Phoenix Press – ISBN 0-948984-35-x – £5.99
Thought anti-fascism was all about bearded sociology lecturers waving ‘Never Again’ banners? Not in London’s East End in the mid-to-late 1970s when the National Front’s London election results put them in position of 4th largest political party, with a street presence – translated into racial attacks – to match the votes.
The now uber-trendy streets of Hoxton were then the stomping ground of a home-grown Ubermensch and every week they’d flow with the blood of violent confrontations between the fascists and their foes.
This is the setting for a book, “Anti-Fascist” by Martin Lux.
Already denounced by the anti-racist establishment as “Making the Antis seem more violent than the Nazis” it reads like a football hooligan novel, albeit without the Stone Island clobber and anything approaching Queensbury Rules.
Taking Hitler’s 1933 proclamation that;
“Only one thing could have broken our movement – if our enemies had understood its principle and from the first day had smashed the nucleus of our movement with extreme brutality”, as a call to arms, the ‘anti-fascist struggle’ on London’s streets in the seventies saw more Blood than Honour.
Searching out Martin in one of his Bethnal Green drinking dens I put a few questions to him about these glory days:
So how did you get into fighting the NF? You don’t exactly seem like your average ANL type.
Yeah, you could say that. I grew up in the post war slums, got kicked out of school when I was 14 for stabbing a teacher, drunken paddy dosser for a dad who’d kick my head in if I ever went home. I pretty much grew up on the streets in a world of gangs, violence and thieving. Even at that time I couldn’t see anything ‘Great’ about this Britain the NF were saying would become our ‘Land of Hope & Glory’ if only we kicked out all the blacks and Jews. All the blacks and Jews I grew up with had it even worse than I did! I’d always enjoyed extreme violence but, unlike many of my mates I had no interest in football, so I thought if I’m going to have some fun cracking heads there’d be none more deserving than those Nazi cunts.
In the early 70s Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, was the voice of the working man and nigger-hating was the common currency. You had the dockers coming out in strike in support of him after his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech – which was basically a call to race war! If you were poor, white and working class back then the NF exploited your fears that things were heading that way, making out life would be better if Britain turned into some cross between Apartheid South Africa and the Third Reich. And a lot of fuckin’ mugs fell for it.
A lot of the book is based around Hoxton and the East End of London. It sounds like another world back then the way you describe it…?
It fuckin was! The Dark Ages! People now wouldn’t believe that not much over 30 years ago if you were black you were taking a risk walking from one end of Old Street to the other. It was White Man’s land and the locals wanted it keep it that way! You had the NF headquarters – or Hitler’s Bunker as we called it, just round the corner on Great Eastern Street, where some trendy bar is now, and anyone who walked by who they didn’t like the look of would get a kicking. You’d get national Front ‘Black Muggers Out’ marches along Bethnal Green Road that’d end up in a mini-Nuremberg Rally in Hoxton Square! You see footage on the news of UDA rallies in the Shankhill, Belfast? That’s what Hoxton was like sometimes back then – only a Nazi version!
What are the most violent incidents you remember of your battles with the Front in the seventies?
Lewisham was probably the largest and most ferocious battle there has ever been against the Front. We even attacked the police station to try to get at the NF who were hiding in there and that was the first time Riot Shields were ever used to try and fend off the barrage of bricks we were pelting the place with. Other than that one instance that I’ll never forget was when me and a few of my mob were doing the door at a Crass gig at the Conway Hall in 1979. The NF were in the habit of turning up at their shows to kick off and we’d been asked by the organiser to ‘keep an eye on things’. Right enough, a load of Nazis from the Front, plus the BM ‘Leader Guard’ – their biggest, hardest heavies turned up. Although we were probably outnumbered 3 to one, we were all tooled up with bottles, hammers, axes, crow bars and basically we bottled them, stabbed them and smashed their heads to a fuckin pulp. A lot of them were hospitalized and we even stormed the hospital to finish them off but there was too many old bill. There was lots of shit in the papers about it afterwards, even Crass saying they had been sickened by what they’d seen but fuck that – It put a serious fuckin dent not only in the heads of the Nazis but their activities over the next few years. They thought they were the hardest mob on the streets but we showed them they weren’t.
So what would you say is the difference between the Nazis; the NF & BNP now to how it was then? What changed it all?
