Degenerate – Del Blyben

June 21st, 2014


DEL IN 1979

VJ discovered there was an old abandoned mental hospital a couple of stops down the line in Kilburn called St Monica’s where Jake Heretic and his friends were squatting, I knew I had to find it.

On the way VJ told me stories of how haunted the place was. When we found the place, walking into the derelict building almost felt like coming home.

We found the large ward upstairs at the front of the asylum where people congregated. The older punks, Aussie Bob, Wank Stain, Jake Heretic and some others weren’t hostile, they just ignored us.

Mitch and Ruthless were kind although VJ kept his distance. He was more into Tubeway Army and wearing makeup by then.

Ruthless was the first girl I’d seen with a mohican, and you couldn’t miss her bust. I thought she looked magnificent and while I was trying not to stare Sniper entered the ward.


VJ asked Sniper about the ghosties, and he performed magnificently. He was speeding off his tits standing in the middle of the ward surrounded by rusty old bed frames. In the fading light, back hunched, fingers clawed and wide eyed as he recalled in a gravelly Yorkshire accent all the eerie supernatural events, and he went on for hours. He punctuated all the loud bumps and impregnated all the pauses until we were convinced we could hear them ourselves. His facial expressions told the story of the horrors that awaited us in the dark hours and we were engrossed. He put VJ’s tales to shame and by the dead of night we’d scared ourselves silly. But I still remember sleeping soundly that night.

VJ woke me early next morning wanting to go home. I didn’t want to but left anyway.

I returned when I could on my own. One day I found Mitch with a bottle of Indian ink and a needle. I couldn’t back out so let her tattoo my name on my arm. That was when I decided my name had only one L.

One night at the Marquee I started chatting to George another punk who liked to wear makeup. He was with his mate Kirk. Eventually I got round to asking George, in hindsight the stupidest question I’ve ever asked; “Are you gay?” He looked on me with pity and instead of calling me a twat or worse he explained he was human and sexual, and the question was irrelevant. It all made a kind of sense.

At this time my father decided that I should go to college and get a trade. I think he needed to salve his conscience so he could later say “well at least I tried”. I was enrolled in Middlesex Polytechnic which later became the University. I was taking technology, industrial history and maths to eventually get my City and Guilds certificate. Apart from the field trips to look at beautiful old buildings, I hated it. I’d already had a good taste of freedom and going back to school wasn’t what I wanted.

After enduring two months of it I gave my bondage trousers to a classmate and left. I had better things to do.


Back in Harrow Dino had formed a band called Chaos. One of their first gigs was at Unit One in Uxbridge.

All the local punks, the Woodstocks and the Hillingdon, Womble, the Hayes and the Harrow punks turned up. Most of them I already knew but by the end of the evening I was getting on with the drummer Scarecrow who told me about the squat where he lived in Kennington.

After the gig I went back there with him and met Mad Dog, Liz, Brummy Mark and Scrubber who I shared a room with. Although Scrubber was my first proper taste of sex, with others in the room, it didn’t feel much different from my first time. I never thought she was a girlfriend. I didn’t think she even liked me.

I was just sixteen and didn’t go ‘home’ for a month.

The squat was opposite Kennington tube and to the right a bit. It was an estate ready for demolition due to subsidence.

Pygmy was a six foot three skinny black fourteen year old with a mohican and a glue bag constantly attached to his face. He taught me not to put round things on the floor or they tended to migrate to the fire, staggering in the middle of the room had much the same effect.

One night Scrubber, the worse for tuinol and Merrydown cider, succumbed to the subsidence and magnetic pull of the fireplace. She narrowly missed taking the squats prized possession, the record player with her. The Ramones scratched as she went rear first into the fire and her jumper went up in flames. As the smell of singed hair filled the room Scarecrow jumped to the rescue, putting the Ramones back on as Scrubber grudgingly wasted good cider on the flames.

Getting up the staircase to bed in the dark was difficult enough without the drugs, the lack of an even line or straight edge in the building made it an almost Alpine experience.

There was no water in the place so we were appropriately filthy. The toilet didn’t flush but laziness saw its continual use until even we were disgusted at the size of the pile and the stench. We found a hammer and nailed the door shut with some rusty six inch nails we’d found so we couldn’t use it any more. It reduced the smell too.

We then opened another place three doors down just for its flush-less loo which was almost immediately overwhelmed. Eventually if we got caught short we spread newspaper in the bath, took a shit on that then rolled it up into packages.
We then aimed over the balcony at one of those big round bins five or six floors below.

Scarecrow let one drop one day without noticing the man walking his poodle. The wind caught the package and I nearly looked away as it narrowly missed the dog. The splatter radius was like a bomb blast. We both had the decency to wretch before we ran and hid.

One day Michelle brought her boyfriend Russ home. He’d had all his hair shaved off and turned skinhead. At some point he decided he wanted my leather jacket and that he was going to rob me. Back in another circle facing another fight I didn’t want, I looked to my new friends for support and was told in no uncertain terms to stick up for myself. It was a lesson I’d already learned, but he was bigger than me so I was beaten and lost my jacket anyway.

Next day my friends took me out on the tube to rob someone else of theirs, and I got a better one.

We took whichever opportunities arose and begged borrowed and stole our way to the Kings Road, gigs, parties, other squats and subway four at Piccadilly tube where we got our tuinol, a heavy barbiturate which went easily into syringes back in the squat. I hadn’t started fixing yet myself but was already being asked to do needle work for others and was becoming quite good at it. I was never encouraged to fix myself and one of the first rules I learned was that you never fix anyone who hasn’t fixed before.

One day I’d just swallowed my tuinol when there was a knock on the door. Pygmy disappeared to answer. He soon returned with a grave expression on his face, stared at me from the door and said round the ever present glue bag, “your dad’s at the door”. I turned to stone.

He’d come down to south London with his mate in the work van. My mother had used the situation to berate and blame him so he was there to take me home.

I was unceremoniously thrown in the back of the van on top of some plaster boards which were on top of a bucket in the middle of the van so continually unbalanced. As we weaved through London the tuinol started to hit. I was thrown around the back of the van like a rag doll, bouncing off one wall and then pitched into the other, to eventually be placed in a bruised, semi-conscious heap at my mother’s feet. My father and his friend, job done, promptly vanished to leave me again in the cold misery of my childhood. I was thankful for the drugs. The next morning when they’d worn off I went straight back to the squat.

By then Scarecrow and me had swapped beds and I didn’t need to risk the Alpine staircase any more.

Sometimes after a gig we’d get stuck in the city. There were a few places to go until the trains started in the morning. One was round the back of Wardour Street, in Wardour Mews. This place was called the Eagles club.

It was a dingy basement at the end of an alley with Baby, the fattest black man I had ever seen sitting on a drum stool at the front door. It was a basement half full of comatose punks waiting for sunrise, and the other half speeding off their tits. A bloke came up asking what I was after. I said tuinol. He knew I was skint but said he’d introduce me to some friends round the corner. I went along and up into a room above a shop where two blokes shared their tuinol and wine.

As the drugs started to take effect I was told to make myself comfortable, take off my jacket, then my boots. I sat and went with the flow. I was pulled back to semi consciousness by them removing my belt and trousers. The thought ‘they must be gay’ entered my mind but these weren’t like gays I knew.

They cuffed my hands behind my back and both raped me on the floor.

The next morning I had to plead for release. When they let me go I was still wasted, barbed out and stumbling towards the station trying to beg my fares. I didn’t get anywhere. I eventually ended up in the Music Machine and bumped into Costa and Pinki. Costa was one of the gays on the punk scene which overlapped with the gay scene at the time. He took the time to help talk me down.

I already knew ‘they weren’t all like that’. By the end of the night I remember feeling comfortable enough to sleep in the same bed as him, with Pinki in-between us both of course.

The next day I found myself stumbling up the Kings Road still a bit dazed. I bumped into George and got talking. I told him what had happened to me and he was angry. He asked me what they looked like and where it happened exactly, which I couldn’t pinpoint. He talked to me as a mate and took me to the Chelsea Potter and fed me. I remember sitting there and not really saying anything, just eating, and the normality of it all kind of cured me.

It would have been so easy to turn bitter and hateful. I was so lucky to have good people around me.

On one of my odd visits ‘home’ a girl called Tracy from the other side of Harrow with a biker brother called Basher gave me a mohican in her kitchen. I couldn’t help notice how every time I went back there were more and more punks. All the youngsters round the edges of the local scene were getting hooked and becoming a community.

We’d got to hear that Spizz Energy were doing a TV show and wanted some punks to come up. We filled the coach they’d put on for us to Hatfield where Daly Thompson the athlete was hosting the ‘young persons’ debate show. Of course we’d all got off our heads on the coach and by the time we arrived there were serious discussions about letting us in. Spizz being the diplomat soothed the ruffles while we sniggered our way through the door hiding our bottles and cans.

Before the show Daly was trying to be nice. He asked me from a circle of admiring giggly teenage girls how I made my mohican stand up. Despite being on a debate show I didn’t feel all that talkative at that particular point, but Spizz had asked us all to play nice so I smiled inwardly and made polite, while Daly took the piss to impress the girls. During the show he started to lose his cool after all the swearing kept ruining the takes, but being offensive little bastards we continued. We were spread throughout the crowd in little groups, trying to sneak swigs without the camera noticing.

Wobble had a bottle of Merrydown cider under her jacket with a straw which was cunningly attached to the side of her face. After a well worded reply by a smug young Christian Tory, Wobble shouted ‘bollocks’ to everyone’s loud approval. Daly Thompson was not impressed.

He ended the debate and fluffed his lines several times introducing Spizz Energy.


Chaos were playing at the Kings Head Deptford. The pub was known to be a bit boisterous in there so Dino’s brother Frog decided to come along for support. When we arrived the place was full of skinheads and Frog the rockabilly became a focal point.

While Chaos were on stage a fight broke out and it seemed like all the skins in the pub took turns on him. His throat and face were cut but we managed to get him out alive. He refused to go to hospital and decided to get the train back home to Harrow instead while the band stayed to sort out the mess. I caught the tube back with him. On the way I convinced him to pop into Northwick Park hospital which was at our stop anyway. I phoned his parents while the nurses stitched him up and waited for them to arrive before I left.

Sarah used to follow the Ants and was squatting at Cato Road in Clapham a few stops down the line from us in Kennington. She took me back to Clapham with her one night after a gig. Being sixteen I followed my instincts and moved in.

Clapham seemed to be full of Belfast punks from both the Catholic and Protestant communities. They had all come to London to settle in the squats.

There was another Jake, Deirdre, Siobhan, Gordy and Curly who told everyone he was asexual in the campest Belfast accent I had heard. Other punks and runaways from Birmingham and the Home Counties were also around. Leah, large Donna from Hackney, and Cliff who played drums for the Straps.

1979 was coming to an end and 1980 was fast approaching.

That New Years Eve the Ants were returning to the Electric Ballroom in Camden. I’d seen them there earlier in the year and couldn’t wait.

Poncing at Camden tube before the gig I got talking to a bloke from up north. He’d looked at me, then turned to his mate and said “Ere look, ‘e’s got green ‘air”. Actually it was faded peacock blue but before I could point this out he’d caught sight of Scrubber, Sarah and Michelle poncing spare change in boots and leathers in the station behind me. He said earnestly “I don’t know how you can touch those punk girls” and at that moment out of the corner of his eye he noticed Angel march up the escalator and through the station. She had long white shaggy hair a beautiful face, ample cleavage, thigh boots, mini skirt and stockings, studded leather jacket and a bull whip in her hand. The bloke’s head did a slow but complete 180 degree turn watching her as she strode passed, then snapped back to me slack jawed. I didn’t say a word. I just folded my arms and smiled smugly. It may not be the best example but at that moment I felt so proud of punk women.

I loved Ants gigs and all the squats in London seemed to turn out for this one.

It was as if everyone was there, tall skinny Tony D weaving back through the same crowd flogging his new fanzine ‘Kill Your Pet Puppy’, copies of which would later on be found in all the squats, and the means by which a load of us discovered what was happening on the wider scene we were a part of.

There was such a good atmosphere that night and everyone seemed to have a smile on their face, the Ants really performed as well. After a brilliant gig some people walked up to Trafalgar Square. I was drunk and happy and just generally partied through London that night on a slow roundabout walk back to Clapham with the rest of them.

It had been a year since Sid Vicious had died and Pat Marx had organised a march from the Kings Road to Hyde Park to commemorate him, and all the punks from all the squats turned out for it. Along the way Pat had carried a bucket collecting spare change which he said was for Sid’s mum.

By the time we reached Hyde Park the bucket was getting heavy and, like us, Pat noticed the line of skinheads marching parallel to us and shadowing us like a shark. The mood of the punks became quietened and people started to disappear.

As we neared the Serpentine lake Pat said his piece, declaring the day a success and making sure to remind any skinheads listening that the money wasn’t his.

Pat hastily disappeared leaving a park full of skinheads and punks to sort it out themselves.

One punk went through the roof of the Serpentine restaurant, another couple ended up in the lake as fights broke out all over. The police were having the time of their lives chasing anything that ran but most people managed to escape in ones and twos while all hell broke loose.

After the park I’d moved in the opposite direction to any skinheads I saw and eventually found myself looking in the window of Great Frog.

I’d started to relax then walked back round the corner onto Carnaby Street just in perfect time to be confronted by a wall of skinheads the width of the street coming straight towards me. I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights, but I knew if I ran I’d be chased down so instead I nonchalantly sauntered to one side looking at the skins I knew in turn, and to my amazement I was left alone.

