Please note the items you are about to read consist largely of scurrilous gossip, vicious back-stabbing and idle speculation. As Jon Stewart might say, its stories are not fact checked. Its informants are not journalists. And its opinions are not fully thought through.
THE GONADS! CHARLTON! SOUTH LONDON! STREET ROCK N ROLL! COCKNEY CULTURE! COCKNEY ROCK! OI-TONE! SKA! BEER! CURRY! WORKERS’ RIGHTS! FLAG-GIRLS! ENGLAND! OI OI OI! THIS IS WHO WE ARE!
Nov 30. Oi! 40 Years Untamed is out now. Get it on vinyl for $14.99 from Pirates Press or from your local record store (Plastic Head are the UK distributors). Here are the first two reviews. First, from Chelsea Dom (The Great Interrogator):
Being a bit long in the tooth it’s rare I get excited these days with another compilation, but the more I heard about an album to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Oi compilation, the more it sounded like this was going to be a bit special. Many compilations are diluted by cramming on as many bands/tracks as possible; this has focused on quality over quantity. The familiar sounding guitar riff that opens the album greets you like a warm hug, a new song from Cock Sparrer Take It On The Chin, the first of 15 tracks and one of those that as you’d expect stands out, although many of them on here do. From here on in, the album is a clear demonstration of the sheer breadth of styles that fall under the Streetpunk/Oi moniker, stretching from the UK into Europe and across the Atlantic. As if to emphasise this, for sheer grit, look no further than the North East’s Crashed Out (or Crash Oot as we call them down south) with the cracking Against All Odds, compared to the urgency of We Decide from Canada’s Bishops Green, alongside more traditional Oi sounds from Doug & The Slugz’ Friday In Old Town. This is not a regurgitation, as several tracks are new or remixed, unique to this release with several specially recorded. Representing the old-school, we have the Business with Steve Kent taking the reins on lead vocals in Micky Fitz’s absence (RIP) singing You Know My Name a reminiscence of sorts and a fitting tribute. The Cockney Rejects and Last Resort also pile-in with the heavy-weights, the latter with new song New Disease, a glimpse into what we can expect from the new album. And nicely linking into that we get some of the current crop, the Old Firm Casuals ’Noddy Holder’ with a neat glam crossover (Lars having put his Watford Tuxedo away for the Winter), alongside fellow countrymen the Drowns and NOi!se, with Gimp Fist, Stomper 98 and Lions Law also providing quality tracks. However, it would not be a proper Oi album without some Bushellian input, represented here with Prole’s Sawdust Caesars and, possibly one of the best Gonads tracks – and certainly one of the best tracks on the album – Federales (yes it’s true!), in the South East London style of The Blood. A 40th anniversary is a ruby celebration, so the next punk rock curry could be a messy affair.
And here is Garry Johnson’s review from Vive Le Rock: Confession time: I got my first break on an Oi album, so I’ve got a dog in this race. Back then I said “Dead End Yobs got football, boxing or rock’n’roll, if they’re any good at to save them from the dole.” And that’s still true. If anything it’s harder now for working class voices to be heard. Oi was the rawest and most honest form of punk and it’s thrilling to see that all of the big hitters have contributed to this album, compiled by Godfather of Oi Garry Bushell, the guy who started it all. There are terrific freshly written original tracks from Cock Sparrer, The Last Resort and The Business and a new mix from the Cockney Rejects. Later generations are represented by Stomper 98, Gimp Fist, NOi!se and Bishops Green. The stand-out songs are Sparrer’s Take It On The Chin, which kicks like a punk Springsteen, and You Know My Name by The Business, a zestful tribute to Micky Fitz RIP. But old school Oi fans will love Doug & The Slugz’s Friday Night In Old Town and Crashed Out’s tough and pacy Against All Odds. There’s a new mix of the Old Firm Casual’s rollin’ and rockin’ Noddy Holder and, from Prole, Sawdust Caesars, a catchy tune about Mod rioters from their forthcoming debut album. My only criticisms are there are no poets, no female voices (not even Jenny Woo) and no “pathetique” bands. Even the Gonads track, Federales, is serious, and seriously one of their best.
