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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original mugshots from Waterloo station photo-booth courtesy of Leah D…


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

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

  1. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    May 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Once again Penguin with the peace pies, nicely done!!

  2. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    May 29, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Blimey Pengs. Its like good cop bad cop…
    Just to make it quite clear; i am always only joking when getting into literary spats of my own making – with Dr Bob
    Bob you have the craft and well deserved mate.
    Me, lets not forget this, I am only published by a bizarre set of coincidences that got me onto KYPP.

    Having said that…

    ‘”Joys Of Work’ what an incredable punk treatise..”
    The Sun.

    Bob I’d love a signed copy of your new one.

    Fill me in on how to sort it.

    Good point Al about other big squats that weren’t the hell what CB was.
    I can’t remember any of the tenement punk squats being any good, Kennington, Vauxhall etc.
    But the tenement in St Johns St that became H A was good place.
    P, please dont make me listen to Gong records again for missing the picnic & being lairy on the site …

  3. Penguin
    May 29, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    There was a large squatted punk / crustie estate behind Kennington Tube that I witnessed some bands perform in the middle of the carpark / common ‘green’ areas that I can not remember the name of. A bit like a council estate version of Meanwhile Gardens. Protag used to do the sound from inside his van, as opposed to him sitting on the grass at Meanwhile Gardens.

    When was your book reviewed in The Sun Baron? Send me a scan I will add it to the Joys Of Work post.

    Dave, why was the good doctor interested in whether you could give your parents a slapping? Sounds an odd thing for a ‘professional’ and one of the bedrocks of any community to ask…

  4. Sam
    May 29, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    But Bob’s toilet at Yoakley Rd has stuck in the public imagination as the worst ever. Quite a feat.

  5. luggy
    May 29, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Pengy, I reckon you’re thinking of the Pullens Estate.

  6. Penguin
    May 30, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Yeah Luggy, that’s the badger…cheers.

    Sam you know that Bob is working on a third book, specifially around the Blood And Roses era. Hopefully that toilet will get its own chapter. Remind me, is that the toilet where they pee’d and shat in plastic bags and then just dumped the bags over the garden wall to fester for weeks / months on end?

  7. Bob Short
    Bob Short
    May 30, 2009 at 3:24 am

    I think one thing to remember about Campbell Buildings is that Lambeth Council were definitely playing a number on the residents. If we called the most Eastern Block with the 300 numbers Block One (the first to be demolished), then the council didn’t do much in terms of evicting squatters in Blocks One or Two in 1979/80. If you tried squatting Block Three you’d be promptly evicted. I think they used us as a tool to drive the existing residents into whatever new shit holes Lambeth felt obliged to relocate them in and the locals knew it. The residents frequently responded by just handing us over keys as they left.

    The rationale behind the demolition of Campbell buildings always sounded dubious. Building a truck stop for vehicles entering the channel tunnel? Last time I checked google earth it didn’t look like a truckstop. Socialist councils are always the most bent. That land would be pretty valuable and what if residents could have bought it under Thatcher’s proposed law changes.

    Dr Death was a weird old drunk but I don’t like to use his real name because that might still get him into trouble. Later on, he did have problems with punks threatening violence and (once again) I point the finger at a gang from Kensington ‘led’ by a future social worker. In reality, bottles of scotch were a much better and easier inducement than threats and menace.

    There has been some talk of my new book but I feel a little guilty because the postage is so high from Australia. To the UK, I’ve been letting them go at cost including postage. It depends a lot on numbers but it still works out between 16 and 18 dollars Australian a copy and I know that is pricey. Unfortunately that is cost. If you get one through the Independence Jones site, it’s going to be 16 plus postage. Most of you have my email if your interested. Actually, I think it’s on the site so it doesn’t matter. kxv666@hotmail.com

  8. dave
    May 30, 2009 at 10:58 am

    penguin – i haven’t a clue why the doc asked that question but everyone i know had the same experience he used to stand up like a boxer and ask if i could fight my parents and brother??
    on cb land they built cheap looking maisonettes which are a complete shithole now. the time they built them was when lambeth was buying property all over london, know doubt with huge backhanders – later there was an enquiry and i think heads rolled( apparently).

  9. Nic
    May 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Penguin – I went down to ‘Pullens Festival’ a couple of times in the 80’s, but the mists of time have made the memories a hazy blur (the odd Polaroid of a scene, and not much else: I seem to remember watching The Oroonies play, but could be mistaken)…
    Has anyone got any information that would help jog the memory?

