Our friend and fellow ‘Puppy’, Alistair Livingston passed on after a short illness on the 3rd November 2018.
I am in shock.
In the 1980’s, AL was a leading light in the Puppy Collective, Black Sheep Housing Co-op and All The Madmen Records.
From 2007 through his Green Galloway blog, Alistair battled to bring attention and recognition to Anarcho Punk; and his energy helped generate, propel and sustain the Kill Your Pet Puppy MySpace and then blog / website.
He will be sorely missed.
R.I.P my friend.
Late December 1979.
The moment everything came together as Alistair met the Puppies and became AL A.
Meeting each other.
“You did Ripped & Torn? I sent you a letter,” says this mild-mannered boy, “but you never replied. I’ll buy you, your girlfriend and your friend a drink anyway.”
“She’s my sister Val, he’s her boyfriend Brett; and we’re starting a new fanzine anyway, called Kill Your Pet Puppy,” I warily respond, “I’ll explain about your letter when you bring back the drinks. Lager all round, cheers mate.”
Alistair Livingston returned with drinks from the bar of a pub in which we were all seeking asylum from the After Persons Unknown meeting just ended at nearby Conway Hall.
We clinked glasses and laughed at the conformity of it all: then spent a highly charged evening discussing anarchy, magic, squatting, materialism, punk, Alister Crowley, William Blake, William Burroughs, then Ripped & Torn and what Kill Your Pet Puppy meant both in literal meaning of the words and the intent behind it.
Mike of Toxic Graffiti fanzine was present, and he was the conduit to introduce Alistair to what became known as the Puppy Collective, knowing both of us; and on the evening he sprayed an Anarchy symbol on my trench-coat and my plastic bag. How we admired his strength of purpose; but in the following months the paint wore off, Mike slipped away, and Alistair became a Puppy.
How did we get to this meeting?
Alistair has written that he got to the meeting via his communications with renowned Anarchist Stewart Christie and his publishing company, the fact he had recently relocated to London from Scotland and was trying to find like-minded Anarchist people.
For me I was there because it was somewhere warm, dry and more spacious than my current living arrangement. There were also toilet facilities, an added luxury to the proceedings. I put myself down here, I was also powered up by anarchistic and magickal visions of how the world could be transformed.
This was December 1979 and at the time Brett, Val and I were squashed up in a one room squat in Sherriff Road with a variable amount of people from six to as many as could fit in on various occasions. The misery of this habitat drove us out to the weird After Persons Unknown meeting, which Andy Palmer of Crass had told me about when I called Crass on a public telephone to say I was starting a new fanzine.
“Hi Andy,” I said after he answered the phone, “Tony D. here. I’m thinking of starting a new fanzine and want to feature Crass in the first issue. Let’s arrange an interview. It is going to be called ‘Fuck Your Mother’.”
Andy advised me to think again about the name but to go to the After Persons Unknown meeting at Conway Hall because they had heard the people involved want Crass to do something; this could be the main part of the feature/interview I want.
So, I went as did my sister Val and her chap Brett came along as they believed in anarchy and wanted to get involved in any project; but also, for the above-mentioned warmth, dryness, space and toilet facilities.
We went our separate ways, Alistair off to what he saw as his barren bed-sit life working a 9-5 existence, us back to the cramped confines of the squat.
A letter was received from Alistair, sent to our mailing address at Rough Trade’s shop. The letter was page after page of crackling energy, covering some of what we’d discussed at the meeting or otherwise branching out in tendrils of science fiction and anarchistic dreams.
The first issue of Kill Your Pet Puppy had been published on New Year’s Eve 1979 to huge acclaim, we’d also manage to claim legitimacy in the building we were squatting by becoming Housing Association tenants and even gain loads more rooms (and bathroom facilities!) This became known as Puppy Mansions.
The second issue of Kill Your Pet Puppy was published late February 1980, produced from a more comfortable position but a confrontational blast: with no bands, no music, just articles, opinionated pieces and Alistair’s six-page letter published in full (reduced half-size to take up 3 pages).
Without meeting Alistair and allowing his enthusiasm and energy into the Puppy world that second issue may well never have happened, or not as the powerful statement it has since become recognised. Joly McFie remembers when I took it into his office to get printed how sadden he was as it had no bands in it to hook it around – then month later was using it as the example of how fanzines should be.
A move to a new Housing Association house in Hampstead at Westbere Road, Puppy Mansions 2, saw Alistair and I develop, spar and argue out grand schemes of Anarchy, Magick and music. Alistair used to come around on Friday nights with handfuls of cider bottles, a headful of ideas and a large amount of tolerance to handle Puppy Mansions when we weren’t all out at gigs.
Huge bonfires would rage in the back garden, sometimes I’d fall into them as rationale of my argument at the time, but Alistair would sit on the sofa and pour me out another glass as I raged: his fires burned in his head.
No one other than Alistair could have tolerated, understood or educated me at this time in the early months of 1980; and he writes in his blog about feeling the same about himself as he was coming to terms with expressing his opinions freely for the first time.
