Two new, and very different EPs,

one from LEN LIGGINS, the other from MATTHEW EDWARDS,

both equally worth your attention…

An EP is a strange creature. Twice as big as a single. A third as big as an album. A kind of Post-It note postscript left over from the previous album, or a promissory-note for the next. A temporary catch-up, a stop-gap. Back in the vinyl days they were called mini-albums and came dressed in laminated jackets with proper sleeve-notes. The Beatles “Twist And Shout” was a UK EP, yet it climbed to no.2 on the singles chart. Now – midpoint through 2020, I have two EPs, both strange creatures in their own right. Both worthy of your extended attentions.

I have an EP coming out in October on Static Caravan (UK)’ messages Matthew Edwards. ‘Shall I send you a download?’ Naturally, I say ‘yes’. As is traditional with the EP-format, there are four new tracks, of differently numbered mixes. “The Falls” – a Divine Comedy of bloody streets and devil-roasted bones, with “First Song Of The Revolution”, catchy repetitions in tones of California Blue. Then “Jesus”, and the North Bay “Marin County” where no fortune smiles upon the poor, or on poets and Rock troubadours, ‘I work with the homeless there. The money gulf is huge.’

These songs were written when I was in a terrible state’ Matthew confides. ‘Two weeks after getting back to San Francisco my wife announced she wanted a divorce. I hadn’t gotten over Mom’s death so I was blind-sided. This EP is a one-off. The US band is now called Matthew Edwards And The Futurists. I retired the old name (the Unfortunates) as our drummer Derick died in May. Heartbreaking.’

Despite which, finding Matthew ‘middle-aged and almost grown’, they seem positive and largely upbeat. A rippling surging tide of multitudes, drones and shimmering strings, structured breaks and clever twists, flute and pattering congas. He heard a broken song, and followed it. They might be cheated lullabies located between hell and the unknown, but feel the sky, feel the ocean. “Marin County” is the kind of keyboard riff that burrows sideways into your head. I don’t normally like songs that mention ‘Jesus’, I make an exception for the crooked smile and broken bones of this one. So fix me up with its sweet dose.

I’ll never make another record like it’ adds Matthew. ‘The next record is turning out very low key and pastoral but rather bleak.’ The Futurists were an Italian art movement that celebrates speed, machines, innovation and tomorrow.

Meanwhile, around another corner of the continuum, the Legendary Len Liggins ‘sparkles like a star’ on an EP called “Paint It Yellow” (Aaz Records AAZCDS18). Of course – for the Rolling Stones, it was “Paint It Black”, sometimes with a controversial comma before the word ‘black’. Not sure if that is relevant. Possibly not. Len opts for a big Jackson Pollock artful splodge of primary-yellow paint on the primary-red disk. The ‘petrol-powered propulsion’ of cars have always figured big in Rock mythology, from Chuck Berry Motorvatin’, through Marc Bolan’s “Jeepster” into Bruce Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch”. Len has a ruby-red rusty old banger. But it cruises just fine on a kicking backbeat. “Psychedelic Carol” is a volume of ‘Rubble’ in its own right. Part scurrilous Robert Crumb comic-strip, part Bamforth saucy holiday postcard, where a ‘lonely flower-child’ meets ageing hippie Peter. If Syd had a drum-machine he’d sound this way. “Dusk On The Osa Peninsula” is a curious eco-rap bulletin with sampled scarlet macaws and howler monkeys as signifiers of climate-change. ‘We were due to be there – in Costa Rica, for three weeks but it all kicked off (Covid-19) and the Central American borders started closing after the first week. We’d been in the country ten days and then had to make our way from the jungle to the capital and wait two days at the airport trying to get a flight home. We only just made it in time.’

Meanwhile, ‘I’m really overwhelmed with the reaction to my home-recorded rendition of “I Wish I Wish (Love Is Pleasing)”. I absolutely wasn’t expecting that’ says Len about the EPs fourth track, which has a soulful, poignant, haunting kind of Folkie finger-in-the-ear quality. ‘It’s an Irish folk song that I’ve always really liked. I remember hearing it when I visited my relatives in Ireland as a child. Sometimes I sing it at Ukrainians’ soundchecks. For me it’s a really sad but beautiful song, full of that melancholy that seems to be particularly characteristic of the Celtic (and Slavic) soul. It started going through my head during the Covid-19 lockdown while I was at home recording the other tracks for the EP, so I decided to record my own version of it. As for the video, I took the footage in my back garden – there was nowhere else to go during the lockdown! I shot it during a break in the recording, and while I was still sporting my ‘isolation beard’. The track’s not indie guitar pop, and it’s not your usual kind of pop video either, but here it is anyway…’ it shows a bearded Tolstoy-contemplative Len sitting in his garden. ‘Ha, ha! That’s exactly what I was going for!’ says Len.

Four tracks of popping candy. Sometimes a quartet of songs is all you need…







Matthew Edwards And The Futurists “The First Song Of The Revolution” EP (VAN 348) www.staticcaravan.org/

The Legendary Len Liggins “Paint It Yellow” EP (Aaz Records AAZCDS18)



Twitter: @darlingtonandy

Website: www.andrewdarlington.blogspot.com)

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Intolerably Hip


Intolerably Hip, the autobiography of Andrew Kerr – a kind of review by Alan Dearling

Frontier Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-872914-49-7

Occasionally, or perhaps more often than that, an interesting or possibly even great book or music album slips through the proverbial ‘net’ of life. This book is one of them. It was published by Frontier Publishing, based in Norfolk, in 2011. They tried hard to promote it. Richard Barnes, from the publishers told me: “We did not get nearly enough coverage for Andrew, and he did want a big response. I’m guessing you knew Andrew and the kind of person he was. We had a ‘Spirit of ‘71’ field at the 2011 Glasto. Howard Marks slightly stole the crowd in the talking tent in the field.”

Andrew Kerr, along with Randolph Churchill’s daughter, Arabella (she was just 21) and a couple of other chums, including Mark Irons (brother of actor, Jeremy) organised the free event at Worthy Farm, home of Michael Eavis.  It was called the Glastonbury Fair of 1971. Andrew’s company was appropriately called ‘Solstice Capers Ltd’. I have some personal synchronicities with Andrew. He has connections with the Scottish Borders where I live, his family, the Kerrs, were originally the residents of Ferniehurst in Jedburgh, probably in the late 16th century. I was born in West Sussex, likewise Andrew, whose parents originally lived in Chichester. His birth was in 1933, mine in 1951. He was already relatively middle aged in the early ‘70s when Michael Eavis dubbed him the “rich hippy!”, which he much resented, stating that he had never been rich. I met Andrew a couple of times, but we weren’t mates. I’m much more a music person and have many friends in the sometimes fairly challenging Convoy/Traveller/Sound System scenes that have rocked and boomed out over Stonehenge and the fields of Worthy Farm. My guess is that Andrew never really knew much about the 1960s and early ‘70s music-scene. This view has been reinforced by reading this fascinating book. He talks a lot in terms of lists of performers, but rarely about their actual music.

Andrew’s personal ‘trip’ was more cerebral. He was a kind of hippy missionary. At times pursued with a quasi-religious fervour. Like me he’d been at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival where he’d witnessed violence, probably in far greater profusion than any peace and love. Also like me, he’d previously attended the messy Mick Farren (dis-) organised Phun City festival held near Worthing. But, it was the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music, actually held at the showground at Shepton Mallet, which was closest to his ideal festival.

Post- the Isle of Wight event, he’d obviously been captivated by the spirit of the young people, and he returned to his London home proclaiming that: “We’ve got to have proper festival, one that has some cosmic significance.” Andrew’s book, like his life, is a chameleon that is forever shape-shifting. An odd and extraordinarily eclectic  mix of rant, hyperbole, rich kid gone missing, cosmology, ecology, yacht charters, historical research and writing, spinning-wool, spirituality, stone-walling, composting and natural funerals, crofting and ‘stories’. Lots and lots of highly personal accounts of the people he worked and socialised with, from the international glitterati of the Kennedys, Rothschilds, the Guinness family, the Churchills, through to mystics like John Michell, artist Salvador Dali, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Eavis, Ginger Baker and members of the Grateful Dead. Some ‘cast list’, you have to agree, and that’s just a few of them…

“Perhaps I am an infinitivist”

What comes through loud and clear is Andrew’s resilience. ‘Infinitivist’ is the word he used to describe himself. He exhibited amazing fortitude to ‘bounce back’ after financial, physical and relationship ‘challenges’ and to re-invent himself. He tells us that his autobiography is a recounting of the ‘adventure’ of his life, saying: “So, I might as well start the story at the beginning, go on until I come to the end: then stop’, as the King said in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.”

His early years were profoundly unpromising. But his birthright was the prestige and social connections of his family. Like Winston Churchill, Andrew Kerr could trace his ancestry back through a couple of female lines to the first Duke of Marlborough. From an undistinguished public school education at Radley (the cricketer Ted Dexter was one of his contemporaries), dyslexia, and a farming childhood in the 1940s, time in the Navy as a stores-man in HMS Dolphin in Gosport, he was often referred to by his older siblings as “the ape”. But there were plenty of well-shod people in his circle of family and friends, such that he was frequently surrounded by the extremely rich and influential people of his day.

Andrew Kerr’s longest period of work in the 1960s was in the employ of Randolph Churchill, later being engaged as a researcher upon the first three volumes of the official biography of Randolph’s father, Sir Winston. Randolph and Andrew were very different characters, but both enjoyed travel, the company of the rich and famous and plenty of good food and drink. We learn a lot about their adventures together in the book. For example, at Hickory Hill in Washington, Andrew remembers,

“Bobby (Kennedy) opened the door and after he had welcomed us, he pointed to me and said, ‘Who’s that?!’ Randolph said, ‘I told you, it’s my friend Andrew Kerr.’ ‘Does he eat a lot?’ ‘No, not very much.’ We went in for drinks in front of the fire. Teddy Kennedy rushed through, freshly out of the swimming pool, exchanged greetings and left. After more badinage, he said to me, ‘Why are you working for that old fool? Why don’t you come and work for me?’ Randolph said, ‘Stop trying to steal my staff.’ “

However, after Randolph died in 1968, his son ‘young’ Winston complained that Andrew had gone “intolerably hip”. Such is the effect on some of us of exposure to the muddy fields of festival life!

Michael Eavis had held an event called the Pilton Pop Festival at Worthy Farm in 1970, but  Frontier Publishing contend that, “… it was Kerr’s spiritual and environmental ideology which linked Glastonbury Fair to the Solstice celebrations and the landscape of Avalon” with its ley lines, and connections with Joseph of Arimathea, possibly Jesus, the Holy Grail and the Glastonbury Zodiac.

Here’s another quote from Frontier Publishing regarding Andrew Kerr’s Glastonbury Fair in 1971: “The iconic pyramid stage, inspired by his old friend, John Michell (author of ‘View over Atlantis’), was sited to face the midsummer sunrise. The musicians played at their own expense. The valley (the Vale of Avalon) and Tor worked their magic, the sun shone and entry was free. Kerr’s aim for the whole thing? To conserve natural resources, to respect life and to awaken the spirit. Our man had spent all his cash on Glastonbury, but he was right on target: England had been waiting for this!”

In the book, there are a rich variety of contemporary accounts and documents about the Glastonbury Fair and later festivals, especially during the CND period. One that provides a rich vein of hippy-verbiage – very much of its time – is from Andrew’s close friend, Martin E Shallon. Here’s an excerpt from Martin:

“The location, Glastonbury, Somerset, England, the man in the middle was Andrew Kerr, the farm called Worthy, and the dream to tap the universe. It costs a lot of money to have a dream like that. With help from Arabella Churchill, co-operation from 38 kindly bands, an architect, a retired rock journalist and two radio freaks, a lot of good shit went down in July (sic) of seventy-one for a week of free everything in which everyone gave the same And like all good dreams, it came true, and like any dream involved an awakening.”

Andrew recounts the unfolding tales surrounding the Glastonbury Fair like a teenage school boy. It’s a tale of water-divining, the design and building of a pyramid stage, as a one-tenth scale model of the one at Giza (a winter barn for Michael Eavis!), funding (and losing), with Arabella Churchill, up to £15,000 to finance the event, which was attended by somewhere between 4,000 and 15,000 free-festival punters, depending on the source quoted by Andrew. You also get lots of tasty anecdotes and info about the preparation for, and publicity for the event, and the triple vinyl LP (Glastonbury Fayre) that was put on sale as a fund-raiser after the event featuring some of the bands who played and the Grateful Dead, who didn’t. Andrew described 1971’s Glastonbury Fair as:

“A fair in the medieval tradition, embodying the legends of the area, with music, dance, poetry, theatre lights and the opportunities for spontaneous entertainments. There will be no monetary profit – it will be free…a spiritual awakening.”

As I made my way through the myriad episodic ‘adventures’ in Andrew Kerr’s autobiography, it struck me that he was a man with the power to enable other people to re-shape their lives, but seemed to float somewhat rudderless through his own.

In the period after the Glastonbury Fair, he probably needed a complete break from Sacred Geometry, festivals and Worthy Farm. He moved with his partner, Jytte, to live on the Scoraig Peninsula, a Scottish crofting community in Wester Ross. The tales from this time capture the realities of subsistence crafting, a few experiments with LSD, visits from friends and then the parting of their ways in 1977. As, Frontier Publishing put it, “Andrew then set off for a variety of yachting jobs to discover all the problems one could possibly have with a boat. Another wave of idealism had him back in the West country putting on the first and only ‘Whole Earth Show’ in 1992.”

It featured much about organics, composting, living more sustainably. It was another financial mess, which Andrew describes saying, “My personal resources were cleaned out when the dust had settled….it was a financial disaster but its ethics were sound.”

Actually, Andrew had spent a lot of the 1980s back at Worthy Farm helping Michael Eavis and others in the organisation and management of the Glastonbury Festivals and there are some hilarious stories of his life at the farm and being in charge of paying both litter pickers and bands.

Another point of synchronicity between myself and Andrew was our mutual friend, Nicholas Albery. I had met Nicholas in connection with the infamous squat in Notting Hill which was known as the self-styled free republic of Frestonia and later as a contributor to his ‘Ideas Bank, and the ‘Encyclopaedia of Social Inventions’. Andrew was involved with him and the ideas in his publication, ‘The Natural Death Handbook’. Andrew was much taken with the idea of naturally composting bodies! Nicholas was another zany character, much missed in the UK’s counter-culture.

 “As autobiographers go, Kerr is an ideal type”, say the Frontier publishers. “He’s generous yet light-handed and understated at turns while recounting some tricky situations in a life of opposites. The pages are enlivened by contradictory characters, from rock stars, music lovers, crofters and druids to world statesmen, royalty, trillionaires and bloodthirsty generals. It’s a good story and he’s a storyteller through and through”.

Andrew Kerr toddled off the mortal coil into what he refers to as the ‘Light of Eternal Creation’ in 2014. I hope that he got his final wish, which he describes in the final lines of the ‘Intolerably Hip’:

“As JM Barrie says in ‘Peter and Wendy’, ‘To die will be an awfully big adventure’.”

Go and find yourself a copy of Andrew Kerr’s ‘Intolerably Hip’ – you won’t regret it!

Frontier Publishing: http://www.frontierpublishing.co.uk/


By Alan Dearling

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Hand Print

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A warm whistled day in the Apple Isle
Our car is low in lands of the devil
I’ll move like Elvis when he plays, you’ll smile
But keep your eyes on the road above sea level

We drive past caves, caravans and cattle
The ash on the road is thick and thirsty
The engine begins to shake and rattle
A new hump in our small Sunday journey

We crouch and wait on the side of the road
With no warning you brush my tangled hair
One violent pull makes me hop like a toad
Traitor! I shout and cry in deep despair

My mother; red hair, blue eyes and freckled
Hands like ginger bread biscuits with sharp nails
My mother; impatient, scared, unsettled
Teeth like rusted tic-tacs and big barbed rails

As a child you always drove me so far
As a child you always drove me crazy
My beloved, weathered and old rock star
My short candied Australian daisy

I want to be the woman you became
The felon, falcon and forbidden girl
The free spirit, fighter and feisty flame
I will wear your crown, I will wear your pearl

So for one last time, before I’m too old
Let’s play Elvis and dance in your green gold




Zoe Aronson


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Heathcote Williams and I


Elena Caldera

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Sean Scully. The Shape of Ideas, Timothy Rub with Amanda Sroka (256pp, Philadelphia Museum of Art / Yale University Press)

Sean Scully. Human (315pp, Skira)

Sean Scully paints and sculpts and draws and prints with colour. His energetic and engaging painting has moved from complex hard-edged grids through vast multi-canvas blocks of stripes to energetic gesture, all the time accompanied by photography, watercolours, sketches, drawings, prints and sculptures.

