1980 – Bob Short. Short extract from his book ‘Trash Can’

Eds note: this chapter concerns squatting in Campbell Buildings, Waterloo 1980

Doctor Death (not his real name) was about as bad an advertisement for five years worth of medical training as you could possibly imagine. It wasn’t so much the fact that he was a bad doctor . Whilst he was definitely crap in his chosen field, that was beside the point. It is just that you’d expect some kind of reward for that much work, wouldn’t you? Five years worth of sleepless nights on duty in a public hospital? Years of treating the great unwashed and washed alike? That has to worth something. You’d at least expect a receptionist and a car with the vaguest hope of passing its next MOT.

I don’t know who he’d pissed off in this (or some previous) life to earn his current lot but it must have been some unbelievably evil bastard. The judge’s gavel had fallen hard with a sentence that included a fleet of trucks worth of bad karma. Shit, we’ve all been there, done that and visited the souvenir shop.

Condemned by the local Health Authority to work a dingy basement surgery on a Waterloo council estate, he sailed ever closer to the day of his inevitable striking from the Medical Register. He had little to look forward to. There was the bottle of Sainsbury’s scotch in his bottom desk drawer but that was more of an everyday thing than a treat. Retirement looked good if he lived that long. In the meantime, from dawn to dusk, he received a steady stream of punk rock zombies craving Valium and Mogodon. At least, despite appearances, they didn’t want to feast upon his living brains.

I was not really interested in his problems because I had enough of my own. It was a quarter past eleven on a Friday night and I was wondering whether I dared put my penis in Doctor Death’s hand. I’m sorry but I had to give you a little heads up about his medical standing and the dangers such an act might involve before I got on with the details. Standing over the toilet, inspecting the tell tale signs of newly discovered venereal disease, it was a decision that I, myself, was not taking lightly. There was the clap clinic at St Thomas’ of course but last time I went there, the blood test had revealed a large and diverse range of pharmaceuticals. So large and diverse in fact that the attending nurse had loudly introduced me to all and sundry as the walking chemist shop. Such familiarity is rather inappropriate in such settings but she was cute as far as nurses go. The cutest nurses always work the clap clinic. It is the one place no-one seriously tries to pick you up.

The doctor confirmed the nurse’s diagnosis and assured me such variety of substance abuse represented something of a record in his experience. Not realising this was a bad thing, I was quietly pleased at such recognition . Don’t tell that to anyone. A good drug fiend has a reputation to uphold but it should be spread in whispers.

My main problem with the staff of that venerated institution was that they liked sticking that horrible umbrella thing up the eye of your cock and giving it the kind of good hard scraping that is difficult to forget. A quarter century on and the wince is still there. I still clench my teeth at the memory. If you thought the burning sensation you experienced due to the disease was bad, here was a procedure that would have you contemplating celibacy as a serious life option for at least several days. You have to admit that several days is a long time to consider celibacy.

The other disadvantage with the clinic was that it wouldn’t be open until Monday. The sooner I got onto those antibiotics, the sooner I’d be able to fuck again. The way my dick looked, I didn’t even want to touch it myself so a wank was out of the question.

I knew that I had to deal with the problem and I had a fair idea that I could just demand penicillin from the Death dude and he would oblige. His bedside manner was generally restricted to the phrase “What do you want?” His pen would already be quivering atop the prescription pad in bored anticipation. He positively groaned when presented with an ailment that you didn’t know how to treat yourself.

The trouble would come if he suddenly decided to take his hypocritical oath seriously. (I’m sick of writing sic.) Alcoholics can be so damn unpredictable. Doctor Death could suddenly become overwhelmed with quiet sentimentality towards his patients. Paternally, he would turn to you and tell you that he wouldn’t feed his dog the crap that he was scripting out. I doubted he had a dog or at least not one that hadn’t died of neglect. I figured that he sometimes just liked the company. He had once decided to stare into my inner ear for a good twelve minutes for no apparent reason other than my request for sleeping pills. Maybe he was just checking if I had any brain left in there to damage.

What if he reached into that tattered plastic holdall he carried in lieu of a black leather bag? God only knows what he kept in there. What if he pulled out some rusty hooked device of his own design? I imagined the good doctor downing another healthy swig of whisky whilst trying to work out which one of my dicks he should plunge one of his bent coat hangers into. It was not a thought to inspire confidence.

My course of action was clear. Tomorrow, I had to see the doctor but remember to keep one eye on the door in case he asked me to take my pants off. In the meantime, I had to take lots of downers and try to remember not to fuck anyone. Normally, that would be easier said than done but there was the whole question of how I’d managed to get myself into this situation again. That had not raised my stakes in any of the major popularity contests. The queue to my bedroom door was noticeably thin.