Then I went to Europe and travelled the continent for six months, by the time I came back, in October 1980 there was a Kill Your Pet Puppy 3 written, mainly with Al’s energy, but not published.
Tony D – Ripped And Torn / Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine
I’m supposed to be working instead of writing this–preparing to teach people some technical bollocks that ultimately doesn’t matter at all. Something that is all facts at the expense of poetry.
I think AL (as I always thought of him – Al or A.L? I never knew) would get this completely. In fact, he was a large influence on why I think it – AL was pure poetry.
I still have a collection of his letters from back when he was running All The Madmen and I was fronting Flowers in the Dustbin and we were plotting on how to best change the world. Some of the best writing I’ve ever been lucky enough to read.
AL’s letters were pure stream of consciousness poetry – words that are in many cases often still burned into my consciousness.
Suggesting that words could leap off the page and strangle the reader is a vivid example. His certainly could do that and lots more besides.
I guess we are at the age where people die and it’s only going to get more frequent. I was going to write ‘worse’ but that would be denying the inevitable. I will go there some day. And so will you.
Does it matter what we leave behind? Is that how we are to be measured?
I’d say not, but occasionally someone will stand out from the crowd. Very rarely, someone will span the bridge between absolute inspiration and absolute openness and lack of ego. If you are ever lucky enough to find someone like that, hold on for dear life because you won’t find many.
My personal experience of AL covers several unique phases – his be-skirted hippie dancing onstage with the Mob is a vivid and smile-inducing one. The Gerard Malanga of punk, as Tom Vague memorably called him.
His subsequent running of All The Madmen records, infusing the template with his wondrous dreams and visions set a multicoloured bar higher than we dared imagine. Not much of it materialised, but that barely matters. AL was full-to-overflowing of ideas, such a rare thing in the modern malaise.
Flowers in the Dustbin only made one record with All The Madmen and AL. Not long after, he stopped running the show.
Understandable, probably – poets and poetry (AL I mean) don’t tend to cut it when the accounts are looked at. After all, what could be more diametrically opposed than accounts and art?
The internet years saw his Green Galloway blog showcase his talent for, and dedication to, local radical history as the prodigal son had returned to his native Scottish roots.
He was also a magnificent chronicler of the London flavour of anarcho-punk: a deeply different narrative to the dominant story.
It’s a tragedy he never wrote a book about that, because he was the perfect person to do it.
There are loads of other tangents and adventures that others will speak of, I’m sure.
The news of AL’s untimely and shocking death is deeply saddening. The world has lost a true visionary, and I don’t use that word lightly.
Above all though – way above all – we have lost such a nice, kind, genuine and caring man. His family will be feeling this the most of course, so all love and best wishes go out to them.
Yes, I’m supposed to be working right now, but work can fuck off.
AL shone a pure light that served to remind how precious and beautiful life is and what matters within it. He was a permanent reminder of that and will remain so now he’s passed on. A great human being now reunited with the equally extraordinary Pinkie in the afterlife.
Gerard – Flowers In The Dustbin
Sitting writing this with a candle lit for AL.
My most enduring memory in an often foggy way-back-when, is of many nights sitting at the big table in the kitchen at Grosvenor Avenue late late into the night listening to AL talking of life, the universe and all manner of stuff that was pretty new to me, novel ways of seeing the world, exciting and wild ways, deep thinking and far-out concepts, an inspiration to me.
He introduced me to some amazing music, stuff I would never have sought out myself – Jefferson Airplane’s ‘After Bathing at Baxters’ was one such gem.
An incredibly intelligent man but with no ego, inspiring, kind, mellow and a gentle presence amidst many a loud, punky-raucous peer group.
I am so grateful for those times and so glad I managed to meet up with him again for a short while this summer (thirty five or so years on), have the chance to meet Callum, and see where he lived with his beloved children.
Fly free AL, on to the next adventure x
Vicky Ridley – MCPP Medical Herbalist
I contacted AL when I began developing research on my punk book. I’d read his bits for Punk Lives magazine way back when and was soon (re)discovering his contributions to Kill Your Pet Puppy fanzine.
When it came to write up my research, AL was someone I knew would add insight – albeit with regular detours down memory lane to his time at the Rubber Factory!
I also knew AL would be someone to add to the subcultures Facebook page, to which he consistently posted and contributed from 2011.
Every time I drafted anything, I’d send it to AL.
And every time he’d come back to me with connections, thoughts and reflections.
He had an amazing memory.
More importantly, he had a generous spirit.
Having read his words when I was a young teenager, it was a true pleasure to get to know him in later life.
He taught me a lot and I’ll always be grateful.
He’ll be missed very very much.
Professor Mathew Worley – Reading University
I’m so sorry to hear about the passing on of Alistair.
My memory is so rubbish I cannot add an anecdote about him in the old punk days at various autonomy centres.
I just remember him as a warm and encouraging presence.