His stripes were often associated by critics and viewers with cities, particularly New York’s gridded blocks, but his landscape photos – featuring the horizon line and layers of land &/or sea – and interviews often suggested otherwise. Over the years Scully’s persona has changed too, moving from aggressive and outspoken to a more ‘spiritual’ and gentler person, engaged with his audience and the world around him. Being a parent again, later on in life appears to also have re-energised him and his work too; he is now outspoken about emotion and the human content of his at practice.

Sean Scully. The Shape of Ideas is a well overdue overview of his work, the result of a major retrospective in the USA, a surprising 25 years since the last. It’s a beautifully illustrated volume, with a number of astute essays about Scully and his work. Timothy Rub offers a lengthy and informed biography that focusses on the work in relation to Scully’s life, whilst Kelly Grover’s ‘The Soul of Feeling’, which follows, argues that Scully changed 20th Century painting by reintroducing ‘soul’ and feeling back into abstract paintings as it headed off into minimalism and conceptualism. Both are fully illustrated, not only with the Scully work under discussion but also work by those who have influenced and inspired him.

After this there are 120 pages of glorious colour reproductions, which move from a 1972 woven canvas to some of Scully’s current Landline and Untitled (Window) series. En route there are key works along with examples of all his outputs, including many that will be new to many. The book ends with a selection of previous key critical texts which explore Scully’s work from a number of critical standpoints and different focal points. I confess I have most of these, but many will not and it is good to have the relevant writings by the likes of William Feaver, Sam Hunter and Donald Kuspit gathered together.

Scully’s recent ‘soul’-ful paintings have seen him directly engaged with spiritual sites. He has designed and had built a new chapel for an abbey near Montserrat in Spain; this includes many works specifically made for the chapel, including altar furniture and frescos painted directly onto the wall in the Renaissance manner. He has also engaged with religious buildings as exhibition spaces, and Human is a catalogue of his exhibition at the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.

The exhibition not only carefully selected and placed previous paintings against the white walls of the church’s various spaces, but included many works specifically made for the venue. Most striking is ‘Opulent Ascension’, a tower of colour installed in the main church. Constructed of square wooden blocks covered in coloured felt, the simplistic sculpture somehow fills, engages with and changes the sacred architectural space. The catalogue essays reference ideas such as the Bible story of Jacob’s Ladder but I think the piece’s title says all you need to know.

‘Brown Tower’, a smaller steel version of the same idea, and a wooden tower built from railway sleepers, were placed outside in the basilica grounds, whilst drawings and watercolours for and from the sculptures and paintings on show were exhibited in glass cases. In addition a stunning hand-painted book was placed on the lectern in the Choir. Here, amongst drawings and watercolours, Scully documented some of his ideas, his aspirations for and personal associations with the work he had chosen to exhibit here. Obviously, there are clear references to and influences from illuminated manuscripts and books of the past, but Scully’s work is clean and simple, allowing air and light into his work to document his thought processes and artistic desire.

If I am less convinced by the figuration Scully has occasionally chosen to work with recently, that is far out-shadowed by the body of work Scully has produced over his lifetime. His energy and engagement with ideas, colour, paint, light and people is absolutely astonishing. He truly has explored what it is to be human, offering his findings to anyone who will pay attention on the way. His colourful reports are consistently wondrous and inspiring, and these books come close to capturing that.





Rupert Loydell

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NEEDED: Vision and Leadership for the Family of Man


One cannot fail to recognise the ubiquitous crisis in all forms of leadership that exists on the planet today. Qualities of wisdom, courage and statesmanship, once admired and emulated by aspiring people of principle, have been undermined and sterilised via collective slavery to the prescribed money and power agenda, which reflects the default position of society.

Today, little people claim to be big and ‘big’ people seem to want to be invisible. The higher values of society have been corrupted and put into reverse, replaced by a centrally directed pandemic of fear and confusion; leaving nobody sure what direction society needs to move in.

Out of this chaos a new type of leadership will need to emerge and its primary value must be Spiritual Wisdom. It is the prima facia lack of spiritual aspiration in the great body of humanity which has allowed the anti-life corruptive forces to gain such a wide ranging control over everyday life.

There are two predominantly fake versions of spirituality: formal religion and the narcissistic meditator. These have replaced the deeper calling of true individual spiritual evolution: confronting injustice and giving service to humanity.

In the former case, by replacing prophetic teachings with dogma and control, and in the latter, by using bona fide Eastern practices as a personal escape mechanism. A closing of the eyes to the need to face up to the injustices of the world and working to expose and change them.

The deeper calling which exists in all humanity has been grossly undernourished, leaving many having no ‘belief’ in the existence of a greater force for good and no sense of deeper purpose associated with ‘being alive’. What might be described as living in a permanent void.

How can life on Earth improve while such a state prevails? How can people be uplifted when the spark of life has died in them?

The starting point for reversing this dystopian state of affairs is to recognise that this spark is not actually beyond redemption. But that it is simply buried and suffocated by continuous confirmation to the long-running fake plan for society, and could re-emerge from its enforced hibernation if the right conditions were set in place to bring about such a transformation.

Since we are all blessed with receiving ‘life’ (being born) it becomes a question of admitting to a Source of this life state which comes before and extends beyond the individual ‘you’ and ‘I’. Provided one has some sense of wonderment about this greater life force one’s spirit is intact and onward one can go to develop the values of courage, dignity and statehood I mentioned at the start.

If there is no wonderment, but moral and ethical values are nevertheless expressed, this will suffice in upholding the basic dignity associated with being human, but will not give creative impetus to the evolution of human society.

But if there is no dignity and no wonderment – and the capitulation to slavery has been complete – then only a radical form of redress could come to the rescue of the values that give meaning to life and the lost souls trapped into laying their lives at the feet of our planetary oppressors.

That radical form of redress is what is now needed. It means the rise into positions of respected leadership of individuals (and groups of individuals) who are dedicated to advancing the cause of human emancipation, whatever the odds that stand against them. And since it is dogma and indoctrination that are the first two hurdles to stand in their way, these must be the first to come under sustained attack.

This means root and branch reform of the entire education system and a radical rebuilding of the teacher pupil relationship. A transformation founded upon the natural human propensity for social bonding, the insight that leads to ‘vision’ and a sharing of the work-load that life places in all our laps.

The goals that have been set for new arrivals on this planet are false. That is the first lesson for any ‘real’ education. A child arrives on Earth as a bright and beautiful human being, full of the innocent spontaneity which is a direct expression of the divine source from whence the child has come. But the figureheads of the society into which that child arrives have the ambition of turning this new human being – into a robot. Something a bit wrong here, wouldn’t you agree?

Computer technology and the digitalised images such technology conveys, are not compatible with the human condition. They are alien to true humanity and represent a disconnect between body, mind and spirit. A distortion of our deeper bond with the greater whole without which we cannot operate as real people, only as fake lookalikes.

The emerging ‘true leadership’ will recognise this fact and ensure that the body, mind and spirit unity is redeemed as the first and most fundamental condition of the new education.

It will also recognise that the same distortion of truth lies at the heart of the financial institutions that control the global money supply, ensuring the ever greater disparity between poverty and wealth. The new education will therefore elucidate an economic principle whereby the wealth of the planet is to be shared amongst all peoples and poverty is eradicated.

It will note that there is no proper justice left within the decisions and processes of national and international law, and will advise a fair system of trial accompanied by ‘a corrective’ process rather than the ‘coercive’ process of the existing prison system.

An alliance with cosmic law (God’s law) – known and practised as Common Law – will become the medium for judging and redirecting the antisocial acts of others.

As all humans need good food and water to be healthy, the new leadership will ensure everybody has the right to such nourishment in their daily lives. A pro-ecological agriculture and farming practice, in the hands of humane and sensitive practitioners, will therefore be recognised as the proper basis for planetary equilibrium and proper nourishment of humanity as a whole.

Within this emerging new paradigm, the emphasis will move away from a globalized marketing regime, to local and regional production and distribution systems based on the principle of co-operating rather than competition. ‘Human scale’ will be the watchword for industry of all sorts.

Where there is to be an overriding central body concerned with ensuring the course for the emergent new society is set fair, it will comprise ‘a council of the wise and true’.

Offering a sound template for living in harmony with fellow humans and with nature, is the work that those of us who share this vision, need to do at this time.

It is a very exciting time to be alive. In spite of the daunting nature of the challenges we face, the human spirit, reconnected to its divine origins and true sense of purpose, will overcome all attempts to consign it to prison. Instead it will bring about a renaissance. A renaissance far exceeding any temporary upturns in creative expression witnessed in previous centuries.

But there is one inadmissible factor without which we cannot ensure this metamorphosis reaches its full potential; a recognition that we are simultaneously both truly individual and innately social beings – who place on an equal footing the ability to lead wisely and yet to never lose touch with our roots as brothers and sisters within the great family of man.

Holding this vision in front of us, we will surely overcome all that stands in the way of the great emancipation of life on Earth.


Julian Rose
Illustration: Claire Palmer

Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, writer, international activist, entrepreneur and teacher. His latest book ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’ is particularly prescient reading for this time: see www.julianrose.info

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The Grail Tarot / The Book of Merlin: Magic, Legend and History

The Grail Tarot by John Matthews and Giovanni Caselli

This is a lavishly presented and, frankly, gorgeous thing to have in your possession, whether you are an adherent of Tarot – or not.

The quality of the art work is quite simply superb and what a splendid idea to present the cards so that, together, they form a tableau, one which would adorn the walls of any house very well indeed. The temptation is indeed very high to see them all gathered together in a suitably Italianate frame and hanging in pride of place in a room dedicated to the finer things in life.

The images presented are a coda of all the finest renaissance traditions and immediately transported me to the early Italian Art Room in the National Gallery.

The images are clean, by this I do not mean not sterile or predictable even, but clean in the way that Italian art was presented as a fresh impetus in the early to late fifteenth century. These cards bear all of the hallmarks of the era, but with telling modern flourishes that contain clues for the quest of the Grail throughout. The human figures have a statuesque quality about them that radiates the central mystery of the Holy Grail: and added touches here and there inform us of the possible links to the Templars in a way that is majestic and yet enigmatic.

Card number 3 is a particularly fine example of the mystery as has been presented in books and academic papers. Here the Queen of Sheba is to be seen amidst four pillars of a portico, and with all of the splendour of her darkened skin as presented in the beautiful and mysterious Solomonic Song of Songs. Behind her is a pillared palace with a golden dome. The cupola of the dome is to be seen here as her royal crown as she holds up her left hand in the sign of heavenly blessing. She radiates from within golden and scarlet robes, so beloved of renaissance painters. To her right, behind her, we see, almost as an afterthought, a ship, upon its sail is a faint Red Cross. It is the Ship of Solomon – but here presented as a Templar ship: this could well be a sigil for the removal of the Templar treasure at the time of their arrest? Or perhaps a reference to their activities in Constantinople in the immediate prelude to the terrible events of 1204?

From this we can see that the author and the artist are very well read indeed on this most intriguing of mysteries.

The Grail is to be seen in some of the cards associated with the mysterious Green Stone described by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his telling of the legend, Parzival (approx. 1220CE). Likewise, the portrayal of the Shekinah in Card 11 her star-crossed robe offsets the otherworldly look of her visage, above her hangs a grape vine, next to her is to be seen a chequered floor.  This, to the untrained eye, might seem an odd assortment of symbols, looking at it merely draws you into the mystery further, it intrigues the eye, it piques curiosity: who is this mysterious woman? What is the association of al of these symbols? 

All of these responses are the essence of the Tarot, to draw form within the viewer an unconscious response that goes deep and draws upon what we have been inculcated with from the outset of pour lives, but which very few of us are called to investigate further – this is the essence of the Quest.

The Shekinah is, of course, the divine feminine. The chequered floor a telling clue where to find her – deep inside the Temple. The Grapes signify royalty, of a coming one who will seek for her, who will recognize her and who will honour her.

This is a small sample of the depth of learning that has gone into this superbly presented pack and yet it is a learning that has been applied effortlessly by the artist.


Published by Red Feather £43.19 ($34.99)




The Book of Merlin: Magic, Legend and History,
John Matthews

Amberley Publishing, Stroud. (publ. September 2020)

This is a thoroughly absorbing and engaging book that takes us on a journey through the many manifestations of this most famous of wizards or seers, through history, culture and through our own perceptions of him within the Arthurian legends.

In many of the Medaeval manuscripts Merlin appears in much the same way as the prophets appear in the Old Testament. But Merlin is far more witty and cunning and not as self-righteous as the prophets. He is much more fun and, I should say, Human – even if, as Geoffrey of Monmouth states (in The History of the Kings of Britain, c.1135) he is half man, half demon. And it makes for a splendid read.

One gets the sense that Merlin serves as a kind of proto-psychologist for his day. The visual imagery associated with him is the stuff of dreams and what strikes the eye with an immediacy that is as compelling as the writing, is the Jungian quality to it. Jung saw dreams as echoes of the deep interior of our psyche and, bizarre though such dreams can seem in our everyday lives, Jung believed very firmly that they have a lot to offer us in our everyday lives, that they are communicating to us on a deeper, inner level our true identification. This is the sense we get from a reading of Merlin. And in the reading, we must also look to the illuminations that accompanied his stories through the ages: they are just as dream-like.

Geoffrey was writing in the immediate period before the Inquisition and his book was the first bestseller of its kind. But these were dangerous times and, with the benefit of hindsight, it is remarkable to see that Merlin, in these highly Orthodox times, should be described in the way he is.

In Geoffrey and also in Gerald of Wales, Merlin (Myrddin) is a wild-man of the woods called Merlin Sylvester, possibly also known as Lailoken (as recounted in the Life of the Scottish 6th century St Kentigern): he is in effect, a shaman with the ability to heal on the inner levels. This trickster-type character, is able to cross over into other levels and to co-join or to transcend barriers in order to bring about his great acts of ‘magic’. In this case we must see ‘magic; not as the conjuror’s hocus pocus but as the great proto-science that, in having been shunned and anathematized by the Church, was soon to develop in its own way beyond Church mores and eventually be realised in the work of Jung and co.

In Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur Merlin appears in the early books as an unconventionally wise man who is more often than not quite happy to play the fool in order to see that his charge, King Arthur, can learn to see wisdom. One is reminded of Nicol Williamson’s artful but compelling portrayal in Excalibur. It is telling that at the critical moment in story, the moment when Arthur is to be seen as a fully independent figure of authority over his court that Merlin should disappear – into a cave, half-willingly, by the subtle, but mysterious Nimue. 

However, this is not the whole Merlin. In certain of the early texts we see Merlin as a lover, but one very much haunted by the various wars he has seen at close quarters.  In our present age of polarisation, we can see perhaps more penetratingly, the look in his eyes as he unfurls his angst and his terrible visions of the future. It is perhaps one of the great tragedies of our present state of democracy that figures such as Merlin are relegated to the side-lines as figures of doubt, of fun and of ridicule – whereas those who should be ridiculed are those who cannot see beyond their own vanity for want of a Merlin style counsellor.

This is thorough survey of the Merlin material and is written to be read by all not just for a select few. The style is absorbing, engaging and speaks to the everyman in each of us as Merlin himself would have wanted it. The book is fully sourced and the plates section in the middle gives a wide breadth of Merlin imagery down through the ages. My only wish is that there was more of the Medaeval imagery of him on show, but that is a small quibble for a book that is a thoroughly entertaining read.


David Elkington


illustration from Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur by the 19th century illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. 


Merlin & Vivien from a 19th century tile. Painting by J. Moyr Smith. 
Merlin on the cover to a program for a production of King Arthur at the Lyceum Theatre, London, in 1895 

Merlin as a druid by Louis Rhead, from a series of illustrations for Tennyson’s Idylls of the King





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The first few pages intrigues my mother most.
The secrets of evicting lizards and the ants
or the ways to conceive rain during high summer 
come utile if you live where she lives irrespective
of the places and time. Be it a city or be the backyard
where her father took refuge, disturbed, mute, 
grieving the line drawn between two newborn countries,
my mother always lives in the same place – 
where clouds unmask the ways of an almanac,
where lizards disappear fearing eggshells,
where my age endeavors to crawl and stumbles
into a run instead. It is always October. The scent 
penetrates both the wistful and the jubilant states.





Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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Bedside Jetty


Our feet airless
Our souls full
We drank the sea
As her gulls flew homeward and gone.
I could have sworn that I had not seen as much sky before.

The jetty was never ours.
Trees solemnly took oath beside dirt path,
And stone listened.
The dark suited the forest,
And once the forest was dressed,

Night sank to the green, upwards down,
Where they held each other until morning.

You told me stories of years back,
As I told you stories I had read,
And you are music in all you say,
Whilst I stumble into quiet.

Laughter glittered in the gloaming,
As the horizon spilt purple
and mixed with ink.