Cheers both. Here is the full track listing: 1. Cock Sparrer - Take It On The Chin 2. Crashed Out - Against All Odds 3. Bishops Green - We Decide 4. Stomper 98 - Bessere Zeiten 5. Doug & The Slugz - Friday In Old Town 6. Lion's Law - Pathfinder 7. The Old Firm Casuals - Noddy Holder (Bootboy Mix) 8. The Drowns - One More Pint 9. Cockney Rejects - Wish You Weren’t Here (New Mix) 10. The Last Resort - New Disease 11. The Gonads - Federales 12. Prole - Sawdust Caesars 13. Gimp Fist - One Shot 14. The Business - You Know My Name 15. NOi!SE - Life In The Shade
Oi album facts: Oi! The Album came out in late November 1980, the first of four compiled by Garry Bushell back in the glory years. The third, Carry On Oi, was the biggest seller. Albums 5 – 7 were compiled by Cockney punk poet Garry Johnson. The only other Oi albums recognised by the Oi Organising Committee as official are: 2002’s Addicted To Oi!, 2010’s 30 Years Of Oi – Never Surrender and Oi! – 40 Years Untamed. The first six Oi albums are currently available in a Cherry Red box-set called Oi! The Albums.
Nov 22. Okay chaps and chapesses, we are shutting down this blog until next month. If you’re looking for pukka street-punk Xmas gifts, Fat Col himself recommends the new Gonads t-shirts (which you can purchase direct from firstname.lastname@example.org), and our second Gonads lyrics book. Don’t forget that Oi! – 40 Years Untamed is out next Friday (the 27th). No word yet on the actual release date for Gal’s When Britain Rocked book (now officially one year and three weeks past its initial publication date.)
Whispers and rumours: Shona & The Alien is likely to be our next single, details to follow in the new year…Gal is said to be keen on completing volumes 3 and 4 of his Sounds Of Glory book series, although Fit Bird cautions: “’E ’as to finish the fourth ’Arry Tyler book first, dunn’e?”… Plans are underway for a major Oi-Tone event next year, featuring cross-over Ska and street-punk bands, but Bushell’s Big 66th Birthday Bash is likely to happen first…
Why has Fat Col taken to calling himself “Vanguard” and wearing a silk cravat? And why is he training to become a lay preacher in the Church of Oi? Gannon, who is still appealing against suspension from this blog, claims that he has “seen the light” but more informed observers sound a note of caution. An anonymous source (Effete El) whispers that that the oaf has been watching The Vow on Sky and has realised the potential for jiggy when innocent organisations are transformed into dodgy sex cults. “Face it,” dirty no-good grass El whispers, “it’s the only way he’ll ever get his leg over.” In a related story Col is also trying to mobilise a campaign to open up the all-male Prankster brotherhood to female members (at the moment the only honorary woman member is Batttttty, the fragrant keeper of this blog). As El anonymously asks “Where else is he going to meet women?” Grim-faced sources in the very serious Church Of Oi tell us that Gannon’s scheme will “never catch on” in their order, but should he succeed in the modernisation of the Pranksters, they advise that the brethren fly over Jay The Tripod to act in the role of Most Noble Cockblocker.
RECORD noos: the Adolescents 1997 live album Return To The Black Hole has been reissued on coloured vinyl by Nickle & Dime Records. It was recorded in December 1989 during a reunion performance by the band’s 1980-81 line-up.
Nov 21. The row over Gal not reviewing our new mini album, Give Her A Dog For Christmas, in the Daily Mirror is escalating. Yesterday he went big on Iron Maiden’s new live album and when asked on Twitter where the Gonads review was, he replied “Where’s the payola?” It’s a worrying situation. Says Club 77 spokes-bod Effete El, “Gal wants payola which clearly means sex, beer and drugs as they are the only ways to a Gonad’s heart. But that’s where the problem lies. Sending him the Yeti might constitute more of a calculated insult than a bribe. Beer is a sore subject as Paul SkaNad still owes him three pints of Paulaner from the great unresolved round-dodging scandal of late July this year. That leaves drugs, but at our age all we know how to score is Sanatogen.” Rock on! Poor show.
