Tag Archives: John Bitumen

John Bitumen – This Joke

From the Nottingham lad’s 1988 pamphlet Personal Vendetta.

There should be more to alternative comedy than saying FILOFAX. This is a designer poem aimed at getting cheap laughs at an alternative cabaret based loosely on Mutabaruka’s ‘Dis Poem’ (apologies).

This joke …
this joke is not about laughing at our own jokes
this is a serious joke
this joke is not about laughter at all
this joke however, is funnier than Jim Davidson
this joke is NOT about the Irish, mothers-in-law, the size of breasts or limp wrists
this joke is not about the colour of skin, the fat and the thin medallion man and his fake tan
oh no
this is a new joke
this joke is alternative
this joke is middle-class angst
and justifications for watching Dallas
this joke is for half-sharp students
who can laugh at themselves (why not? everyone else does)
this joke is acne, muesli and a Citroen 2cv
this joke is wee-wee, VD, MSC, and PMT
this joke is the BBC, 18 to 30
the morning after a curry
the voice of God and the CID
this joke is social workers and Star Wars


Enough Of That

Enough of That

Enough of that
Enough of those heads in the clouds
Enough babbling about brooks
Enough dreary monotone
(a serious business, those limp lines
on birds wings and vegetation)

Enough of that
Enough of those academic artefacts
Enough smart-arsed Latin insertions
Enough of those self satisfied recollections
(a serious business, impressing friends
with pretensions and intentions)

Enough of that
Enough of those dew drop tears
Enough closed eye escapism
Enough of those feeble drams in the future
(and enough praise from a distance for poverty,
this is a serious business)

Enough of that
Climb down the steps of your crumbling towers
Then open your bloody mouths
With words of protest
With words of action
Iron lines of construction
Words to use as hammers
Words to use as weapons
Words from the forge

Pete Ramskill

From his 1984 chapbook Strike.


In 1984 Pete Ramskill put a collection of poems called Strike. Part of it was a sequence of poems based on conversations with striking miners and miners’ wives involved in the fight to preserve their jobs and communities.

Strike – The Line

and the man said
with sleepless sunken eyes
“the bastards crossed the line”
and there was a question here
in those quiet words
a question steeped in history
dismay in incredulity
anger overcome
by tired confusion

so far from home
he slept
so far away
in a place where
the bastards cross the line

Pete Ramskill

Emily Harrison with a copy of Strike


A poem from Pete Ramskill’s 1984 collection Strike.
Pete also gigged and wrote as John Bitumen.

White And Safe

It’s easy spotting boneheads
NF or Made In England tattooed on pale pink arms
Or a swastika blue-green on an intense forehead
A face like a rasher of bacon
A curious uniformity
Yet only making the size of the ears
Rudely evident

It’s easy to say “silly bastards”
From a safe distance
Easy to “shit brains”
From suburban seclusion
Easy to dismiss the fears of others
Others on the front line
Others who see the boneheads
As the Jews once saw the brown shirts

It’s easy to ay “mindle morons”
About people who leave you alone
They don’t shit on your doorstep
Or brick your windows
Or kick your kids
No petrol poured through your front door
No stabbed or beaten friends
In hospital beds

White and safe
Deploring racist violence
Storing racist thoughts

Pete Ramskill

Ode To The Drivers Of Ford Capris

Poem from John Bitumen’s 1988 pamphlet Personal Vendetta
John Bitumen is a Nottingham poet, real name Pete Ramskill, who was known for his broadcasts on Radio Free Arthur during the miner’s strike.

Ode to the Drivers of Ford Capris

You neber see women in Ford Capris
those mucho, macho, mean machines
the answer to every boy racer’s dreams
a go faster fantasy on four wheels
a rubber burning roadster that certainly feels
like free-fall speed without a shute
a supersonic splat in a penis substitute

Driven by the psyched out, wound up wazzocks
pretending to be extras in ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard’
a microwave mentality and a copy of ‘Fast Car’
which the buy for the pictures with the Daily Star
they’re all air-horns and tinted glass
thy’re the baby boom babies who weren’t breast fed
deranged by petrol fumes – a head full of lead
they see Murray Walker as their Holy Pope
they drink the lager of Lamot and they don’t smoke dope
they dangle their keys from designer jeans
and Wayne’s right foot says what he means
he sees Sharon, who’s sat in the passenger seat
as his in-car ornament, his made-up meat
he models himself on Dirty Den
the speed limit’s for boys not real men
and with the smell of Denim and a U2 tape
‘the lads’ put him up to Blind Date
where, with his footballer’s perm neatly slicked
the no fun failure wasn’t picked
because a bloody long bonnet doesn’t impress
a short hand typist in a lurex dress

A Blind Date reject – the lowest of the low
he got back in his car, it was go-man-go
upped the horsepower and changed the oil
even bought a matt-black aero-foil
but he couldn’t hide his sexual inadequacy
‘cos only dickheads try to do it in a Ford Capri

John Bitumen