Yes, the jetty was never ours.
Yet that night, it might have been.
I scribble it onto a loose page
And tuck time into a book.

The bedside jetty is never far away,
My slumber floats at sea.



Megan Hopkin

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The death of Anowarkowa


 “Go back home where you came from. This country is mine, and
I intend to stay here and to raise this country full of grown people.”

Wounded Knee is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. On December 29, 1890, a massacre took place, which left up to 300 Lakota men, women and children dead. The U.S. government, concerned about the influence of the Ghost Dance movement, had sent in the 7th Cavalry, under the command of Major Samuel M. Whitside, with instructions to prevent a band of warriors (led by Bigfoot, a Lakota Sioux) from proceeding with their religious ritual. Surrounding the camp, and supported by four Hotchkiss mountain guns, Colonel James W. Forsyth ordered the natives to surrender their weapons. During the consequent confusion, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote, reluctant to comply with the order, accidentally discharged his rifle. At this, the U.S. army indiscriminately opened fire. The Lakota men, women and children, together with 25 U.S. soldiers, were cut down in a hail of bullets, with a further 39 soldiers badly wounded. The massacre proved to be the last major confrontation between the army of the United States and the Plains natives – although ‘confrontation’ is hardly an appropriate term, given the circumstances.

Quite why the U.S. government was so concerned about the danger of the Ghost Dance, or Nannissaanah, is difficult to fully comprehend.  As a new, short-lived religious movement, it was based on the traditional circle dance, and predicated on the teachings and prophecies of Wovoka, a Northern Paiute spiritual leader from modern-day Nevada. According to Wovoka, proper practice of the dance (which lasted for five days) would reunite the living with the spirits of dead warriors, and these spirits would then fight to force the white colonists from native lands. In the words of John Fire Lame Deer, a Lakota holy man, the people were told “they could dance a new world into being”.

“There would be landslides, earthquakes, and big winds. Hills would pile up on each other, the earth would roll up like a carpet with all the white man’s ugly things – the stinking new animals, sheep and pigs, the fences, the telegraph poles, the mines and factories. Underneath would be the wonderful old-new world as it had been before the white fat-takers came… The white men will be rolled up, disappear, go back to their own continent.”

An extraordinary vision, but just a vision nonetheless. Given that the natives were regarded as childishly superstitious, lacking in any form of sophistication, unintelligent, brutish, and racially inferior, why the U.S. government took the new religious movement so seriously suggests that, in actual fact, it was the white settlers, with their Judeo-Christian magical rituals, symbols and beliefs, who really thought such a vision was a potential possibility. Whatever the aboriginals were, they weren’t stupid. The Ghost Dance raised spirits, certainly, but not dead ones. In fact, Navajo leaders described the Ghost Dance as “worthless words”. The plain fact of the matter is this: a credulous white government, scared to death of the potential power of a spiritual dance, butchered 300 people. As simple as that – and it wasn’t the only occasion it – the U.S. government – was spooked by ghosts. 14 days before the massacre at Wounded Knee, on December 15, 1890, an arrest was attempted by Indian agency policeman; an arrest which went disastrously wrong.

“Hear me people: We have now to deal with another race – small and feeble
when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely
enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possession is a
disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may
break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak
to support the rich and those who rule.”

Sitting Bull was born near Grand River, Dakota Territory, in 1831. His father, a Sioux warrior by the name of Returns-Again, called the boy Jumping Badger. At the age of ten, he killed his first buffalo, and at fourteen, he helped his father and uncle raid a Crow camp. Impressed by the teenager’s bravery, Returns-Again renamed his son Tatanka Yotanka – Sitting Bull. 

He first fought against the U.S. army in 1863, and then again in 1864. As a result of these encounters, he swore never to sign a treaty which would force his people onto a reservation. Unfortunately, this resolve wasn’t shared by the Chief of the Oglala Teton Dakota Sioux, Red Cloud, who, together with 24 other tribal leaders, signed the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1868. This created the Great Sioux Reservation, comprising Dakota Territory, and parts of Wyoming and Nebraska. However, Sitting Bull’s anti-treaty stance won him many followers. In 1869, he was made supreme leader of the autonomous bands of Lakota Sioux, and it wasn’t long before members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes joined him. 

In 1874, gold was discovered in the Black Hills, a sacred place for the Sioux, and within the boundaries of the Reservation. Unsurprisingly, white settlers quickly claimed the land as their own, and the government promptly reneged on its own treaty – just as Sitting Bull suspected it would. The tribes were ordered from the land, and anyone who resisted was declared an enemy of the United States. Thus, the stage was set for two bloody confrontations: on the one side,  warriors of the Lakota Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne; on the other side, soldiers of the U.S. army.

On June 17, 1876, Sitting Bull’s forces won a victory against the American army, led by General George Crook, in the Battle of the Rosebud. From the site of the battle, Sitting Bull moved to the valley of the Little Bighorn River, and set up camp. There, he performed in a Sun Dance ceremony, for 36 hours without pause. During the course of the dance, he made 50 sacrificial cuts on each arm, before finally falling into a trance. When he came to, he spoke of a vision; a vision of U.S. soldiers falling like grasshoppers from the sky. An omen.

On June 25, just eight days after the defeat of Crook’s forces, 600 men of the 7th Cavalry, under the command of General George Custer, entered the valley. Tactically naïve, perhaps, and certainly arrogant, Custer under-estimated the strength of the opposition. He divided his twelve companies into three battalions, dispatching two of them to attack the native encampment, leaving him with only one battalion of 210 men to face an enemy comprising over 3,000 warriors, led by Chief Crazy Horse. Custer and his reduced forces were annihilated – grasshoppers, every last one. 

Following the Battle of the Little Bighorn, an enraged U.S. government did everything it could to pursue and punish the perpetrators. Sitting Bull, as a member of the Silent Eaters, a group responsible for tribal welfare, especially the welfare of the woman and children, decided discretion was the better part of valour, and so, in May 1877, he led his followers to the relative safety of Canada. And there he remained for four years. 

“For us, warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not
someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another life. The
warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task
is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who cannot provide for
themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity.”

Conditions in Canada were, however, far from ideal. It’s impossible to imagine how overwhelmingly alien the situation was, not just for Sitting Bull, the tribal chief and shaman, but also for his people. A great sense of loneliness hung over the camp, a feeling of being abandoned by the Great Spirit, and not helped by a general lack of food and resources. So it was, on July 19, 1881, Sitting Bull and 186 of his family and followers surrendered to Major David H. Brotherton, commanding officer at Fort Bruford. When he handed Brotherton his Winchester, Sitting Bull said, “I wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.” Two weeks later, Sitting Bull and his band were transferred to Fort Yates, a military post next to the Standing Rock Agency. However, fearing disruption among other captured natives, it was decided to move 172 of the group to Fort Randall, South Dakota, on the southern border of the state, where they were held for the next 20 months. Finally, in May 1883, Sitting Bull, his family of 12, and the remainder of his followers were allowed to return to Standing Rock.  

Although he was designated a prisoner of war, Sitting Bull was permitted to travel beyond the reservation on occasions. Bizarrely, he struck up a close friendship with the renowned sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, who he met in Minnesota. He was genuinely impressed by her firearms skills, and in 1884, he symbolically adopted her as his daughter, naming her Little Sure Shot. Even more bizarrely, in 1885, he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show for four months, earning 50 dollars a week – money which he gave away to the homeless and to beggars. He opened every show by galloping round the arena on horseback, as well as giving speeches about reconciliation, while cursing the audience in Lakota.

“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the Other is good
and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins I answer,
the one I feed the most.”

He returned to the Standing Rock Agency, following his stint as a performer, and there he remained. In 1889, the Ghost Dance Movement reached the reservation. Although Sitting Bull didn’t actually participate in the dance, he did grant permission for the dancers to gather. As far as the white authorities were concerned, this was tantamount to instigation, and alarm bells began to ring. The U.S. Indian Agent at Fort Yates, James McLaughlin, a credulous man, decided that Sitting Bull was about to flee the reservation with the Ghost Dancers. Quite why he thought the 59 years old Lakota leader would want to do such a thing is a mystery, and it says more about McLaughlin’s fevered imagination than it does about Sitting Bull’s intentions. Nonetheless, he drafted a letter to Lieutenant Henry Bullhead, an Indian Agency policeman, with precise details, as regards the capture of Sitting Bull. The arrest was to take place at dawn on December 15, 1890, before – hopefully – any of Sitting Bull’s followers were fully awake. McLaughlin advised using a light spring wagon to remove him as swiftly as possible. Unfortunately, Bullhead chose to ignore this instruction, since he wanted his police officers to force the old Lakota chief to mount a horse immediately after the arrest – an act of humiliation, pure and simple.

About 5.30 on the morning of the 15th, 39 officers and four volunteers surrounded Sitting Bull’s house. Bullhead knocked, entered, and informed him he was under arrest. Sitting Bull and his wife, stalling for time, made as much noise as they could, which had the desired effect. The camp was roused, and Lakota warriors converged on the scene. When their chief was ordered to mount a horse, there was uproar. Catch-the-Bear, a Lakota, shot Bullhead with his rifle, and Bullhead, in response, fired his revolver into Sitting Bull’s chest. Another officer, Red Tomahawk, then shot Sitting Bull in the head. In the ensuing fight, which only lasted a few minutes, 6 policeman and seven natives were killed, along with 2 horses. Bullhead died not long after, and Sitting Bull finally passed away between midday and 1 pm. All in all, an ignoble, inglorious end to the great warrior chief’s life. He deserved better.

Two tragedies, then, which might have been avoided. If only Catch-the-Bear hadn’t fired at Bullhead; if only Black Coyote hadn’t accidentally discharged his weapon; if only the U.S. government hadn’t been so seemingly terrified of a new dance. However, the notion that both events – the killing of Sitting Bull, and the Wounded Knee massacre – were purely accidental ignores the very real possibility that white Americans were determined, one way or another, to exact revenge for the part played by Sitting Bull and his followers in the deaths of Custer and the 210 men of the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It wasn’t enough to humiliate Sitting Bull and the Lakota; the government craved bloody recompense. Given the prevalent belief in Manifest Destiny, whereby Americans regarded themselves as God’s Chosen People, it was, perhaps, considered no more than a form of natural justice. In short, Sitting Bull and his people deserved to die violent deaths – they had it coming to them. Vengeance was the Lord’s, after all, and the Lord was both white and American. If this sounds somewhat far-fetched, it’s worth remembering the events which took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 55 years later, when atomic bombs were deployed against the citizens of Japan. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, demands for revenge were broadcast and bill-boarded every day, of every week, of every year, and calls for the complete destruction of Japan and its people were commonplace. Hundreds of thousands of innocent non-combatants were murdered, since no-one was allowed to push white America around and get away with it.

Plus ça change



As far as I can discover, the following is true, ludicrous as it appears. Sitting Bull was a poet – that is, he created vertical poetry via smoke signals. Hard to believe, perhaps, but, according to Pink Cloud, Sitting Bull’s grand-grand-grand nephew, his burning verses “rose up as columns of smoke into the American skies to whisper an elevated message into God’s ears”. Whether ‘elevated’ is the right word is a debatable point, however, since several of the verses are blunt to the point of downright rude. The following comprises a selection of Sitting Bull’s ‘vertical writing’. 


The Burning Soul


 “White Man, you think to be better than a Red Man, Black Man and Yellow Man. But your skin is the color of worms, and soft like the belly of a blind mole.”

“You came to this land and you called it America. But we were here before you, and we called it Anowarkowa. Go back to your land, sheepfuckers!”

 “You dig for oil, you dig for gold. You dig your own grave!”

“Keep the rifles, keep the whisky, keep the money for yourself. We are poor but free and happy. We laugh at your skinny belongings, fat cowboys.”

“Fuck Peanut Butter! We eat Bear’s Fat.”

“I love my knife, I love my life, I love my wife”.



Dafydd ap pedr









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Cultural Accretion



Thinking of infrastructure, my first thoughts would be of concrete. Over time, anything and everything can accrue to clog up something. That it is rooted in tradition and cemented [resistance is futile] in knowledge means the iconoclasts and freaks and non-conformists and innovators and obdurate work with a different adhesive. On this Super Saturday, we shall see the accumulation of all our traits writ large. Independence. Starkey would have a ‘genius of a people’ view, but at last his voice was heard and denied. How we must dissociate ourselves from it. Apparently, my lineage is from the Yankee exodus, that dissenting Protestantism I wrapped up quickly in denying the existence of a god, and moving to live overseas. Then there is symbolic accretion, and with statues chucked into rivers, the fluidity of who we are can improve.




Mike Ferguson
illustration Rupert Loydell



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The Shape Of Stories


Thanks to http://www.openculture.com/

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Bassano Moon


bright as that 
votive candle 
lit after mass
rises above those 
war torn mountains
partaking red wine before
dreaming or crepuscolo 

mere shadow of a man
paralyzed & nightmares
battling memories
scarring my soul
flashbacks & delusion

traditional shot of grappa
upon my grandmother’s 
ancient flowering rose 
aiming for the roots 
pricked my already maimed finger 
bleeding upon sacred soil
blood of an unmartyred saint


Illustration: Claire Palmer
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Since Records Began

Since records began progress in our remaining
eight countries has been limited. Owning an island
has long been considered cool and desirable but
today we can do no more than watch the pantomime

playing out. How much fun can you have with a
dandelion? Critical thinking may be off the agenda
though it’s not every day you’re offered a three-
foot tall hand grenade. Is this a conspiracy or are

you a conspiracy theorist? “It’s time we banned
similes,” she said. There are marbled patterns in
our wake. Can you tell the difference between a
haddock and a hake? Since he retired he hasn’t

known what to do with himself but when you stop
and think about it the world really is this crazy and
exploitative. Now is the time to shift gear and press
ahead with our biggest and boldest plans.




Steve Spence
Painting Georgina Baillie

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On BURNING! BURNING! the first of three new albums by Oddfellows Casino (Nightjar Records 2020)

With tracings of funk and a mournful horn the casino reopens
As David Oddfelllow Bramwell honours Ambrose’s first gambling hand.
These beautiful plays at the wheel set the sounds of fate spinning
As we prise from the perfect, songs that everyone with one eye
On the stars understands. The Chime Children are myths that Bramwell
Catures in singing; that soothing voice that keeps clouds in, has returned
Through these broken skies to bring calm. With guitar swirls as sound bed
And a sparkle of synths the chimes charm us; ‘Midnight borne’ clay set
Creatures reanimate to stall harm. This first song is a spell, as Casinos
Of course spread addiction but as a welcoming sound we’ve found
Something to keep the fire from rising while ensuring that the embers
Of course remain warm.

                                   Sol Ra is summoned in on almost traditionalist
Strains to advance us, as backing vocalist Eliza Skelton joins Bramwell
In a treatment which soon outshines Philip Glass. Abbi Coggan and Tessa Giles’
Stately strings interrupt and then guide the developing song into rhythm.
Toby Visram’s drums walking wildly against this suddenly moving terrain
And starred path. This is one of Bramwell’s busiest songs, as the ground
Sparks and glitters, and this sky stung seeker masters the way through
Sheer will. The swell of strings and voice mark ascent as we in listening,
Journey, partners now in the gamble as well as the gambol, as at ‘Sunrise
Our Oddfellow starts to ‘climb..flint black hills.’

Leave Behind slowly forms, bidden by Al Strachan’s cornet, as skittering
Synths rise behind us like the ghosts of the song’s opening quote.
The words become instruments too, fusing and placed with abandon
As the voices that crowd within one woman’s bedroom populate
The sung title as haunting and the need for expulsion
Echoes across each bright note. There is a further summoning here;
Song as true invocation, as if Bramwell was indeed mixing music
As if it was a kind of soup made of sound. Hear how this piece paints
The surrounding air blurred between us and enter into the moment
That remains and which lingers. The simple refrain feels profound.

Where are the Memories of Henry Sergeant? Contains all you need
To know about Bramwell. The precious Oddfellow enlightens the story
Within each small life. A Yann Tiersen piano takes us into this sweet
Melancholy as this particular sad and lonely loses heart and hearth,
Hope and wife. As if already set for such loss, the lyric informs us;
‘Henry was born/Friday Night..and a brooding storm/ The lights are low.’
And we are quickly consumed by this close to snow Dickens drama;
‘Henry’s alone/Its four in the morning/Where did she go?/
Down to the church at the end of the road.’

Then a change of key nudges us from a second piano,
Before Strachans Cornet plays a kind of Penny Lane the hurt owe.
The heart shaping notes seem to descend steps at night as Henry
Looks for his love across darkness. We glimpse the cold coast
Beyond him and catch some of the despair on his face.
The strings return to crest ice that will clearly never thaw in his future
And as Henry retreats, the time passes as the repeat of ‘Henry’s home
Feels like decades that Haversham and shame the poor creature
Into a prison that resembles much of the heart’s hidden place.