The squat was becoming a bit over full, excellent fun but tempers frayed in close quarters, so Sarah was moving stuff to a new place in Brixton.

She’d lived in Villa Road before and Michelle and skinhead Russ were living there too. There were a load of punks squatting in Brixton at the time from the front line to the barrier block. The Glasgow punks, Zaza, Fibro, Rab and Jimmy, Jock Strap and Irish Tom. They were easy enough to find, you just walked up the frontline and listened for Slaughter and the Dogs.

Sarah packed up her stuff and with mattress on her back, said her ‘see you laters’ and set off for Brixton on the bus. A few days later She came back with Michelle.

Their new place had been petrol bombed by rockabillies and Russ had been burned to death. Sarah had been out at a gig but Michelle and Russ were both there and barbed out of their heads.

Michelle told us how she’d tried to wake him up but couldn’t, and how she’d tried to drag him out, right up until she had to get out herself to save her own life.

She was in a real mess crying and still coughing from the smoke, she blamed herself and skinhead friends of Russ blamed her too.

Sarah called for a squat meeting one morning. A collective inward groan was heartfelt by all.

Previous meetings to discuss the relevant issues which affected us all had descended into pitch battles and people got hurt at these things, usually by Sarah and the girls. She’d screamed over the din at the first meeting that from now on you could only talk if you were holding the rolled up newspaper that she had in her hand, and she’d got the last word. Of course the next squat meet everyone brought their own rolled up newspaper, which also make handy weapons and our second attempt at democracy ended with Belfast Jake and Perry needing to visit St Thomas’s.

By the meeting after that one I’d acquired a postman’s hat, placed the band across the top and a skull and crossbones on the front. Sarah had called it the Adolf hat and decided she could make a better point with it than a rolled up newspaper. To be fair that meeting resulted in us organising the supermarket skips between us and what gigs and parties we were going to. Sarah was quite proud of herself, but despite the hat I think we all agreed simply because we all wanted to eat, go to gigs and not get hurt.

This particular morning we all thought we knew what we were doing already so to be summoned for a meeting was quite disconcerting for everyone. I just hoped it didn’t end in hospital again. An ominous air of dread you could almost taste descended as we all slowly filed into the front room and sat, Sarah was stood, her back to the fire place, hands on hips in her leather and boots, the Adolf hat was already firmly secured to her head and a grim expression on her face.

A resigned and apologetic Belfast Jake was last to meekly enter and be seated. He looked up at Sarah’s face and whispered “oh shit” almost to himself.

She waited for silence then waited some more for effect then in a deep stern but matter of fact tone informed us all that at the Martian Dance gig the previous night, Grant from Wood Green had told her that he had the clap. The implications were obvious, she hadn’t seen him for a month and in that time half the squat had probably caught it.

The dread sank in as it dawned that we’d all be visiting St Thomas’s on mass that day.

Belfast Jake started to regale us with stories of little metal hooks, needles and umbrellas that they like to poke down the eye of your dick and torture you with.

Like lost sheep Sarah rounded six of us up and after we’d consumed all and any drink and drugs we had stashed at the squat and a subsequent visit to the local off licence on the way, she herded us off on the tube to the clap clinic.

Large Donna was last up the escalator at Waterloo station and nearly got caught as we all bunked through so we had to leg it from the tube. A bit puffed out but in newly buoyed spirits we stumbled into the hospital. Strangely a porter seemed to already know where we were going before we did and silently pointed us in the right direction without a question being asked.

In silent contemplation we walked through the clap clinic doors, two of the prettiest nurses I had ever seen took over from Sarah and shepherded us off to little cubicles to do their experiments. I thought it was all relatively painless but I could hear through the curtains another pretty nurse trying to hide the irony as she told Perry in an understanding voice “it’s OK, it happens” as he dripped discharge over the floor. He had point blank refused one of the procedures and in another cubicle Belfast Jake had come over all faint and heaved at the sight of another.

Then we had to sit and write down all the names of people we’d had sex with in the last month. Various versions of Mickey Mouse made it down on paper but in our heads it became clear that we’d have to send out diplomatic emissaries to several other squats in London.

After a handful of antibiotic on top of the drink and other drugs and a round of knowing pitiful smiles from the nurses we left to lick our wounds back at the squat.


The squat was over full so eventually the Belfast mob, me, Leah, Cliff and a few others found a place opposite side of the High Street in Edgley Road upstairs to Rab Fae Beith, the drummer from the Pack and the Wall.

The cycle of sex and drugs, begging and gigs, parties and punk were balanced by the ever present hunger and poverty. We’d all take it in turns to do the bread run in the mornings, prowl the streets for the odd pint of milk on a doorstep and sometimes butter and a block of cheese. We even sometimes got eggs and bacon if we caught a milk float unattended, then to local bakers before they opened and after a delivery of warm fresh baked bread, we’d shoplift and ponce our way up the High Street and outside the tube.

Of an evening we’d take turns doing the rounds of the skips behind the local supermarkets where apart from the ever present yoghurt soaked bread rolls in the bottom sometimes you could get lucky and the whole squat ate, we always shared but usually after we’d eaten our fill.

We were all runaways from something. I don’t think anyone in the squat was old enough to sign on the dole except Cliff, and desperation always nagged. Mickey the Noo was Siobhan’s boyfriend, an I.R.A. supporter from Glasgow with a green Mohican. He’d prowl the underground and rob people as a supplement to begging. Sometimes he took me with him for backing but he always came home with goodies.

The local copper nicked me while poncing for spare change outside Clapham North tube. Being on a two year bender I gave them an alias and they threw me in the cells. They told me I’d been arrested for mugging on the underground, they kept me there for a few days but had to let me go because my accent wasn’t Glaswegian and my mohican wasn’t green and the victim refused to say different. I got back to the squat and warned Mickey who promptly cut his hair off, and the next day he went robbing as a skinhead. He came back that night with two tickets for Siouxsie And The Banshees at the Music Machine. When asked where he got them from he said he’d robbed a couple of punks on the tube, which didn’t go down well. We all refused the spare ticket and the night of the gig we let Mickey go in alone, which was lucky because the people who he’d robbed were waiting in the foyer with the police to point him out. He was dragged off to the nick and we never saw him again.

One morning before Cliff set off for band rehearsals with the Straps, he sat and ate his Frosties in front of us without sharing. After he’d locked his door and gone, Belfast Jake decided that as punishment for being a greedy bastard Cliff deserved to lose his cereal, but instead of breaking Cliff’s new lock Belfast Jake decided to take a hammer to the wall between Cliff’s room and mine. Plaster and lathes lay in rubble on my mattress under the hole, which was big enough to pull the Frosties box through, Belfast Jake ate his fill, then put rubble in the box and returned it through the hole.

When Cliff came home from rehearsals that night he was already in a dejected mood. Apparently he’d been kicked out of the band for always having a glue bag in his face. He sat down and told us the sorry tale of the day’s events without seeing the hole in the wall behind him. As his story petered out we all agreed his luck was truly dire, as he went to unlock his door we all waited, but no hollering. A dejected Cliff just looked at the hole and said “figures” then a big beaming grin took over his face as he sat down with his bowl and milk and said “all a man can do at a time like this is eat his Frosties” and smiled again.

We watched him pour the rubble into his bowl, we tried to suppress our upwelling sniggers, which just made it worse. Cliff didn’t see the funny side and the obvious eruption of boots and fists ended in Belfast Jake nursing a broken bloodied nose on the floor. At that point Rab from downstairs came in to complain about the noise again, being older and more sensible than us and seeing the hole in the wall and the state of Jake he took the opportunity to berate us all for being a useless bunch of cunts and ordered us to shut the fuck up.

The next few days were quiet.

A few days later Siobhan and Deirdre decided the subdued Belfast Jake needed cheering up. He’d been moping in the mirror over his newly bent nose but eventually joined in the rough and tumble wrestling on the floor. It wasn’t long before he yelped again in pain. Siobhan had clumped him in the face, but as his hands left his nose he began smiling. She’d unwittingly knocked it back into place. Belfast Jake hugged her in sheer delight and gratitude.

Staggering up the stairs in Clapham one night I fell and banged my knee. Over the next few days the ache got worse and I had to see a doctor. Balham hospital didn’t know what was up with me but put me in bed in skin traction anyway.

People like to complain about hospital food but when you’re used to bugger all it tasted good. I stashed what I didn’t eat and the visits from the squat dwellers tended to coincide with one meal time or another so others could get a feed as well.

While Michelle stuffed her face with leftover peas and gravy Sarah tried to curb her enthusiasm about all the gigs I had missed, and her excitement about the ones I was going to miss.

The doctors took me into theatre, sedated me and took some fluid from my knee. I dreamed I was back in college, on a field trip to an old church. I felt the same need to escape I had in college but the old church was beautiful, the class entered to look around at the architecture. From the old beams in the roof hung a huge chimney type circular structure almost bell shaped, the bottom of which hung at chest height in the middle of the room, from inside light poured out. The class all bent to look under the rim to see where the light was coming from. The teacher warned too late not to go under. I became weightless and started drifting upwards backside first. I started slowly spinning as I looked down on the faces around the rim as they grew smaller, then spinning faster the higher I was drawn, and faster still into the light. I woke shaking my head back and forth back in traction in bed.

When the doctor made his rounds I told him I was all better now and could I go home now please. The next day they gave me the big plastic bag they’d sealed my clothes up in and a pair of crutches. My clothes were already rotten but as I opened the bag I gagged, I’d left a pot of curry sauce in the donkey jacket pocket which had turned to mould and grown through everything else. I rinsed what I could and dressed.

As I hobbled on crutches out of the ward I was sure the squat could smell me coming.


That night in the Music Machine those crutches got used in various and imaginative ways by several people there, they didn’t last long.

Siobhan and Deirdre needed a bath and didn’t want to use the locals so with a couple of others we set off to my mothers. We walked through the council houses to the large looking house set back on a bend in the road. My father had built it up to look impressive on the outside, but inside it was still the same old building site. The girls had hoped for hot water and maybe a feed but got neither.

I was going back home to Harrow less often, usually to take stuff back that I’d collected, records, clothes and so forth, and to get cleaned up and then see some local mates. I hadn’t been back in a while but when a stranger answered the front door and told me my family had moved I was a bit surprised. He said he didn’t have a clue where they’d moved too and closed the door. My mother had told me on the previous visit that she’d finally agreed to sell the place but I didn’t think it was that long since my last visit.

Her brother lived about a mile up the road so I went knocking on his door to ask if he’d seen them, I discovered they’d moved just round the corner from him. From the sale of the house my father and mother had both paid off their debts and bought this house out right, my father taking a smaller cut he said so myself and my sisters would always have a roof over our heads. My stuff was piled up in the box room but I managed to make a little nest for myself which didn’t feel like home but made a nicer short term escape than the previous house at least for a while away from the squats.

On the phone my dad had told me he and Sue had bought a big house in north London that still had three sitting tenants. He said he’d pay us a hundred quid to squat in it for a week to get rid of them, Five of us moved in, Large Donna, Elaine, Michelle, Curly from Belfast and myself. We had to share a bathroom and toilet with the tenants and totally took the piss. The police were called, I gave a Mickey Mouse name but we were allowed to stay after my father made a show of taking pity on us.

A couple of days later when all was quiet I noticed my dad was there and chanced a knock on his door. He let me in and left. I sat down at the table to wait and Sue came in through the other door behind me, plonked a baby on the table in front of me and said ‘meet your sister’, then also left. The baby looked at me with incomprehension and started to bawl until my father came back to retrieve her and take them both home.

Back in the rooms next door the party continued. The smell of glue permeated the house as strongly as the toilet and the noise, and by the end of the week two of the tenants had left.

Siobhan came back from a gig that night and looked uncharacteristically pensive, then with an innocent face that only an Irish Catholic can pull off said “they just sort of followed me home”. I looked outside, and on the doorstep were nine tenths of the Dusseldorf punks, the more the merrier I thought, and let them in.

At weeks end it was time for Sue to move in with the baby and for us to go, we piled all of our stuff in the back of my father’s van.

Elaine from Blackpool and Sarah had scouted out a couple of possible places back in Clapham so my father dumped us and our pile of stuff by the side of the road on an estate opposite Clapham North tube, gave five of us twenty quid each and left.

The first place we were kicked out of by the police within an hour, the second place though the police left us alone.

It didn’t look too promising to start with, no gas, electricity or water, but I’d been in a dive or two before and soon had the water and gas back on. The electricity though was a problem, there were just two wires sticking out of the wall in the cupboard where a meter should be. We went to a wrecked empty place we’d seen earlier and took the meter then I wired it up in our new place, as the evening grew dark the lights came on to everyone’s approval, before long I had the hot water on too, we all took turns in the bath and settled in.

We saw George with his mate Philippe in the Kings Road and he told us about some exhibition or other and party. He also told us how the artists thought it would be wonderful if some punks came along, George expected us to take the piss and we duly delivered. We ate their food and drank their wine and behaved as degenerates are expected, pockets full and a quarter wheel of Edam in a roll in my hand we set off, next day the whole squat ate and drank.

Next night I bumped into Heidi and some of her mates from Dusseldorf in the Marquee and told them we had a new squat, they came back. Heidi didn’t speak English and I don’t speak German. All we knew about each other was what her mate translated for us, and Belfast Jake had just managed to pull the translator. It didn’t seem to matter, we enjoyed each other immensely and when we could drag ourselves from the bed I showed her the Kings Road.

It started to rain; we took shelter in the doorway of Boy. Heidi was stunning, tall and slim, fit, beautiful and blonde, a kind of German Debbie Harry.