 I had met Toni under rather unusual circumstances. Waking up on the toilet to find a strange girl pumping some unknown chemical into your blood stream cuts through all those usual social niceties one expects by way of introduction. Apparently, she thought I was cute but urgently needed some kind of a pick me up to awaken me from my drug induced stupor. A syringe full of what I can only assume was sulphate certainly caught my attention. My introduction to intravenous drug use thus came unexpectedly and unasked for. Don’t let me try and convince you that I was complaining. I was out of my fucking gourd. Besides, it was a good lesson about not falling asleep in the toilet with the door open. I mean to say… anything could happen and it probably did.

Things had taken a fairly predictable course from there. Within an hour, she had climbed over a fifth floor balcony and threatened to throw herself upon the cold hard courtyard below. In a voice that quivered with existential angst she proclaimed the world cruel and bemoaned the fact that nobody loved her. Well, that was a feeling I at least understood on some level and, not having had sex for a fortnight, my testicles felt swollen like watermelons with backed up sperm. It all made a quiet kind of sense at the time. Who says the age of romance is dead?

The next morning, she scarpered early because she thought her boyfriend would probably be worried, Toni, or Puke as she preferred to be known, strapped on her Docs and headed back to the wilds of Kennington. Unbeknownst to me, I had just secured another black mark against my name in the eyes of the Campbell Buildings sewing circle. It was bad enough that I had copulated outside of the group but no-one had pointed out to me that Toni was only fourteen.

With such a large group of reprobates gathered in such close quarters and with so little to do between ponced cigarettes, gossip was the order of the day. Cliques, sub cliques and secret societies blossomed. An anthropologist would have had a field day.

The sewing circle was a loose collective well known for its member’s skill at needle work of one sort and another. They were the princesses of the block, the in-crowd, the squats’ equivalent of a cheerleading squad. They would squeal with delight if you liberated stock from the local off-licence or illegally rigged their electricity supply. But they were fickle in their favours. They had the skills to cut enemies to ribbons with the sharpest claws south of the river and they weren’t afraid to use them. What good is power if you never use it?

It was easy to fall from grace in a shifting moral landscape. I had initially fallen foul of the sewing circle because I snogged Evelyn under the kitchen table one night. Cold shoulders, tongue lashings and cries of “unclean” taught me that it was one thing to have Crass records and go to Rock against Racism gigs but that didn’t give you the automatic right to kiss women of colour.

Such concerns had not occurred to me. I just liked the way Evelyn hid the most beautiful pair of eyes behind the nastiest pair of granny glasses that the National Health could supply. In her green plastic sandals worn over pink florescent socks, she was strange and other worldly and thus reminded me of me.

I thought racism was the preserve of skinheads and the mentally sub normal. Swastika shirts were ironic rather than iconic. Skin colour had as much significance as eye colour in a world of rainbow hued hair dyes. Of course, I lived in a world where bald headed boys with home made British Movement tattoos listened exclusively to Jamaican records. The nation’s morality reeked of insanity. If any proof were needed, the recent election of Margaret Thatcher underlined it. If I couldn’t follow the rules it was simply because the rules made no sense.

Once again, the news was out all over town. I had been a very bad boy.

This moral outrage did not stop the sewing circle adopting an under aged runaway of their own. This sweet young thing clearly idolised the shop lifting pink Trojan mini-skirt lifestyle and all those who walked it in sharp stiletto heels. She would have crawled across hot coals in a bid to fit in so that is exactly what they made her do. They named her Tea, not through rhyming slang acknowledgment of criminal skill but because it became her duty to make that beverage on request. That along with any other household duties required, demanded or merely dreamt up in a fit of casual sadism. I first met her on her knees as she attempted to scrub a bathroom floor with a nail brush. I suggested she rebel against this task but she feared the consequences. They might not take her thieving later. Lincoln had freed the slaves but not in beautiful downtown Waterloo.

Campbell Buildings was a sprawling between-the-wars estate that Lambeth council wanted demolished to make way for a bus terminal. Quietly, it was probably policy to turn a blind eye to the hundred or so punks who had squatted in the interim. There were a lot of hard core lefties in the Lambeth administration who believed all the homeless should be housed and took this as an ideological stance. It was, however, the pragmatists in the regime who finally reigned. For them, we were a way to save money. It was good we made such appalling neighbours. The existing tenants who had previously held out for the better deal to which they were entitled were suddenly none too fussed about which new hovel they were transferred into.

There was also the advantage that it was cheaper to leave us where we were rather than build a brand new state-of-the-art prison facility. That could wait until the new Tory Government provided funding to open up the internment camps. In the meantime, we were free to make our own Abaddon which is exactly what myself and the others did.

Despite my unkind words, the sewing circle was not wrong all of the time. Sleeping with fourteen year olds is never clever especially when they are fourteen going on fifty. Listen boys, you don’t need a degree in psychology to guess at the traumas you’re complicating when you go there. That said, the squatters of Campbell Building were all fucked up one way or another; literally, figuratively and most often both. We sought comfort not just in the arms of strangers but with anyone who would have us.