Strange Lights in the Night Sky break and spark with a guitar line
To spear us. As Bramwell personalises sorrow with his own
Wonderful playing and pace. The former Music Teacher reveals
That the purity of the lesson is never lessened as he commands
Tune and texture to replicate innerspace. A screaming synth
Threatens as his lovers voice settles. The chords swell while
A fluted sound spirals and charms the dark horde. There is grace
Here and ground that the album reclaims with each moment.
At a time when we are all tied to our homes and houses,
Let watching such skies become concert and bring you all
To applaud.

                                Twice Around the Sun could be soul,
As Visram’s rimshots show us. And the Oddfellow and his imagined
Companion trace ‘the shadows of their lives across the valley of the stones.’
A shimmering guitar paints the dusk and the dark Bramwell favoured.
But now there is a glaze of day in his glasses even as his silhouette
Strums alone. This search under sun will be the cure we’re all seeking.
As ‘tied to the heart’ are all lovers who would each illuminate all we know.
The singer maybe on the run, but he is moving towards his prized target.
And what burns here holds no damage, for singed by sunlight,
This is a love sung with the full reviving strength of blood flow.

Frozen Warnings emerges through ice as landscapes shift beneath us.
Echoes of notes, masked and misted before the gathering shape in song
Holds us close. Emma Papper’s clarinet has sounded heavenly on this
Record and here it calls across chaos to fill the sound and the silence
That only a truly guiding force knows. Bramwell raises his pitch,
A Choirboy in his fifties, but one can still hear the young man ready
To master all worlds. Luckily, he is lithe and slips between grace
And danger, like an angelic John Martyn who knows how to prize
His gold girl.

                               The Red Eye of Mars colours in and on
As a chilling storm gathers, that of space no doubt, as the Oddfellow
Comments on the seach for HG Wells’marked plain. ‘Junk and satellites’
Dance before the wisp of night far above us as this song sourced storyteller
Eulogises past pains. Ecstatic but sage synth lines rise as Bramwell stirs
His star waters, and the Mars, which represents all of our dreams
And ambitions and our failures too, stays unclaimed.

Night of the Dab Tsag is pulse and electric persuasion. It is a call
For change in which each small phrase and rhythm shows the special
Appeal in this play. By which I mean a Spotify click, or the clip of a CD’s
Whirred returning. Here the Oddfellow is stranger and more secure
Than any of us in his say. And so Bramwell calls across light and sings
Of both love and evil. He twists sound and image into both sublime scent
And dark smoke. As you fall asleep and never wake he’s your dreaming,
As you avoid horror, his voice holds the calm and command as hope floats.
What is burning? Its us. But this record remains to bring water. For, if
Music is more, Bramwell knows it. And there’s nothing odd in that.

It’s God’s joke.

Marian Marks: If Jimmy Webb, or the Walker Brothers had strolled,
They would have made something as soaring as this, to conclude things;
The new Oddfellow’s single that comes sidling in on bright strings.
For David Bramwell’s sweet pop fizzes now across surface,
As Marian Marks and her story and her ‘daisy wheel’ soon enchant us
As after these fifty minutes David B. Still sweetly sings.
The strings spark and soar as the piano’s pump fuels the engine
Of this scented ship as it’s sailing across the rise and roar of sound’s
Sea. It honours this new album that’s come as evidence of this sainted
Songsmith’s sound forging, as a theme tune for starred lovers,
Who even on a dissonant day still feel free. The song is a soundtrack
For clear skies, impossible aims and heart weather, for hopes housed
And bettered and for the soul’s fresh release. This is a record to win
As the Casino reopens. Therefore, burn in slow fires that will fuel
Each ascension and teach the waiting heart how to be.

David Erdos August 14th 2020

Cover artworks: David Bramwell




The Odditorium, Watling Street, Seeker! The Ken Campbell Podcast


Latest Book 
The Odysseum 

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Oil Spill From Wakashio / Four poems

We have been overwhelmed by the offers of assistance following the dreadful news that oil was spilling from Wakashio, thank you so very much indeed. It is really useful to know what everyone is able to provide from their help to equipment and funds. We are keeping a register, will plan to keep in touch with you all and let you know where things stand and how you can help. When we know what is needed we will then call upon those of you who have said you can provide it.

Yesterday, mid morning, we were told of the oil spill and since then it has been ‘all hands to the pump’. All our Managers with projects on Ile aux Aigrettes went directly to the island and others supported from the office. We had prepared a contingency plan with three levels of alert, we went directly to Alert 3! Our main immediate concern was Ile aux Aigrettes regarding the oil fumes from the spill (its affect on humans and animals) and access to the island (would the oil spill mean we couldn’t access the island?). We evacuated visitors and then got to work with the staff remaining to implement some evacuations of plants and animals and make arrangements for those remaining in the circumstances that there would be no one on the island to take care of them. Currently we have removed critically endangered plants from the plant nursery to be taken care of on the mainland, a limited number of Olive White-eyes, Mauritius Fodies and Aldabra tortoises.

Our boat was helping lay booms yesterday to protect Ile aux Aigrettes and the mangroves on the mainland in the Ramsar site. We were also deploying absorbent pads which we had been provided with last week which absorb oil products, not water. We have been invited to some of the meetings and site visits led by the Ministry of Environment and we have made the ecotour boat, Kestrel, available for these. Our views have been requested on a number of related matters (impact on wildlife, sensitive areas, ways to protect the ecosystems), both from the Ministry of Environment and from the press.

This morning we attended a meeting to discuss how to address the oil spill and what is needed to deal with its consequences. How can all of us help? What equipment and supplies are needed along with manpower? Where do these come from? At Mauritian Wildlife we are not experts in how to deal with such an event and are on a learning curve. We understand that before a shoreline clean up can be carried out, the oil needs to be contained and as much removed mechanically as possible, which is specialist work. Help is being brought in from abroad to supplement the equipment that already exists in Mauritius. The National Parks and Conservation Service along with some animal welfare organisations and ourselves are organising to deal with any seabirds or turtles affected by oil.

The great urge for all of us is to ‘get on with it’. But currently we understand that it may be a waste of time to ‘clean up’ an area where oil may continue to flow in. What can be done is rescue any animals affected and send them for treatment. These are most likely to be seabirds or waders.

You can register to volunteer for beach clean-ups with the Beach Authority office at the Blue Bay Marine Park Centre, the contact person there being Daniel Laurent, Tel: 5259 7355.

If you would like to contribute to helping MWF actions, please contact MWF hotlines 5710 4141, 5473 0103 and 5948 9823 and let us know how you can help.

If you would like to help financially and contribute to our Wakashio Fund you can donate online via our website https://www.mauritian-wildlife.org/donate mentioning ‘Wakashio’

You can also make a direct bank transfer to

MWF Wakashio Fund
Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Mauritius Commercial Bank,
Port Louis, Mauritius
Account number : 000 010204792
IBAN : MU52MCBL0901000000204792000MUR

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The Shooter/Calculating Cruelty Petition

What do you see when you shoot?

Do you see a mother who starved herself,
for her hatchlings, in the spring?
Waiting for the buds and catkins to ripen,
while she pecked dutifully,
for insects, for her nursery?

Do you see a fighter?
A grouse born from a lone-surviving egg,
pale, yellow and fragile,
that the teenage boys had failed to smash,
in their wantonness towards the clutch of twelve?

Do you see the gentleness of a being,
who only an hour ago,
was basking in the first rays of the sun;
her grey-brown feathers relishing early warmth,
covering her heart of gold?

Or do you see a triumph, a trophy?
A bit of revenge,
a means of venting your anger,
from the row you had last night with your wife,
from the hollow laughter of your peers?

A way of getting your own back,
of feeling more empowered –
now that impotence has set in,
and your daughter’s not speaking to you any more,
and business is drying up?

Do you see a thing merely?
One of hundreds of thousands, of millions:
born to die, bred for blasting,
barely entitled to notice, (let alone compassion)
– unless strung up and hanging?

Do you see a pot-pie,
to fill you with memories and nostalgia?
A warm sentimentality,
over a long-dead grandmother,
the irretrievable gingham, of an idealized age?

A pudding to replace the patriotism,
that made you cry in assembly at school –
a boy, reliably whipped up by Jerusalem?
Do you see a few, exotic mouthfuls,
to be excreted out again in the morning?

In taking the life of another,
are you suddenly bigger, better?
More “here and now,”
more connected,
than you were before?

Do you feel a rush of blood,
as you drain hers?
The thrill of being alive,
as you force unnatural death,
upon another?

Will you be filled with stories tonight?
Puffed up with pride and ‘manliness,’
around the fire in the village pub?
Having played ‘God’ with your killing stick;
having put the world “in order.”

What do you see when you shoot?

What I see is a failure –
a blot on the divine landscape,
an empty heart,
that lacks imagination –
clinging to the camaraderie of a death squad.

A broken ego who cannot create,
and so he destroys;
a poor exchange,
for the broken bird,
now lying on the ground.

Heart fluttering,
eyes fading:
soul stolen…


Heidi Stephenson



Dear Ann,

Shocking new statistics show that up to a quarter of a million animals are killed each year on Scottish grouse moors to increase the number of grouse to be shot for “sport”.

The League Against Cruel Scotland, as part of the Revive coalition, has just published Calculating Cruelty – a summary of the most comprehensive and robust field study ever in Scotland, concerning the killing of Scotland’s wildlife on grouse moors. 

You can read the report Calculating Cruelty here


Over 15 months, an independent surveyor (with 20 years experience working on shooting estates) mapped the location and frequency of traps and snares set on seven grouse moors to calculate the true extent of animal killing as a result of predator control to sustain the driven grouse shooting industry. Analysis of the survey data by a leading scientist revealed shocking results:

  • 57,000 killing devices deployed each day in Scotland representing the equivalent of over 10,000,000 active trapping and snaring days per year.
  • Up to a quarter of a million animals are killed each year in an attempt to totally eradicate foxes, stoats, weasels and crows to increase the number of grouse.
  • Nearly half of the animals killed are non target species such as hedgehogs, dippers and mistle thrush.

If it were not for the fact that so many animals have already been wiped out by the grouse shooting industry, the estimates of those killed would be even higher.


What can you do about it?

Revive has teamed up with 38 Degrees Scotland to join up our supporters in calling for a ban on the needless killing of hundreds of thousands of animals in the name of grouse shooting. We believe that the Scottish public is with us, so please help us show it:




Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced she is going to make her statement on reforming Scotland’s grouse moors this Autumn. This gives us time and a real chance to make a real difference.

We won on Mountain hares and we can win with this. Your support is crucial to everything we do, so thanks for everything you do to make a difference.


Many thanks with kind regards,

Max Wiszniewski

Campaign Manager for Revive

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Pairs of old shoes


                        By the dozen,
                        Bare trees
                        In charcoal,
                        Pastel or oils
                        Are blossoming,
                        Vase after vase
                        Of sunflowers,
                        Stars, open blooms,
                        Float on the rising tide,
                        Waves that will drown
                        Weathercock and steeple,
                        A poplar tree’s black light




Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor


A new book of poems

Buy at:

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Wanita No7

Playing tracks by

Nina Simone, Etta James, Dinah Washington, Esther Phillips, Dionne Warwick and more.

We’re starting off cool and mellow for our next trip to the turntable, from veteran DJ Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat collects a wide range of genres– all on vinyl– but true to her South London roots Reggae is her first love! In 2019 she competed in 2 Reggae DJ clashes Tradition’s Old Hits Clash and the Lover’s Rock and Revival Clash. As a solo DJ she has played in Switzerland, Ireland and Germany and specialises in late 60s/early 70s styles of Reggae.

Collecting records since age 12, Lucky Cat started DJing at parties in 2000, then progressed to hosting her own club nights in South London. In 2005 she debuted on Resonance FM and has since made almost 20 series of her show. A passionate broadcaster, she also contributed mixes to the BBCs cult programme On the Wire.

In 2016 she founded an all-female Reggae DJ collective – Sisters of Reggae. The collective of 5 DJs and 1 MC gig all over the world and encourage other women to get behind the decks with their popular Female DJ Relay Nights.

Lucky Cat Baxter

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Wormstock August 22 1970 The week before the 1970 Notting Hill Carnival, Mick Farren and the Pink Fairies represented the Gate at a demo in Trafalgar Square, in solidarity with ‘East End squatters, Notting Hill blacks and Piccadilly freaks.’ August 23 The next day Hawkwind headlined a space-rock skinhead moonstomp on Wormwood Scrubs. After rain and accompanying technical problems (ie. electrocution) held up proceedings, Hawkwind won over the local skinheads, as much as the Kensington Post reporter who applauded the ‘brilliant young men from Notting Hill’ for eschewing commercialism in favour of doing ‘their own proverbial multi-echo booming explosive thing.’ The West London Observer summed up the event with: ‘Skinheads threat to mini-pop festival – but police deal effectively with bovver boys.’ The QPR hooligans contented themselves with mimicking the gyrating looning about of the hippies (for the record, Hawkwind were Chelsea supporters), and the promoters (from the Crypt folk club on Lancaster Road) sensibly replaced Quintessence with the less weird Quiver (who would come up with Rod Stewart’s 1975 hit ‘Sailing’). Hawkwind have since been described as a poor man’s Pink Floyd, a less political field-hippy version of the Pink Fairies, the Clash in flares, psychedelic/acid/head/folk/prog/cosmic/sci-fi/space-metal rockers, long-haired punks, ambient anarchists and proto-trance ravers. After ‘Wormstock’ they became the Ladbroke Grove band of the rest of the hippy era, though back then Mick Farren thought of them as ‘just up from the country’ and they would spend more time playing festivals than in town.


Wormstock West London Observer report (in Kris Tait’s ‘This is Hawkwind Do Not Panic’): ‘Hawk Wind’, one of the groups playing on Sunday. ‘Skin Heads’ threat to mini pop festival – but police deal effectively with ‘bovver boys’. It wasn’t exactly a second Woodstock – but a lot of young people agreed that the mini pop festival on Wormwood Scrubs was a good idea. The usual scourge of open-air events – rain – gave the festival the kiss of death, but despite the weather, about 500 turned up to hear music from Keith Christmas and a group called Hawk Wind. In fact, Hawk Wind, despite technical hazards, played some good music. They started late because as one member of the group announced over the microphone, “We’ve just been electrocuted.” Halfway through their performance, a group of about 40 ‘skin heads’ arrived on the scene. They marched, heavy boots swinging, through the centre of the audience and sent long-haired men and girls running for cover. But the police dealt quickly and quietly with the ‘skin heads’ before the situation became nasty, and the ‘bovver boys’ were last seen heading in the direction of North Pole Road, followed by police. The mini pop festival was organised by the Crypt Folk Club, Lancaster Road, Notting Hill. Stage manager and general organiser Ken Nevin said: “We are a non-profit-making club – the musicians are playing for us for nothing. It’s a pity about the rain – it could have been really fantastic if more people had come along.”







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Good Vibrations

 I listen to radio programmes every morning in the bathroom. There, I’ve admitted it! A few Sundays ago, I was listening to Radio 4 and they featured an appeal by the much- acclaimed musician, poet and actor, Benjamin Zephaniah. He told listeners that:

“The arts transformed my life. I remember the exact day I chose the road that led away from crime towards a life of music and poetry.”

Benjamin talked about his own experience of prison, and how being in prison can make a bad start in life worse. He explained how Good Vibrations’ gamelan music projects have helped people collaborate, to find hope for the future, and break the cycle of re-offending.  

You can listen online at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000lmj5

So, in a small nutshell, that’s how I heard about the work of Good Vibrations (GV).


I was intrigued. Much of my own life and work has been spent developing and supporting creative work with young people. Over the years, I’ve had over 40 books published, many about creative work with young people, using games, exercises, arts and music.

Now, I’m semi-retired, but back in the increasingly misty past I was a youth worker in England, particularly in London in the 1970s, and then Training and Publications Officer for community alternatives to custody for young people in Scotland. That work was called ‘youth social work’. Currently, I also run musical ‘noise workshops’. I use the title ‘MSFN’ (Make Some Fuckin’ Noise), all about ‘participation’ and having fun, with predominantly non-musicians of all ages, mostly using percussion – steel tongued drums, hangs, tubular bells, kalimbas – thumb pianos, Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, African drums, cajons, djembes , jaws’ harps and lots more. Indeed, the more bizarre the better – I even use a specially developed wooden electronic laser-harp that anyone can play by touch!




The work of Good Vibrations

I contacted Good Vibrations and received a really positive response from the staff team. And developing from that, it’s a privilege to share some information about the work of the organisation. Firstly, ‘What is gamelan?’ They told me:

“Gamelan music is the traditional music of Indonesia. The gamelan is a family of instruments such as gongs, chimes, drums, and xylophones. It is very accessible and communal, and everyone’s contribution is equally important. Our gamelan courses mainly use gamelan orchestras (of instruments) from Java.