Basically when the Tories got into power they did so by adopting many of the policies – anti-immigration, unions etc, that had made the NF so popular before so that really took the wind out of their sails a bit. To all intents and purposes the Tories offered the same policies, only without the shaven heads, brown-shirts and street-fights. The NF had always been about the streets, their presence on the streets , spreading their propaganda and fighting with their opponents. Times were much harder then and a lot of the NF were very hard, violent people. You just have to look at the head of the Hoxton NF back then, Derrick Day, a fuckin gorilla with a face covered with razor cuts. He’s the cunt you see climbing out of his window to have a go at the news reporters at the beginning of that ‘Filth & The Fury’ Sex Pistols film. Very different to Nick Griffin and the sort of university educated types the extreme right like to put up as parliamentary candidates now. The BNP have made some progress by ditching the jack-boots and putting on suits but their politics – and the politics of all Nazis – are still the same at the end of the day and that’s a day that would end in gas chambers if they ever got into power.
FULL UNEDITED VERSION OF MARTIN LUX INTERVIEW BY CHRIS LOW FOR VICE MAGAZINE
An excerpt from the book ANTI FACIST concerning the Persons Unknown benefit concert at the Conway Hall organised by Crass:
One free Saturday night I was called, asked if I fancied doing door security for a benefit gig. The cause, ‘Persons Unknown’, an aspiring ‘Angry Brigade Mk II’ currently awaiting trial on terrorism charges. I said, “Sure, why not.” At least I’d be spared the dreadful punk music of the band Crass who were the main star turn. The gig was being held at the scene of that fatal encounter with the police way back in 1974, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square.
The hopelessness of London Transport ensured that it took me an age to arrive. When eventually I did, an unwelcome sight greeted me. Around forty plus British Movement skinheads had barged in and were gathered inside the main entrance exuding menace. It didn’t take long to evaluate the situation. Hopeless. A dozen of them were large brutes, evil looking bastards, real hardnuts, with another dozen or so inner core. The remainder were merely runty followers, but dangerous if mob-handed or tooled up. The organisation of the gig had collapsed, nazis ruled the roost. The only thing holding them back from rampage was that they were waiting for Crass to come on for the finale, then they’d rush and take the stage. (All in all, an act demanding stern courage as Crass were abject pacifists and didn’t physically retaliate). As I pondered what to do next, I realised that this was our only slim advantage.
Abandoning the door, I tried to further suss out the opposition. Like the bullies they were, the boneheads were amusing themselves by insulting the punters, punks and anarcho-trendies who avoided dialogue or body contact, wise under the circumstances. The BM officer-class stood out from the foot soldiers, with extra shiny pates, many stripes decorating their pug-ugly fizzogs. Indeed, they were the most repulsive specimens of sub-humanity I believe I’d ever seen. Dressed in traditional skinhead regalia, a couple of their leaders were decked out in Crombies and Ben Shermans. The cherry-red steelies were simply itching to perform to the tune of maximum damage. Many of the others were rigged out in bomber jackets. I noticed, most intriguingly, one of them was of mixed race. Clearly a lad with some severe identity problems. But I wasn’t about to wheel out the shrink’s couch, I had to get something together to at least prevent this from being a walkover.
I’d managed to gather around half a dozen lads, most of whom had accompanied me on previous jaunts, could be depended on, and were willing to have a proper go. The trendy anarcho-types were no good in a fight, unless of course, it involved the missus. Besides, they were always hinting, if not stating outright that there was only a marginal difference between us anti-fascists and the nazis themselves. Now faced with such a raw situation, no longer able to afford the luxury of such pontificating, they kept their traps shut.
I was called over to the door, asked to step outside; someone had been enquiring after me by name. Curious, I stepped out into the chill October night to be met by a couple of anti-fascists who were attached to the SWP. I’d joined these characters on many a past expedition against the Master Race. Someone had been on the blower as these lads had everything well-sussed. “Can you keep the lid on it for a couple of hours? We’re gonna get our crew together, steam ‘em real heavy””
“It’ll be difficult,” I mused, “But I’ll do my best. I know they’re waiting for Crass to go on so they can storm the stage. Crass are headlining, so they won’t be on ‘till last.”
“You and your mates don’t mind us having the bastards knowing that Crass won’t get to play?”
“Far as I’m concerned,” I retorted, “This gig’s been fucked from the beginning. I don’t give a monkey’s what people think so long as these nazi fuckers get what’s coming to ‘em. Anyway, you’ll be doing my eardrums a favour. I can’t stand this racket”
They departed for the warmth of a nearby pub. “We’ll send word when we’re ready. See you outside.”