Record noos: Cock Sparrer’s classic Shock Troops album has been repressed on 12” ‘black ice’ vinyl which is a bit like sunglasses – black until you hold it up to the light. The limited edition is available only from Skippy and his merry band of buccaneers over at Pirates Press… our mates Doug & The Slugz have released a new three track ep on 12inch vinyl called Real Reality (“Not to be confused with the fake reality frequently found on BBC News” – Wattsie)… and Bay Area “blackened hardcore” racket merchants Wolf King have a brain-curdling new album out next March. The 12-track The Path Of Wrath (Prosthetic Records) is not believed to be connected to London’s own path of wrath which leads directly to the heavily fortified “drum” of Gonads security chief Martin Sporrell (aggressive gooner).
Nov 20. We promised you interviews with great working-class authors and we haven’t let you down. After John King, Tim Wells and some bloke called Bushell, here is a brand-new in-depth chat with punk poet and living legend GARRY JOHNSON whose latest novel David Bowie Sings Again is out now!
Blog: How important was Bowie to your life, career and lifestyle?
GJ: “He changed my life! Before I discovered Bowie, I wanted to be a footballer and was only interested in girls. He got me into writing, music, fast drugs, trying to be creative. I met him and shook his hand. It was so amazing it felt as if I’d taken an ounce of cocaine. I didn't wash my hand for a month.”
Blog: Tell us about the book?
GJ: “It’s a novel based on fact, fiction and daydreams. There is a lot of me in the main character, the fan worship plus a lot of wishful thinking. Joey McQueen is good-looking and he can sing. And apart from those facts, he is me! It got a five-star review in The Sun & was described as “the longest love letter in history”. I was happy with that. It’s about a Bowie impersonator who for years has played small clubs as a tribute act then wins £123m on the Lottery and hires top people who worked with Bowie to make an album. That’s the fantasy bit. The album becomes a hit and he tours the world. It’d make a great film. Bowie fans would accept an actor playing a Bowie impersonator but NOT an actor pretending to be David Bowie. That’s why Stardust has been slaughtered on the internet. David Bowie is NOT Freddie Mercury or Elton John and a Bohemian Rhapsody style biopic wouldn’t work.”
Blog: What’s your favourite of your own books?
GJ: “Boys Of The Empire because it was my first. It’s been reprinted by New Haven Publishing as The Cockney Bard – From Bow Bells To Bitter Street.”
Blog: Can we ask about your controversial track If Looks Could Kill?
GJ: “A classic in my mind and my world, although most – including you! – don’t agree. It was recorded during my speed freak days, which lasted many years. I was convinced I sounded like David Bowie but in truth more like an East End barrow boy. I borrowed the tune from Bowie’s London Boys. Making a record was a dream come true. Though let’s be honest, other people have done my poems a lot better as they could actually sing – Micky Fitz on Suburban Rebels and Sulo Soren Karlsson on the album Punk Rock Stories & Tabloid Tales. I could mime Ziggy Stardust and Anarchy In The UK but I was no David Bowie or Johnny Rotten. More a bad pub singer on amphetamine. The song was recorded in one take with me on vocals and Frankie Flame on piano. There was a Bowie connection there too. Not our handshake but Frankie was a member of Woody Woodmansey’s U Boat.”
Blog: Of today’s stars, who would you like to interview?
GJ: “Noel & Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller, Ian Brown, Morrissey…the last great working-class heroes from the world of music. For me, Oasis, The Stone Roses & Blur were the last great English bands. We will never see their like again. I can’t see there ever again being youth movements in the UK like Mods, Skinheads & Punks. I hate the so-called “stars” of reality TV, apart from Gogglebox, and despite having a life-long addiction to blondes I’d love to interview Maura Higgins. There is something about her. She does have The X Factor. “As I don`t rate any bands that came after Oasis and Blur but still love music I looked to the past. I started listening to The Smiths and watching them on YouTube. Morrissey`s lyrics and the guitar of Johnny Marr hooked me. I did the same with the early albums of The Who, Small Faces, Beatles and Stones but I always return to Bowie, Sex Pistols and The Jam.”
Blog: what do you rate on TV?
GJ: “As with music I genuinely believe the golden age of TV is pretty much dead. The last great sit-coms were The Office, The Inbetweeners, Alan Partridge and Only Fools and Horses (from series 3 when Uncle Albert joined). Nothing or no-one will change my mind that Minder was the greatest show in the history of TV. It had everything. I currently love every series of Line Of Duty and Would I Lie To You. Along with Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Carr & Frank Skinner, I’d say Lee Mack is the funniest bloke on TV. And do miss shows like The Word, The Tube and The Big Breakfast. I’d rather wake-up to a laugh with Chris Evans than a rant by Piers Morgan.”