Jock Strap who worked in Boy had clocked her and zeroed in. He started his fast raw Glaswegian patter not knowing she couldn’t speak a word of English. Seeing my growing amusement she smiled sweetly, which just encouraged Jock all the more. She certainly kept us out the rain that day.

A few weeks after she’d gone back to Dusseldorf the postman knocked on the door. Heidi had sent a food parcel to the squat and we all remembered her well.

I came back one morning after a gig and party to find Belfast Jake in the street outside the squat smoking a dog end and looking unusually pensive. He was acting odd but only said “you should have been here last night, Leah was off her head” and tried to laugh. He came in with me, walked in the front room (mine and Leah’s bedroom) and sat down.

He had an awkward smile on his face as he asked Leah “do you remember last night?”, she looked at him coldly and said “I remember you all fucked me” and stared straight at him some more. Belfast Jake’s head hung in shame and his red cheeks tried to pull a smile as if it were a joke.

Leah reminded me of my youngest sister. I actually got on with Leah and I felt guilty for years that I wasn’t there to stop them from abusing her on that night.

Out on the ponce I bumped into Mitch. She said her, Ruthless, Aussie Bob and a few others had a new place. I went back with her to a severe Victorian looking block on an estate behind Lambeth North tube station.

Campbell Buildings were being pulled down due to them being old infested shitholes that were already crumbling, but Ruthless was very accommodating so I stayed. The place was filthy but Ruthless and Mitch had found ways to combat the pile up of rubbish by sweeping it into the corners and under the carpet.

Apart from the smell this worked fine for a while, until one fine sunny day when light found its way into the corners of the room as well. At first my eyes noticed but my brain didn’t register that the carpet was moving all by itself in the sunlight. While my brain caught up Mitch noticed me staring at the gently undulating carpet in the corner of the room. She got up and beckoned me over then she pulled the carpet back to reveal a thick layer of maggots. There must have been thousands of them, but apparently they got rid of the rubbish so were left alone ‘for the time being’.

As the council emptied the next block in line for demolition the squatters started to move in and the quicker they did the quicker the remaining tenants moved out.

It was early 1980 and the punk squat community had spread. Campbell Buildings would soon became an over spill for all the squats in London and the surrounding areas, runaways from family and childrens homes, asylums, estates and suburbs from all over Britain, Ireland and beyond.

I saw Scarecrow in the Marquee, I hadn’t seen him for a while, he was looking well, back with his folks, clean and healthy, I said to him “you’ve got to come back and see where we’re living now”. The gigs and parties were almost endless by then and acquiring drugs for free had become an essential.

Dr Manch was the local GP in a dingy little ground floor office come surgery. He was a short chubby, pasty faced Greek looking man who sweated profusely. He had a haunted hangdog expression etched into his face, as if he’d been carrying his deflated pride around in his tatty fake leather bag with his whiskey for too many years. His surgery smelled of musk alcohol sweat and urine, or maybe that was just him, but he knew his job and wrote prescriptions endlessly for us all.

I’d told him that I couldn’t sleep, and at first he’d tried to explain the wonders of a good days work, but seeing only incomprehension and bafflement he soon gave up and palmed us off with mogadon or dalmane, but after one of the girls from the squats had sat in front of him with a handful of tuinol and said “if you don’t give me something stronger I’ll swallow the lot” he kind of gave in to us all.

For a time it seemed like half the punk squatters in London went to him.

I bumped into Slut out on the ponce one day, She used to live with Slag and Scrubber in Brixton before I knew them. The film ‘The Great Rock And Roll Swindle’ had just come out and it was showing at a cinema at Piccadilly Circus. Slut had some money from ‘working the ‘dilly’ that day so she took me to see the film.

Afterwards we got off our heads, and she came back to the squat. Next day she went to see Dr Manch.

Police raids were a regular thing that we’d all become used to, so to prevent our stashes of pills from the good doctor being regularly confiscated we’d started to hide them in more inventive ways. The police were stumped for a while, until one night the squat caught fire. This was nothing new for Campbell Buildings, but when some extremely stoned punks refused to leave a burning squat in favour of removing all the ceiling tiles, it didn’t take long for the police to figure out and inform the fire brigade, that we weren’t doing it because we were only trying to be helpful.

We’d began to push the pills one by one into the large polystyrene ceiling tiles that were to be found in every squat there, and if we didn’t get them out we’d lose our collective stash. The fact that the tiles were inflammable, and once alight dripped fire on everything below, was the reason many a squat was lost to fire in the first place, that and us finding varied and colourful ways of ‘accidentally’ igniting them.


We went to see the UK Subs support Generation X at the Lyceum. The place was packed, but most of the ‘proper’ punks were there for the UK Subs because Generation X had become ‘Top Of The Pops’ sell-outs by then. There were loads of trendy poseurs there to see them though. There were also loads of the Whitton punks there. They were a part of the Subs crew in the early days and now the Subs were getting a bit more recognition so were the Whitton.

As the UK Subs set came to an end all you could hear from the crowd was a continual chant of ‘Subs Subs Subs’ interspersed with ‘Whitton Whitton’. When Generation X came on the chanting continued. For the first four numbers all you could hear from the crowd was ‘Subs Subs Subs’.

I was walking up the stairs at the side to the balcony when I noticed a beer can sailing, in what seemed like a slow motion perfect arc. Through the air and lights it flew to the stage and hit Billy Idol straight and hard in the head. He staggered off stage leaving the band to play to the chanting crowd by themselves. When the song finished there was a minute of silence from the stage, and all that could be heard was the chant.


Eventually Billy Idol came back on stage with his arm around Charlie Harpers shoulder; Charlie took the mike and implored the crowd to “give them a chance, they’re a good band really” and left. So did most of the crowd.

Campbell Buildings early one evening without a gig and still long hours before the soup kitchens arrival Ruthless had the idea we should try to fend off starvation by eating the local feral cats. That night out on the scrounge we kept our eyes open, there were plenty to choose from.

As I tried to coax one closer, instinctively on some level, one vicious little fucker recognised another, and even let me pick him up before turning into something like the Tasmanian devil in my arms. It flew straight at my face all four paws and teeth, a spitting hissing ball of ginger fluff and mange. I desperately tried to unhinge him but the bastard sliced my face and nearly had my eye. He gouged my hand and my arm through the leather jacket but I finally managed to untangle us, lever the bastard off and eject him up the street where he landed on all fours running, balls and tail in the air, before turning the corner he looked back, sprayed in my general direction then disappeared.

As we checked the bins on the way to the soup kitchen my cat allergy set in and I thought ‘there are easier ways to get a meal’.

On the way to the soup kitchen at night the cobblestones always looked wet; the smell of rot was greeted by decay the closer you got until the last street lamp before the arches faded.

The viaducts under Waterloo station were like red brick cathedrals to the damp filthy and stinking remains of the streets. Winos, tramps, beggars, thieves, junkies, lowlife and punks all crowded around dustbin fires or in queue at the old van with its two milk urns full of soup.

When a train wasn’t rattling over us or one of the other viaducts, the sound fell enough to hear the odd spit from the fire or curse from a dosser, just to be covered again by the next rattling train.

After standing in line for a paper cupful of soup and a bread roll the fire looked tempting.

Sometimes you could squeeze between the dossers and up close to the fire, then try to fend off hunger with the piss weak soup while watching the rats around the edges who fed off the rot, and the feral cats who fed off the rats.

Of an evening in Campbell Buildings it was sometimes necessary to escape to the roofs, not only from the police, or the noise, or another burned out squat, or the increasing tribes of invaders who were always on the prowl for punk squats to wreck. But just because it was nice up there.

There was something very comforting about listening to the Kinks playing ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Lola’ on Ruthless’s little cassette recorder, while watching the sun go down over Waterloo station. I never saw the river from the roofs of Campbell Buildings but I’m convinced I smelt it.

Campbell Buildings had now become an overflow for all the dregs of all the squats in London. For runaways from children’s homes, asylums, council estates and broken suburban nightmares. I’d known for a while that I had to get out of there.

I left one night and went back to Harrow and bumped into Tony A, who was squatting in Hounslow with the Whitton punks and I decided to join him. The next morning I went back to Campbell Buildings to get my stuff and say my ‘see you laters’.

I found Indian Keith crying. He told me he had gone up on the roofs that morning and found Scarecrow dead on his back. He had called the police who’d arrived, and abruptly told Keith to fuck off, he said. While they were waiting for the mortuary van to arrive the two coppers were flicking little stone’s from the roof at Scarecrows face trying to land them in his open mouth.

Later that day Keith lead the toast to Scarecrow with tuinol and Merrydown cider, I left them to it.











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Flux / Annie Anxiety / Tackhead Sound System / AR Kane / D&V – U.L.U London – 28/11/86

June 5th, 2014





I was in attendance at this Flux gig. The first time witnessing Flux (Of Pink Indians) live on stage for two or three years. It was quite a change from the old militaristic Crass style Flux sound of 1982-1983 to a more 23 Skidoo style Flux sound in 1986. From that sound to this in just a few short years! I was already aware of ONU Sound, Tackhead Sound System and Adrian Sherwood and I was looking forward to attending this gig. It did not disappoint.

KYPP is indebted to Lee Oliver for the loan of the two C90 tapes that he recorded from a hand held cassette recorder from this One Little Indian / ONU Sound night at U.L.U in central London. He managed to cover just about all the audio from the night and the audio sounds very reasonable.

Lee has also kindly written some text regarding the night and his thoughts about Flux Of Pink Indians prior to the gig along with the Flux poster for this performance. A massive thanks to him for that.

Also a huge thank you to Martin Flux who also contributed a whole heap of interesting text to this KYPP post.

Thanks also to Graham Burnett who supplied the photographs of Flux and Annie Anxiety performing on the night. Both Flux flyers from the collection of Penguin!

1986 was a funny old year. In musical chronology it felt like a dramatic turning point. The dominance of UK created music was ending. I was opening up to the styles and influences from further afield. It seems crazy now but what was going on across the Atlantic seemed other- worldly. Even Europe was a distant influence.

As 1985 turned into 1986 the direction of flow was changing, especially in the ‘punk scene’. The emergence of hip hop alongside funk percussive styles, dub and even that old warhorse, metal, were permeating into bands’ developments.

The transition from Flux of Pink Indians to Flux was one of the most divergent and to my ears the most exciting development in that year.

The EP, ‘Taking A Liberty’, their previous release before ‘Uncarved Block’, was a howl of frustration. Musique Concrete re-imagined through the most extreme anarcho-punk. It felt like an ending, a full stop. There was nothing more to say.

I interviewed Flux for my fanzine at the time (long lost I’m afraid to say). It was at their place in Forest Hill. The living room was spacious with beautiful wooden floors and bookshelves heaving with books. A hessian sack with the corn stalk emblem used on the cover of the first Antisect LP hung above one of the sofas. Lu and Tim from Flux attempted to answer our quite possibly naïve teenage questions about the state of the world and where ‘punk was going’. I could sense their desire to experiment how their music was presented to open up to a wider audience, a frustration with preaching to the converted if you will. I left feeling a mixture of uncertainties and excitement about how they were going to achieve that.

The concert at the University of London on Friday 28th November 1986 showcased the new Flux sound of ‘Uncarved Block’. The supporting acts were a direct challenge to punk orthodoxy. The fragmented sound poetry collages of Annie Anxiety, the beat minimalism of D&V, abstract noise pop from A.R.Kane and the sound of the future, Tackhead Sound System, bringing their tour de force heavy duty dub funk.

The whole line-up seemed to be a premonition of the rhythmic beat of ‘rave culture’ that would explode across the strands of the undercurrents in the following two years. The free jazz record playing between acts (Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry ??) was another pointer to what was to come.

Finally Flux played. It wasn’t punk as such, loose funk rhythms, percussive interludes, space, lyrics chanted, hypnotic. Words about personal politics, The Tao of Pooh, re-evaluation.

I was under the impression this was the only time they performed as Flux, someone might be able to confirm or correct this. Anyway shortly after this night Flux disappeared forever. The conclusion I felt was that it was an eye opener, another step in my appreciation of different musical styles and strands.

For that alone ‘Uncarved Block’ is a masterpiece.


The Flux performance at U.L.U was the only time myself and my older brother had been on stage together and the last. Paul Wilson was my older sibling by three years or so. He was a drummer and inspired me to follow the same path. Having a drum set around the family house in my formative years did not hurt either.

Paul was the original drummer for the Psychedelic Furs in 1977 until he was replaced by Vince Ely in 1978 or 1979 when my brother celebrated his wedding anniversary instead of being able to perform with the band at the Zig Zag club in Westbourne Park, west London. This gig was not insignificant as it was a music biz affair put on by C.B.S and the Psychedelic Furs were not yet signed, although very close to being so. Tracy Lee the then manager gave all the band a weeks notice of this important billing and Paul and his wife had already made plans for that night. Seeing as Pauls wife was already upset at Paul walking around with make up on, as was the image of the band at that time, he felt it proper to keep to the original arrangements for that week. The performance slot for Psychedelic Furs at the gig did not happen for this reason and my brother was ousted.

Life continued. Paul took a back seat and I eventually joined Flux Of Pink Indians after a succession of drummers left including Sid concentrating on Rubella Ballet and Bambi who went to join Discharge (or did he leave Discharge to join Flux Of Pink Indians?).

In 1982 Flux Of Pink Indians performed all over the country as main support for Crass alongside D.I.R.T and Annie Anxiety. During this treks across the country we met many other bands including D&V.