Which is why I loved staying in contact with him on Facebook and Twitter so regularly. Even though he lived so far away I loved reading the posts by him and Callum and could see the support and love he gave his family.
He was always so positive and encouraging in his comments. I had always hoped that I would get to meet up with him again.
Sending my love to his family xxx
Karen – Hagar The Womb
It goes without saying really, we felt so warmly towards Alistair from the day we met him at Wapping to now in the social media age.
He has never changed over the decades, agitating over the issues he feels strongly about in a persuasive and persistent manner seemingly without getting peoples backs up, a measure of the kind, gentle person we knew who got on well with one and all.
Of all the colourful exuberant characters we met in the anarcho-punk scene in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s he was someone who didn’t go a bundle on looks or attitude to get noticed so he didn’t stand out, and then you started talking with him (and talking and talking) and realised what an absolute gem he was.
He supported us Hags then and now, remained a friend over the decades, in real life back then, and later in the virtual world.
In these last years, it’s been heart-warming to see how Alistair’s son Callum got caught up in his dad’s history and took a real interest in the scene his dad was such an integral part of.
It’s so hard to think of the family’s loss, let alone those of us who were lucky enough to meet Alistair along the way.
Sleep sound dear AL x
Ruth – Hagar The Womb
I write this while listening to Blood And Roses, the majestic debut 12” record, and the bands other recordings. LOVE UNDER WILL.
I feel that AL would find that choice appropriate.
I met AL at Brougham Road in Hackney on a couple of occasions, presumably he was just on a quick visit, as he was not living there at all in the mid 1980’s, as far as I knew back then at least.
I was the ‘new boy on the block’, putting in an unpaid shift, a few days a week, at All The Madmen Records, which at the time was based in those ever-so-slightly shabby squatted terraces along that road in Hackney.
I was painfully shy and a little awkward, not letting anyone look at me, hiding behind long crimped bleached blond hair, so I could see out, but rarely people could see in…
Being of this disposition, I did not make the most of the times he came to visit, knowing what I know now, I would have been a little more confident in talking more to him, as he was a gentle soul, and not one to take the ‘mickey’ out of, well, me, Mickey, ‘the new boy on the block’. Others had been successfully partaking in taking the piss along that road.
Perhaps that’s why I sought solace in people like Andy Martin, a few doors further along Brougham Road, or Raymond who lived elsewhere… Outsiders that didn’t quite fit in… I felt more comfortable around those two, than I did among others within this small community, who sometimes appeared aloof and condescending.
I know now that I could have easily added AL to my ‘exclusive’ list of outsiders, if I had the pleasure to met him more often and for longer periods.
I did engage in small talk with AL, whilst wrapping up some mail ordered records and cassettes and in-between cups of tea, nothing heavy, mainly just my fan-boy squeals of how much the record label, All The Madmen Records, had inspired me, well The Mob, Flowers In The Dustbin, and… I paraphrase an interruption:
“Hang on, Flowers In The Dustbin? I was running All The Madmen Records for a while when that was released. I put out Zos Kia”.
A little bit of All The Madmen Records history that I knew nothing of, at that time in the early 1980’s, like the other drummers of The Clash prior to Topper Headon (apart from Tory Crimes on the first album). NOTE: There were ‘other’ drummers.
I imagined, or rather thought I knew, that the All The Madmen Records lineage were firstly, vague people from The Mob – SPACE – Rob Challice.
No, this older school teacher-ish like guy was also involved in All The Madmen in some small way. I am glad he was, else I doubt Zos Kia would have ever seen the light of day!
I probably squealed out some more fan-boy nonsense, mumbled behind my ‘support network’, which was my face covering tool, my hair, and he no doubt went on his merry way, perhaps knocking on a couple of doors prior to leaving those ever-so-slightly shabby squatted terraces along that road in Hackney.
I doubted that he would have remembered these quick encounters.
Fast forward around twenty years to the mid 2000’s, and I have a cheap computer.
My first computer.
No idea how they worked, but I learned quick enough.
MySpace was the thing back then, and seemingly everyone (well perhaps just me) were asking ‘Jeeves’ to search for ‘The Mob’ or ‘Anarcho’ or ‘Crass’ and precious little came up.
One ‘hit’ that stuck out, was a piece by my old friend Andy Martin about old autonomy centres, and another ‘hit’ was some kind of blog diary affair, listing dates, and with notes, listing bands that this guy had seen on those particular nights… Long forgotten bands like Blood and Roses, The Mob, Hagar the… yada yada yada.
I was impressed.
This site was Green Galloway, a site I soon found out was being run by this older school teacher-ish like guy who I’d met around twenty years previously.
I wrote to him (well emailed) and told him that I used to help out at All The Madmen Records, and I had been there a couple of times when he had visited for whatever reason.
Without too much nudging whatsoever, he remembered me.
“Long crimped hair, blond?”
“Yeah that was me”.
This was a great start for our further ‘digital’ relationship and showed the class of Alistair who could remember little details from around twenty years ago in those ever-so-slightly shabby squatted terraces along that road in Hackney.