Blog: How about your politics?
GJ: “I have not changed. Still hate the middle-class champagne-socialist Labour Party because they always betray the working class. I hate Owen Jones even more than I hate Gemma Collins. Both are fake, self-obsessed egomaniacs. I like Marcus Rashford helping poor kids and wish other celebs would do the same. Unlike leftie luvvies he is the genuine article. A working-class boy done good. Do you know there has never been working class Cockney MP? I still believe in the abolition of The House of Lords. I’m always on the side of the underdog. But I have still never voted as I don’t like or trust any of them.”
Blog: any plans for 2021?
GJ: “I hope something happens with my film Serial Killer and I’ve not given up hope of seeing my daughter before I die. I am the Thomas Markle of Essex! As dead men can’t talk my latest book Love, Marriage Divorce is like a love letter and personal statement for her. I just want her to know the truth about me. There is a funny side. The original was called Till Death Us Do Part (50 great reviews on Amazon). The legal establishment banned it and I was banged up in Belmarsh Maximum Security Prison. The first writer since Oscar Wilde to be locked-up for writing a book. Here’s the funny bit. On release, I went back to court, changed the title and dedicated it to the Judge. I also wrote a song about him Newton Brown which appears on the album Punk Rock Stories & Tabloid Tales.”
Blog: Would you go back to Rebellion?
GJ: “If they ask me, yeah. I’d love to perform If Looks Could Kill.”
*In other news, The Darkness have teamed up with East London brewery Signature Drew to create Bells End, an Extra Seasonal Bitter “to soften the blow of Lockdown 2.0 and keep winter 2020 festive”. It’s 5.2% ABV, and £3.25 per 330ml. We ask Fat Col what happened to the proposed Gonads super-strength ALCONAUT lager and he goes all shifty and mumbles “bad line” down the phone . Is this another FB-style Gonads Red Hot Ruby fuck-up? What do you think?
Nov 15. Surprisingly, the new Pirates Press compilation For Family and Flag Vol. 1 crosses over with the 40th anniversary Oi album by throwing streetpunk bands into its eclectic mix, including Cock Sparrer, Bishops Green, NOi!se, 45 Adapters, Lion’s Law and The Drowns. Other featured artists range from jazz-reggae herberts Shuffle & Bang to the awesome Charger, via The Barstool Preachers, Seized Up and more. The Sparrer track is another brand new’un. To add to the potential confusion, it’s released on the same day as Oi! – 40 Years Untamed, November 27th.
Good news for fans of the magnificent Missing Andy, the Essex boys release their brand new single The Greatest Show on Earth on that date too…
In more record Noos: NOi!se release new single Base Rage On The Front Page later this month… The Germs collection, (MIA): The Complete Anthology from 1993 has been re-issued as a double LP on colour vinyl by Porterhouse Records – it’s its first vinyl release… Oregon’s Old Cross have unveiled their debut album Daggers… and Cambridgeshire’s a Few Too Many have belched out bouncy pop-punk single Someday.
Nov 14. Don’t miss Pauline Black and Lee Thompson on Pointless Celebrities this evening (BBC1, 5.35pm). The 2-Tone duo take on other musicians including Heather Small and Barbara Dickson. Pauline tells us her chosen charity was Action For Children…
A quick note to people buying our new lyric book. Firstly, thank you. Secondly, all orders to date were posted this morning. Thirdly, if you want personalised messages, please just tell us in the special requests part of the order form. On a related point, no band member is selling any of their underwear. When asked, the only person willing to flog any theoretically was Fat Col (currently suspended) but according to his ex-wife Jeanette “He only used to have one pair of y-fronts which he wore every day for a week, and then turned them inside out for the next week. On the 15th day, when he got me to wash them, he went commando. Not a pretty sight.” Sadly those historic pants are no longer available as they are being held in a sealed tank at Porton Down.