The sewing circle was also right about not sleeping with people outside the immediate vicinity. My newly festering penis was ample testimony to that. 1980 was a different world of course. Condoms were the weapons of choice for disgusting old people raised before the contraceptive pill. AIDS was not even a blip on yonder horizon. Disease was defeated and we all lived better through illicit chemistry. We could be the generation who lived fast, stayed beautiful, never died and never grew old; a veritable army of Peter and Petra Pans. It was a grand scheme until its inherent follies were exposed.

Scarecrow had been the first to die. Loaded up on sleeping pills, he went up to the roof for reasons unknown. He might have been bored, depressed or just needed a minute to himself to watch the moon come up over the buildings. Who knows why any of us do anything? He either overdosed or fell asleep and froze. We never found out which. By accident or design, it was a sad and lonely passing. In the morning, the police played a game where they threw tiny stones at his open mouth to see who could score the first point. Grief spilled out onto the courtyard below but the authorities had marked out their patch with strips of Metropolitan Police tape, He belonged to them now.

From that moment on, death watched over us with an icy gaze. It was capricious but it would not be denied. Parents came to reclaim bodies, cut hair, choose suits and re-brand with long abandoned names. Their control, thought long lost, won out in the end. These prodigal sons and daughters found repose in the leafy suburbs and towns from whence they thought they had finally escaped. They had found their little piece of England whether they liked it or not.

The ghosts of those we knew and loved were never laid to rest. No graves marked the names we spoke. Their stories were wiped clean and altered as if Jesus was a real person and he himself had washed and forgiven them of their sins. History is always written by the victor and the battles we waged looked all but lost.

The world was dark and that darkness was rising up against us. It was chucking out time on Friday night at locals across the land; the most dangerous hour of them all. The blackest of hearts were granted courage through alcohol but now found themselves ripped from the nurture of the publican’s breast. Angered by these severed ties, the well worn path between boozer and council flat were littered with half eaten curries, bad intentions and the bodies of unwary travellers.

We were held up in a ground floor flat. The council had boarded up the windows and we left these four ply sheets in place not merely through laziness but also for defensive purposes. Even sunlight was our enemy now. The only access was through the front door and, even there, precautions had been taken. Bolts, locks and chains merely offer psychological defence for those who believe their safe European homes to be their castles. In reality, these devices fail all too readily at the first hint of serious attack.

In all the flats, we removed the kitchen doors and propped them up at forty-five degree angles against the front doorways. This was the kind of defensive installation that allowed you to catch several winks of wary half-sleep if you kept one eye open. Well, it did if it was used in conjunction with a bucket load of downers and a strategically placed blunt instrument left under the mattress. The claw hammer was the Teddy Bear of our new generation.

Though we took many chances, in this we took few. Attacks were common and we didn’t take any chances by offending any deities. Charms and amulets began to proliferate along with spells, talismen and hexes. We weren’t fussy about Pantheons. We made a new voodoo from our superstitions. Certain pavement cracks were avoided whilst walking, matches were always snapped after third light and hats were kept far from beds. Various items of clothing were deemed to be lucky and were thus worn until they rotted from our skin. The line between mental illness and religion is a thin one. Once you convince another of the truth of your lunacy then all doubts are cast aside. Convince a few more and you can start picking up tax deductable donations.

It was a boy’s night in and pickings were scarce. We collected our dole on Thursday and the cash had gone the way of dreams. It had vanished with the dawning. We spent the night with prescription drugs, talking and smoking Benson and Hedges cigarettes. The floor was a gold field of abandoned packets.

There was Cory Spondendce and Quick Phil, Two Tone Steve and me. Fat Phil was off sulking in the kitchen or some other dank corner. He had been pretending he was in a time warp for the last few days and this attention seeking had become rather tiresome. Cory had suggested he go and fuck himself – but not anywhere that we could see him doing it. There were certain things you had to specify in Campbell Buildings. Self help books addressing boundary issues were at least a decade off.

Others came and went over the course of the evening. Ruthless and Jessica asked if we wanted to go to the Marquee and see Cowboys International. As if. There was a group who played no part in anybody’s top ten thousand must-see bands list. Pinki and Blowjob made a visit to inform us they were up to no good somewhere. It involved a group of the local estate lads and we thought it better not to know any more before the event. We’d certainly hear all about it in explicit detail later. That went without saying.

A portable record player spun an endlessly repeating loop of Siouxse and the Banshees singles. After they left the charts, top forty records tended to end up in the local newsagency at forty nine pence a pop. That put them within our price range unless, of course, the sales assistant wasn’t paying too much attention. The discount then grew to be five fingered.

I had been in better moods. Frequently. Life was going the way life tends to go the minute some fool claims that things couldn’t get any worse. Some people have so little imagination that it is scary.