The SWP, scared of losing control of some of their more volatile, plebeian supporters who really believed in smashing the fascists, had never warmed to this semi-clandestine group. Maybe because these people were ready to link up on the day with anybody on the left, anarchists or anti-fascists who were willing to have a crack at the NF or BM heavies. They’d proved themselves time and again, and I preferred their direct attitude to that of the trendy wankers of the anarchist movement who condemned such behaviour as ‘macho’. Boring, dull, middle class snobs.
I communicated the plan to my half-dozen confidantes. They seemed well pleased. Our main task was to dampen things down, ensure it didn’t kick off to our disfavour before the appointed time, stop the BM from beating-up and rolling punters in isolated corners. It would be difficult. Within ten minutes word arrived of trouble in the main hall, so in we walked, amidst the migrane-inducing punk noise to see a knot of BM menacing a couple of spiky-hairs. Throwing all caution to the wind, I strode over, separated them from their tormentors and escorted the punks to another part of the building. Naturally, I felt nervous, worried to the extreme. I didn’t fancy a kicking, much less a premature free-for-all in which we’d be massacred. The skins were annoyed at the intervention, pissed-off by my diplomacy as I shunted the punks away to safety. I didn’t get an instant pounding so I guessed I’d been correct to assume that the nazis were saving their aggro for a pre-arranged storming of the stage.
After a short breather, I was summoned to the bogs, and it wasn’t for a closet assignation in a cubicle. “It’s real trouble, want us to come with you?”
I declined. If we arrived mob-handed, it would kick off. This I didn’t want. “Just wait at the bottom of the stairs. If you hear a big row, come and get me out if you can. If you can’t then I’ll see you in hospital.”
Up the stairs I went, opening the door to be confronted by the sight of one of their leaders and half a dozen crew pinning a young asian lad against the wall. “Don’t fuckin’ argue you FUCKIN’ PAKI CUNT, just give us your money CUNT!” I didn’t have the time to dash and collect an anti-sexist to correct this fellow’s patriarchal attitude. I’d clocked this evil looking brute before, he looked the part, shaven skull, vile white eyebrows, tramlines, psycho eyes. The light reflected off the collected ping-pong heads. No time for fear or anything I plunged in, grabbing the asian lad. “Right you! Making trouble again? Winding these geezers up are we?” I yanked him out from the astounded group, one of whom I’d notice fingering a small blade.
“Oi! What’s your fuckin’ game?” snarled their leader.
“Security!” I’d managed to extricate the trembling lad to the point of getting as far as the door when a couple more skins entered, opening the door. This allowed me to bundle the lad upstairs.
“Sorry mate,” I apologised, “Really sorry about that, sorry about the whole fucking night. Hope you understand.” He did. I remarked. “It’s a bit like being back at school innit?”
“Yeah, too right guv,” he laughed nervously. I advised him to, “Fuck off or find your mates.”
“I was going to meet friends here,” he said, “But they haven’t shown up yet.”
I reassured him, “Look mate, I shouldn’t be telling you this, but there’s gonna be some right heavy geezers coming here later to sort this lot out. I’m just trying to keep the lid on things.” He took the message and headed home.
An hour to go. Could it be contained? Would the heavy mob show? No time to fret, another incident, this time in the corridor. Same bastard with the albino orangutang eyebrows, same tactics from me, except I had a couple of geezers standing handy in the background. On this occasion they were picking on a geeky-fellow with specs. Or rather who had been wearing glasses, as they were now being ground down under the size-ten cherry reds of the leader who spat into the face of his victim. “I don’t like cunts with Anti-Nazi League badges, you FUCKIN’ RED QUEERBOY!”
“He ain’t no red, just another fuckin troublemaker who doesn’t know when he’s not welcome,” I said, strolling in to snatch the geek.
White eyebrows wasn’t having any of it. “I’m getting sick and tired of you butting in, CUNT!”
He didn’t lay hands on me, but stood eyeball to eyeball. Just to add to my discomfort his breath didn’t exactly smell of roses. I backed down, refusing to match his aggressive body-language. A large crowd had gathered, taking advantage, I managed to spirit the unhappy geek away, followed by white eyebrows mouthing obscenities: “CUNT! I’m gonna slash you up good an’ fuckin’ proper. Do you hear me? CUNT!” Again, non of the anti-sexists stepped forward to admonish him for his language. Wonder why? By now, this catalogue of incidents had me seething with suppressed anger, fear, frustration, humiliation. At least Eyebrows hadn’t followed up his threats, as he goose-stepped with his crew into yet another drama.