As some of you may have noticed, Gal had a brand new album review column published in yesterday’s Mirror lavishing praise on AC/DC’s new album, Power Up. A good thing, yes? Of course! Except our own Twitter account immediately tweeted ‘Any chance you could review Give Her A Dog For Christmas by a little South London band you might have heard of? Not asking much, is it?’ Who on earth was responsible for this grumpy aside? We can rule out Fit Bird as everything was spelt right. An insider whispers that it’s “the sort of thing Wattsie might say, look how irrationally she reacted to the last US tour”. But Wattsie has her own Twitter account which remained silent on the issue throughout. In a tweet of his own, the calm and rational Fat Col blamed “the feminist alliance undermining everything good and decent about this band and society in general”.
Nov 13. STOP PRESS. Colin Gannon has left the Pranksters Peckham HQ after internal battles over his role as Terence Hayes’s chief adviser. He has also been suspended from this blog. Fat Col has been at the heart of a bitter power struggle which has also seen communications director Slippery Ted leave. Our “Deep Throat” insider (The Nosher) reports that both Col and Ted fell have fallen foul of a secretive female advisory group said to include Miss Management, Fit Bird and Wattsie Watts. The insider explains: “Although the Pranksters are an all-male institution it is known that certain women have the ears of both the DM and Lord Waistrel. They are the power behind their thrones and they have persuaded the people who matter that Col’s boorish, pig-headed and divisive behaviour is bad for both the brotherhood and your band. This is an opportunity for everyone to move into more harmonious territories.” On hearing the news, a jubilant Wattsie tweeted “Who said Friday the 13th was unlucky?”. For his part, the DM is said to want to “clear the air and move on”. So mote it be.
Nov 12. As good as his word, Garry Johnson’s review of Oi! 40 Years Untamed in the latest Vive Le Rock takes the historic compilation to task for featuring “no poets, no female singers (not even Jenny Woo) and no pathetique bands”. His critique also targets our new track Federales for being too serious. Miss Management takes an upbeat view. “Garry Johnson’s compiled the three later, official Oi albums and so his views are valid,” she says. “The review is largely positive – he rates the album 9 out of ten – and well argued. He calls our new song ‘seriously one of the best’, so the Gonads have no complaints.” In contrast a furious Fat Col condemned Johnson, saying ‘Most of us would take the absence of poets and Jenny Woo as a welcome bonus, and the pathetique thing ran its course in the early 80s. If he thinks the album needed Max Splodge and that soppy sod Desert Island Joe singing ‘is-you-bleedin’-beleen’, Olga Turd-Doll punking up another kids’ song or god help us Paul Devine buggering about like a lobotomised Brian Eno then he must be off his fuckin’ trolley.” How unnecessary.
STOP PRESS: One of Terence Hayes DM’s top aides, Slippery Ted, has resigned as the Jolly Pranksters head of communication amid reports of internal tensions at Prankster HQ, Peckham. Slippery will leave next month, despite being offered a promotion to Grand Assistant Ceremonial Cosh Bearer earlier this week. His departure shocked many of the brethren. One anonymous member (Effete El) told us: “What? We had a head of communication? Who knew?”. It also prompted speculation about the future of the DM’s chief adviser Fat Col but PNX News were told that he would stay for now. Slippery Ted has been at the DM’s side since he was a press officer for the Lord Waistrel-funded Bring Back Feudalism campaign and Col’s “heroic but doomed” movement to “ban pubs from serving any food other than cheese rolls, pickled onions and pork scratchings”. Many readers of this blog will not have heard of him before the story broke, but his resignation comes at a time when the DM is facing big decisions over the brotherhood’s future as more and more militant brethren demand that the apolitical ‘society of secrets’ takes aggressive action against the government’s “suicidal” Lockdown strategy.
Nov 10. News that Stalin has cocked up our new lyric book has sent shares in Waistrel Corporation (Feudal) soaring. Chief investor Effete El tells us the mistake is “so hilarious it will make the first editions priceless”. He’s not wrong, for the new book has an unusual song listed… according to the index, it’s called: ‘Skinhead, Skinhead, Skinhead – Kill’. No such Gonads ditty has ever existed! That is actually the zombie chant from Attack Of The Zombie Skinheads mistakenly elevated to a page in its own right! When we call Paul Hallam to tell him, he helpfully snaps “Well can’t you just write a new song and call it that?” No, eff off. We can’t be angry, though. The news is spreading fast and the books are flying out. Invest in one quickly and bung it in a vault. It’s a better investment than government bonds.