I had only just got up to take a leak when I discovered my symptoms. You don’t need to know the foul details but, suffice to say, if you’re one of these people who believe in divine retribution then I had proof positive that yours is a vengeful God. If I needed any more proof then it came in the form of the commotion at the door. The alarm was raised. The Scousers were coming.

Hang on a second. Who the fuck were the Scousers? Much like primitives who choose to live under the shadows of volcanos, we had set up home at the nexus point between a Mod pub, a Rockabilly pub and a Greaser’s pub. In all fairness, the Greasers just sat around listening to Deep Purple albums but anyone who could do that had to be twisted in some kind of sick and evil way. One had to always quietly suspect the worst. To top that off, skinheads were free ranging ubiquitous troublemakers and Mad Dog’s Faginesque punk troop could also be counted upon to make unwanted intrusions. We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried.

Who were the Scousers? Even if you religiously read NME, in tribal London there were hip fashion trends that could rise and fall in an afternoon. A vague image formed of cleaver wielding Liverpuddlian mop tops serenading us with such ditties as “I want to hold your hand” whilst hacking away at various parts of our anatomy. Stranger things have happened in the big town.

Of course, it could have been a glue sniffing flashback too. Stranger things than that have also been known to happen.

There are a whole lot of theories about why people watch horror films. Some will tell you that horror films desensitise the viewer so that they may overcome their fears and learn to face the horrors life will inevitably throw their way. Others claim this desensitisation leads to sociopathic behaviour and the breakdown of society as we know it. Thus, these latter critics claim, that horror films should be banned accordingly. I think that is all a crock of shit. I repeatedly went to screening of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” because it provided me with a range of educational insights into the kind of situation I had just found myself in.

The main thing you learn from a horror film is that when you do something stupid then you tend to die fairly early on in the piece. If you do something unbelievably stupid you will be lucky just to see out the opening scene. As is so often the case, fact proceeded to follow fiction instinctively. Emerging from the toilet, I discovered that the front door was wide open and everyone was running to the back of the flat. The fact that there was nowhere to go back there didn’t seem to be occurring to anyone at the time. The messenger had been let through the barricades only to see them abandoned in the ensuing panic. This was turning into a frigging bloodbath without even trying.

I focussed my fear on the problem at hand. I was not in the mood for bashings, beatings murder or rape. These things would not bring a perfect end to a perfect evening. I got the door down just in time to hear the first bangs of fists on the wood outside. Sam Raimi couldn’t have timed it better even if he tried. Actually, he did try in the first Evil Dead film but he couldn’t cut his timing any closer to what I’d just pulled off. Now all we needed was a soundtrack by Goblin and we’d have something that would put bums on cinema seats.

An undecipherable blur of drunken accents began to howl something that probably amounted to assorted threats and abuse. Scousers my arse. Drunken Irish builder’s labourers more like with enough Poteen in their bellies to present a fire hazard. They lived over in the next block but I had no idea what their beef was. In life threatening situations, it is often better not to know as there is little time to ponder life’s little absurdities.

“Little pigs! Little Pigs! Let us come in!”

“Not by the hairs on our chinny chin chins.”

That’s about as good a translation as I can really give you. The words were all different but I think I captured the spirit of the piece. The huffing and puffing that followed seemed a little more forceful than simple exhalation. These guys were putting their shoulders into their work big time. I was putting all my weight down on the buttress and still I bounced up with every heave ho. I looked around for the nearest large heavy object.

“Phil! Get your fucking fat arse over here!” I demanded with the kind of voice Marine Drill Sergeants use in the movies.

Fat Phil preferred to be called Phil Free for obvious reasons. However, no-one really wanted to take him up on that particular implied offer. Being told to feel free does not, by definition, demand obligation.

There was, however, a duty to differentiate between him and Quick Phil. We called him Fat Phil because Slow Phil would have been even more insulting than our eventual choice. Besides, he was not merely big boned. He had, despite the most meagre of rations, still retained sufficient padding so as to cover up the fact he was big boned. In addition, he wore the kind of coat that Uncle Fester would only wear in the depths of a Siberian winter. With his thick black eye make-up he looked like a vaguely satanic panda. Satanic Panda Phil would have made an ideal rechristening if not for the fact that it was too much of a mouthful.

“No,” he replied. “I’m scared. They’ll hurt me.”

I felt like slapping him around myself at that moment. My fear had bought out a cruel streak from deep inside. I went with the feeling even though he was a friend who was already close to tears. I could tell you that I spoke for the good of the group but part of me meant every word that I said.

“Listen to me, you fat pile of shit. If you don’t get you’re arse over here right now, you won’t have to worry about them because I will personally come over there and beat you to death myself.”

I must have been fairly loud and fairly scary because even the banging on the front door stopped. The room took on a deathly silence as Phil assumed the position. I glared around the room.

“Now, will one of you useless fucks get me a bloody hammer so I can nail the first cunt who comes through the door.”