Gamelan is extremely effective at enabling participants to develop confidence, and transferable life and work skills, since it’s accessible, and easy to learn the basics, and you don’t need previous musical experience to do it. Gamelan also has a philosophy of behaviour – about equality, respect, co-operation, and reflection – that helps players to focus their behaviour, and better understand how they can work more effectively with others.”

Here’s what one user of the Good Vibrations service has said:
“Good Vibrations has demonstrated the way it can win the confidence of people from all backgrounds and work with them to achieve outcomes that they could never have expected… For me the most important benefits are the building of a more positive sense of self and the creation of optimism about what might be achieved in the future.”

Peter Wright, Director of Forensic Services at Nottinghamshire NHS Mental Healthcare Trust


Here’s more about the work and ethos of Good Vibrations

Alan: Thanks for the invitation to have a chat about your organisation and your work. I believe that your ‘vision’ is to help create a safer and more-empathetic UK, where vulnerable people, including those convicted of offences, are given the chance to become valued members of society, and to forge fulfilling, constructive lives. How does that translate into your hands-on practice?

Good Vibrations: We work across the UK in prisons, secure hospitals and community settings. We support people with mental illness, disabilities, and additional social and health needs. Many of these people are marginalised by society and given fewer opportunities to achieve and fulfil their potential.

Our projects are radically inclusive. They use music-making as a starting point, but no experience is needed to take part. They take an unfamiliar genre – Indonesian gamelan – to create a level playing field where everyone is equally new to the medium. Our projects engender respect, working together, and openness. A substantial research base exists about Good Vibrations, and tells us that participants on our projects: develop social and group skills; improve their communication skills; experience achievement that for many prompts engagement with formal educational programmes; report reduced anxiety levels and an increased ability to cope with stress; and improve their anger management skills.


Alan: And you use communal music-making as one of your key means to work with vulnerable and at-risk people…can you explain and how and where you undertake that work? Actually – Why gamelan?

Good Vibrations: We are best known for using the gamelan, an Indonesian tuned percussion orchestra, where each person plays on a different instrument, creating extraordinary layers and textures of sound together as a group. We deliver a range of music projects and support and advocacy programmes.


Participants compose music, improvise, conduct, record a CD and perform to an invited audience. We often integrate elements such as dance, technology, expressive movement and spoken word. There is always time made for reflection and discussion throughout the project, and there is a focus on inclusiveness, mutual respect and empowerment. Participants can gain Open College Network Team-working accreditations and Arts Awards and can join our free Keep in Touch (KIT) programme, which supports them with further opportunities e.g. volunteering, bursaries, traineeships and links to support services. We work across England and in Scotland in prisons, young offender institutions, and secure hospitals with men, women and young people. And we work in community spaces and day centres in Nottingham and Glasgow.

The choice of medium – gamelan – is crucial:

  • It’s novel, so people tend not to form prejudices about it
  • It’s accessible and adaptable for all abilities
  • It’s formed of layers, so as you fit your part in, you grow listening and non-verbal communication skills
  • It can be played without any prior musical training or knowledge of musical notation
  • It’s communal, so everyone’s contribution is equally important


Alan: GV states all the many benefits of the fascinating project, but are there easier selections of instruments, arts, crafts etc. which might also produce similar positive outcomes?

Good Vibrations: We firmly believe in the power of participatory arts in general to support people’s wellbeing, creativity, confidence and transferable skills. Other group music-making activities such as African drumming and Samba have similar positive effects. One of the beautiful additional benefits of gamelan music though is that it is melodic as well as rhythmic, allowing for even more interesting and complex sounds and textures to be created. This also supports participants to gain an even greater sense of achievement.

Alan: You’ve been in existence since 2003…How and where did you start?

Good Vibrations: Good Vibrations was set up in 2003 by Cathy Eastburn, a professional fundraiser and amateur gamelan player at The Southbank Centre.  Cathy was impressed by how positive the experience of playing gamelan in a group was for her own well-being. So she decided to bring this opportunity to a group who were extremely marginalised – prisoners. She started Good Vibrations as a project under the auspices of as East Midlands-based charity, the Firebird Trust. However given its early success with prisons and the positive impacts that independent evaluators saw the project having, Good Vibrations became a charity in its own right from 2008.

Alan: That’s fascinating. I actually visited the gamelan room deep down in the Southbank Centre. Can you tell me about how you recruit your staff and what skills you are looking for in members of the GV team?

Good Vibrations: We are not necessarily looking for expert gamelan players in our facilitators. We are looking for people who are calm, reliable, open, collaborative, and who value difference. We look for people with extremely well-honed interpersonal and listening skills. We look for people who can facilitate learning and empower others, rather than those who want to teach in a more directive and set way.  

Alan: When I was a team leader of youth work teams, I always looked for older young people and adults who had empathy, but who especially understood the need to enable and facilitate vulnerable and damaged young people? Would you agree that that is important?

Good Vibrations: Yes, this is hugely important. We look for team members who value and enact our core values, which are:

  • Openness
  • Supportive environments
  • Collaboration
  • Sustainable approaches
  • Creativity
  • Respecting and valuing all
  • Evidence-based approaches
  • Critical reflection
  • Flexibility
  • Self-responsibility
  • Professionalism


Alan: I believe that you focus a lot on providing positive experiences for young people that can help them see themselves as ‘successful’ – all about positive self-identities. How do you achieve that? Can you give a couple of examples?

Good Vibrations: Here is some feedback from participants, family members and audiences to try and answer this question:

“I feel high up in gamelan – I don’t mean I’m above everyone – do you know what I’m trying to say? It’s brought out my confidence – taught me a hell of a lot about music. I would be nowhere without these lessons. I want to go as far as I possibly can. OCN [an accreditation] was me proving to yous how much you have taught me. I’ve picked up a lot from gamelan.”

“Your project builds confidence and self belief, it allows you to take something you know little of nothing about and develop it with others and within 5 days you are then skilled and confident enough to showcase that to others, not just staff, not even your family but your fellow prisoners, that’s massive.”

“They were standing up and talking in front of others, doing group work and working as a team, concentrating – you can see quite clearly. And this is a difficult group, who desperately need to develop social skills. They were clearly proud of it, and the cultural element was a bonus. The highlight for me is the fact they are standing up and talking – they don’t do this. They’re talked to. We struggle to get them to do this in education sessions.”

Alan: How do GV workshops provide a springboard into work and learning opportunities? I think that you refer to them as providing ‘transferable life-skills’.

Good Vibrations: Researchers have concluded that our courses act as gateways into further learning, getting prisoners into the education department, enrolling on English and Maths courses, who would never previously have done. This is largely due to gamelan’s uniqueness; in the gamelan ensemble no one is an expert, and everyone is equal. This removes intimidating elements that are often found in formal education. Here are some examples:

“The project appears to act as a stepping-stone into further education”. (2010 Birmingham City University)

“Gamelan supports isolated prisoners to develop inter-personal and team-working skills that can help them cope better with being in prison, and so contribute to reductions in self-harm incidents and suicide … Through communal music-making, people who don’t normally socialise have discovered they can cope better in group environments.” (Birmingham City University research, 2006 and 2010)


All participants are invited to try conducting the group to take control of who plays when, how. This empowering experience will help develop communication skills.

“Communicating with other participants leads to greater tolerance and, for some, these greater levels of tolerance and openness continue after release from prison”. (2010 Birmingham City University research).

Alan: My own work was very much focussed in trying to offer community-based alternatives to custody and prison? We used ‘group work’ and individual support. You work in variety of settings and in different parts of the UK. Can you give some examples?

Good Vibrations: We run: weekly group gamelan music workshops in the Inpatient Unit of HMP Wormwood Scrubs – for people with mental health needs; weekly Loophole Music sessions (technology and acoustic Western instruments) for mental health patients at Bethlem Royal Hospital; weekly group gamelan workshops at Middle Street Resource Centre in Nottingham for people with disabilities and mental health needs;  week-long group gamelan projects for women at HMP Peterborough, young people at Wetherby YOI, men at HMP Stoke Heath, and men at HMP Thorn Cross; and week-long projects for people with disabilities and mental health needs at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.


Alan: With my own current work on the street and at festivals across Europe, my being a non-musician sharing instruments with people of all ages, is about creativity and fun through musical noise-making. It’s not about my own musical abilities. Does that spirit of participation underlie your own approaches?

Good Vibrations: 100%. That’s another beautiful element of gamelan – that’s it’s all about a whole group contribution, rather than a lead person and backing group. Everyone is equal and everyone contributes. And we don’t insist that groups only learn and play traditional gamelan music – we support them to do so if they want to, but largely we focus on enabling them to use the gamelan orchestra as a medium to express themselves and create music in whatever way they want to. It is fascinating how different the end products come out as can be seen on our Soundcloud page:






Alan: My friend Phil Bayliss worked in training for prison education. He has a few questions he’d like to ask you.

Phil: From my experiences of visiting and working in prisons in the south-west of England, many prisoners really value learning.  How do you select learners for your gamelan orchestra?

Good Vibrations: We don’t, is the short answer. We ask them to volunteer to join a project if they are interested. One of our facilitators visits each prison or project location a few weeks before the project and talks to people individually, answering their questions about what it would involve, and what they might get out of the project. We ask key members of staff at delivery partner organisations to help us to market the opportunity as widely as possible to groups who might benefit. These are often people lacking in confidence, people who have social anxieties, people with personality disorders etc.

Phil: Security is paramount in prisons. What are the problems of bringing inside, and playing, so many instruments?

Good Vibrations: We take our gamelan orchestras into prisons in big vans and have detailed inventories for all the instruments and beaters. Everything is then checked for drugs and anything dangerous as we go into prison. Each session we check that everything is still there, and all instruments are checked again on leaving the prison. It’s not simple, but this is where our 17 years’ of experience comes in handy. And we are very fortunate to have many facilitators still on the team who have been with the charity since the beginning.

Phil: Can you tell me a bit about your sponsors and ‘learning accreditation’ which is mentioned in your information on the web site?

Good Vibrations: We don’t have many corporate sponsors yet and are actively trying to gain more. We have many corporate partners though who give time and resources in kind to us, which is invaluable. Companies such as KPMG, Home Planet, Lloyds of London, The Money Advice Service, Safestore, and The Indonesian Embassy have supported us.

In terms of ‘learning accreditations’, some of our projects are accredited by nationally-recognised awards, such as the Discover Arts Award, or the London Open College Network accreditation in Team Working Skills.

Phil: Sorry, I can’t quite relate the ‘fun’ Alan mentioned to prisons! Is it really?

Good Vibrations: It can be. These projects can help people forget they are in prison:

“This is a space I come to and I don’t feel I’m in jail. I’m always looking for something artistic to take me out of the environment. Some of you were strangers but there’s a human connection – it’s magical, to bond in a group where I don’t know everyone but when playing the music, I feel I do.”

“I liked it because it made me feel like I wasn’t in prison. It was a bit of freedom. It wasn’t just the space – I mean the room’s nice, but taking part took my mind off all the stuff that’s going on in the outside world. And Laurence [the facilitator] was a good man and we got on with him and we had a laugh with him.

“I really enjoyed taking part, it gives a sense of freedom.  I feel happier and more positive about myself”.

“We all enjoyed the course, putting our whole heart and soul into it.  It helps to give you a great enjoyable, meaningful activity”

“People should give it a try, they’d realise how much fun it was”

Alan: Many thanks for sharing some insights into your work. It sounds fascinating. Innovative. Creative and much needed in our society at a time when many people feel rejected, under-valued and lacking in opportunities to grow and flourish.

Good Vibrations: It’s a pleasure. We are keen to tell as many people about this innovative initiative as possible – so that we can bring it to many more people who might enjoy and benefit from it. Do get in touch with Katy Haigh on 07535 145 797 or katy@good-vibrations.org.uk if you would like to know more.



Good Vibrations have established a reputation for being professional and effective, particularly when working with individuals with extremely complex needs, whom other interventions have failed to engage.

  • Bill Bailey, Lord Ramsbotham and Rahayu Supanggah support GV work as patrons.
  • They are a Registered UK Learning Provider and recognised OCN Qualification Centre.
  • GV were awarded National High Secure Prison Effective Intervention Status in 2010.
  • GV has developed what they call, a robust set of policies and procedures, which are implemented and regularly monitored. These define their guiding principles, create structure, guide decision-making and ensure uniform standards throughout the organisation.
  • They are actively looking to develop new partnerships across the UK.




Alan Dearling


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a film really – before my time

she sings he plays the piano
people look at her not him
is she beautiful can she sing?
they start and finish together
beyond that no one knows
or is prepared to say
saying only:
she has a certain something –
maybe it’s the way she puts them over….
without him she’d be nothing
somebody once proposed

they do not look at each other
she does not look at us
over our heads her gaze is vague
lately vaguer
fatigue or boredom
scores her forehead
her eyelids droop
her shoulders droop
her feet 
barely lift to the rhythm
at the piano his eyes
rarely lift from the keys
hitting the black notes absently
his big left-hand chords
holding back the beat
just enough

her repertoire is constant now
she has stopped 
announcing the numbers
with but the slightest pause between 
he leads in
song unfolding song:
Ten cents a dance….
Taking a chance on love….
Moonlight in Vermont….
I’m with you always 
body and soul….
her frail voice flutters
on the used-up air

tonight she turns to him just once
and mouths a word or two
he looks up blowing smoke
hits one note
surprised perhaps or simply
counting her in….two three four
she shakes back her hair
snaps her fingers at the lights
the tempo is faster than her habit:
somewhere there’s music
how faint the tune
somewhere there’s heaven
how high the moon….

this animation does not last
her wrists relax her feet fall still
yet something in her voice 
has changed
he looks up again
she does not see
eyes closed on him 
on us on everything
she is performing for herself it seems
her body here before us
but her soul elsewhere
how still my heart
she croons
how high the moon


Jeff Cloves
Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs



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(“Man gave names to all the animals”)

When I’m in possession of all the pertinent facts
You’ll be among the first to know
After poring through all the arcane tracts
I’ll be able to put a name to our show

I covet that which comes from a paintbrush
Using the shapes of these letters instead
With the musical lilts that they offer
Like rubicund rubrific (or red)

Can words or pictures do justice
To the essence of this play
A tragic comic musical
That no bill board can convey…

Before the last thought has perished
I must replenish the dwindling stock
Of possible titles for “Existence”
In a universe that’s run amok



Harry George Stanley Lupino
Illustration Nick Victor
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Unequal the Burden

Women walk the dark alleys of the internet, 
Looking for love or money,
Lost in this new age of romance, 
Or at the very least, 
Hoping to find kindness and security, 
Disposable and replaceable,    
The numbers seem to shout, 
Preordained to live their lives alone, 
Taking risk after risk, 
Hoping against the odds, 
If they hit the jackpot, 
The payoff big, 
But the numbers continue to grow, 
Abused and abandoned, 
With hope dwindling, 
Politicians diddle them, 
With promises, 
Hearts broken, 
And bodies fucked, 
Forced back down the alleys of the internet, 
Frightened and all alone, 
Until the next click, 
And the next risk, 
As age creeps on to the mirror,
 In the morning light. 



Douglas Polk


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Bring Out Your Dead

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A Memoir of Subtopia

The bizarre is not a matter of choice. It is a matter of discovery.

– Georges Franju

In those far-off days I was living on the outskirts of South West London, in what may be defined as a kind of ‘Subtopian Landscape’. West Barnes, Motspur Park and the immediate locality (bounded to the west by Beverley Brook and The A3 Kingston Bypass; to the north by South Western main line), seemed a kind of in-between place, neither here nor there. Shannon Corner (before the flyover), with its Art Deco Odeon (Saturday Morning Pictures for local kids) functioned as a dramatic intersection and quasi-industrial focus for perturbation and random incongruities.

These are my ‘missing years’; the years when I did not know how to relate to others, years when the mundane routines and distractions of family life took priority. But my inner, subjective existence was very different.

I ‘escaped’ into all types of paraxial if solipsistic fantasies, often inspired by Hollywood – or magazines devoted to horror and science fiction films. I might dream about Natalie Wood in Gypsy. I might daydream about Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, or I might fantasize about the sinister but doomed Sylvia Lopez as Queen Omphale in Hercules Unchained. Any one of them might be a facet of my Dark Anima, the prototype for which was a macabre photo I found in a book of the dancer Mona Inglesby in The Masque of Comus.

Yet the epicentre of my little world was, perhaps, the West Barnes Lane level crossing or, possibly, the Carter Bridge signal box on the Raynes Park to Motspur Park line (Dorking Branch) where on my way to and from school, I used to cross the tracks to reach the junction of Barnscroft and Westway Close, next to the Alliance Sports Ground.