We connected on MySpace like so many others, like Tony D, like Gerard, from one of my old favourite band’s Flowers In The Dustbin, a band that I NOW KNEW Alistair had a hand in that wonderful 12” record that was released on the All The Madmen record label…
I was inspired by Alistair’s blog, and what he had written on his blog, and indeed I was inspired back in the early 1980’s with his essays in ‘Punk Lives’ magazine (among the MOST important essays I might add) and the ‘Kill Your Pet Puppy’ fanzine.
I decided to place up an All The Madmen MySpace page, scanned a load of flyers, recorded some audio files from my original All The Madmen record collection to place up on the MySpace audio option.
I wrote a bullet point history of the record label, and I asked Alistair to proof read it if he had the time, Rob Challice also helped with this.
Alistair returned my bullet point history by the end of that day, with several corrections / additional information… I was so happy that Alistair had generously found the time for this, and it was an immense help.
Rob Challice took a while longer to reply, but I was equally glad of his input.
After the All The Madmen MySpace page, I set up a MySpace page dedicated to the Mob, Mark from the band, being ‘on hand’ alongside me trying to get this page up and running.
Mark had forgotten chunks of his own history whilst in The Mob, as an aside he had also forgotten the chords and the key changes to the repertoire of songs that he wrote for The Mob, his band!
I fell back on Alistair again, just to double check my bullet point history of The Mob…
In his usual gracious manner, Alistair corrected, added, took away, and rubberstamped my attempt at a history of one of my ‘go to bands’ from the early 1980’s.
Alistair’s knowledge was vast, his generosity enormous.
He really was the person who knew, and you could go to, to learn about magick, politics, musical subcultures, and many other leftfield subjects, stone age monuments, Vikings, Levellers, the lot.
I nearly drowned in his knowledge of subjects which were regularly appearing on his own blog, thankfully I would come up for air, and a rest, a rest between each paragraph finishing and starting again! There were words, lots and lots of words.
In 2007 Tony D colluded with Alistair and Gerard to document the punk scene as they had seen it first-hand, based around an obscure set of fanzines called Kill Your Pet Puppy.
I knew about the fanzines as I had owned them for decades.
I was called upon to look after the audio side of the blog.
At this time, group chats via the computer were quite common between us all, and all of us had input, and ideas concerning the soon to be worked-on site.
I think it was Alistair who mentioned that the site should not just be about ‘anarcho punk’ but the site should try to be a little broader, but in context of the time, and importantly, more ‘colourful’.
Considering the people involved, this idea was a no brainer.
Crowley-esqe Magick, Temple Ov Psychic Youth, Moorcock, Stonehenge and other free festivals. Squatting. Greenham Common protests, the Stop The City protests, and so on.
Who would write this stuff up?
Well it certainly wasn’t going to be me that’s for damn sure… I would have been well out of depth.
Alistair… The ‘go to guy’. He knew so so much, of what others had jettisoned from their memories a long ago.
I can imagine the scene now, Alistair having six or seven dusty books around his table, reading passages from each, just to doublecheck various points in the essays being written by him about whatever the subject was he was writing about, not just for the Kill Your Pet Puppy blog, but also his own Green Galloway blog…
He was a perfectionist, and wanted to share knowledge, correctly, avoiding hearsay, half-truths and gossip.
With Alistair’s early input into the Kill Your Pet Puppy site, the site grew, and started to be respected, unbelievably even in university circles, listed as an educational website, presumably for students to reference from!
A lot of that ‘blog esteem’ was from Alistair’s input…
I will always be grateful to Alistair, for inspiring me, though his blog, and through his generous help, to construct an All The Madmen MySpace page, which begat The Mob MySpace page, which beget The Mob / All The Madmen Records Facebook page, which begat the Kill Your Pet Puppy blog.
Alistair was there all along, supporting and helping me with details.
I am saddened that I never visited Scotland to see him over these last thirteen years, just connecting socially via a computer.
Sadder still, I will not ever get the chance to see him now.
I met him briefly in the mid 1980’s, and who knows he might have been at a few gigs that I might have attended in the early 1980’s, Blood And Roses and Brigandage at Manor House might have been a couple of them, who knows? Well Alistair would have known, he remembered everything, but sadly I failed to bring these gigs up in general internet chatter when I had the chance to… I will never know.
R.I.P Alistair and thank you for all the generous help throughout my blogging life and thank you dearly for remembering me in those ever-so-slightly shabby squatted terraces along that road in Hackney.
Alistair is survived by his three children, all of which should be incredibly proud of their father.
In the words of my dear departed friend Raymond: “We Love You”.
Mickey ‘Penguin’ – All The Madmen / Southern Studios / Southern Record Distribution
I never got to meet Alistair in person, though many times he asked me to visit him in Dumfries just over the border from me. I think having ancestors, relatives (on my mother’s side) coming from Dumfries and Galloway, helped in bonding us with the history he so loved on his Green Galloway blog site.