Outside, there was a half hearted volley of abuse and a few random kicks to the door. It was all over bar this shouting. What was planned as a simple massacre was turning into something more difficult. Someone other than us might end up getting hurt. The assaulting force vanished back into the night as if they never were there at all. The silence just swallowed them.

The next morning, when the buttress was raised, the front door was shattered and torn from its hinges. Locks and bolts hung off of bent and mangled screws but most of the damage was invisible. It lay deep within us in a place where no investigative surgery, electron microscope or endoscopy probe could find it. It was the kind of damage we all take on one hurt at a time. It’s just that some of us take it harder than others.

There are many who will tell you that the rock and roll dream is all about fast cars, loose women, money and the kind of shit that money buys. In Campbell Buildings, we lived a dream all right – but it was nothing like the one advertised on the box. One can only wonder at how much worse the straight world must have been for us to not just choose the life we did but also to revel in it. Is it better to rule in hell than serve in heaven? To us it seemed better to just live in hell.


Bob Short claims he has not only heard the chimes at midnight, he has stayed up past dawn to hear them again the next time around. Before being old enough to drink, he haunted Sydney’s beer barns with proto punk band Filth. Later on, he gained some notoriety in the UK with the band Blood and Roses when he was described as everything from a “shambolic messiah” to a “long, tall streak of piss”. He has been a DJ and worked in a sex shop, the civil service and as Musical Director for a theatre company. He claims the only thing ever to surprise him was seeing his thirtieth birthday. Currently, he lives in exile in the penal colonies of New South Wales with his son, Billy. There he has makes low-budget films such as Makers of the Dead, Kings’ Cross Vampires, Lone Gunman Theory and Bad Animals. He is also working on a novel entitled “Red”.

Available from http://www.lulu.com/content/956220

557 thoughts on “1980 – Bob Short. Short extract from his book ‘Trash Can’”

  1. Jesus, What a terrible building, looks like Dracula’s castle ! Colditz ! The ministry of love. Someone should have spray painted Ingsoc on it.

  2. brilliant pic.
    what a great life. and the soup kitchen …
    So why would anyone trade bondi for bayliss rd then??
    And i said bob if you’d never mentioned ‘morroco for the winter’ it would never have entered me head to get outa blighty.
    still no net at home so not much from me till its done. Sam i owe you a reply on our old thread – still going!!- about the states.
    hello to all.

  3. “yes campbell blds was very a much mixed race community, and i think i’m a better person for it now.”

    The twelve step recovery programme has obviously been a raging success. Was it achieved through mindless sloganeering and/or trepanation with a black & decker? Curious minds etc…

    “i also squatted there for a while when i was a skin, when bonner was there in tigers place (no 10 where i was born – spooky).”

    I hope no 10 had a visit from the exorcist before the bulldozers finally moved in. Maybe you could write a piece on glue and national socialism as an important ingredient in the maintaining of a beautiful atmosphere for Ideal Home mag. Throw in some predictable feng shui quotes, no fucker will know the difference.

    “Unfortunately trouble caught up with me and I was banned from chelsea fc at 15, youth custody at 18 and prison and a ban from millwall fc at 21”.

    Blimey. Most people have a Damascus moment inbetween. I see that you just went for a prolonged reptilian brain stem moment punctuated by errr…some more reptilian brain stem moments.

    “now working in a hospital. still a little fucked up but finally doing good.”

    So you do the full shift before knocking off the hospital pharmacy? Glad to see a sense of civic duty is finally entering your life.

  4. Thanks for the comment Kerr Ray Z, do not think it was a particular helpful one though. Dave has apologised for actions that he may have participated in thirty years ago at C.B, and for the way he flippantly wrote his opening comment. I asked him to write some more on multi racial issues / some background on himself and the estate etc so the old dwellers of C.B. could discuss memories about that place / era in a more pleasant (?) way than they were doing previously with Dave.
    He was brutally honest about his life in the comment that you have disected, and I do not think it deserves the piss taken out of it, specifically in the context of why he wrote it (ie I asked him to).
    You have added some epic and well written comments in the past on issues dating back to these times on separate threads and we welcome more from you.
    Just think in this case it was not called for, however witty the replies may be…Hopefully Dave will be cool, and he did send in THAT photo which heads the post which was helpful.
    BTW Are you the same guy who knew The Mob and the west country scene well in the late 1970’s? You sent me some material that was used on The Mob site that I also maintain?

  5. fao kerr, nice post sounded a bit middle class social worker though. If your gonna give it some, at least sound offending.
    on a better note if anyone has early photos of crass i’d be appreciated if they could send some. dont know much about bob shorts band in early days can anyone let me know where i can download some music.

  6. i agree to a certain extent jah porks replies but i would say that most people i knew got into punk or skin etc just because it was fucking cool to piss people off and not go with the flow. i stayed on a couple of road protest sites and found it amusing that the younger punks were listening to buzzcocks, slf, etc and thinking they were BAD!

