The Day The Machines Came

This poem was written in 1967, long before self-service checkouts and tube stations without staff. Having said that, a mate of mine told his Jobcentre advisor he wanted to be a DLR train driver and it too the said advisor 5 months to realise the Docklands Light Railway has driverless trains. Progress.
The poem is from the 1968 It’s The World That Makes The Love Go Round anthology of poems from Breakthru poetry magazine.

The Day The Machines Came

They said, ‘Go get your cards.’
So I walked across to the personnel office.
Jenny was there.
‘You too, Mr. Smith’ she said.
I forced a half-smile.
‘Me too,’ I quipped.
Bates, the P.O., stood and said nothing-
Just watched.
Suddenly he began, ‘We’re really terribly. . .’
But his last words were lost to me
As I walked out into the open air.
I was free-and that’s what I hated most.
In ‘The Plumed Serpent’ D. H. Lawrence says,
‘There’s no such thing as liberty.
You just change one sort of domination for another.’
Well the domination of freedom is awful-
Just awful!
It scares me now that I’m free-
Forcibly free!

Hadyn J. Adams

The Real Enemy

The Federation of Conservative Students, (very) right-wing toffs meet Seething Wells in the NME, 5 April, 1986.
The right were quick to shout loony left, but they had their own extremists too. These were the people that wore Hang Mandela t-shirts and put up posters mocking starving Asian children.

A Class On Class

Michael Horovitz gets into a tizzy over Blake Morrison writing about Tony Harrison, from the London Review of Books Vol. 4, Number 8, May 1982.

SIR: In what monkish cell has Blake Morrison been conducting his explorations into contemporary verse? He alleges, without telling your readers what they are, that ‘there are grounds for thinking Tony Harrison the first genuine working-class poet England has produced this century … Harrison seems to have the field to himself.’ This would be admissible only if you’d had your ear to the grounds of middle or upper-class literary coffee mills. Which is not to say that Harrison isn’t a genuine or working-class poet – nor that working-classness necessarily or always matters very much.

But since Morrison invokes these grounds, and a concern with thinking, let me commend the food for further thought on this subject to be found in plenty in the poetry of Attila the Stockbroker, Jim Burns, Aidan Cant, Anne Clark, John Cooper Clarke, Joolz Denby, Patrik Fitzgerald, Mark Hyatt, Roger McGough, Barry MacSweeney, Brian Patten, Tom Pickard, Tom Raworth, Alan Sillitoe and Seething Wells; and in the poems, as well as the songs, of pre and post-punk songwriter-singers, such as Syd Barrett, Pete Brown, Kevin Coyne, Ray Davies, Roy Harper, Richard Jobson, John Lennon and Paul Weller – amongst many, many others. None of them is haut bourgeois (indeed, most of them wouldn’t know, or want to know, what that means): but each is, or was, like Tony Harrison, in full possession of ‘first-hand knowledge of the material they deal in’.

Michael Horovitz
New Departures, Bisley, near Stroud

Blake Morrison writes: I have yet to see a Michael Horovitz letter (and I have seen many) which does not reel off at least a score of names which are said to prove the existence of some renaissance in contemporary British poetry. The names vary from week to week, but the ones cited here do little to persuade me that I was wrong in singling out Tony Harrison. For this is an issue of quality rather than quantity, and the ‘genuine working-class poet’ is, as I understand it, not only genuinely working-class but of genuine poetic stature. None of Horovitz’s candidates meets that requirement, not even what he calls the ‘pre and post-punk songwriter-singers’ (in what useful sense can the likes of Roy Harper and Syd Barrett be called pre-punk – this is rather like calling a Thirties poet a pre-Forties poet?). Like Horovitz, I don’t believe that ‘working-classness necessarily or always matters very much.’ But it does matter in Harrison’s case because it is the subject of Continuous. And if one is going to invoke class one should be accurate and not assume that all rock musicians are by definition working-class. John Lennon was brought up in a semi in a respectable neighbourhood, and punk has had more to do with bourgeois art schools than with working-class council estates.

Table Anarchists

A rant about trendy politicos from Wake Up, number 6, 1985.
The Saboteur was a Ranting poet from Taunton in Somerset.

Table Anarchists

Sit around and get pissed
That’s your table anarchist
He’s the middle class fighting the system
Christ I must’ve blinked and missed ‘im
Larry the Lamb and his flock of sheep
So bloody boring they send me to sleep
The health food shop is the place to be
‘Cos it’s easier to buy herbal tea
A handful of nuts, a handful of rice
Devise a plan and think about it twice
He’ll tell you he’s a vegan, swear it’s true
Then he’ll try to force his ideas on you
His ideals and lifestyle just don’t match
And he can’t grow fuck all on his vegetable patch
It’s about as much as he is able
Anarchy on the kitchen table


Sarah Fletcher with Wake Up, number 6.


A great ska compilation reviewed in the NME, 25 August, 1979. 2 Tone was the beat of the street and kids were looking back to see where the music came from. ‘Cause fashion is my only culture…

What’s A Review Worth?

One of the entertaining things about trawling through old music newspapers is clocking the reviews and seeing how off they so often are. Yep, that’s what reviews are worth – nothing. All too often the record they’ve sneered at goes on to become a classic of the time. These reviews from the NME, 11 March, 1978 include Werewolves Of London, Piss Factory and GLC getting snarked, each of ’em now much loved and thought of as amongst the best records of the time.
The reviewer is Monty Smith.

Patti Smith
Hey Joe (Version) (Sire)

Warpo Patti’s ‘version’ of “Hey Joe” seems to be about Patty Hearst spreading for a well-hung black revolutionary. Not too many laughs here, despite Tom Verlaine being on lead guitar. Seventy-three minutes of “Piss Factory” on the flip which we all love, or not. A grand, sweeping social commentary in the finest Zola tradition, in which all the characters wind up pregnant and get run over by a bus in the end.

Warren Zevon
Werewolves Of London Asylum (Asylum)

A jolly nonsense piece which appears to concern Chinese takeaways and those mutilation murders so popular amongst young californians. Nicely played, of course, but the sum total adds up to sweet FA. Nick Kent reckons the flip (“Tenderness On The Block”) but it all sounds the same to me – dead naff.

Johnny Paycheck
Take This Job And Shove It (Epic)

Hard ass country, well produced by Billy Sherrill, and a great shame that it doesn’t quite live up to that great title.

G.L.C. (Small Wonder)

“You hate it and the kids in the shop love it,” says Pete in his scribbled note from Small Wonder. I don’t hate it, I just think it’s funny: good ol’ headbanging-on-low-ceilings punk, the chorus (“GLC, GLC, GLC – you’re full of shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit” delivered so fast that the object of their ire comes across as Chelsea. Wotch it dahn the Shed, lads. If they’re serious, then this is a joke – but if it’s a parody, it’s brilliant, down to the rhyming of magistrate with masturbate and the ‘Fuk Orf The World’ etched next to the matrix number. Now look, let’s not get high-handed about this but so long as the Labour Party are in power then I don’t worry overmuch about petty bureaucrats in regional government. And if, as seems likely the Blue Rinsed Iron Maiden does emerge as a serious contender for Downing St, then I’ll leave it to the deeply felt chauvinism and influence of the working/unemployed man (remember the three day week?) to sort things out. Are we not men?

Hard Left’s Tim and Donna back from a trip to Small Wonder.