Crass – Toxic Grafity Fanzine – 1979

First pressing of flexi

Second pressing of flexi

Crass – ‘Tribal Rival Rebel Revel’ flexi disc

This particular issue of Toxic Grafity is probably the most well known of the handful that were produced. It was also one of the best selling (of all fanzines, not just Toxic Grafity!) due to the free flexi disc of a (then) unreleased track by Crass being included.

It should be noted that Throbbing Gristle are also featured in this issue which was always a bonus for fanzines in the late 1970′s.

I am indebted to Toxic Grafity’s writer and editor, Mike Diboll for supplying the following information below on how this particular issue of Toxic Grafity got produced. All artwork on this post is from this issue of Toxic Grafity.

This edition of Toxic Grafity was put together while I was squatting in New Cross, south London and originally printed during late 1979, but it didn’t really get into folks homes until early 1980, when a substantial reprint was done. Originally 2,000 came off the presses, quite how many were eventually printed, I am not sure.


Joly from Better Badges (who also printed the first three KYPP’s fanzines, the last three were printed by Little ‘A’ Printers) used to always swing things so it seemed that I owed him lots of money (quite large sums for those days); I’m sure he may well have been diddling me, but that was my fault, because I was very naive in those days and thought that anything do with business, copyright etc, was bourgeois and reactionary, so perhaps I deserved it. Also, it must also be added that I was off my head a fair bit in those days, but of course so was Joly! Judging by the number of flexi’s that were sent to Better Badges, I suspect the actual print run was over 10,000, perhaps well over.


A year before the release of this particular issue of Toxic Grafity, in 1978, and also during 1979, there had been some really nasty rucks at Crass gigs at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square in west central London. These rucks had mainly been fought between boneheads and bikers brought in by the SWP.


I can’t remember what the gigs were in aid of, but it was something the SWP had a hand in. The boneheads were used to pushing punks around, but got far more than they bargained for when taking on the bikers, some of whom were grown men in their 30s and 40s armed with bike chains, knives etc. After those experiences at there concerts Crass seemed to get a lot more edgy than they had been previously about sharing any sort of platform with members of the ‘hard’ left wing.

The lyrics to the Crass 7″ single ‘Bloody Revolutions’ is based on that feeling from the band around this time.


Basically it was the left wing causes that Crass would sometimes support, that seemed to aggravate the boneheads, and of course the boneheads would generally mill around the halls looking dangerous, and on occasions causing some real trouble.

Toxic Grafity didn’t really have those left wing associations, and (luckily) I also knew a few of the bonehead contingent quite well. I had always despised their ideology, but on a human level I was quite friendly with some of them. This I think helped diffuse things when Crass performed at the Toxic Grafity event staged at the Conway Hall late on in 1979.



It was not a violent night at all, which was obviously good news at the time considering the previous gigs at the Conway Hall. There were of course some minor problems, but those situations were quickly nipped in the bud by some friends of my family that had come to witness the gig.


The flexi disc followed on from the Toxic Grafity benefit gig, it was Penny’s idea, he bought it up one evening at Dial House, the Crass commune, way out in North Weald, Essex.


The original Toxic Grafity benefit was staged because of an incident late on in 1978 when I was pulled by the police in Soho, the seedier area of the west end of London. The police stopped me on one of those charges they used to pick punks and other ne’r-do-wells up on, the infamous SUS law. I had stopped off in Soho on my way back from a visit to Dial House, and had the artwork of an earlier Toxic Grafity on me. The police found this highly amusing, as you might imagine, destroyed the artwork, treated me a bit roughly, threatened me, and said that they’d put me on some sort of Special Branch terrorist watch list. Looking back on this as a 50 year-old I can see that this was almost certainly bullshit, but I took it seriously enough at the time!

As a result, Crass decided to help Toxic Grafity out (a previous issue had carried one of the first in-depth interviews with them), and the gig at the Conway Hall and the flexi disc followed on from that.  


The track on the flexi disc, was not one of Crass’ more in-depth or enigmatic tracks, rather it was what it says it is, a protest against violent political sectarianism screwing up the young. Of course I was extramely grateful never the less.

I’ve repudiated so much of what I used to believe in during those days in the late 1970′s, but the closing words for Crass’ ‘Bloody Revolutions’ track “but the truth of revolution, brother, is Year Zero” still appeals to the Burkeian in me!


Joly at Better Badges did the litho printing for the fanzine and sorted out the badges. Southern Studios took care of the flexi disc by Crass, but I can’t remember where they had it pressed, or how many exactly were manufactured. The Crass flexi discs were written in red for the original publication of Toxic Grafity, others were written in silver for subsequent issues of the fanzine.


Eventually there were five Toxic Grafity fanzines that were produced and sold from 1978 – 1981.


Toxic Grafity issue 6 and 7 were planned and in large part nearly prepared, but I became a father in March 1982 (I’m now a grandfather, twice), and ‘reality’ stepped in quite soon after so all those projects were cancelled.


The later Toxic Grafity’s, including the issue above, had dropped the whole band interview thing and had became more like an anarcho-punk agit-art magazine, similar to what Kill Your Pet Puppy would evolve into.


By 1983 I was doing a lot of dispatching and also a lot of ‘white van man’ work until sometime in 1989. While doing these small jobs, a friend of mine, Wayne Minor (from Brixton’s 121 Railton Road bookshop) and myself brought out one issue of “The Commonweal” which was a more mainstream anarchist publication in 1985.


In 1989 I entered university as a mature student.


I now live and work in the middle east.

To advertise this issue of Toxic Grafity, Crass arranged to press up a few hundred vinyl copies of the same version of ‘Rival Tribal Rebel Revel’ to give to record stores that were ordering the fanzine in bulk. This was so the shop had a ‘hard’ vinyl copy that the shop could play rather than play the flexi disc from the fanzine if any potential buyers wanted a snippet pre buying the product.

With thanks to Chris Low for supplying the personal letter from Mike to Chris

310 Responses to “Crass – Toxic Grafity Fanzine – 1979”

  1. Sir Head Says:

    Been a fan of this website for ages. Saw this post and reminised big time. I got this fanzine at a gig on a council estate off a guy called Ian Bone (not that one) who always wore an Angelic Upstarts painting on his jacket. He suggested I might be interested in this and gave me a copy complete with stickers and flexi. It was a copy of this zine that made me aware that it wasn’t only people in my area that were being fucked over (I lived near Margate) but everyone in the country. Can’t remember the exact line in the zine but it was somethng like “10,000 houses in Islington left to rot, dont let em rot, squat the fucking lot” or something along those lines. Made me wake up to the fact it wasnt just us.
    Thanks for the zine and this site.
    Never met you but perhaps should have.

  2. Rich Says:

    Your posts never fail to amaze and astonish!
    Thank you so much for this and the very informative write-up!

  3. alistairliv Says:

    Thanks to Mike and Toxic G. I had a rather surreal experience. It involved a version of the old Quest for the Holy Grail routine – but happened in Hackney and we did get to glimpse the Grail on Beck Road…

    The plan was to interview Throbbing Gristle for Toxic Grafity, but having found the supposed Martello Street TGHQ was just a forwarding address we then had to set of across the empty wastes of London Fields in search of the mythical ‘Beck Road’ which was near Mare Street and also (had we but known) the even more mysterious and portentious Brougham Road…

    We got to Beck Road, but arrived just as the entire T. Gristle crew were leaving…

  4. The Punk / Post Punk Tribe Says:

    Sweet post / info and zine!

  5. baron von zubb Says:

    More great nostalgia.
    What will this generation look back on? Facebook? Uuhghghg…

  6. shammy leather Says:

    First time I heard it was when Diabol was at a Poison Girls gig (I think ) in Manchester selling copies. I bought a copy off him and had a chat, when I heard it I thought Sham 69, I later met him again with his mate at a very early Conflict gig in Eltham where Steve Ignorant and Annie Anxiety were there too. I recall how Steve came over and said “I know you don’t I?” and he remembered all the visits and time I spent at Dial House hitching down from Newcastle.

  7. chris Says:

    Actually, I recently came across an old letter/interview from Mike D penned I think between the Crass flexi issue of Toxic Grafity and the A5 follow up benefit issue. I will try to scan it and send you a copy Penguin, on my return. One thing I do recall is it said was that the free flexi concept was intended to be an ongoing thing with the next proper issue of the zine having one by a new Eltham band called Conflict.

    Actually, I think the Heretics issue (the one before the Crass flexi one) of Toxic Grafity was the first non-local zine I ever bought. Along with, if my sake-addled memory serves me right, another zine called Sunday The 7th which I think had a feature on the Bullshit Detector LP in it.

    Anyway, Toxic Grafity – glorious stuff!

  8. 23star Says:

    …glorious indeed, remember buying this issue and being totally overwelmed artistically, philosophically and aurally…it left a deep impression to this day

  9. John Serpico Says:

    Just as I think Mike D suggested that Baron Von Zubb’s book would be interesting by viewing those early eighties years from today’s viewpoint, I’d be interested in reading Mike D’s thoughts on those ideas he once espoused in Toxic Grafity from his position today. I know that on another thread on this site Mike began to discusss this kind of stuff but I felt it fizzled out quite suddenly and quickly diverted into other subjects.
    “I’ve repudiated so much of what I used to believe in during those days”, Mike writes in the above piece. I remember at the time when I first read this issue of his zine there was stuff in it which was meaningless – the “Please, fuck the system now” stickers that I think came with it, as an example. There were though some actually very good ideas within it which were quite timeless. I suspect that the concept of anarchism is one of the major themes that Mike has now repudiated but what others? Would he still stand by the ‘Forming the stereotype’ idea, as shown above, for example? I’m curious to know what might appeal to Mike nowadays (apart from that Crass line from Bloody Revolutions) and what Mike might see as being hopeful and helpful in this day and age?

  10. John No Last Name Says:

    If you don’t look back on the person you were 20 or 30 years ago without a fairly large roll of the eyes, I think it would mean you haven’t grown at all as a person, which would be pretty sad. I look back at songs, I wrote then and things written down attributed to me and don’t even know who that person was. I’m okay with having moved on and grown out of that phase, though it was an important step along the way to becoming who I am now and hopefully who I’ll become in the future.

  11. chris Says:

    Actually, I dont know how old Mike was when he did TG, but I would have been ten when I got hold of the Crass flexi issue. I think the reason it struck a chord is that at that age kids DO feel really nihilistic and TG sort of articulated this in the same way as Crass’ Feeding of the 5,000 which can only be likened to a bomb going off in my nine / ten year old head when I first heard it and read the lyrics. Not because I had any great understanding of the ideological content but simply because I understood that what was being espoused was ‘forbidden’.
    listening to ‘So What?’ on Feeding or reading TG almost felt like the proxy equivalent of throwing the brick through the headmaster’s window you were always afraid to do.
    Additionally, the Crass flexi issue was also, for me and im sure others, an introduction and gateway to Throbbing Gristle, who offered further vicarious, transgressive thrills for the precocious prepubescent.
    Nice to see you’ve joined us Mr 23star :)

  12. chris Says:

    incidentally, does anyone have any isues of TG prior to the Heretics interview one? If so i’d love to see them so perhaps they could be scanned and posted up here?

  13. alistairliv Says:

    Police are preparing for a “summer of rage” as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions, the Guardian has learned.
    Britain’s most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming “footsoldiers” in a wave of potentially violent mass protests.

  14. chris Says:

    hmm, i’ll believe that when it happens.

  15. star23 Says:

    …’vicarious transgressive thrills’ make the world go round ;)
    my comment earlier was purely from the perspective that reading, seeing and hearing it made me question and think about everything about life, that doesn’t mean i still take those philosophies and views of that time as gospel (though as a piece of design purely from an aesthetic artistic view its still powerful & inspiring)…the world’s changed and so have I…it was a catalyst as a 12 year old to see that I had the ability to think for myself :)

  16. chris Says:

    Totally agree. I think Crass’s primary strength was that they DID prompt people to ask questions. And digest and assess the veracity of the responses. Even at an early age I dismissed a fair amount of it as codswallop and find it depressing that there appears to be some who still unconditionally embrace Crass’ myopic political perspective and ascetic world-view in the same way old CPGB members still subscribe to Marxist Leninism like the remaining devotees of a cult. Only without the drugs and free love and the other fun stuff.

  17. alistairliv Says:

    Chris – CPGB style Marxist Leninism may be cultish, but old Karl’s critique of political economy is still useful. To put my work on the Galloway Levellers into a broader context, I have been working through the 2006 edition of “The Limits of Capital” by David Harvey which is an educated idiot’s guide to Marx. The original came out in 1982, so contemporary with anarcho-punk.

    The 2006 update has a whole chunk on ‘fictitious capital’ – the imaginary £/$ trillions created by bankers and financiers which have now vanished into thin air, leading to the current ‘crisis of devaluation’. Such crises ” which strike at capital and labour alike, necessarily send reverberations through work place and community which may rock civil society to its very foundations.”.

    If things really are as bad and getting worse as otherwise sober financial commentators are suggesting, civil society is going to be rocked to its very foundations.

  18. Francesco Says:

    I’ve got the italian book “Anok4u” (1984) with enclosed “Rival Tribal Rebel Revel” flexi disc printed with silver ink.
    Inside Crass website, I see only the first press with red ink.
    Someone could explain this to me?

  19. Nic Says:

    If the Police predictions are to be considered (of course, the “paranoid” perspective would be to view these pronouncements as a smokescreen), then it may well be that there truly IS a deeper sense of unrest..after all, what is more affecting to the populace of Britain that issues around MONEY – particularly when it affects you and your family’s whole daily structure?

    I did a verbal (and admittedly brief) ‘Straw Poll’ around friends who don’t have any particularly ‘extremist’ leanings, and they ALL said “If they nick my Pension – or my savings – I WILL RIOT…particularly after the way they bailed out the banks”
    (I’m paraphrasing here)…

    It imagine it would all depend on how quickly an equilibrium is reached within the social sphere…

  20. chris Says:

    but nic, the british populus are surely the most supine and apathetic on the planet. that’s why so much shit is put up with without the outrage and protest it would attract pretty much anywhere else in the western world. i have no confidence that relatively secure people will take to the streets as the infrastructure has enough sugar coated pills to dish out to quell any possible dissent, let alone riots.

    francesco, as i understand it, the red ink flexis were the ones given out with the original print runs of toxic grafity (2000 copies), and the silver ones effectively pressings produced for the enormous second run of the zine as alluded to in the text above (10,000 extra copies?). though im sure MD or Penguin can confirm.

  21. andus Says:

    The thing is Chris, if people loose their savings, pensions and jobs they won’t be secure people anymore, people rioted in the 80s recession, this one could be a lot worse, some pundits are saying it will make the 30s look like a cake walk, the other fact is there is clearly someone to blame for it, ie the banksters, and by implication the goverment, when you have millions of people going without and the goverment / banksters are clearly to blame, you are gonna get riots. period.

  22. Ian S Says:

    “the british populus are surely the most supine and apathetic on the planet.”

    Among the most in Europe, for sure.

    Full-scale nationalisation of the banking system on both sides of the Atlantic is considered by many to be a serious possibility. A big realignment is now under way, locally and globally.

    It’s hard to take in and there seems to be a widespread air of unreality at the moment. Many people would like to carry on as if nothing had happened. None of the main political parties know what to do. It’s like the ‘phoney war’ period of 1939.

    But that came to an end, and there will be expressions of popular anger, not necessarily leading to riot porn though. They could go in reactionary directions too – more class hatred towards ‘undeserving chavs’, more xenophobic hatred towards those seen as unwelcome aliens.

    We’ll see.

  23. alistairliv Says:

    Stop the City …26 years later….

    City of London 1 April Climate Change Camp

    Join our camp in the Square Mile! Gather at noon, April 1st, at the European Climate Exchange, Hasilwood House, 62 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AW. Bring a pop-up tent if you’ve got one, sleeping bag, wind turbine, mobile cinema, action plans and ideas…let’s imagine another world.

  24. Mike Diboll Says:

    Thanks for the interesting posts, guys. Yes, Anarchism’s very much part of what I’ve repudiated. If the blood-soaked C20th has told us anything, it’s that the Enlightenment-derived ideas about the perfectability of mankind are wrongheaded.

    As for revolution, probably the only major one that didn’t result in mass murder and kind of worked in its own terms was the American one, but still I have reservations about “the right to happiness”, and even in America there were 700,000 deaths to end slavery, etc.

    My political position today is close to Burkeian, or perhaps Eliotic; after several “experiments” with religion I have been for some time a Christian in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

    Yes, “Forming a stereotype” makes me cringe more than a little. I have a 12 year-old son; he plays both chess and rugby, “ancient wargames” both!

    What else is PC but an early anticipation of what is now called “political correctness”, which itself is part of the humourless authoritarianism of the left.

    Yet these is still, underneath it all, something I retain from those years. Certainly not any of the ideologies. Perhaps a humane vision for a world based on something more than greed, selfishness and consumerism.

    I’m an expat, and have been for some time. I love visiting Britain, but am very concerned about the way it seems to be going. I agree that the current global crisis will affect the UK very badly indeed, and this in turn will have very nasty knock-on effects on civil society.

    But it won’t be revolution, or even anything like Brixton etc in the early 1980s. I can see there being more gun crime, knife crime, gang crime, more and more abuse of cheap nasty booze and cheap, nasty smack by younger and younger people, more abuse, more exploitation, more suicide and self-harming, more of the same, really, but with the volume turned up.

    So I really cringe when I recall how I and others used to espouse something “nihilism”, because the reality of nihilism, the hopelessness, the aimlessness, the despair, the casual violence is what we have now. Once the comfort blanket of cheap credit is taken away from the UK and even those who’d done well out of the ’80s and ’90s seriously feel the pinch, God only knows what will happen. No more living beyond their means, no more “be a millionaire in 5 house sales”, no more third cars, no more cheap sex holidays in Thailand, no more 24/7 drunkeness. And as for the underclasses. . . .

    Maybe things will eventually get better, but I fear they’d have to get a lot worse first!

    That leads me back to what I think really did motivate us back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, beneath the ideology, beneath the posing: Hope. It’s the hopelessness of the world today, or at least Britain today, that really worries me. But hope that there is somewhere something a lot better than what’s in our face is, I am sure, an essential part of our human make-up.

  25. alistairliv Says:

    Mike – “Enlightenment derived ideas about the perfectibility of mankind are wrong headed…” … That sounds close to Eric Voegelin, but he argued that the notion of the perfectibility of mankind came from the Gnostic heretics of early Christianity who wanted to immanentize the eschaton… which he then equated with 20th century totalitarianism. [Left and Right].

    But if anarchism is an anti-totalitarian position, then anarchists must necessarily reject the Gnostic/ Enlightenment belief in the perfectibility of mankind.

    The Anglo-Catholic position claims* to be the direct/ legitimate successor to the orthodox interpretation of Christianity which rejected Gnosticism. *I say ‘claims’ since the Protestant Reformers argued that they had restored the original catholic church.

    So perhaps what you repudiated was gnostic perfectionism rather than imperfect anarchism…

  26. Francesco Says:

    hi Chris,
    thanks a lot for your information!
    I knew that the red ink was the first pressing, but I was not sure that the silver version was official: no-one talks about this pressing.
    I’ve to ask you another thing: in the early 90′s I’ve seen a Schwartzeneggar gig. Can you tell me please if they’re still in activity? I remember that it was a Steve Ignorant project.

  27. Penguin Says:

    First recording by Steve Ignorant and Schwartzenegger is here

    After this they did nothing, but in the early 90′s Iggs re-launced the band name with Andi and Ben from Thatcher on Acid and Yeovil dude Bob Butler and released records on Gummidge’s Rugger Bugger label. The band does not exist no more and the members except Iggs morphed into The Tone, who were decent enough.

    You might as well listen to this if you are a Igg supporter.

    Knock yourself out…

    Mike, great comment you wrote there fella.

  28. Francesco Says:

    Thanks a lot Penguin!
    I didn’t find news about them…

  29. Mike Diboll Says:

    Part of the “Enlightenment” of course was the rediscovery of ancient learning, particularly that of the Greeks. Gnosticism (in its myriad varieties) assimilated Greek Platonic thought into a syncretic system that also incorporated elements of the Hebrew prophetic tradition and Egyptian hermeticism. From this Greek (Aristotelian) position come the Enlightenmnt ideas about perfectability (although the neo-Platonists rejected this idea). Hence I suppose you could say I was rejecting both. This is an imperfect world and cannot be perfected.

    Actually, teaching the Enlightenment out here in the Middle East is interesting. Partly because of all that smart-arse post 9/11 comment along the lines of “What the Arab world needs is a Renaissance/Reformation/Enlightenment” (delete as applicable). Arguably, the Arab world had two Englightenments, a derivative one in the late C19th and early C20th which really was a local derivative of the Western Enlightenment, and an earlier one in the C9th and C10th when the Arabs who had conquered the Hellenistic lands started to seriously get to grips with Greek rationalism.

    Islamist trends re the Enlightenment take one of two broad positions: a fundamentalist position which is a wholesale rejection of the Englightenment as unislamic and therefore superfluous, or; an attempt to prove that Enlightenment rationality is perfectly in line with Islamic principles.

    Anyhow, all this makes teaching the Enlightenment in classes out here really interesting.

    Of course the real enemy of thoughtfulness out here as most other places in the world in mall culture, global brands, dumbing down, etc.

  30. Mike Diboll Says:

    Re Chris’s comment: yes, I fully intended to do the Conflict flexi. What happened to that and to future TGs was that real life intevened, having a child, the need to earn a wage, etc.

  31. Ian S Says:

    On the subject of flexi discs, have just received a few old zines here at work containing flexis. See if these jog any memories:

    10 Commandments zine from Glasgow, early 1980s, has flexi of Orange Juice ‘I wish I was a Postcard’.

    Grinding Halt anarcho-punk zine from Reading, 1981, has flexi with two tracks from Sub-Active, ‘Live in a dream’ and ‘Chaos in the USSR’.

    Chainsaw zine from West London, 1981, has a three-track flexi with the Tronics, Dancing Did and Instant Automatons.

    In the City, 1980, London, everyone here will know this one: Poison Girls flexi with ‘Bully boys’ and ‘Pretty polly’.

    Communication Blur from 1983, Glasgow, flexi with TV Personalities ‘Biff bang pow!’ and ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’.

    Zines + flexis, what a great combination that was!

  32. Penguin Says:

    Hey Ian, recognise a load of those. Hows about letting the folk know where you work to put your post into context. I know I was very impressed when you told me what you did from 9 – 5. Reckon Nic will be jealous as well, being surrounded by all that history inc pre 1920′s cylinders!

  33. Ian S Says:

    OK Penguin, time to fess up. I’m the Vaultkeeper of the British Library Sound Archive, formerly the National Sound Archive.

    ‘Vaultkeeper’ is what it says on the pay slip, and the job description involves keeping everything under lock and key and organising stuff, sort of a glorified warehouseman. Sometimes I get to do other things, like sound recording.

    The Archive currently has around: 230,000 LPs, 100,000 7-inch singles, similar number of 12-inch singles, 6,000 ‘special shapes’ (odd-shaped box sets and novelties), tens of thousands of pre-LP coarsegroove records, ranging from 4-inch discs used for children’s record players from the 1930s to whopping great 17-inch discs made by the BBC, 32,000 cassette tapes, tens of thousands of reel-to-reel tapes, and yes, very old wax cylinders, maybe around 1,000+.

    Some of the wax cylinder date from the last decade of the 19th century. Florence Nightingale’s voice is on one of them. Those aren’t the earliest recording medium though (if you discount ‘sooty cylinder’ sonograms). Edison first invented cylinders made from thin aluminium sheeting, and they were initially used in talking toy dolls. They weren’t at all robust, and were torn up quickly by the needle. Most of the dolls were returned to the shops within a few weeks. They’re one of the things I regret we don’t have.

    Unlike with books, record companies aren’t obliged by law to lodge copies of their releases with us, so the collection is not comprehensive. Instead, we rely on them donating stuff to us, and on bequests.

    Last year, we received a big collection of zines and records from the estate of a former anarcho-punk in East Anglia who sadly died in a road accident. There was a real sense of time dislocation on seeing all the items boxed up in record cases with the band names and logos he’d marker-penned on the outside as a teenager: The Sinyx, The Epileptics, Hagar the Womb and so on. He’d kept his interests in punk music going for at least a decade, shifting from being into British-based bands to collecting American zines and records from about the mid-1980s.

  34. Francesco Says:

    Hi Ian S,
    so if I need to ask information about some records, now I know who to ask for… :)

  35. Jay Vee Says:


  36. alistairliv Says:

    Awesome indeed.

  37. Graham Burnett Says:

    Who was the anarcho-punk who died?

  38. james Says:

    Hi Ian,

    I vaguely remember a piece on the royal couple (Charles & Di) in that Chainsaw zine with a cartoon which amused at the time. “I kneed his meat, I meet her needs”, or something along those lines.

    BTW we used to write back when you were living in Bexley and I was just down the road in Sidcup. Don’t think we ever met up though – at least not consciously.

    Nice job BTW :o)


  39. Graham Burnett Says:

    Re British Library thing, I have my own Mike Diboll-style misguided ‘radical anti-establishment’ anecdote, when I used to do my fanzine New Crimes the British Library wrote to me requesting a copy for their archive, pointing out that it was a legal requirement that a copy of any publication be sent to them for ‘the records’. Being a ‘fuck you’ anarchist I thought, ‘bollocks to you, I don’t want to be a part of your sold out system’ or something and refused to send them a copy, anticipating a long drawn out legal battle wherin I would become a cause celebre as I asserted my right as an individual to decide who I sent copies to and they would be revealed as the oppressive heavy handed agents of state control and ownership by this unprecedented David vs Goliath courtroom conflict… What actually happened was that they sent me about 3 reminder letters then didn’t bother anymore. So that was a moral victory for me then, even though to this day a copy of New Crimes has never been archived for posterity. Jesus we could be prats in those days couldn’t we…

  40. alistairliv Says:

    Pretty sure Kill Your Pet Puppy got a similar British Library letter which was also ignored.

  41. chris Says:

    hmmm…’Vaultkeeper’ sounds a bit like ‘Dungeon Master’ to me, Ian. :)

  42. luggy Says:

    Think Tony got requests from them for 2 copies of new issues of K.Y.P.P.
    Thought he sent them off but may be wrong.

  43. Ian S Says:

    Issues 2-5 are in the General Reference collection (it says here).

  44. Nic Says:

    Nice one, Ian: ‘Vaultkeeper’ – what a doss! :)

    I’ve got copies of the Grinding Halt, In the City and Chainsaw flexi issues somewhere amongst all the detritus…where, is another question entirely…

    Charlie (Chainsaw) went on to be a member of Rancid Hellspawn who did some nicely sludgey singles…

  45. Mike Diboll Says:

    I too fantasised about what a cause celebre I’d be if I didn’t send any copies of TG to the BL, same same David vs state Goliath bullshit. God, how self-important and egotistical we were! I think in the end I did send some copies, the vanity of posterity overcoming the vanity of my martyr to state opression complex. The scary thing is that although we grew out of it, I see the same sort of vainity in today’s schoolboy politicians. I’m thinkin of the likes of Milliband, et al. Hey up, I’m talking like an anarchist! Eh hem! Let’s set a minimum age of 60 for British PM or US President! And a proven track record outside of politics a condition of being an MP. And do away with parties, so we just vote for individuals on the basis of their moral probity, etc.

  46. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hey Ian, working at a major global archive is something really worthwhile. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing that sort of thing myself in the past.

  47. Ian S Says:

    Mike: I think Rough Trade may have passed on copies anyway heh heh, they seem to have done that for KYPP.

    Graham: I will ask the guy on Monday who did all the negotiating to get the collection of zines and records. He should know the name.

    Something some people here might know about. Was talking to the sound engineers on Friday, and they are preparing a talk on faked audio material.

    One example they’re going to use is of a faked Aleister Crowley recording, supposedly of him speaking Enochian, but in fact it was a modern recording with cylinder scratchy sounds and other distortions mixed in to make it sound authentic.

    First time I’d heard of this, does anyone here know any more about it?

  48. Tony Puppy Says:

    Hi Ian, can you tell more about this talk on faked audio material? Is it a public event? Could be an interesting event.

  49. Ian S Says:

    Tony, think it might be related to a short series of talks, some of which fall under the general title of ‘forensic audio’, so you can see how faked audio would relate to that. iirc it’s within the next few weeks sometime.

    I’ll ask more on Monday about this and will post here what’s going on.

  50. luggy Says:

    Ian, one of my mates, Nick was out celebrating his birthday tonight. First time I’ve seen him for a while, he’s working as a lackey at the British Library now as well (on level 3 IIRC). Was sporting a nice home-made anarchist librarian shirt that someone made him as a birthday gift. Didn’t know who you were but say hello if you venture down there!

  51. chris Says:

    Ian, that ‘forensic audio’ talk sounds fascinating. regarding the Crowley recording, it’s been released in various forms by a number of sources. IIRC, it may have been featured on one of the Come Org or associated comp LPs and I think on some Current 93 release (“Crowley Mass” perhaps?), amongst others. I expect someone here may have a recording of that fabricated Crass Thatcher/Reagan tape that is perhaps one of the best known examples of a ‘faked recording’.

  52. Penguin Says:

    That Crass Reagan / Thatcher tape is included on the David Tibet (Current 93) music collage (towards the end of the ‘piece’) uploaded by me here:

  53. luggy Says:

    My daughter’s Uni Design class is heading to the British Library tomorrow to look at punk fanzines!

  54. joly Says:

    I’m a little stung by the ‘diddling’ accusation! This one was well subsidized by Better Badges, and the rate charged to Mike was below actual cost, and even then we gave him a hundred yard start. Apart from the cost of printing there was a lot of painstaking camerawork to make the plates due to dodgy typewriter ribbon and various textures in the collages. Every PMT cost 50p before one even got to plates. The number printed was indeed locked to the number of flexis made – I don’t remember if it was 5,000 or 10,000 – unfortunately John Loder is no longer with us to verify. You guys will well remember the economics of KYPP – look at the number of pages/halftones/plates in TG and do the math!
    That said I’m proud of it as a product and kudos to Mike for the work.

  55. Ian S Says:

    luggy: The BL has a collection of zines ready to hand for schooltrips, people on courses and so on. Here’s a page from the BL site, with a couple of Sniffin Glue pages which can be enlarged:

    Tony: I know that the talk will be open to the public, but not sure yet when it is. No sign of it in the March calendar of events. Will ask around some more.

    Graham: The guy who died and bequeathed us loads of zines and records was Jas Toomer. He lived in Lincolnshire.

  56. Graham Burnett Says:

    No I didn’t know him. Just thought as it was East Anglia it might have been an old aquaintance of yore.

  57. Mike Diboll Says:

    Luggy, re your daughter’s trip to the BL to look at punk ‘zines Design course, who’d have thought it, eh? Kind of makes it all worthwhile!

    Joly, what can I say? Would that we could see ourselves as others see us. Or probably more to the point, would that I COULD SEE MYSELF AS OTHERS SEE ME!

    So perhaps I ought to apologise. I thought I’d laid so many of my old punk demons (I use the term both literally and metphorically) to rest, come to terms with all the things “Angry Mike” used to be angry with, realised where it was all coming from , dealt with it, moved on, &ct, &ct. But maybe not.

    One of the things that impresses me so much about the messages posted on the KYPP website is the clarity of recall that you guys have for the late ’70s and early ’80s. My memories of that time are very vague, almost like one’s memories of one’s early childhood, although oddly my recall of the years before and after that period are quite clear.

    It’s almost as if instead of growing up I’d actually been regressing during that time. Instead of becoming aware and responsible for my own actions as a young adult should I had drifted back into the solipsistic, self-referential world of childhood. Very odd.

    Anyway, when Penguin asked me to write something about TG I initially found this hard. Hard to think back to those days, hard to recall exactly what went on.

    Perhaps what I trawled up re Joly and BB wasn’t a memory of what really happened, but I memory of how I felt at the time. Me against the world, solipsistic, self-important me, my shot at fame, infamy, or what ever it was I craved at the time stymied by some hip capitalist who had the temerity to want paying for his services.

    The truth is that I simply can’t recall in accurate detail what transpired betwen me and BB. But what disturbs me somewhat is that only a few days ago 50 year-old me, who ought to have known better, put finger to keyboard and gave vent to a 30 year-old bit of 20 year-old me’s angst. Where was my filter? Where was my discernment?

    So sorry Joly, sorry for my past and present injustices to you.

  58. Mike Diboll Says:

    Re Crowley, &ct., an earlier phase of my juvenile (in every sense) rebellion involved me sitting feet up on the table in the 6th form common room reading Crowley, Waite, et al. Of couse, it was all a pose, and the works of such “kabblists” utter bollocks. The other students blackballed me from the common room, which I suppose is what I wanted, so thus oppressed I dropped out of school, got into punk, &ct.

    Years later I got to read Gershom Scholem’s superb book “Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism”, not the snappiest title, I know, but the book was a real eye-opener. Likewise his “On Kabbalah and Its Symbolism”.

    I especially recommend his writings on the Kabbalah of Isaac bin Lauria, which presents perhaps the most enlightening and mind-expanding mystical system I’ve ever read. Bin Lauria’s system transcends the context of any one faith, synthesises the theistic and pantheistic trends of the Kabbalah into a coherent whole, and answers many of the positivistic objections to theism.

    In short it’s a work of inspired genius, the parallels between the Lauranic system and certain aspects of contemporary physicas and cosmology are especailly interesting. And it’s a good antidote to the showmanship of the likes of Crowley, ditto the sort of nonsense that Maddona et al are into these days.

  59. alistairliv Says:

    Gershom Scholem? Yes! Mike – your post on the 9th/10th century Arab enlightenment brought the names Avicenna, Averroes and Maimonides [and Thomas Aquinas ] up from the depths. Now I remember where from – a course on early medieval Judaism… which also covered the origin of the kaballah and being really really impressed by reading Gershom Scholem.

    Damn. Very tempted to get some Scholem in, but still not done with the Galloway Levellers.

  60. baron von zubb Says:

    We couldn’t be who we are now if we hadn’t been who we were then.
    It’s not like we can erase our past personalities and they disappear from history. Or from our personal history.
    Being an anarchist / autonomist was part of the progression that led to this place, and for my part I repudiate nothing. I may not agree with it all ‘idealogically’ but thats progress.
    The search for a better way to live was important, possibly misguided because we were young, badly informed and idealistic.
    But the pattern from anti authoritarion politics to spiritual awakening, whether its catholic or shivite or crowleyist is a well trodden path.
    And a much more interesting one than the hordes of people who have never bothered to ask the questions.
    OK brothers?
    Lets meditate.
    x x BVZ

  61. Graham Burnett Says:

    Hi Mike, you are very hard on your past self, like BVZ says we wouldn’t be who we are now if we hadn’t been who we were then…

    Sure when I think back to my fanzine New Crimes or some of the other things I said/thought/did then I cringe, but on the whole I’m proud of what I did and see it as a direct path to where I am now, ie, working in social care as well as self-publishing permaculture books and websites, having an allotment, running permaculture workshops and training, trying to live sustainably/ethically along with my wife and 4 children in our Victorian terraced house, involved in local community projects, etc, etc, and like it or not you were part of that process Mike, I used to really enjoy our correspondences and reading TG (even though there was loads of it I didn’t really understand – what was that bit about stealing the queens turds and drying them out all about for example???), and TG was one of the main zines that inspired me to start my own fanzine, it made me realise that it was possible. The fact that I am a creative person and confident enough to express that creativity on my own terms is probably the most important legacy for me of that whole punk/DIY/anarcho era. And it would have been a poorer time without your contributions to the pot.