  7. Various Crass photos in the photo gallery Dave, just a matter of finding them! Bob Shorts early band I assume you mean the ones in Australia from 1976-1979 of which I have no tapes to upload. Loads of Blood And Roses on this site though, which was his main UK band from 1980-1986 or thereabouts. Perhaps I will ask Bob to see if the band he was in called Filth (which is heavily featured in ‘Trash Can’ and ‘Filth’ the second book) had any tapes or stuff released to be uploaded on this site.

  8. What was it about CB that was so grim? Mainly the appearance, or were the flats rotting away? Were there people literally running around the stairwells stabbing each other during this time? I find this quite interesting and would like to know more….

  9. If you read the extract in the post above, you will get one persons view of why it was so grim around that time before it was bulldozed. If you go to the ‘Obscure Chris Low’ post and ‘The Heretics’ post on this site (search for them using search function) you will also read various other ex CB squatters stories and opinions of living there at that time in the late 1970’s, very early 1980’s. Ditto (if memory serves) stories on punk squats at St Monicas Kilburn and Derby Lodge in Kings Cross.

  10. Thanks for those links. I would really like to hear the ‘maggots under the carpet’ story though…and does anyone have any photos of the inside of the buildings / flats? Thanks.

  11. If only Michelle aka ‘Mitch’ could be found. She took photos regularly from 77 onwards including CB.

  12. Hey, Mister Penguin, I got no probs with the fella or his lifestyle; past or present. But such hyperbole was screaming out for a cascade of smartarse remarks imho. And that unfortunately is the price you pay for honesty these days, especially with a cunt like me around. I also subscribe to the view (possibly sociopathic) that what is said and done on the internet is somehow not wholly ‘true’. Therefore any response is ultimately justified.

    I also work upon the assumption that any response too is ultimately a form of flattery. And usually is also indicative of some sort of shared cultural and social experiences. Maybe even similar psychological experiences. So if I was a bit cruel then it was merely myself figuratively slapping myself around the head and saying “Mr Fokker, that stupid fuckup you just dissed on that internet forum (btw your reply sounded a bit middle class social worker if you don’t mind me saying) really does remind me of a certain chap who appears in the mirror each morning around shaving team, you effing werewolf!”

    So, mea culpa.

    And fuck you, of course.

  13. Yes, people died there. And other young, intelligent and optimistic people got fucked up to the point that they died later. It wasn’t a funny place and isn’t really a source of amusing dinner party anecdotes.

  14. @dave-> I knew you reminded me of someone from CB, what with your dislike of young punks and your embracing of violence, domination and dodgy imagery. You’re really my lovely mate Ruth, aren’t you darling? I never got the chance to thank you for the loan of your skirt that time, or the use of your KY Jelly to do my mohican with.

    There’s no need to be bashful on here, ‘Dave’, just because there aren’t many other females around. Brandish your femininity and celebrate your hard-won right to be any kind of woman you want to be. You’ve earned the right.

    Lady Ruthless, I always thought you’d turn up amongst us on here. Weirdly, I thought you would have gone for an alter ego that was completely unlike your real self. Welcome to your spiritual home, old friend.

  15. Kerr Ray Z “And fuck you, of course”.

    That’s very kind, not sure what I have done to warrant this kind of response, but no doubt you know better.

    All the best to you and yours…

  16. Kerr Ray Z name, Kerr Ray Z guy.

    But then I’m allowed to question people’s mental health. It’s like gangsta rappers and ‘The N Word’. Except more brain-chemistry based, obviously.

  17. Pork – you misunderstand me. I’m not treating it as something amusing, but I find it very interesting. I’m trying to think how the dynamic in that building could have worked, what state it was in – as its completely unimaginable to me.

  18. I assume you’ve read Bob’s piece above Question Bloke. And looked up the thread Penquin mentioned;


    A lot of stuff on there.
    Personally I don’t think it was or is without a certain grim humour. I look back at myself at the time as being almost completely out of control, though like most others I knew, with quite a strong sense of right and wrong amongst ourselves.

  19. Humour bypass city or what? But I’ll try once more….

    1. Mate, I’m taking the piss. I ALWAYS take the piss especially when I’m on the internet cos it usually means I’m bored waiting for a download somewhere to finish.
    2. If you don’t like my posts then delete ’em. No biggie. But please spare us the drama.
    3. This thread is actually about a book. An interesting one as it goes. And I think it deserves a bit of a gratuitous bump from the ubiquitous web spiders. Therefore…

    “Pimlico skins chased us all over W1 but we fucking hammered em on the way back from the cardiff caper.”
    “Anyone remember the black legless tuinal dealer on a skateboard who hung out in the ‘dilly circa 1980? Used to smash seven bells out of the out of towners who thought they could stand ’round like bertie big bollocks.”
    “Do they still make Potter’s catarrh powder?”