Time certainly didn’t pass quickly as one incident followed another. The gig was going full blast as intimidation was played out in the recesses. Most of the anarchos were in the main concourse, gathered in small groups, looking worried. Apart from the half dozen I’d collected who were tried, tested, willing to have a go, the rest were next to useless. Besides, having endured years of criticism for alleged ‘macho bully boy tactics’ when it came to dealing with the nazis I knew I couldn’t trust that bunch with anything. One of their chicks, who under normal circumstances couldn’t bring herself to speak to me without a prize sneer handed me an iron bar she’d found somewhere. Such generosity. I wasn’t impressed, “What do I want that for?” I asked. “Look, I’m already tooled up,” pointing to the trusty crowbar tucked down my pants. “Why don’t you give it to one of your men? Don’t take much to bop some nazi on the head does it?” She looked at me with a mixture of incomprehension and disgust.
After an eternity, a message from the pub: “Get your lads outside in five minutes, we’ll all pile in together.” At last. Just in time too, as the skins were massing in the concourse prior to rushing the stage. I’d even had a friendly reminder from Eyebrows: “I’m gonna have you myself, later, CUNT!” With Preston, our main nutter, we slipped outside to be met by the other anti-fascists. Here stood a mixture of Cockney Reds in Manchester United scarves and other trusted hard-nuts I knew, meaner looking than most of the thugs inside the hall, and older geezers in no mood for compromise.
“This all you’ve got?” one of them asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, ashamed of the piss-poor turnout. “But don’t worry, we’ll have a real go. I’ve got a score to settle, some blonde headed cunt.” I brandished a broken bottle in one hand, crowbar in another.
“Yeah haven’t we all,” retorted another voice.
I noticed they were all tooled up and numbered just over a dozen.
“How many, where are they?”
“Forty maybe, some tasty, but most will run. One’s got a blade, the rest I don’t know, but I haven’t seen anything.” I told them the majority were now in the concourse.
“Good, well done for keeping it all together…IT’s PARTY TIME!!!.” And with that we all crashed through the doors.
One unlucky bystander who didn’t shift himself quickly enough was the first to suffer, a bottle smashed over his head. Screams of horror went up from the girls, whilst the brave anarcho men fled, or stood rooted to the spot in a state of shock. They hadn’t been warned of the impending floorshow. We hurled ourselves straight into the main body who scattered and ran. Eyebrows and all the hard nuts stood their ground, all to no avail. We were on them, no pity. Me and Preston smashed out bottles into Eyebrows’ head, more tramlines for his collection. Then as Preston jabbed him in the face with the bottle neck, I struck his head with blows from the crowbar. He hit the deck, blood pouring. He then had the pleasure of tasting our boots as we dished out size ten vengeance, kicking his head to a pulp. All around, utter mayhem as bottles flew, crashing into walls, whilst the nazis struggled desperately as they were overwhelmed by a storm of steel capped boots, iron bars, chains, knives, broken bottles. The whole area filled with screams, yells, hundreds of panic-stricken punters tried to flee past the battle scene. Within a minute a heap of semi-conscious bodies lay where they’d fallen, blood splattered on the walls, pools of claret leaking in steady trickles onto the floor. Some nazis were trying to crawl under chairs and tables to escape the kicks of those they’d previously scorned and terrorised. Payback time. By now, the novocaine tingle had frozen my upper lip; the classic adrenaline rush. We split into small groups, chasing the nazis into the main hall and corridors. The übers fled in all directions, leaving them vulnerable to our frenzied attack. We smashed them into a pulp; iron bars smacking into heads and bodies. No mercy was shown as we hunted down the heavies, the foot soldiers hurriedly discarding nazi insignia and badges, running for cover. In all the confusion, violence, yells and cries, I noticed the mixed-race geezer ripping off his badge and disappearing out the doors. I let him be. Someone had to live to tell the tale, spread the word to the others. Down the corridor, contrary to fire regulations, the exit doors were bolted shut. A handful of skins rattled the doors, trying to escape. All in vain. Down they went, set upon by the anti-nazis who beat crap out of them. Resistance was useless as they were kicked to fuck. A glorious end to the night. The British Movement Heavy Mob, stormtroopers of the master-race, bloody and battered.