Andy Leach the drummer for D&V stepped onto the stage as the Flux Of Pink Indians drummer one night in Birmingham Digbeth Hall (or some Civic Hall of some kind) when some kindly skinheads with an iron bar decided to try to crack my head open. Thanks to him for that. I recovered to eventually return this kind of favour for D.I.R.T at the squatted Zig Zag club gig when Fox walked off the stage mid set for some reason. He never returned to D.I.R.T. I also drummed in Iceland for Crass of all bands when Penny was left in North Weald with a perforated ear drum. Penny and I had the same militaristic drumming style so I fitted that Crass set quiet well.

As a member of Flux Of Pink Indians I was involved in the making of the ‘Strive To Survive’ album in 1982. This record along with the follow up ‘Fucking Cunts’ in 1984 were both recorded at Southern Studios and during both those sessions we would meet Adrian Sherwood doing his work there with his ONU Sound artists. Little did we know that a few years later Adrian Sherwood would be engineering recordings for Flux Of Pink Indians!

Fast forward to 1986.

Derek had given up the Spiderleg record label and had started a more progressive label called One Little Indian alongside Tim another member of Flux Of Pink Indians. Derek had also had a falling out with John Loder at Southern Studios. AR Kane was one of the first bands to record for One Little Indian records. I played drums for the band on a few tracks later on, but for this first release the band had a drum machine. Adrian Sherwood was sitting pretty in the public with endless purely wonderful releases from his label ONU Sound. Mark Stewart And The Maffia, Tackhead and African Headcharge. Bonjo I and Style Scott were part of this ONU set up.

Derek decided that Flux Of Pink Indians should record for his new record label, but also the band name should change as well as the sound of the band. We all agreed to this as far as I can remember. We had not performed live or recorded anything since 1984. Things were pretty slow.

Colin, Derek, Tim, Lu and myself struggled with different sounds, and while the ideas were formed we had some input from Ray Shulman of the progressive band Gentle Giant. His effect on the band should not be underestimated. He bought a mad violin sound to the table and the trumpet. Bonjo I also came to the same table, as did Adrian Sherwood.

We started recording ‘Uncarved Block’ with Adrian Sherwood at Berry Street studios. The recording sessions as far as I remember was turning out well. There was one time when Adrian had an important meeting to collect ‘something for the weekend’ and left Derek in the engineers chair for some of Bonjo I’s percussion recording. Adrian had made a career in dealing with Rastafarian musicians. Derek however had not. Derek recorded the material that Bonjo I was only practicing and not recording the material that Bonjo I thought was to be recorded. Bonjo I was speaking in very thick Jamaican patois and Derek struggled to understand a lot of it. I was in the control room and Derek was asking me what was said, generally to a shoulder shrug. This whole episode was frustrating to Bonjo I and he was getting quite angry. He stood up and took out a large knife entering the control room with what we both thought at the time, some menace. He got a mango out of a ruck sack and started to cut it up. Worry over. Adrian came back eventually wide eyed and sorted out any unusable material we had created with Bonjo I!

Another memory that sticks in my mind was when a few days after I had completed my drum parts, Derek played me the tape and there seemed to be another drum going throughout the tracks. This sounded unusual. I asked what that was, Derek replied Style Scott came in and did a few sessions with Adrian! I knew nothing at the time and remember feeling a little let down as I could have completed a separate drum track easily enough. However with hindsight shortly afterwards I realised having someone like Style Scott on a Flux record engineered by Adrian Sherwood at Berry Street is not a bad look at all!

We had the recordings in the can and the record was released on One Little Indian records prior to the performance at U.L.U in November so interested punters would know what kind of sound Flux were going to showcase.

Come the time of the gig we all got to the venue early as there was a lot of sound checking to do. Not just bass, guitars and drums.

The night was organised as a One Little Indian / Tackhead Sound System night. Adrian Sherwood was on the mixing desk all night. Our old friends Annie Anxiety and D&V were both set to perform to mainly backing tracks. AR Kane who were new to me, were also on the bill. They had a drum machine to add to the mix.

Flux had two drummers as mentioned above, both siblings, not myself and Style Scott like the studio recordings.
Flux had Bonjo I to fit into the mix.
Flux had vocals, bass and guitars.
Flux had violin and trumpet courtesy of Ray Shulman.
Flux also has a scaffold pole filled up with metallic things that made a racket when wacked with a drum stick. Fire extinguishers, pot and pans.

Adrian took care in making sure all this was at the correct level in the mix. He also had to mix the Tackhead Sound System along with various MC’s and so forth.

Adrian was a busy guy on the night, and needed a little speed to keep him going….

I watched all the bands / artists on the night as far as I can remember.

D&V, my old friends also had many backing tracks and played a blinder. Several years previously D&V would have had a problem with the crowds when supporting Crass and other bands of that ilk. Happily I remember that they got a decent reception.

AR Kane were sublime, and as mentioned earlier I eventually drummed for them on a few tracks that were eventually released.

Annie Anxiety smoked and drunk half a bottle of spirits to calm her nerves prior to getting on the stage “OK ready for the fucking show now boys” she stated loudly. A blinding set from her to a receptive audience for a change. Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980s appearing numerous times alongside Crass she would not always get a decent reception.

All the bands / artists on the bill went onto to release records for One Little Indian as far as I am aware.

Adrian Sherwood held all the differing sounds on the night nice and tight and after every performance the Tackhead Sound System would get a positive reception. This was not incidental music between bands; this was part of the performance. It was loud I remember that.

Flux went on with all the extra musicians and completely enjoyed the night. I think the audience did to from what I remember seeing. I do not remember doing an encore, not due to the band not feeling appreciated but due to just performing ‘Uncarved Block’. Once all those tracks that appeared on the record were completed the band left the stage. Flux were not going to come back on to perform ‘Tube Disasters’ or anything like that!

After the performance I stayed for the rest of the Tackhead Sound System. Bonjo I wanted paying in cash for the nights work which took the band by surprise. He had just been released from detention due to some misdemeanour which if I remember rightly might have been a violent misdemeanour so we thought it better not to argue with him. We had to get some cash double quick to pay Bonjo I off and when we scraped some money together he disappeared!

Sometime after this U.L.U performance we went to Europe to try the new set out there.

A wrong move was not to take Adrian Sherwood, my brother Paul, Bonjo I or Ray. We thought we could cover the new set as a five piece (back to Flux Of Pink Indians not the nine piece Flux). At the Paradiso in Amsterdam we not only sounded hollow and bombed, but the audience were also disappointed as an rap artist who was expected to perform on the same night had not turned up to perform for the gig. Added to this everyone was expecting the Adrian Sherwood Tackhead style night. Flux were a very poor second! Ditto the above for Hague in Holland and Antwerp in Belgium…
Not a great little European jaunt, but the U.L.U performance in my mind was one of the best gigs I performed in.

Flux played one more time in 1991 at the Dome in Tufnell Park alongside Hotalacio Sound System which was Colins version of the Tackhead Sound System. I remember that this gig was packed, but again it was not the same as the U.L.U performance. Adrian Sherwood, Bonjo I and Ray really made that performance, and indeed the record (along with Style Scott) stand the test of time.


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The Laila Mythology – Beltane Festival

May 1st, 2014

I remember visits to Penguin Towers from Laila along with her father Vince several years ago. She was a beautiful and bright toddler in those days. Fast forward several years and adding a lot of effort, time and imagination, Vince and Laila’s mother Donna, along with Laila herself are on the brink of releasing a film full of fantasy, wonder and hopefully a happy ending!

Vince has also called on his old friend Penny Rimbaud from Crass, a band that Vince shared stages with up and down the country dozens of times with D.I.R.T throughout the early 1980’s, to feature in this film.

The wonderful setting of Dial House and surrounding countryside were used as part of the films numerous locations. Sid from Rubella Ballet has had a hand in the soundtrack of this film.

I am looking forward to seeing the results on a big screen at some point in the future.

The photographs from Dial House are from the collection of Mickey ‘Penguin’ and the text on Beltane lovingly poached from thewhitegoddess website.

The film stills are from the Facebook page dedicated to ‘The Laila Mythology’ which may be found HERE

The Laila Mythology

It is written in Celtic folklore that the roots of the hawthorn tree transcend the two worlds. A factualism that was soon to be realised by a young girl named Laila.

Whilst out on a spring saunter in Epping woods, Laila is inexplicably set upon and despoiled of her treasured necklace by an insane opportunistic magpie. Subsequently she finds herself on a search for its recovery, but soon discovers more than she had bargained for, when the magpie who stole it turns out to be none other than a nefarious shaman named Ibora, who appears to have mistaken her pendant for that of a mythical jewel known as the Brisingamen.

Luring her down through the roots of a gigantic hawthorn tree into the underworld, Laila is inadvertently transported into a magical land where Ogres and Wyvern frequent and where the sanctity of nature is no longer revered by humanity.

Befriended by Jack, a huge Green man who has the ability to converse with trees and with the help of a wise old wizard named Yan Overton, Laila desperately tries to get back to her world, with or without her necklace, but in order to do so she must first find the legendary Omega tree, the last of the ancient hawthorns or ‘world trees’.

But with all ancient world trees condemned by order of Queen Lhanna, a tyrannous sorceress whose lust for power impels her to kill her own sister Isla in order to gain complete total control of the world, Laila’s quest seems almost futile.

But soon she discovers the secret whereabouts of the Omega tree, far away in the Goblin lands and the reasoning behind Lhanna’s condemnation of ancient trees.

It is prophesised in the underworld that Geborga, a gigantic dragon created by the evil Queens sister to protect the forests before she perished would return once more in to the underworld through the portal of a world tree and bring peace into the world and the subsequent demise of her sister Lhanna. With such a foreboding prospect for the Queen, all portals in and out of the underworld are to be indiscriminately felled.

But with her only means of escape under threat, Laila finds herself in a race against time.

Making her way surreptitiously across the treacherous Goblin lands to the Omega tree in the company of the Green man and a Changeling named Lon Attilia, Laila can almost smell the sweet scent of home, but before reaching the town of Puo Landum in the heart of the Grayweald where the mythical tree is said to grow, she is unexpectedly betrayed by her Changeling cohort who turns out to be a servant of the Queen, and had masqueraded himself as her ally in order to discover the location of the tree.

Laila then unwittingly becomes the catalyst to a war between the despotic Queen and the race of Goblins, as Lhanna’s armies invade the Grayweald with the intent of destroying the Omega tree as well as their Goblin adversaries.

A great battle then ensues throughout the forests of the underworld as the Goblin hordes fight for their survival against an unremitting force. But with such overwhelming opposition it is only a matter of time before the last of the world trees is finally raised to the ground and the Goblins are forced to retreat into exile, leaving Laila trapped in the underworld forever.

But Jack, her trusty companion has not lost hope and believes the answer may lie in the place of their first meeting. So immediately they make their way with haste back towards the old wood but are ambushed en route by Queen Lhanna and her forces.

A brief skirmish breaks out as Jack fights desperately to protect Laila but is sadly slain by the powerful sorceress. Overwrought by the devastating loss of the green man, Laila’s sorrow appears to create a huge storm in the skies overhead and the world is cast into darkness. The earth then begins to shake as Geborga the dragon is awoken by his master’s voice and rises up from out of the mountain lake.

Realising that Laila is the reincarnation of her murdered sister Isla; Lhanna attempts to kill her but is beheaded by Ibora, her shamanic servant in an act of retribution for Isla’s fratricide.

In the aftermath of the storm, after the dust had settled, Laila finds herself inexplicably back home in Epping Forest with her pendant in her hand and Yan Overton the old wizard, walking over to greet her. He explains that her journey into the otherworld was predetermined and her purpose for going there, as well as what became of Jack, the green man.

As Laila makes her way home she wonders how on earth she can relate her amazing adventures to her family, but understands that she will never be the same person ever again.

The Fire Festival of Beltane

This festival is also known as Beltane, the Celtic May Day. It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year.

It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. The rituals were held to promote fertility. The cattle were driven between the Belfires to protect them from ills.

Contact with the fire was interpreted as symbolic contact with the sun. In early Celtic times, the druids kindled the Beltane fires with specific incantations.

Later the Christian church took over the Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. The rowan branch is hung over the house fire on May Day to preserve the fire itself from bewitchment (the house fire being symbolic of the luck of the house).

This is a holiday of Union–both between the Goddess and the God and between man and woman. Handfastings (Pagan marriages) are traditional at this time. It is a time of fertility and harvest, the time for reaping the wealth from the seeds that we have sown.

Celebrations include braiding of one’s hair (to honour the union of man and woman and Goddess and God), circling the Maypole for fertility and jumping the Beltane fire for luck. Beltane is one of the Major Sabbats of the Wiccan religion. We celebrate sexuality (something we see as holy and intrinsic to us as holy beings), we celebrate life and the unity which fosters it.

The myths of Beltane state that the young God has blossomed into manhood, and the Goddess takes him on as her lover. Together, they learn the secrets of the sexual and the sensual, and through their union, all life begins.

Beltane is the season of maturing life and deep found love. This is the time of vows, handfastings and commitment. The Lord and his Lady, having reached maturity, come together in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to celebrate the joy of their union.

This is a time to celebrate the coming together of the masculine and feminine creative energies. Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desired the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms and unite.

The flowers and greenery symbolise the Goddess and the Maypole represents the God. Beltane marks the return of vitality and passion of summer. Another common focal point of the Beltane rituals is the cauldron, which represents the Goddess. The Welsh goddess Creiddylad is connected with Beltane, often called the May Queen, she was a Goddess of summer flowers and love.

May Day

May Day has long been marked with feasts and rituals. May poles, supremely phallic symbols, were the focal point of old English village rituals. Many people arose at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens, using them to decorate the village Maypoles.