His knowledge of all things to do with Dumfries and the surrounding areas was seconded by none, and probably still fighting injustice until the day he passed.
It was through the early 1980’s punk days I first heard of Alistair, through his fanzines, and being part of the Black Sheep / Puppy Collective.
I always remember a line he came out with when we were having a Crass debate one day, “Punks were angry hippies, with short hair” Which says it all really.
I will miss his blogs, messages and posts on social media, a sad miss, and a total shock when I heard the news of his passing.
A true fighter for the underdog, R.I.P mate.
Thinking of his family at this sad time.
Martyn ‘Trunt’Cockbain – Scrobe
As others have said, I never knowingly met Alistair Livingston in the flesh back in the heady days of the 1980’s when, as he put it himself “everyone was an anarchist”.
I do like to think that our paths crossed, or we shared experiences with each other unknowingly though; Sex Gang Children and Rubella Ballet at the Marquee in 1984, Brigandage in Brixton in 1983 or various squat gigs at the Wood Green Arts Centre or Ambulance Station.
So it goes.
And now Alistair has gone, passed away and that chance will never happen. And his death is a great loss to his friends and family and the wider punk scholars and history scholar’s community.
I ‘met’ Alistair online at some point through various like-minded friends and various Facebook groups, mostly concerned with the anarcho-punk / post-punk scene of the early to mid 1980’s.
Alistair always struck me as much more considered in his approach to, and the seeming revision of the history of those days which was starting then and is continuing now.
I found his sometimes-sceptical view of the past and those involved in the anarcho-punk “movement” refreshing, a bit like another loss to us, Robert Dellar, both refused to only see the shiny happy side of the anarcho punk scene, and both wanted to show it as it really was.
We were all young then, and life was filled with expectation and so we view it as a cherished place in time; Alistair got that, but he also wanted to point out the reality of it all.
Alistair was a great man, kind, generous, considerate, thoughtful and most of all, deeply honest. You can’t escape from the truth, and he wanted to show as much truth as he could in his writings.
He graciously allowed us to republish his essay “Everyone is an Anarchist” in Tales from the Punkside, a book that I was co-editing, to which I will be forever grateful to Alistair for.
It is an insightful, amusing and witty piece of prose which tells us a lot about the anarcho punk scene, its good side and its bad side, warts and all.
So it goes.
I enjoyed reading Alistair’s Facebook posts and his comments on various group posts, his lucid and dedicated thought process often took us to places intellectually that we wouldn’t have gone to.
He also knew when a joke was a joke, and when sarcasm was sarcasm, he never missed a beat when it came to be deciphering and decoding the written medium.
Alistair clearly, deeply loved his family, and I would like to think that he found peace and pleasure in his later life up in Scotland where I believe he returned to his roots after a long time away.
My thoughts and hopes go out to those of his kith and kin who has survived him, and who must surely have benefitted greatly from his time here on this planet.
If anyone ever deserved to rest in peace it must surely be Alistair Livingston.
Greg Bull – Writer / Editor of ‘Tales From The Punk Side’ / ‘Not Just Bits Of Paper’ / ‘Some Of Us Scream’
I am so sad and sorry about Alistair dying.
When I lived at Puppy Mansions, I remember Alistair being a very kind and generous man who would give us hungry puppies Red Leicester cheese for our toast. He never minded sharing.
We all spent many a weekend in a settee in the back garden at Westbere Road in Hampstead laughing, talking, singing and drinking Tony D’s home brew until the daylight.
He had a very lovely Scottish voice.
Louise – Youth In Asia / Hysteria Ward and Puppy Collective
I’m surprised to be writing this. I always figured AL would outlive us all.
He would be the historian hermit telling our tales at the end of days.
I’d rather be praising him without the burying part.
AL was a good man in the kind of way the world has up and forgot about these days. He was the wilful eccentric of the Village Green Preservation Society and yet he did have plans to change the place into a Magick-centric Anarchist Utopia.
But he was cursed with being too smart for other people’s good. He knew a lot about a lot of things but all of those things were esoteric or specialised beyond most other folk’s ken.
His writings could be wildly disorientating, vanishing down rabbit holes that he alone saw.
“Tch. Keep up”, he’d say.
And sometimes it could be hard. Sometimes you just had to admire the style and flail at the substance. Sometimes, you had to let someone else be the smartest one in the room.
If, however, you managed to share a common wavelength on some arcane topic or other, you’d find yourself chatting into the wee small hours. And that is how I came to know AL.
He was still working at London Rubber back then, manufacturers of something for the weekend. This was back in the day when such things were considered a memory of sleazier times. Condoms would only make a resurgence after he quit.
He’d come around to Bayston Road on a Friday night and we’d talk Magick and the potential of blurring Thelema with anarchist theory.
As you do.
AL was my main sounding board for all ideas Blood and Roses. Well. Whilst the band was happy to go along with my ideas, they weren’t exactly sounding boards.
Lisa had her own path. Jez talked about being working class and escaping poverty when he clearly came from more cultured beginnings. Richard liked to thump things.