Nov 9. This just in! The second volume of the Gonads lyrics collection, Punk Rock Will Never Die, is on sale now from our shop page! It features the words to FORTY more classic Gonads songs including The Franken-Skin, SE7 Dole Day, Punk Rock Will Never Die, The Growler and our latest single Too Old To Riot. It also has the words to Unky Bunk, Mistress Material, and Tucker’s Ruckers; some serious numbers – (The Murder Of) Ian Tomlinson and Billy McFadzean (The Somme) – plus a few ditties that are written but not yet recorded such as Shona & The Alien and the heart-wrenching The Ballad Of The Bridgehouse. The 64-page booklet has been lovingly designed by Paul “Stalin” Hallam and a quick glance suggests that there is only one glaring error – a real doozy – that can be found on page 12. It’s on sale for just £4.99 plus p&p. The first 50 copies will be signed by Gal.
Nov 7. Quick update: our postponed November 13th gig at the New Cross Inn will now take place on Friday January 29th. The show has been officially designated as the opening date of our 2021 Antique Rogues Show tour.
Some things never change. Fat Col’s traditional Christmas stall will be open in Woolwich market next month as usual, and there are of course early-bird specials available. Offer one: Round-Dodger Handcuffs – the round-dodger is elusive by nature, on your shoulder when you’re at the bar but nowhere to be seen when it’s his (or her) shout. This cunning device fixes the problem. Just cuff the dodger as he accepts a drink from you and refuse to let the bastard go until he coughs up. It’s £25.99 plus p&p, and the deluxe talking cuffs edition is pre-programmed with relevant phrases such as “Your round, Lee”, “Oi, Spizz – no!” and “Not you too, Paul!”; a snip at £49.99.
Offer two: Fat Col’s all-organic gluten-free Covid Preventative – a potent mix of garlic, madras, fermented fish and halitosis, just spray it in your gob and no-one will ever come within six feet of you for months; “It has worked for me for thirty years,” testifies a Mr C. Gannon (no relation) of Plumstead; yours for just £30 a can.
Offer three: Silence conspiracy theorists with Col’s hand-tooled high-voltage Shun Gun. As soon as someone, say an otherwise sane-seeming punky-milf vocalist from Welling, starts denying that men have walked on the moon, claims world leaders are lizards or states that Covid is a hoax just hit them with a swift 66,600 volts of electric hammer and enjoy the immediate silence (health warning: side effects include dizziness, bewilderment and instant death); on sale for just £99.99. All offers are exclusive to Club 77 members.
Nov 6. We’ve been trying to get Tim Wells to write a bit about his skinhead pulp horror book, Moonstomp for a while. It’s set in 1979 and is a New English Library style tale of a skinhead werewolf. Instead, Tim asked a few hooligans what they’d like to know about the book , and him. Here are the results:
Matt Worley commented that: Moonstomp continues a tradition of subcultural pulp novel that seemed to have more or less disappeared by the 1980s, why did you want bring it back?
Tim: I loved reading the New English Library and the like, also those Pan Book of Horror Stories that used to do the rounds at school. There’s been nothing like them for a while. I’m a usually a poet, but getting older and the angry young audiences, rightly, don’t get all my references so I knew it was time to branch out with my writing.
It’s always irked me that most writing about subculture is usually wrong, mostly because the people writing it haven’t lived that particular subculture. Academics frequently describe but rarely understand (sorry Professor Worley!). I wanted to write something and get all the details right; the music, clothes, atmosphere. I know I lose interest in books and films as soon as a detail is wrong, so wanted to be true to my own yoof. Also, I’d been laid off work and had a month to kill to started writing then. Most of the werewolf victims are my old managers.
Matt: You're mainly known for poetry: for those unfamiliar with its working class link, who would you recommend checking out?
Tim: Yes, on the back of me reminiscing I wrote a load of poems about my teenage girlfriends... from when I was a teenager. These are now out as No Weakeners from Bad Betty Press. Poetry seems to be mired in identity politics and ‘activists’ been anything but active but there are some great poets doing exciting work. Emily Harrison writes funny, strong work about mental health. It’s easy to do that badly and as a victim – she does neither. My old mate Salena Godden is always a force for joy and good, she’s doing great stuff and rather than doing it the easy way has kept her integrity, more power to her. Sophie Cameron is easily the filthiest, and funniest, poet you’re likely to see. Dean Wilson from Hull is always a delight, whether with social media poetry or live in his distinctive accent. I’m pleased to give a special mention to the freshest cockney poet, Lilly Driscoll: new boots and panties for the Instagram age.