The May Queen (and often King) is chosen from among the young people, and they go singing from door to door throughout the town carrying flowers or the May tree, soliciting donations for merrymaking in return for the “blessing of May”.

This is symbolic of bestowing and sharing of the new creative power that is stirring in the world. As the kids go from door to door, the May Bride often sings to the effect that those who give will get of nature’s bounty through the year.

In parts of France, some jilted youth will lie in a field on May Day and pretend to sleep. If any village girl is willing to marry him, she goes and wakes him with a kiss; the pair then goes to the village inn together and lead the dance which announces their engagement. The boy is called “the betrothed of May.”

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Defiant Pose fanzine

April 18th, 2014

I love a nice surprise and today I get home to find Defiant Pose fanzine volume 8 on my doorstep out of the blue. Included within the package a beautiful 7″ record by Rema Rema. A 7″ record on the heaviest vinyl I have had the pleasure of holding! Been on the record player over and over since the opening. There are ten pages on Rema Rema alone inside the fanzine, three pages on The Stench (from 1976), eight pages on The Heretics and three pages on Blood And Roses. That’s my reading material sorted out for the next couple of days! Thanks to Mike Clarke (Defiant Pose head honcho and also the guitarist from Decadent Few) for sending me this wonderful fanzine and record… Every like minded soul should get a copy of this package. Please browse and order this or other volumes of Defiant Pose from Mike Clarkes website HERE.

Limited edition sleeve artwork (thirty copies world wide)

Normal sleeve artwork

I started a fanzine in 1978 called Love And Romance, we planned to interview the Slits, Subway Sect and Siouxsie, but it fell apart in the planning stage. The singer of They Must Be Russians found out Siouxsie’s real surname and rang her mum’s phone number in Chislehurst, Kent and kept ringing it. I think Siouxsie herself was having her Sunday dinner there one day and gave him a mouthful when he called for the umpteenth time. I managed to almost interview Tessa from the Slits down the Portobello Road but we drank too much and smoked too many of the joints piled inside her handbag and both gradually lost the ability to form sentences. The other guy helping me met the Subway Sect at their rehearsal place, but they just stared at him catatonically whilst picking at their Oxfam jumpers and he forgot to turn the cassette recorder on, so that was that.

I got Defiant Pose going in 1980, did 3 scrappy issues by 1981, nothing important; a mate used to print them at his work after everyone went home. We would sell them to people in the street, deliberately not always to punks. The only positive thing was I moaned how nothing was happening locally and a month later two new fanzines started in Slough and sent me copies so it does work sometimes!

The fanzine came back in 2001 because I’d written a lot of stuff in the intervening years so had some friends, and suddenly we had the time to do it again. We thought most fanzines were stuck in the same dull blueprint they’d followed since the mid-80’s and lost that attitude. It’s also a conscious alternative to the interminable array of UK `zines that simply follow the US format of columns/reviews. After X amount of years of doing a label we rarely got an order based on a good `zine review, especially compared to the impact of seeing a band live. People have called Defiant Pose nostalgic, but we wrote so much stuff that it’ll take a few issues to get up to date with it all!

Mike Defiant Pose

Defiant Pose fanzine volume 7 – Mike compiled two issues of the same fanzine in two formats A4 (44 pages) and A5 (80 pages) respectively.
Both versions of this volume features UK fanzines 1976-84 from early punk through to Better Badges, post-punk / hardcore. All the fanzines featured and the history of, exhaustively written about by Mike himself, cover London, Manchester, Sheffield, Ireland and Scotland.
Ripped & Torn, Kill Your Pet Puppy, Crass and anarcho punk are featured. Interviews, graphics and some reprints.
Only 100 are available on both print runs I believe. The A4 version has the same text as the A5 version but different layout and graphics.
I been lucky enough to have been sent a copy several weeks ago now and if you enjoy the history of the punk fanzine culture you’ll be glad to own this absorbing artefact.

Defiant Pose – London Gig Flyers 1977 – 1997 – A limited print run of 100 copies for this fanzine that has dozens of quality scans of rare punk flyers from Mikes own collection! Well worth getting if the print run has not already sold out…

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Rubella Ballet – The new recordings

April 6th, 2014

Rubella Ballet

‘Planet Punk’

Overground Records

OVER135CD : 689492142025 & OVER134LP : 689492142018 (Green vinyl w/CD)

Release date: 31st March 2014

“They were the band who bridged the gaps between The Sex Pistols, X Ray Spex, and Crass.” TylerVile Punk Globe Dec 2014.

Rubella Ballet formed in 1979, with the nucleus of the band coming from a gig where Crass invited the audience to use their equipment and finish the gig. The band toured with Crass and the Poison Girls before touring with many other punk and goth bands. Rubella Ballet hail from the Anarcho punk scene but are equally at home playing the Goth scene as they were a part of its early conception.

The band became infamous for creating the Day-glo Death Rock punk scene with their different and innovative style of music and the shock value of wearing ultraviolet day-glo clothes.  Louise Gray, our hottest British designer, has credited Zillah Minx as an influence on her designs.”Zillah Minx of Rubella Ballet – she was one of the originators of punk in London. She wore colours and used UV paint to make her clothes and sets for gigs so everything was illuminated! I LOVE HER” – Louise Gray, Elle Magazine May 2013.

Rubella Ballet released their first single ‘Ballet Dance’ in 1982 and also in the same year released their debut album, ‘Ballet Bag’, a creatively packaged cassette only album. They released a further two studio albums and four singles as well as various compilations. This will be their first album of new material since 1986’s ‘If’.

Sid and Zillah were inspired to start writing this album containing highly motivated and political songs about a variety of subjects such as: government brainwashing, the creation of new strains of flu virus to reduce human population, the police cover up of Hillsborough stadium disaster as well as a chance meeting with two whistle-blowing MI5/6 agents who had been monitoring their political activities in the 80s and were now working with William Rodriguez, a caretaker at the twin towers who had dedicated his life to telling the world what he believed really happened during 9/11.

Sid explains “The overriding message of the album is to not to believe every thing you hear on the news or read in the newspapers, as the very same people we are protesting against are those compiling the news.

“Thank Christ for Rubella Ballet! Punk went from being this fun colourful place to be, to all these miserable bastards wearing black! I knew what I’d see there (Crass Gigs) I knew what I’d hear played there…. and bands like Rubella Ballet where a breath of fresh air“ – Steve Ignorant, Crass. The Day The Country Died

Track listing:                                                                   

Planet Punk/ All Potential Terrorists/ Run Run/ Killuminati/ Pandora’s Box/ Anonymous/ Hellbilly Heroin/ Bio Hazard/ Silver Or Lead/ Wonderful Life/ You’ll Be Sorry/ Sedition/ Victory For The Victims/ Vampire Wedding/ Starship Transporter

Overground Records –

Get your signed copies of Planet Punk the new album from Rubella Ballet OUT NOW. For signed copies on rare Matt sleeve send £10 + £3.75 p&p UK. Europe P&P is £5.95, Australia, New Zealand, Japan & U.S.A is £8.95. P&P. via Pay Pal to for your personally signed copies signed by Zillah Minx (as seen in the picture) and Sid.HURRY while stocks last. only 500 with matt finish

Rubella Ballet 1982 material may be found on KYPP HERE

There are other posts on the site, live recordings and the Peel session if you use the search function.

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Everyone is an Anarchist

March 11th, 2014

This is the second draft of a talk I will be giving to an Anarchist Seminar at Glasgow University’s Dumfries Campus on April 9th 2014.

I am posting it now so I can include feedback / comments in the final draft. I have written a lot about the punk side of anarcho-punk, but this is the first time I have written from the perspective of the anarcho side…

Thanks to Tony B for supplying the Autonomy Centre poster and Penguin for the KYPP bits and bobs. Thanks to Chris Low for supplying the Stop The City flyers.

On 3rd January 1979, in the middle of the so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’ I arrived at the London Rubber Company’s east London factory to start a new job as a trainee draughtsman. I had started working for the company in one their factories in Gloucestershire in 1977. The year before, while I was briefly a student, I had joined an anarchist group at Stirling University and started buying Black Flag. I had also signed up to Stuart Christie’s Ceinfeugos Press paying £2 a month to receive copies of the books they published.

A few months after arriving in London I was invited to a Black Flag / Ceinfeugos readers meeting above a pub on the Kings Road. This turned out to be a support group meeting for the defendants in the Persons Unknown Anarchist Conspiracy Trial which was to begin in September, so as well as Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer I met Iris Mills and Ronan B and I think Dave Morris of later McLibel Trial was also there.

Iris and Ronan were acquitted and after the acquittal, Ronan had the idea of setting up an anarchist social centre in London. To raise funds for this social centre, the notionally anarchist punk groups Crass and the Poison Girls were approached to make a benefit record for the centre which was released in 1980. As a result of this connection, at one of the planning meetings in early December 1979 I met a group of punks.

The meeting was held in the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square and after the meeting we all went to the nearest pub where I got into conversation with them and found that they produced a punk fanzine called ‘Kill Your Pet Puppy’. Tony Drayton of the Puppy Collective as they called themselves had started his first fanzine called ’Ripped and Torn’ back in 1976. This was a very well-known punk fanzine. We had a lengthy conversation and when I got back to my bedsit in Ilford I bashed out a letter to Tony inspired by our conversation.

At the next planning meeting in January, Tony gave me a copy of Kill Your Puppy number two which had my letter in it. I was impressed, as it was a very long letter!

I then started visiting the Puppy Collective at weekends and became a regular contributor to the fanzine as AL Puppy.

To backtrack a little before moving on, Tony had started ‘Ripped and Torn’ while he was living in Glasgow. He then moved to London in early 1977 and lived in various squat in west London which later that year declared themselves the Independent Republic of Frestonia. In one of the squats, which had been a bookshop Tony found a collection of underground magazines – issues of OZ, Frendz and International Times from the late sixties and early seventies. At the time most punk fanzines were photocopied in black and white, but, when Kill Your Pet Puppy was being planned Tony was able to do a deal with Joly McPhie of Better Badges to use their colour photocopiers to print the new magazine. Joly had been part of the late sixties, early seventies west London counter-culture and encouraged Tony to make Kill Your Pet Puppy into a punk version of OZ or International Times.

1978 – 1979 also saw a skinhead revival and the skinheads began attacking punk squats and disrupting punk gigs, including Crass ones.  Rock Against racism was very big in 1978 and overlapped with the Anti-Nazi League which was a Socialist Worker Party organisation. The National Front tried to counter this by setting up Rock Against Communism gigs which were popular with skinheads. In an attempt to distance themselves from what they saw as the politicisation of punk, Crass decided that they would become anarchists. This new stance was reflected in the lyrics of ‘White Punks on Hope’ written in early 1979.

 Pogo on a Nazi, spit upon a Jew

 Vicious mindless violence that offers nothing new

 Left wing violence, right wing violence all seems much the same

 Bully boys out fighting, it’s just the same old game

 Boring fucking politics that’ll get us all shot

 Left wing, right wing, you can stuff the lot

 Keep your petty prejudice, I don’t see the point

 Anarchy and freedom is what I want

This did not solve the problem of violence at their gigs. This led Leigh Kendall, an Australian anarchist, punk and member of the band Last Words, to write a short article in Kill Your Pet Puppy number one, titled ‘Peaceful Pro- Crass- tination- a critical look at Crass peaceful anarchy stance ’ commitment to peaceful anarchism in relation to violence at their gigs’.  Crass then invited Leigh and Tony Drayton to discuss the problem- which they did. It turned out that Crass had very little knowledge of anarchism. Penny Rimbaud of Crass was later to say [in The Story of Crass by George Berger]

“In all honesty I wasn’t aware of anarchism until about year one into Crass …We had got a peace banner to tell people we weren’t interested in kicking shit, and we had put up the circled A banner as something to get the left and right off our backs. It was then that we started getting people asking what we meant by that. I realised that outside of my own libertarian stance, I didn’t know what the fuck it was about. It was then I started looking at what it actually meant in terms of its history. I hadn’t had much interest in it and I can’t say I have now to be honest”.

In 1984, Andy Palmer of Crass told Radio Free France

“There were both left wing and right wing influences who were trying to co-opt what we were trying saying, which is largely why we adopted the anarchy symbol. Then we came up against the established anarchists, and their establishment idea of what anarchy meant, and as far as we could see, putting anarchy and peace together was a complete contradiction to the idea of what they had of what anarchy was, which was chaos and no government, general violent revolution, which was the opposite of what we were trying to say. So we put the peace banner together with anarchy banner”.

Crass’ symbolic appropriation of ‘anarchy’ was already present at the very beginning of punk as Jon Savage explained several years later.

“There was a lot of talk about anarchy in the summer of 1976. John Lydon was working on a set of lyrics to one of Glen’s tunes which became ‘Anarchy in the UK’. Vivienne set about making a parallel item of clothing. The resulting ‘Anarchy’ shirt was a masterpiece. Taking a second-hand sixties shirt, Westwood would dye it in stripes, black, red, or brown., before stencilling on a slogan such as ‘Only Anarchist Are Pretty’ . The next stage was to stitch on more slogans, hand painted on rectangles of silk or muslin. These made explicit references to Anarchist heroes and to the events of 1968: ’Prenez vos desirs pour la realite’, ‘A bas le Coca Cola’”.

“The final touches were the most controversial. Small rectangular portraits of Karl Marx (from Chinatown) were placed on the side of the chest, and on the other, above the pocket or on the collar, was placed an (often inverted) swastika from the Second World War. To ensure that the message was received, the whole shirt was finished off with an armband which simply read ‘Chaos’. The intention was the group should not be politically explicit, but instead should be an explosion of contradictory, highly charged signs”.