AL rolled up to gigs wearing a dress and putting candles and incense on the stage. He clearly embraced a more left field footing.
So much of what became Blood and Roses flowed out of AL.
And yes. I keep on saying AL. That’s how he signed himself.
Well Jez is gone. Richard is gone. And Lisa is gone (AND SHE DESERVED A TRIBUTE TOO). Steve is gone and SOoo too.
That leaves me and Min.
So, let me just say AL was there and put his stamp on the world.
He was a presence.
He was fucking uber smart.
And a huge chunk of what Kill Your Pet Puppy is, comes down to his vision.
Last time I went to the UK I tried to plot a way I could see him again.
Then I hoped next time.
Life is too short. Tell people you love them.
Bob Short – Blood And Roses
I didn’t really know Alistair well, but in the early 1980’s I handed him a copy of the latest issue of Ka-Ka Komik a fanzine / comic that I’d put together.
I asked him if he could perhaps get it reviewed in PUNK Lives, a glossy mag he was involved with at the time.
I don’t know if it was really his bag, filled as it was with cartoons about getting stoned, shit and vomit, but he graciously said he’d see what he could do.
I still recall the trepidation I felt as I leafed through the next issue of PUNK Lives. And there it was, a glowing review, referring to my little comic as ‘a humorous, punkier Viz…’!
Sure, they might have spelt the name wrong, but who cares? I was proud enough to have kept it all these years, and I’ll always appreciate what he did.
My impression is that Alistair would always help you out if he could.
We’ve lost an intelligent and gifted writer and documentarian of ‘the scene’, but because of those writings and our memories of him – ALISTAIR Lives.
Neil – Faction / Blyth Power
Alistair Livingston was a great friend to us all, and a huge supporter of The Mob, the All The Madmen record label (which he was in charge of for a while circa 1984), Kill Your Pet Puppy and the whole scene and political movement we are proud to be part of.
I am sure we will all have our memories of his brilliant writing, wit and above all the massive support he gave to us all.
From the Anarchy Centre to the Centro Iberico to the ‘Puppy Collective’ and the Black Sheep Housing co-op.
He was always there.
When we needed the sleeve notes written for the re-release of the ‘Let The Tribe Increase’ album, there was only one man we would turn to.
Thank you, Alistair, from the bottom of my heart.
We are all going to miss you xxx.
Mark – The Mob / All The Madmen Records
I would have first met Alistair in the early Eighties when I was a teenager who had moved up to London to find refuge in the alternative punk scene that I had connected with through the proto social network glued together with fanzines, letters, waxed stamps and gigs.
I was living with Bob, Crow, Martin and Angee as fringe members of the April Gay Housing Co-Op.
It would have been Alistair’s London Rubber days, and of a weekend he would often visit the house in Bayston Road, arriving with a plastic carrier bag of cans of lager and B&H fags, characteristically dressing down in short skirt and tights.
I would find myself sat up into the early hours listening to Bob and Alistair expound on the subjects of Crowley and Magick, learn of the Age of Horus, Current 93, Lovecraft, Kenneth Grant and listen and talk of music that went farther back into the counter cultural than my younger post punk / anarcho punk sphere of awareness.
Alistair perched on the arm of the sofa embracing knees drawn to chest, Bob slouched languid on another couch. My view of the world became enriched with a new metaphysical viewpoint.
I was very fortunate to have been asked to join the nascent household of 103, Grosvenor Avenue.
Alistair took the basement room, the deepest and darkest lair in the house, which I think he enjoyed the symbolism of. He had a brown enamelled solid fuel stove which he stoked with smokey enthusiasm through the winter months, much like he fuelled the energy of the household.
There was a communal ethos of cooking and eating together, which Alistair relished, often transforming the discarded veggies collected by Joseph from Spitalfields Market, into exotic sweet and sour stews. Alistair saw the house not simply as a place to live but understood it as an engine of ideas, an experiment in alternative living, as a nexus, as downright magickal anarchism!
He had his loves and his muses, always seeking to commune with the Goddess. I remember his time with Marina, of whom he dedicated The Encyclopedia of Ecstasy II, a magical transgressive erotic maelstrom a Lovecraftian zombie apocalypse.
There was a sense of his creative energies blooming. He asked me to design some cover art, I guess I was well placed to engage with the poem’s imagery, he was indeed my mentor to the strange and ineffable. I liked to collect books from the second-hand book stores, and I was amazed how Al could borrow some hefty volume and devour it of an evening, when I might take weeks, if at all.
We had gatherings at Grosvenor Avenue, parties, incandescent late-night bonfires and revelry. I looked down from the kitchen window into the crowded garden and there, oblivious, was Alistair and Pinkie in the flickering firelight. It was like witnessing to the meeting of two long lost souls, or the courtship dance of two rare and exotic birds.
And so, began the next chapter in Alistair’s life.
It was a while before our paths crossed again. A Hackney party in the nineties, perhaps an old school. Out in the yard in the late hours, perched on the the arm of an old sofa in that same position, knees drawn to his chest, my old friend AL.