    There…That should do it.


  20. Back from a weekend in Ramsgate. A nice enough time. Sorry I missed the humour Kerr. Sometimes I have the odd ‘off’ day and miss the spot quite badly. I guess in context with the rest of the comment I should have realised it was a continuation of your mirth…Will be wiser to it in the future!

  21. No worries. It happens sometimes. It’s always a little difficult to read intent in pixelworld.

    I’m still gutted about our illustrious author’s confession that he really didn’t bang up a barrel of nescafe. I once knew two Aussie derelicts on the Tulse Hill estate who allegedly, and rather patriotically, jacked up vegemite. That seemed to be a little unorthodox at the time. Nescafe, apocryphal as it may be, is in a different league though. And probably a different emergency ward in the local hospital too.

  22. fao jah pork – yes people got fucked up and died, but that was mostly there own doing. lets get this into perspective, people lived in them flats from the 1800s and no doubt some died in the same way but people choose to take drink or drugs and we all know the consequences. yes it is a time to remember and joke about – we want to hear about the strong ones who live beyond that period. if it was so dismal why stay there im sure it wasnt the only squats about – and if i knew you used the ky on your hair (so wasteful) i would have explained what it was for (you can be a naughty boy!!)

  23. Hey Dave please take that dress off, put Porks KY in the dresser and tell us about Bonner and The Duke of Sussex pub. Who was this Bonner and what mischief occurred in that pub? Just wondered…Anyone else ex from C.B. (or that area and era) know this guy or boozer?

  24. bonner was a well known glue skinhead who seriously fucked his life up by having a face piece tattoo done (ouch) he was one of the last skins to leave cb – apparantly when he was in nick he wasnt allowed a razor because he kept shaving his head with it, so when he came out he looked like uncle albert. sussex is a dump with crap beer but always garenteed lock in and always a chance of something kicking off – if not the feeling is there, like the temple bar was.

  25. I was always morbidly fascinated with the face tattoo crowd of the early 80s. They seemingly displayed an Ahab like indifference to the fact that their dysfunctionality had led them to brand themselves and their tortured lives irrevocably with indelible war paint; inky schoolboys lost in search of some mythical white power rather than a large white whale but harnessed to doomed vessels nonetheless.

    Bonner was probably Lewisham’s finest natural born fuckup and as if to unconsciously perpetuate my nautical metaphors he was last heard of residing in Lowestoft along with a few other former fog-bound skinhead sailors of glue-infested nightmares. But unlike most of his fellows he still wears his faded tatts proudly and has not succumbed to the mocharizing and ciabattatization of his world views. Or so the legend goes. Mine’s a latte btw. And I’ll also have a brie and walnut baguette to go. (Who said I couldn’t or wouldn’t sell out?)

    Dave, you may have misspent your youth but you’re the better for it, trust me. Don’t let the bastards grind you down and please keep the memories coming.

  26. There was another facially tattoo’d person at CB called ‘Belsen’. My only memories of him are him hanging from a third floor window by one hand for a laugh (as I get terrible vertigo for other people I begged him to stop) and me and him stripping several flats of copper pipes to sell for scrap and buy illicit substances with.
    He was last spotted a couple of years later by Keith Jones walking down the King’s Road in high summer wearing a balaclava to cover his tattoos.

  27. there was a website I saw a while back which featured a photostudy someone had done in the 80s of london skins with tattood faces. can’t for the life of me remember the photographer’s name, but gonna send Penguin some of the pics I saved from it

  28. We held a Kangaroo Court to evict Belson from Campbell Buildings when he was discovered on a bed passionately tongue kissing a dog. There were certain lines that even we degenerates did not wish to see crossed.

  29. It was his dog. Still, no excuse for inter species romance. We locked him up in an abandoned flat. I acted as Defence Council. My defence was “I’m sorry I can’t defend this.!”

  30. i remember bonner and belsen from leicester square and barclays all night cafe, whitehall. the days when i lived on the strand and spent nights deriving the west end hammered on cheap blues… belsen did regret his tats. he had to go and get all his little home done swastikas turned into flowers in batches giro by giro because “it was stupid” – a terrible revelation to have on an idelogy you’ve inked under your skin… remember the fashion for tattooing the inside of the bottom lip because that was the most painful place you could show off in the street?

  31. i knew bonners girlfriend, and she told me he used to cry because of the face tattoos, and i probably would too. i remember glue sniffing with him and he sat making different shapes with his fingers in front of his forehead which isnt unusual except i kept thinking the triangle shapes looked like the kite on your forehead (cool) – kept my little mind amused. the stone fights with the demolishing teams were good too..ps good pic of bonner, the tat was only half done at this point. he used to knock around with a skin who had a cobra on his cheek (dont know the name).