  10. Penguin
    May 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I remember a gig there with Thatcher On Acid around 1987, or possibly earlier in 1986, that was stopped by the police running around the various flats ‘looking’ for someone on their wanted list or something similar. Saw one P.C. get kicked in the head from a punk boot flying out of a doorway on the second or third level up. That memory seemed to stick in my mind at the time (and since). Pretty sure I was wearing white socks that day…

    Dave, Bob, the inner city councils were well dodgy in those late 1970’s early 1980’s weren’t they? Thatchers dream and all that.
    Who was the left wing scouser council leader that got caught with his hands in the till, and who, in the 1960’s used to ‘hang’ with the Beatles and their entourage?
    The film ‘The Long Good Friday’ (co-incidently financed by a Beatle) is so good becouse it captures that period of time (the cusp of the 1980’s) so correctly, from demolisition of old docks and estates, right through to the bent councils. I can just imagine Bob Hoskins with a council rep freshly paid up in used notes, standing in amongst C.B. residents and squatters ‘persuading’ them to leave the area with a little back up party holding sawn offs parked up in Jags.

  11. dave
    May 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    penguin – derek hatton is possibly the bent scouser. but let us not forget or could we ever red ken when he was leader of g.l.c. i also think it was chelsea who sung glc glc your full of shit pretty much summed that authority up.

  12. Sam
    May 30, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Wasn’t that Menace? And wasn’t the GLC Tory run at the time of the record?

  13. Ian S
    Ian S
    May 30, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    “Dave, Bob, the inner city councils were well dodgy in those late 1970’s early 1980’s weren’t they? Thatchers dream and all that.
    Who was the left wing scouser council leader that got caught with his hands in the till, and who, in the 1960’s used to ‘hang’ with the Beatles and their entourage?”

    Penguin: You might be thinking of T Dan Smith of Newcastle council, he had a very high profile for a council leader in the 1960s. He started out with good intentions but became corrupt and was jailed for accepting bungs from architects.

    Dave wrote: “on cb land they built cheap looking maisonettes which are a complete shithole now.”

    The Peabody estates still look OK though, like the one on Blackfriars Road near the Obelisk end. They must be nearly 100 years older as well.

  14. Andus
    May 30, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Derek Hatton was a member of the militant tendency and Deputy leader of Liverpool city Council. He created a budget deficit in response to cutbacks from the central Goverment causing Liverpool council to go bankrupt. He was expelled from the Labour party. Neil Kinnock gave a famous speach about him during the Labour party conference which went something like this. ‘And you end up with the grotesque chaos of a labour council, A Labour council, hiring taxis to hand out redundancy payments.

  15. dave
    May 31, 2009 at 9:02 am

    sam – your right – k livingston was in 1981 – ian – peabody buildings i think are a trust but not sure – cb used to be railway flats so i think the council has a lot to answer for by knocking them down.

  16. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    June 3, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Erm, Sun reviewed?
    Yeah Bushell came out of his hole especially…
    Nah of course not.
    Oh damn I think that was my feeder line to post a spoof review.
    Sorry I missed that P…
    Dave I thought there was a 20 storey office on CB land?

    Cheers for link Bob.

  17. dave
    June 4, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    haven’t been to waterloo for couple of years now but last time there was crappy maisonettes on the land unless they demolished them too…the only thing that hasnt changed is the afters in the sussex.
    i have a photo of cb if anyones interested in a copy.

  18. Penguin
    June 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    My computer is being pimped to fuckery right now Dave. When I get the beast back I will email you personally re any photographs you may have of late 1970’s Campbell Buildings or folks living within said buildings. This is written on someone elses lump.

  19. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Well, haven’t *I* been sweeping the floor of the wider web while all you lot have been twirling round the dance floor in your crystal (Meth?) slippers on here?

    A few moments reading time is required before I get stuck in here, for the sake of decorum. Though having not slept, due to insufficient pharmaceutical mood stabilisation lately, I feel my less tolerant side may be about to put a few days’ graft in.


  20. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 1:12 am

    @Dave-> “It was quite easy to define – musicians (loosely speaking) hiding behind songs of rebellion and change, rather than going out and making a difference. Getting others to make the change for you is cowardise.
    pluralism, i dont think so, as the views wasnt that diverse, it was more of a persons view taken and expanded. Punk was more or less a movement of egocentric bored youths (whats new) a modern version of rock n roll, mods, etc, punk was the same as all other musical inspired fashions, people trying too hard to be different!”