At the eastern edge of my private domain, my very own terrain vague, was Cannon Hill Common, a historic site associated (we liked to think) with stories of Roundheads and Cavaliers, while to the south was the quite remote destination of Motspur Park, itself bisected by the further reaches of the Brook. I tended to think, in an imprecise way, of this entire area as ‘West Barnes’. This imprecision was further compounded by a lack of official clarity: one thought of ‘living in Raynes Park’ due the proximity of the station, shops and the Rialto cinema, yet the postal address was ‘New Malden, Surrey’. On the other hand West Barnes/Motspur Park sat on a boundary between Kingston and Merton and the entire area, known until 1965 as the Merton and Morden Urban District, was obviously part of the Greater London ‘urban fringe’ where those ubiquitous red trolleybuses ran between the Fulwell Depot and Wimbledon Town Hall until as recently as 1962.

This ‘urban fringe’, this indeterminate zone of playing fields, commons, sports grounds, putting greens, rarely-used tennis courts, branch lines, risky level crossings, traffic roundabouts, empty car parks, allotments and bypass embankments; with its numerous notice boards and hoardings; with its wire fences, rows of respectable semis built in the 1930s; blocks of flats and various light industrial ‘works’ (Shannon Typewriter, Venner, Decca, Bradbury & Wilkinson, Champion Timber ) might have appeared the materialization of a kind of cultural void. To the critical observer it was an anonymous tract of anomic space lacking in distinctive character or ‘spirit of place, an interstitial ‘middle state neither town nor country’. In hindsight it seems that this ‘Subtopia’ was an incitement for the imagination; although it might also have been that the bizarre strangeness I experienced in solitary moments was not a subjective projection but more an act of discovery.

Subtopia is bizarre in itself. Most streets were named as ‘something Avenue’, or ‘so-and-so Drive’, or ‘whatnot Lane’. Some streets were called ‘Greenway’, ‘Linkway’, ‘Kingsway’ or ‘Crossways’. There were also streets with feminine names, like ‘Estella Avenue’, and there were similar ‘Avenues’ called Phyllis, Adela or Marina. There were a couple of Avenues with boy’s names like Douglas or Arthur, but I didn’t like those. Estella and Marina sounded like giggling harem girls – I visualized them clad in diaphanous veils, decked out in tinkling bracelets and chandelier earrings – ‘cheesecake’ extras in down-market Hollywood epics or even those imported Italian ‘neo-mythological’ sword-and-sandal ‘peplum’ films. These streets were deserted during the day and there were very few cars parked by the side of the road. Occasionally a little boy or girl (not at school?) might whizz by on a bike.

As I recall, the nearby Bushy Road bypass embankment was a mixture of scrub and uneven terrain, ideal for gangs of local kids to build ‘dens’ and play around with bows and arrows. There were sandy track-ways and a steep flight of concrete steps lined with poisonous laburnum; there were metal milk crates hidden in the grass and there were treacherous patches of nettles. On this inclined embankment strange finds were made, such as discarded scaffolding poles or stacks of old newspapers and sleazy magazines (Tit-Bits, Parade, Reveille, Famous Monsters of Filmland, The Sunday People). It was noticeable that many of these disreputable publications were mutilated with numerous rips, tears, and missing pictures. In the forbidden pages of Reveille and Parade I found further inspiration for my fantasies. In my imagination famous stars like Natalie and Ursula, now competed with pin-ups known only as Donna, Vicky, Debbie or Carla. On one occasion we uncovered a cache of old 78 shellac records mostly smashed and covered in mud. One disc remained intact: ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’ by Elvis Presley.

The nearest recreation ground, just on the other side of the branch line, was guarded by rows of very tall poplar trees. During hot heat-haze summers, around the nearby roads, there was often the smell of melting tarmac. Local allotments were littered with shards of broken terra-cotta flower pots and small plastic windmills. Here, neat grass pathways zigzaged between tall rows of runner beans and bundles of canes. During winter snow covered the Trial Grounds of Carter’s Tested Seeds and gathered on the neo-classical semi-naked statue of Venus that graced the large, round fishpond at the driveway entrance to this imposing building dominating the area just north of the concrete road bridge with its dual carriageway. That elegant, dignified statue of Venus, with her fully-exposed, marble-white bottom, was, ‘for all the wrong reasons’, something of an attraction for many local boys, myself included.

‘Subtopia’ (‘inferior place’ from the Greek word topos) was a technical term originated by Angry Young Architect, critic and campaigner Ian Nairn in a special edition of the Architectural Revue entitled Outrage: On the Disfigurement of Town and Countryside (1955) and later in the book Counter Attack Against Subtopia (1957).

Nairn deplored the disfiguring, environmental blight of the semi-urban, quasi-suburban ‘desert’ of ‘wire, concrete roads, cozy plots and bungalows…a universal Subtopia, a mean and middle state…’ Certainly not as sinister as ‘The Wasteland’, this kind of place was simply bland and uninteresting. Lacking the seedy appeal of the inner city or the glitz and prestige of The West End, Subtopia was the epitome of postwar banality, the result of lazy town planning or the outcome of a kind of apathy where construction rules, culture and taste evaporated into vague, misty indifference. Concerns for important social issues withered away in Subtopia, a realm whose inhabitants appeared to live a charmed life, subsisting in a kind of lower middleclass coma. Even a performance by Bill Haley & His Comets on stage at the Shannon Corner Odeon failed to create more than a minor scandal: ‘Cinema Seats Ripped Up By Thugs!’ a local paper huffed. The event was soon forgotten.

Was my Subtopia more genteel than that derided by Nairn and the conservationists?

Perhaps… or perhaps not; those ‘shabby’ shop fronts and murky corner shops selling newspapers, antiquated postcards, comics, Classics Illustrated, Sherbet Fountains, Liquorish Allsorts, edible Flying Saucers, Gob-Stoppers peanut brittle and vanilla ice cream cones, seemed to hint at all kinds of perverse diversions and subterranean mysteries guaranteed to incur parental disapproval. While those odd, light industrial installations, electricity substations and pylons became a distinct subjective, spectral presence. There were also imposing buildings of unknown use with locked gates, high hedges and security patrols; there was one ‘works’, for example, that made parking meters.

Girl-friends, some from school were never far away: there was Lesley (a keen ice skater) who lived in a nice house over by the Common with its wooded copses and green swards and a football pitch. Or there was perky Babs (brother with an elaborate model railway) who lived on the quiet road called Linkway. Before Babs there was a mischievous little lady known as Pinky who lived in our flats. On school holidays I used to visit the recreation ground with Lesley, who showed me her lace-trimmed knickers one idyllic afternoon. We would sit and watch the distant main road traffic… or drift through wooded walks in an immersive frame of mind that cannot be recreated from this distant perspective.

According to Bob Kindred of the Association of Conservation Officers, Nairn’s campaign of outrage, his crotchety ‘counter attack’ against Subtopian blight was aimed at such horrors as: concrete lamp standards, ‘Keep Left’ signs, municipal rockeries, chain link fencing, truncated trees, ‘garish’ shop-fronts, ‘pretentious and intrusive’ outdoor advertising hoardings, wires, poles, and ill-sited public utilities. ‘Many of these targets seem eerily familiar but the indignation now seems lacking‘, bemoaned Bob writing in the 1980s. ‘Has familiarity blunted our ability to see how tawdry many of our surroundings still are?’

But then, perhaps for some of us, nostalgia has superseded indignation.



A.C. Evans

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Psychedelic Patterns


Psychedelic Patterns – colours
Now a love-in, then a freak-out,
All in one hour:
Motives tainted, facts transparent,
Insubstantial like LSD or hash –
Patterns of police batons
Making brutality legality alas!
Were I to believe all that I heard,
It would be absurd,
And yet if just one third were true,
Then just one word would do
To describe this world that amazes and dismays me –
There’ll be mobs looting, police and snipers shooting,
Dark states which even darker get;
States of hate, where pale faces in dark uniforms
Grow even paler yet.
Whilst the heirs to this brave new world
To their dreams on drugs are fled,
Having hallucinations, perhaps,
Of a truly United Nations
And a world that’s better led.
And, like as not, some, demonstrating,
Get shot, and soon forget their pot;
And as is civil, and as is right
Each one is laid in his allotted plot,
Only to find that, even in death
Equality is not!
Some are, and some are not
Ken Nevin 1968
Illustration: Claire Palmer



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     © Greg Fiddament 2020

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Dynamite! Stoned

Playing tracks by

Muddy Waters, Sandie Shaw, Ananda Shankar, Ronnie Bird, The Rolling Stones and more.

Steam’s latest Dynamite! is also the last for a while (new project coming soon!), and is dedicated to The Rolling Stones. 30 minutes of songs they covered, songs of theirs that others covered and one by the band themselves… dig it baby!



Steam Stock

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Jilted Girl



                        (for Annette)


Always you try to love
    despite constant rejection.
Music is velvet around a craving heart,
do not speak.
Fill a room with flowers,
    rearrange furniture
    help build a bookshelf
    paint walls white.
Do not let old lovers recognise you
    while new trees are weeping into spring.
Vietnam is far away, decimal coinage
    and the revolution.
Pine trees rain-sodden, laugh
    under a dusty carpet,
mind colours hurt eyes.
Pollution and too many people
    spread to disorientate the peace that lies
    just beyond the most vivid dream.
Only is love real,
    when walking slowly away into a dawn
That you do not try to stifle and possess.


Léonie Scott Matthews


Artwork: Godfrey Old

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Hand Print


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                                HELL ON EARTH?
Like a form of hell here on Earth the climate conspires against us.
Heat heaves and hounds us before forcing us all into place.
The sick and suffering sit as if immune to all pleasures,
As breath itself becomes bartered, twisting temperature
Towards terror, while fast boiling blood tests the cauldron
Of the faltering flesh and masked face. If I sought the air
I might die,  with my breath bound by deception. For what
The mask achieves, as with rumour, has precious little
To do with our health. And what else remains in a week
With sun marked flames sent to scorch us, other than
To risk the shattered sky’s sparked surrender, as it weeps
For pity and relief from the heat. An hour’s rain cried
Last night, as if God were speared. Now it’s vapoured.
And in today’s heat ray spreading we may as well be Wells’
Martians, lasered and blazed in defeat. It is the strangest
Turn of events  when your enemy is prized weather,
And the previous holidays we once treasured are haunting
Us now through daylight. Ghosts of past lives, in which
We sit stuck to our deck chairs, while the lost pursuits
In imagination run rampant, while we pray with true
Passion for the death’s brief reprieve in the night.
I fight for purpose and health and to be free of wanting
To eat. Food breeds fever. Like a lolling dog I seek shadow,
And stare forlornly up through the glare to either
An ignorant God or a suitably beligerant one, struck
By starlight, contending with his own swollen novas
And a comet’s command to beware. Sky scars appear
Here on earth as I am fighting the force that now holds me.
Wanting cool air more than loving, if the Devil came
Now to soothe me ahead of an angel I am not convinced
I’d resist him, or, even in faith or not, have the strength.
I dream of a cold sea in my house now that Covidian 
Legislation forbads it.  In short, I dream of drowning
And the cold and chilling kiss of death’s length.
Somebody please save me soon. I ask a weather Angel
I know to inform me. She tells me that Saturday brings
Salvation. It is Wednesday today.  My heart fries.
And If your heart fries, then your soul and intemperate skin
Start to simmer.  Send me your kiss. Suck. Succeed me.
Blow back into me Some fresh life. Anyone, please.
I am turning to steam. Love’s a fire. Find me too late
I’ll have risen, like air Itself into aether, or the withdrawal
Of hope from closed eyes. For heat like this is a curse.
Heat of this sort is contagion. What else will ride now
Between us as our lost belief bubbles? Perhaps, future
Water will form from the ghosts in the air sweat describes.
As my back bursts into flame I think of a woman I held once
In winter. Her beautiful face was my fire, the source of all
Warmth, for all time. There is a moment’s breeze as I type
To touch the memory in that sentence. But then it withdraws
And I swelter.  For what Saturday brings pain may find.
I sit and wait. Somewhere else, I call them to summon rain
From the mountain. Here in the flats and valleys
Let the flood calls come. Float, then rise. I feel myself
Become my own meal, as kidneys are cooked beside
Liver. The heart is last. Oil is flowing. And yet I resist
This strange oven, while between the surface
And sweat souls divide. 
                                                         David Erdos August 12th 2020
                            WHEN THE RAIN
In the past, when the great rains came races prayed
To the spectacular Gods on the mountain. Today, no God graces
This particular relief from the heat, as now a strange silence starts
After a fiery roar through the suburbs, torn by Thursday’s London
Monsoon and high anger with which no former scorn or rage
Could compete. I hadn’t slept for a week, a refugee on the floor
Of my lounge, back doors open, daring my neighbours’ cats
And night foxes to Poseidon up from doused gardens
And scavenge me out in my lair. Death by stain or possible
Consumption perhaps, after nearly two weeks of near madness,
In which I watched the world warp within me and before me too,
Undeclared. You could feel the blood rise and hear it bubble
About you, as if the forces that form from the body were signalling
Out through fleshed screams. I would have torn my skin like a coat
To expose the core’s call for cooling. I would have wrenched
My hair that lays heavy if I could have climbed up freedom’s flight
Towards dreams where the world is not as it is in terms of this
Climate of souls and the weather. As the heat in turn, felt like judgement:
The shock of God’s scorn, the fused blush. Which stunned us all
In our seats as I felt my body shock itself into stasis, and I was
Prematurely old. And surrendered. assaulted by burning and blame
In hate’s rush. I certainly hated all things, perspective through
Perspiration extinguished. And it has taken this calming lapse
To cure and return me after watching the encompassing flush
Of God’s piss. Storming us, like a horse in a watered torrent of fire,
Screaming at the ground for what’s happened, by replacing
With smite the sun’s kiss. Which was akin to that of Judas, I’m sure,
As it left a scar on all senses and a scar on skin also as the pigment
Within became singed. You could feel your heart turn to ash
In an internal barbeque of the body. Now that the rains have come
Have they saved us or in washing us clean just revealed
The mire we’ve made, just as my wasted week was ‘Atlantised’.
I feel like fallen prey. As I type this it has started again. No burn
Heals. It is simply covered, part masked. But you remember it still
In the body. Last night I thought of a higher ark cresting
And of own body caged in the flood. From the fire and steam,
To the boil, with my caucasian skin turned to lobster,
From parched ocean floor, Covid parted, to the seas of disbelief,
All our blood. A certain intensity has now passed, in which
The prisoners’ shouts have been sated. But was this just one glass
Of water intended to soothe our protest? Or the first of many
That show no further tribulation awaits us? When is water
Warning? Why, when you’re all at sea. Fate sets tests. Or God does.
Or space. Or skies as slaves to the climate. Sometimes the rains
Drown the mountain. Perhaps this is something that we all should expect.
                                                          David Erdos August 14th 2020 
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So if we like something we fear may own us
and if we like someone we fear may control us
we encourage bleak abstinence, discourage romance
with hearts petrified by the ghost of a chance.

Oh that I should be so kind
to those who’re close to me
as I am kind to strangers on the street.

But there are those whose very presence
induces a fond remembrance
of their erstwhile absence.

And the dead my friend,
though all too often defended
are nonetheless seldom offended.
Remember: just for a season dust is mud
and man was made of clay.

In that moment of forgetting you were sought,
in this garden. Once.

How long have we been here?
Are you the one?
Is this all real?
Son, son?

And yet:
The rain still falls softly.
An owl still haunts this small Welsh wood.
And this-
I see a face and know a kiss
once tasted is a kiss.




Mike McNamara was born in Ireland but lives in South Wales, UK. He had his Selected Poems ‘Overhearing The Incoherent’ published by Grevatt and Grevatt  in 1997. He is a singer and published songwriter.  His poetry  has been  read on radio and published in dozens of mags. from Acumen, The Atlanta Review, Orbis,  International Times,  October Hill and The New Welsh Review to Tears in the Fence, etc. Mike also had a selection of poems published in The Pterodactyl’s Wing (Parthian). His ebook This Transmission was published in Oct. 2019 by The Argotist Online. His print book Dialling A Starless Past was published by Arenig Press in December 2019. His new collection Loose Canon was published this month  with Subterranean Blue Poetry based in Montreal, Canada.