The Sex Pistols single ‘Anarchy in the UK’ was released in November 1976. The Crass and Poison Girls benefit single for what was to become the Wapping Autonomy Centre was released in May 1980 and raised £10,000. The money was used to convert a space in a Victorian warehouse beside the Thames at Wapping into a social centre. After discussion the more neutral ‘Autonomy Centre’ was chosen over ‘Anarchist Centre’ as its name. It opened in early 1981 but was a rented space without an entertainment licence or a drinks licence. The rent was £680 a quarter and by November 1981 the lack of committed support from the traditional anarchist community had created a financial crisis.

To bring in some cash, it was agreed to put on punk gigs on Sunday nights at the Autonomy Centre. Over the next three month these brought in £700 but as Albert Meltzer sadly observed

“With the punks’ money came the punks, and in the first week they had ripped up every single piece of furniture carefully bought, planned and fitted, down to the lavatory fittings that had been installed by Ronan Bennett from scratch, and defaced our own and everyone else’s wall for blocks around. In the excitement of the first gigs where they could do as they liked, they did as they liked and wrecked the place. Loss of club, loss of money, loss of effort. End of story”.  

The problem was that the majority of the punks who came to the Sunday night gigs were teenagers, some as young as thirteen. For many of the audience and groups, the Autonomy Centre gigs were a continuation of gigs that had been put on in a squatted, derelict ‘Grimaldi’ church on the Pentonville Road through 1980 and 1981. These stopped after one of the homeless alcoholics who also used the church accidentally set fire to it.

While the end of the Wapping Autonomy Centre in February 1982 marked the end of one connection between anarchists and punks, a different connection soon emerged.

The new connection was with a group of Spanish anarchists who had squatted an abandoned school on the Harrow Road called the Centro Iberico. The Spanish anarchists lived in the classrooms upstairs and allowed us to convert a former assembly room downstairs into a performance space. A stage was built using old cookers from the kitchens covered with carpet retrieved from skips. Although the Centro was evicted at the end of 1982, for a few month during the spring and summer it was used once a week for anarchist punk gigs. After that a series of ’Anarchy Centres’ were squatted in north London over the next few years, one of which evolved into Molly’s Café on Upper Street in Islington.

A spin-off from these activities was the setting up of the Black Sheep Housing Co-op in Islington in 1982, which by 1983 had been given four derelict houses to convert by Islington Council. After the failure of a building co-op to convert the houses, we had to do the conversion work ourselves. This venture provided an alternative to squatting for co-op members over the next ten years, although many of the original Black Sheep went on to become ‘new age travellers’. I moved into one of the Black Sheep houses in 1983 while I was still working for London Rubber. Mark Wilson of the Mob, a well-known anarcho-punk group lived in the same house and in 1984 Mark asked me to take over the Mob’s record company called All the Madmen which I ran for the next couple of years and which I am still involved in a small way, thirty years on.

Politically, the most interesting actions that took place in in 1983 and 1984 were the Stop the City actions. Unfortunately, my partner Pinki who was involved in the planning and organisation of these protests died in 1996, but while we lived together she did pass on various snippets of information which I will now try to piece together.  As soon as she was sixteen in 1978, Pinki left home to become a punk Squatter in London. Then in 1980 she returned home to Gloucestershire and became involved with Stroud CND. In late 1981, Stroud CND visited the newly established peace camp at Greenham Common. The others went home but Pinki stayed at Greenham on and off for the next three years. In 1982 she took part in a protest against the Falklands victory parade in London, which was organised by London Greenpeace.

In early 1983 Pinki was involved in the planning of the first Stop the City protest also organised by London Greenpeace where she was arrested and swiftly released since she was nine months pregnant. Her son Sky was born four days later. This became the first Stop The City which was held on 29th September 1983. Three more Stop The City actions followed in 1984.

The full story of the Stop the City actions has yet to be written, but last year Rich Cross wrote about them for Freedom in September 2013.

Called on 29th September 1983, to coincide with the quarterly calculation of the City’s profits, protestors were encouraged to take part in a ‘carnival against war’ and deliver ‘a day of reckoning’ for the warmongers and racketeers of the Square Mile. Around 1500 anarchists, libertarians, punks and radical peace activists descended on the City to occupy buildings, block roads, stage actions and swarm through the streets.

Cumulatively these efforts were designed to snarl up the operation of the capital’s financial hub. In an analogue era, long before the City’s ‘Big Bang’, when files and paperwork still had to be physically couriered between companies, the impact of mobs of unruly demonstrators filling the City’s narrow streets could be dramatic. Estimates differed, but the occupation of corporate space interrupted scores of monetary transactions, and drove down the day’s profits. The cost to those demonstrating was significant too: more than 200 arrests at the first Stop The City; nearly 400 at the March 1984 event; and close to 500 in September 1984.

Support for Stop The City came from two principal directions: from elements within the radical wing of the nuclear disarmament movement (which had been looking for ways to generalise and extend action beyond military bases) and from within the ranks of anarcho-punk (a sub-culture eager to test out its collective political muscle). But the audacity of Stop The City struck a chord with activists and militants from many other movements and campaigns.

Pinki was arrested on the first Stop the City but released since she was nine months pregnant. Her son Sky was born four days later.  She was arrested again at the second Stop the City and held overnight. A crèche had been arranged and fortunately Dave Morris took Sky home with him after it closed. Pinki was arrested again on the third Stop the City, but this time we were in a relationship so she arranged that I would look after Sky for the day. Over the next twelve years, apart from 1990 when I almost stood for election as an anti-Poll tax Green Party councillor in Hackney, Pinki was the activist of the family while I kept the home fire burning. Pinki’s last and twenty sixth arrest and was in June 1994 at a road protest in Bath.

Compared with the Stop the City actions, the Poll Tax riot on 31st March 1990 in Trafalgar Square was a mega-event. We weren’t there, but myself and Pinki had been present when an anti-Poll tax protest in Hackney turned into a minor riot a few weeks earlier. On a wet day in January 1990 the Livingston family set off from Hackney to Blackheath in south London. We were going to the launch of the English Anti-Poll Tax Campaign. Blackheath was chosen because of its link to the 1381 Poll Tax Uprising. The revolting Kentish peasants camped on Blackheath on 12th June 1381 before joining with the Essex peasants to occupy London the next day.

I don’t recall it being a very impressive event. There were a few banners, a few hundred political activists trying to sell each other their revolutionary tracts and perhaps some stalls. It did not seem much better organised than Stonehenge Campaign events we had attended a few years earlier.

We did pick up an anti-Poll Tax Green Party leaflet which inspired us to join the Party. I started going to meetings of the local Stoke Newington and Hackney North branch and put myself forward as candidate for the local elections due to be held later that year. Our ward was mainly made up of the huge Nightingale Estate plus our Estate and few surrounding streets. I went to hackney library and checked the stats from the previous election- turnout on our ward was very low, less than 20%. I worked out that I only had to persuade a couple of hundred people who hadn’t bothered to vote before to vote for me as an anti-Poll tax candidate to win.

It seemed do-able, but just to make sure, I got in touch with the Hackney Tenants and Residents Association, based in the old Shoreditch Town Hall to see about setting up a local branch. The local community centre was on Brooke Road and was where our children went to playgroup. I went along one day to see about hiring a room in the community centre for a first meeting and to get some flyers printed.  In a slightly surreal co-incidence the new community worker there was Ian Bone. Ian was very enthusiastic about the tenants group, but quickly headed me off before I started discussing politics by saying ’Of course, I am an old Labour Party man, myself’. This puzzled me at first, but then I realised that the rather thin partition walls in the community centre meant that our conversations would be public rather than private…

As it turned out, the Green Party decided to lead their local election campaign on the dangers of irradiated food rather than the Poll Tax and at the two tenants meetings I organised the problem of how to get rid of some squatters from our estate and how to get Hackney Council to carry out a long list of essential repairs were the main subjects discussed. No-one at the time seemed very bothered about the Poll Tax.

Meanwhile, Hackney Council had set 8th March 1990 as the date when they would vote on what level to set the Poll Tax. As a Labour controlled council, it was unlikely (impossible) that they would refuse to impose the tax. Even if they did, I found that central government would then appoint an Auditor to set a Poll Tax rate for Hackney anyway. As the date grew closer, and as people in England started to catch up with Scotland, where the tax had been brought in the year before, things got more interesting.

I went to an anti-poll tax meeting on Southwold Estate, but although it had been organised by one of the tenants – a young woman- she was flanked by four non-local Militant members. This annoyed me, since it looked as if they were trying to take over our Hackney campaign. I asked if Militant were working with the Socialist Workers Party who blitzing Hackney with posters stating ‘HACKNEY POLL TAX £475’. This caused consternation and the muffled reply “No we aren’t” but fortunately for the Militants, one of the Southwold tenants then accused me of trying to split the campaign by asking the question…

Then came the day…  On 8th March the council met to set the poll tax rate for Hackney in a boarded up town hall surrounded by a wall of police confronting an increasingly agitated 1000 strong crowd. Three days earlier, Harringey had set their rate and there had been a minor riot. Now everyone was expecting a riot in Hackney. The whole scene was unreal. It didn’t look or feel like every day Hackney at all. I half expected helicopters to come in and rescue the councillors like what happened when Saigon finally fell to the Vietcong in 1974.

I had, rather naively, planned to give an election speech to the crowd so was wearing my wedding suit. There was a BBC London film crew there and I was chatting to them when they suddenly got busy, anticipating trouble. So I moved on to the steps in front of the town hall to get my speech in before the trouble started. I managed to say “If you want to get rid of the Poll Tax, don’t get mad get even and vote Green” before the police suddenly moved forward from behind me to push the crowd away from the town hall. The only response I had from my election speech was a young punk woman in the crowd shouting back at me “It is too late for that now”.

I then went home then but my wife stayed on to report later that a riot had broken out. McDonalds burger bar was smashed up and Paddy Ashdown, who had been giving a speech in the Assembly Rooms behind the town hall, had his car attacked by the crowd and thirty eight people were arrested. One of our punk friends told us later that he had got close enough to Paddy Ashdown to give him a punch…

Compared with the major Poll tax riot which took place in and around Trafalgar Square on the 31st March when there were three hundred and fifty arrests, what happened in Hackney was a minor affair. However, not wanting to be arrested for giving my speech in Hackney, beforehand I had contacted the local police, the council, several UK and foreign journalists and even Paddy Ashdown’s office. All the people I spoke to realised that there was going to be trouble, but seemed helpless before the rapid movement of events. That the massive 31st March Poll Tax rally would lead to a major riot now seemed a certainty. An unexpected outcome of the Trafalgar Square riot was the enforced resignation of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990.

My enduring memory is of the few moments that I was stood between the police and the protestors, trying to give my political speech. The sheer intensity of the anger of the crowd was like a physical force, their rage, built up over eleven years of Thatcher governments waging class war was like a blazing furnace. It was not what I had expected at all. Like the young punk woman said “it was too late” for my ‘vote Green’ pitch. Way too late. The only coherent thought I can recall from the experience was ‘Fucking hell, there is going to be a revolution’.

Reflecting on the dramatic events of 1990, it is possible to see in the very different reactions to the Poll Tax north and south of the Border the first signs that Scotland and the rest of the UK were beginning to move apart politically. In Scotland the economic hammer blows of Thatcherism re-forged a powerful sense of Scotland as a civil society. Across most of England, the same hammer blows fractured the post-war consensus and fragmented civil society. In Scotland, the Poll Tax gave rise to a popular movement of collective resistance which also focused Scottish civil society on the need for constitutional change. This led to the creation of a devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999. In England the Poll Tax led to riots.

A key theme of the Scottish Enlightenment was the idea of a ‘civil society’ existing between individuals and families and the state. If there had still been a Scottish state with Edinburgh as its political centre, this idea might not have arisen. Scottish intellectuals would, as members of a privileged elite, have been part of this Scottish state. But with the new Union state of Great Britain centred on London, the dispossessed Scottish professors, lawyers and ministers had to re-invent themselves as members of their own stateless civil society.

Since they viewed the new Union state as a continuation of the English state English intellectuals did not face this problem so had little interest in ‘Scotch philosophy’. The Scottish Enlightenment was more favourably received in France and Germany. Immanuel Kant claimed that David Hume ‘roused me from my dogmatic slumber’. Georg Hegel was another German philosopher who was influenced by Scottish Enlightenment thought. Hegel, however, developed his political ‘Philosophy of Right’, published in 1821, after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. In Hegel’s version, civil society emerged out the disintegration of the family as the focus of ethical life and in turn a rational state will emerge out of civil society as the ‘actuality of the ethical idea’.

What Hegel hoped was that Prussia would be able to modernise and become a rational state without having to undergo a bloody revolution. But by the time he wrote an essay on the English (that is British) Reform Bill just before his death in 1831, Hegel was less optimistic. He feared that the forces unleashed by industrial capitalism would lead to revolution rather than reform in Britain.

Hegel’s fear reminds me of a question Tony Drayton asked one of the veteran Spanish anarchists at the Centro Iberico in 1982. Tony asked him “How did you manage to have an anarchist revolution in 1936?”. The reply was “Everyone was an anarchist”. Hegel also once said that what is rational becomes real and what is real becomes rational. It is forty years since I became a ‘self-confessed anarchist’. Over those years I have had plenty of time to change my mind. But I still believe that of all the varieties of political theories and practices, anarchism is the most rational and hence most real and so I look forward to the day when everyone is an anarchist.