  62. Sam Says:

    @ Mike: “As for revolution, probably the only major one that didn’t result in mass murder and kind of worked in its own terms was the American one, but still I have reservations about “the right to happiness”, and even in America there were 700,000 deaths to end slavery, etc.”

    Actually the constitution reads “The right to the pursuit of happiness” which is very different, even if it is misinterpreted in the way you put it by many people and, through personal experience seems to come down to consumerist bliss these days. Living in the States, I have to confess I miss the natural jaded humour of our island but Americans do seem to be less burdoned by historical class divisions than we are/were.

  63. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Sam, yes, I stand corrected on the exact quote from the Constitution. I ought to know it as I teach it on my Enlightenment course. In the first lesson I juxtapose Milton putting rationalist arguments into Satan’s mouth (1670s, in Paradise Lost, Book 11) with the Constitution (1770s) which in many was is the classic and definitive statement of the political agenda of the Enlightenment. Then I ask my students “What changed in that 100 years?” It sparks interesting debates in an Arab class, where so many students are torn between on the one hand a love of American mass culture and freedom of expression, and on the other the knee-jerk anti-Americanism that exists in much of the Arab media, resentment of Iraq, &ct., &ct.

    Still, I’m not sure that the difference between the right to happiness and “the right to the pusuit of happiness” is as radical as you suggest. My view of human nature and our place in the world is (on a superficial level) a bit more pessimistic than the “enlightened self-interest” position expressed by many Englightenment figures, and today’s economic libertarians. So far as Englightenment figures go, I’m probebly closer to Burke or Johnson than the Fathers.

    That said, I’m not at all an ameri-phobe, oh no, no, no! All that went out the window the first time I visited the US (Chicago), back in the mid 1990s. All what I had taken to be Yank boasting about this, that and the other all turned out to be true! It was we Brits who were full of shit! Now I love the USA and look forward very much to each trip I make. I take your point about “consumerist bliss” (although the Gulf is very much like that too, but I do really appreciate the energy and optimism I find in the States, and the relative classlessness too. In fact, when (if) I make it to full professorhood, it will be to the US that I look to finish my career.

    You’re in Virginia, if I remember correctly. I once spent quite a bit of time in Kentucky doing archival research, and I particularly like the Upper South, both from a natural and a human point-of-view.

  64. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Graham: perhaps I am hard on my old self, but I don’t think I’m TOO hard.

    As I’ve said before posting on BVZ’s page, I think that a lot of what we did still has value and importance. In a funny kind of way it seems so have a greater importance now than it did at the time. Maybe that’s because at the time our grandiose ideas about revolution &ct were purile in the literal sense (boyish), and all-in-all an “infantile disorder” (although at least our infantile revolution wasn’t built on piles corpses like Lenin’s grown-up one).

    But I think it’s valuable now partly for historical and cultural reasons, and also as an antidote to the mind-numbing, dumbed-down conformity that so many young people live today: “Come on guys and and girls, if Dad (or Grandad) could do this, why don’t you log off Facebook and bin the I-Pod and do better yourselves!”

    That said, we did, some of us more than others, make serious mistakes. We all of us probebly know people who didn’t survive that period, or emergeed from it as dossers or mental recks. I’d hate my son to take some of the risks that I took over this and that.

    Many of us under achieved, failing to live up to our full potential because we adhered to unworkable ideologies or had got into dead-end or anti-social habits.

    Yes, today there are millionaire sell-out ex-punks a plenty, working in the media, but I think we all knew they were tossers at the time. But I’m not thinking of them, I thinking of myself and probably most others who contribute to this site and others like it. Our committment to the unworkable let our generation (born say, 1955 to 1965) down by handing the field over to the Thatcherites and later the Blairites, et al. Certainly my career as an academic and writer started a lot later than it should have done (but then would I have had so much to write about?).

    So although I think there is value in what we did, I think we have a duty not to over romanticise it, or to dwell in the “I did it so it must be right” comfort zone (Burchill et al). Hence I try to be tough on myself, if our bullshit detectors (the punks Mojos) remain switched off, then what was the point?
    Then there are the more serious things than mere careers. For reasons of confidentiality I can’t go into details here, but once something very terrible happened to someone very dear to me for whom I was responsible. Almost as bad a thing as it is posible to happen. It happened on my watch, not in my punk days, but in the early 1990s, but if I hadn’t retained that solipsistic, anarchistic “fuck the system” mentality I probably wouldn’t have happened. It almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if I had been the person I am today. Enough said, but I believe in sin and these are sins for which somehow I must atone, even if they be sins of omission rather than commission.

  65. Mike Diboll Says:

    Alistair, log on to Amozon, order Scholem, read, enjoy!

  66. chris Says:

    Mike, have emailed you re: a possible publisher for your book.

  67. baron von zubb Says:

    Not my business to go into your psychology Mike but you’ve mentioned something so.
    Whatever did happen, it wasnt your fault.
    Shit happens all the time. Its rarely clear cut as to how & why. Its often a set of circumstances.
    I’m not saying we don’t have responsability at all.
    We do.
    But we’re not guilty.
    As for ‘sin’?
    With respect sir and as this is a discussion forum, I find it difficult to go with that.
    Sin as defind by who? God? Theolegeons?
    Obviously if your now a catholic you may have clearly defind parameters for that.
    But I’ll state the obvious here.
    All the holy books – regardless of which religion they come out of – were written by man.
    To take the leap of faith that states god communicated them to mortals is diificult for an infidel.
    Which of course is why i’m attracted to buddhism and have practiced meditation -no Samual not just ‘cos im the hippie you said I was…! But because it is an athiest philosophy, based on introspection & observation of mental attributes.
    Sin as explained in buddhism is action caused by ignorance in the mind.

  68. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi BVZ:

    “Sin as explained in buddhism is action caused by ignorance in the mind.”

    I don’t think I would argue with that at all. Both the Latin and the Hebrew traditions (and the Arab-Islamic one too) tend to express themselves legalistically in the first instance.

    One consequence of this is that concept of “sin” is all too often understood, or misunderstood, simply as the transgression of divinely decreed “Dos and Don’ts.”

    I think the mistake here is to then think that is all there is to the concept. Underlying the transgression itself is a state of mind of which the transgression itself is a symbol.

    Take for example Adam and Eve’s sin in eating the apple (by the way I think that Genesis has to be understood for its symbolic, not its literal truth). One can focus on the transgression itself, but to do so is to trivialise the matter in hand: God becomes an arbitary tyrant because he punishes mankind for eating a piece of fruit.

    But saying this is like saying language is meaningless by ignoring the symbolic content of language and stating that speech is just a series of hisses and pops made in the mouth.

    Surely the sin in the case of Adam, Eve, Satan and the apple is lies in its symbolic significance, not the particulars of its signification. Thus, mankind’s real sin, his original sin, symbolised by Adam and Eve’s action, is our tendency to imagine ourselves to be God-like, accountable to no one but ourselves. We see this sin enacted by every dictator.

    So leaving aside the word “ignorance”, I would concur that sin is fundamentally a state of mind. Buddhism tends to express itself more philosophically than the Latin, Hebrew, or Arabic traditions do (so, for that matter, does Greek Christianity). But Buddhist Koans can just as easily be interpreted in a boneheaded, literalist way as Biblical parables.

    Likewise, just because Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic often express themselves legalistically, that doesn’t mean that they cannot express mystical and philosophical depth that rivals or exceeds that of Buddhism: Western Christianity had Meister Eckhart and Julian of Norwich; Judaism Isaac Bin Lauria and the Zohar; Islam Ibn Al Araby and Jalaluddine Rumi.

    There is another definition of “sin” however that involves harm done to self and others through one’s actions or inactions, largley inactions in my case. Of this I am guilty and am in need of salvation. But the point here is not to dwell on the guilt (as many do), but on the salvation. Since this is nothing but healing, but a healing of the deepest and most precious kind. And with the healing comes learning, and this learning dispels the ignorance of which the Buddah (among others) spoke.

  69. Ian S Says:

    Update on the talk about faked audio, including the Crowley/Enochian recording:

    The talk was done last week to an audience drawn from the ‘Friends of the British Library’, who are people who pay an annual subscription fee to attend various events laid on for them. It wasn’t a public talk, but it was judged a success so will be repeated for the general public sometime within the next few months.

    Previous talks under the heading of ‘forensic audio’ were open to the public although they had a more technical slant. One of the sound engineers reckoned the ‘Crowley’ recording wasn’t very well faked at all.

    Some of you might remember the Jonestown Massacre recording, which was released by someone as an LP (iirc) and did the rounds among those into industrial music. That *is* reckoned to be genuine and does have a document history of sorts to back it up.

    Audio fakes intended to deceive (rather than just entertain) seem to be very rare indeed, probably because they’re hard to make to a convincing standard. But there must be some examples of faked studio out-takes supposedly from well-known bands being circulated (vague memory of a Beatles fake along those lines).

  70. chris Says:

    Yes, the Jonestown Massacre LP was released as a picture disk by Jordi Vallis of Vagina Dentata Organ on his WSO label. IIRC it came with a wee sample of blood or something. Didn’t Young John have a copy? Think it was later re-released by PTV as part of their 23 albums series. The recording is most certainly genuine and there’s film footage of Jones’ deranged rant before the Kool Aid was ladelled out in that funny ‘Killing of America’ mondo docu.

    Didn’t Got Told Me To Do It have something to do with that Beatles fake recording? Or was it just those practice sessions with the infamous Enoch Powell paraphrasing version of ‘Get back’ which had done the rounds before?

  71. John No Last Name Says:

    It was the infamous Enoch Powell tapes bought at a bootleg tape stall on Portobello Rd, hyped up and sold to Garry Bushell when he was working at the Sun, don’t remember what the money was spent on, but it was considerably more than the tape cost.

  72. chris Says:

    Surprised at Bushell falling for that one, or perhaps it was just a case of it being judged worth the cost for the papers it would sell. Those tapes have been ‘exposed’ more times than the little richard/marc almond ‘stomach-pumping’ story has been revised.

  73. Ian S Says:

    Thanks John and Chris, knew there’d been a kerfuffle over a Beatles fake, just couldn’t remember the details.

    Heard a story from a sound recordist a few months ago, noted for doing a lot of wildlife work among other stuff.

    A US-based computer games company emailed him to ask . . . did he have a recording of a sabre-toothed tiger they could buy to use for a new title?

    He said, why yes, he had the very thing. (Old recording of a Bengal tiger he’d made on a visit to a zoo.)

  74. John No Last Name Says:

    The Beatles tape wasn’t a fake, it really is them playing songs from the Enoch Powel ‘Rivers of blood’ speech era with racist lyrics about immigrants. As Chris pointed out the tape has been around for ever, but with a new cassette case and a little GTMTDI hype it wasn’t too hard to make a good case to Garry for the lost Nazi Beatles tapes. I don’t think it was even anything to do with selling papaers for him, I think he just wanted to annoy Sir Paul.

  75. alistairliv Says:

    There is more on the Nazi Beatles tape here

    It says “It was only in 1986 that bootlegs featuring “No Pakistanis” were made public. As expected, McCartney was heavily criticised for his alleged racist tendencies. Although McCartney denied the accusations, the controversy failed to subside for a few months. “

  76. Ian S Says:

    Ah right, so it was for real then. (Maybe I’m getting it mixed up with something else.)

  77. andus Says:

    So. John Lennon and Paul McCartney had pictures of Adolf Hitler in their houses, and a nazi shrine at the bottom of their gardens. fuck. they’re everywhere these people. jesus.

    Seriously though The beatles admitted years ago that the song was about Enoch Powell, A parody apparently, the original lyrics were dropped to prevent misunderstandings.

  78. andus Says:

    Around the time he was developing the lyrics to “Get Back”, McCartney satirised the “Rivers of Blood speech” by former British Cabinet minister Enoch Powell in a brief jam that has become known as the “Commonwealth Song”. The lyrics included a line “You’d better get back to your Commonwealth homes”. The “Commonwealth Song” had no musical resemblance to “Get Back”, but gives insight into the thinking behind the song’s lyrics. On 9 January the group introduced what has become known in Beatles folklore as the “No Pakistanis” version.[6] This version is more racially charged, satirising right wing attitudes – (we) “don’t dig no Pakistanis taking all the people’s jobs”.[7]

    The song was further developed into what McCartney described as a “protest song”, and in subsequent rehearsal takes (one of which John Lennon sings) the immigration theme is developed into a full verse. By mid-January the song had developed into three verses: The first being the “Loretta Martin” verse, the second being the “Jo-jo” verse and the third the “Pakistanis verse”. Whilst heard by Beatles fans on bootleg for over a decade the lyrics to the third verse are not widely known:

    “Meanwhile back at home there’s nineteen Pakistanis,
    Living in a council flat
    Candidate for Labour tells them what the plan is,
    Then he tells them where its at”

    Another version of the “Pakistanis verse”, in what is claimed to be the entire song in John’s handwriting, is on display in the Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco. In this version, the Pakistani verse is:

    “Meanwhile back at home too many Pakistanis,
    Living in a council flat
    Candidate Macmillan, tell us what your plan is,
    Won’t you tell us where you’re at”

    In an interview in Playboy magazine in 1980, Lennon described it as “…a better version of ‘Lady Madonna’. You know, a potboiler rewrite.”[8]

    On 23 January the group (now in Apple Studios)[9] tried to record the song properly; bootleg recordings preserve a conversation between McCartney and Harrison between takes discussing the song, and McCartney explaining the original “protest song” concept. The recording captures the group deciding to drop the third verse largely because McCartney doesn’t feel the verse is of high enough quality, although he likes the scanning of the word “Pakistani”.


  79. baron von zubb Says:

    Interesting post Mike
    “There is another definition of “sin” however that involves harm done to self and others through one’s actions or inactions, largly inactions in my case. Of this I am guilty and am in need of salvation. But the point here is not to dwell on the guilt (as many do), but on the salvation. Since this is nothing but healing, but a healing of the deepest and most precious kind. And with the healing comes learning, and this learning dispels the ignorance of which the Buddah (among others) spoke.”
    Surely you/we were only guilty of ignorance? Not of bad or evil sentiments & desire to do harm to others.
    I will agree to the concept that some peoples ignorence has become so embedded and thus hard to recognise as such.
    But are they not capable of redemption/knowledge.
    And this or the beatles fakes?
    Take your pick punksters.

  80. Ian S Says:

    Beatles fakes for me, I’m not a spiritual person BVZ. Each to their own.

  81. andus Says:

    So if committing a sin involves harming oneself. what does that make Jesus, after all he deliberately got himself crucified, apparently.

    As for this chap The Buddha, he was a creep if there ever was one, all misery is caused by desire, really, desiring the end of slavery, a starving person desiring food, desiring things only creates misery if you do not obtain the desire.

    If people stopped desiring things, would they be able to exist ?

    As for all these mysterical enlightened monks, are they not really a bunch a selfish lowlifes, after all what they do is just for themselves in most cases, was it religious people who ended slavery, was it religious people who got rid of Hitler, was it religious people who got ride of child labour. etc etc, did any of these religious vermin create any of the human rights we enjoy today,

    You’ll find more enlightment in your pet dog ( puppy ) than any of these devious creeps.

  82. Mike Diboll Says:


    I’m all for the “trivia” aspect on these postings, but let’s keep it focused on stuff that is/as relevant to us circa 1976-86. The Beatles “Paki” stuff (is one allowed to say that?) is well-trodden ground and can be followed more profitably elsewhere. A bigger point is that looking back to the “old days”, I now see that a big part of my motivation was an intense interest in “big picture” ideas, politics, religion, &ct that has lasted me all my life. This is a legitimate part of what we were about, so reflecting on what we thought then,what has changed, and what has stayed the same is a legitimate part of what this site is about. That’s my view, at least.


    You’re dead wrong about slavery: both in England and the USA, abolitionism was intimately connected with religion, the impetus for abolition coming mainly from nonconformists, evangelical Protestants, Quakers, and Unitarians. Read any history of the period. Secularists generally swallowed hook, line and sinker pseudo-scientific racist arguments that objectified Blacks and others so that they ended up being seen as just another commodity, so much coal to be consumed to produce the energy necessary for production. This is the mentality Swift (an Anglican priest) saterises in “A Modest Proposal”, which touches on both slavery and child labour. Religious radicals were also prominent in resistance to the latter.

    Opposition to Nazism is a more complex question, but thousands of people went to their deaths in Nazi Germany on account of their religious opposition to Hitler and the Nazis. But Dawkins and others who blame religion for everything are clearly in the wrong. It was secular ideologies, Capitalism, Fascism, Maoism, Nazism, Stalinism that made the C20th the bloodiest and most miserable in human history. No doubt the anarchists would have added their ha’penth worth if they’d had the chancce.

    Jesus didn’t “deliberately get himself crucified”, he was arrested, tried before the Roman governor of Judea, and executed in the traditional Roman manner. Like Socrates, he didn’t violently resist capture and execution, but that’s not the same thing as “deliberately getting himself executed.”

    That desire brings misery because desire can never be satisfied is precisely the Buddha’s point. His solution is that desire should be side-stepped. It’s slightly different to the Christian one (that desire should be controlled by and act of conscious will), but the idea that desire is not in itself a good is shared by both religions.

    There is nothing radical about being a partisan for unfettered desire. This is the bland, hum-drum imperative of consumer capitalism, which has at its very heart the creation of endless new insatiable desires. Britain today is scarred by the moral consequences of this: one kid stabs another for a pair of trainers; a man desires a woman so he takes her, uses her, then kills her.

    BVZ, I think that whether a bad action is done from ignorance, or out of an inclination toward evil is often a matter of perspective.

    For instance, the inability to empathise, and therefore understand the suffering of others, is a fault which lies behind the actions of the very worse people in history and in society, be they politically motivated mass murderers, or serial killers, sadists and similar types of nonces.

    This fault can be understood either as a form of ignorance (ignoring, wilfully or otherwise the suffering of others), or as evil. The difference is largely one of perspective.


    “I will agree to the concept that some peoples ignorence has become so embedded and thus hard to recognise as such.”

    This is interesting. In his “Confessions” St. Augustine stressed how evil was not an abstract force outside of one’s self, but as the influence of one’s past over one’s present, and of the force of habit, one’s “second nature”. This we have the power to control, though often we chose not to, and this is what determines the quality of our moral choices.

    “Habit was only too strong for me when it asked: ‘Do you think you can do without these things?’”, wrote Augustine in his Confessions. Surely a message for our time?

    I remember the time when I first seriously began to question whether or not Crass were as right on as I had thought they had been (this was the start of my deprogramming). It was at Dial House one afternoon. I was surprised that one of them had used a quote from a cardinal writing in “La Vie Catholique” to back up her anti-bomb arguments.

    Almost instinctively, I let rip with the sort of “fuck God” rhetoric you find in Crass tracks like “So What?”. To my surprise, some of them turned on me quite strongly, and none of them defended me. That made me realise that “So What” &ct were a pose, which many of them at least didn’t really believe in. I felt angry and cheated because I had taken a position (a leap of faith if you like) based on their public rhetoric; now I knew this is not how they really thought (some of them at least), and I felt I had been misled on a very serious issue.

    I shouldn’t have been surprised, since I later learned that religious people had been prominent in the founding of CND and similar movements, just as their ancestors had been involved in abolitionism, &ct.

  83. Ian S Says:

    “I’m all for the “trivia” aspect on these postings, but let’s keep it focused on stuff that is/as relevant to us circa 1976-86.”

    Ok it was getting derailed a bit heh heh.

    “A bigger point is that looking back to the “old days”, I now see that a big part of my motivation was an intense interest in “big picture” ideas, politics, religion, &ct that has lasted me all my life.”

    There’s a page in TG5 in which that came across clearly, even to me as a teenager. It’s the one with the photo of the deformed child, and you wrote something underneath expressing anger at that: the old question of why innocents suffer.

    Usually people ask that when confronted with the results of human cruelty, but the way you were writing suggested you saw that cruelty as worked into the fabric of nature, or at least wondered if that was so.

    It’s a good question to ask imo.

  84. Graham Burnett Says:

    ‘So What?’ was I believe the first or second song Steve Ignorant wrote, and it was a response to/inspired by reading Penny’s ‘Christs Reality Asylum’. I’ve since seen something either in George Bergers book or maybe Ian Glasper’s book, or somewhere else, that for him it was about overcoming his own conditioning, apparently he was an alterboy or somesuch and had all that religious ‘stuff’ about guilt and sin hardwired into him as a child. He said that when he first wrote down the words, and even the first few times he sung it on a stage, there was a part of him that really believed he was going to be struck down by a thunderbolt. When that didn’t happen he felt in some way ‘free’, and saw that the church was just a confidence trick and didn’t have a hold on him at all beyond what was in his head. I always saw that as being more about where Crass stood on organised religion, and it was bourne out when I interviewed Crass for New Crimes back in 1980, I asked why that their attacks on Christainaity were so virulent when Jesus was probabaly just as much an anti-authority/revolutionary figure in his day as they were in the 70s. The response was that they weren’t intending to attack Christ the man so much as as Christ the idea, or what the State and organised religion had made the figure of Christ into, complete with all that internalised guilt, justification of war, oppression of women, abuse of the power of the church etc.

  85. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Ian:

    Thanks for your last post, and especially the reminder about the image you mentioned in TG5; it’d totally forgotten about that.

    Yes, the idea of suffering as an integral part of nature is an interesting one. More than that, it (“theodicy” or “the problem of evil”) one of the fundamental problems of philosophy. Wikipedia offers a fairly good primer:

    The Christian answer is that suffering has meaning and purpose. That’s not to say that suffering is good, or good for you — it isn’t, otherwise it wouldn’t be suffering, it’d be something else.

    It is to say that God, or Christ as God made flesh, is present in all suffering. That God is with us when we suffer, that he was there at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Hiroshima; that when we suffer we are closest to that which is beyond us. More than that, that our suffering is God’s suffering, that all human pain is felt and suffered by God as Christ. In this is meaning and purpose, it is in this way that we undergo “theosis”, that become God-like.

    Like Rushdie, I’d always had “a God-shaped hole in my heart”, that yearning for something beyond me. My path to Christianity was a hard one, at every point I resisted (and probably still resist) God’s approaches to me. In my punk days it was because Christianity was “the system” and therefore it had to be wrong. So I looked elsewhere for God, again and again. but his call brought me home.

  86. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Graham, re:

    “He [Steve Ignorant] said that when he first wrote down the words, and even the first few times he sung it on a stage, there was a part of him that really believed he was going to be struck down by a thunderbolt. When that didn’t happen he felt somehow ‘free’”.

    As a schoolboy I once read a book called “An Introduction to Witchcraft”, or some such title, that advocated the crucifixion of toads or reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards for much the same effect.

    One is also reminded of Yuri Gagarin, the fighter pilot strapped to an ICBM, who was asked when he’d achieved orbit to peer out of the port hole and see whether he could see God. “No” he said. Well what a surprise!

    Once a gang of us were in the back of a national coach going from one Crass gig to another, high on cheap booze and speed. We noticed a man of the cloth in his dog collar next to us, and began to sing the lyrics to “So What?”

    He seemed very intimidated and began earnestly to read his Bible. He shouldn’t have been, we were a bunch of tossers who couldn’t punch our way out of a wet paper bag, but he didn’t know that, and we probably looked more intimidating that we actually were.

    What brave soldiers for the cause we were. Were we really any different from the boneheads we purported to despise? I doubt it. And I really do ask God’s forgiveness for this stupid incident.

    Re the incident at Dial house with Crass, perhaps “Crasstianity” had different levels of initiation, like certain Kabbalistic or Sufi sects. So that the “truths” understood by the masters were different from or even opposed to their public rhetoric. Perhaps I revealed myself as being a Crass neophyte by my silly mouthing of their silly lyric. Or maybe having made their point they didn’t want to be typecast as the “fuck God” band.

    In reality, I think these sorts of issues were always a source of tension within the band, between Steve and yer actual punks, and the public school and college educated ones, what ever the public show of unity they put on at interviews.

    It spurred me to go on and get an education though, so that nobody else could bullshit and patronise me again!

  87. Graham Burnett Says:

    Hi Mike – Re intimidating punks – personally I never really got the whole thing about punks being regarded as ‘threatening’, at least on a physical level – there were a few Sid wannabes in our crowd down in Southend, but most were, generally speaking, more kind, gentle and thoughtful than many other people of our age group – generally we were ‘outsiders’, more questioning than say, ‘the disco kids’ around us, and certainly more interesting taste in music. Many of us were vegans or vegetarians, concerned about peace and broadly CND/peace movement supporters, interested in anarchist ideas however naive that anarchism might seem now, experiemnting with communal living whether in squats or shared houses, relatively well read, creative whether it was through music, writing, art, doing zines, putting on gigs, etc, etc. Thats why it always made me a bit sad that so many ‘normal’ people would stereotype us as mindless violent thugs, when it was actually the nice smart ‘casuals’ who would as soon stick a knife in you as look at you, or give you a kicking if they happened to come upon you walking home from the pub late at night.

    I particularly remember 3 of us with our dreads, spikey hair and mohicans, ripped clothes and Crass teeshirts being in Prestos supermarket buying cider one day – a little boy pointed at us and said “look mummy that man has got green hair”. The mother went ashen with fear and through gritted teeth half whispered “Just don’t say anything” as she quickly dragged him away from us… What was all that about??? Of course if we’d had expensive trainers, pringle jumpers and nice wedge haircuts we wouldn’t have been percieved as threatening at all…

    Re Crass – personally I never percieved them in the way that you and others seem to have done, never got that ‘Crasstianity’ thing or the stuff about initiation or Crass being a ‘sect’, I just kind of clicked with alot of the ideas they were expressing – they came along around the time I was getting disillusioned with the SWP who I’d gotten involved with via Rock Against Racisim after leaving school, and the ideas just made sense – still do, especially the bit about ‘there is no authority but yourself’ which I took to be about taking personal responsibility rather than buying into ‘blame culture’. I never found anybody at Dial House to be bullshitting or patronising towards me, though I only really got to know Penny, Gee, Steve and Bron, and still count them as friends, and have had alot of direct input into Dial House over the last few years, eg, running courses there, building a compost bog, building a new classroom, etc, etc. Of course Pen talks bollocks sometimes, but don’t we all?

  88. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Graham,

    I too travelled a similar path via the ANL, RAR &ct towards Crass, Anarcho-Punk, &ct. And I know what you mean about the peaceful punks as “outsiders” thing. But I also know that there were moments when what I’d call the dark side of human nature took over. . . .


    “Of course Pen talks bollocks sometimes, but don’t we all?”

    Absolutely! What kind of person would I be, what sort of ex-punk would I be, if I claimed never to talk bollocks (see my earlier apology to Joly/BB).

    Also re Crass, no hard feelings at all on an individual, personal level. But I do think they had a kind of corporate responsibility to young and impressionable that they never fully admitted to or lived up to (you have to remember i’m talking as a teacher!), and they got kind of dysfunctional (as a band) toward the end.

    I’ve written a lot about what I no longer believe from those days, but there’s still quite a bit I still suscribe to, albeit in a very different way: is capitalism and human greed ruining the planet? Yep!; Is politics and government an evil? Yep, although I’d now say its a necessary evil. Does some generalised malise (the system? original sin?) prevent most of us from meeting our full potential? Yep! Are young people today being sold down the river? Yep! &ct., &ct!

  89. Nic Says:

    Mike – Your distinction that it was ‘religious radicals’ who contributed to the fight against slavery is interesting. While it is very true that ‘religious radicals’ played a key role in the elevation of rights for individuals on many levels, it is also worth remembering that the wider reach of ‘organised’ Christianity operated as a supporting pillar for the maintenance of that denial of rights (perhaps due to the notions of ‘chosen people’ in the early books – Exodus, Deuteronomy – of the Bible?). Whilst religion (in this case, Christianity) is in no way solely responsible, it DID play a role – and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

    Even back then (in the ‘Good/ Bad Old Days’), there always seemed to be a very strong parallel between Christianity and ‘Anarchism’. One of the core elements of ‘Anarchism’ always seemed to be an inner battle with one’s desires and the implications of pursuing that desire – the idea expressed by Flux of Pink Indians to ‘strive to survive causing the least suffering possible’, that one would consider each desire before it translated into action and act in accordance with that reflection. In this sense, there are strong parallels with aspects of Christianity (and other religious faiths – thinking of the Jihad al-Nafs in particular).

    I could understand why ‘Anarchists’ might be strongly opposed to ‘organised’ religion, but could never understand why they refused to engage with the content of the 4 Gospels, particularly as they contained many ideas which would seem to be in perfect accord with ‘Anarchist’ thought. It seemed clear that there is a strong distinction between the original impetus of the tenets of Christianity (as expressed in the 4 Gospels) and the outcome of centuries of ‘organised’ religion: consequently, it never felt like an ‘issue’ for me (unlike many ‘Punks’ who – perhaps – had experienced a greater sense of powerlessness in the face of religion). Where Crass (well, probably, Penny Rimbaud) saw Christ as a figure of arrogance and self-seeking suicide, I felt that the example expressed through the life of Christ was – in itself – quite pertinent.
    Perhaps this lack of engagement could be understood to be a direct result of the need for an exploration which would conflict (at some level) with the simplistic poles of Good / Evil which informed much of the ‘Anarchist’ thinking prevalent in the ‘Crasstafarian’ years (and which also informs certain schools of religious thought)…

    Having said that, I have absolutely no religious (or mystical) leanings: the beauty of being alive is enough.

    I think all people have an example from their own actions similar to your intimidation of the man on the coach, Mike: we have all acted thoughtlessly (particularly in our younger years) – and often in order to increase our own sense of our power. I seem to remember ‘Punks’ would often pick on religious figures, perhaps because they understood that focusing on these people would not lead to a threatening confrontation – in this sense, they were exercising power in exactly the same way as the culture around them.

    Funnily enough, there was an interesting documentary about ‘The Satanic Verses’ on the BBC last week. It illustrated quite nicely how Rushdie’s ‘God-shaped hole’ vanished as soon as his venal attempt to escape from his self-inflicted position was seen for what it was by those he was addressing.
    A much more interesting idea which the programme touched upon was the way in which ‘The Satanic Verses’ helped to unite the disparate groups of Muslims in Britain and gave them a much more cohesive voice. Almost immediately afterwards, the Muslims in the area I lived in began to undertake night-time vigils to coerce prostitutes to leave the area, and one wonders if this was a result of the galvanising force of the protest related to the book…

  90. Sam Says:

    “One of the core elements of ‘Anarchism’ always seemed to be an inner battle with one’s desires and the implications of pursuing that desire – the idea expressed by Flux of Pink Indians to ‘strive to survive causing the least suffering possible’, that one would consider each desire before it translated into action and act in accordance with that reflection.”

    The term ‘denial’ wasn’t in common usage at the time but it does explain a lot. Dunno about ‘causing the least suffering possible’ though. The witch hunts and castigation of those who continued to pursue their desires was horrible. Very puritanical. Lord of the Flies springs to mind again.

  91. Mike D Says:

    Sam, you took the words right out of my mouth with “Lord of the Flies” with respect to Nic’s last posting.

    Nic, I take your point about /jihaad an-nafs/ in Islam. But really, it’s a case of “been there done that” with me. All the time I checked for Islam I realised that I was still putting on an act, was still the old “fuck you” punk underneath, the very opposite of “struggle against the self”.

    This is because with Islam I could still pepper my speech with “in” jargon to show how different and better I was to everyone else, still dress up in unusual clothes, and do odd things in public (prayer time anybody?), peddle intercene sectarianism radical Muslims have nothing to learn from the trots in this regard), and still mouth extremism (poor old Islam vs the West, the Kuffaar system, &ct).

    In the end I found it was only through Christianity that I could be genuinely religious, partly because it was “normal”, mainstream, part of the system &ct., and didn’t involve dressing up, circumcising one’s self, praying in public, &ct. Once all the “hey look at me” nonsense was out of the way I could really get on with the jihad against my nafs.

    Once I’d got that far, I discovered something else, a depth I’d never found anywhere else.

    I do take your point about Christianity’s chequered past politically, but I still think most of the posts so far have taken the jibes about “organised religion” uncritically. Religion ought to be organised, since it is only through having the humility to submit to some sort of higher authority that we can break free of solipsism and self-referentiality.

    I too used to see the clear parallels between Christianity and a certain sort of anarchism, but I foolishly deferred to those (Crass and others) who seemed to know more than me, and went along with all that fag-end of the French revolution “fuck God” stuff. and all that helped draw attention to me, which what really more than anything else I wanted.

    A revolution by us lot? Lord of the Flies indeed!

  92. Mike D Says:

    Hi Nic,

    That all said there is a lot to be said for the comparatist approach. Out here in the Gulf I do a Comp. Lit. course, a broad historical overview. I’ve just done the blood ‘n’ guts stuff, pre-Islamic /jaahiliyyah/ poetry compared and contrasted with Anglo-Saxon lit. (Beowulf, the Battle of Maldon). Next I’m going ffw a few centuries to the late Middle Ages where I’ll be doing the comparative/contrastive stuff with Julian of Norwich and the Sufi genius Muhiyy-ud-deen Ibn ‘Arabiy. I hope to end with postmodernism in English and Arabic lit., perhaps ending with Rushdie, if I can wangle it.

    I think you’re too hard with SR, BTW. Don’t talk to me about Islamic anti-prostitution vigilantes. Out here all the hotels transform into out-and-out brothels over the weekend, even the respectable five-stars. Guess who the clientele are? Generally, they’re not Westerners but “tourists” come over the causeway from Saudi. Perhaps its to do with the essentially contractural nature of sharia marriages out here?

  93. Nic Says:

    I agree completely that the ideal and the reality of ‘Anarchism’ rarely meet (as is the case with Islam as you noted Mike – spending the best part of 15 years living in a predominantly Muslim community made that fairly transparent), and wasn’t suggesting anything other than it is interesting to draw parallels and wonder why those parallels were rarely explored…

    An interest in both Crass and ‘Anarchism’ (which was never at the exclusion of an interest in anything – and everything – else) didn’t stop me or my friends from having an absolutely fantastic time that involved little in the way of ‘denial’…
    Interestingly, we rarely encountered the dogmatic power games which seem to have been common in London: it’s worth remembering that the experience which you had in London doesn’t necessarily speak for the experience of others (however interesting it is!)…

    The Comparative Literature course sounds very interesting, Mike: my first degree was in English Literature and Philosophy…
    Do you touch on ‘The Dream of the Rood’?