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As the ambulance and squad car pulled up
Outside Lux Massage
Bingo was squeezing his ample frame
Out through the stockroom window –
If only he had cut down on the chocolate
As he had resolved
Back at the beginning of the year
This terrible year
            Algernon had thought for a long time
            Clarissa would look better
            And actually quite good
            In a face mask
Don’t touch me! screamed Sally
In the general direction of Henry the Husband
As she attempted for the umpteenth time
The solo oboe part
In Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C Major,
The bit Mike the Milkman used to whistle
Before he was run over by his own float
            Be careful!
            You’re over-watering me!
            Bemoaned the houseplant
            Whose name I can never remember –
            It might be Zantedeschia Aethiopica
            You can see my problem
            The plantation is going to pot
            You can’t get the staff
            Maybe it would be better to move
            Into one of the service industries
            Pet grooming
            I could do pet grooming
            But no fish
            I won’t do fish
The horse looked at Henry
Henry looked at the horse
There was an understanding
            Seven elephants were at the pool
            Hanging out
            They tell the time by the position of the Sun
            Soon a bunch of tourists will be along
            The process of process
            But it will end, said Elephant #4, eventually



Martin Stannard
Montage: Rupert Loydell



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First, are you blue?
Not blue as in sad, though sadness
will certainly come in useful.

Next, are you female?
Like the moon, the sea
is always female.
Except in Japan.

Can you weep for a dead child
as you rip their skin to shreds,
taking the tiniest wounds,
unraveling them for miles?
Can you demand keepsakes
then spit them out? Can you taunt,
tease, murder and love sailors,
and yet be the only thing they are
loyal to? Have you deceptive
currents, eddies and undertow—
can you allow a boat, six inches
from another, to overtake with ease?

How important is salt to you?
Core of your being, or nice on tomatoes?
Do you eat tomatoes?
Know how to inspire?
Can you be so still, so powerful,
that generations of artists will weep,
thinking of what their marriages
could have been? Are you infinite?
Arrogant? The world’s oldest child?

Lastly, and this one is important:
Are you wet? 


Jennifer A. McGowan

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The Swoop

                                An extract from Smoke Show  by Saira Viola



Mark Schneider. Law school dropout. Part-time drunk. Serial masturbator. High- functioning meth  addict. Sex bot devotee. Ex-husband, and one  of LAPD’s finest.


Early morning : Parked outside Baby Blues in an unmarked gray Chrysler 300, still code 3 equipped. His white shirt unbuttoned, revealing a full pecan tinted rug.  Cuff  sleeves turned back. His black pants were unzipped, and his cock poked out of striped jockeys. Schneider had a sock missing and a solitary  long frizzy white hair dangled from his left nostril. Checking his face in the rear-view mirror , he yanked the hair  out. ‘Son of a bitch. You still got it.’ He ran the tips of his fingers down the right side of his face. A face, chequered with mistakes¸ money fights, and unreported  murder.


Schneider smoothed his  shirt down, zipped up, and rummaged around in the back seat. Sifting through paper coffee cups, potato chip packets, a half-drunk bottle of Jameson, and a dozen grease spotted Five Guys burger bags, he grabbed his deodorant  stick . Twist. Click. And slicked both armpits . Then he spied a little mouthful of sunlight. A sparkly -faced, pretty teen, Marla skipped  in front of him.


She flung off her denim jacket revealing a sea green neoprene boob tube underneath  and hiked up her lace skirt allowing the  youthful rush of summer heat, to embrace her as  she wheeled her hips around  . Her v cut  pink string tanga on show. High High High. Her smiling honkers on  display. Caterwauling, tuneless karaoke  style rhymes , she was all taste as she hop-scotched towards the  patrol car. Kool Aid  cup in her hand. Her apple shaped ass winking.  Jiggle Jiggle .Like the  soft round sound of a Tennor trombone .


Schneider’s smutty eye preyed  on Marla’s intoxicating euphoria. ‘Fresh.’

He leant back in his seat, slid his hand down to his leg, and winced as he lifted the hem of his pants. A dime sized hole in the middle of his right calf dripped  blood. He blotted it dry  with a stained paper  towel and tossed it in the back seat. ‘Small fish are easy prey ‘, he muttered. ‘Pat and frisk. Every curve. Inside thigh and sugar  walls.’ He opened the car door using the Dutch Reach technique, so he could easily spot any on coming distractions, or potential witnesses. ‘Excuse me Miss.’


Marla was in her own kookookechoo bubble. A taupe suede boho hippie tassel purse hung from her neck. ‘Yeeeeh.’

             ‘Miss could you please step this way?’

            ‘What for?’

             ‘Coz I asked you to.’

            ‘You got no right to ask me anything . Not doing anything wrong. Lemme


Schneider looked at her like a dumb animal. 

                         ‘You ain’t shit  baby . You ain’t nuthin and you ain’t going nowhere.’

Marla spat on the ground . ‘Bbbbbbastard!’

             ‘Whooooa. Eassseee tiger.’

Without blinking, Schneider pinned her arms behind her back using his left hand to control her. Within seconds, she was cuffed. He forced her to stand, legs apart, against his car and placed his big meaty hands on her waist . After patting  her down, he groped her left butt cheek. ‘You got your ID?’

Marla flinched.

Then he groped her right butt cheek.

Her eye lashes instinctively quivered; ‘Don’t . Touch. Me.’

‘Cool it honey .You’re slurring your words, and there’s that crazy eye twitch. You    

  reek of weed and pcp. And you’re in a lot of trouble. It doesn’t look good for you.

 Not at all. No mam. Thing is liddle lady, I’m ENTITLED to touch. Anywhere I want.

 Cos, I got a feelin’ you’re concealin’. And your freaky -deaky necked shit  makes me

 think you’re under the influence of a drug or controlled substance. But I’m a nice guy

 I’m thinkin’ you and me can work somethin’ out.’

He caught the warmth of her body as he stood  behind her with his cock pressed hard  against her ass and slipped his fingers into the back of her panties. ‘You know what I want.’

Marla opened her mouth as  wide as she could her tonsils trying to spread the injustice.                


Schneider lunged  deeper and squeezed her snatch.

            ‘One more word and I’ll fuck the shit right out of you.’

Marla tossed her  head back and mule -kicked him in the shin. He stumbled, picked  himself up and untied the purse from her neck.

           ‘Now what we got here? Some kind o’ prairie hippie  shit?’

Inside her purse, Marla had her driver’s license, cell phone, a tiny tube of Tahitian  sunrise lip tint an E B T card and some foil wraps. Schneider held the purse under his right arm and walked her to the car, placing her headfirst  into the front  passenger seat . He sat on the driver’s side and pretended  to run her  intel through his police laptop.


           ‘We got a real messy situation. Clearly, you’re  under the influence of some kinda                 

            drug probably some alkhi – hol too. Completely outta of it in a public place. So,

            you’re a danger to yourself and everyone around you.’ He held up the foil wraps.

           ‘And what we got here? Some leftovers? A little angel dust. Krissst.’ Schneider’s face

            grew uglier.  ‘Girl you’re fucked! Well what’s it gonna be big Jim and the twins or a

             trip to the precinct and county lock up? Get down girl. C’mon. Get down.’

A string of tears beaded Marla’s eyes

             ‘You wa..want mmme t’ suck yoooo offff th… then y yyou let ..me go?’

‘That’s right.’


‘I saw the EBT card . Dunno why they bother with that shit. You can’t buy vitamins,  

  hot food, beer,soap,cigarettes,liquor, or tobacco. So, what the fuck’s it good for? If     

  you  accept my offer, at least  you’ll be getting a dose of good ol’ American protein.

  Just you and me . It’s a very generous offer.’

Marla clawed her own hands. A form of self-protest.

            ‘Wh..what kind of fucked up po po are you anyway?’

‘The real kind . Dirty. Reliable. Now we got a deal or what?’

Marla leant over. She dug her nail tips into her palms until they drew blood , as she pushed her  lips forward. Pastel ribbons of vomit  began to build in her glottis. Schneider   unzipped his pants.

             ‘Grab it with both hands. Stop it bobbing. Now give it a good long, slow suck  

               Lollipop style.’

Marla noticed his 45 caliber Kimber  Classic pointed at her face the whole time. She felt as if her tongue was buried in white America  , as if she had no control of her own body. Terror. She wanted to run. Run from his blistered thumbs and his sickly cologne. But one look at his malign  little eyes and she hung on, feeding her wounds into his mouth. When it was over, she remained perfectly still for a while , staring at a  singing wave of blue sky. I always wanted to live up there with cotton candy fountains and pink jello unicorns


Schneider dropped her off at a vacant parking lot near Family Dollar. She sat on the curb and  threw up. A five minute  technicolor barfing  opera. All her dreams, missed opportunities, and nightmares splattered to the  ground.


Schneider adjusted his  pants and drove away, spanking the tarmac at speed. Pounding on the steering wheel, he screeched the lyrics to AC DC’s Highway to Hell: ‘No stop signs… no one’s gonna slow  me down.’In the cavities of his mind, Schneider believed he was a  renegade, reacting against a system he’d stopped  believing in long ago. To everyone who knew him  he was a snortin’  -stealin’-  dealin’-  crooked cop . The god of the unflushed

crapper , feasting on fresh blood .



The Swoop by Saira Viola read and performed by David Erdos

Artwork  by eNdO

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The Way To Fish In Your Dream

Nabin has no angle. He has the bait dug out of Rahman uncle’s garden. He has the line forged by disintegrating a nylon clothesline his mother will miss soon.

He has no fly, lure. He has a long cane with all the potential to become a fine fishing rod. He dreams out a way to make what he has meet what he does not.

Then the dream is the big game. It feeds him, his mother, his father even – if he cares to return home. Ever.

I tell him, he is a zen master. Read him a koan. He dozes into the water circle in his id’s stream. His fishing line loses its self in that circle. A dragonfly stirs up the imperfections. This, in the entirety, moulds Nabin’s entity. Not that he should realise this or anything.





Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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The Saviour

Picus, you Paradise yaffler!
You merciful, mossy,

Did you really dart
across this dulled lens
of pain-stained perception?

Was it you who graced
my morn of mourning
in the ghostly eucalyptus tops?

Who laughed away the tear clouds?
Who splintered the sun
with your Divine Deca doses?

Oh you marvellous,


Heidi Stephenson
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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Street writer (part six)

I was 19 years old with two published articles under my belt.

I told you it was about to get ugly and it did!

It was the summer of my nineteenth year and my parents broke up and got a divorce.

My mum tried to kill herself, my dad fucked off with a girl who was the same age as me (his 19 year old son) and my sister fucked off with a guy the same age as her father!

And as for me, I was having an affair with a married woman!

With all this going on in the background I enrolled in a course on filmmaking as well as taking up with a local writers group.

I joined the filmmaking course so I could learn how to craft a script.

I joined the writers group so I could learn how to craft stories or even poems.

The filmmaking course lasted for two weeks and in the end… we would have a fully developed film.

I wrote the script and I was in it as an actor too. Another guy directed it, there was another actor alongside me and another guy producing it.

My script was about the consequences of suicide – (cliché I know) but there was intention behind it…

Originally we were filming it in a church in Derry, but we got kicked out by a priest ha ha!

Anyway, we filmed it on top of a shopping centre roof in Derry instead.

It was a silent feature with a monologue over the top of it. It was a beautiful film after we edited it with eerie music over it.

Unfortunately I don’t have it anymore, but I love the memories of piecing it together with the crew.

The best thing about the course was: when we finished the film there was a local playhouse willing to show all of our films as part of their film festival.

So, when you think about… my film was being screened, so that meant another publication.

Nice way to start off your creative writing career!

When I joined the writers group I didn’t know what to expect.

At my first session we were asked to write something (anything at all) – I started to pen something about all of us being equals and no one was better than anyone else.

We were asked to read it out loud. When I read mine I was told by the tutor: nice poem Paul! I had no fucking idea it was a poem, or that I could even write one!

I then took up the opportunity to start penning a story about revenge during the writers group that summer, and I continued to write poems.

The writers group were very nice to me and they got one of my poems published in our local newspaper.

They also displayed some of them and some other stories I had written in our local library and they also invited me to do my first live storytelling reading down south in a village in Donegal.

So, there was more publications thanks to them!

But, the story I was telling you about that was about revenge… I took that to an online magazine myself called the ‘BBC writers showcase’ and they accepted it.

I was very proud of all these publications and opportunities and also all the people that helped me along the way on my path as a writer.

So, from 17 to 19 I got two articles published, a poem, a story and a film screened…

Not a bad start if I say so myself! What with my private life being kind of chaotic, like the affair and my family life…

And things were about to get a hell of a lot worse…

The affair I had finished, coming up near to Christmas.

My mum was living back with her mother again.

My father became very estranged with me and my sister.

And my sister was about to go down her path of alcoholism.

And for me:

I had been suffering in and out of suicidal depressions for the past two years, but kept them very quiet (I told you there was a reason behind the film).

We were all going down a slippery slope in some way or another (especially me).

I was about to have a nervous breakdown and I didn’t know it was coming…

There’s time for that in the next article.

So, let me leave you with a poem called: As my mum smiles at our old struggles

And we’ll talk again next time…





As my mum smiles at our old struggles


Me and my mother reminisce

About the days we struggled

The days we had very little money

And a broken family

But enough love


I lived off

Coffee and cigarettes

Chocolate and pot noodles


My dad

Would try to hand me money

But I always tried to refuse

But it was his way of showing love


I tell my mum a story she never knew

How me and a couple of friends

Would sit up all night without a god

Talking into an early morning mist


One of them would slip back home

And bring back frozen bacon

And he would even steal a loaf

Out of the shop below my flat at 6am

And hand me back my pound


We miss those days

As my mum sits there and smiles


When the food would never go to waste

Like beating up the devil


And our cigarettes would taste

Like angels








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In the public domain – – – official records – police reports



It is written —–

— Cain grew jealous of this brother – that God favored his alter sacrifice – He slew him – then the Lord put a dark mark upon him – and he was sent to the distant lands


But man – may I set the record straight
You know how English speakers are 
when they try to translate 
foreign documents or languages

Oh I was jealous of him that was for sure 
I mean all the chicks liked him – all over him 
wouldn’t give me the time of day – but
I loved my brother – protected him
It was his own undoing
I told him over & over
Yeah – we would toke a few together
Not the hard stuff !
I mean hemp is natural – green

He started messing with the wrong 
crowd – they seem to come out of nowhere
Crack – crystal meth – What else I don’t know
“ Bro – Don’t you know – Just say no!”
“He who be without sin throw the first stone”
he tossed with a sharp quip
We ain’t that far in the book man
You are verses & chapters ahead of me

Our parents were having issues of their own 
Something about  “Fruit & serpent” 
words whispered outside in the garden
I heard of spiders & snakes
But  – apples ! Oh man who knows 
the older generation

As if prophecy foretold  – our parents had been
driven out of town 
to renew the lease 
or was it to resolve 
a misunderstanding with the mortgage
lender or was it the landlord revoking the lease
I never got that involved 
In their financial or spiritual life

The projects were dark when 
he wandered in high as a kite
Concerned when he would drag in
On the stoop I sat
Standing & confronting him 
when he finally showed up

“Man I just gotta intervene!” 
“Fuck off “ flew effortlessly 
After a heated confrontation he took 
a swinging punch at me
Stepping back to avoid the brutal blow

He lost his balance 
 fell on the steps 
 hit the sidewalk 
 busted his skull

“911! 911! 911!”  crying & holding his limp body
as a river of blood seeped onto my shirt
never came clean – always left a dark mark
a reminder to this day of that day 
deeds that undone him – did him in
got the best of me too I suppose

Man it was a disaster
Whispers that he & I were suppliers
We were always fighting
I was his supplier 
The rumor mill turned
 like a hamster wheel
The police kept harassing me 
Did you kill your brother? 

So after we lay him down into the cold ground
I took off far east from this place
A branded man for a crime I didn’t do
A fugitive – so I lay low – got a job – live alone
Lord only knows what they say about me back home

My folks lost the place
They had to relocate
not even a shirt on their back 
Forbidden to go back
when they drove them out 
blacklisted to ever enter again
Why could they not do that to the drug dealers?

I went back –  helped them move
Mom cried all evening 
My Old Man was adamant 
“You’d better go Cain
as soon as you are able.”


Too tired from this factory job to cry
Trying not too think of Mom & Dad
My Lil Bro – – –  Will I ever clear my name
May the guilty who are dead & living –  rot in Hell

And so they say – The Rest – is left to History









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Schitzoid Joe – Lost No More


Written by Neil Partrick, with editing by Valerie Grove


Nearly forty years ago two young people who had quit school at the earliest opportunity wrote and recorded a concept album. Aged 16 and 17 respectively, Lucy Nabijou (née Howard) and Steve North composed a collection of songs that referenced trauma, abuse, anxiety, poor parenting, inequality, freedom (or lack of it), drink and drug misuse and the male psyche. Lucy and Steve tackled such issues without being didactic, often temporising their serious subject matter with elliptical and sometimes bizarre references. The songs emerged from music and lyrics that Lucy and Steve had initially written on their own, and then worked up in the studio into much fuller, group performances.

