap.
It is all too easy, then, for teenagers like Frankie and Vincent to feel alienated, to believe they have no place in our culture. Kids like this are not just going through a phase of adolescent upheaval. Their symbols of violence and hopelessness mirror society’s unambiguous message to them: as unskilled labour they are superfluous to the needs of the economy; as people. ‘a social nuisance’. More often than not, they come from homes where nobody gives a damn.
We ignore the conflict at our peril. It isn’t going to go away when these teenagers (chronologically at least) become adults. Detention centres will merely be replaced by gaols, dole queues by longer ones. With this generation providing the parents of the next generation, the downward spiral of disaffection can only twist another turn into despair.
David Robins is the author of ‘We hate humans’
(Penguin paperback UK: £2.50 / AUS: $4.95 / NZ: $9.95).
Publication date: August 30, 1984.