Spongers, the poetry collection on Paul Weller’s Riot Stories, edited by Dave Potter reviewed in Sounds, 10 November, 1984.
There’s a bonus Billy Childish review as well.
Skinhead poet Barney Rubble in the 1987 anthology Hard Lines 3, poems chosen by Ian Dury, Fanny Dubes, and Tom Paulin.
Mad Uncle Tom
We found him in the early rain
in his striped pyjamas, that Spring;
God knows where he thought he
was going when the path ran out
and turned to mud,
mad uncle Tom, huddled small in
the rain, though the sun tried hard
to coax his faltering heart the last,
few steps into summer.
And the times I’d call to see him,
and say hello, he’d wink at me,
like a lad, and say:
‘they’ll not put me away’;
then he chased the jerries out from
under the trees, with his bayoneted
The day I took a German penfriend home
mum said: ‘you’ve never met a
German, have you Tom?’
‘No, but I killed s few,’
and we were all ashamed, though
I laugh, remembering, now, mad uncle
Tom who was blown up and bullied
by the war, till he thought that only
the world was mad, and him the last
sane man who ever sang songs for
sparrows, and hid beneath the kitchen
table whenever a plane went by.
Once, he took me fishing without any
rods, saying: ‘if the fish want to be
caught, why they’ll jump right out
in your lap.’ And we crouched
in the wind, listened for the fish,
me watching his grey, whiskered
face and him watching the water,
silent as time.
And I never think of him as old,
or broken, or defeated.
Trevor Griffiths’ Oi For England shown on ITV 17 March, 1982.
The finest of the droog punk bands live in Bradford, 1983.
The Gymslips album reviewed in Punk Lives, number 6, 1983.
Rocking With the Renees
(Abstract Records ABT006)
On first play I was smugly set to damn these ‘pseudo-rebels’ as wimpy plastic pop perpetrators playing K-Tel versions of classic punk tunes. “There’s an Eater riff, there’s a Blondie and, Jesus, what a horrendous Clish rip-off,” you can imagine the sneer on my face.
Now I’m stuck, the first side has grown on me to the extent that I wear it as a second skin to go down the shops.
Well let’s go. All the songs are about drinks, boys (falling in and out of lust) and pie ‘n’ mash – more like The Monkees than Test-tube Babies.
As self-proclaimed spokesgirls for the nation’s Renees (female herberts as far as my field-research has shown) you’d expect a harder sound but no, the boppy Mod sixties pop feel to the best track, ‘Barbara Cartland’, takes the breath away, in the nicest possible way.
In fact to continue this line, I’d say this album is more the little Mod girls you see on Carnaby Street than the beer swilling-lasses they seem to think they are.
“A nightingale sang in Berkley Square,
But my friend Babs wasn’t there”
sorry about that, I just keep singing along to ‘Barbara Cartland’ without trying to analyse the thing. Perhaps it’s all for the best.
The chaps live in London, 2013. God to see the magnificent Debbie Smith with them too.
Twee Oi lambasted by Steven Wells in the Guardian, 30 October, 2008.
Twoi is the road to hell
An unholy hybrid of twee indie and rough Oi! punk fused in the US is set to infect the UK
Once a month in Philadelphia, rock-hard skinheads gather on one side of the Khyber pub dancefloor. And the city’s faux-English simpering fops – some wearing geeky, no-sex-spex and clutching Brideshead Revisited-style teddy bears – gather on the other. The tension mounts. The air crackles. The stench of brute testosterone mingles with the scent of My Little Pony lavender water. And then the skinheads and the twee kids all run into the middle and have a jolly good dance to some twoi music.
Yes you read that right. Twoi is what you get when you cross Oi!, a hyper-aggressive, absurdist parody of 1970s English working class youth, with twee; the horribly annoying, faux-posh, passive-aggressive distillation of Enid Blytonesque 1950s English middle classes. And it’s real. Very real. I feel your fear.
At the England Belongs to Twee disco in Philadelphia, the evening usually starts with an hour or so of “really intense Oi! to drive away the normals,” says twoi godfather Mike McKee, who’s been co-running the night for two years. And then things usually get mental. BMX Bandits might follow the Business followed by the Sea Urchins and then Blitz.
“And it can get confusing,” says McKee. “Like when you’re asked for some Tallulah Gosh by a hulking skinhead in a West Ham shirt. Or when a skinny librarian type asks for some Cockney Rejects.”
One such twoi disco ended with an elongated version of Yackety Sax, says McKee, “and 10 skinheads chasing their girlfriends around the dancefloor in a circle, pretending that their clothes were falling off.”
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Twoi (not to be confused with Croi, which is crusty Oi! and a different kettle of stinking fish altogether) is, of course, both a musical oxymoron and an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. But it matters not a jot to these Philadelphians that back in Blighty the Oi!-sters and the tweekids are mods-versus-rockers style deadly enemies who fight like cat and dog.
I told Fat Bob from ultra-Oi! band Hard Skin about England Belongs to Twee when he visited Philadelphia recently. He nearly puked with disgust.
“That’s fucking disgusting, England doesn’t belong to twee. England belongs to hard,” said Bob, who habitually refers to Belle and Sebastian as “Bell End Sebastian”.
He was seemingly unaware that posh girls in nice frocks and “Twee as Fuck” T-shirts would be in attendance at that night’s Hard Skin show. He also seemed unaware that his driver on this US tour was none other than Mike McKee – the very same Philly promoter who is cross-breeding rough-as-fuck Oi! with its mock-posh, pony-owning cousin, presumably in a bizarre attempt to produce really annoying smug, tuneless, passive-aggressive baby skinhead offspring that you’d want to punch but daren’t.
One can only think that this genre confusion in the minds of American youth arose when Morrissey briefly flirted with skinhead imagery in the 1980s. But how this heresy has managed to not only persist in the era of transatlantic travel and instantaneous global communications is something of a mystery.
Twoi has parallels with reggae – which was born when Jamaican musicians mixed Caribbean music with the rock’n’roll they heard coming over the radio from Miami. Has twoi similarly spawned a hybrid? Horrifically the answer is yes – and from the most unlikely source.
It turns out that Fat Bob is an Oi! traitor. Hard Skin – inarguably the hardest, Oi!-est and thus the best live band on the planet – have been collaborating with Amelia Fletcher – twee godmother and founder of super-seminal jolly-hockeysticks twee combo Tallulah Gosh – on a twoi album tentatively titled (and I am not making this up) Ten Birds, Twenty Tits.
It might have started in the US, but now twoi has flashed back across the Atlantic and infected the homeland. The result will almost certainly be the rise of a class of “Twee as Fuck” T-shirt wearing thug-fops – the Viz character Raffles, Gentleman Thug made flesh.
I have seen the future. It’s Garry Bushell being kicked senseless by Gareth from Los Campesinos! forever. So it’s not all bad.