The effervescent Theresa Macauley asked: Where are you geographically in your mind when you’re writing?
Tim: I’m in the same places I was as a yoof. The book is mainly set around North East London, and the pubs and gigs in it are ones I know well. Not all the pubs mentioned are there now, but they were all real places. The first werewolf killing takes place in the street I used to look out onto when I was working, and the one I used to walk up to get my lunch. I know most of the locations well, but memory fades and there bits outside of my usual manor so I’ve a 1960s A to Z book, and also a handy Evening Standard Guide to London Pubs from 1973. I’ve also revisited locations to check things out. The one I was last at was the Limehouse Pyramid, which features in the upcoming Shine On Me.
There was a bit of interest in the geography of the book, the mighty Peyvand Sadeghian wanted to know: How does the area you live in inform your work?
Tim: I started writing a spoof of Richard Allen’s ‘Suedehead’, but more and more of my life kept creeping in, so I ditched the 4 chapters I’d written and started again with more of my own experiences in what I was writing. Stamford Hill is a strange area, it’s on the edge of a lot of things, it’s still a village. That made it fun to write about. It’s not your typical cardboard cockney place. Alexander Baron also wrote about the area. I like the insularity and difference in Stamford Hill, and I think that goes with punk and reggae, not being mainstream music, and especially the clothes. I write about them a lot, well dressed kids making a statement was a big part of the 70s and 80s, and again it is stepping outside of the mainstream. I’m regularly at car boot sales and the like and I’ve picked some fascinating, and bizarre, books on London history and the occult that have fed into the book. I also generally write with records from the year the book is set in: 1979 for ‘Moonstomp’, and 1980 for Shine On Me. I play 3 albums whilst I’m writing: a punk one, a reggae one, and one that takes my fancy. I’ve got tons of vinyl, and have also been picking up many of the records I didn’t back then, lots of mod revival passed me by, and I’ve enjoyed some of the terrible ones.
Theresa also asked: When you’re writing female characters do you approach them differently than male characters?
Tim: I approach them carefully! They are trickier to write, me being a middle aged male. I wouldn’t want to write something without women in it, they are half the world. I try to avoid the obvious stereotypes and keep the speech true. Several women have read through for me, and their input has been helpful. The sex scenes were definitely the most difficult thing to write. They were also the bits most scrutinised in my local. Several ‘Confessions’ books were referred to but at the end of the day I told myself that if Alan Titchmarsh can win a Bad Sex Award then I can too. Peyvand made a similar point: It's very easy in current discourse for "working class" to be shorthand for "white Male working class". However Moonstomp makes sure to have an array of characters beyond just that. How much is this a conscious decision? The book is set in London, and London of the late 70s so there’s a mix of people that reflects that, and is like that of the manor I’m writing about. I read an interview with a female Black author who said she deliberately didn’t describe people by colour in her work. I thought that was interesting and I consciously did the same thing. There are people of different backgrounds in the book, but unless it comes it conversation they are not described by colour. The working class is a big mix of people, and that’s one of the things I like best about us. We need the Peyvands as much as the Tims.
Young skinhead, of the Tottenham variety, Maor Yav chipped: Seeing lots of the book and story background is based around your experience, what's the story with the fight scenes? Did boneheads really sport Union Jack socks?
Tim: Some of the fights are real, there’s one where a lad loses a shoe. That happened to my mate Philip on a 73 bus in Kings Cross. I had a few tear ups, and my share of bruises. The times were very violent: politics, area, music, the basic inability of people to go out and have a quiet beer. Myself included. Yes, union jack socks were a thing, not a look I sported. Moccasins and Starsky cardigans was a look back then though you don’t see that now with the social meeja skinheads. That’s a style that should make a comeback.
Mod face Paul ‘Stalin’ Hallam wanted to know: What inspired the story?