  94. alistairliv Says:

    “The earliest written English poem is the ‘Dream of the Rood’ inscribed in runes upon a stone cross in Scotland.”

    The cross is at Ruthwell (about 30 miles from where I live) and I have seen it. To see the actual 1300 year old runes on it is quite something – even my brother who is def. atheist was gobsmacked/ awestruck when we saw them,.

    The Ruthwell Cross is relevant to this discussion since it is an actually existing piece of history which has been relegated to the sidelines because it doesn’t quite fit within English history (since it is in Scotland) or Scottish history (since it is ‘English’/ Northumbrian/Anglian)… so it remains in obscurity.

    It is fairly easy to see why the Ruthwell Cross is a problem given the continuing ideological/ nationalist importance of Scotland v England interpretations of history… but where is the ideological tension when the recent history of anarcho-punk is being discussed?

    Is there a parallel between disputes over the central role ( or otherwise) of the Sex Pistols in ‘creating’ punk and with Crass/ anarcho-punk?

    With the Pistols there is a mystification which revolves around the notion of punk as an “authentic” outburst by alienated working class youth set against the ‘inauthentic’ nature of hippy counterculture as a middle class youth movement.

    But at the same time the Pistols were deliberately constructed/ manufactured by Westwood/McLaren/Reid as a spectacular pop culture entity – designed to provoke outrage. Therefore punk was neither spontaneous and nor authentic, it was – for anyone who had studied previous youth subcultures as Mclaren had – entirely predictable and followed the same subcultural trajectory as teds, mods, hippies…

    So was anarcho-punk different? Was it constructed by Crass following the Sex Pistols model? And did it follow a similar subcultural trajectory?

    A critical difference would be the extent to which anarcho-punk was actually political, the extent to which it absorbed and reproduced anarchist theory and practice. This I think is where the ‘mystification’ exists, where the ideology conflicts with history.

    The anarchism of anarcho-punk was an ahistorical afterthought… as Penny Rimbaud says in ‘The Story of Crass’ p.128:

    “I wasn’t aware of anarchism until about one year into Crass. I knew what it meant in the lose term of the word before, but in terms of a label,it was more by default…we put up the ‘A’ banner to get the left and right off our backs. It was then we started getting asked what we meant by that …I didn’t know what the fuck it was about.. [when] I started looking at what it actually meant in terms of its history. I hadn’t actually that much interest in it and I can’t say I have now to be honest ”

    There are similar quotes from Steve Ignorant (p.127/8) and Andy Palmer (p.129).

    This original absence of anarchist historical consciousness became an obstacle once the process of subcultural decay set in. A form of punk anarchism had been created, but in isolation from ‘mainstream’ anarchist history/theory/practice it withered on the vine.

  95. Mike Diboll Says:

    Nic & Alistair:

    I have taught the “Rood” out here, but not on the comparative course I mentioned earlier. I like doing Old “English” stuff and the Middle Ages because (a) it’s often ignored (even here in the UK), and (b) going back to the roots (real or “imagined”) of a culture or a society help create a more profound cross-cultural understanding.

    The big issue out here with both the Rood and Julia(n) of Norwich is helping students to get to grips with the Christian concepts underpinning Medieval poems such as these. Remember I’m working in the national university of a Gulf state, and students here come with preconceived ideas about the Western “Other”, just as Westerners back home in the UK have their preconceptions and stereotypes.

    My personal beliefs &ct put to one side, the aim of such courses is to create genuine insight and (hopefully) mutual respect between cultures. Often it is easier said than done!

    This comes to the fore even more so when we get to the Englightenment &ct, as this is really when Western and Arab-Islamic cultures become radically different. Prior to that, one could argue that both cultures had more in common than separated them.

    Both were once “barbarian” peoples (the Arabs and the Germanic tribes) who became successors to different parts of what had once been the Roman Empire; both had similar kinship-based and feudal or semi-fuedal methods of social organisation; both were fundamentally faith-based societies that attained “civilization” through the adoption of monotheistic religion (or different versions of the same monotheistic religion?), &ct. With the Englightenment, things change markedly.

  96. Mike Diboll Says:

    Alistair’s point about the development of anarcho-punk is very interesting. At the time, I never imagined it (or the Crass version thereof) to be quite so radically detached from the “historical consciousness” of anarchism and that key members of Crass really knew bugger all about it.

    Certainly for me, and many of the people I knew at the time, Anarchism was a mast that we had nailed our colours to, despite the fact that we were profoundly ignorant of the superstructure that mast was itself nailed to. Now I learn that it wasn’t nailed to anything much, and the people we looked up to in a Guru-ish way were nearly as ignorant as we were!

    Really I find this hard to believe, and it sounds to me very much like a post hoc rationalisation or justification for the way things worked out with Crass and their circle. Okay, I can credit that PR, SI and others had no particular involvement with or knowledge of the “actually existing” anarchist movement in the form of Black Flag, Freedom, Iberico, &ct., but to say they knew “fuck all” about anarchism on a theoretical level and that the @ flag was put up just because of the left-right thing sounds like utter bullshit to me.

    I can certainly remember PR and others pontificating about what this meant and what that meant, even as we youngsters lapped it up at their feet.

    On the level of music, one of the things that astounds me was the destructive effect that “anarcho-punk” had on “punk” as a kind of music (!) and as a youth culture. As I progressed from being a “punk rocker” (as we were in the very early days), to a “punk” to an “anarcho-punk” to some sort of ideological anarchist the vibrancy of early punk became more and more diluted and conformist, until eventually it disappeared entirely.

    I suppose then punk really was “dead”, when there was only one way to dress (black), and only one or two bands it was correct to listen to. How different this was to the days of the early Clash and the Ruts, of the Jam and the Buzzcocks, of Wire and XTC, of Slaughter and the Subs, when there were nearly as many ways of being a punk as there were punks. Even with later bands, the excellence of bands as diverse as the Dead Kennedys, Joy Division, the Undertones &ct was something I appreciated in my heart of hearts, but could never express in the little anarcho-cult I’d gotten locked into.

  97. Mike Diboll Says:

    Nic, your were in a sense very lucky that you came to this from outside London. In the capital we were oh so prone to this “to the exculsion of everything else” obsessive single-mindedness. That’s one of the things that made us so prone, I think, to extremism and fanticism. For me personally this was something that lived on long after my anarcho-punk days, and which I’ve only really been able to live down in, say the past ten or twelve years.

    This harmed me and others, or at least our development as responsible adults, and this is what I mean when I talk about Crass and others lacking any sort of “corporate responsibility to impressionalble (in some cases vulnerable) and still-forming minds.

    But ultimately we can’t blame others, as this is part and parcel of what London and being Londoners has been about through time. It’s a unique and special place, but its “deus loci” is also intense and merciless and spits out those whom it consumes. Few places, even other big cities are quite like it. You who got into the stuff I ws into from points further north seem to have managed your post-punk transition into adult “normality” far better than us fanatics from down south!

    NYC is one place that is very much like London; the first time I ever went there I took to it like a duck to water, far more so than other places in America, and cursed the fact that I’d waited so long to visit. Perhaps this was beacuse despite all the differences in layout, history and architecture, NYC was so much like London, right down the the aggressive body language, the ennui (real or feigned), and the sheer cosmopolitaness of the place. I speak five languages and used all of them within an hour of clearing JFK! The whole NY-Lon thing immediately made sense, ditto the old punk rivalry between NY and London. I’m sure I’d be dead now if I’d gone there in those dys!

  98. Sam Says:

    “But at the same time the Pistols were deliberately constructed/ manufactured by Westwood/McLaren/Reid as a spectacular pop culture entity – designed to provoke outrage. Therefore punk was neither spontaneous and nor authentic, it was – for anyone who had studied previous youth subcultures as Mclaren had – entirely predictable and followed the same subcultural trajectory as teds, mods, hippies…”

    Totally disagree with this Alistair. McLaren et al certainly had their 5 year plan but from all accounts the Pistols weren’t controlled by Malcolm at all and went out of their way to piss him off. Lydon was far too intelligent to go along with being manipulated in that way and, let’s face it, without him – no phenomenom. NMTB still, amazingly, sounds as angry, raw and nasty as it did when it came out. Lydon, crouching at the front of the stage in Wakefield in 1975 taking the piss out of all the pissed up lads in the audience was suicidal and as provocative an art form as you could get. It lasted for 5 minutes but it was an exemplary 5 minutes. I think it’s revisionist history to write them off, as several contemporary writers have, as some prefabricated band. I still have some of the resonance of that moment inside me.

  99. Graham Burnett Says:

    Yes the Grundy incident also comes to mind, by all accounts McLaren freaked and went into total panic mode when Steve Jones swore on TV , it was only later that he cultivated the myth that he masterminded the whole thing and that it was all part of a grand plan to subvert the music industry or whatever…

  100. alistairliv Says:

    Yes, but what about Mclaren’s previous attempt to hijack the New York Dolls?

    From Malcolm Mclaren press release for the New York Dolls February 1975


    Contrary to the vicious lies from the offices of Leber, Krebs and Thau [Dolls former management] the New York Dolls have not disbanded. The New York Dolls…have, in fact, assumed the role of the ‘People’s Information Collective’ in direct association with the Red Guard. This incarnation entitled ‘Red Patent Leather’ will commence on Friday, February 28 at 10 p.m. …This show is in co-ordination with the Dolls’ very special ‘entente cordiale’ with the People’s Republic of China.

  101. Mike Diboll Says:

    I don’t think it matters one way or the other whether McClaren et al had a plan or not re the Sex Pistols, the important thing is that the band took on a significance way beyond whatever McClaren, Sex, &ct had imagined or could control. Look how limp and wet fart his subsequent projects were, Bow Wow, Wow, &ct.

    I agree completely that NMTB has stood the test of time. For me, the most memorable thing about the Pistols is their SOUND. It’s nothing to write home about technically, but it has a certain controlled (most of the time) energy and sexy swagger, part pub-rock and part what someone (can’t remember who) once described as “Light Metal”.

  102. Sam Says:

    I don’t see that lack of publicity makes a band or movement any more ‘authentic’. Without McLaren we’d all have probably never caught a whiff of what was going on. It was the Pistols who inspired the likes of The Clash, Buzzcocks, Damned and later Joy Division, The Smiths etc…
    The Pistols set the tone for all who followed, and many of those (The Ramones for example) who weren’t getting anywhere and who would have remained obscure. The Velvets were also a ‘prepackaged’ band, formed around Warhol’s Factory. This doesn’t deny the fact they were one of the most important and influential bands of the last 50 years. As they had zero publicity they really didn’t make it until 20 years after the fact.

  103. Mike D Says:

    Well said, Sam. A leftist mindset had long prevented me from seeing the role of entrepreneurs in the “entertainment” industry as anything other than manipulative, exploitative Svengalis churning out “manufactured” or “prepackaged” bands.

    Sure, there are plenty of reasons for thinking this way. In 1970s pre-punk was full of such bands. The 2000s have been even worse, and the manufactured and prepackaged phenomenon has spread out from the music industry to encompass literature (or what passes for it) and other aspects of culture today.

    That said, the difficulty with the “bastard Svengali” mindset is that it ignores the role of entrepreneurs as facilitators of talent, people who make things happen, or help make things happen. It was the “radical” rejection of this that helped condemn so many of us to utter obscurity, despite various talents we may have had, or the relatively prominent roles we may have played in the subcultures of the time.

    Of course, there are manipulative, exploitative bastards out there, but not everyone is like that. And even if they are, still genuine talent is usually able to transcend the limitations imposed upon them by the McClarens of this world. Being managed or represended by someone with professional experience in marketing or PR doesn’t automatically make one a Juile Burchill, a Danny Baker, or a Jonathan Ross (millionaire sell-out punks all). But rejecting it will condemn one to a purist obscurity.

    Some people escape this sort of obscurity posthumously. The poet and artist William Blake is an example, who lived and died in eccentric obscurity, but started to become something big in the arts some seventy years after his death. Nowadays he’s taught alongside Byron, who’s Romanticism made him wealthy and famous in his day. The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins is another case in point, a precursor of poetic Modernism, who died in 1888, but started to make it big in 1919. Ditto the Great Wat poet Wilfred Owen, and the Second World War poet Keith Douglas, both of whom copped a bullet in their mid-twenties, and never saw the poetic fame they would achieve.

    Most Classical musicians and Renaissance painters had or desperately sought after wealthy and powerful patrons. Perhaps that makes them part of “bourgeois” culture. But when we look at a Michelangelo do we automatically thing of the Medici, or when we hear Mozart do we automatically think of Salzburg court? When I hear the Pistols McClaren is usually pretty distant in my mind.

    I suspect that spending some time in the States helps dispel this particular prejudice. And give me McClaren any day rather than the sort of bureaucratic, state-sponsored official culture that is promoted in Europe, New Labour’s crypto-fascistic Britain, and other autocracies.

    The alternative is, I suppose, that subcultures promote themselves. Fine in theory, but it hardly ever works in practice, since few of us have any realistic idea of how to go about it. I suppose for better or worse Crass were an exception, but generally getting somewhere means getting into bed either with business or the state or party. give me business any day.

    That said, I’m glad I fell into some sort of well-deserved, self-imposed obscurity following my TG days. If I had achieved any sort of youth cultural fame (which really I craved in my heart, despite the denial), I wouldn’t be the person I am now. And for all his manifold and manifest faults, I greatly prefer him to the crazy mixed up kid.

  104. chris Says:

    Intersting you say: “If I had achieved any sort of youth cultural fame (which really I craved in my heart, despite the denial)”

    I think this is a very true, though at the time unspeakable, truth.

    I remember an older ex punk/’serious anarchist type’ once saying to me (when I was around 14) “why do you do your magazine?” to which I rehashed the customary cliches about ‘getting a message across’. He replied “No, you do it so you’re somebody and so you can blag free records and get into gigs free and stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that”

    Just as I’m sure everyone in a band always harboured dreams of being a pop-star. I know i’d have much rather been in Duran Duran or Japan and led that sort of lifestyle even when I was in the credible anarcho-punk acts I drummed for.

    To paraphrase an old yippe adage “Denial is the policeman in your head”

  105. Graham Burnett Says:

    I thought it was a river in Egypt…

  106. Mike D Says:

    “Not just a river in Egypt”; damn it, Graham! I was just about to write that and you stole my line! Living in the Middle East I ought to have a copyright on it, in fact I use it sometimes as a one-liner with my students out here (I lived in Egypt for two years, 1991-2, and speak Arabic in the Egyptian dialect, which students find funny out here). Sam pipped me to the post the other day with “Lord of the Flies”: just goes to show, (not so) great minds use the same cliches!

    Chris, you’re so right about the “unspeakable truth”. The old anarcho-punk you spoke to was a sage of sorts.

    I certainly wanted fame, or better still infamy. But I would never have admitted it at the time. Even our much vaunted “purity” was nothing more than to have fame/infamy absolutely on our own terms, with no compromises to business, state, or whatever. How egotistic can you get? Our revolution would have been a revolution of selfish, narcissistic psychopaths.

    Worse still, we forgot how to have fun. When I was deeply lost in my anarcho phase I still loved the raw energy of the Pistols and early Clash, the wry cleverness of Wire, XTC, and ATV, the honest celebration of normal teenage youth/sex angst in the Jam, the Buzzocks, and later the Undertones, the dark existentialism of Gristle and Joy Division, &ct.

    But anarcho-punk me could never admit to it. I had been among the early followers of some of these bands (I’m 50 now), but gradually band by band dropped off the list, eventually even Crass. What was left was a grim, nihilistic existentialism, an “anarchism” that was really nothing more than bottled up anger and angst made political, and eventually booze and hard drugs.

    The bands I used to love became illicit pleasures. No longer would I go to their gigs. I’d listen to them in private, with the door of my room in the various squats/housing associations I lived in locked, as if I was engaged in some sort of shameful masturbation. Eventually it boiled down to headphones and solo d-rugs. How sad, such a long way from the joy I felt when I donned blue creepers, a slashed t-shirt, and safety pinned my ear.

  107. Graham Burnett Says:

    > “I certainly wanted fame, or better still infamy.”

    Can I do “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!” as well???

    (copyright Kenneth Williams, ‘Carry on Cleo’)

  108. Graham Burnett Says:

    Never had a problem with the pluralism of liking Crass and Joy Division, The Fall, Raincoats, Pop Group, reggae, Clash, Slits, etc, etc…

    I used to keep my predilections for Led Zeppelin and Yes a bit quiet though…

    I was wearing a ‘Yes’ teeshirt at Dial House last summer, Penny commented on it and said he quite liked them…

  109. Nic Says:

    That’s my experience too, Graham: there was room for everything…

  110. Nic Says:

    Did you see the documentary on Rough Trade the other night? Some nice old footage (maybe from an ‘Arena’ or something) including the Door and the Window talking about their EP’s being recorded on a cassette recorder to Scritti Politti and The Raincoats rehearsing…

    I’ve still got a credit note from Rough Trade from 1981 for 15 copies of one of the fanzines I made: do you think they would honour it?

  111. Graham Burnett Says:

    I did indeed Nic, great stuff! And the documentary on prog rock a couple of months ago…

  112. Mike Diboll Says:

    But hey, that last post ended on a gloomy note. In 1982 I fathered a daughter (I still can’t recall quite how), and from then on in things gradually, inexorably, got better and better (bar one or two significant setbacks).

    There’s a spit ‘n’ sawdust pub in the otherwise respectable Sussex town where my now octogenerian parents now live. When I visit them I visit this pub too sometimes. It hosts some wicked pub rock bands whose greying, balding members are ex-punks in their late 40s and early 50s.

    I’m always struck by the quality of the musicianship (a living refutation of the three chord cliche), but more than that by the way the decades vanish and everyone there is 18 or 21 again, and the young crowd, those who are 18 or 21 now, lap up grandad’s music.

    I’m transported back thirty odd years to pubs in Deptford and Camden, and I’m dancing to Squeeze and Dexy’s and Madness in the days when a crowd of fifty or a hundred was a good night. How anarchy screwed all that up. But then they do a Pistols or a Clash cover, and its an honour to grab the mic or jam.

    To clear my head I’ll walk to the foot of the South Downs the next morning. I’ll pray in a 1,000 old Saxon church. In the graveyard is a 1960s tombstone there to someone who died “A Teacher and a Poet”, what better epitaph can there be than that? Beneath him the bones of his forebares, going beack to before the Norman conquest. In the church there are Anglo-Saxon, Byzantine influenced murals there, uncovered in the 1990s since they were obscured in the Reformation.

    Then I’ll climb the Downs, breathless, but sessions in the gym make me healthier than how I was in my 20s. Once up there on a sunny morning the sea shimmers golden before Brighton. Behind me is the Sussex Weald and the North Downs shielding London. Up there the air is clean and pure and cleanses my lungs, the sheer greenness of an English summer almost hurts my nearly Middle Eastern eyes. Amid the baa-ing of sheep I sit and drink English beer (Admans) and eat English cheese and farm bread, and read a psalm in BCP English, Latin or Hebrew for friends who can’t be here with me today.

    I walk down the hills into Brighton, and lazy bastard get the train a few stops back. Then I’m with my parents, and my darling wife and twelve year-old son and my daughters of one and twenty-seven year of age, sometimes there are my grandchildren too, then it’s wine and British Indian takeaway, or fish ‘n’ chips, fish straight from the channel, the lottery show and rubbish English telly.

    And anecdotes about people who’ve passed: my punk mate who threw up pills, sick and Guinness on their door-step as my Dad and my Mum returned with the Thursday shop; Peter Rachman who’d set my Dad up in business; how skills learned in those days, people he knew, had kept the lid on the skins at the Conway Hall gig; drunken songs from his time in Germany, in the last days of war. Each year is precious, because it can’t last much longer.

    A few summer weeks of this and I’m back in the desert and 50C heat, amid the dizzying newness of the postmodern metroploi here; a university professor in Comparative Literature, engaged in a project to reform education in the region that has become my adopted home since 2002.

    Such is the lot of an aging punk.

  113. Mike Diboll Says:

    I had (indeed still have) a soft spot for the early Hawkwind, cica “In Search of Space”, another shameful pleasure. . . .

    Re Graham and Nic’s punk inclusivity, absolutely that’s the way most people were at that time, the healthy ones. I was like it for quite a bit.

    What interests me though about my anarcho days is more to do with what I’d call “the psychological trajectory of extremism”, how extremism bred further extremism. Bands and eventually the entire musical aspect all dropped way. As did friends and subcultural contacts.

    So there I was, in the middle of a small and ever decreasing group of fanatics, until all that was left was my fanatical self, estranged even from my fellow fanatics, who had also imploded into themselves.

    I’m not saying all of the people who were on the punk, and later the anarcho-punk scene were like that. Of course not. But it was my experience, and that of a few others.

    This is of more than historical interest, I think. For I’m sure something very similar goes through the heads of Jihadi fanatics just before they blow themselves up. The suicide bomb becomes a door to walk through, from the ante-room of radical isolation in the self, into an eternity of bliss.

    What we anarcho fanatics lacked was an ideology to die for. Dark, pseudo-suicidal existentialism wasn’t good enough, because the affection aside really we wanted to live and be notorious. The Jihadis have just such an ideology.

    This links back to a bit earlier in these posts, where Alistair was discussing the Rood and Scotish identity. I think Benedict Anderson’s idea about “imagined communities” comes in handy here:

    For Anderson the communities of nationalism are essentially phenomenon of Modernity, and links with a deep historical past are “imagined”, things from the distant and not-so-distant past, which may or may not have any real link with the community in question come to have an iconic significance in modern nationalism as generators of identity. Often, historical continuity is simply “imagined”.

    I think one can apply this model to subcultures, counter-cultures, co-cultures, &ct. Perhaps the attempt to link anarcho-punk into some sort wider “historical consciousness” of anarchism is an example of imagining an anarcho community?

    Perhaps the postmodern “imagined community” par excellence is Al Qa’eeda. British Jihadism is almost entirely mimetic, with yer average British jihadist having about as much to do with Bin Laden as the boneheads of our era had with Adolf Hitler.

    Links with whatever happens in the wider Islamic world are almost entirely “imagined” in the Andersonian sense, and the ideas spouted by the ideologues of British Jihadism connect only very tangentally with anything that’s being said in the actually existing Muslim world outside of their heads.

    The ideology is downloadable from the Internet fully formed, as are recipies for easy to mak explosives like “Mother of Satan”. Some Asian lads might have tribal or family connections with places like Waziristan, and from there they get to drift into the Taleban. But that doesn’t make AQ a global conspiracy for world domination personally organsied Dr. Evil style by OBL from a cave somewhere in the ‘Stans of Central Asia.

    In my view, mimetic British Jihadism has more in common with school shootings up, teen suicide cults, nihilistic gang violence than it does with real world struggles in Palestine or elsewhere. Perhaps the “Real IRA” are the same? Until that’s understood it can never be effectively dealt with.

    My personal insights into the psychology of fanaticism, and my observations of others who were like-minded, have a relevance here, perhaps.

  114. baron von zubb Says:

    Interesting thread.
    Makes me feel a bit ignorant. Gaps in my historical knowledge become apparent.
    Would I have rather been in Duran Duran?
    No,if I’d wanted to be in any band at all I would have carried on.
    The whole idea of ‘singing’ about ‘revolution’ became rather quaint.
    Maybe im still being self deceitful? Or maybe i’ve not moved on?
    But I just didnt feel that imprisoned by revolutionary ideas as others seem to have felt.
    As has been previously mentioned, some of the situ stuff for example is still brilliant. Good stuff for the facebook age.
    After I went to India for the first time I realised that the idea of world revolution was nieve; that the world was bigger that the UK and that different places had different problems and therefore solutions.
    But the core principles of anarcho/whatever ideas are still relevent, no?. Societies DO have self serving elites that are in control.
    With the individual feels that is important enough to act upon is another question.
    possibly liberation is seen as an individual process.
    its just dull?

    Mike were you muslim at one point then?
    Must have been an interesting mindset.
    Are you a person who feels more comfortable within a belief system?
    Maybe we all are to a certain extent , if we really look at our state of mind ?
    I remember your mum, I think.
    Was she into star signs and stuff? The first adult that I met who was.
    She said – or whoever I remember having said it – much to my consternation, all anarchod up as I was, that I was ‘a very spiritual person’.
    Not what I wanted to hear at the time.
    And i’ve no way of knowing if she was right or not..
    Unsurprisingly I’m with Sam on The Pistols.
    People forget that despite McClaren they were (apparently) in 1976 a brilliant live band (Tony Puppy can verify that perhaps?)
    Thats what spurred on all the rest.
    McClaren only did a bit of media manipulation.
    And he still is by presenting himself as some sort of rock n roll fagin.
    UK jihadism?
    Thats what working class boys do in Britain. They get all violent. If your in the islamic community you’re gonna do it that way. If your white its Millwall.
    If you think your smart its the A B’s.
    Having said that, there has been and still are some really fuckin nasty Islamo fascist clerics about, who have agendas that they foster upon the gullable.
    And of course the fact that most of the muslim world is ‘undemocratic’ treats its citizens badly but at the same time the ruling elites are seen to be pals with The US.
    The struggles of the Waristanis or the Pashtuns in Swat are only now in the spotlight because of the potential threat to the west.
    But these and many others have been struggling againt there own corrupt- both morally & actually – governments for a while. The anti government movemnents in Egypt & Algeria spring to mind.

  115. Mike D Says:

    Hi Zubb:

    “Would I have rather been in Duran Duran? No,if I’d wanted to be in any band at all I would have carried on.”

    Me neither, esp. not Duran Duran! I’d arsed about in bands, but it was the writing and visual arts side of things that really interested me. That and the sort of “life as on-going performance art” thing that characterised the early days of 66a.

    “But I just didnt feel that imprisoned by revolutionary ideas as others seem to have felt.”

    In my case (and I can only really speak for myself) it wasn’t so much a case as feeling “imprisoned” by revolutionary ideas as an inexorable slide into fanaticism and eventually a kind of nihilistic solipsism. I agree with you that if there is any life left in any of the -isms and -ologies we were into it’s Situationism, their critique of consumer capitalism not only still applies, but seems positively prophetic.

    “After I went to India for the first time I realised that the idea of world revolution was nieve; that the world was bigger that the UK and that different places had different problems and therefore solutions.”

    Absolutely, I can well see how time in India would have that effect on a reflective mind. Living in the actually existing Muslim world (early 1990s) relieved me of the naieve Islamist ideas I had in my head at that time (although it didn’t have that effect on every convert); the States rid me of the inane knee-jerk anti-Americanism that is a common affection of the British and the Euro left.

    Sure, societies do have self-serving elites (an AIG bonus, anyone?), but is anarcho- this and that any real way to deal with it? and yes, maybe Liberation is an individual process, but it is an individual process with wider social and cultural ramifications. I find many parallels between my life and St. Augustine’s “Confessions”, although not for a moment would I claim to have as a great a mind as he.

    “Must have been an interesting mindset.”

    There’s much I could say (some of it I tried to say in my book), but living out here I have to be careful of what I say, and how and where I say it!

    “Are you a person who feels more comfortable within a belief system?”

    A very interesting question. I suppose the short answer is “yes”. But then don’t we all need that, one way or another? What is Anarchism, or anarcho-punk but a belief system of sorts? Only those who are extreme individualists to the point of psychopathology can do without belief systems at all, and the innocent suffer the consequences.

    In terms of religion, again I’d answer “yes”. To me real religion has to be, shock, horror, “organised religion”. But being “organised” doesn’t mean that there isn’t scope for dissent and different views, just look at the range of views in the C of E today!

    Religion has to be organised for the simple reason that being truly religious (in my book) involves some sort of submission to something greater than one’s self. This is God, primarily, but also the recieved tradition and historical consciousness of those who have done more and know more than me.

    I have a great respect for people like the Quakers, the Unitarians, and the Universalists, particularly their achievements towards peaceful and humanitarian goals. But for me there is still to much “make it up as you go along” about their approach to religion.

    The American Transcendentalists got it even more wrong still, ditto certain strains in “spiritual” Romanticism. The individual ego has to be conquered before spiritual progress can be made, as we find in the teachings of Christ and the Buddha and the idea of “jihaad an-nafs” in Sufic Islam. The solipsistic know-all approach found in Emerson and Thoreau is wrong, I feel.

    On an artistic level I think Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent” should be required reading for all those masses of “artists” and “poets” who are still hung up on Romantic individualism (as I was, in a way, in my TG days).

    “I remember your mum, I think.
    Was she into star signs and stuff? The first adult that I met who was.
    She said – or whoever I remember having said it – much to my consternation, all anarchod up as I was, that I was ‘a very spiritual person’.
    Not what I wanted to hear at the time.”

    I’m amazed you can remember my Mum! Unfortuantely, she can’t remember you as she’s quite sick with Alzhiemers these days. Yes, she was heavily into astrology and stuff, and the tarot, and crystals, and “white magic” and stuff. All this had been big influence on me in my early to mid teens. My Dad, a Protestant agnostic, tried to counteract these unhealthy interests by getting me into motorbikes and stuff. I’m still a bit of a petrolhead. My Mum had been bought up in a convent, part of her side of the family having been converts to Catholicism from Judaism. She rejected all this for all the New Agey, “spirituality lite” stuff, I in turn rejected that, so I guess what goes around comes around.

    “Thats what working class boys do in Britain. They get all violent. If your in the islamic community you’re gonna do it that way. If your white its Millwall.”

    For quite a while I lived around the corner from Millwall, and know the scene there, or really the one that used to exist there. That’s why I in my novel I juxtapose the bonehead skins with my Jihadists, and have pass-for-white Djamal convert from neo-Nazism to Jihadism.

    “Having said that, there has been and still are some really fuckin nasty Islamo fascist clerics about, who have agendas that they foster upon the gullable.”

    Absolutely, but in the actually existing Muslim world, say in Egypt or Algeria, they exist at the extreme end of a continuum of voices, so they are constantly viewed with in a wider context of ideas. Only with mimetic British Jihadism is this very narrow spectrum of ideas seized upon as if it is some sort of answer to everything. Much as we used to do with our -isms and -ologies, ditto the BM boneheads. As I’ve gotten older one of the things that has struck me is the extent to which ideas that I once imagined to be “the answer to everything” in fact are little fragments, often not particularly distinguished fragments, of a wider history of ideas.

    “The struggles of the Waristanis or the Pashtuns in Swat are only now in the spotlight because of the potential threat to the west.”

    When I lived in Al Ain in the UAE the language of the streets was either Urdu or a mix of Urdu and Arabic. I had a Pashtun driver and handyman who became a very good friend. I don’t bendy the word “friend” about lightly, but he is one of the few true friends I’ve ever had.

    This came about when he had a heart attack. Sub-continentals of all sorts are treated like scum in the Gulf, where they constitute an imported working class, and he was left alone in a government hospital. We visited him there and made sure he was alright and well looked after before his fellow clan members could come from neighbouring emirates to look after him. We thought this was just common decency, but to Jan and his clan it meant far more than that.

    His various brothers and cousins who eventually turned up were a fearsome looking lot, beturbaned, with leathery dark brown skin, heavy aryan features, and piercing green eyes.

    Under “Pashtunwalla”, the honour code of the Pathan we have become honourary clan members, utterly irrespective of our nationality or religion. our welfare to be guarded with their lives.

    I got many invites to Pashtunistan (like Kurdistan a country that doesn’t exist, but if it did the world would be a more peaceful place), to sample such delights as shooting AKs and smoking “chirs”, raw Afghani opium. We used to communicate in a mix of English and Arabic and Urdu, I was “Pagalwalla”, from “Pagalistan”, the land of the crazy people. Coming from a Waziristani that’s rich.

    If I were single, I probably would have gone, but with a family it wouldn’t have been responsible to take the risk. Jan used to brush my fears aside, “You our guest, we have kalashnikow, we make kill Talib log if they try make kidnap”, Holiday in Cambodia, Belsen Was a Gas, tell me about it!

  116. slyme68 Says:

    only an ideologist can refer to “situationism”. is religion the opiate of the people or are opiates the religion of the people, and can old punks tell the difference?

    opportunists of the world unite, you have no-thing to lose

  117. Mike Diboll Says:

    “Situationism” was as much an aesthetic and artistic movement as it was a political one, or at least it’s lasting effects has tended to be in art rather than politics. So is one then an “ideologist” if one speaks of Impressionism or Constructivism?

    For the record, the reason while I think that of all the -isms and -ologies I was into “Situationism” still perhaps has milage in it is that Debord’s idea of the “spectacular” nature of advanced capitalism clearly retains explanatory power in the face of modern consumer capitalism, perhaps more so than terms like “postmodern”.

    I know Debord wasn’t the only situationist, and that the term was/is disputed by, eh hem, situationists themselves. Still, it remains a term that can be used meaningfully without becoming an “ideologist”!

    Perhaps one needs to have taken opiates (as Marx would have done with Laudanem, opium dissovled in brandy, a mid-C19th cure all) to understand quite what he meant i saying “religion is the opium of the people”: its not just the invention swindling priests and rulers, but part of suffering humanities yearning for sucour and consolation, thus religion is also “the sigh of the oppressed creature”.

    In Feuerbach God is “a tear of love, shed in deepest concealment, over human misery.” Are we really so distant here from the God of Christianity, who is here with us in our suffering and who suffers with us? Are Marx and Feuerbach really so different from the formulation of the Reformation mystic Sabastian Franck, “God is an unutterable sigh, lying in the depths of the heart.”

    The problem with Marx came in his view (as “ideological”, in the sense of false consciousness, as any body else’) that the abolition of “religious alientation” would come about once the social coditions that had produced this alientation had been abolished by the revolutionary prolateriat. In the unalinetated conditions that then would prevail, man would no longer be divided within himself, alienated from his fellow man, and the project of history would reach its fulfilment in “perfectly intelligable and reaonable relations between man and man, and nature”.

    Marx’s outlined his utopia somewhere in the German Ideology, something about hunting in the morning, fishing at noon, rearing cattle in the evening (?) and doing lit. crit. after dinner. Didn’t quite work out like that, did it? And after piles of corpses God knows how high it is Marxism and its kin that have died out, and religion that has found a new life.

    So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

  118. alistairliv Says:

    Possibly slyme68 was referring to this (on here at )

    Situationist: having to do with the theory or practical activity of constructing situations. One who engages in the construction of situations. A member of the Situationist International.

    Situationism: a meaningless term improperly derived from the above. There is no such thing as situationism, which would mean a doctrine of interpretation of existing facts. The notion of situationism is obviously devised by anti-situationists.