Al Puppy – March 2014

Read more on the Wapping Autonomy Centre and hear downloads from bands on this KYPP post HERE

See the full set of photographs from the Wapping Autonomy Centre HERE

See the full set of photographs from the Centro Ibrico HERE

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Alternative TV – Noiseville Records – 1986

February 18th, 2014

Victory / Repulsion

You Never Know

Today is a sad day. The day that all of us here at KYPP found out about the passing of Martin Neish A.K.A Protag. This KYPP post is dedicated to Protag as well as the hundreds (thousands probably) of people that knew Protag and have been saddened by his passing.

Protag was was the most gentle of souls and would never rise to any sort of panic when all around him other folk were tearing their hair out! He was also one of the hardest working drivers, roadies, P.A operators that I knew. Working the venues that he was most associated with, a smile on his face seemingly present at all times. His performances with the bands he was associated with, spanning almost three decades, were also rock solid with whatever instrument he happened to be asked to play, depending on whatever band he was in at the time!

Tonight I have uploaded an pretty damn good Alternative TV 12″ from 1986 released on the Noiseville record label, a record that Protag was involved with.. Previously in 1985, Noiseville records had released ‘The End Of Fun’, another 12″ by Alternative TV but with Karl Blake involved rather than Protag.

The photographs below, from my collection, are from an Alternative TV performance at the Finsbury Park Sir George Robey sometime in 1986 and one of Protag on the mixing desk from a Meanwhile Gardens all dayer in the summer, mid 1980’s.

The Alternative TV text below is from Wikki, and if anyone is interested in listening to the earlier Alternative TV records then there is a dedicated KYPP post HERE to view and access the audio.

For anyone that might be interested in hearing some other recorded work that Protag was involved with, accessible on previous KYPP posts, they may be found as below.

Instant Automatons may be heard HERE and the first Blyth Power recording with Protag on the bass duties from early 1987 may be heard HERE

R.I.P Protag. You were very special and very kind to a much younger Penguin.

Alternative TV were formed by Mark Perry, the founding editor of Sniffin’ Glue punk fanzine, with Alex Fergusson. Early rehearsals took place at Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records studio with Genesis P-Orridge on drums. The band’s first live appearance was in Nottingham supporting The Adverts.

The band’s debut on record was ‘Love Lies Limp’, a free flexi disc issued with the final edition of Perry’s Sniffin’ Glue fanzine. For their first two singles Perry and Fergusson were accompanied by drummer John Towe (ex-Generation X) and Tyrone Thomas on bass; Towe later left to join The Rage and was replaced by Chris Bennett. This line-up was the most straightforwardly punk version of ATV, although they combined short fast songs with extended pieces such as ‘Alternatives to NATO’, in which Perry read an anarchist political text and envisaged the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Britain. Shortly afterwards they released the ‘How Much Longer’/’You Bastard’  7″ in December 1977. The A-side was a pointed critique of punk style: “How much longer will people wear/Nazi armbands and dye their hair?”.

At the end of 1977, Perry sacked his chief collaborator and co-writer Fergusson. The latter went on to form the short-lived Cash Pussies and, a few years later, Psychic TV along with Genesis P-Orridge. Tyrone Thomas switched to guitar, later replaced by Kim Turner, while Dennis Burns joined on bass. A dub-influenced single, ‘Life After Life’, was released, followed by the band’s debut album, The Image Has Cracked, both featuring Jools Holland guesting on piano.

By the end of 1978, only Perry and Burns remained from the previous line-up, although ATV used additional musicians live and in the studio. The band’s second album ‘Vibing Up the Senile Man’ (Part One) saw the band take a more explicitly experimental direction, which alienated both the music press and audiences. A recording of one gig which ended in a violent stage invasion can be heard on the cassette-only release ‘Scars on Sunday’. A live LP was released, documenting their tour with commune-dwelling progressive band, Here and Now, marking the band’s further movement away from the punk/new wave scene. A final single ‘The Force Is Blind’ featured Anno from Here and Now on additional vocals.

Alternative TV soon evolved into the avant-garde project, The Good Missionaries (taking the name from a track on the ‘Vibing’ album), releasing one album, ‘Fire From Heaven’ in 1979. Perry released a solo album ‘Snappy Turns’ the following year, and joined the experimental duo The Door and the Window on their debut album ‘Detailed Twang’ before he, Burns and Fergusson briefly reformed Alternative TV along with former members of Fergusson’s Cash Pussies in 1981. The reconstituted ATV released one album ‘Strange Kicks’ a venture into light pop songs unlike any of their previous work, produced by Richard Mazda.

From 1981 to 1982 Perry had a new project, The Reflections, a band with Nag from The Door and the Window, Karl Blake (of The Lemon Kittens) and Grant Showbiz, among others. They produced an album ‘Slugs and Toads’ and a single ‘4 Countries’ before disintegrating.

Perry reformed ATV in 1985. This line up started with Karl Blake, Steve Cannell and Allison Philips. Martin ‘Protag’ Neish and then Clive Giblin featured later on guitar and ATV released further records ‘Welcome To The End Of Fun’, ‘Sex / Love’, ‘My Baby’s Laughing’ and the ‘Peep Show’ album.

Another line-up followed with James Kyllo along with Mark Perry and Steve Cannell which lead to the releases of ‘Sol’ and the ‘Dragon Love’ album.

Words from Protag and from others about Protag.

I am in hospital with widespread cancer of the liver, spleen, spine etc. These are secondary cancers. Until they discover the primary cancer (it’s been eluding the experts for over a week) they can’t specify a treatment plan. However, from what they’ve already said… and due to other complicating factors, almost certainly whatever plan is indicated will not be suitable in my scenario; and plan B will come into operation which is to send me home with a McMillan nurse and a lot of painkillers. As such I may only be lucid for a week or two from now. I call it the Indignitas Clinic. Not as far away as Switzerland, and no air travel required.

Protag – February 5th

All our collective thoughts go out to Protag who is suffering from cancer and is at this moment in the Bradford Royal Infirmary. Protag was a fixture at many events and venues throughout The Mob’s original lifespan (up to the end of 1983) as well as other All The Madmen bands of that era. Protag was often found behind the sound desk at events like the summer Meanwhile Gardens gigs, the Islington Rosebery Avenue Peace Centre, the Homerton Blue House as well as helping out at the other earlier autonomy centres. Protag was a member of the Instant Automatons in the late 1970’s as well as being a member of Alternative TV, Blyth Power and then Zounds from the mid 1980’s to the early 1990’s. Protag drove bands around (seemingly all year long) and helped with setting up equipment for bands at the many gigs he was in charge of the sound desk. Blyth Power’s first public release, the cassette ‘A Little Touch Of Harry In The Night’ released on All The Madmen records then head honcho, Rob Challice’s 96 Tapes imprint was recorded with Protag at the sound desk at Brougham Road in Hackney. It was Protag’s Meanwhile Gardens tapes that contained tracks that were placed onto the ‘B’ side of The Mob’s ‘Crying Again’ 12″ re-release that came out on All The Madmen records in 1986. Protag still helps bands and venues to this day! Protag is a particularly pleasant man whom The Mob and All The Madmen records would like to send many positive thoughts to at this time. If anyone that knows Protag would like his personal email address then please private message this Mob / ATM FB page and we will share that information with you. Please private message if you knew Protag. I am sure he will be pleased with receiving messages of support at this time from folk that shared experiences with him throughout his dealings with bands and venues for several decades. Positive thoughts are needed at this time. Thank you for reading.

Posted up on The Mob / All The Madmen records Facebook page 7th February by Mickey ‘Penguin’

It’s with the deepest sadness that I learned today of the passing of Protag. He was my best friend at school and my partner in crime when we were taking our first faltering steps together into the weird world of the “music biz”. It was an honour to have known and worked with him in the past, and I’m so glad we made the journey down to Bradford last weekend to see him (and, without fully realising it, to say goodbye). Martin’s integrity, his warm personality and his wonderful dry wit always shone like a beacon in a dark, cold world. Now that light has gone out, and the world seems a darker, colder place without him. R.I.P.

Mark Lancaster – Instant Automatons

He walked it like he talked it……. So pleased we saw each other in December and talked last week R.I.P Protag.

Grant Showbiz – Street Level Studios

So sorry to hear the news of Protag’s passing. In my 35 plus years in this business he was one of the kindest and most genuine people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Protag was a bloody good guitarist and soundman as well. My condolences go to all his friends & family.

Mark Perry – Alternative TV

For all those years spent inside the horse, love and respect at journey’s end.

Joseph Porter – Blyth Power

Protag played bass in Zounds from 2003 to 2006. He died today at 9.15 on 18th Feb 2014. He was an amazing person who was associated with the band from the earliest days. He was selflessly devoted to Bradford’s 1 in 12 Club to which he gave much energy, care and love. I could go on and on about how brilliant, interesting, original and funny Protag was but there will be time for that later. Protag played and organised Blyth Power for years and also played with ATV. Words can’t express how much we will miss him. Love to all.

Steve Lake – Zounds

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Flack – Practice Cassette Tape – 1981

February 7th, 2014

Flack practice tape – 1981

Indebted to the honourable Chris Low for the loan of this cassette tape uploaded tonight, to Andy Martin for the text and to Tod Hanson for the photographs. Expect a right royal racket with some crazy bass playing. All glorious material though!

Tod and Martin of Flack, Southend

Martha Moscow and Martin of Flack, Southend

FLACK – used to rehearse in my attic at 109 Foulden Road, Stoke Newington, London – on a 1960s drum kit and amplifiers provided by Pete, Julian and Dan of The Apostles.

Martha Moscow on bass guitar, playing the smallest bass guitar I have ever seen.

Martin Black on guitar (no, not the Martin Black who later called himself Napoleon of Hackney Hell Crew fame, that’s a different and decidedly more grubby but equally entertaining story).

Tod Unctious on vocals, no, that’s from Father Ted, sorry. Tod Hanson on vocals.

Paul Gubb a.k.a. Mag on drums.

I remember Mag was 13 at the time and beyond doubt the most technically competent musician in the band, but then I’m not a drummer so I’m probably talking utter twaddle, it wouldn’t be the first time, I hear you cry, but then I’m allowed a certain degree of artistic license as I’m a renaissance man and I also have a complete set of P G Tips picture card albums from the very first one in 1954 right up to the Olympics Greats from 1993. Flack never recorded anything in a professional studio which is a shame, these tracks were recorded live on a cassette recorder at 109 Foulden Road. However, at least Tod achieved a degree of success later with his technically superb artistic skills. I lived with Martha in Islington for a few months when she had departed Flack to look after her baby son. Mitch took over bass duties and the difference in sound and style became profoundly dramatic on the tracks ‘Drained’ and ‘The Workers’ despite the extreme limitations of the recording process. Mitch went onto join Hagar The Womb and conquered the world (or west Hampstead at least) but whatever happened to Mag?

Andy Martin – The Apostles

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Lee Perry – Lion Of Judah Records – 1978

January 1st, 2014

Soul Fire / Throw Some Water In / Evil Tongues / Curly Locks / Ghetto Sidewalk

Favourite Dish / Free Up The Weed / Big Neck Police / Mr D.J Man / Roast Fish And Cornbread

Easing the KYPP browers into the new year with the first Lee Perry vocal album that was released in 1978 on Lee Perry’s own ‘Lion Of Judah’ imprint. This record is really rather good and gets a spin at least once a year right up here at the top of Penguin Towers, normally illegally loud and bass heavy!

I ripped off all the text from the All Music site, the New York based ‘Village Voice’ magazine and the rather ‘seasonal’ essay on the South Park Road Gun Court in Kingston, Jamaica was lifted from Da Wikki.

The photographs of Lee Perry and the Gun Court as well as the adverts for handing in your guns, were all scanned from one of the best books on the subject of reggae music and the general vibe of Jamaica, ‘Babylon On A Thin Wire’ which was published in 1976 and which has sadly been out of print for several decades now. A similar read to ‘Babylon On A Thin Wire’, and by the same writer, Michael Thomas and again with Adrian Boot photographs, is the book ‘Jah Revenge’ from 1978 which is also out of print as far as I know, and which also has been for decades. If you are interested in this subject then I would strongly recommend both these books assuming you can find them somewhere!

From us all here at KYPP online, we are all hoping that all the KYPP browsers worldwide will be safe, well, and have a pleasant and productive year ahead.

‘Roast Fish, Collie Weed And Cornbread’ was Lee Perry’s twentieth album, counting his sets, compilations, and full-length dub discs. Amazingly though, it was the first album Perry exclusively dedicated to his own vocal numbers. That, however, was not necessarily a strong selling point, as even his most devoted fans admit that Perry the singer is no equal to Perry the producer. And thankfully the set doesn’t open with his out of tune cover of Junior Byles’ sublime ‘Curly Locks’!

Knock out that track though, and you’re left with one of the most awe-inspiring albums of the decade, and even with that track, the album is still a masterpiece. It’s an extremely eclectic set, both thematically and musically, but without appearing flighty or unfocused.

There are wonderfully light-hearted moments, like the spectacularly dread title track, a song so heavy you expect Babylon to quake in the backing gladiator’s wake. But all the thick atmosphere, stalking rhythm, and ominous melody merely set the table for Perry to serve up and lavishly proclaim his favourite dish. Brilliant.

Equally entertaining is ‘Throw Some Water In’ as Perry equates proper auto maintenance to caring for one’s own body, a cheerful lesson on the importance of exercise and diet set to a vivacious reggae backing. It’s unclear if “Yu Squeeze My Panhandle” is meant to be humorous, although Perry’s pleading to the DJ to play his record is so over the top pitiful, one can’t imagine it’s anything but tongue in cheek, and all set to a slow, scorcher of a rhythm layered with percussion and weird effects.