  32. Dave, trying not to be too insensitive but…this Bonner guy had a girlfriend? What was her story? Tragic I would imagine.
    Two amusing letters I remember reading in Sounds weekly rag concerning sad facial tattood boneheads where one wrote complaining he had BLITZ written on his face somewhere and the next single came out (the band was only half of the members of the Oi! BLITZ which kept the name after the split up) to his horror it was in a ‘new romantic’ style.
    The second one I read was a guy complaining of tattooing himself somewhere on the face with SKINS using a mirror only to his horror he had written it the wrong way round (but right way round in the mirror). Applause all round for that one. Dunno if that last one was a wind up letter to Sounds by some scrote, but both the letters seemed to stay in my memory for some strange reason from all those years ago.
    To put in on a blog comment in 2009 I guess!

  33. I heard the mirror backward ‘SKINS’ story from Leigh Kendall. I think he said it was W. Hampstead glue sniffing legend Pat Dasso. Last time I saw him his skin had turned to scales.

  34. There was (is?) a guy in Stirling who had ‘Motorhead, Ace of Spades’ tattood on his neck, only the scratcher spellt it ‘Ace of SPADS’.

    There was also a punk in Dunfermline who got the Anti-Nowhere League fist tattood on his arm but the tattooist gave the hand six fingers!!

    Incidentally, there is a (now rather aged) punk who was one of those featured on that site of the early 80s facial tattoos who I still see at the odd punk gig i venture to. he has a spider’s web tattood on his cheek and something on his forehead.

    Kerrrazeee guys!!!

  35. hmm bad tattoo stories… There was an early 80’s band from San Francisco called “Condemned To Death” and one of the members got his band’s name tattooed as “Condomed To Death”.

    I’ll let Sean tell some of his tattoo stories, but the one that comes to mind is the time he was asked to tattoo the word “Discharge” on someone he knew. Sean?

  36. bonners g/friend of the time was really nice she came from epsom – we got close one night in a station waiting room (as you do) i think she went downhill after that.
    the skins tattoo in the mirror seems to be a popular thing – i met someone who had the same. ricks tattooist in woolwarth rd done a bad anti nowhere league on my shoulder – he done the thumb too big and tried to shade around it (it now looks like michael jacksons glove).
    a guy i met hunt sabbing and on some sites has a.c.a.b on his forehead. surprisingly he dont get much grief and is a nice fella.

  37. I don’t know if anyone remembers, a while back, on another thread, I was talking about the late 80s educational ‘Solvents’ textbook that had all the pics of punks and skins (including, as it transpired from this site, the Heretics guys) ?

    Well, that mystery skinhead on the cover with the weird Maori style tats? It’s Bonner, on the strength of that linked photo.

  38. Oh, I also think I know the skinhead Chris is talking about (with the cobweb) – not personally, but have seen him and also old pics of him on some YouTube vid.

    I’m interested to know what happened to one (other) guy called Chris who squatted in Waterloo and had South London Skins and a bulldog on his cheek. He was interviewed by the now defunct paper The Correspondent in 1990, as part of a massive feature on the homeless in London (with tonnes of Don Mc Cullin shots that I’ve not seen elsewhere). Apparently he was off smack at that point and had two daughters. He’d got new tats of spiders with his kids’ names under them, to stop his daughters being scared of them (spiders, not tattoos), so even skinheads have their soft sides! The feature also had two ex-punk girls who’d squatted in Earls Court and ended up in a hostel in Bina Gardens, plus tonnes of stuff about the Bullring, St Mungo’s, the Simon Community, then-Tory Govt inadequacies in tackling homelessness, etc. A really powerful read.

    Does anybody remember the bloke from New Cross / Lewisham who wore the green combat jacket and had ‘EAT SHIT’ tattooed on his forehead? Dom Joly ripped him off for one of his zany ‘Trigger Happy TV’ characters.

  39. I remember some crusty type I used to see around Camden in the mid 80s who had ‘Special Brew’ tattooed backwards on his forehead as he’d obviously done it himself in a mirror – doh!

  40. I was going to be a bit arch, Dave, but I’m thinking now that you’ve got the hang of this site…

    On the “things in the mirror” topic: I went and signed on at Wimbledon Jobcentre in the early eighties (when they moved it briefly from the UBO to the JobCentre). I was wearing a Crombie, shirt, Sta-Prest, brogues. And being most appropriate too. The woman at the desk wrote something down about me and then went off, allegedly to bring back details of jobs for me. While she was gone, I took the liberty of reading – upside down – what she’d written about me… which was “Claims to have 5 ‘O’ levels but looks a bit thick”.

    I pulled her up about it when she came back… her response (very flustered) was that I wasn’t supposed to read that because it was secret and I could be done under the Official Secrets Act. I asked her to make a note that as I could read upside down at a good speed I couldn’t be all that *thick*. She declined.

    15 years later, when I ascended the steps to pick up my First, I thought of her.

    I’m still doing fuck all, by the way.

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