He was with Tinsel, and there was talk of returning to Galloway.
My endeavourers girlfriend Naomi elects to enter the Great North Swim in the Lakelands. I take the week off and travel ahead to visit my Northern cousins and absolutely in my mind is to take the trip out to see Alistair in his hometown of Castle Douglas. It’s a rare heatwave in Galloway, and Alistair has given his time to take me on a guided walk out to Threave Castle to see the Ospreys that are nesting there.
We talk not of Cthulu and Goddesses but of Levellers, old industries and the Viking Horde, his mind brimming with information on the local area. Perhaps the denizens of other dimensions and the denizens of the past are much the same; they need a special kind of mind to peel back the layers and bring them to life, make them real.
Alistair my old friend, the one and only.
Fod – Puppy Collective
Although I don’t remember meeting Alistair in the flesh back in the 1980’s when Anarka and Poppy recorded the single for All The Madmen Records (to be fair I don’t remember much about the who’s, the when’s or the why’s from several decades ago), it was his unwavering belief in the Anarka & Poppy songs that contributed to them making it onto vinyl eventually, thirty something years later.
I am glad that I was able to share that with him.
Being his friend virtually has been a pleasure and his interest in his local history has been fascinating.
He was a very clever man, a brilliant writer and clearly a very dedicated father.
My only regret is that we didn’t make it up to Scotland to reconnect with him.
Jane – Anarka And Poppy
* Some background to fill the gaps. Anarka And Poppy were a peace punk band from Preston. In 1984 the band (at the invitation of Josef Porta who during late 1983 / early 1984 was now the ex-drummer of The Mob) came down to stay at 96 Brougham Road in Hackney.
The following day Anarka And Poppy travelled to Gold Dust studios in Sidcup with Alistair who was looking after All The Madmen records at that time. Gerard remembers that a few months previously Flowers In The Dustbin (along with Claire from the band This Bitter Lesson) had also completed a session at Gold Dust studios recording ‘Freaks Run Wild In The Disco’ a record that was released on All The Madmen records in 1984.
Not much is remembered about the session that produced the three tracks recorded by Anarka And Poppy at the studio that day.
Alistair remembers that Paul Christie, the producer at the studio, had asked Jane, the vocalist, to not sing the line “It’s a fucking nightmare” as he was worried it would offend. Perhaps his heart was in the right place, but his advice was duly ignored in any case.
On completion of the session the master reel was handed over to the band after payment and everyone was driven back to Hackney by Paul ex-This Bitter Lesson and Faction who had a van.
At Brougham Road Paul held onto the master reel and from that point the mystery of this master reel starts.
Alistair never did end up releasing the Anarka And Poppy single on All The Madmen records after all. The master reel had gone missing, no doubt lying around somewhere in Brougham Road.
As I pour another bourbon after hearing the sad news of AL’s passing, I am drawn to past times, some of which I had hoped to forget; some that are just fog, read acid and alcohol; many that were simply wonderful and a few that were truly transitional, like a period in 1983 around about the time I met AL.
Wider detail can wait for a more appropriate moment… if there is time, it’s always, time.
AL was one of a small group of elder punk survivors that I first noticed at those sunny al fresco gigs and delightfully disorderly D.I.Y squat gigs of the early 1980’s and in print within a few overground and underground publications, alongside visits to seemingly open-house squats and co-ops mainly dotted around Islington and Hackney.
The fog lifts enough that I can recall a visit to AL, sat in his room cross-legged and talking of music and “magick”and maybe other things like Stop The City.
I left with a copy of his latest fanzine, volume II of Encyclopaedia Of Ecstacy, which (when later digested) impressed me as a wonderful piece of visual writing and Crowley-esque doodles, shining things that I had in my head and heart, but could only aspire to when it came to their journey to the written word.
Although AL and I were never particularly close, he was always remembered and held in my high regard, putting the Zos Kia 7” record out on All The Madmen Records, and later writing for Chaos International before simply disappearing from my radar, maintained my respect.
I consistently visited his Green Galloway blog at irregular intervals since inception, which is when he reappeared from the fog.
Over these many years it was affirming to know that we had different but similar, separate but parallel, lives; borne out over the years by evolving and fluid interests in music, magick, environmental issues, history, tradition and conservation, counter-culture, home, family, community and beyond.
A mover and a shaker until the end, what more can you do?
AL, you will be both missed and remembered as a fellow outsider and traveller on this realm; I wish you had checked in for a bit longer.
Michael ‘DEV’ – While Angels Watch / CTRL
From the Vague office, across Portobello Road from Hawkwind’s Hall of the Mountain Grill and In Search of Space venue along from The Clash back cover Carnival riot site.
I think I first met Alistair at a Mob gig in Meanwhile Gardens off Great Western Road by the canal, along from Centro Iberico, the former school squatted by Spanish anarchists, where this anarcho-psychedelic-occult-glam punk rock scene came together in the early 1980’s.