    From The Boy Scout’s Guide to the Situationist International:

    The Effect The S.I. Had On Paris ‘68 And All That, Through The Angry Brigade And King Mob To The Sex Pistols by Tom Vague

  119. Mike Diboll Says:


    “Possibly slyme68 was referring to this (on here at )”

    Quite possibly. The problem is that the “-ist = good, -ism = bad” approach is that while it might serve as some sort of secret handshake for those in the know (“Situationism”, eh? Obviously not one of us), it flys in the face of standard English usage.

    I suppose the objection is that abstracting the activities of the -ists into an -ism fossilies the action and creates an ideology out of it.

    Perhaps there is a risk of that, but I think that risk is outweighed by the risks attached to using “in” jargon that only insiders understand.

    If something (an activity, an idea) is worth discussing, it worth discussing in language that anyone can follow. The ghettoisation of language is something that used to trap me intellectually during my “fanatic” days.

    Today we think there is such a thing as “Romanticism”, thus Blake, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth et al all get lumped together as “Romantic Poets.” But this term would have been meaningless at the time, and the poets we now group together as part of that school would have had little or no sense of working together on a shared project. Thus Blake dismissed Wordswoth as a “pagan philosopher”, and Byron though Blake was a crackpot. The term “Romanticism” was applied retrospectively, and really it only makes sense after the event.

    One could say much the same about any other literary, artistic or aesthetic movement that has an -ism attached to it. But does that -ism create or indicate an ideology? Perhps it does, but I think that’s reading far to much into it.

    Even with political movements I think that saying an -ism is an ideology is going too far, since an ideology requires more substance than a mere suffix can provide.

    Take anarchism for example. It can be applied to such a diversity of ideas as to render the term almost meaningless: radical individualism, ultra-libertarian freemarket economics, factories run by workers’ councils, violent revolution to overthrow the state, peaceful resistance to all authority, government without parties, anti-civilization “primitivism”, syndicalism, left-wing socialism, &ct., &ct., &ct.

    Nevertheless, we think the term is meaningful because we can abstract from this diverse and sometimes conflicting group of ideas and practices certain commonalities, for instance anti-statism, that can be defined as anarchism, which is practiced by people called anarchists. Nevertheless, the -ism that we derive from “anarchy” and “anarchist” seems to be to be far too vauge to be called an “ideology”.

    I think the same applies to “situationism”. Perhaps situationsits might object to the -ism derived from their practices in that it suggests a body of ideas and actions that have become fixed and immutable, an ideology in short. But as I’ve said, I think thats going too far. There is/was sufficient diversity (and sometimes conflict) between situationists to prevent a mere suffix from fossilising their ideas and actions into an ideology.

    For me it’s just a fairly vague term (unlike the SI, which is specific) that describes a set of ideas and actions from within a given historical context that share sufficient commonality to warrant an -ism, just as I use the term “Romanticism” as a kind of linguistic shorthand when in fact I know it is retrospective, and covers a host of differences, conflicts, &ct.

  120. Graham Burnett Says:

    Is it true that when once asked ‘what is situationism’ at a press conference, Debord replied “I’m not here to answer cuntish questions” and stormed out of the room?? Maybe I should try that approach the next time I’m asked to define ‘permaculture’ and see where it gets me!!

  121. alistairliv Says:

    “The Situationists, whose judges you perhaps imagine yourselves to be, will one day judge you. We are waiting for you at the turning.” On this vaguely threatening note Maurice Wyckaert, speaking for the Situationist International, wrapped up a rant at London’s Institute for Contemporary Arts in 1961. One baffled member of the audience (or was he a plant?) asked just what was “Situationism” all about? Guy Debord arose to announce, in French, “We’re not here to answer cuntish questions,” whereupon the Situationists walked out.

    In a publicity brochure issued several years ago, the ICA recalled the event as “a conference whose chairman was stone deaf, whose main speaker spoke no English, and whose participants denied that the meeting existed.” (Actually they only denied that its topic existed, since the Situationists defined “Situationism” as a nonsense word coined by anti-Situationists.) The ICA, as we shall see, has taken its revenge.

    From The Realization and Supression of Situationism
    by Bob Black… article continues at

    Although the Situationists boasted that theirs “was the best effort so far toward getting out of the twentieth century,” they never made it over the wall. Their old foil the London ICA, among others, several years ago returned them to their cells in the world they’d made their break from.

    Their art made the rounds at three prestigious avant hip venues. In 1989-1990, “On the Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time” – named after a Guy Debord film he will no longer permit to be shown – went from the Musee national d’art moderne (Centre Georges Pompidou) in Paris to the London ICA and on to the Boston ICA where I took it in. As delicately phrased by the catalog, the exhibit posed “a unique museological challenge,” much as the remains of a downed UFO pilot would present a funeral home with a unique mortuary challenge.

  122. Mike Diboll Says:

    Well, like it or not we’re all out of the C20th now. The “Situationism is a nonsense word” position was, I think, articulated in 1958, in the middle of said last century.

    Since then so much has changed, not least of all in Situation-ism. Surely the passage if time allows us the -ism without being accused of being “an ideologist” (can “ideology” in the bstract accept an -ist?).

    Here’s to a less pedantic tone on this thread!

  123. alistairliv Says:

    Ah, but have we really left the 20th century? Historians (or to be terminally pedantic, some historians) talk about ‘long centuries’ for example:

    the long seventeenth century runs from 1580 to 1715 – approximately.

    The long nineteenth century runs from 1789 to 1918.

    And not to be out done, the long eighteenth century stretches from 1688 to 1815 (or even 1832).

    There is also a short twentieth century – 1914 to 1991.

    If the current global economic crisis turns out to be really bad, and you throw in peak oil and global climate change, either the twentieth century will have to be extended to be 1918 – 2012 ish

    OR we have just lived through a very very short 21st century 1991 – 2009 and are about to enter a very very long 22nd century equivalent to a new Dark Age/ fall of western Roman Empire.

  124. baron von zubb Says:

    No time to carry on but a bloody good thread this is.
    Mike, how weird; like you I’ve been called ‘pagalwallah’ many a time, probably because by the time i got into Baluchistan i was classed as ‘pagal’ for doing the overland route at all, did it 3 times, shot AK’s and got invited to afghanistan by ‘chota dosti’ i’ve met.(I never went, it was the talib time). Even stayed in the refugee camp outside peshawar for a night or two. That was a blast.
    (I was known as ‘karakoram Jake’ for a bit ‘cos, posuer that i am, i dressed like a pathan for a decade. Still have the hats!!)
    Pashtuns are bloody good folk in many ways, its the most ‘different’ place ive been to. But their social system is not of this era. I make no judgement on that.
    I hope they boot us out of their country but get the program of not letting their mates launch planes at us.
    Im not an honourary brother but certainly had some good times with those wild men. Interestingly when in Swat it quickly became clear that they really hated the punjabi pakistans, rather than us infidels. And thats got a lot to do with whats going on now.
    Nice to talk with someone who knows that part of the world. I’ve probably met 5 people -tops- in my life whove been to N W F P.
    When there i even got to the point of asking people if they were ‘ben-i isreal’
    And that didnt always get a foul look. Some said yes. Blew me away.
    Its a very interesting part of secret hebrew/afghan history, the theory being that the Pashtu are one of the lost tribes. He he. Bloody yids, get everywhere…
    Gotta rush

  125. Graham Burnett Says:

    “the long seventeenth century runs from 1580 to 1715 – approximately.

    The long nineteenth century runs from 1789 to 1918.

    And not to be out done, the long eighteenth century stretches from 1688 to 1815 (or even 1832).

    There is also a short twentieth century – 1914 to 1991.”

    I’m confused. How does that work then???

  126. Mike Diboll Says:

    A good point you made about the “long” and “short” centuries, Alistair. The point is of course that chronological centuries don’t necessarily equate to people’s perceived historical significance of what happens in a “century”.

    “The Long Eighteenth Century” is well established. I have taught it out here in Bahrain as 1660-1982.

    The original idea was that students got the Restoration, the Englightenment and Romanticism as the “long” century.

    Out here in the Gulf the English Restoration means diddly-squat, where as religious fundamentalism is a pressing contemporary reality. Thus I take it from the end of the Puritan Commonwealth, look at the Restoration in terms of how it was instrumental in making Enlightenment thought minstream in England, then go on to rationalsim, the Augustan age, the American and French revolutions, a bit of Romanticism, and how certain Enlightenment ideas continue in the form of Utilitarianism.

    1832 is an arbitary cut off point, there’s the first Reform Act, the rise of Chartism, the death of Shelly, &ct.; Byron, the last of the great Romantics dies in 1836, then Victoria comes to the throne in 1837. What follows, high Empire, the factories, organised labour, the railways, municipal government, health and education reforms, the rbeginnings of electricity, and other technological developments seem more “Victorian/C19th”, and I agree, this “belated” C19th continues until 1914. I also like the “short C20th”, 1914-1991!

  127. Mike Diboll Says:

    bahoot boRah achaa, Jake-bhai! Yes, I can imagine that spending some time in places like Pashtunistan would put “ideological” discussions like the recent one about whether or not “situtaion” can take an -ism as well as an -ist in a different perspective!

    Yes too, the Pashtuns are about as “Other” as you’re likely to find, short of seeking out a tribe of cannibals who’ve never seen a white man somewhere in Papua New Guinea or the Amazon basin.

    But I really liked them, straight down the line, no-shit people. I say “Pashtunistan” because if such a country existed all sorts of problems and threats to world and regional peace would be solved. Such a place would basically be southern and eastern Afghanistan, and NWFP and the tribal areas in Pakistan.

    The Pathans lost out because British-Russian rivalry in south Central Asia (Kipling’s “Great Game”) demanded an ultimately unviable “Afghanistan” as a buffer state. The peoples of the region have certainly lost out big time through decades of intractible war, civil war, terrorism, and invasion.

    Likewise Kurdistan, which exists in a sort of de facto way in the north of Iraq, but which really lost out because it was positioned at the intersection of various imperial interests, Ottoman (later Turkish), British (Iraq), French (Syria), Iranian and Russian. Again, the world would be a more peaceful place if a Kurdistan had been allowed to come into being. I like the Kurds too, hardy, no-nonsense mountain people like the Pathans, though also rivven by sectarian and tribal rivalry. I spent some time in the Turkish and Iraqi bits of Kurdistan in the days when it was safe(-ish) to do so.

    Sure, a Pashtunistan would be a wild and chaotic, dare I say an “anarchic” state (if that’s not contradiction in terms). There would be on-going sectarian and tribal conflic, for thus is the Way of the Pashtun (Pashtunwalla), but then it would be the Pashtun’s problem, not everybody elses!

    I mean “anarchic” in both the colloquial and the political sense. A Pashtun government would be almost as much a contradiction in terms as an anarchist one. Instead, they govern themselves and solve disputes by “jirgas”, warriors’ councils headed by tribal elders, which, I suppose, aren’t a million miles away from the soldiers’ councils found Durrutti’s Spain. Famously, everyone (or every man) has “the right to bear arms”, lots of them. Feminism, it is true, has hardly made great strides among the Pashtuns, but I seem to remember our anarchist crowd being a pretty male-dominated lot. Pashtuns do lots of drugs too, mainly “chirs” (raw opium) and hashish. True, they can sometimes be fircely Islamic, in a kind of Deobandi, Sunni way, but much of the time Pashtunwalla overides Islamic shariah, de facto if not de jure.

    Of all the many weird and wonderful claimants to be the “Lost Tribe of Israel”, the Pathans are perhaps the most plausible. Not for any objective historical, ethnic or geographical reason, but because in their feuding, backsliding, and sheer bloody mindedness they resemble the “Bani Yisra’el” of the Torah/Old Testement better than any others I can think of.

    You’re spot on too about how the Pathans see the lowland Pakistanis of the Punjab. “Bahrat”, “India” is a swear word among the Pathan, but one gets the impression that “Bahrat” starts somewhere about a hundred clicks south of Peshawar. Wo log boRah gando-khan-ooN hey!

  128. alistairliv Says:

    The long (or short) centuries are attempts by historians to chop the past up into manageable chunks, into ‘periods’ which become specialist subject areas.

    So if you are looking at the impact of the French Revolution, it caused a big splash and set off whole series of events which rippled round the world.

    These ripples did not stop in 1801, but carried on into the 19th century, for example via the Napoleonic wars. The problem then is : where is the cut-off point? The next major upheaval was World War One so that gets used as a handy way to separate 19th century history from 20th century history…

    It is confusing since these are goal posts which (unlike calendar centuries) can be moved about and argued over. But then arguing over such details is what academic historians do – rather like in Orwell’s 1984, the job of the historian is to endlessly edit and ceaselessly re-write history.

  129. Mike D Says:

    “But then arguing over such details is what academic historians do – the job of the historian is to endlessly edit and ceaselessly re-write history.”

    Tell me about it. I love reading History, more or less a hobby of mine. Also, my approach to Lit. Crit. is broadly “Historicist” (and Comparativist).

    That said, really my favourite sort of History writing is the old-fashioned narrative sort. Really that’s what “History” is, a form of storytelling, albeit of an informed and researched nature, with all the subjectivity that implies.

    To claim History is “science” is bunk. I’ve heard several self-styled Marxist historians make this claim, but my experience of them is that they’d twist and distort anything to make it fit the ideology, so their methods really was about as scientific as the moon being made of cheese.

    You see something similarly ideological with right-wing revisionist historians, for instance with Niall Ferguson, the “British Empire Was A Force For Good” guy, although the insistence on being “scientific” isn’t quite so shrill.

  130. Ian S Says:

    “Not for any objective historical, ethnic or geographical reason, but because in their feuding, backsliding, and sheer bloody mindedness they resemble the “Bani Yisra’el” of the Torah/Old Testement better than any others I can think of.”

    One of the world’s highest rates of cousin marriage too iirc.

    Nothing like keeping it in the family to encourage clannishness and all that goes with it, high loyalty to those within the circle and fierce feuding with those outside.

  131. Mike D Says:

    With the Pathans it’s not a question of “keeping it in the family to encourage clannishness. . . .”, since this implies an ulterior motive, deviousness, manipulation, &ct.

    For the wild men of the mountains it just ain’t like that. They “keep it in the family” because they’re tribal societies, tribal and little else; they’re pre-everything that makes us us (even when we rebel against it): pre-modern, pre-nation state, pre-money (gold and AKs are bartered instead), pre-law, even Islam has to play second fiddle to the fierce demands of Pashtunwalla, “The Way of the Pashtun”.

    Who you are in the tribe, the sub-tribe, the clan, the sub-clan is the beginning and end of who you are. That’s why they are so ready to die for the honour of the tribe, it’s nothing to do with Jihad and the rest of it; if someone in the tribe is killed by an outsider, be that outsider a Pashtun from a different tribe, and Soviet soldier, a British squaddie, or an American drone, honour must be satisfied, since without honour life means nothing and isn’t worth living.

    Am I romanticising it? A bit. Am I advocating it as some kind of model for the rest of the world? No. would I like to live like that? No again.

    But the positive side of the way they live is a kind of crazy sincerity, and a painful, almost touching mixture of earnestness and nievity, like the time one of them saw my Christmas tree and fixing this strange idol (“boot”, from “Buddha” is the word for idol) with a stare from his steel grey eyes said “tumhaara Eid Plant boRa achaa hey!”

    I really consider it an honour to have known them. More than that, for being there for one in the alien environment of a hospital when no clan member was present I earned the man’s undying (literally) friendship, and the loyalty of his clansmen who would defend me with their lives. For by helping their cousin, the code of Pashtunwalla meant I was one of them, an honourary (again, literally “honourary”) Pashtun of the Waziri clan. Because helping a fellow tribesman counted for more than anything else, my white skin, Islam, the American bombing that daily shook the windows in my friends hovel, the lot, even the fact that I was “pagaal”.

  132. Ian S Says:

    Fascinating accounts by the way from you and BVZ, what adventures!

    Mike, I didn’t word it very well and didn’t mean to imply that Pashtuns or anyone other people who practice cousin marriage in a big way do so to encourage clannishness. More that that is a likely result.

    How families are made up varies so much around the world but I don’t think it is by chance that countries which produce mass industrialised societies with big organisations like corporations, mechanised armies, a civil service, welfare states and so on, are also those which have small nuclear families where people tend to marry unrelated individuals.

    Nor that those in control of nation-states have sometimes deliberately set out to undermine clan systems in the past. They wanted to eliminate other focuses of loyalty.

    It was completely ridiculous hearing the likes of Condoleeza Rice and others try to argue that because Germany and Japan had been occupied at the end of WW2 and remade as compliant liberal democracies, that the same could be done in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  133. baron von zubb Says:

    Just to bring this back to punk if i may.
    Just had a couple of weeks in occidental mediteranian. Sth Turkey. Big nature, mountains, rivers, sea, sun, rain, hail, groves of lemon, orange, pomigranate, olives, wild herbs everywhere. Good shit.
    I havent had any time away on the land since this mad bad KYPP stuff started. Usually get a couple of months in the winter. This year not though.
    Really cleared my head.
    And I remembered how fucking different things were then.
    For me, for all of us.
    I mean we were so full of hate. I wasn’t alone in that.
    And i knew others who weren’t, my girlfriend at the time for example.
    It was like a hate contest. What was that all about?
    Who could hate the most things the most.
    Hated the Pistols cos they sold out. Hated the Crass cos they were hippies.
    Hated skins cos they were skins. Hated punks cos they were posuers.
    Yeah i know the Clash wrote about it first.
    Mike putting the window through at 66A in a fit of anger. About what?
    The argumants round the kitchen table about who or what was the newest figure of hate.
    The fisticuffs. All about what?
    Testosterone? Stupidity? ‘The times’?
    And when we started using?
    That became the new competition.
    Me and wank hated people who didnt use. Like we’d only been using for a couple of weeks.
    And Campbell Buildings may now being reconstructed as a glorious haven but christ as a group of people we were no differnt from the scousers.
    If we could’ve terrorised them as they did us we would ‘ave. But we weren’t even that united! And personally I was too young and green to know how to. But I wanted to. We all did.
    Not all punks ended up squatting & living off tuinol and mugging and killing and dying young.
    What WAS that all about?
    Ram Ram.

  134. alistairliv Says:

    What I remember are a several conversations which troubled me about family backgrounds. I was surprised / shocked to hear personal stories about physical / sexual abuse and generally damaged and damaging families.

    That there were a lot of young people who had run away or otherwise escaped from abusive or intolerable homes (or had been in care) and ended up homeless on the streets in London. The same process must have gone on before and carries on to the present.

    The difference was that punk provided an alternative identity and via squats – an alternative community. But a community made up of lots of disturbed teenagers was not a stable community. The punk squats did not have the countercultural coherence of the older hippy ones – where the mix often included families.

    Apart from both being squats, there are few similarities between Campbell Buildings and Brougham Road. I don’t think many people have positive memories of Campbell Buildings, but many do have positive memories of Brougham Road.

  135. Sam Says:

    I can’t see anyone reconstructing Campbell Buildings as anything other than the ultimate den of iniquity, but I know what you mean. I think it was largely learned behaviour and the eventual inability to see anything in a positive light. We taught ourselves to see the bad in everything – sex, music, entertainment, family, education…you name it. Having said that, listen to Joy Division; “When will it end? when will it end?” etc…
    It was partly the mood of the times. I think with punk, playing at despair and anger was a thrill at first, but it soon changed into the real thing. I never quite get nostalgic about all this. There’s always a part of me that remembers the darkness of it and I’m glad it’s gone.
    It was very hip to be ‘fucked up’ in some way. Later, in the early eighties it became hip to be depressed. Most of this was self-indulgent pleas for sympathy.
    Mind you, melancholia is traditionally the Romantic creative state, and we certainly were creative.
    I think some of it may be the natural tendencies of groups of people to play stuff out like disfunctional families. Although we would have denied it at the time, there were always power struggles going on and the unholier-than-thou competitions were a part of that. Plus, punk lost its sense of humour with Crass and there was no going back. Self-deprecation was replaced with pious dogma.
    And…on the other hand, many of the teenagers and even 30 somethings I know have this bland Prozac positivity that I find even more bleak. Everything’s ‘cool’, ‘it’s all good’. Some of it is still shite.

  136. baron von zubb Says:

    Good posts Sirs.
    About community and the romantic mindset.
    It was dark. Maybe they were dark times.
    When i look back i think we were darker than the times. And maybe we were just a load of self indulgent wastrels.

    We could have sat around listening to Joan Armartrading or Santana..

    It certainly seems to be recreated in that light by the tele.
    3 day weeks, Yorkshire rippers, ‘riots’ , Blair Peach, N F, only 3 channels.
    Ooh it were right mad it were.
    And hey old punks never die. I’m with you there about this current bland ‘all is cool’ shite.
    What ever happened to youth folks critical faculties?
    But then we would say that..

  137. Mike Diboll Says:


    For so long now I’ve put “that” time behind me, so much so that I think I got into denial over what it was all about. I’ve only recently been able to think about it, let alone write about it, largely on these KYPP threads. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so.

    If were to avoid being just another nostalgia or retro site about some imagined “good old days” we have to be honest. We weren’t fans of some pop or rock group, what we were into was far more intense than that. So to do it justice, we have to be honest, brutally honest.

    If “killing one’s pet puppy” is about symbolocally stripping away falsehoods (see KYPP home page), then I’m afraid there are a few spikey haired, nose-pierced pet puppys that are going to have to killed. But rather that then rose-tinted glasses, naff nostalgia, or hypocrisy.

    Yes, those days were full of hate. Hate, hate and more hate, all of it solipsistic and self-regarding. In that respect I regard them as evil. I know not everybody who reads the pages would agree with that. But frankly (and thankfully) not everybody went so far down the road of fanaticism, and evil-as-learned-behaviour, evil as habit, as we did.

    Perhaps “evil” is too strong a word? Perhaps. But I really to think that those days and subsequent scenes I got into have given me real in UK’s Al Qaaeda mimetics, the Real IRA, or for that matter gun and knife weilding teenage postcode murderers, violent street gangs, school shooter-uppers, teen suicide cults and pacts, &ct., &ct.

    To me the ideology is entirely secondary. Probably a Goth with a pump action down his trenchcoat or a spotty 13 year-old with an Uzi in his hoodie has just as much of an ideology (t least in embryonic form), as a wannbe AQ suicide bomber concocting “Mother of Satan” in his bedsit sink, or an unempolyed and unemployable scallywag putting a bullet through some poor sod’s head for a “united Ireland”. Or put another way maybe a wanna be Jihadi or one of the handful of people in the “Real IRA” is just as much a mindless, deluded thug as said school shooter or hoodie.

    Okay, so I dont think any of us got that far down the road of no return, but probably at least some of us went a lot further down that road than we’d like to imagine. Suppose there had been a real revolution, with real chaos to hide behind. I shudder to think of the crimes against humanity that at least some of us would have committed.

    I agree with you Sam about learned behaviour. What started out as a pose gradually became, at least for some of us, the real thing. This is undoubtedly true: we trained ourselves, and each other, in a kind of nihilistic, hate-filled solipsism and self-referentiality that led us into ever decreasing social circles of fanatics, until we (or at least some of us) finally impolded into our lonely, hate-filled selves, like so many Raskolnikovs.

    I once read about a tall bit-part actor with steely-blue eyes and a conveniently placed cheek scar who cut out a niche for himself playing SS officers &ct in the mny WW2 movies of the 1950s and ’60s. He started out as a humane man who had ambitious ideas for his acting career. He became more and more convincing in his Nazi roles, but flopped when offered other parts. Then he started ordering people about on set and talking to them like shit. Next he would answer his door in uniform and in character, then he started going to the newsagents or the pub in character. Even the Nazi parts dried up. He went insane, then died. Thank God there wasn’t a real Nazi Party for him to join, but I suppose in the 1930s there were many like him who enthusiastically joined the real NSDAP.

    I don’t think that in our punk days we were that much different, those of us who went more than halfway down the road of no return. And we all of us knew people who went all the way down that road, and died in horrible circumstances in their teens, 30 years ago.

    But you’re also right about the creativity. That was there, that was really there, and on the more positive side it is something to be recalled and celebrated, what isn’t utterly lost and forgotten. But what happened to the creative side? As I recall it wasn’t drugs, violence or self harm that finished it off, but the drab uniformity of fanaticism, and its side-kick, humourlessness. You’re dead right there.

    Yes, Alistair, I know there were some punks who had gone through hellish childhoods of abuse, violence and care. I had a child with one of them. But there were plenty of others who had kind, loving parents who genuinely only wanted the best for their kids.

    My Dad was a working class Cockney. In the closing days of WW2 and the ocupation of Germany. Working in radio signals he worked his nuts of at night school after the war and set himself in business (with the help of a certain notorious slum landlord and various other dodgy dealings) in the newly emerging consumer industry of television (selling, renting and servicing, not being on telly!). He did well for himself and moved out to Biggin Hill in Kent, and showered my sister and I with whatever we wanted, so that we would never know real poverty like he had as a child.

    But selfish bastard here had to make out that he too was an “old cunt”, no different to the parents who were abusers, part of the system, part of the problem, not the solution, &ct, &ct. Sure, I grew out of it. But I look back in deep shame that some screwed up fanaticism made me think like that about someone who had only wanted the best for me and who supported me (against the police, for example), even when he knew I ws going wrong.

    Looking back at the squats and housing co-ops I lived in, I can’t really recall anything positive about them. Nearly all I can recall is ever increasing drug abuse, alcoholism, violence, petty crime and fiddles, self harm, and fanaticism. Perhaps the early days, say the first month or two, at 66a was an exception.

  138. Mike Diboll Says:


    I take your point about the eastern Mediterranean, its climate, topography and way of life; I really love it. I once lived for a year in Turkey, and much later spend a few months in Crete, well away from the tourist shite way up in the mountains. When you walk through the wild thyme and sage it is like a natural aroma therapy, and the quality of the light is utterly amazing. I spent a good few months in Sicily, in the near-Arab west of the island, that was really good too, ditto Sardinia. I once had a Maltese lover; the Maltee language is amazing, more or less Arabic written in Latin letters with lots of Italian, French and Latin words. The islands of the eastern and central Med still fascinate me, almost the Middle East or North Africa, but not quite, part of the EU, but hardly Europe: a living refutation of “the clash of civilizations”; civilizations can blend and meld too. I’d like to work in Lebanon, but these days I’m a family man and therefore (at last) “responsible”. Tomorrow I’m off to the Good Friday mass at the Catholic church in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. I’ll go to the mass in Arabic, where the congregation is mostly Leb or Syrian; many come over the causeway from Saudi, where churches are forbidden. Manama even has a small synagogue, and the Bahraini ambassedor to the US is a Bahraini Jew, whise ancestors were on the island before Islam. The mass celebrated in Arabic reminds me of the religion’s Middle Eastern origins. Yes, the olives, the pommegranates, the lemons, the wild thyme. . .so much better than all that hate-filled shit. But then the eastern Med has its own woeful history, and is no stranger to hate.

  139. Graham Burnett Says:

    But isn’t thinking that our parents were ‘old cunts’ part of the job description for being a young person, and always has been and always will be, just like being the first generation to invent sex?

  140. Mike Diboll Says:

    Sure, I take you point, Graham. But what shocks me is the sheer intensity of the way I thought then, the fanaticism. Everyone goes through that stage, but not everyone dwells on it and pushes it to its furthest conclusions. And is proud of it, proud in the worst possible sense.

    Freud of course would say that the son’s existential struggle against the father is universal and therefore inevitable and we shouldn’t be surprised, &ct. That it’s the thing that divides the consciousness upon itself and is therefore the origin of the symbolic order, all art, all culture, &ct., &ct. But then who the fuck was Freud but one creative writer amid a plethora? A doctor? No! Certainly I wouldn’t want to be treated by him.

    I’m sensitive to these things, as my own family life is complex: I have a daugher of 27, step children of 25 and 23, grandchildren of 11 and 4; a son of 12 and a daughter of 4 months. I try to be good to them all, but I’d hate it if my son thought the way I used to think about my father. My “older” children have every reason to think me an “old cunt”, and worse. But they don’t.

    So my bit of paricidal fantasy was what, yet another pose? There is, I’m sure, a value in recalling our youthful egotism (otherwise I wouldn’t spend time writing it), but we should shy away I think from celebrating it, lest we become real “old cunts”, hyopcritically nostaligic about the “old days”.

    Wasn’t there a punk song or two about that?


  141. Sam Says:

    The teenager was a 50s marketing invention. Apparently before that you were a child, then you left school and went to work and entered adulthood. I felt a lot of guilt too Mike, especially with the drugs. My folks knew I was fixing up smack and, as a parent I can only imagine the constant worry with no way of stopping it other than calling the law.
    Having said that, we all grew up in a country that was still incredibly staid, rooted in medieval class ideas and institutionally racist and sexist. Siouxie Sioux grew up in Petts Wood, Kent (where my Grandmother lived and not a million miles from Biggin Hill, Mike) and it amazes me she was wandering around in all the fetish wear in 1974-5. Suburbia par excellence and she must have horrified all the retired colonels and little Englanders. The change was on the cards and we were lucky to be a part of it. Much of it turned incredibly dark, as has been said but, looking back on it, I always felt stifled by my upbringing and my parents DID drive me up the wall as a teenager. I still love them but what happens happens, and I wouldn’t really change a thing. The hard lessons I learned in regards to Anarchism and all that bollocks has stood me in good stead. Never trust anyone who claims to have the answers, be it politics, religion or anything else. And, people are people with all their faults and failings and imperfection is far more interesting than utopia.

  142. Ian S Says:

    “Siouxie Sioux grew up in Petts Wood, Kent (where my Grandmother lived and not a million miles from Biggin Hill, Mike) and it amazes me she was wandering around in all the fetish wear in 1974-5. Suburbia par excellence and she must have horrified all the retired colonels and little Englanders.”

    She probably had them scrabbling for the Yellow Pages to find out where the ‘She an Me’ fetish clothes shop was based (it was opposite Olympia in West London).

  143. Graham Burnett Says:

    Mike said >”we should shy away I think from celebrating it, lest we become real “old cunts”, hyopcritically nostaligic about the “old days”.”

    Dick from Subhumans/Citizen Fish gave me a badge when I bumped into him at a Reclaim The Streets event a few years back which said “Old punks don’t die, they just stand at the back…”

    On that note, I sometimes attend the Steve Pegrum (ex-Sinyx & Kronstadt Uprising) organised Southend on Sea ‘Punk Reunion’ gigs where greying, balding and paunched ex-punks from back in the day get together to reform the bands from days of yore, and indeed we do stand around like ‘old cunts’. Or so a much younger red mohicaned chappie made a point of yelling at us as he leapt around at the front, giving us the ‘wanker’ sign; “you’re a bunch of old cunts, where’s yer fuckin’ energy, all standing around tapping yer feet…”

    5 minutes later I came across him sparked out unconscious slumped over a table near the bar, pint still in hand… Ah youth, eh?

  144. Mike Diboll Says:

    “. . .gigs where greying, balding and paunched ex-punks from back in the day get together to reform the bands from days of yore, and indeed we do stand around like ‘old cunts’.”

    Yes, but where was he when punk meant something (however fucked up those days seem from the perspective of a 50 year-old)? And slumped over a pint, eh? What ever happened to the heroic alcohol and drug abuse and “carry on wasted” ethos of my old wayward years?

    For the record, I still have a full head of (long) hair, and the only grey that shows though is in my beard on those occasions whaen I’ve not been arsed to shave for a week or so. I put a huge amount of physical, emotional and intelectual energy into my very “kinesthetic” approach to teaching. And no gut either!

    That said, I shouldn’t be flash about it. Sometimes I stare vacantly into an open fridge thinking “what the fuck did I open this fridge to get?” Then I get para about the prospect of some horrible brain disease catching up with me, born of past chemical abuse of the brain (especially my early 1990s MDMA phase, post-Islam, pre-Christianity).

    /’in shaa’ aLLaah/, Deo volente, there’s no problem there. “And all shall be right, and all shall be right, and all manner of thing shall be right”, /’in shaa’ aLLaah/! Now my mother suffers from Alzhiemers, and my mother-in-law is in her 25th year of early-onset Parkinsons; both, apparently, brought on by those “Valley of the Dolls” years in the 1960s and ’70s when middle class (boo! hiss!) housewives were kept permentantly strung out on prescription tranqs.

    I know of a few pub-rock pubs in and near Brighton (where my parents and sister now live) where “old” greying, balding pot-bellied once-punks go through the classics, where down a good few pints of wonderful real ale, Harveys fron Sussex, Adnams and Greene King from East Anglia, like a prisoner on his first day of freedom. How wonderful those first few pints are, the first downed in three gulps, after the fizzy largers and non-Irish Guinness on offer in Bahrain! At these gigs I certainly do more than “stand at the back”! Then regret it later, not because of a hangover, but because I know I must have looked like a silly fool the night before.

    These are wicked sessions (in every sense), and musically on a par with the best I’ve been lucky enough to witness in my life: Sufi music in eastern Turkey; Pashtun qawali; jazz and blues in Chicago NYC and New Orleans; organ recitals in Sussex’s Anglo-Catholic churches; “Tribal” trance befoire it became a cliche; Dexys and Squeez in London pubs before they became famous; the Leonard Cohen and Dylan that this old fart listens to as he drives his classic Land Rover to work (car audio inaudible after about 40 mph).

  145. Graham Burnett Says:

    Alcohol (more specifically beer) was always my drug of choice Mike, I have a luverly bottle of Hopback Summer Lightning beside me as I type, and I’ve always liked pub culture (proper pubs that is), even in the punk days a good percentage of my socialising was with my non-punk friends over real ales in ‘proper’ boozers… Maybe that was what kept me from the nihilistic spirals of self-destruction that you so eloquently described before… Even when I used to go to the late (un)lamented Autonmy Centre in Wapping which was one of my first encounters with the darker factionalism and implosiveness of the Anarcho-punk scene I used to nearly always stop off at the Prospect of Whitby just around the corner for a couple of pints beforehand. I’m afraid I never really ‘got’ drug culture. I took speed once in a mod club in 1980 and fell asleep, and dropped a handful of my mate’s mums Vallium on the night of the Queens Jubilee in 1977 and spent the night roaming the streets spraying anti-royalist graffitti and pulling down bunting set up for the next days street parties. As both of these drugs affected me in completely opposite ways to the ways they were meant to I never tried anything stronger. I’d probably spend the evening scowling at strangers rather than luvvin them up if I took MDMA… And smoking dope just makes me paranoid, not touched it for years…

  146. Mike Diboll Says:

    “Alcohol (more specifically beer) was always my drug of choice Mike, I have a luverly bottle of Hopback Summer Lightning beside me as I type”

    Stop it, you’re torturing me! I forgot to mention Shepherd Neame (an the old joke to the bar made about “Give me a (Bishop’s) Finger), and London brews Fullers and Youngs. I never quite got the thing about northern beer. . .utter piss!