Tim: It was a joke really. I was on a panel representing zines, and the publisher was also on it. I threw a Grauniad journo under the bus and afterwards myself and the publisher had a few beers. He had Dave Hill’s autobiography coming out and we got talking from there to 70s pulp. I joked I had a book about a skinhead werewolf whose sideburns got really big when the full moon was out. He thought I was serious and wanted to publish. I heard opportunity knocking and went with it. Initially I was copying Richard Allen’s Suedehead, but more and more of my own life and imagination came in so I scrapped what I’d written and started again. The skinhead becomes a werewolf after being bitten by Lene Lovich. I thought she’d be good as she was a bit weird, has a sense of humour and I saw her do some tight gigs. Legally I had to check with her as she’s mentioned in the book. She listened to me lay out the story and then asked when the book was set. 1979, I told. “That’s fine,” she said, “I wasn’t a vegetarian then.” She was superb.
Paul also asked about my favourite youth cult novel. I’d have to go with Dick Morland’s ‘Albion! Albion’!. It’s a dystopian, they’re really optimistic in pulp but they weren’t wrong, where Britain is divided and governed by rival football gangs. Garry, you’ll be pleased to know London under the sway of Charlton Athletic.
Will there be a sequel? Paul also enquired.
Tim: Yes, it’s set in 1980. The werewolf is still werewolfing and this time there’s mod witches, and a dead Crass fan. Details here.
Nov 4. We’re closing the blog for a bit but it looks “extremely likely” that our New Cross Inn gig will now take place on Friday 29th January. We’ll be back when we have cast-iron confirmation or any actual news. Cheers.
John Lydon backed Donald Trump again on telly today, telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m working-class English, it makes complete sense to me to vote for a person who actually talks about my kind of people… Trump’s not a politician. He’s never claimed to be. How unusually, exceptionally wonderful is that for people like me?... We’re bored with your intellectual left-wing ideas. We can’t take more of you. You talk twaddle. Everything you do, you just miss the point of who the general population are…”
Elsewhere, in the realms of spurious (and curious) gossip a spokesman for Wattsie says the only “miracle” she ever wants Fat Col to be involved in is “one involving a hungry Rottweiler and his testicles”. How pleasant…no doubt she’ll supply the gravy… we’re also hearing reports that the long-awaited Terence Hayes solo project will be a mini-album entitled The Bitch Is Back full of covers including Jealous Guy, Little Ole Wine Drinker Me, and the O’Jays’ Backstabbers (but as the source is Theo Beeson and the two have fallen out the information may be unreliable).
Nov 3. Good news: the fortieth anniversary Oi compilation – Oi! 40 Years Untamed, out at the end of the month – will be on sale in UK shops like All Ages and Oi Oi The Shop in Camden. (It’s being distributed by Plastichead so you can ask your local record store to order it from them too). Alternatively, get it direct from piratepressrecords.com who tell us postage prices will be low and there are currently no import charges. Bad news: we have had to postpone the recording of Gal’s stompingly manic Oi Be Wot? due to lockdown lunacy. What is gutting is we had a very special guest lead guitarist confirmed for the session…
Nov 2. We’re in talks with the New Cross Inn to reschedule our postponed November gig until January. Onwards and upwards, chaps.
Gal is holed up writing the new Harry Tyler book. Fit Bird tells us: “It’s about half done, innit? ’E reckons it’ll be out next year.”
Noos: Out now: The Aquabats! LP, Kooky Spooky In Stereo – the band’s sixth studio album is available again from Gloopy Records on glow-in-the-dark vinyl… out on Nov 13th: AC/DC brand new album Power Up, which is everything it says on the tin…
Nov 1. Fat Col has furiously condemned Wattsie for referring to her relationship status as “waiting for a miracle”. The sane and rational Col fumes, “Obviously it’s a public slap in the face for me as this woman has rejected my sincere overtures of love and marriage since 2009. One day she will realise I am the only miracle she’s got and by that time I’ll be shacked up with some other boiler, like Rhianna or Andrianna “The Body” Christofi I should imagine, and I would have to say ‘I am sorry, missus, but you had yer chance and you blew it, luv’. That’ll teach her.” He pauses and adds ‘Mind you if she did blow it…’ but we’d had enough by then.
Prankster alert: Bonfire Night is ON. It’s that Margate place. Chris Whitty dummies will be the order of the day, from your boss DJ. Ask your tyler, etc.
Here is Gal’s chat with with Pete Langford of the Barron Knights, the only British band ever to tour with the Beatles and the Stones. The late great Ian Dury said: “No band has made it until the Barron Knights have spoofed them!”
And here’s one he’s just had with prog rock leg-end Fish from Marillion.