    Who were these homogenous and monomaniacal musicians then Dave? I’ll give you a free hit here by not straying too far from big bands signed to big labels, or what even “Sounds” would have defined as “New Wave”, let alone “Punk…”: Did it include: The Slits? The Damned? X-Ray Spex? The New York Dolls? Crass? The Ruts? Penetration? 999?

    All identical in image, message, sound, method, origin? If not, then yes, punk was pluralist. Of course it was. It was a bunch of people who didn’t want telling what to do, who just wanted a space to have their own little abilities celebrated for what they were. Or, at least, not have their heads kicked in for being uppity and not settling for whatever hierarchy they were at the bottom of had in store for them.

    I presume that you never bothered to talk to anybody who celebrated being ostracised. Because the first thing that any of us learned was that change was good and revolution was bad. Revolution implies turning the status quo on its head… putting those on the top onto the bottom and putting only those who agree with your own weltanschauung onto the new top. We didn’t want a new top – and I use the word both figuratively and literally. We were fed up with being fucked. A large percentage of the people squatting at CB initially were on the run from abuse, be it: being fucked by nonces at home, getting the shit kicked out of them for being different in their own areas, being women who’d been fucked by abusive males; being on the lam from various institutions who wanted them back, and more.

    If there was a meeting of minds, it certainly wasn’t “a person’s view, taken and expanded”, it was a thing of beauty which resulted from us finding safety in numbers (apologies to The Adverts). It meant that we were free to sit in those flats of a night and disagree with each other while still rattling away like the frightened but optimistic little cunts on speed that we were in order to try and make our opinion as valid as anyone else’s. “Egocentric bored youths”? We were too scared to be egotistic. We didn’t know who was going to get us next and how they were going to go about it. Being amongst other people who thought that life under heavy heavy manners was shite and the fact that there might be a way that we could make the fuckers lay off all of us and allow us to blossom in our own sweet way gave us the luxury to develop egos. It also gave us the caveat – which is ignored by many previously oppressed people around the world today, no names, no pack drill – that if were all allowed our individual freedoms then we should never deny anyone else theirs.

    Mods? “Modernists”, weren’t they? Hmmm, convergence rather than divergence of opinion… Utilitarianism too, when it came to the rockers, I seem to remember. While the Mod thing (and for that, see Modernism generally) may have come from the very best intentions and purest roots (see “Absolute Beginners” perhaps?) I think one doesn’t need to look much further than nuclear weapons, council tower blocks, fossil fuel, 1980s clothing/haircuts and, of course, the great Modernist project that Bonner’s mate Mr Hitler set in motion in order to differentiate that from the people that you (may or may not have) kicked in in 1980.

    [pauses for breath]

  21. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 1:32 am

    @Dave-> “musicians (loosely speaking) hiding behind songs of rebellion and change, rather than going out and making a difference. Getting others to make the change for you is cowardise.”

    Here’s one perspective…

    It gave many people after 1976 the impetus to go out and pick up an instrument or sing their lungs out. Because they knew that they could. Nobody I knew was interested in saying the same things that the Clash or the Pistols had said. The medium of expressing thoughts, anger, ideas, art or anything else you wanted became available to Joe Public. Whether it was talking/singing/shouting about shit drugs, shit housing, shit politicians (and weren’t Menace fucking awesome?), shit people beating you and your mates up because you were black/female/gay/mental or whatever, you were allowed to do it. As long as you weren’t looking to make a million dollars out of it or get laid. Because there wasn’t any of that stuff to go round. We used to go to gigs in the back rooms of pubs, in youth centres, anywhere there was a drum kit and a couple of amps. Because it was (a) exciting to see a new band play and (b) it gave someone who might not otherwise have had the neck to say anything the chance to get up and shout.

    The change that was made by the first wave of punk bands was to make music more accessible. That was a serendipitous side-effect of what they were saying: neither brave nor cowardly – it’s valour-neutral. None of the bigger bands wanted us to get up there and do what they were doing…. why would they? They did not ask anything of us other than to get up there, which we did (I know a number of people who became millionaires through running rehearsal studios in the late 70s/early 80s!). If you weren’t involved in it, then maybe you have a different perspective on it. I am a mouthy fucker to this day because of it. I was such a quiet little kid beforehand.