    The “Prospect”, tell me about it! In the late ’90s I used to live in Rotherhithe across the river. Weekends, I’d get the East London Line to get an authentic Bengali takeaway over Wapping way, taking in on the way the Mayflower directly opposite on the other side of the river, then the Prospect. My wife always complianed how the curry was cold.

    Years before, I’d sat frowning in the Prospect over anarchist copy before taking it to Little @ printers.

    My wife and I were married in St. Mary’s Rotherhithe, directly across the river from Little @ (by then yuppie apartments) in December 1997, by Fr. Nick, a quite boozy Anglo-Catholic priest who’d know the area in its really bad old (gangster) days. He died of a heart attack a couple of year ago, God bless “Nick the Vic”, as he was fondly remembered in the Bermondsey pubs.

    My even boozier mate Ray ran “La Maison” restaurant in Rotherhithe, just across from St. Mary’s. He was the real “Cockney lad made chef”, not at all like that Mockney twat Oliver (they’d been at the same chef’s school). Ray was a diamond geezer, until some drunken fuckwit stabbed him to death in his restaurant in 2003. God bless him too, this Easter Sunday.

    Even though his menu was expensive and quite beyond my means except on anniversaries, &ct he used to call me in when he saw me coming back with said weekend Bengali curries, and used to invite me in for a wine bucket or too. So the curry was even colder when I got in, and my poor darling wife that much more vexed.

    As for the rest of it, the chemicals, the opiates, &ct., don’t regret not doing it. Drugs fuck you up! I’m not being ironic (well, I am a bit); no, I’m being truthful. Seriously, I mean it. Something really terrible happened to someone I loved deeply at a time when if I wasn’t strung out I could have done something about it.

    True, the chemicals open the doors of perception (really they do, at least until you get to depend on them), and opiates make ever kind conceivable kind of pain so, so distant (until you’re in agony without them). But all this comes at a terrible, terrible price.

    You get a certain sort of insight too. For instance I can never take seriously cliches about “religion is the opium of the people” from ideologists who’ve never done opiates. But again, the price paid for the insights is far, far too high (sic). Leave it, don’t regret it. You did the right thing.

    I’ll stick with my miserable Bahraini Heinekin, and phantasise about my first pint of Greene King I’ll down when, /’in shaa’ aLLaah/ I’m on my summer vacation in the UK. My wife and kids are in the UK for a month, so while they’re away I’ll endulge my other guilty pleasure, a nice cigar. Out here they’re tax-free and you can get a nice Cuban Cohiba for the price of a packed of Malboro Lites in the UK. Better fumiagate the house before she gets back though!

  147. Penguin Says:

    I always enjoyed going down the Prospect Of Whitby, still go there from time to time. Cider is the main thing for me nowadays, and even that little luxury is quite a rare occurence compared to what I would or could swallow up on a binge in the past…Have dabbled a fair bit in most of the grade A’s. Knocked it all out to touch now thankfully.

  148. Mike Diboll Says:

    My very last experience with illegal d-rugs was at my wedding reception in a Bermondsey pub in December 1997. A mate brought along shed loads of Uncle Carlos from Columbia as a wedding present. It went well with the Champagne. That was the very last time, and I’ve not at all missed any of it since.

    Yes, I like a pint. But then I like a sunrise and the smile on my baby daughter’s face; I like the velvet black of a desert sky with 3-D stars and milky way, distant glaxies and the International Space Station racing Venus agains the evening sky (the air’s that clear deep in the desert; I like a good book, the more obscure the better (recent bedtime reading: a 800 page history of the American Civil War, a biography of St. Augustine, and various obscure grammars of dead Middle Eastern languages); I like the smell of my wife’s hair when it’s wet, and so on and so forth.

    Against all this, the chemical illusions and alkoliod succour are pretty weak stuff. But what I’d do for a pint of Adnams right now:

    “Hurry up Harry come on. weeee’re goin’ down the pub. . . .” What was ever the harm in this little bit of blokey mindlessness. A little cry of joy, however naff, silenced by the humourlessness of never-neverland radicalism and self-harming “existentialism”. Whatever. . . .

  149. Graham Burnett Says:

    Here’s some more recent images from Dial House from various courses and visits over the last few years

    Last years Permaculture Design Course

    General Dial House garden pics

    Permaculture for Children and families weekend July 2007

  150. Mike Diboll Says:

    “About community and the romantic mindset. It was dark. Maybe they were dark times.”

    I always try to impress on my students that Romanticism isn’t just about a bunch of druggy idealists who lived circa 1790-1836, but that we live with the regretable fall out from Romanticism today.

    Romanticism isn’t just about hosts of golden daffs & that sort of thing. There’s “Dark Romanticism” that starts with Coleridge’s poetic fables, then Byron’s so-called “Satanic” Romantic egotism (“Manfred” & stuff), goes on to Frankenstine, Edgar Alan Poe, Stoker’s Drac., and eventually Lovecraft & similar, the modern horry story and horror movie, &ct. I suppose somewhere along the line that sort of Romanticism fed into the Golden Dawn, Crowley, et al.

    But far darker was the way in which mainstream non-dark Romanticism developed in continental Europe, especially Germany. From innocent-ish beginnings in Beethoven’s musical tribute to Napoleon, to Wagner, to the Third Reich and the sort of Romantic Nazi nationalist aesthetic we see in “Triumph of the Will” and stuff, so skillful, and all the worst for it (what ever happened to Goethe?).

    There was always that nasty anti-Semitic trend in Romanticism that contrasted the heights on depths of the European mind that climbed the Alps and sailed the depths with the shallow, desert-dust-dry rationality of the Jews (there’s a paralell trend in modern anti-Arab anti-Semitism).

    There’s even an Anarchist-Romantic-Strausserite-Fascist-Third Positionist trend in the form of “National Anarchism”; former bootboys gone Green, now they’re too balding and pot-bellied to kick head? Maybe; but you can trace the intellectual threads back to Proudhon, Kropotkin, Stirner, et al.

    Then there’s naff Romanticism that’s not so much dark as stupid, and is still alive and kicking in Hollywood, “Titanic”, Valentine’s Day, and that sort of thing.

    Come back Wordsworth, all is forgiven! But then in late middle age he forsook his quasi-pagan pantheism for Trinitarian Christianity in the form of the C of E, old fart!

    Why do I write this stuff? To show of my book learning. Perhaps. But more than that, looking back I can see they way all these big picture intellectual and artistic currents fed into my TG and other punk work, although at the time I was too ignorant, arrogant, and pig-headxed to admit it.

    University? Pah! What could that teach me?

  151. Sam Says:

    I think Triumph of the Will is bastardised Classicism Mike. If you take Romanticism to be generally about nature being dominant/a fascination with non-western culture and thought and a fascination with the subconscious mind, Naziism really deals with a perverse rationalism. The will, logic and the intellect are very classical ideas.
    If you take the love interest out of Titanic, it’s the greatest Romantic event in history. Man’s intellect coupled with technology produces unsinkable ship. Nature swats it out on maiden voyage. I think Romanticism and its repercussions are very much with us today. And you can’t beat Turner, Goya, Blake and the rest. Funnily enough I think punk was unique for a while in that it didn’t really fit into any earlier models. Hippy was very romantic – personal liberty, free love, drugs, India, rural idyll etc..
    Punk may have complained about tower blocks and urban hells but we weren’t going to live in a teepee. Bloody Crass had to spoil it didn’t they?

  152. Sam Says:

    And your talk of pubs and ale has slayed me. I feel your pain. My chief pleasure in returning to Blighty is sitting in some old, woody pub with a bunch of good mates and bullshitting. It is very heaven. And all the pubs are going apparently to be replaced by apartments or theme pubs. Some of the pubs I’ve frequented are 200-300 years old. Three centuries of unique character and pissed up philosophising, passion (of all persuations) and humour. There are no pubs in the States. There are great bars but the British pub is a singular animal that cannot be replaced.

  153. Mike Diboll Says:

    “My chief pleasure in returning to Blighty is sitting in some old, woody pub with a bunch of good mates and bullshitting. It is very heaven. And all the pubs are going apparently to be replaced by apartments or theme pubs. . .”

    I could wax lyrical about a few I know, but obviously you know the vibe. Yes, the woodier and older the better, and obviously the wider the selection of ales the better to! Than there’s country pubs vs city pubs, &ct; but they’re all wonderful in their special ways.

    I wonder if I’d still feel the same way if I lived in the UK? Certainly absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, but I was hardly a stranger to “the pub” when I lived there.

    Still, not being able to take it for granted does help. Like with weather. How I love England’s moody, changable climate, especially deep autumn, serious winter, and early spring, the amazing effects of low angle light on clouds and water, the subtle, illuminated menage of greys.

    People in England think I’m nuts whan I talk like that, but I think if I see one more palm tree, sand dune or turquoise sea I’ll pull my hair out. It’s starting to seem odd to me that people in the UK spend great chunks of their disposable income to see these things for a week or two.

    Anyway, back to pubs. A different sort of pleasure in the late ’70s was the pub rock pub, pub rock bands, &ct. I’m pretty sure these have gone the way of all things by now, apart from amature band nights in locals, which can be very good.

    The British pub, especialy the “Free House” (beer not free, alas) has indeed been under threat for decades, from theme bars, chains, &ct. I hear the latest threat is the economic crisis. If all one wan’t to do is get pissed, it’s far cheaper to stock up at the local supermarket than pay 3 GBP per pint in a pub.

    You see old pubs turned into all sorts of things nowadays: doctors’ surgeries, solicitors offices, mosques, appartments. The old Prince of Orange in Rotherhithe used to be an excellent jazz pub, now it’s 10 little flats.

    The US sports bar is an institution. I like to get a stool at the bar and watch my $20 bill reduced to shrapnel (which doesn’t take too long these days) while I try to make sense of gridiron on the bank of TV screens before me.

    More than that I like the almost subterranian old bars nestled away deep in the bowels of public transport termini in NYC and Chicago. Again, your large bill gets reduced to small change as you wash down sour mash with some pissy larger-like brew and listen to the rush hour commuters come and gossip and go, while the barman’s heard it all and knows who comes and goes at what time almost to the second.

    Takes you back in your imagination to the days when such bars would have been thick with smoke and the men all wore hats.

  154. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi, Sam:

    Re Triumph of the Willies (weak humour, I was thinking of all those coal scuttle helmets and Roman salutes), I think the Romanticism comes in at the beginning: it’s all just clouds and mountains (like one of Wordsworth’s or Shelley’s mountain odes), Nazi tunes are played by what sounds like a Bavarian um-pah band, and gradually medieval Nurnberg appears through the clouds, all flags and gabled rooftops as the Furher’s three engined Fokker descends like some neoplatonic ideal of Germany made steel. Streams of SA cross ancient bridges like so many ants, simple farmers gaze up at the heavens, hysterical women and children jump up and down, waving and smiling, &ct, &ct. There are huge chunks of Romanticism in the whole Volkisch thing, but you’re right, the rest of it is cod-Classicism, all those squares of uniformed Nazis and massed public choreography, &ct. Mike

  155. Graham Burnett Says:

    > Anyway, back to pubs. A different sort of pleasure in the late ’70s was the pub rock pub, pub rock bands, &ct. I’m pretty sure these have gone the way of all things by now, apart from amature band nights in locals, which can be very good.

    Interesting that you talk of taking the sights of the Middle East for granted, when pub rock pubs is what I used to take for granted, living here in Southend on Sea, once R’n’B capital of the universe and brought up on a diet of regular gigs by Wilco Johnson, Dr Feelgood, Lew Lewis, Eddie and the Hot Rods, etc, etc, and many many third rate chancers who wanted to jump on the band-wagon… I think that is why punk felt so very very fresh at the time, especially local lads like the Machines and The Sinyx who if nothing else bucked the trend for doing umpteenth covers of Route 66. And of course learning that Crass lived just down the road… Possibly this is false memory syndrome again, but I’m sure I used to see the Mini with the horses painted on the side that is on the cover of Feeding The 5000 parked around Southend.

    Now of course the pub rock movement has indeed all but gone, the few pubs that do still have live entertainment mainly hosting ‘tribute’ acts and covers bands, which although sometimes entertaining are hardly groundbreaking in their creativity or innovativeness… Like Joni Mitchell once sung, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone…”

  156. Ian S Says:

    Mike wrote:

    “Maybe; but you can trace the intellectual threads back to Proudhon, Kropotkin, Stirner, et al.”

    Never read Stirner or Proudhon, but in the case of Kropotkin, I don’t see how that can be.

    Re. pubs closing. Loads have closed in recent years in south-east London. Even ones that turned a modest profit have been shut – the pubco’s figured they’d make more money selling them to developers to be turned into ‘luxury flats’. Or at least that was the case during the property boom years.

    The smoking ban hasn’t helped either, nor cheap booze in supermarkets. It’s a shame. There was a pub rock compilation CD put out year before last – lots of stuff by Roogalator, Radiators from Space, The Pirates and others. Only the Dr Feelgood tracks sounded any good imo.

  157. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Ian:

    First let me stress that of all the thinkers who might come under the (very) broad definition of “Anarchist” Kropotkin is perhaps the only one for whom I have any time these days (tellingly, in my old extremist days I used to think “prince” Kropotkin was the most compromised and “bourgeois” of the Anarchist thinkers).

    For instance, Kropotkin had credentials as a serious scientist (more so, say, than Engles), particularly his ideas about “mutual aid” as an alternative motor to evolution to “survival of the fittest”, “nature red in tooth and claw” &ct that are accepted so unctitically these days.

    Today evolutionists opposed to crude neo-Darwinists like Dawkin’s are reinventing Kropotkin’s mutual aid wheel, unaware (I think) of what the anarchist prince pioneered, Brian Goodwin is a case in point, and in an earlier generation E. F. Schumacher.

    Some of Kropotkin’s social-economic-political ideas come very close to the ideas espoused my Catholic Distributivist thinkers like G. K Chesterton, Hillaire Belloc, and Pope Pius XIII.

    Part of me is quite sympathetic to various forms of either Anarchist or Catholic Distributism as an alternative to free-market capitalism or socialism. However, I also know that looked at from a different perspective these ideas feed in to Strasserite Nazism, Moseley’s BUF Fascism, and more recent post-NF and BNP “Third Positionist” post-Fascism.

    For that matter, they also feed into Blairite arguments about the “Third Way”, and I’ve made a stand about this in print in my articles “The Duce of Downing Street” (Times, 6th August 1999), “Unite Against the Centre” (Spectator, November 1999), “One Nation Under a Groove” (Tribune, December 1999), and my contribution “Democracy Direct?” to the book “The Rape of the Constitution” (Imprint Academic, 2000).

    Was Blair a fascist? I would argue that he came closer to it than many people realise. Am I saying that Kropotkin was a Nazi, or that Mosley was an Anarchist? Of course not.

    But what I would say is that ideas that one is for good, humane reasons sympathetic to can lead into disturbing directions. I had a wake up call over this (and went into deep denial over it) during my anarcho-punk days when I found out about Pol Pot’s adoption of certaain Anarcho-Syndicalist ideas.

    I agree with Sam on this one, that all this goes to show the impossibility, unworkability, and unpredictability of political utopianism. Of course, one could convincingly argue that “Third Positionist” former bootboys are just jumping hypocritically on green and anti-globalisation bandwagons. No doubt they are.

    Yet on a deeper level the fact remains that there are so often genuine conceptual and theoretic consistencies between political ideas that one loves, and others that one loathes.

    Let’s get back onto the pub rock thing!

  158. alistairliv Says:

    Before going back to the pub, what about Hegel? As part of my Galloway Levellers research, I have just discovered that he was interested in and influenced by the theories of political economy first developed in Scotland e.g.
    James Steuart’s Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy (1767) and Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776).

    Engels and then Marx critiqued Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, where Hegel discussed political economy and then – mostly Marx -developed the critique at great length. Can’t say much more, since still researching Hegel’s Scottish sources.

  159. Mike Diboll Says:

    Alistair, I don’t think Hegel would be particularly endebted to Smith so far as the German’s idealist philosophy of Spirit goes.

    Nevertheless, it seems very likely that he might have been influenced by Smith’s economic-political ideas. At the very minimum, he would have read the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment as part of his backgound reading into the thought of the generation previous to him.

    That said, the Smith quote on the new-ish 20 GBP note about the “manufacture of pins” always winds me up and brings out the small-minded little Englander in me, since I feel I can discern Gordon Brown’s chewed-nail fingerprints all over it.

    But then what goes around comes around. Wasn’t Elgar once on that note during Thatcher or Major’s days?

    Re Green, post-Fascist, anti-Globalisation, peacenik National Anarchist former bootboys I should of course have added “Now they’re too fat to fight. . . .”

    Of course, we all know that all Hitler wanted was peace. . . “Piece of Poland, piece of France, piece of Czechoslovakia. . . .” Not that much of an improvement on “Triumph of the Willies”, I know, but I’m trying to reinstate my sense of humour.

    The bootboys who used to strike terror into many of us at gigs are now pushing 50 or past it, and might well be too fat and sclerotic to fight these days, but the other problem they face is that those who would have been their new recruits are too strung out on cheap smack cut with with quinine and bicarb, or too pissed on White Lightening cider to be arse with even the most mindless political ideology.

    Sam’s right about the “cool” generation of teens, pre-teens, and young adults whose minds are numbed by braindead consumerism. Now my son’s not too far away from his teens I try to steer him away from that with active things like Rugby and driving my old 4×4 in the desert. But perhaps I’m fighting a losing battle. I deeply loathe the TV he watches and the computer and Internet games he gets sucked into, but what can I do? And how it winds me up when he says “Awesome”, I can hear Blake rolling in his grave.

    Anyway, if the “cool” generation are, relatively speaking, the “haves”, the “have nots” are said cheap smack and White Lightening imbibers, the post code shootings lot, deluded nutcases who think they’re in something called “Al Qaeeda”, &ct.

    Between the “cool” brigade and the other lot I can’t see the left and right wing ideologues of our youth making much headway.

  160. Ian S Says:

    Mike, yes I like Kropotkin too. ‘Mutual Aid’ remains an interesting book, while ‘The Conquest of Bread’ and ‘Fields, Factories and Workshops Tomorrow’ seem more rooted in the conditions and possibilities of Russia as it was over a hundred years ago.

    ‘Mutual Aid’ was intended in part as a counter-balance to the social Darwinism of the likes of Francis Galton. But Dawkins isn’t a social Darwinist by any stretch of the imagination. Some assume he is, because his best-known book is titled ‘The Selfish Gene’. But that book isn’t an apology for everyday selfishness; instead Dawkins was trying to promote the then newish idea of the gene as the primary focus of selection, rather than the group or the individual organism.

    Gene-centric selection remains poorly understood outside evolutionary biological circles, probably because it is counter-intuitive and bound up with statistical thinking, which most people unfortunately aren’t taught much about at school.

    It seems that ‘National Anarchists’ only comprise a handful of quite odd people involved in things like Neo-Folk music, they’re not at all significant. They might like Kropotkin’s rejection of the law of comparative advantage and economic specialisation of countries, but presumably for very different reasons to Kropotkin. Racial or ethnic nationalism remains fundamental to such people’s outlook – race is to them like class is to Marxists.

    Alright, pub rock. I remember loads of pub rock venues in West London, such as the Red Cow, the Nashville and the Fulham Greyhound. But I was too young to get into those places in the heyday of pub rock. Punk and new wave killed pub rock by siphoning off the most energetic and original acts – 101′ers, Kilburn and the High Roads, Squeeze etc imho.

  161. Mike Diboll Says:

    Let’s go back to the pub. One of the things I feel really nostalgic about is the “philosophical” or “political” pub conversation, preferably with the participation of friends you don’t entirely see eye-to-eye with, preferably within earshot of a few folks who’s horizons don’t stretch that far beyond the Premier League (or FA cup, there wan’t no such thing as t’Premier League when I were a lad an’ th’ England team earned 10 bob for winning th’World Cup).

    The challenge in such circumstances was always to struggle to retain the thread of one’s argument, pint after pint, round after round, struggling against sluring speech, the need occasionally to get a round in or go for a pee, and the irritating noise made by those untermench, lumpenprolateriate, or whatever who’ve simply come to have a good time on a Friday or Saturday night.

    The wonderful thing is that before too long everyone would lose the thread of their argument, their control over speech, &ct., and submit to the hegeomony of “des autres” (in fact, perfectly sensible, intellegent people), who’d merely gone to the pub to have a good time on a Friday or Saturday night.

    Of course, the pub has to offer a range of wicked (“awesome”?) real ales, and you’d need a time machine so that you could still smoke in the pub. A pub rock band tuning up JUST as you were about to get to your clinching argument is also essential.

    Part of me suspects that punk had more than a little to do with the demise of the old pub rock pub, what with glasses being used for purposes other than drinking, and mini left vs. right Spanish Civil Wars erupting every other gig.

    Still, those were the days. Who would pay 20 quid (before drinks) to see, say, the tribute band “Utter Madness”, when you’ve seen the real Madness in the Dublin Castle (a smaller venue than the tribute one), 30 years ago, or there about. And I don’t even like Madness!

    Alas, those days, probably, have gone, or are going. For from what I see in my capacity as an occasional tourist to the UK is that the sports bar, the DVD jukebox, and the semi-club pub has totally taken over, drowning out with all manner of irreverant drivel the pub debates of the pissed up existentialists, Marxists, anarchists, and on-the-dole literary buffs (no diss intended, I’ve been them all).

    Here in Bahrain I live a ten minute walk or 2 minute drive from Bahrain RUFC, a Mecca throughout the Gulf region for alcohol abuse and pubbery. In fact I chose my house on Google Earth before I came here for exactly that reason.

    It’s about as close as you could get to a British local, although it’s very spit ‘n’ sawdust and the only brew worth drinking (Guinness) is 5 GBP per pint.

    It is of course a sports bar, but in the good sense that there are three full-size pitches attached, and most days of the week various RU, RL, Aussie Rules, Gaelic Football, Gridiron, & Soccer teams traipse through in sudded boots to sink pints and run riot.

    Teams come from across the Gulf because of Bahrain’s “liberal” alcohol laws (now there’s a subject for a pub debate, “Liberal in what sense), and we host the Inter-Gulf Gaelic Football Festival which, as you might imagine, has to bee seen to be believed. RN Rugby and USN Gridiron teams are also a regular fixture.

    Still, not much scope for the “intellectual” pub conversation once two teams and their supporters have come in from the field of battle.

    Then there’s that other “existential” pleasure of my stupid youth: being on my own in a pub, say a nice country one, or a dockers’ pub when it was quiet in the afternoon, and READING A BOOK, preferably a hugely controversial one, or ludicrously intellectual one, left cover up of course when you go to get a pint or have a pee, over a five hour, five pint afternoon session. I even did cut ‘n’ paste work on TG in those circumstances (in those days literally cut ‘n’ paste).

    Like so much else, all that is behind me know, and I wouldn’t be happy if my son did it (old fart)!

  162. Mike Diboll Says:

    Re driving back from the Rugby Club, I ought to say that I DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, at lesat not on public roads, Bahrain has terrible road carnage.

    There’s an off-road route I take to my house, through some Bronze Age burial mounds (I shit you not). I usually mutter the Islamic prayer/apology “as-salaamu ‘alaykum, yaa ‘ahl qubur”, “peace be upon you, oh people of the graves” as I trundle through in my old ’84 V8 stick shift Range Rover.

    This minor infringement is nothing compared to what the Bahrainis do to their ancient monuments, bulldozing them for speculative property developments, &ct.

    Land Rovers are infinately recylable, being built meccano style and therefore can be kept going no matter what. And it’s better of road than modern 4x4s (although it’s crap on road).

    70% of a car’s energy use/carbon footprint comes from building it and scrapping it, only 30% comes from emissions throughout the life of the car, so the old Range is greener than green compared to even modern “green” cars, 15 mpg fuel consumption notwithstanding.

    Here petrol is tax free, in fact it’s subsidised, so that it works out at about 12p per lire!

  163. Ian S Says:

    Have to add one thing to your list of pub wants . . .

    A pub where the staff leave you alone if you fall asleep. They keep an eye on you, but they don’t do all that shaking and waking nonsense or give you your marching orders.

    (Very cruel thing to do if it’s all sunny and bright outside.)

  164. Sam Says:

    Not too many bars around here as we live in the Bible Belt, but me and my wife lived in NYC for 3 years and we went to some good ‘uns. Having the 11.00pm British witching hour firmly imbedded in my subconscious I’d always find it surreal to ask someone the time. I’d expect something like 12.30pm and it’d be 5 in the morning. Funnily enough I rarely got plastered in the way I did in England. Subconsciously you tend to drink a bit slower. No wonder Britain has always been violent. 8 pints in 4 hours and EVERYONE turned out onto the streets at the same time.
    Last time I came back to London I went with Si to The (glorious) Prince of Wales in Highgate. I used to hate this part of the world with all its monied connotations but The Prince of Wales is kind of a basement pub that you walk down into. Dark, old wood, wooden tables and chairs, couple of builders there after work, chalked menu. Sweet Mother of Pearl….I can taste that first foaming pint.
    I remember shunning pubs during my druggie phase (alchohol was for wimps after all) and it wasn’t until me and Si started random pub crawls in the eighties that I rediscovered their uniqueness again. The finest route was ‘The Baker Street Run’ which took us from behind Oxford street to Baker street via a series of bizarre establishments. One was full of strange, theatrical old men who’d gather around a piano and sing wartime songs. I later saw them on a documentary on homosexuals in WWII. Another was frequented by Barbara Windsor and another was one of those pubs converted to a cocktail bar called ‘Champers’ or something.

    London, I salute you.

  165. Ian S Says:

    “One was full of strange, theatrical old men who’d gather around a piano and sing wartime songs.”

    That pub is still there Sam, if we are thinking of the same one: the Golden Eagle in Marylebone Lane, just north of Oxford Street.

    Here they are singing round the piano, recorded last year (just over 2 minutes long):

  166. Sam Says:

    Thanks Ian!

    Tinkle of glasses, hubbub in the background and a geriatric, closeted nancy boy at the piano. That’s the one!


  167. Ian S Says:

    ‘geriatric, closeted nancy boy at the piano’

    His name is Tony Pearson and he makes people happy.

  168. Sam Says:

    Sorry Ian, I meant it fondly. No offense meant.


  169. Ian S Says:

    None taken Sam. Tony is indeed quite a shy man, he comes out of his shell when he gets at the keyboard.

    There’s also round-the-piano singing at the Duke of Kendal off Edgware Road, not that far from the Golden Eagle, where June does the honours.

    If you’re missing hearing some London sounds over in the States, there are some recordings here:

    Market traders, piano singing, football chants, dog racing, street preachers and lots more.

  170. luggy Says:

    Can recommend The Royal Sovereign on Northwold Rd N16 for keeping the pub rock (& punk rock) tradition going. One of the few pubs that doesn’t charge admission for bands yet still manages to pay them handsomely. Nice staff too:

  171. Mike Diboll Says:

    What’s the name of the pub under the railway bridge near Brighton station, the one with the Bankski John Peel and kissing coppers? I ought to remember its name; I know it well for its “last chance saloon” provision of real ales when leaving Brighton. Anyway, that pub does good pub-rock, although a bit tribute-ish and not quite pub rock as I remember it.

    A couple of stops up on the London-Brighton railway there’s the Kings Head in Burgess Hill, which is a lot more spit ‘n’ sawdust & on the surface nothing at all to write home about, but have some excellent local bands at the weekend, who reprise the old punk classics with gusto, with genuine late 40s, early 50s ex-punks.

    Re Sam’s point about “teenagers” being a 1950s invention, that’s interesting. I see what he means, but that would make us all (in our old days) part of some sort of consumerist social engineering. Not that I’m denying it at all, it makes sense. But would 1950s US ad men ever have anticipated Crass?

    I’ll put the time machine in fast forward, some idiot has put me in charge (if only they knew!), as Head of Professional Development charged with reforming secondary school education and the retraining of existing secondary school teachers in the “Kingdom” (it’s about the size of Corfu) of Bahrain. Maybe they’ve got the right guy after all!

    The idea is that the existing education system has not delivered the goods in terms of enabling learners to achieve their best, has disaffected Bahraini youth from education, and pushed many towards extremism. I failed my 11 plus, went to a real shit secondary modern school, but eventaully ended up, via TG, Crass, anarch-punk &ct with a PhD. So perhaps I am a suitable guy for the job!

    Anyway, a big part of teacher (re-) education here is the psychology of adolescence, as it is that this age that the young Arab guys get dragged into extremism, &ct (the young women are much more mature). It may well be that traditional societies managed this crucial change more quickly and more effectively that the protracted adolescence of modernity and consumerism.

    The idea of the “teenager” might well be a marketing concept. But the stuff to do with the interaction between psychological and physiological development (negotiated through hormones) certainly isn’t.

    So perhaps the “teen” phenomenon is objectively real after all. I suspect that it is, but that however difficult it is “naturally”, it doesn’t last that long. I think the big sin of the 1950s marketing men (I’m sure they were all men then) was in projecting the “difficult” years of 11-13 into early adulthood.

    This in turn is part of a wider infanticisation of society that accompanies consumer capitalism. The teen “revolution” of the 1950s, therefore, involved the projection of the anxieties of a 12 year old onto 18 year-olds, 19 year-olds, and even into the early 20s. Come the ’60s and 70s d-rugs are thrown into an already very volatile concotion.

    The process doesn’t end there. As we get into the ’80s, the ’90s and the Noughties infantilism is projected into people’s entire adult lives, and no one ever grows up, but endlessly attempts to relive and revive the anxieties and cheap thrills “teenage kicks” of their early teens, as if this were some sort of holy grail. Why else would we be reading and writing stuff like this. Even the real wrinx retired pople in the 60s, 70s and even 80s seem to be deterimined to revert to their teens. How embarrassing!

    Jake, you’ve travelled to and lived in the non-Western world. You must have seen how the cult of youth and teen-ism is far less prevelent there? There grey hairs are respected, perhaps too much.

    That said, I’m sure that as the really big developing world countries, India, China, Brazil &ct “develop” into mass consumer capitalism, mall culture &ct infantilism will rule the roost there too, just as it took root in the US and UK 50 years ago.

    Come the coming catastrophy, all this will seem so decadant and nieve. God, I’ve got boozer’s gloom! Next w/e my wife and kids return from the UK, and I’ll be happier!

  172. andus Says:

    When I was a kid, if a fight started on the school playground the so called adults would escalate it, First we would be taken to the Headmasters office (note how he was called the ‘Headmaster’ as in nurgh nurgh nurgh nurgh I’m better than you) to be caned, this usually caused a third fight where one pupil would seek revenge on the other for being caned or more usually for ‘grassing’ instead of keeping mum. The so called teachers would then have turned one fight into three fights, with weaponry being introduced for the second one and the rule that the pupil must not defend himself.
    On a Saturday afternoon when there were no teachers present, just one fight would take place and that would be the end of the matter.
    The teachers were obsessed with control, believing that if they did not take firm control over the pupils and exact a stiff deterrent all manner of chaos and evil would ensue, they believed a pandora’s box would be opened, so in order to keep that box closed they put a big and heavy stone slab over the door, the stone slab crushed pandora’s box splitting the sides and all manner of chaos and evil came flooding out.

    We also used to form gangs and fight each other over trivial differences. in much the same way the adult world would fight over the petty differences of religion,ideology and culture, the only difference being that they took it far more seriously. Death was introduced.

  173. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Andus,


    “. . .the adult world would fight over the petty differences of religion,ideology and culture, the only difference being that they took it far more seriously. Death was introduced.”

    I reckon that real wars are seldom fought over these things, although they can be used in an ideology-as-false-consciousness way to get populations “on side” for war.

    After nearly 200 years Von Clausewitz’s observation runs true, that “War is not an independent phenomena, but is the continuation of politics by other means. . .politics is the womb in which war develops”.

    Thus, if you look beyond the rhetoric and ideology for most wars (including recent ones), you find at least one of the following: attampts to open up, control, or monopolise markets; attempts to secure or control vital resources; bids to achieve global or regional hegemony, or to checkmate the hegemonic ambitions of others; attempts to extend territory under control, or defend against other’s attempts to do so, &ct, &ct, &ct. Things like religion and culture have far less to do with it than people think.

  174. Mike Diboll Says:

    Re school, when I was at primary school in the 1960s (I was born in 1959), corporal punishment was very widespread, including nasty things like a casual rap across the knuckles with the sharp edge of a ruler (Imperil meansurements, of course!) You’d be lucky to get through a week at school without being hit in one way or another.

    That said, in their own way the teachers were considerate and professional, and had good insights into how children learn — violence that would be seriously illegal today aside.

    My primary school teachers were an aging lot even then, so you have to remember that a senior teacher at that time would have first trained in the late 1920s or early ’30s, and that her mentors (or his, men could work as primary school teachers in those days without being thought nonces) might well have trained at the turn of the C19th/C20th.

    Despite the beatings then, my memories of primary school are almost entirely positive, and the odd thwack aside I recall is as a tender, nuturing place.

    My memories of secondary school are far darker. Unlike my primary school teachers my secondary school ones were incompetent idiots who it was impossible to respect.

    There was still some corporal punishment, but nowhere near as much as primary school. In its place was cod-military discipline, “dark sarcasm in the classroom”, regimentation, bullying from Lord of the Flies prefects, and lots and lots of really nasty humiliation.

    That really, really hurt, and I remember secondary school as a dark, fearful place in hich teachers attempted to crush my spirit and at which I learned practically nothing.

    The rise of educational psychiatry didn’t help, and when I started to get really out of hand and the incompetent teachers didn’t know what to do with me they called the country head. Shrink in.

    Luckily she was of a somewhat better calibre and sad more or less that I was a fairly normal, intelligent lad and the teachers needed to adjust to my learning style. This really pissed them off as they had been hoping that she’d move to get me sectioned (or what ever it was called in those days) so as to take the problem out of their hands.

    A bookish sort I gave 6th Form & A Levels a shot, but dropped out early in my first year of 6th form, in 1976, as out in the wider society more interesting things were going on at that time!

  175. andus Says:

    Mike. Yes war is mainly about the gaining territory and wealth, however that is usually the motivation of Goverments and leaders, not of the ordinary people who fought, for instance the puritans who fought Charles 1st really did hate catholics. and muslim extremists really do hate western christians and vice versa.

    Your experience at secondary school sounds identical to my experience, even up to the point of being sent to see a psychiatrist. who turned round and said virtually exactly the same thing as your one did. This psychiatrist chap read the letter the teacher had given me to hand him, and lost his temper, he threw it in the bin, explaining. ‘ Bloody cretin’, he was talking about my headmaster. Of course at the age of 13, this delighted me no end, I was over the moon.

  176. baron von zubb Says:

    More interesting stuff on the diabolical thread.