Preston grabbed me, “Come on, let’s split.” Reluctantly, I drew back, my coat flecked with blood, shards of glass gleaming from elbow to hands. We backed out of the corridor. Skins were on their knees, pleading for mercy in the chaos as anti-nazi nutters stood over them, blades drawn. Some of the younger more pathetic nazis were spared cold steel, although all got a good slapping. Other were stabbed and slashed. Nothing fatal, but a life-long reminder of that night’s encounter and the error of their ways. Did I have an ounce of pity, sorrow or remorse for the brutality that unfolded before me? Did I fuck! The battle in the main hall must have been ferocious for in the dim light I saw prostrate bodies, smashed furniture and a deserted stage. Looked like the gig was off. We both headed for the main exit past a few anarcho drones who were still frozen to the spot as if in a horrified trance. I passed one of the women who’d been a regular tormentor. “Remember you said we were as bad as the nazis? Well it ain’t true… we’re fuckin’ worse! Goodnight darlin’.” Then out into the night. We’d suffered no casualties apart from a few superficial cuts and bruises. We dumped our tools in the surrounding streets. Lucky it had been a chill autumn otherwise we’d have left behind our dabs. As it was, most of us had been wearing gloves. Police vans drew up. The cops must have been greeted by utter devastation as they entered the hall. We’d all fucked off by then, happy as Larry, some home, others to distant pubs. Never content, even with a crushing victory, some legged it to the tube hoping to pick off the stragglers. I was home a couple of hours later, the phone ringing constantly, my refrain, “You’ve missed a good one tonight…”
I suppose in my heart of hearts the reaction following the Conway Hall bloodbath didn’t really surprise me, although I was taken aback for a while. After years of abuse, insults and cold-shouldering from many in the anarcho scene, it came as no great shock. Even so, it infuriated me. The group Crass and their support band the Poison Girls, issued weighty statements. There were shock horror reports of the carnage in The Guardian & Time Out. The BM nazis were treated as sacrificial lambs, despite them outnumbering us over two to one. We and our friends from the left were ‘Red Fascists’ a ‘Football Gang’, ‘their leaders appeared to be Scots’, even in the supposedly Liberal press of the day a by-word for ‘nutter’. Such parochialism – even the nazis would blush. The odium was heaped on me and others, but I withstood it with the usual fortitude a couple of minor outbursts aside. After all, my critics would soon disappear into the halls of academia, respectability, the Labour Party, the media and property-owning classes. Fuck ‘em. The urban riots of the 80’s were just around the corner and I was still young and ready to ruck, no burnout for me.
Unpopular Books – ISBN 1-871593-21-2 (out of print original edition)
Phoenix Press – ISBN 978-0-948984-36-5 (available new edition) – £7.99
“I sometimes lay in the warm bath reflecting upon my misspent life. I’d lived the life of a star, girls flocking all around, drugs aplenty, yet without having to live onstage or have any achievement whatever…..I was just a thieving junkie living in a squat.”
Now receiving a long awaited re-print due to the book’s cult status and high demand, Camden Parasites is the real life autobiography of Danny Lux, long time heroin addict, con-man, petty thief and philanderer who died of an overdose just weeks before the first publication of his greatest achievement of all.
Written while resident at Arlington Road homeless hostel, the narrative charts Danny’s tragically short but turbulent life. From the extreme poverty of his childhood to his experiences of the world of extreme wealth in the affluent social circles he penetrated.
Described as having ‘more vein-popping than Trainspotting’ Camden Parasites is a no-holds-barred roller-coaster ride through Danny’s first school-boy brushes with the law, introductions to drugs, crime, theft, squatting and the early days of punk in London through to mental break-downs, addiction, hepatitis, homelessness & destitution. The only light ever shining at the end of his tunnel being the temporary comfort afforded by the daughters North West London’s privileged classes drawn to his quick wits and rough diamond charm like moths to a flame.
Irrepressible, unrepentant and un-romanticised, Camden Parasites is possibly the most accurate depiction of a life spent in poverty and addicted to drugs as yet committed to print. Debunking the popular glamorised myth of the opium-addicted author as brutally as it depicts the endless cycle of unemployment, poverty, homelessness and the marginalised lifestyle it creates.
Dying from a heroin overdose just two days before his 41st birthday and a few weeks before his book was published, “Danny”, in the words of his brother Martin, “spent his entire adult life either on smack or trying to come off it.”
“His modus operandi was: find a posh girl, get her to fall in love with him…allow her to pay for everything and steal from her friends”
“He was an extreme drug abuser from an early age….articulate and charismatic, with a slimy charm which people found irresistible. He had absolutely no ambition whatsoever to do anything if any kind. He contracted hepatitis through dirty needles and was quite happy about that because he got more money through sickness benefit and the dole stopped hassling him. He was one of the greatest bull-shitters who ever lived.”
CHRIS LOW – PRESS RELEASE FOR PHOENIX BOO
Both these great books written by these two brothers highlighting very different sides of the London underclass of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s are available from Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, N1 9DX as well as other quality bookshops, or via Amazon.com.