  22. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 1:57 am

    @Baron-> I was up CB the other week (went round the Imperial War Museum with Chels). Where block 1 was is now a crappy multi-storey businessman-type hotel (where Sam legged it onto the 159 that time). We went round the back and there’s a square of council places there. Not bad little gaffs – just not my sort of thing I guess as I’ve got used to living in Victorian flats after CB (still live in one now, though private).

    It was weird to walk round there with Chels: having to stop every few yards and say “this was where so-and-so happened”, because she knows every one of the stories and all of the characters so well (though she did ask me the other day why I’m quite as careful with Scousers as I still am, so maybe she hasn’t paid that much attention).

    I still dream of that place a lot, very vividly. Few of the dreams are pleasant. But, thankfully, the dreams are only about what we did to ourselves and don’t involve those who weren’t strong enough personalities to surface until 2009. Let’s face it, there was deeply bad self-inflicted shit going on there after we realised the simple truth that nobody could be as bad to us as we could.

    On a lighter note, the one thing that the whole CB experience did do for me was to prepare me for the grief that was to come later in life when my daughter’s rabbit died. I know she was only 4, but I think she thought I was a right hard bastard! Job done.

  23. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 2:01 am


    Kinnock, Hatton. Reptiles both.

    Kinnock still has his hand in the Eurotrough I think. I can’t believe that so many people had their hopes invested in Kinnock and Meacher as the Socialist Dream Team in the 1983 election.

    Hatton, if you can believe it, is a property tycoon living in Cyprus. Here is a first for me… I’m posting a link from the Daily Mail (I think Hatton has made sure his Wiki is kept nicely trimmed)…


  24. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 2:12 am

    @Pengy-> Re: Hoskins etc…

    I dunno whether the Old Bill at Kennington nick were bent at the time (wouldn’t have surprised me at all though). They *were* bastards though. I remember the sergeant there telling me, when I had the temerity to complain after being nicked for the murder that Crap went down for, that it was a good job the pinkos had got rid of hanging or my feet would have been 6 foot off the ground by the morning. I was just about 17 at the time. I hope he has had a chance to reflect on that over the years.

    I walked past there the other week. I note that they’ve got a wheelchair ramp now. Nice. “Welcome to Kennington Police: we give you a kicking whether you’re a raspberry ripple or not. Equal Opportunity fascism.”

  25. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 2:18 am

    @Sam-> “But Bob’s toilet at Yoakley Rd has stuck in the public imagination as the worst ever”

    Maybe, mate. But I clearly remember Leigh rushing into your room at 66a while you were showing me a guitar riff on the old SG and shouting maniacally “Sam, Pork, come and have a look at my monster log!!!!”

    I can say now that at the time I had no fucking idea what he was talking about until I saw the evidence damn near sticking up over the top of the seat!

    Was that during Leigh’s vegetarian period? I’ve eaten some pretty bad food over the years but my output has never got anywhere near that skyscraper of a stool.

  26. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 2:25 am

    @Bob-> “The only reason why I wrote this response is that I wanted to make sure everyone who read the page above did not come away with a shallow interpretation of idle boast. The story 1980 is a horror story. A nightmare. I included it in the book to show what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men (or the barely laid plans of the same.)”

    Mate, I think you’ll find that you’re a fine writer and nobody is gonna come away with a false impression of what it was then – or who you are now. Anyone who doesn’t get the self-deprecation isn’t gonna get any of the other stuff either and as such isn’t worth considering when you write.

  27. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 2:33 am

    @Bob-> “I think therefore I am egocentric”


    But now I realise I was putting Descartes before the hoarse.

  28. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 10, 2009 at 2:40 am

    @Baron-> “Mad Dog became a social worker, for underage runaways”

    Now THAT is the best news I’ve heard in ages. He was a funny, cool fucker and that’s the perfect job for him.

  29. Penguin
    June 10, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Welcome back Jah Porker…it’s been far too long!

  30. Jah Pork Pie
    Jah Pork Pie
    June 16, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Cheers Pengers, lovely to see you all in good voice.

  31. Penguin
    June 25, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks to Dave S for the photograph of Campbell Buildings which now heads up this post.
    I tidied the post up as well so old Bob can shift some more books hopefully!

  32. Sam
    June 25, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    What a shot!

    “Norman Stanley Fletcher…..you are an habitual criminal…..”

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