    The thing with UK pubs is there both better when you live abroad and if you drink alcohol.
    Good things as a part of the cultural landscape
    Old beams are nice, but bejesus, as boring to look at as others drunk drivel is to listen too.
    Maybe I should start bevying?
    Parents. Hmmm.
    How did we manage to equate our beatings at school, the pathetic celebrations of the jubilee and prog rock as being their fault.
    Is it because in our ignorance and lack of imagination we just couldnt concieve (…sorry) that the pill didnt exist then, and that they could BOTH have no choice as to have -us- kids but still WANT to as well.
    For my part and for those I know about, what we put them through was far in excess of what they put us through.
    A bit more than thinking they were old cunts.
    I aint pleeding guilty and seeking absolvetion.
    Shit happens.
    But why did we feel legitimised or entightled?
    As I said we chose not to like Joan Armatrading.
    Or were they all so boring? Those nice tunes.
    If so then we were all merely products of the times, media and urban enviroment and the whole punk thing as dull as Oasis.
    BTW, I had all that shrink stuff, from the 5th year on, too.
    I reckon they had a point….
    xxx J

  177. andus Says:

    Of course they fucking did.

  178. Mike Diboll Says:

    “For my part and for those I know about, what we put them through was far in excess of what they put us through.”

    Tell me about it! I think I’d crack after a year or so if my son put me through half of what I put my lot through. They must have had constitutions of iron, but then if you’ve lived through the Blitz, &ct. . . .

    Actually, no, I don’t think I would crack, although I wouldn’t be over the moon about it. Come to think of it, there was never a dull moment when my grown up daughter was in her teens, and some of it was pretty nasty stuff. . .

    Another one who was under the school shrink. There we have it: we were all nuts! It does seem to carry some explanatory force!

    But then think back to a couple of postings, about how shit the school system was in the ’70s. Maybe it wasn’t us who were nuts, but the majority who put up with this shit and thought it was normal; shades of R.D. Laing?

    My school called in the shrink toward the end of my 5th year, in June 1976. One teacher who prided himself on his “liberal” views (he was a Baha’ who I was also into) went into some schpiel about how there was another side to the uprisings in Soweto that month, how his brother in SA had to treat the “Bantus” who worked in his hotel as if they were children, because they kept on breaking plates, &ct. I stood up in class and told him “fuck off”, so obviously I was nuts!

    In my very brief career as a 6th Former he was 6th Form Tutor, and held a “democratic” vote among the other 6th formers to get me blackballed from the 6th Form Common Room. Only one (I suspect I know who) voted in favour of his motion. My first brush with democracy. A few months later I was out of there. I eventually got to university via an Access Course for “mature students”, in 1989.

    Certainly what with “school” our first direct experience of “the state” it was hardly surprising that we checked Punk, and for political stuff Anarchism, &ct., even before we really knew what it was.

    In fact, it amazes me now that (apart from Punk’s brief phase as a “fashion”), it was relatively few of us who were like that and there were so many straights.

  179. baron von zubb Says:

    Thanks for youre support Angus.
    This K Y P P stuff has led to a kind of decade or two overdue spring clean.
    Last night I found, and I kid you not – my jaw dropped too, detailed diagrams & insructions on how to make homemade ‘devices’.
    The lot.
    Where I got them from I remember not.
    Though the Anarchist Cook Book had all that didnt it? I remember having a discussion about it with ‘pigmee’ -Joe- in Kennington ‘the pit’ long before I got hold of a copy.
    I remember me and ‘Robbo’ swore an oath that if there had been no revolution by the time we were 40 and we were still alive, which seemed unlikely at the time, we would buy some AK 47′s and fill a van with explosives and drive it into Parliament.
    Am I glad I didnt find them instructions before!
    Think I could sell ‘em to some jihadis?
    Or maybee I should put ‘em in a new edition of me book?
    (Mr Officer Plod Sir i’m only joking.
    they are shredded and in the re cycle bin).

  180. Mike Diboll Says:

    The ATC (Air Training Core) based at RAF Biggin Hill was a big thing when I was a kid. For some reason, I didn’t get into it, probably because of all the military stuff.

    But lots of BH kids did, and got to learn to fly planes and cool stuff. A mate of mine did, a very intense, bulging eyes guy, intelligent, but borderline bipolar.

    When he split from his girlfriend of the day, he was beside himself. One summer’s day in the mid ’70s he nicked a light aircraft from the civil airport equipped with a bottle of whisky.

    Then he started to buzz his girfriends house, saying over the radio he was doing a Kamikazi. Kent police cars went back and forth impotently as he buzzed the house, said girlfriend and family left the house PDQ, the air-raid siren at the RAF airbase went off (RAF Biggin Hill was a Cold War target at that time).

    My mate was eventually talked down, and there were consequences for him, not criminal justice, but mental healthcare ones.

    Six years later, in my anarcho days, there was the Charlie and Die Royal Wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I fantasised that someone would nick a plane filled with petrol, stacked with “cookbook” explosives, and crash it into St. Paul’s when the Royal Family and half the world’s dignitaries were there assembled.

    Of course, I wouldn’t do it. Apart from the fact that I’d never learned to fly, really, despite all the cod-existentiual stuff, really and truly I wanted to live, not die. I shared the idea with my anarcho mates of the time. Same problem: nobody knew how to fly, nobody wanted to die.

    I believe there is a God up there, and that he wanted something better for me than this nonsense, and that He preserved me from the potential consequences of my twisted will and egotistic phantasies.

    But is was only a matter of time before an ideology came around that gave desperate, confused, mixed up young men that here was a cause to die for, that that kept them sober so they could learn to fly or whatever, in an age when five minutes research on the Internet could find you stuff that makes the “Cookbook” look like Blue Peter.

    I’m thinking of course of Al Qaeeda. Not a non-existent conspiracy based in Pakistan or somewhere, the endlesly repeatable, copybale idea, the brand, infinitely recyclable, mimicable, that no amount of bombing in Pashtunistan will ever stop.

    There’s quite a bit of autobiography in my unpublishable novel, and I’m thinking seriously about putting it on the web.

  181. Mike Diboll Says:

    “. . .this K Y P P stuff has led to a kind of decade or two overdue spring clean”

    Definately, it’s up there with Augustine’s “Confessions”

  182. Sam Says:

    “Re Sam’s point about “teenagers” being a 1950s invention, that’s interesting. I see what he means, but that would make us all (in our old days) part of some sort of consumerist social engineering. Not that I’m denying it at all, it makes sense. But would 1950s US ad men ever have anticipated Crass?”

    In my more cynical moments I think punk was at the forefront of a consumer revolution. The ‘boredom’ that we all complained about was largely a lack of youth-based entertainment. TOTP and The Whistle Test was pretty much it for music on the tele. Of course this all changed in the eighties but, ironically I now decry the easy availability of all this stuff – you can download almost any obscure track you can think of from itunes. This has lead to a kind of cultural entropy I think.

  183. Mike Diboll Says:

    “I now decry the easy availability of all this stuff – you can download almost any obscure track you can think of from itunes.”

    Not quite everything. I’ve long admired the Jones & Cook “light metal” sound. J&C got dismissed as a couple of blokey tossers compared to Johhny and Sid, but I have very fond memories of their sound, seeing the connection between their sound and the pub-rock-ish stuff we was on about earlier.

    I used to have a post-Pistols blood red 45 by “Dave Goodman and Friends” doing “Who Killed Liddle Towers” (answers on a postcard), featuring J&C on drums and guitar (nearly all my old rare vinyl went the way of all things — the Record and Tape Exchange — to pay for this and that back in the old days).

    I’ve tried for ages to access it on the net but to no avail whatsoever. I’d very much like to hear it again just to see whether or not it was a good as I remember (probably not). If anyone has a link, please send it to me!

    Punk as the “forefront of a consumer revolution”, you’re right, Sam. But there was another side to it too, perhaps the dialectical method can help us arrive at a real understanding of what it was all about. But I can’t be arsed!

  184. Mike Diboll Says:

    I stand corrected:

    The title was “Justifiable Homicide”; “Who Killed Liddle Towers?” was the chorus.

    Still can’t find the tune, though. Liddle would be 72 years old now: “non vacant tempora”, “time never takes a break”!

  185. John No Last Name Says:

    here you go Mike

  186. luggy Says:

    Didn’t try too hard, Mike. Download from 2nd link:

  187. Mike Diboll Says:

    Ah ha! I think the problem was I didn’t remember the proper title “Justifiable Homicide”, just the chorus “Who killed Liddle Towers?”

    Anyway, thanks a lot for the links, John and Luggy, that’s amazing guys, it must be getting on 30 years since I last heard this! Unlike a lot of stuff I hear after all those years, this one stands the test of time. He’s why:

    * It starts off right, with Lydon-esque snarly, sneery Cockney voices introducing the question “Who Killed Liddle Towers” in a style that’s very much of the period

    * But then juxtaposing this, we hear those slightly effete do-woppy chorus voice seemingly introducing a trite Rock ‘n’ Roll cliche

    * While all this is going on, Cook and Jones power the whole thing along, punk pub rock style (who was on bass?)

    * Said sneery Cockneys begin to relate the story of Liddle’s demise, while hitherto effete chorus voices comment adding fundamantal questions “Whose law?”, like the chorus in a Greek tragedy

    * The phrasing of the voices narrating the story is classic punk pub rock, and really drives the track along, yet the story they relate is hardcore, a vicious beating to death

    * In between verses Steve Jones really pub rocks it, simple riffs but classic and rocking

    * The story continues “Taken to the station for his crimes. . .” (“What crimes?” comments a startled sounding Sopheclesian chorus in alarm); this is Liddle’s Calvary, his Via Dolorossa

    * A third of the way through we reach a turning point “They put him in cell. . .in HELL!” Do-woppers continue unphased, Jones lets rip with some pub solo riffs, as Liddle slips into a coma and begins his descent in to Hades

    * Guitar maintains the tensions with angstish, uprising riffs; Liddle continues to suffer, but this is suggested by the tension in the music, not by lyrical overstatement

    * The lead voices pause in their narration of Liddle’s death to make comment making a serious point: “There is no law they make their own, what am I to do? With no official [inaudible] they can do the same to you!”

    This rocks all the better for the absence of all the usual punk cliches: no four letter words, left-wing ideology, smut, blood-curdling blasphemies, incitement to killing the pigs, just genuine moral outrage and a perfectly reasonable demand that if the police are allowed to get away with this we will all suffer; this bit could have been written by a broadsheet leader-writer circa 1978!

    * The story of Liddle’s sufferings continue, with just enough graphic detail of his injuries to maintain interest and a sense of outrage

    * The suffering of the family is introduced, all to often forgotten about in today’s compensation culture in which nobody’s ever fully guilty of anything; we move to the frustrations of the eyewitnesses, again, just enough detail to maintain interest, Cook’s drumming driving it along nicely

    * The lead voices use the verdict of “Justifiable Homicide” ironically, mockingly, but without laying it on too thick

    * Jones’ intros the finale with snatchy little chords as the main voices restate the question “So who killed Liddle Towers?”

    * The instruments are allowed one last blast of energy before the track winds down, a Lydon-esque voice not letting us forget, “He died, inside!”, while the chorus resumes its do-wopping, Jones goes back to pub rock, and other voices finish off with a football terrace style chant.

    Excellent stuff, on a par in my book with the very best punk rock of the period, NMTB, the first Jam, Buzzcocks and Clash albums, “Teenage Kicks”, “Holiday in Cambodia”, &ct.

  188. andus Says:

    I preferred the Angelic Upstarts, ‘Liddle towers’ one of the best punk tracks of all time, they suffered no end of harrassment from the police because of that song.

  189. Mike Diboll Says:

    Andus, perhaps you’re right, I should check that one out on the ‘net too: either way those songs are a million times better than generalised “Fuck the System” rants, the sticker I put in TG notwithstanding. Then there were The Ruts, “I’m in a rut, I’ve gotta get out of it, out of it, out of it”, simple stuff, but what better heroin lyric was there this side of the Velvets?

  190. Sam Says:

    “but what better heroin lyric was there this side of the Velvets?”

    ‘H eyes H eyes it’s gonna fuck your brain’

  191. Mike Diboll Says:

    It’s pretty darn good: the intro is deceptive, those interesting juxtapositions again, almost a pastiche of metal or mid-seventies “dinosaurs of rock”: then the music changes suddenly to snare drum driven 3 piece punk.

    There’s Mensi’s rasping skin voice and that classic line “The police have the power, the police have the right / to kill a man, and take away his life” this restatement of the same idea in two lines is called “paralellism” in the Hebrew poetry of the Bible (Isaiah, &ct). Here it rocks. I think the Lydon-esque snarls are a bit over done at the end though.

    So here we have it, two bloody excellent songs that more than stand the test of time. More than that, they don’t deal with generalised “revolutionary” bullshit, but the real killing of a real man. OK, the Upstarts were supposed to be a “socialist” band, but the ideology wasn’t rammed down anyone’s throat. LKJ’s early stuff was like that too from a Black perspective. Were there any Blair Peach songs? Must have been.

    The big question I have is that with all this superb stuff, why did I, and TG, and so many of us, go so far down the Crass route, which as I’ve said elsewhere, stikes me now as “cult-like”? I suspect that Mensi, Malcolm Rut, even Cook and Jones had a maturity that we simply didn’t have.

  192. Mike Diboll Says:

    “Don’t feel straight, can’t love or hate / can’t feel nuffink, can’t feel no thing, just gotta get out of it. . .out of it. . .out of it”

    Enough of this real-time, I have a curry to cook!

  193. andus Says:

    The Tom Robinson band wrote a song about Liddle Towers as well, called Blue Murder, from their 1979 alum TRB 2, some of the lyrics,’Well they kicked him far and they kicked him wide,He was kicked outdoors, he was kicked inside, Kicked in the front and the back and the side,It really was a hell of a fight, He screamed blue murder in the cell that night, But he must have been wrong cos they all deny it, Gateshead station, police and quiet, Liddley die Lie lie lie diddley lie,Die die die Liddley die’.

    Linton Kwesi Johnson wrote a song about Blair Peach called ‘Reggae fi Peach’ which was on the album Bass Culture.
    Mike Carver also wrote a song about Peach ‘The murder of Blair Peach’,
    The Pop Group did a song about him as well I think.

  194. andus Says:

    Oh yes and how could I forget. ‘The Ruts’ Jah War’ again about ‘Peach’, or at least relating to him,

  195. Mike Diboll Says:

    Jah Wars, and LKJ’s Reggae fi Peach, how could I have forgot?

    Pardon me, I’m a bit out of touch with the UK these days, but has anyone done a song about the G20 killing of Ian Tomlinson, or Charles Menendez?

    I’m more conservative than I used to be, and believe that the police do have the power and ought to have the right to “kill a man and take away his life” if said man is some motherfucker who’s about to let off a dirty bomb on the Underground, or blow up the ‘plane I’m about to get on with my family.

    But said right is abrogated if it’s all about crushing dissent, braining NZ teachers, beating drunken boxers to death, or if Brazillian tourists and Somali bomb-backpackers “all look the same to me, guv.”

    So does anyone write songs about these things, or is it just all pap these days?

  196. andus Says:

    Here is a link for The Ruts, Jah War.

  197. andus Says:

    There are a few bands that still write lyrics, Unit. Headjam. Dubtheworld, Inner terrestrials. Lyrics went out of fashion followed the advent of the ‘Napalm Death’ type bands. Sorry Nic.

  198. andus Says:

    The Cracked Actors write lyrics as well.

  199. Mike Diboll Says:

    Cheers, will check them out. Curry’s done!

  200. Sam Says:

    ‘Time for Truth’ off the first Jam album included:

    “I bet you sleep at night with silk sheets and a clean mind
    While killers roam the streets in numbers dressed in blue
    And you’re trying to hide it from us
    But you know what I mean
    Bring forward those six pigs
    We wanna see them swing so high

    ….Liddle Towers!”

  201. andus Says:

    Talking about teenage sub cultures Mike, Andy Martin has written an article about that, its in the post 86 section, Dna Unit, if you have not already seen it.

  202. Graham Burnett Says:

    In later years Dave Goodman formed a rather pleasent ‘hippy’ band called New Age Radio – I have a couple of CD’s that they made that are both rather enjoyable, and apparently they also used to do gigs using a peddle powered sound system – a far cry from the Pistols!! Unfortunately he died a few years ago so I believe…

  203. Graham Burnett Says:

    Conflict did a song about Carlos Guiliani, but I’ve never actually had the pleasure of hearing it…

  204. Graham Burnett Says:

    Crass refered to Blair Peach indirectly in ‘The Gasman Cometh’ – “from coshes at Southall/its just a small leap/to ashes at Auschwitz/life is cheap”

  205. alistairliv Says:

    The Pop Group were a bit more direct… who killed Blair Peach…who killed Kevin Gately…what ever happened in Red Lion Square? Who guards the guards, who polices the police?

    Or Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? as Juvenal said.

    Justice (edited)

    I wake up every day
    And look at my country
    This is what the blind man sees
    Does it look like justice to you
    It doesn’t look like justice to me

    They’ve got to protect their property
    Better phone up the police
    Call up corruption
    Who killed Blair Peach?

    Political prisoners caught at Southall
    And tried by kangaroo courts
    A man had to have his balls removed
    After being kicked by the S.P.G.
    It doesn’t look like justice to me

    Who guards the guards
    Who polices the police

    What happened at Red Lion Square
    Who killed Kevin Gately
    Jimmy Kelly arrested in Liverpool
    And later died in custody

    Ireland is their practice ground
    To control civil disorders
    Our very own Vietnam
    Who guards the guards
    Who polices the police

  206. Graham Burnett Says:

    Ee, they certainly knew how to write a catchy singalong lyric in them days…

  207. Graham Burnett Says:

    Something I’d forgotten about and just made me splutter with laughter when I just spotted it again – “TOXIC GRAFITY – THE SHITZINE!” As a strap-line its got to be up there with Chat magazines’ “Life! Death! Prizes!”

  208. Mike Diboll Says:

    “The Shitzine”, out of the mouths of babes, eh? I’m glad I never went mainstream, like the “edgy” punk crowd who got into the mainstrean music press, C4, &ct in the early ’80s.

    In my capacity as a schools inspector I did my first visit to a Bahrain boys’ secondary school today. Previously I’d been to girls’ schools, which are far more civilized.

    This one was in a local riot zone, and frankly was more like a prison: the smell of male piss, sweat and testostrone; corridors made dark by students vandalising the lighting to they can do secret goings on unseen; the arachic revellry of frustrated youth in between classes after the bell; teachers barely in control; classrooms covered in graffity, with food, ink and God knows what splattered up the walls.

    Our trainee teacher was doing his best to maintain control, and use the student-centred and collaborative learning methods which we hope will reform the school system here. The kids played ball, up to a point. A couple of weeks previously there had been a riot at this school, and the riot police had been called, CS gas fired, and a couple of kids got hit in the legs by birdshot.

    The air conditioning was broke (it’s in the mid 30s C here already), so the CO2 from 30 students breath was sending everyone to sleep, me included. Then I noticed the words on the shirt one of the students was wearing:



    Written in cut out newpaper blackmail note lettering, as per NMTB, spelling mistakes notwithstanding. Another brick in the wall, eh? How much did this guy know about what he was wearing? Maybe he was Bahrain’s biggest Pistols fan. Maybe he’d never heard of them. Who knows, I’ll have to ask him. Amid the Shia political and religious graffity on the wall (Bahrain is a Shia majority country, ruled NI style by a Sunni elite), was an (A) anarchist sign.

    What do they know of all this? Probably not much. In my very early punk days (pre Crass) I remember going to a very “political” anarchist gig with the Red Army Faction (Barder Mienfoff) badge (the white badge with a red star containing a Tommy Gun) that The Clash had popularised amongst us punks. “Red Army Faction, eh?” said the slightly sinister looking anarchist guy on the door, and started to grill me about ideological differences between the RAF and the anarchos.

    I didn’t know what the fuck he was on about, since before that I’d only known the RAF badge as a rebellious looking image gleaned from Joe Strummer’s t-shirt, and if you’d have aked me I’d have said, as a good Biggin Hill boy, that the “RAF” was the “Royal Air Force” (my primary school had a Spitfire as a badge. . . still proud of that). Good job I wasn’t wearing a swastika, which in those very early days I easily could have been!

    So somehow I doubt that the “radical” Shia youth here are about to give up Hizbollah and Ahmedinajed for Anarchism, but you never know.

    Cool shirt though, and it really got me thinking. Globalisation, eh?

  209. baron von zubb Says:

    Reckon it was some bored expat kid Mike.
    Also I think that band Rage Against The Machine used it for a bit didnt they?
    Anyway back to me me me.
    I also found the only-very faded-copy of ‘The Mamalian Syndrome’ Sam. Didnt know it existed.
    Also found a load of stuff from me ma about her brothers career( yeah yeah the famous one…) that I didnt know I had.
    And loads of cuttings from ’90 poll tax and strangways & other prison riots.
    Bit of bonkers time, if you re read the papers.
    And chucked out loads of stuff.
    Nah there aint any bands who are writing anything interestingly political. All that Napalm Death (and their copyists) stuff about revolution is complete abstract waffle.
    Welcome to the 200 club diabolical.

  210. andus Says:

    I thought you said they respected the grey hairs in the non western world, oh well, just shows how wrong you can
    I don’t think there has ever been a school riot here in blighty, but then again there is a bit of a fashion for burning schools down.

    And lets face it Napalm Death killed punk.

  211. Mike Diboll Says:

    Andus: I ain’t got no grey hairs (well, no more than I can’t pluck out)

    Jake: this wasn’t one of those astronomical school fees private schools: it was the local equivalent of yer mutha-funkin’-niggers-in-the-ghetto schools (if you pardon the expression).

    Seriously, Bahrain ain’t like the other Gulf states, the have-nots here are have-nots by anyone’s standards, there’s real poverty; here there is a lot of ethno-confessional tension, the haves tend to identify with Saudi and the Sunni Arab world; the have-nots are Shia and and sympathise with and often have family or tribal connections with either Iran or Shia southern Iraq.

    As in NI during the troubles, certain occupations, particularly in the government, the army and the police, are almost completely shut off from the have-nots along ethno-confessional lines, ditto quality housing, and all sorts of stuff. This ain’t Dubai (where the working class is imported).

    The schools aggro has not so much been the result of a lack of respect for education, so much as the fact that to many of these angry young men the education system is their most direct experience of the state.

    Kids do want to learn, and in that sense have probably more respect for “grey hairs” than their peers in the UK, but, alas, the schools as institutions symbolise the state and all that goes with it. So the poor trainee teacher wasn’t a victim of a youth vs grey hairs thing, he was about 25. It’s just that education segues into so many other big picture issues.

  212. Mike Diboll Says:

    Grahame, “Chat” have let the side down: that should be “Pay No More Than 75p”, not plain old “75p”.

    A 75p mag in 2009? However crap they are it’s amazing they can do it. What sort of prizes do they offer that can equate to those weighty imponderables “Life” and “Death”?

  213. andus Says:

    Students in the UK seem to view learning as a passport to a big salary rather than for the betterment of themselves and society, or as a tool which enables them to look down on others.
    I put my name down for a plastering course, cause I’ve been unemployed for 18 months, now I have to go on this new deal thingy once a week for the next 16 weeks, which is a glorified job club, however if my plastering course starts during those 16 weeks I cannot do it without having my benefit cut.
    This country doesn’t want people to learn anything despite their constant harping on about a skills shortage, plastering being one of those areas. Well if the job club helps to get me employment I won’t be bothered. but what if it doesn’t and I miss out on the plastering course.
    Heaven’s sake, God’s sake. Christ’s sake, fucks sake, Pete’s sake.
    Bring back the Tories !

  214. Sam Says:

    Would like to read The ‘Mammalian Syndrome’ Jake. Wasn’t that based on Sol?

    Can’t believe I just heard Mike Diboll revive a nostalgic weapon of the past…very refreshing to hear. I love a Spitfire myself.

  215. andus Says:

    My Grandad was a mechanic, working on the spitfire, and my Dad was in the RAF. So I got spitfires coming out me ears.

  216. Mike Diboll Says:

    Yes, the Spitfire, what can I say? A sublimly beautiful design, beautiful form following deadly function perfectly. An example British engineering at its best.

    Even when I put it together part of me at least thought that the “Forming a Stereotype” thing was bollocks.

    When my family moved to Biggin Hill (from inner London, I might add) in 1963 the Second World War was less then two decades past, Biggin Hill still had an important military airbase, and the Battle of Britain and the Spitfire were deeply embeded in the culture of the town.

    My primary school (the school I liked, the odd whack not withstanding, not my whacko secondary school) had a Spitfire as its school badge, and rummaging around in the woods as kids we could still find old 20mm cartridge cases and bits of melted alloy with bits of hydraulic hose &ct sticking out.

    Biggin Hill had two airbase, an RAF one (now defunct) and a civillian one (still thriving), so there were two airshows, one in May and one in September.

    The Spitfire always put in an appearance, so I’m quite familiar with the sight and sound of them. We were used to seeing little Cessnas and stuff take off from the civil airport all the time. They would often stuggle into the air over the valley of the Downs, struggling against headwinds as if they were standing still.

    The Spitfire, in contrast, flew like a jet, not like a lumbering airliner but taking off and then ascending on full power up into the blue at a 90 degree angle, its big propeller visible as a disc of haze from a couple of miles away, turning, its eliptical wings cut through the air. An amazing perfomance from a piston engined, 25 year old aircraft (as it was then).

    But most of all, there was that engine noise which I’ll never forget and which I recognise without even looking up when the occasional Spit flies over Burgess Hill from the Farnborough Airshow: that wonderful, wonderful pulsing V12 rumble, and that amazing whine from the supercharger. God, that must have been a reassuring sound when England’s skies were darkened by hordes of swastika clad Luftwaffe.

    Yes, it was a killing machine, but purely a home defence one. It barely had the range to follow the Germans back to France.

    I once heard an interview with an octogenerian Battle of Britain fighter ace who’d dropped out of Oxford (reading Classics) to join the RAF. He said he was in two minds about both the prospect of being killed, and the prospect of killing, until he saw the Luftwaffe flying over Kent “All those ruddy swastikas and iron crosses on the tails, who did they think they were? I just saw red and thought bloody bugger orf!” Then he swooped in for the kill.

    The P51-D Mustang (really an American Spitfire) is also a beautiful aircraft, espcially in shining aluminium (by that stage in the war they had such air superiority to to bother with the extra weight & wind resistance of camoflague), ditto the Korean War era Sabre (sorry, Sam, Saber), and the mid-50s supersonic Super Saber, all in shiny aluminium.

    But the the Mustang had the range to take the war to the Germans, and the hell the Allies unleashed on the Germans was of an altogether different scale to what the Luftwaffe did to us. There was a saying in the pubs of Bermondsey, where I lived for nearly a decade (returned, in fact, since that’s where my lot had been from, pre-Biggin Hill days), that the post-War Southwark Council did more damage to old Bermondsey and Rotherhithe than the Luftwaffe did, although London’s Docklands, being a strategic target, really were hit bad during the Blitz.

    So imagine what Germany must have been like circa 1945 (the Poison Girls’ “Bremen Song”, &ct). So perhaps the Mustang was a less “innocent” killing machine than the home defence Spit.

    Still, my heart thrills when I hear that V12 engine and see those wings cut the air. I know war is shit and there was all sorts of political chicanery (Churchill hitting Berlin so that the Luftwaffe would hit London in retaliation, saving the Downlands airfields, &ct).

    But still, that’s the spirit that really did face down a Fascism that was a damn site more real, frightening, and ruthless than the skinny BM skins half of us used to shit our pants over. So who are we to cast nasturtiums?

    But I still get echoes of the Spit, then I fire up my old 1984 Range, more classic British design, with its aluminium, American derived push-rod V8 engine, when see the car rock from left to right under the torque reaction as it fires up, hear it warm up, and the uneaven tick-over from cold settle into that V8 “crob ,crob, crob”; chocks away, I’m off to work!

  217. Mike Diboll Says:

    I love to walk over the Downs when I’m visting England, family and the rest. There are some wicked pubs at the foot of the Downs you can visit to down a pint on the way down after a day’s walking on the Downs. Often you see that advert for Shepheard Neame’s Spitfire Ale, “Downed all over Kent, just like the Luftwaffe”. Only a matter of time before the PC brigade outlaw such sentiments. “By Gad, Sir, it this what we fought a war for?”

    What ever happened to 66a Volker, BTW?

    Down, down, digger-um down. . . .

  218. Sam Says:

    Mike, you’ve slayed me with your Spitfire talk. Is this part of the ex-pats lot in life? To obsess about real ale, Spitfires and double decker buses? And Lord knows, I love all three. If you haven’t already, read Josef Porter’s ‘Genesis to Revolutions’, listed somewhere on this site. His Anarchist Manifesto circa 1980 had me pissing myself laughing:

    “RUSSIA: Of course it’s really bad that there is oppression in the Eastern Bloc, but we’re just as bad (see above) as we oppress the Irish. The cold war isn’t as bad as the government makes out, but it’s a good way of keeping the people down by making them scared. Also, it enables the government to justify the presence on English soil of American troops, who are really here to keep the state in control. While not agreeing with governments and armies, and being against the soviet system, we have a secret fascination with their uniforms and tanks, which look really cool on the News at Ten – in fact we haven’t quite gotten over our childhood love of military hardware, but will endeavour to suppress it as it is not Anarchist: thus, when we see news reports on foreign wars, we resist the temptation to blow our cover by saying things like “Oh look, there’s a Phantom/Harrier/Mirage”, or whatever warplane it may happen to be. This is occasionally frustrating, as we are still very much children in some respects, but we are against war.”

    So true. As a nine year old, me and Johnny Farrow went to see ‘The Battle of Britain’ 3 times at the cinema and I have never lost my love of the aircraft and, I must admit, the heroism of this era, though there’s no way I would have admitted this at the time. 1969 was not Woodstock for me – it was running around the playground being a Spitfire. Josef Porter also describes the ’30s and 40s as ‘England’s Dreamtime’. In retrospect we all grew up in the shadow of WWII. I was born a mere 16 years after. I wonder how much we all mimicked the last of England heroics of the conflict?

  219. Penguin Says:

    Mike, here is the Josef Porter stuff Sam mentioned and is well worth reading. Very well written and very amusing in parts.

  220. Mike Diboll Says:


    Yes, it is a bit like that. Against your better instincts one finds yourself becoming sort of patriotic, and joining organisations with titles like “The Royal Order of St. George” (not to be confused with the League of St. George, although after they’ve had a few it’s hard to tell the difference).

    A lot of it is mere sentiment, I know. But there is a serious point here too, that perhaps it takes long term residency elsewhere to make you appreciate the things that are genuinely good about where you’re from (e.g. Spitfires, Real Ale, Double-decker Busses, &ct).

    I even love the British weather now, anytime of year, in all its moody changeablness. It almost seems exotic nowadays, how I suppose your regular British tourist views palm trees and turquoise seas.

    There is the other side of the coin, acculturation. The other day I was doing a school visit and by coincidence a couple of straight-of-the-plane middle aged, middle class British women from Oxford University Press turned up (they’re flogging some sort of English language learning package to Bahraini schools). All of a sudden they seemed like foreigners to me, their clothes, their accents, their body language an gestures, the lot.

    And I realised how much of a foreigner I must have seemed to them, my English peppered with Arabic words, my gestures and body language more Middle Eastern these days than Arabic. Oddly, I was dressed kind of rocker-ish, with a black leather jacket, black Levis and boots, but I’d let my beard grow about a week (helps establish rapport), and greeted people with Salaams, and it was inshallah this and mashallah that.

    It must have been like that back in the days of the Raj, when newbies sraight off the boat met old India hands. In fact, working in the Gulf States is very close to what it must have been like as a Brit working for one of the quasi-independent “Princely States” in the Raj 100 years ago. Frankly, after seven years out here I’m ripe to move on.

  221. Mike Diboll Says:

    “. . .in fact we haven’t quite gotten over our childhood love of military hardware, but will endeavour to suppress it as it is not Anarchist: thus, when we see news reports on foreign wars, we resist the temptation to blow our cover by saying things like “Oh look, there’s a Phantom/Harrier/Mirage”

    This is so true, thanks for pointing me in the direction of the Josef Porter stuff, Sam and Penguin.

    Yes, our generation really did grow up in the shadow of the Second World War, and the older one gets the more one realises it.

    As I said a couple of postings before, in the 1960s Biggin Hill had huge civic pride over the Battle of Britain. During the military airshows, one stunt was for big beasts like Phantoms and Vulcans to fly over the houses really low, swooping up into the sky with their afterburners on.

    You felt it rather than heard it, as purcussion waves pounding your chest, momentarily making your vision blur. Windows would crack and slates and chimmeys fall, but nobody seemed to mind much because that’s what being from Biggin Hill was all about. That started to change in the mid ’70s, when it started to become more of a London overspill commuter town, and people didn’t want the aggro.

    Yes Sam, the Battle of Britain genuinely was “heroic”. In 1939-40 most of Europe had either surrendered to the Nazis, been overran by them, or was allied to them in the first place. The USSR was feeling all cozy with the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and the USA really didn’t want to know until Pearl Harbour (Harbor!) at the end of 1941.

    This really was one of history’s Themopyleas, “This is where we stand and fight, this is where stop them!”, and it’s hard to imagine now how frightening and intimidating the hitherto invincible Nazi war machine must have seemed at the time, and how pitifully armed Britain was to withstand it. Yes, I know it was America’s military-industrial might and Russian blood that finally defeated th Nazis, but without that initial stand the “sleeping giants” would have carried on counting the sheep.

    My mum was born with a congenital deformity of her left hand, and had to have extensive skin grafts as an adolescent, at the burns hospital in East Grinstead where a lot of the badly burned pilots, guys with out faces and stuff, were being treated. The ones who were able to walk and talk and were convalescing adopted her as a mascot and used to take her to the pub with them. The sights and smells were burned into her memory. Now she’s losing her marbles she goes “Did I ever tell you about them airmen who. . .” “Yes, Mum”, “Oh really, when?” “About ten minutes ago” “Oh!”. And so it will go on all night.

    As a boy I was a huge fan of “The Battle of Britain”, “Dam Busters”, “633 Squadron”, &ct., and the Pearl Harbo(u)r film “Tora! Tora! Tora!” I once had every WW2 aircraft, surface ship and tank in the entire Airfix, Frog and Revell ranges, and as I leaned more about them I went from crudely glueing them togther without painting them, to really anal stuff like painting details onto the pilot with a two-hair brush, and putting blackpowder stains streaming back from the gunports (my early attempts I’d shoot up in the garden with my BSA Super Meteor, or blow up by putting a Chinese fire cracker in it).

    The music to those films was the very backdrop of my childhood (and the incidental music to Thunderbirds), and I still find myself da-da-da-da-daaa-ing the music to 633 Squadron when I’m on a mission, my thumb reaching for an invisible “fire” button as I line up behind the BMW or Toyota in from of me on the highway!

  222. Mike Diboll Says:

    Then there’s all that German you learned from war comics like “Commando”
    and “War Picture Library”:

    “Zer varh ist over fur tu, Tommy”

    “Don’t count on it, Squarehead!”