We were in touch before then at the very beginning of the 1980’s when Vague fanzine was based in the vicinity of the Mob and All the Madmen Records in the west country.
As Tony D’s Ripped & Torn evolved into Kill Your Pet Puppy at the time of Antmania and the anarcho-punk revolution.
Through positive-punk and Goth, we corresponded and rubbed shoulders at gigs when he was doing Encyclopedia of Ecstasy.
He was also the co-editor of Vague #16/17 Psychic Terrorism Annual in 1984. Vague Publishing’s finest hour, featuring Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If….’, the Situationist International and Psychic TV, was inspired and introduced by Alistair as he made the link between 1960’s hippy counter culture and punk.
Since then he was the Vague Scottish correspondent as we stayed in contact regarding our associated psychogeography projects, by old school fanzine mail, email and Facebook, which he got me into, encouraging me to re-launch Vague again.
The struggle continues for Livingston and liberty.
Tom Vague – Vague magazine
I was truly shocked to hear of Alistair’s passing, especially given he had aged remarkably well and looked healthier in modern pics than back in those far flung tatty punk days when he was a fellow scribe at Punk Lives, a vital component of Kill Your Pet Puppy and All The Madmen Records.
During the Internet era we reconnected via his blog, Green Galloway, with its fascinating blend of local history, politics and music, along with some cool family videos elsewhere.
A man of wide-ranging interest and talents and, as many have noted already on his Facebook wall, a tremendously kind, principled and amusing chap.
We are all the worse off for his passing.
Mick Mercer – Panache fanzine
My first memory of Alistair was just before I moved into Puppy Mansions.
I had met Val while at St Martins, after which I moved into the Westbere Road squat in Hampstead with Brett.
I was so shy and intimidated by all the Puppies but thought I was putting on a brave and confident face of it.
The one person who noticed that wasn’t, was Alistair.
We were at the pub and he came over and asked if I wanted a drink, he was so engaging, kind and wonderful.
We spoke for quite a while, proper talking, not small talk.
I loved him for that. He was always the safe and sane one (he had an actual job!) in an exciting tumultuous world.
A gentleman and scholar and much more besides, R.I.P my friend.
Angie Stimson – Puppy Collective
There is every chance that Alistair Livingston and I crossed paths in the heady days of punk and politics in early 1980’s London.
Maybe at the Ambulance Station, Bingo Hall, Dickie Dirts, Farringdon Metropolitan (Wet Paint Theatre), or maybe we even said hello to each other at 53 Cross Street (somewhere he later – of course – told me there was an obscure book about that I should track down), or Molly’s Cafe, or maybe that meal in Bloomington with Lisa Bendall in the early 1990’s with her old Kill Your Pet Puppy type chums?
I’d really like to think we did once meet, because it pains me that we won’t be able to now.
Over the past few years I’ve read and benefited from his numerous blogs and Facebook posts; we’ve chatted about common research interests – brief nerding-out about Mesopotamian stuff from his old S.O.A.S days, or him sending me Galloway maps for one of my classes discussing the removal of hedgerows and field reconfiguration.
I followed his efforts on the Galloway Viking Hoard, and now hugely regret not mentioning to him a project I’d like to have done with him that would have brought together interests in punk, anarchism, travellers, Wessex and archaeology- ah Hell, we’d probably neither of us have had the time, but I wish I’d shared those ideas.
Thanks Al for reconnecting me with people such as Tinsel Linton (he linked us and me to him after I posted a photo post-Aberdare / last Crass gig), and all the Kill Your Pet Puppy types such as Penguin, Tony Drayton, and also Greg Bull – with Penguin and Greg leading me to contribute to their wonderful book, ‘Not Just Bits Of Paper’.
It’s been a terrific, thoughtful and productive re-engagement with that distant time (ok and some pure nostalgia), and that’s largely thanks to the inspiration and interaction of Alistair Livingston; thank you.
May you rest in peace, and be with Pinki / Tanith, cats, trains and an archive x
Tristian ‘Stringy’ Carter – Terminal Boredom fanzine – Associate Professor at McMaster University
A shock like this takes time to take in and AL clearly touched a lot of people, including many he hadn’t even met in person.
That is the power of great writing and he had that in spades. He was a great encourager and would respond in detail where others would just hit like or not bother.
I am thankful that he brought his talents to bear on lots of very different types of project, reflecting his wide ranging interests and the commitment he brought to what he did.
He would regularly respond to me about my own little magazine that I have been editing this last year (The Dub), even though its subject matter was not really an area he had any great specialist knowledge of.
But, having corresponded initially through this Kill Your Pet Puppy site and then through Facebook, he took an interest in the magazine project and offered some useful advice.
I know he did the same for many others. I just wish I had known him back in the 80s when we will undoubtedly have been to some of the same gigs.
Salute to you AL R.I.P.
Dani Cameron (Dan I) – The Dub magazine / Field Frequency Sound System
Photographs from the collections of Joan / Mick Mercer, Fod, Angie Stimpson, Tod and Tony D.