A question mark also hovers around the intent of ‘Evil Tongues’ whose lyrics slip from condemning hypocrites down into the depths of paranoia. Unfortunately future events proved the lyrics all too prophetic in reflecting Perry’s slide into an emotional maelstrom. But so phenomenal is the claustrophobic production, it was still difficult to imagine that he was losing his way. In the cultural realm, ‘Big Neck Police’ revived Perry’s earlier single ‘Dreadlocks in Moonlight’ with additional percussion, searing sax solos, and female backing vocalists, creating a number that not only equalled the original, but bettered it. ‘Free Up the Weed’ was an impassioned, well-reasoned plea for legalization, while ‘Ghetto Sidewalk’ requested light for the sufferers.

The latter was a little overly ambitious musically, as Perry attempted to blend jazzy sax, studio effects and percussion, and a sturdy, tribal-tinged rhythm. Much more effective was ‘Soul Fire’ which layered instruments, effects, percussion, his own double-tracked vocals, and a mooing cow into a heady piece that defies categorization, but is laced with funk, soul, and the sound of classic Studio One.

And as highly experimental as many of the tracks are, the rhythms throughout are particularly inspired, with the productions equally intriguing, unlike many of Perry’s earlier excursions out to the musical fringe, these numbers are eminently entertaining and downright infectious, boasting strong melodies and, dare one say it, great vocals. This record was an extraordinary set.


What makes Scratch so good is his distortion of the reggae mise-en-scene. In a basically conservative genre, producer Perry’s anti-science science of intuition and quick hands injects chance, humour, and disaster without ever really leaving the pop song behind.

Those who look to Perry’s shit talking for a cosmology will get burned; those who dismiss his output because of his shit talking will miss the aurora borealis of reggae.

‘Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread’ for example, one of the few records credited solely to Perry as artist and probably my favourite, pits house band rhythms against Perry’s pixie-dust percussion and mixing-desk abuse, over which Scratch narrates like a homeless Martha Stewart on how to stay healthy, how many lights are broken on his block etc. His microphone skills on any of his records are easily proto rap, his dub styling’s (like Jah Lion playing dominoes louder than Max Romeo’s singing on Norman ) are closer to John Cage than King Tubby.

‘Roast Fish Collie Weed & Corn Bread’ was all recorded at Black Ark with only a four-track 1/4-inch Teac reel-to-reel, 16-trackn Soundcraft board, Mutron phaser, and Roland Space Echo. Perry bouncing tracks together to create 16-track thickness, albeit with considerable signal degradation and tape hiss, Perry bubbled more than a Greenwich Village pavement in July and was guided by voices that could actually sing.


In the early 1970s, Jamaica experienced a rise in violence associated with criminal gangs and political polarization between supporters of the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party. After a rash of killings of lawyers and businessmen in 1974, the government of Michael Manley attempted to restore order by granting broad new law enforcement powers in the Suppression of Crime Act and the Gun Court Act. The Suppression of Crime Act allowed the police and the military to work together in a novel way to disarm the people: soldiers sealed off entire neighbourhoods, and policemen systematically searched the houses inside for weapons without requiring a warrant. The goal was to expedite and improve enforcement of the 1967 Firearms Act, which imposed licensing requirements on ownership and possession of guns and ammunition, and prohibited automatic weapons entirely. Firearm licences in Jamaica require a background check, inspection and payment of a yearly fee, and can make legal gun ownership difficult for ordinary citizens. The new judicial procedures of the Gun Court Act were designed to ensure that firearms violations would be tried quickly and harshly punished.

Prime Minister Michael Manley expressed his determination to take stronger action against firearms, predicting that “It will be a long war. No country can win a war against crime overnight, but we shall win. By the time we have finished with them, Jamaican gunmen will be sorry they ever heard of a thing called a gun.” In order to win this war, Manley believed it necessary to fully disarm the public: “There is no place in this society for the gun, now or ever.”

The Gun Court Act and the Suppression of Crime Act were passed in special simultaneous sessions of the Senate and House of Representatives, and immediately signed into law by Governor-General Florizel Glasspole on April 1, 1974. The new court had several extraordinary features. Most trials were to be conducted in camera, without a jury and closed to the public and the press, in order to avoid problems of intimidation of witnesses and jurors. There was no provision for bail, either pre-trial or during appeal, since all defendants were considered dangerous. Most offences carried a single, mandatory sentence: indefinite imprisonment with hard labour. A convicted offender could be released only upon special decision of the Governor-General, advised by an appointed review board.

The unusual features of the Gun Court have faced legal challenges, some of which have forced amendment of the Gun Court Act. The case Hinds et al. v. the Queen was an early test case for the new court. Four men, Moses Hinds, Henry Martin, Elkanah Hutchinson, and Samuel Thomas, had been arrested and convicted by the Gun Court in 1974 for possession of firearms and ammunition without a licence. They appealed their sentences to Jamaica’s highest appellate court, the Court of Appeals, which initially declined to hear the case. However, they were allowed to apply to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which agreed to review the legality of the Gun Court system.

The Constitution of Jamaica reserves certain serious crimes to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and its divisions. The Gun Court Act had established the Full Court division, with Resident Magistrates presiding, to try major firearms offences. The Privy Council held that this provision of the Act improperly encroached on the jurisdiction reserved for the Supreme Court, and that the Full Court division was therefore unconstitutional. This fault was remedied in 1976 by replacing the Full Court division with a new High Court division, presided over by a single Supreme Court justice. The Privy Council also found that the institution of an appointed review board to determine the length of sentences was contrary to the doctrine of separation of powers fundamental to the Westminster system of government. According to this principle, sentencing in each particular case is a function of the judiciary, and cannot be assigned to any other body. The 1976 amendment eliminated the review board entirely, leaving life imprisonment without review as the only possible sentence.

Another case, Trevor Stone v. the Queen, challenged the denial of jury trial for most gun offences. It was argued that trial by jury is a fundamental and constitutional right guaranteed by tradition in English common law. The Jamaican Court of Appeals rejected this argument in a decision written by Court President Ira DeCordova Rowe in 1980. The court noted that the written Constitution adopted by Jamaica upon independence guaranteed certain rights to criminal defendants, but omitted trial by jury. This case confirmed the Gun Court’s power to try all non-capital cases before judges alone.

The case of Herbert Bell v. Director of Public Prosecutions, concerning the right to a speedy trial, reached the Privy Council in 1983. The defendant had been held awaiting trial for several years, but the state ultimately failed to present any evidence or witnesses. When he was again arrested on the same firearms charges, he filed suit arguing that the Gun Court had violated his constitutional rights through unreasonable delay. The Privy Council agreed, ruling that even when prevailing local standards were taken into account, Bell’s trial had been excessively delayed through no fault of his own.

The Gun Court Amendment Act of 1983 allowed Resident Magistrates to grant pre-trial bail, and to decide whether to keep firearms cases in the Resident Magistrate’s Court or to send them to the High Court division of the Gun Court. Judges were given the power to set sentences other than life imprisonment. Cases involving defendants under 14 years old were directed to juvenile courts, instead of being heard by the ordinary Gun Court, and many young convicts serving indefinite sentences were released.

The Gun Court has faced criticism on several fronts, most notably for its departure from traditional practices, for its large backlog of cases, and for the continuing escalation in gun violence since its institution.

At the time of the 1976 amendments to the Act, the Jamaican Bar Association protested against the lack of jury trials and the harsh mandatory sentences. According to a report in the Virgin Islands Daily News, the Association’s Bar Council objected to the possibility that children as young as 12 could be imprisoned for life, without release or appeal, for small offences such as being found with used ammunition. The abrogation of jury trial has also been criticized by attorney and law professor David Rowe, the son of the Appeals Court justice who wrote the decision in the Stone case upholding the practice. Rowe argues that the common-law right to a jury trial is implied in the Constitutional provision for “a fair hearing within a reasonable time, by an independent and impartial court established by law,” concluding that the Constitution had been “shorn of its most potent and ancient safeguard, trial by jury.”

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Kenny Morris / Dorothee LaLanne – Temple Records – 1987

December 21st, 2013

La Main Morte

Testament D’Auguste Rodin

A release from 1987 on the Temple Records imprint. A poetic collaboration between musician Kenny Morris and the radical 1970’s writer Dorothée Lalanne, which works out very well. The two sound-scapes on each side of this 12″ record, are both soundtracks for the two films ‘La Main Morte’ and ‘Chapter Of Faults’. The winter solstice information has been gently removed from the whitegoddess website whilst a large moon hovers above Penguin Towers. The text on Kenny Morris has mainly been stolen from Wikki during the same moon’s orbit. The photograph below of Siouxsie and Kenny Morris lovingly scan from Simon Barker’s A.K.A Berlin’s book ‘Punks Dead’.

Kenny Morris was the first studio drummer of Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Morris attended St Ignatius College, Enfield, where he became a friend of future collaborator and film director John Maybury. Morris then attended Barnet College of Further Education. He also studied Fine Art and Film-making at North East London Polytechnic. He was attending Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts when he joined the band.

He was a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees from January 1977 until September 1979. He played on the albums ‘The Scream’ and ‘Join Hands’. He also co-composed the hit single ‘Hong Kong Garden’.

While the band sold out venues in London in early 1978, they still had problems getting the right recording contract that could give them “complete artistic control”. Polydor finally offered this guarantee and signed them in June. Their first single, ‘Hong Kong Garden’, featuring a xylophone motif, reached the Top Ten in the UK shortly after. In its review, the NME hailed it as “a bright, vivid narrative, something like snapshots from the window of a speeding Japanese train, power charged by the most original, intoxicating guitar playing I heard in a long, long time.”

The band released their debut album, ‘The Scream’, in November 1978. Nick Kent of NME said of the record: “the band sounds like some unique hybrid of the Velvet Underground mated with much of the ingenuity of Tago Mago-era Can, if any parallel can be drawn.” At the end of the article, he added this remark: “Certainly, the traditional three-piece sound has never been used in a more unorthodox fashion with such stunning results.”

The Banshees’ second album, ‘Join Hands’, was released in 1979 and included a version of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. In Melody Maker  Jon Savage described ‘Poppy Day’ as “a short, powerful evocation of the Great War graveyards” and Record Mirror described the whole record as “a dangerous and volatile work”. The Banshees embarked on a major tour to promote the album. A few dates into the tour in September, Morris and McKay left an in-store signing after an argument and quit the band. In need of replacements to fulfil tour dates, the Banshees’ manager called drummer Budgie, formerly with The Slits, and asked him to audition. Budgie was hired, but Siouxsie and Severin had no success auditioning guitarists. Robert Smith of The Cure offered his services in case they couldn’t find a guitarist (his group were already the support band on the tour), so the band held him to it after seeing too many “rock virtuosos”. The tour resumed in September and after the last concert, Smith returned to The Cure.

Almost a decade after leaving the Banshees, Morris worked as a drummer with Helen Terry and other musicians for live stage sets. He made the film and soundtrack ‘La Main Morte’, with narration by Dorothy Lalanne and music by Morris, John Maybury and Jean-Michelle Baudry. The EP released on Temple Records is the original sound track to the two short movies filmed by Kenny Morris. The first one titled ‘La Main Morte’ and the second one ‘Chapter Of Faults’ (where the artwork comes from). These are two tracks of spoken word, one written and read in English by French writer Dorothée Lalanne, and the other written by 19th century French sculptor Auguste Rodin and read in French by Dorothée Lalanne.

Yule: Winter Solstice – Dec 21st/22nd

The origin of the word Yule, has several suggested origins from the Old English word, geõla, the Old Norse word jõl, a pagan festival celebrated at the winter solstice, or the Anglo-Saxon word for the festival of the Winter Solstice, ‘Iul’ meaning ‘wheel’. In old almanacs Yule was represented by the symbol of a wheel, conveying the idea of the year turning like a wheel, The Great Wheel of the Zodiac, The Wheel of Life. The spokes of the wheel, were the old festivals of the year, the solstices and equinoxes.

The winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, is an important turning point, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. It is also the start of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.

Cycle of the Year

Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year, it is the seed time of year, the longest night and the shortest day, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King. In a poetic sense it is on this the longest night of the winter, ‘the dark night of our souls’, that there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the Coel Coeth.

Fire festivals, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, held on the Winter’s Solstice can be found throughout the ancient world. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was held on the winter solstice, boughs of evergreen trees and bushes would decorate the house, gifts where exchanged and normal business was suspended. The Persian Mithraists held December 25th as sacred to the birth of their Sun God, Mithras, and celebrated it as a victory of light over darkness. In Sweden, December 13th was sacred to the Goddess Lucina, Shining One, and was a celebration of the return of the light. On Yule itself, around the 21st, bonfires were lit to honour Odin and Thor.

The festival was already closely associated with the birth of older Pagan gods like Oedipus, Theseus, Hercules, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Horus and even Arthur with a cycle of birth, death and resurrection that is also very close to that of Jesus. It can hardly be a coincidence that the Christians, also used this time of year for the birth of Christ, mystically linking him with the Sun.

That Yule is another fire festival, should come as no surprise, however unlike the more public outdoor festival of the summer solstice, Yule lends itself to a more private and domestic celebration. Yet like its midsummer counterpart, is strongly associated with fertility and the continuation of life. Here the Goddess is in her dark aspect, as ‘She Who Cuts The Thread’ or ‘Our Lady in Darkness’, calling back the Sun God. Yet, at the same time, she is in the process of giving birth to Son-Lover who will re-fertilise her and the earth, bringing back light and warmth to the world.

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