    “Was ist das. . .?”


    “Ach, Himmel, Englischer Schwein-hund!”

    “That was for Joe! Quick lads, scarper!”

    Ok, not so useful on a wine tasting/dam spotting weekend break in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region, but there you go.

    Not that I’ve got anything against Germans at all, “some of my best friends” and all that.

    But all the post-WW2 popular culture of my childhood is still deeply engrained, and probably makes me sound a right old fart to kids who think the Gulf War is “history”, but that’s life.

    Looking back it seems that at least one element of the Anarchism and Pacifism I used to espouse was a certain guilt and envy to having missed out on an age of heroes.

    Perhaps if I had been born earlier and experienced the horrors of war I would think differently. But my Dad fought in Germany, and he’s never spoken like that, nor have any others of his generation I’ve talked to.

    His main concern when I was growing up wasn’t the horrors of war, or the thought that the Cold War might turn hot, but that we’d never experience the real poverty he had experienced growing up in London in the 1930s.

    To this day he has a horror not of the smell of dead meat, but of the smell of cheap cleaning fluids like Jeyes Fluid, and cheap soap. So he went into business, to make money how best he could, getting a leg-up in that world from none other than Peter Rachman.

    Then clever bastard here has to make him feel really shit by moving back up to London and taking drugs in a rat infested squat. Ho hum!

  223. Sam Says:

    One of my earliest memories is of lying on my back on my Grandmother’s lawn in Pett’s Wood and watching the aircraft fly over en route to the airshow. There’s a lot of revisionist history regarding the Battle of Britain, mainly by British historians who like to play it down, largely on the premise that Hitler couldn’t have invaded if he’d wanted to as he didn’t have the equipment or navy. Personally I find it sickening, as Britain could have easily made peace with Hitler after the fall of France. I read a personal account by someone called David Crook who was on a 3 aircraft patrol over the Channel, spotted a 300+ formation of German planes and tore into them. Like you said, puts our run ins with boneheads etc…in the shade.
    My son loves The Battle of Britain movie too, and asked me a couple of years ago: “Dad…are we still at war with the Germans?”

    Blimey…. here we are in the 21st century discussing the Battle of Britain.

    I’ve become small ‘p’ patriotic too I must admit. Much of it is a riposte to the mainly good-humoured jibes from the Yanks. But I was seriously considering a ‘Made In England’ tattoo a couple of years ago.

    The heroes we’re talking about, it should be remembered, are still the stuffy old bastards we used to like to annoy by jumping the bus queue etc…

    We all destroy what we love.

  224. Mike Diboll Says:


    “One of my earliest memories is of lying on my back on my Grandmother’s lawn in Pett’s Wood and watching the aircraft fly over en route to the airshow.”

    Truth be told, it was a Cold War display of power, as much as the Moscow May Day parades (although with more style) and was appreciated as such in BH. The juxtaposition of Spits, Hurricanes, Lancasters &ct with Phantoms, Vulcans, Harriers, &ct sent the message, “We’re still here for you”. . .

    “There’s a lot of revisionist history regarding the Battle of Britain, largely by British historians who like to play it down, largely on the premise that. . . .”

    Pardon my language, but these motherfuckers make me want to puke. In 2002-5 at the United Arab Emirates University (of all places) I worked closely, as a Literature bod, on interdisciplinary projects with a load of Brit academic Historians who’d been bought over at great expense to do this and that. Most of them were guilt-tripping, self-loathing unreconstructed old style Marxists with axes to grind and fucked up personal lives to match. If you’d listened to them you’d have thought that Britain was worse than Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s USSR, and Maoist China all rolled into one, they just had better PR. . .

    “Hitler couldn’t have invaded if he’d wanted to as he didn’t have the equipment or navy. . .”

    Yeah, like fleets of u-boats, the Bismark, the Tirpitz, the Scharnhorst, the Genaisenau, the Printz Eugen, &ct., thousands of light and heavy bombers, Stuka dive bombers, cutting edge fighters, parachustists &ct., &ct. And look how easily the Japanese island-hopped in the Pacific. . . .

    “Personally I find it sickening”

    Me too!

    “as Britain could have easily made peace with Hitler after the fall of France”


    “My son loves The Battle of Britain movie too, and asked me a couple of years ago: “Dad…are we still at war with the Germans?”

    European absolutism is called the EU nowadays. For all its faults and hypocricies over slavery, the US constitution is a couple of thouand classic words that begin “We the People. . .” The EU constitution runs to about 900 pages and begins “The King of the Belgians. . .”

    “Blimey…. here we are in the 21st century discussing the Battle of Britain.”

    Living in the Middle East has taught me to take a long view of history. A hundred years or so here or there is small potatoes!

    “I’ve become small ‘p’ patriotic too I must admit.”

    Me too, small “p”. Who can get patriotic about the “Britain” of Blair, Brown, Miliband, &ct? I take Andus’ point, New Labour has been an utter disaster for the working man in Britain.

    “Much of it is a riposte to the mainly good-humoured jibes from the Yanks.”

    I love the States, and the American attitude, which is so easily misunderstood over in Europe. But I didn’t until I went there. Once out of the Gulf, I’d very much like to work Stateside. That said, American stereotypes about “England” can get heavily on one’s tits. And they ripped off the jet engine and supersonic flight from us. . . And what about Concorde?

    “But I was seriously considering a ‘Made In England’ tatoo a couple of years ago.”

    But not on your forehead, I hope. I have a St. George’s cross on the tailgate of my Range Rover!

    “The heroes we’re talking about, it should be remembered, are still the stuffy old bastards we used to like to annoy by jumping the bus queue etc…”

    Too true:

    “I’ll have you know I fought in. . . so that you could. . .”

    “Fuck off, grandad!”

    At least I didn’t add insult to injury by becoming a Seig Heiling Nazi skin!

    “We all destroy what we love.”

    Too, too true, in so many different ways!

  225. Graham Burnett Says:

    I liked the Airfix skellington best…

  226. Mike Diboll Says:

    One of the Yank kit firms did a neat line in horror movie models, Dracular, Frankenstine, the Wolf Man, and some Witch thing with a couldron full of boiling rats, &ct. These had glow-in-the-dark (and probably carcinogenic) bits too (a precursor of glow in the darky vinyl?), and does anyone remember glo-juice, glow-globs, &ct?

    My construction kit days ended with the sailing ships. These went from crude Airfix Santa Maria’s to huge Yank kits with working rigging that’d send you blind in your bedroom (it was the models, honest!) trying to construct. My prize model from those days was some Yank kit of a Moby Dick era whaler (oops!), that took about three months to construct.

    Then I got into airguns and blew the shit out of them all. Those days did give me my first “high” though, all that glue in the stuffy summer air of my loft-conversion bedroom. So there you go, half a life’s degeneracy was all Airfix’s fault!

  227. Sam Says:

    “I love the States, and the American attitude, which is so easily misunderstood over in Europe. But I didn’t until I went there. Once out of the Gulf, I’d very much like to work Stateside. That said, American stereotypes about “England” can get heavily on one’s tits. And they ripped off the jet engine and supersonic flight from us. . . And what about Concorde?”

    I think some of the ‘misunderstandings’ may be correct, though there’s much to the American character that I do like. The American idea of patriotism, I find to be like pre-WWI jingoism. I went to my son’s PTA meeting the other day and, as always, felt self-conscious when everyone else stood up, put their hands on their hearts and swore allegiance to the flag. I have rarely come across any suspicion of nationhood over here and they tend to assume I have a similar feeling about my country, which I most certainly don’t. They’re surprised to find I’m not a royalist. As someone who’s London-Irish, I find most people’s sentimental views on Ireland and Scotland to be absurd, and they’re amazed that Irish and Scottish people also live in England. American world views are every bit as blinkered as Europeans fear I’m afraid.

    I felt as positive as you did Mike up until 9/11 and the subsequent bad old days of the Bush years. In many ways I think Britain is much more open and prone to free speech than over here. I can’t imagine the satire of something like Spitting Image over here. It’s generally much more lightweight. There’s a fine history of dissent and anti-authoritarianism (as we all know!) in our country that I miss.

    I think on the whole, Americans are more generous of spirit and funnily enough less prone to violence than us. But I talk mainly of the Britain of 15 years ago when I moved over here. I see it in brief chunks every few years and mainly from behind a pleasant beery haze.

  228. Mike Diboll Says:

    My mother’s most heart-rending experience from the Queen Victoria reconstructive surgery hospital in East Grinstead led to her acquring a life-long smoking habit (60 a day in the ’60s).

    It concerned a pilot who was so badly burnt that he had no skin left whatsoever. He lay in an old fashioned galzanized bath with a constant stream of cool water passing through it, strung out on diamorphine, waiting to die.

    My mum, then aged 12, used to try to talk to him, saying the simplest thing was a huge effort to him. As he got weaker, he started to whimper for a cigarette.

    She got one and lit it for him, a way away as he was incredibly sensitive to heat. She put it to his lips, and he took a deep lug. Seconds later, he was gone.

    To think that I used to check for stupid voyeristic shit like Throbbing Gristle’s “Hamburger Lady”, but was so insensitive to what my mother had been through as an adolescent girl.

    I used to play it in the living room, deliberately to wind her up, explaining what the track was about in full knowledge of what she’d been through. This was quite simply evil, and for this I pray for forgiveness.

  229. joly Says:

    On the USA topic;

    Having lived here 35 years or so my considered opinion, often given uninvited to new arrivals, is “It may be superficoal, but it’s never boring.”

    I agree with the ‘less violent’ comment – here the only people being violent are serious criminals and crazy people, but in the UK, as I sometimes point out to the locals “people fight for fun.”

    I also occasionally point out- In England, “Fuck Off!” means “Have A Nice Day” – (whereas the opposite is generally true here)

    A couple years ago we were blessed with a visit by P. Rimbaud. I recorded his comments:

  230. Graham Burnett Says:

    > One of the Yank kit firms did a neat line in horror movie models, Dracular, Frankenstine, the Wolf Man, and some Witch thing with a couldron full of boiling rats

    That would be Aurora models, I had a few of those too. the best one was a scale model of the moonbus from 2001 A Space Odyssey, which had a removable roof so you could see the engines, passenger comaprtments, control room, etc. Another good one was the yellow flying submarine that came out of the bottom of The Seaview from Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea which also had a removable roof to reveal internal details.

    Probably the most rubbish of the assembly kits had to be Airfixes scale model of Queen Elizabeth I, I bet they only ever sold about 4 of those in the whole of the company’s lifetime. For some reason I had one as well which got particularly dusty on some old bedroom shelf.

  231. Graham Burnett Says:

    > That said, American stereotypes about “England” can get heavily on one’s tits.

    When I co-taught a permaculture course in Los Angeles last year there was quite alot of good natured intercultural banter between myself and the students, one exchange that caused some merriment went thus;

    “say, Graham, why is it that every time you do an American accent you sound like some Down South Trailer Trash Girl or something?”

    “Dunno, probably because every time one of you lot does an English accent you sound like fucking Prince Fucking Charles….”

  232. Penguin Says:

    Have a gander at this Spitfire, history and model enthusiasts:

    What a beauty!

  233. Sam Says:

    It’s very nice Penguin but why is it there (I’m too lazy to read the page about St George).

  234. Sam Says:

    They were Aurora models that did the horror figures. Scariest were Dracula and The Mummy. The Airfix 1/24 scale Spitfire was like heaven when it came out. Sliding canopy, retractable wheels and a little motor that made the propellor go round. Then I had an argument with my older brother and he smashed it up with a broom.

  235. Mike D Says:

    Happy St. George’s Day, Sam!

    If you haven’t already read him, treat yourself to a read of the WW2 poet Keith Douglas, either his collected poems or his Desert War narrative “Alamein to Zem-Zem.” Like WW1 poet Wilfred Owen he was killed in France, aged 24. But apart from that he’s a very different poet.

    “I felt as positive as you did Mike up until 9/11 and the subsequent bad old days of the Bush years.”

    Interesting, my formative time in the US 1998-9, when I did a couple of semesters at the University of Cincinnati, and some archival work at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale; I used to go up to Chicago a lot, and down into the Upper South. Of course, that was before all this shit happened.

    I was over there just after 9/11, in December 2001 to January 2002, Cincinnati again, then down to New Orleans. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. NO was weird because I was there between Christmas and New Year for the Modern Languages Association convention. Just about the whole of 18-30 NYC and New Jersey were there for a no-holds-barred, head-in-the-sand, pretend-it-hadn’t-happened drinking binge. Still, I’m glad I got to see NO before the deluge.

    Last time I was over, in NYC and Philadelphia in 2007, things seemed much better regarding the 9/11 fallout, with Ground Zero well established as another essential must-see on the tourist trail.

    “There’s a fine history of dissent and anti-authoritarianism (as we all know!) in our country that I miss.”

    As I know only too well! But am I turning into an old git, or is all that dying a death in the wet fart that passes for Britain today? If it is dying, it must be for the first time ever in British history that the people really did lose their spirit. But that’s the way it seems to be going, with mind-numbing consumer culture for the “haves”, and the soma of cheap, strong drugs and booze for the “have-nots”, and assenine, inane politics and telly for everyone.

    “I think on the whole, Americans are more generous of spirit and funnily enough less prone to violence than us.”

    Absolutely, it is this amazing generosity of spirit that draws be back time and time again to America, and I really do think that on the whole this generosity makes the Brits look petty, snidey, small-minded, and smart-arse.

    You dead right about the violence too. Of course nowadays Britain has done a sterling job in catching up with the USA in mindless inner-city ghetto gun-crime. But in both countries that sort of hassle is easy to avoid unless (a) you’re looking for it, (b) you’re part of it, (c) you very bad at reading Metro/Underground maps, or (d) you’ve got the street-suss of an inebriated limpet.

    The fact is that 90% of America is not at all like that, and what you’ve far more likely to find are neighbo(u)rly communities with a sense of community and civic pride, where people keep an eye on what’s going on, generally care for one an other ,and even, in some parts, leave their doors unlocked.

    In Britain, on the other hand, “‘oo r u screwin’ at cunt?” violence is endemic, especially on a Friday or Saturday night, when vast amounts of cheap alcohol rid people of what few inhibitions they have left. It’s like walking on egg shells: walk down almost any high street after dark one false move, word, or even look out of place could be your last. And it’s not just the inner-cities, but more or less everywhere now.

    Civic life America is so much better because of one simple thing: public drinking is forbidden everywhere (except the aptly named Bourbon Street in NO).

    My son Ben got some stick in an English park from some English kids one summer, “Oi, why are you talkin’ like an American?” I didn’t realise he did talk like that until these little yobs pointed it out, then it struck me that his English was at least as much American as it was English. This is because of the international school he goes to, where most of his mates are either American or Canadian, and most of the non-native speakers learned American English in private schools.

    He’s even in the Boy Scouts of America now, and he looks the part with his wide-brimmed campaign hat, khaki shirt, the Stars and Stripes on his arm, and all those big colourful badges that the Americans like to plaster all over their uniforms.

    He’s in the BSA because he’s a bit of an outdoor type, and the BSA is what there is Scout-wise out here in Bahrian (the Scout Troop is run by US embassy people and military types from the huge US naval base here).

    He had to swear an oath of alleigence to get in the Scouts, but since where all international out here they lety him do the “God, Queen and Country” Brit one. Since he’s joined his had a great time, and has learned to to all sorts of amazing things, and has great fun too since in the BSA the PC brigade has not exorcised out of Scouting all those quasi-military things thast boys of his age like so much.

    Still, the Americans’ lack of irony and deafness to double-entendre can be alarming. Packing up his kit bag for a long hike, the Scoutmaster asked Ben where his Vaseline was, adding in a loud voice in front of everyone and with a totally straight face “There’s a 1001 things a Scoutmaster can do with a tub of Vaseline”. I had to bite my bottom lip and pretend to sneeze in order to mask the laugh, “Biggus Dickus” style. But the Yanks added “Yeah, you can use it to light a fire!” “And to stop dirt entering into grazes”, &ct., &ct., &ct.

    Either that or the Yanks have a very highly developed sense of irony that we Brits just don’t get, but I doubt it somehow. “Irony” has for long been the language of London, to the extent that people usually say the opposite of what they actually mean, which gets irritating. I generalise, of course.

    “But I talk mainly of the Britain of 15 years ago when I moved over here. I see it in brief chunks every few years and mainly from behind a pleasant beery haze.”

    /wa ‘ana ka-maan/, “Me too!”

  236. Ian S Says:

    Ah glow-in-the-dark kits . . . there was a popular one of human skeleton too, meant to be educational. It was fiddly to put together.

    Airfix made those boxes of 1/72 scale soldiers, colour-coded for different nations. The Germans were blue-grey. The British were green and the Americans a darker green. The Japanese were mustard yellow. When you opened the box for the first time, there was a faint sweetish smell from the plastic.

    The boxes had vivid illustrations on them, snarling paratroopers chucking grenades about and so on, painted artwork of a now extinct style done by commercial artists.

    All the Americans I’ve met through work seem surprised at how much Londoners drink.

  237. Mike D Says:

    That’s right, I’d forgotten, it was Aurora who did the horror movie kits, and the Mummy one was particularly good.

    Times move on, and my son has a gruesome collection of Aliens, Predators, Terminators, Batmen, Mothmen and various Star Wars thingies (never could see the point of Star Wars), but they’re not construction kits, and they don’t glow in the dark.

    I used to really like the spacecraft models. The Airfix Lunar Module was pretty limp-dick, but the Revell ones were really good, especially highly detailed ones of the Gemini craft.

    One of my favourites was a Revell Mercury Programme set. Never mind that the real Mercury programme consisted of a test pilot who had done something to his brain cells, and a tin can strapped to a plagarised V2, but at least it got an American into space after the Russians had got there first!

    But this kit was amazing: launch platform, rocket, capsule, gantries, launch command, support vehicles and all the rest of the gubins recreated in loving detail. I spent weeks lovingly painting it and putting it together, then one day I trod on in walking into my darkened bedroom. I reapired it, but it was never the same, and it was all but unobtainable in the UK.

    Of course the Space Race was all part of our youth too. The closest I get to homicidal is whan some pasty, foppy haired, baggy jeaned teen mumbles something in almost inaudible teen argot about the moon landings being faked. How is it that these sort of guys always seem to have amazing looking girlfiends? T’wernt like tha’ when I were a lad!

    I liked the 1:24 Spit too. But I found that in time the glue weakened and they cracked along the fuselage or the wings dropped off.

    There’s a model shop in Burgess Hill that’ll make up and paint kit models to order to a very high standard (not Airfix, they’ve gone bust), but even a small one will cost a few hundred quid, which isn’t that bad I suppose when you consider the amount of work. Can’t see that surviving the credit crunsh!

  238. Mike D Says:

    Ah glow-in-the-dark kits . . . there was a popular one of human skeleton too, meant to be educational. It was fiddly to put together.

    “Airfix made those boxes of 1/72 scale soldiers, colour-coded for different nations.”

    Tel me about it! I had legions of them, laid out across the floor. There were WW1 French, Germans and Tommys, and regular WW2 Brit and German infantry, the Desert Rats, the Afrika Corps, and the Parachute Regiment.

    “The British were green and the Americans a darker green.”

    The dark green ones were the US Marine Corps. . .

    “The Japanese were mustard yellow.”

    As they bloody well should be, sir!

    There were Roman legions too, and the French Foreign legions, but I couldn’t quite find a place for them in mygreat set-pice battles. . .

    “When you opened the box for the first time, there was a faint sweetish smell from the plastic.”

    Yes, yes, and the chemical whiff of Airfix glue and paints. . .pre-teenage kicks.

    See, what a war-like lot all you Crassy pacifists were! “Forming a stereotype indeed!

    The boxes had vivid illustrations on them, snarling paratroopers chucking grenades about and so on, painted artwork of a now extinct style done by commercial artists.

  239. Nic Says:

    I’ve still got my ‘Forgotten Prisoner…’ kit upstairs in the record room…

    I just spent a very pleasant week in the Cotswolds drinking aforementioned English beers and visiting beautiful gardens…
    It’s easy to forget the lovely things about England (and Wales, Scotland and Ireland) – bring on the cheese-rolling, country pubs, village greens with stocks, folk rituals, Morris Men, Tiddly Winks, the 1960′s ‘Ploughman’s Lunch’, Long Barrows…

  240. Penguin Says:

    I also have the ‘forgotten prisoner’. The only model that survived from the early 70′s. It is in a box around my mothers. All made up complete with spider, rat and extra arm chained to the wall. Bit gloomy to keep that one was I not?

  241. John No Last Name Says:

    Sorry I had to repost this as it made me laugh out loud

    “There’s a 1001 things a Scoutmaster can do with a tub of Vaseline”

    I guess we were a generation raised on “Are you being served” and “Carry on” Films.

    Now if only the scoutmaster was Kenneth Williams

  242. Mike D Says:

    “Sorry I had to repost this as it made me laugh out loud”

    Absolutely! This was at an event where the parents had been invited! As I said, I had to suck in my cheeks and bite them as all the earnest Yanks came out with helpful suggestions as to what exactly a scoutmaster could do with a tub of Vaseine!

    “I guess we were a generation raised on “Are you being served” and “Carry on” Films.”

    Definately. My wife is 18 years younger than me (she’s from Essex, BTW, lest anyone suppose I ordered her from a catalogue) collects this stuff on DVD because it’s “retro” (i.e. made before or shortly after she was born) and therefore “cool”. It just makes me feel bloody old, but I still find it hilarious.

    We’ve tried to get other non-Brit friends into it, but they just don’t get it. I don’t mean that the humour isn’t their style, I mean they literally don’t understand half the jokes. Odd, because I don’t have any problem in getting Yank, Aussie, even Arab humour.

    This is one reason I’m so hard on my old anarcho-days, especially the Crass days. The element of humour was almost totally excised from punk, although there had been no shortage of humour, irony, sarcasm, satire, call it what you will, in the early days of punk, and as much as we mocked “Society” or whatever, we also mocked ourselves.

    Anarcho somehow replaced all this with the humourless self-righteousness of the fanatic. This was sad. Even in the Dark Days of WW2 which we were dicusssing, Brit’s went about the grim task of killing and being killed with their capacity for humour, irony, self-depreciation &ct intact.

    The humourlessness of the anarcho’s was much like the black-shirted visionariness of our Wartime opponents, right down to the black shirts!

    Before anyone objects, I should state that it’s not as if I never shared a joke with any of them individually, I did so quite often (usually at the expense of Clash fans who hadn’t followed us over into our sect, or Joy Division “existentialists” who had the black gear but not the politics, or the Sham 69 and “Oi!” lot, to whom we felt smugly intellectually superior).

    However, as a corporate entity Crass especially was humourless, and encouraged an earnest humourlessness that is the mark of the fanatic.
    If you adopt a corporate identity (complete with corporate logo, &ct) you have to accept a corporate responsibility that goes with it — most other punk bands didn’t do this, they were merely a collection of individuals (like Thatcher’s idea of “society”).

    “Now if only the scoutmaster was Kenneth Williams”

    He wasn’t, he’s an affable overly-earnest Evangelical who is a jar-headed US intelligence officer in, I think, the USN. Thus his unintended double-entandres are all the more funny than Kenneth Williams’ knowing ones!

    He did Arabic at some military academy in the States, and he speaks it very well; although like most Yanks who’ve done foreign languages he can never shake the American accent and intonation!

  243. Mike D Says:

    “I just spent a very pleasant week in the Cotswolds drinking aforementioned English beers and visiting beautiful gardens…”

    Stop it! Stop it! You’re killing me! Still two whole months to go before I can sample such pleasures, but which time it will be 50C out here (it’s already about 35, midday), and even modest amounts of alcohol will turn me into a two-pot screamer! Wife and kids get back from a month in the UK tomorrow. Alright for some… I feel like the bloody Forgotten Prisoner, pretty soon I’ll be seeing luminous arms appear out of the walls!

  244. Sam Says:

    Funny you were in Cincinatti Mike. I was in Columbus, Ohio for 3 years when I first came over. The band I play in works this part of the world a lot. Ohio gets a bad rap but I really like it a lot. Great people on the whole.

  245. Mike D Says:

    Oh-Hi-oh, Sam:

    I really enjoyed my time in Cincin: it had city vibes without being to big for its boots, and a thriving arts/gig/student/cafe/bar/gallary/restaurant scene that was serious and dedicated without being so saturated as to drift into deep pretentiousness and self-referentiality, as one might find in London, NYC, or Paris.

    Maybe Ohio personifies that dreadful cliche, “Middle America”: with it’s head in the Great Lakes, Ohio is deeply “Northern” in its history and attitudes; but with Kentucky less than an hour’s drive away Cincin has one foot in the Upper South, especially so far as food and mannerisms are concerned. Ohio as a state is too far west to be considered “East” in any meaningful sense, but not quite enough west to really be even “Mid West.” Ohio is also so so “middle class”, in the American sense of the term, which is quite different to how we understand “middle class” in the UK.

    So there you have it, perhaps Ohio is typically “Middle America”? Perhaps. but like all cliches and generalisations really it’s not quite true and Ohio is really typical only of itself.

    My first footfall in the Sates was actually Chicago, (an awesome city I really love), in late 1997; but the first place I actually did anything rather than be a glorified tourist was Cincin.

    One of the joys of the academic thing re America is that there are so many unis and uni-like institutions (3,000 or more, as against the UK’s 300) all over the country that you’re more likely to see experience in somewhere like Dayton, Columbus or Cincinatti than NYC, LA, Miami, SF, and all those places that figure so much on “telly” America (“Dayton Ink” anyone?).

    What foreigner coming to Britain could really claim to know “Britain” based on tourist London, the country’s most cosmopolitan and therefore atypical heart? For that matter, who could really claim to know the Gulf (the “Arabian Gulf” or the “Persian Gulf” depending on who you talk to), based on a tourist trip to Dubai? Most of it just ain’t like that!

    For this I am so grateful, as I feel it has given me an insight into the US that I never would have had if I had just been some tourist who went to the usual places and when back to blighted Blighty going on and on about “America”. As it happens, I’ve been to many of the “Usual places” Stateside, but having had residency in places as “ordinary” as Cinci and Carbondale has given me a different perspective on the place.

    Whatever, knee-jerk lefty Euro shit about “America” and what a dreadful place it is really makes me want to puke. Going there was part of what (very belatedly) brought me to my senses after years of delusion.

    I was born at 5 a.m. on 5th July (not “July 5th”!) 1959. I sometimes tease Yank friends that what with the UK-US time difference I was in fact born on July 4th, their time, and there for should skip the green card and go straight to dual citizenship. None of them ever buy it! Ho-hum.

    In a dark mood I mutter into my beer that those fries should indeed be “Freedom Fries”, since if it wasn’t for England being tied up in the Seven Years War with France in the 1770s Washington and the other leaders of the colonial slaveowners’ revolt would have ended up being hung drawn and quartered at Tyburn, like the leaders of the 1745 Scots uprising were.

    Only being ironic, mind, lest I blow my chances at a tenured job in the US; some of my best friends. . . .and all that! Really I love the place and for an “in love”year or so I rued the fact that I hadn’t been born American, or gone to the US (or NYC, to be more exact) at the height of punk.

    Then I came to my senses, and realised that being British was a thing to be proud of in itself, and that had I gone to NYC circa Sid It’d be highly unlikely that I’d be alive to tell the tale. London at that time was bad enough!

  246. Sam Says:

    I think Ohio is a great crossroads. It is considered northern down here in SW Virginia but I was playing music with people from W. VA and Kentucky whilst up there. Route 23 north was the road that took people from the Appalachians to the big cities of the north. The saying went “Reading, Writing and Route 23″. I met my wife in Columbus and moved to NYC, which was such a let down after living in Ohio. Nobody understood my feelings but after awhile it seemed like the same old city rat race again, complete with stuck up attitudes and meaningless stress. The sense of space in Ohio really changed my life as did the folks I met there.

    I’m glad I wasn’t born here however. Too much is made these days of the early punk scene in New York. I think London is where all the threads came together and it’s something to be proud of.

  247. bruce davies Says:

    It’s funny stumbling across this article as only the other day I was saying how fanzines like this influenced the exhibition I am running at an art gallery in Penzance – called ‘Extended Play!’ that uses vinyl records and the social scenes that spun off them, as a platform for creative play. I remember this issue very well and still have the flexi but mine has red writing. I was actually looking to find someone to press one for the exhibition which is how the trail led to here. I also have the wedding flexi that crass did and the clear vinyl falklands one. Treasures to be sure…

  248. Penguin Says:

    “I was actually looking to find someone to press one for the exhibition which is how the trail led to here”.

    Do you actually need some copies for this exhibition? I have some spares that I could send you if you want.

  249. Graham Burnett Says:

    Hi Bruce – when is the exhibition running until? I may be in Penzance in September as I’m helping to run a permaculture course at Plan-It Earth at Sancreed just outside Penzance – maybe you know it?

  250. alistairliv Says:

    Looks like it is only until 27 June Graham

  251. Mike Diboll Says:

    Helloooo, is there anybody there?

  252. Jah Pork Pie Says:

    Er, yeah. Hi Mike!

  253. Sam Says:

    Good afternoon.

  254. Mike Diboll Says:

    Good eeeevening! It’s 21.15 here in Arabia, and 48C.

    Really good to hear from you Sam.

    I remember the elongated “goood eeevening” from one acidic night at 66a. It was from the intro to a Dr. Alimantado track just as we were coming up from the blotters.

    It seemed deeply meaningful at the time, as if he were talking to us fuckwits straight from JA. But beyond that I can’t remember shit, as is the nature of these “magic” moments.

    Anyhow, that’s enough of that. FYI, all you Puppy-ites out there, I’ll be on my summer vacation in the UK from 13th July to the 18th August. I’ll be staying near Brighton.

    If any of you fancy meeting up face-to-face for the first time in the best part of 30 year please let me know (I’ve still got to sell the idea to my wife, but there you go).



  255. Mike Diboll Says:

    Oh yes, and to add insult to injury I turn 50 on 5th July.

    (I was born at 5.00 a.m. on one of the hottest days for yonks; given the time difference I sometimes try to blag my Yank friends that I was “born on the 4th July”, they never buy it).

    Please pray form me/crack open a can as I go through this particular ordeal. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, you know.

    40 was no probs, just another day. But my half-century. . . .? My life already, where did that go?

    BTW, from which august institution did Winston Thompson, aka Dr. Alimantado earn his doctorate? I need to know, he set me on the path to get letters after my name.

    Pardon my rambling, ambiet temperatures nearly half way to boiling point turn the best of us into two-pot screamers!


  256. Sam Says:

    Hello Mike. We may have gone to ‘Good evening’ but the the track in question starts; “Goooood day. You are in tune to [?] musical hi fi. The musical sound of Kingston Town that moves right around. Keep on moving y’aw.” Not listened to it for years so it’s words to that effect. I do remember his deep baritone emerging from your speakers on the night in question.
    Just read a biog of Ian Curtis (talking of your speakers). What a strange band JD were. I downloaded Unknown Pleasures from itunes. Much of it sounds strangely poppy these days. And his vocals are close to Sinatra crooning in parts. Transmission is great. There was such a trend for depression at the time. Very weird.

  257. Penguin Says:

    Swap Kingston Town for Clarendon Town and you got it just about right Sam, Unitone Skank was the title of the track, also Unitone belongs in the [?]. Where do you lot get your memories from? I can barely remember what happened last week nowadays!

  258. Sam Says:

    Another psychedelic reggae memory is skanking 5 stories up on some very dodgy scaffolding to Plant Up by Prince Far I in Amsterdam on mushrooms.

  259. Penguin Says:

    You can do that skank on scaffolding again if you wish and if you feel youthful enough Sam. Just follow this link:

    They you go…

  260. Mike D Says:

    Sam and Penguin,

    Your recall is amazing. I’ve just listened to my “Best Dressed Chicken in Town” CD, and it begins “Good day, you are in tune to Unitone sound hi-fi”, the place is indeed “Clarendon Town”, &ct. The track is indeed “Unitone Skank” (1976).

    My favourite track on this amazing album has to be “Poison Flour” (1975). I have a dark memory associated with the track “Plead I Cause” (1973). It uses the same rhythm track as “Poison Flour”, but is a dark, dark, track, responding I suppose the the communal violence that plagued JA then, and still plagues it now.

    The good Dr. calls down Jah’s curses upon those who that have hurt him and his loved ones in a true, blood curdling Old Testament style. I remember playing this, and dancing to it drunk and stoned the evening after some very nasty people who had done something very nasty to someone dear to me (about as nasty as its possible to do to someone).

    I danced, intoning the lyrics genuinely wanting Jah’s curse to fall on them too. During the old Bailey trail I’d had to endure the insults and attempts at intimidation of the accused’s friends and associates (there were four accused).

    A friend who had been with me through the trial was there that evening. Seeing me celebrate and call down further curses on these motherfuckers he said “They’ve been sent down, Mike. What more do you want?” Then I realised that he didn’t feel my pain, supportive as he had been, and that in a sense he was not, therefore, the sort of friend I’d thought him to be.

    But I’ve moved on from all that anger years ago, and now pray for the people who did this to… I really can’t say, for reasons of confidentiality. One should be careful what one asks and prays for. Within a year of his release five years later one was found dead in his car outside a Shoreditch nightclub, his brains blown out by a ’45.

    Nothing to do with me, of course. It had been a drugs deal thing with rival gangs. Heavy stuff.

    Yes, my speakers, Sam. I put JD’s “Closer” on my ICE on the way to work. Grim stuff here too. On the way back I had to put something more life-affirming on. I a chose a House compilation; I always drive well to House. But it’s amazing how much of 1990s electronic music JD anticipated, albeit in a darker idiom.

    Also amazing is the way in which the production values of JD’s stuff was sometimes a complete inversion of the predominant values of the late 1970s. So the guitar, and even sometimes the lead vocals, are way back in the mix, and humble rhythm instruments like the snare, high-hat and cymbal are right up front.

    On other tracks, IC’s vocals are up front, but how twisted and angst-riden he sounds. OK, so were lots of vocalists of that era. But with him there’s something different.

    Loads of art school bands picked up on early Bowie’s take on the Zietzscheian ubermench as Glam Fascist (“You gotta make way for the Homo Superior”). But nearly always they were arse-achingly tedious and pretentious.

    Curtis’ persona would want to be Homo Superior, but he knows it’s all shit and is torn inside, with a deeply baby like vulnerability. He attempts the macho vocalisation at the back of the throat “Hey, I’m here!” thing (Tony Hadley did something similar in ’80s yuppie persona on “Gold”).

    But power-croon as he might we know that Ian is weak existentially, fatally wounded in his being, and we know (as we knew at the time) what the outcome, the only outcome, would be. Just as we all knew (in a different musical context) what the outcome would be with Kurt Cobain, long before it actually happened.

    So grim, yes. Hence the House on the way back. Driving on highways in postmodern Arabia that would have been unthinkable when this 30 year old album was recorded (“Closer”, not the House), when driving a 4X4 would have been an necessity to get you through the desert, not a lifestyle option, in a modern SUV (my wife’s car, actually), that has the performance of an out-and-out sports car circa 1980.

  261. Sam Says:

    I was never a fan at the time. It was just too dark but in hindsight they were definitely the band of the hour. The Pistols may have predicted the shape of things to come but JD really channelled the bleakness of 79 and 1980. It’s closer to art than music really. Still hard to listen to but refreshingly blunt and still without any concessions to mainstream taste.

  262. Mike Diboll Says:

    “It’s closer to art than music really.” Absolutely. Ditto what Sam said about the bleakness of ’79-’80.

    For the life of me, I can’t figure why Crass loomed so large in my life in those days.

    Still, as you say Sam, in the privacy (!?!) of 66a what came out of my speakers was JD, not Crass.

    I must read the IC biog. So glad the Hollywood biopic with Jude Law as Curtis never happened.

    Meanwhile what about poor old Dr. A? One of his lyrics comes to mind: “If you feel you have no reason for living / don’t determine my life, my life.”

  263. Mike Diboll Says:

    Three points to add:


    “Loads of art school bands picked up on early Bowie’s take on the Zietzscheian ubermench as Glam Fascist. . .”

    JD’s grey monochrome and matt black aesthetic was of course the rejection of glitter and glam, just as angsty-Ian was the antithesis of Ziggy and Aladdin Sane (Homo Suicide as opposed to Homo Superior).

    But the influence is there, early Bowie’s “Britain would benefit from a fascist ruler” is replaced by Auschwitz-derived “Joy Division”, and post-Ian by “New Order”. The bleakness of 1979 overtakes the glitz of ’73.


    “Ian is weak existentially, fatally wounded in his being. . .”

    I should add that the accusation of weakness is not a diss. Perhaps I should have written “Ian is weak and in pain existentially. . .”

    As maybe we all were, some of us that is; at least those of us who eventually ended up taking up the succour of the poppy, booze, and the retreat into the self.


    “. . .I can’t figure why Crass loomed so large in my life in those days.”

    Perhaps on reflection I can. Perhaps it was that amid the bleakness and the blackness Crass offered some sort of hope, and this is what appealed to me and fellow Crass-ites of the day (although we would never have admitted it at the time).

    Hope in the sense that some sort of positive political and existential alternative was being posited, however tangentially.

    Of course, this was a misplaced hope, and it is this misplacedness that makes Crass cult-like but Joy Division realistic, albeit in a very negative way.

    But the principle of hope drives us forward into our futures, our potentialities, as Ernst Bloch teaches us. So however much I might repudiate them on specifics, perhaps Crass pushed me forward to the person I am now.

    Whilst JD, despite their bleak existential realism, joined in the addicts’ chorus that used to say to me “fuck it, just go top yourself.”

    Either way, I’ve transcended both of them now. But the journey back into my past is fascinating.

    More fascinating still is the way in which my present self recreates my past on its own terms. And forgets the intro to “Unitone Skank”!

  264. Sam Says:

    The biog wasn’t that great but interesting nonetheless. Ian doesn’t come across as some larger than life personality before or during JD. It’s never resolved why he killed himself. He was having fits onstage towards the end which meant he’d probably have to quit performing. Then there was the other woman/recent father dilemma. Ah well…it wasn’t as if he was writing chirpy love songs before that.

  265. alistairliv Says:

    What about early Joy Division? I find Closer dreary, but still love the punky sound of Ideal for Living.

    Side one and side two here

  266. alistairliv Says:

    Poking about on youtube found a whole wodge of Warsaw (band name before Joy Division) recorded in May 1978. Very punky. Listening to an early version (Warsaw) of Transmission now – quite different from Unknown Pleasures version.

  267. alistairliv Says:

    Just found that the Warsaw album (released in 1994) is still available and bought a copy.

  268. Mike Diboll Says:

    “Ah well…it wasn’t as if he was writing chirpy love songs before that. . .”

    Now there’s a scenario for you: Ian Curtis is cut down in the nick of time, jacks it in with Joy Division, and joins fellow Mancs The Buzzcocks!

    Alistair, I agree about “Closer”, it’s just that it was the only JD CD I had handy to pop into my car’s stereo on the way to work. A very toxic effect it had too: doing 120 mph to “Atrocity Exhibition” (second playing of CD on this trip), “This is the way, step inside. . .” croons Ian across a third of a century. “Stop, Mike, it doesn’t have to end this way. . .” says my guardian angel. Out comes Closer, in goes the MoS house compilation, back to 70 mph sanity.

    Yes, “Unknown Pleasures” is ur-JD for me, although “Means to an End” gives “She’s Lost Control” a run for its money as a JD anthem, if you can use the word “anthem” in the context of JD. The vaguely tango-ish rhythm track reminds me a bit of “Love is the Drug”, but instead of Ferry’s macho pop-crooner sex-addict we have Ian’s grown man whimpering “I put my trust in you, in you, in you. . .” Probably over a one night stand he picked up at a singles bar.

    I used to have a fetish for “She’s Lost Control” type druggie, existential crisis women, until I grew up belatedly some time in my mid-thirties.

    The early “Ideal” sounds a bit like The Damned to me, especial the rhythm section and the vocalisation. The trademark jangly guitar is still there however, and sometimes its far back in the mix, as in the mature JD. Note how far JD’s visual aesthetic come on, compare the cool cover art on “Pleasures” with the silly Nazi chic Hitler Youth drummer on the sleve of the early “Ideal”.

    I’d say the Warsaw “Transmission” sounds less punky and more ur-JD than the early JD “Ideal”; this is an excellent track.

    Sam, I used to have a JD flexi-disc with two (maybe three?) tracks on it, one at least was very experimental mix-wise. I used to play it to death at 66a (I had several copies in my desk drawer as they wore out quite quickly). I can’t remember what was on it, or where I got it from. Can you or anyone else out there help me?

  269. Sam Says:

    Don’t remember the flexi disc Mike. They ditched the Fascist drummer boy chic in favour of the Unknown Pleasures-type stuff due to signing to Factory Records. The Factory story will hopefully stand the test of time as a glorious example of idealists committing commercial suicide again and again. I love the fact that the multi million seller ‘Blue Monday’s packaging cost more to produce than they were selling it for.

  270. luggy Says:

    Komakino was the flexi:

  271. luggy Says:

    Download it here:

  272. Mike Diboll Says:

    Thanks so much for that, Luggy. How time flies. I can see why I would have liked it at the time. the drumming, particularly at the beginning, could almost be. . .Penny Rimbaud! Then I woke up.

  273. Mike Diboll Says:

    “The Factory story will hopefully stand the test of time as a glorious example of idealists committing commercial suicide again and again. . .”

    True, so true, Sam. That’s what’s so lacking today. Unless I’m missing out on something massively, which is also quite possible. Certainly that sort of thing would be unthinkable in today’s music and publishing industries. Perhaps the postmodern miracle that is the Internet offers alternatives. . . .

    (Mike Diboll is 93)

  274. Mike Diboll Says:

    Me again. I’m listening to the Warsaw “Transmission” as I type. What an awesome track.

    I love that deep, rolling bass, the trademark guitar that does its thing commenting melodically on the lyrics. The lyrics to are crisp and tinny and crude, almost like a voice over added after the music was laid down. Was that deliberate, or an effect of the technology available on whatever budget they had.

    It doesn’t come over at all punky until your here that crude vocal delivery about halfway through, where Ian’s natural speaking voice and accent breaks through the mix a couple of times, and for a moment you think of 101 garage bands. and meanwhile the whole thing pumps on, like a machine in, in a. . . . .factory! Wicked!

    That baby on the cover must be a 30-something now. My listening window is going to close in a moment, as my wife’s breastfeeding our six month old in the bedroom as I type. She’ll be back in a mo!

    Due to her getting an ear infection, I was spared her last night’s “girls’ night in” ’80s karaoke night with her girl mates. Otherwise I would have been relegated to being grumpy old git in the bedroom with the baby while her and her ’70s born mates catawalled to Madonna, MJ and such like.

    I love her to bits, though. Is this an appropriate forum to confess that in 1982 I bought the “Billy Jean” 12″? My first and last Jacko disc!

    Back to JD. Cheers, Luggy!

  275. Mike Diboll Says:

    Now she’s playing Prefab Sprout, her obsession, her revenge!

  276. Sam Says:

    “Is this an appropriate forum to confess that in 1982 I bought the “Billy Jean” 12″? My first and last Jacko disc!”

    Nought wrong wi’ that!

  277. andus Says:

    Billy Jean is a brilliant track, I had a copy of that as well, pretty much the only decent Jackson track. But did he really die of a heart attack or was he murdered by the c i a, I’m sure we can get a conspiracy theory out of it if we tried hard enough.

  278. Sam Says:

    “Perhaps the postmodern miracle that is the Internet offers alternatives. . . . ”

    Although I obviously enjoy the benefits of the thing, I have come to the conclusion that the mindset brought on by modern technology is largely something to be fought rather than embraced. I’ve just quit the band I’ve been playing in for 3 years. We just spent 3 weeks in a van going to Colorado and back. Sounds like fun but 5 other people constantly on laptops and iphones updating their Twitter status and Facebook pages, taking pictures of food to share with the rest of the world, finding Walmarts and Starbucks on their personal GPSs drives me mad. That and there is no shared experience of music anymore. Someone puts in a CD, 3 other people are on their ipods. So I’m a grumpy old dinosaur but the self-obsession and fractured virtual lives that people lead is worrying. Maybe I’ll dispense with my PC. Or maybe not.

  279. Penguin Says:

    M.D “Is this an appropriate forum to confess that in 1982 I bought the “Billy Jean” 12″? My first and last Jacko disc!”

    I still have my copy of the LP ‘Off The Wall’ which was my first and last Jacko disc, purchased when he still had an afro (or at least jerry curls!).

    Sam, shame you quit the band, the few times I went up to gigs with various bands was during a much simpler time when the distractions were far less, one or two tapes for the road. A bottle to pee in, and actually talking to the other folk sitting in the van. Your trip seems very sterile to me, as I am sure it was for you.
    It’s not technology to blame though, it’s how folk use it.
    Folk should be more than capable to use the new hand held/lap top gadgets and still be able to interact personally with the folk around them whether friends/family or other folk.
    If I have an ipod for a long journey and someone wants to talk to me I take it off and listen and talk, Enya I am sure can wait! (that’s a joke btw). Ditto lap top computers.
    All this new technology has an ‘off’ switch and that switch should be used more often than perhaps it is!

  280. Sam Says:

    I tried to explain to one of them that, if they post something like ‘John is mowing the lawn today’ on Twitter, my honest first reaction is ‘who cares?’. There followed a lengthy conversation where I had to explain that this didn’t mean I don’t care about the person in question etc….
    I honestly can’t stand it. They will talk to you, but there’s always the clack of tiny keyboards in the background. Anyone ever read ‘Walking on Glass’ by Iain Banks? There’s a scene in that that always springs to mind regarding virtuality, written at least a decade before the internet.

  281. andus Says:

    I read Walking on Glass, great story. The bit I like is towards the end where the Character is going on about billions of years of evolution resulting in a porno mag and a wank. I can’t remember the actual lines and I don’t have a copy of it anymore, its about 15 years since I read it, Its the one with the question, ‘What happens when an unstoppable force hits an unmovable object, and they’re trapped in this room until they can answer it, and this bird continually mocks them, If I remember right its 2 or 3 stories mixed up.

    I thought The Wasp Factory was Ian Banks best book, and his first I think.

  282. chris Says:

    MIKE D: “as a corporate entity Crass especially was humourless, and encouraged an earnest humourlessness that is the mark of the fanatic.”

    just want to say I totally agree with that and your above post related to that position.

    the unfortunate fact being that extremity and fanaticism will always attract young impressionable minds.

    I actually wrote about this when I was interviewed for that ian Glasper book but none of my answer was printed:

    “being from a comfortable and loving family I didn’t exactly have anything to be AGAINST but a major part of it’s [Crass' "Feeding of the 5,000"] appeal was that it seemed to articulate and somehow validate all these ill-formed feelings of pubertal resentment and negativity you felt. School was shit, the lessons were boring, and having to say prayers was for kids, no different to santa-clause but for some unintelligible reason treated otherwise… all your mates who were into football or wanted to join the army were stupid, coronation street and everything on tv seemed brain-dead, and with your hormones raging all your mates Jackanory stories of getting off girls after school discos made you think you were the only person on the planet not getting any. But suddenly, ‘feeding’ was there , providing, by proxy, an alternative reality and comfort-zone, that in essence made you think that as the things it was ‘against’ were things that you couldn’t relate to, it was a whole all-encompassing ethos and ideology of alienation and disassociation that you could derive an identity and sovereignty from”

    An “identity and sovereignty” that for many I believe simply created another highly confusing ‘guilt system’ to an extent just as oppressive as organised religion in that it critiqued everything that basically was fun, and kind of vilified much that is a fairly integral part of growing up. One instance in particular I recall being upon going to stay with a fellow fanzine-writer of similar age (13 or 14) the palable ‘fear and guilt’ he displayed when, going through his box of fanzines we came across a couple of porn mags. Whereas with any of my (non punk/crass fan) friends from school i’d gone to stay with probably the fist thing they’d have done was get the scud mags out.

    Not that I think many kids genuinely subscribed to this hair-shirted asceticism for long but several I met at the time did, and it was much to their detriment as developing children. For some, I perceived a feeling that there was a real feeling that somethings would be ‘bad’ and verboten in the eyes of Crass, just as Crass themselves wrote about their reasons for articulating the sentiments on ‘Reality Asylum’.

  283. Sam Says:

    “Its the one with the question, ‘What happens when an unstoppable force hits an unmovable object, and they’re trapped in this room until they can answer it, and this bird continually mocks them, If I remember right its 2 or 3 stories mixed up. ”

    That’s the one. Within this same subplot, the lead character eventually is shown into a room by the mocking crow, which is endless, white and filled with infinite ranks of people standing on chairs with their heads in these domes which go into the ceiling. The lead character succumbs to temptation and stands on an empty chair, puts his head into a dome and gets sucked into a virtual world whereby he becomes another character in the book and presumably stays there forever leading a completely meaningless life.

  284. andus Says:

    I’m gonna have to read that book again, I think it was about 1995 when I read it, I Don’t remember the bit you’ve just explained, Can you believe I sold my copy of that book a mere 4 weeks ago, now I wish I hadn’t, Now I’m gonna have to re-buy it, what a laugh, perhaps the library will have a copy.

  285. Penguin Says:

    I uploaded two recent photographs of Mike Diboll onto the post above, one of which shows his lovely newborn baby.

    M.D. – “Anyhow, that’s enough of that. FYI, all you Puppy-ites out there, I’ll be on my summer vacation in the UK from 13th July to the 18th August. I’ll be staying near Brighton”.

    “If any of you fancy meeting up face-to-face for the first time in the best part of 30 year please let me know (I’ve still got to sell the idea to my wife, but there you go)”.

    Luggy is the main man for organising KYPP picnics (he knows everyone!). We were discussing doing one out of London for the next major one. Bristol was discussed, but the South Coast in late July early August would be great. I can not do 16/08 as I will be at this years Mini In The Park (50th anniversary of the Austin Mini) at Santa Pod, I go every year in my Mini Cooper so will not miss this ‘special one’. Other than that I am free all weekends between the dates you mentioned I think.
    Will contact Mike Lugworm when he returns from Ireland, and see if we can arrange something.
    Any forthcoming KYPP gatherings if and when arranged will of course be advertised on this site.

  286. Sam Says:

    Looking good Mikey D!

  287. Mikey D! Says:

    Cheers, Sam! I’ve got 101 things to say re recent posts, but a nasty tropical virus caught in a recent trip to SE Asia (no, not that virus!) and subsequent secondary bacterial infections have laid us all up. I’ll get back in a day or so with full feedback! Mike

  288. Sam Says:

    Whatever happened to ‘Iggy’ who lived at Westbere Rd? There was a strange taste for long (European) leather jackets and briefcases amongst Joy Division/ Kraftwerk/ Krautrock types around 1980. I bumped into Iggy on Kilburn High Rd around 1982. We chatted for a while then I asked for his phone number. He opened his briefcase which contained a pen, notepad and 20 Bensons. Made a mental snapshot and off I went, never to see him again.

  289. luggy Says:

    Saw Iggy about 12 years ago, had moved back to Scotland & had a young family. Looked well, think he may have been doing some sort of social work but may be wrong.

  290. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Andus,

    “But did he really die of a heart attack or was he murdered by the c i a, I’m sure we can get a conspiracy theory out of it if we tried hard enough.”

    The conspiracy theories have already started out here in the Middle East. The Arabs like nothing better than a good conspiracy theory to get their teeth into as a way of avoiding reality. (They still go on about the Diana and Dodi thing out here.)

    The Jacko ones are along the lines that he had converted to Islam, or was about to annonce his conversion to Islam, or whatever. So he was bumped off by the CIA/Men In Black or whoever as part of an evil Satanic conspiracy to prevent the onward march of God’s True Faith, &ct.

    Bahrain has an interesting twist to the Jacko stuff, since MJ skanked a local shiekh out of a few million dinar the shiekh had put up to finance MJ’s comback concerts, that were supposed to have been held in Bahrain.

    So perhaps it was the shiekhs that bumped him off, or the Illuminati, of the International Zionist Conspiracy, or The Fish In The Atmosphere, or Aliens.

    Or maybe he was a middle aged one-time superstar who was overdoing the preparations for a 50 date concert tour (one for every year of his life?), got all the predictable aches and pains, then OD-ed on prescription opiates. A likely story!

    Still, mustn’t speak ill of the dead, especially not since I turn 50 tomorrow! And Billy Jean was indeed a wicked track!

  291. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Sam,

    “Although I obviously enjoy the benefits of the thing, I have come to the conclusion that the mindset brought on by modern technology is largely something to be fought rather than embraced. . .”

    I have mixed feelings about ICT. On the one hand I very much share your frustrations. My 12 year-old son Ben has about a dozen digital devices of one sort or the other at which you’ll find him gazing mindlessly for most of the day.

    This drives me fucking nuts, although obviously it’s my fault for buying him this junk in the first place, I suppose. Misguidedly I didn’t want him to miss out on this ave and that of new ITC applicaions, but I’ve risked turning him into some kind of geek.

    The mot pernicious thing is bloody Runescape, some sort of fantasy/wargame thing he plays with virtual friends (insomniacs) across the globe. This is a genuine addiction, and I get genuinely worried as to what route his Internet addiction will take when the hormones start to kick in in a year or so.

    It’s a pity, as he’s an intelligent and also quite a physical lad, who’s enjoyed and proved himself at all manner of things from chess to Rugby, karate, and off-road driving. Yet you try and drag him away from the computer, Playstation, Wii, or whatever. Added to that, my wife’s a Facebook addict, or if not a full-on addict, at least a problem user.

    On the other hand, ICT enables me to contact all sorts of people professionally and socially from across the globe in real-time. It’s an invaluable resource for research and writing, to the extent I can’t imagine how I ever did with out it. It even enables me to reach across time and get in contact with people I’ve not seem for nearly 30 years! (Assuming that’s a good thing!)

    Even my ‘net-addicted son does good Internet research and stuff for his homework, and can genuinely multi-task with about 5 different screens up all at the same time combining virtual socialising with homework and bloody Runescape.

    True, Facebook drives me nuts. I have an FB page which I visit once every few weeks or so, but that’s only because one is thought to be weird of one doesn’t. Twitter is even worse. What’s the fucking point of it?

    “Just did wet fart” 2 Hours Ago, &ct.

    Perhaps stalkers find it useful:

    “Liz H has just gone indoors”, 5 Minutes Ago, &ct.

    Or perhaps revolutionaries do. Recent events in Iran (very hot news here in Bahrain since Iran has a territorial claim over the island and there are many militant, pro-Iranian Shia here) has shown the usefulness of social networking sites, even the idiotic Twitter, since it has proved virtually impossible to censor them.

    During the ’78-9 revolution it was cassette tapes and the fax machine enabled people to side-step government censorship.

  292. Mike Diboll Says:

    “The bit I like is towards the end where the Character is going on about billions of years of evolution resulting in a porno mag and a wank.”

    Don’t forget the Pot Noodle!

    Seriously, the thing I don’t like about ICT is the way it breaks down real, human, face-to-face communication and interaction.

    I’m a big fan of Martin Buber and his “Ich-Du”, I-Thou” philosophy, where he equated the I-Thou relationship as one which generates mutual self-discovery and existential authenticity, where as “Ich-Es”, “I-It” relationships bring about objectificationand commodification:

    “He explained this philosophy using the word pairs of Ich-Du and Ich-Es to categorize the modes of consciousness, interaction, and being through which an individual engages with other individuals, inanimate objects, and all reality in general. Philosophically, these word pairs express complex ideas about modes of being – particularly how a person exists and actualizes that existence. As Buber argues in I and Thou, a person is at all times engaged with the world in one of these modes.

    The generic motif Buber employs to describe the dual modes of being is one of dialogue (Ich-Du) and monologue (Ich-Es). The concept of communication, particularly language-oriented communication, is used both in describing dialogue/monologue through metaphors and expressing the interpersonal nature of human existence.”

    (From Wikipedia. . .Ooops!)

  293. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Chris,

    “. . .the unfortunate fact being that extremity and fanaticism will always attract young impressionable minds.”

    Right on, brother! I bear the scars on my back from this. I see it every day out here in the Middle East, where angry young men (and women) get artached to off pat Islamic solutions (like /islam huwa al Hall/, “Islam is the Solution”, Hamas’ slogan), which in fact are solutions to nothing, but make sense if you are angry and not able or prepared to ask “Yeh, but. . .”

    “. . .being from a comfortable and loving family I didn’t exactly have anything to be AGAINST. . .”

    Me too Chris. So one makes up some phoney narrative about how oppressed one is, and then internalise this narrative so that it becomes THE TRUTH; like all ideologues the first person I lied to was myself, so once I’d convinced myself of the truth of falsehood when I spead the lie to others I was in a sense not really lying since I’d convinced myself that what I said was true. What a crazy mixed up kid I was!

  294. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Penguin,

    “I uploaded two recent photographs of Mike Diboll onto the post above, one of which shows his lovely newborn baby. . . .”

    That’s my daughter Rebecca Beatrice. Rebecca and Benjain, two wonderful kid’s names to have in this part of the Middle East (not that I’m Jewish, well only on my mother’s side, and they’d converted to Catholicism long ago).

    This picture was taken earlier this year at a South African friend’s Braii party, with a 1960s theme. “Braii Fleisch”, “Broilled Flesh” is the Afrikaans BBQ with balls. God, those guys know how to cook meat, put the Aussies to shame. “Braii Skeep” is a broilled whole sheep, cooked on a spit, Medieval style. The ostrich was good too, farmed across the Causeway in Saudi.

    There are loads of Afrikaners in the Gulf. I really like them, salt-of-the-earth, no bullshit types, although PC they aren’t and the way they talk about race &ct reminds one very much of the way (white) people in Britain used to talk crica “Love Thy Neighbour”, &ct.

    The theme was 1960s, so my wife is in costume with a slightly colourful take on the Mod look. She wouldn’t have looked out of place at a Jam or a Buzzcocks gig actually, although back in 1976 she would have been a baby, and I a nonce, were I going out with her then! I don’t have to look 1960s, being born in 1959 I was there mate. . .sort of. . .kinda just remember the end. . . .

    Apart from my shirt, jacket, hair, &ct my other 1960s genture is my old Range. Actually it’s a 1984 model, but it’s one of the very last old ones made before the Range Rover brand started to go seriously up market, and as such differs very little from the original Range Rover of 1970, except that it’s got four doors, wind-up (not sliding) windows, no quarter lights, mirrors on the doors not the wings, a fifth gear, a rev counter, and a (period) stereo radio. Other than that it feels very much like a late 1960s car to drive, complete with that whirring noise in reverse that one never hears these days.

    I have two other Land Rovers: a 2002 4.0 V8 Discovery, and a 2005 2.5 V6 Freelander (my wife’s car, actually). The latter is quad-cam 4 valve per head, electronic engine management, &ct goes like like shit off a shovel, quite like a full-on rally car circa 1979 in fact, with more or less indentical performance to something like a Ford RS 1800 or a Sunbeam Lotus. Except that it’ll do the school run, carry five people in comfort along with loads of shopping, &ct.

    But for me it has to be the V8. The Rover V8, memories from my mispent youth. I’ll explain another time. Now I’m turning 50 I’m turning into an old fart who wants a sports car. An MGB V8 would do nicely, better still the TVR with the 5.0 version of the venerable old Rover (formerly Buick) V8.

  295. Mike Diboll Says:

    Hi Penguin,

    What sort of Mini Cooper do you have? There are so many cool vehicle that have had/are about to have their 50th anniversary: the Austin Mini, the Ford Mustang, the Harley Sportster, the Series II Land Rover, the Lotus/Caterham 7, the Triumph Bonneveille, &ct. And last years was Land Rover’s and Porsche’s 60th.

    Personally I must confess I’m not a Mini man: too small, too square, too much like a two wheeled scooter.

    As a punk I used to prefer the Punk Rocker look, like Sid: biker jacket, ripped jeans, &ct., rather than the Mod.Suede/Skin look. Or at least I did until I hooked up with Crass, donned the Pol Pot-like black uniform, and forgot how to have a laugh. In fact, immediately before punk (75-6) I was a bit of a Greaser geezer.

    So I held the poor old Mini respoinsible, along with the Vespa and the Honda responsible for killing off the British bike industry. After all, who’d buy a motorbike and sidecar as family transport like they did in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s when circa 1960 you could buy a Mini for 500 quid?

    So the Mini helped democratise British motoring, and unlike scooters it stuck to the road like shit to a blanket (at least by late 50s, early 60s standards). Then of course there was the Cooper winning consecutive Monte Carlos in, what was it, ’64, ’65, ’66? And the Italian Job, Minis with Union Jacks on the roof, containing Twiggy, &ct.

    So an icon, yes; good on you Penguin.

  296. Mike Diboll Says:

    “Looking good Mikey D!”

    Cheers, Sam. Today is my last day of 40 somethingdom, tomorrow it’s Jack Lord Is Steve McGarret in Hawaii Fuckin’ Five-O time. Eeek! My life already!

  297. Penguin Says:

    Here you go Mike:

    The 1996 Mini Cooper –

    The 1965 Vespa Sprint –

    And finally my late father’s 1960 Austin Seven Mini that the family is restoring from the way it looked previously, all should be finished this year.

    I have also owned a Mini 850 City when I passed the test at 17, then a Mini 1000 Mayfair a little bit later, then the 1996 Mini 1300 Cooper bought from new which I still own.
    The dad’s 1960 Austin Seven Mini (1 year after production) was the car I was driven around in until 1966 – 1972, then he upgraded to a BL Mini 1000 at thet time until 1976 (while storing the 1960 Mini in a falling apart wood and asbestos garage til we cranked it out a couple of years ago to get the restoration done on it). From 1976 he purchased Austin Maxi’s (two of them) and then various Rover ‘yawn’ cars till his death.

    Happy Birthday btw.

  298. baron von zubb Says:

    I got net…
    all v interesting over here.

    “Although I obviously enjoy the benefits of the thing, I have come to the conclusion that the mindset brought on by modern technology is largely something to be fought rather than embraced. . .”

    But one could easily postulate that the phone was the first bit of tech to really take us ‘out of the moment’ and start fucking around with spacetime.
    Mike its taken me 6 years to get used to being over 40.
    I’m already prepared, i think, for the 5 OH.
    Happy birthday mate
    One of the problems with not having had kids is theres no evidence for all that time gone by…

  299. Mike Diboll Says:

    Your ’96 Cooper looks really cool, Penguin. Must have been one of the last few production years before those ghastly BMW fake Minis arrived.

    I really hope all goes well with the restoration of your father’s 1960 Mini. I’m not really a Mini man (ho ho), my dream small car would have two less seats and be called a Caterham.

    Still, automotive heritage is our heritage, especially those of us who were born in the two decades after WW2; these were also the decades, for better or worse, when the car went from rich man’s plaything to mass consumer culture.

    For me at least the cars (or bikes) are as definitive of the years and decades of the period 1946-89 (Berlin Airlift to fall of Berlin Wall) as the music (excpt now I’m a middle aged old fart I can afford them).

    The family connection makes your Mini restoration all the more important. I hope it goes well!

    Will be in Brighton August 3rd-17th.

  300. Mike Diboll Says:

    You’re right about the phone, Jake. Although these days I find the idea that something can go ‘ring ring’ unsolicited and out of the blue stopping you in the middle of what your’re doing a terrible imposition!

    Turning 40 was no big deal for me, just another number. But 50 makes you think!

    The family thing is interesting. I have a wife of 34, a daughter of 27, a son of 12, and another daughter of 8 months. I have two grandaughters from my grown up daughter, aged 11 and 5, and a nephew and a niece of 17 and 13. Both my parents and my in-laws are alive, so when I’m back in England I find myself surrounded by a dizzying array of ages, generations, and ethnicities, all of which are closely related to me.

    Sometimes I think that’s more than enugh evidence of time gone by! Will be in Brighton August 3rd to 17th.

  301. Penguin Says:

    Thanks for the kind comments Mike.
    BTW did you see your birthday post at all? Got a picture of your cake on it…!

    Was it a nice cake? Seems a shame to cut the sweet little thing up.

    Think Jake lives near Brighton or actually in the town. You should arrange a meeting with him and Pork seems to be around Wimbledon a fair bit so maybe an extra train ride to Brighton may be a nice day out for him. Be good to get you lot back together again (for a short while a least). Email me privately if you three do not have each others email details. I am sure you probably have but just in case…

  302. Nick Hydra Says:

    Interesting to see this, as I’m always fascinated to work out how images/ artworks penetrate the culture.

    Most people will recognise the picture on the 3rd page as being the ‘Amebix face’, but not many will know it’s by Austin Osman Spare
    who was involved in The Golden Dawn and did a lot of ‘Automatic Drawing’ in this style. the particular image illustrates his theory of ‘Atavism’.

    I imagine the pic in Toxic graffity was taken from a magazine called ‘Man, Myth and Magic’
    that was published in weekly parts from 1970 onwards. To quote from the article itself:
    “Atavism means reversion to an earlier type. Applied to human beings, atavism is the re-emergence of the charachteristics of a certain ancestors after a lapse of what may have ben many generations. the implication is nearly always of something unwholsome or frightening, and the idea has been used in many horror stories.

    In a broader sense, the term atavism is used by occultists to mean the reappearance of characteristics which come from so long ago that they constitute reincarnations, or fresh embodiments, of pre-human conciousness; things which come from the time of creatures half man and half beast”.

    So you can see how Amebix might have been atracted to the imagery.

    What is interesting is the original is in colour (purple mainly) and is actually the other way round see here:

    I think the original is in a Witchcraft museum in Cornwall (maybe Devon?) which was flooded a couple of years ago, so I don’t know if it survives.

    It was obviously accidentaly transposed in the magazine in B&W (which looks much better), taken from there for ‘TG’ and then reworked by Amebix for their logo.

    I once wrote to the Amebix asking them if the use was a refence to Spare’s theories and they were pleasently suprised that I’d even heard of him.

    Incidentally MM&M is the source for loads of punk/ post-punk/ goth imagary not least the mummified corpse that was used as the Mob’s logo, but also UK Decay, Pop Group, Ritual etc.

  303. alistairliv Says:

    Some of the AOS influences on popular culture are mentioned on the fulgur website

    One is a song called Austin Osman Spare by the late sixties group British Bulldog. Rod Taylor who was in the group explained that the connection came through his grandmother who knew Spare. The song is on you tube

    Kenneth Grant was on the editorial board of Man, Myth and Magic which is why AOS work was included. There is a useful bit of background here-

    There is a tenuous KYPP(fanzine) connection to AOS via Mouse who we first met at the Wapping A Centre and who was later in PTV. For a while in the later eighties Mouse used to visit Frank Letchford who had been a close friend of AOS. This would have been with Gavin Semple of Fulgur. I’m sure Mouse also corresponded with Kenneth Grant – she thought KG was a better poet than he was a writer of occult books.

  304. Nick Hydra Says:

    The British Bulldog song is a a bit Tapish, no?

    Good to see someone else has an interest in AOS work/ life – there’s several odds and sods on Amazon – his own books, and illustrations he did for other people’s work. Machen’s ‘Great God Pan’ is very nice.

    Also nice to see someone who appreciates John Coulthart’s work. The only good HPL illustrations if ever seen.

  305. gerard Says:

    Interesting to see you flagging up the Conservative Party on Facebook, Mike.

  306. Sam Says:

    Bumpety-bump (bump bump).

  307. Nick Hydra Says:

    Found this on John Coulthart’s site:

    Austin Osman Spare: Fallen Visionary
    September 2010 to Saturday 13 November 2010

    The fascinating rise and fall of Austin Osman Spare, who lived and worked in Southwark in the early twentieth century, is charted in a new exhibition this Autumn at the Cuming Museum.

    Austin Osman Spare’s choice of dream-like, magical themes, his sometimes disturbing imagery and his other-worldly life and attitude have meant his work has both admirers and detractors.

    But he was also a fine and much-admired draughtsman and figurative artist, and left a fascinating visual record of his Southwark neighbours and acquaintances.

    Spare rejected much of the art establishment of the time and followed his own path, despite an early promise of fame and fortune.

    This made him an outsider in the art world but his life and work continue to inspire new generations of artists, musicians and writers.

    The exhibition will feature Spare’s work from the Southwark Art Collection and loans from many private and institutional collectors. It will be the largest showcase of his work in a public museum since his death in 1956.

    The exhibition is being curated by Stephen Pochin and Chris Jordan in conjunction with the Cuming Museum.

    To accompany the exhibition, there will be a series of fascinating talks by renowned speakers, private views and other activities. A final list of events will be published on the events pages in August.

    For further information please contact the Cuming Museum on 020 752 52332 or email:

  308. Music Monday: Kill Your Pet Puppy « Wow Cool Says:

    [...] time-sink of a music blog Kill Your Pet Puppy. I was looking for a copy of the fanzine by CRASS, Toxic Grafity, and discovered KYPP. Strangely, or not so much, the worlds of CRASS and other anarcho-punk goings [...]


    “Chaos in USSR” by Sub-Active.
    Great tune. Only available on flexi disc.
    In fact I was in touch with one of the band members, Stewart Osborne a few years back.
    He was surprised by the fact that I knew about his obscure little band.
    I used to sing in Bizex-B myself. Infamous Swedish punk band.
    All the best from,
    “Zluggo Pop”

  310. Chris L Says:

    Can’t remember which thread it was as I had been asked about it a few years ago, but pleased to say I have recently unearthed my copy of Mike Dibol’s post-TG journal The Commonweal, which I will be happy to lend you Penguin should you want to scan and post it up.

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