Steve was already a talented electric (lead and bass) and acoustic guitarist. Lucy sang in a sweet, clear voice, possessed of an almost childlike innocence strangely at odds with the emotional maturity and punch of the lyrics. The fact that in 1981 they then proceeded to turn these songs into musically accomplished tracks performed with two of Steve’s schoolmates and a well-known saxophonist, Dick Heckstall-Smith, is nothing short of remarkable.

Lucy Nabijou & Steve North circa 1981

Schitzoid Joe (SIC) has what would be considered by some a ‘prog’ sound. In Steve’s words it was ‘Pink Floyd with folky bits and female vocals.’ This wasn’t some fashionably unfashionable statement though, but a reflection of what he and ‘Juice’ (Lucy’s nickname at the time) had grown up listening to. They were both also becoming fast absorbed in a post-punk musical sensibility that was edgy and funky and had little time for what Steve sees as the blues preoccupation of every young, British, budding rock guitarist who first began playing in the pre-punk 1970s.

The album finds Steve and Lucy in transition to what would soon be a shared but separate musical direction, and there are signposts to the harder yet more experimental musical worlds they would both shortly embrace. Perhaps more to the point, the album’s songs presage issues that have become the almost clichéd preoccupations of today’s boxed-set TV dramas. However they explore these in a first hand, literate way that reflects their own upbringing and without sounding preachy, worthy or angry, despite them both having a lot to be angry about.

Lucy and Steve are uncomfortable now with their use of the word schizoid. However, despite not being able to remember whether misspelling it as ‘schitzoid’ was wilful or not, this provides a disassociation from a label that was often pejoratively bandied about. In the part fictional world they created, it was a term that would probably have been imposed on Joe regardless of his particular reality.

On the title track, ‘Schitzoid Joe’, Lucy invents the character whose persona permeates the album’s guiding themes of disconnection and alienation. The child who occupies the body of this emotionally repressed character is, like Lucy at the time, screaming to get out. Lucy largely based Joe on her (now deceased) father, a relatively well-known classical musician whose psychological abuse was partly about his absence but also about his disregard for Lucy. He had wanted to musically sculpt another son and was not remotely interested in the creative potential of a daughter. The song ‘Schitzoid Joe’ is also about Lucy, the song’s narrator, who, deprived of love by a ‘Peter Pan’ figure unable to function as either a father or husband, is already seeking comfort in self-medication.

In a reflection of just how young she was at the time, the song ‘Crazy Uniform’ was inspired by Lucy’s attempts to make her school uniform more interesting. She stuck punk-style, tabloid newspaper letter cut-outs on the back of her jacket to spell obscenities. The song has even younger associations in its Narnia-type references to ‘drinking from golden fountains in fairy-tale mountains’. These ‘childish’ preoccupations, however, are the fantasies of one whose tears ‘run down (her)…sculptured face’ as she struggles to recognise her ‘inborn grace’. Lucy freely admits now that much of her lyrical and poetic preoccupation at the time was classic self-analysis of one who’d been abandoned by their father. However, it was a rare 15/16 year old who could write and sing about such things, elliptically or not.

In their shared writing in Steve’s bedroom of ‘Impressions of a Day Dream’, both Steve and Lucy document their respective isolation. A verse by Steve refers to an academic father he hid behind but who was more interested in the library than him. A verse by Lucy relives her trauma of nearly drowning as a child, and tells of still being dragged down by the ‘remnants of her nightmares’ while ‘her mother looks in anguish’ and ‘her father plays the fool.’ Speaking today, Lucy is keen to make clear that neither of her parents were literally present when she was struggling for life. What these shared lyrics clearly communicate though is parental detachment from the well-being of their children.

For Steve, Lucy’s song ‘Schitzoid Joe’ provided the ‘scaffolding’ for the album. He makes clear that what he saw as Lucy’s confidence when she first sang it to him, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, and how she would hold musical court to other school friends, provided the pivot for the whole project. With his production experience, Steve took the lead once they got into the studio, and contributed some of the songs. However Lucy’s initial idea was the core of the project. Listening to her song nearly 40 years later, the protagonist ‘Joe’, unable or unwilling to articulate the inner suffering he’s buried since childhood, sounds just as conflicted and just as relevant.

Lucy claims that they called the whole thing a concept album because that ‘sounded cool,’ and says it wasn’t as programmatic as the word ‘concept’ suggests. However, as well as the more obvious signature concept album device of reprising the title track at the end, recurring themes come up in her and Steve’s lyrics, and musical connections abound throughout. For example, Joe’s character ties in with the one created by Steve on his song ‘Up Into the Sky’. He’s ‘just a man’, like any other man, who wants to keep his head firmly down. He’s ‘up against the grain’, ‘looking through a veil of pain,’ and it’s then asked ‘who can he abuse?’ In an equally sinister line it’s said that other men are coming for him but somehow he can take a different path – skywards. Lucy complements her singing of Steve’s account of emotional and psychological detachment with soaring backing vocals suggestive of his character’s way out of his suffering. This anti-hero has been told that he won’t have to try, won’t even have to die, if he looks ‘up into the sky.’  

Steve’s song ‘They’ll Learn Some Day’ sounds part autobiographical and part character projection when it tells of self-medication leading to him ‘lying in the gutter ‘til the piggy bank broke.’ It also reveals a very young songwriter who already sounds jaundiced. It tells of those who, through little choice of their own, are stuck in a world where there’s no time for abstract concepts like freedom. They’re just ‘getting through life day by day.’ This was probably how Steve and Lucy felt too.

Lucy’s ‘Our Time’ is an ode to tough times, ‘80s style, when we were told there was no such thing as society. ‘Listen to the news’ wrote Lucy, and you’ll hear that ‘You create your own abuse, and the world is an opportunity that drowned in the sea.’ This is pretty grim stuff. It reminded me of some of the bleakest lines on Pink Floyd’s Animals, but this is Lucy’s very personal sense of abandonment, not rock aristocracy’s commercial embrace of it. Discussion of any kind of abuse of course is still relatively new, responsibility is still usually evaded, and, just like back in the ‘70s, many are still left blaming themselves or turning on others close to hand. The only answer Lucy could find back then was to create her own world, knowing full well that her recommendation to ‘fly to the moon, in a silver cocoon, and circle the sun,’ would not mean that ‘your new life’s begun.’

Lucy’s ‘The World’s a Happier Place Today’ is, unsurprisingly, not an overly optimistic account of being a teenager. Mother Nature died today, nightmares and insanity abound, and we’re invited to slip off our shiny shoes and blow away the blues. The reprised version of Schitzoid Joe is a slowed down, more poignant but shorter take on the title track. We are left reflecting more deeply on what it means to conclude that the ‘clowns’ are all over us and getting blitzed seems the only wise human choice.

Musically the album is launched by Dick Heckstall-Smith, a leading name in the UK’s blues and jazz-rock scenes of the 1960s and early 1970s respectively. His deft sax solo introduces the title song and his playing provides a constant accompaniment to this signature track, and to much else on the album. Steve’s school friends Nick Bunker and Pascal Consoli played keyboards and drums respectively, while Steve played bass and lead guitar. Nick didn’t play any old keyboard either. It was a Yamaha electric grand piano. Despite its apparent state-of-the-art tech, it still had to be specially tuned for the recording session, and at some cost. Arguably Nick, Pascal and Dick were akin to session men, although only Dick was paid (£25 an hour, recalls Steve). Steve’s bond with Nick and Pascal went back a few years. From the age of 12 Steve had been playing in school bands with Nick’s younger brother Hugh, and later Pascal was recruited because Steve found out he was taking drumming lessons. Steve’s first musical outing had been playing jazz in a school band run by one Arthur Heckstall-Smith – the connection to his dad’s later recruitment – before rock became Steve’s greater focus. At 14 Steve, Pascal and Hugh formed a school band called The Modes, with the slightly older Nick on lead guitar and Steve on vocals and rhythm guitar.

Prior to the recording session, Lucy, Steve and Pascal had worked up a bedroom demo of all of the songs, utilising Steve’s recently purchased TEAC portastudio. Steve and Lucy had also played some of the songs in a gig at The Earth Exchange, an environmentally-minded centre in Archway Road, north London. Lucy was already attuned to such issues, in part through her mother’s then unusual environmental awareness, and this was reflected in some of Lucy’s poetry and lyrics. For Nick the portastudio demo was all he really knew of the material, aside from two years earlier having performed ‘Up Into The Sky’ at a wedding in Quaglino’s Ballroom with a 14 year old Steve and a couple of other friends. 

While the album’s words, music and conceptual base were very much Lucy and Steve’s, a very audible sense of energy and commitment shines through from each of the performers. Despite being still very young when this album was recorded, Steve, Nick and Pascal confidently imposed their individual style on the overall sound without crowding out Lucy’s central vocal performance. On occasions, all of the musicians seem to delight in the opportunity to break out and jam, such as in the middle section of ‘Crazy Uniform’ (in which Steve notes an unconscious channelling of Bowie’s number ‘Station to Station’). On ‘Our Time’ the instrumental section is more akin to a live but organised party. Steve performs neat arpeggios on acoustic guitar, Nick’s keyboard solo positively dances, and there’s a palpable sense of fun that includes much whooping and cheering from all present. On ‘Catch 22’, an exclusively instrumental track, Steve and Pascal do the white boy funk thing that, in a punkier way, soon became Steve’s major musical drive. Dick Heckstall-Smith’s soloing provides a gritty foil to the funk/rock shtick that underpins the track.

Despite Steve’s view that the album is more reflective of his and Lucy’s then musical heritage than trends more typical of the early ‘80s, Schitzoid Joe neither sounds derivative or blandly of its time. Given that the other musicians were probably more mainstream in their tastes than Steve, it was never going to end up sounding avant garde. However, together they succeeded in creating an album unlike any other, then or since.

Schitzoid Joe was recorded in an appropriately named studio in north London: The Pitz. Despite being The Tourists’ rehearsal room, it had little glamour. A cramped space behind a couple of high street shops housed a tiny kitchen, WC, a recording desk and a small space in which the band performed surrounded by mattresses gaffer-taped to the walls and ceiling. The engineer at The Pitz was Paul Anastasi, whose typical clientele were young, local bands looking to make a cheap demo tape to fast track their path to a recording deal and rock stardom. Steve was focused on the project in hand. He arrived knowing what he wanted to do and, having already experimented with his home studio, had a sense of how Paul could help him get it down on tape.

Dick Heckstall-Smith joined them early on a Sunday morning, armed with roll-ups stuffed in various bits of his many saxes. Right from the offset Lucy, Steve, and Paul were blown away by how quickly and seemingly effortlessly Dick could work out what to play and just where. Yet listening to him and to all of the musical contributions to the album today it is remarkable that there is nothing that sounds contrived or casually thrown in. Steve doesn’t remember whether Dick was impressed that a 16 and a 17 year old had written a concept album. He just showed up for a couple of hours, did his thing, and left.~

The late, great Dick Heckstall-Smith

After five intense days in the studio – three days and three long nights of performing, and two days and nights of mixing and remixing – Steve and Lucy had recorded a concept album. Most of the other musicians were able to get their contributions down in the first couple of days, although Nick came back toward the end to add a keyboard solo. Unexpectedly, engineer Paul Anastasi was recruited to add an analogue synth solo of his own (on ‘The World’s A Happier Place Today’).  

The track sheet for the song ‘Schitzoid Joe’

Ultimately, Schitzoid Joe contained a strong set of songs and some great playing. Yet it was out of step with its time. It could sound prog in places – such as when a Fisher Price music box is deployed in the intro to ‘Up Into The Sky’, and in the atmospheric opening to ‘The World’s A Happier Place Today’ – but there are no musical excesses on any part of the album. It does in part reflect the pop and rock sensibilities they grew up with, and, at times, those that were more typical of the late 70s/early 80s. On ‘Impressions of a Daydream’, for example, the band sound like other accomplished acts of their era: tight and disciplined; musicians riffing as needed, not for show. Much contemporaneous pop though was providing a soundtrack to material or sexual escapism, or, for a smaller market by 1981, a gritty soundtrack to urban decay. Schitzoid Joe provides lessons in personal trauma punctuated with lyrical escape and a pure musical pleasure that is part retro, part undefinable. There was whimsy, teenage drug oblivion and family hell. What more could a record executive want?

Steve and Lucy recall some attempts at getting some major labels interested and that they got in front of a record exec’s desk a handful of times. Looking back, Steve thinks he probably naively expected that all they had to do was ‘rock it round a few labels’ and then the calls would come in. In reality, the on the spot responses were the clichés of being ‘very impressed’ that two young people could produce such ‘excellent’ work, but that, sadly ‘it isn’t quite what we are looking for right now.’ And of course it wasn’t. Lucy has a more personal take on the experience, remembering one A&R man being particularly patronising and paternal to the nervous young woman in front of him.

Lucy’s aunty had a friend called Shanti who knew something about the music business and was thought of as a potential manager. However, an afternoon in her basement flat in Highbury Grove focused more on the whisky and spliffs that she provided than proper attention to the demo that Lucy and Steve had brought round. Steve concedes that they should probably have made more of an effort to plug the album while Lucy simply remembers that she was so young and shy that a concerted attempt to ‘market’ the record would have been unfathomable. They didn’t gig the album either. Despite having previewed it at The Earth Exchange, there was little idea of adding more public performances in lieu of the finished product. Lucy only remembers feeling overwhelmed playing that gig, a condition that wasn’t to change much in the different bands she fronted for the next few years.

Almost as soon as they had made Schitzoid Joe, Lucy and Steve broke up, musically and personally. They had been in a close relationship for several months, and maybe it was this that got in the way of them capitalising on what they had achieved. However, they had both done what they wanted at that point, and for each of them it was perhaps a matter of moving on to the next thing. Steve remembers them both assuming they’d carry on working together, but that things ‘just drifted apart in their own way.’

Steve North circa early ‘80s

Steve initially teamed up with a couple of other young musicians to record a demo in a pop vein, for which they recruited Steve’s former school band-mate Arthur (Heckstall-Smith) to play keyboards. Steve then got more into the engineering side of the business, graduating from the 16-track recording console at The Pitz to a 24-track at Vineyard Studios and assisting in the engineering of a Level 42 album, The Special AKA album ‘In The Studio’ featuring ‘Nelson Mandela’, and The Jam’s live LP Dig The New Breed. Steve was ultimately though more stimulated by his love of ‘punk-funk’ and would end up singing lead vocals and playing guitar  in a band he helped form, Lethal Poor. Labelled ‘Goth’, they made their own albums largely under Steve’s direction, and were contemporary enough to have Rough Trade as their record distributor. ‘We sold albums and gigged around,’ he says, and even got reviewed in Melody Maker. In hindsight, it was always likely that Steve would move in a more alternative direction than the overall sound of Schitzoid Joe: ‘I consider myself to be ultimately more edgy and experimental, out there, more towards Scott Walker than towards Supertramp,’ he says.

Lethal Poor (Steve pictured left)

By 1985 Steve had gone from ‘Lethal Poor’ to ‘Desperate Fun’, a more commercial venture where his role was that of a sideman, albeit contributing what the Melody Maker’s Ian Gittins described in September 1987 as ‘squalls of way out guitar.’

Desperate Fun with Steve centre

‘It was then that I thought I’d do something completely different,’ he says, and joined an ‘alternative country band’, once again playing distorted guitar solos but this time in a very different setting. ‘If It Bleeds’ played gigs across the UK in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. That was the end of what Steve calls his ‘serious gigging’ though. Since then, when not teaching music and guitar in 6th form colleges or pursuing totally unrelated projects, Steve has periodically turned out his own self-produced solo tracks and demos. His most recent track, ‘New’, from 2019, has a spare, haunting vocal style and music inspired by the sad demise of a musical hero, Scott Walker.

If It Bleeds live at The Trolleystop, London, circa 1990

Steve remembers Lucy’s image and style suddenly changing too once they’d completed the album. She wore spikey hair, was plainly into post-punk material, and was gigging with the awfully named ‘Before The Fighting Starts’ in renowned London venues like The Rock Garden and Dingwalls. Lucy recalls this period as a tough time where she felt less and less in control of what she was doing musically. From working with Steve, whom she fondly remembers as ‘always being self-assured, not arrogant, and empathetic,’ she became the ‘eye candy’ in a ‘boy’ band where her song-writing input was often minimal.

Lucy during the ‘Before the Fighting Starts’ phase

In 1983 Lucy (vocals) and close friend Simon Reeves (drums) recorded a demo of two of her new songs at Pace Studios in Milton Keynes, with brothers Paul and Mark da Costa on guitar and bass. Punk-funk and post-punk in style, the sound was raw and urgent but the band never gigged. At this time though what she describes as ‘physiological changes’ had given her voice a more mature and powerful sound that she feels much more comfortable hearing today (though her vocal performance during this particular session was marred by having been awake for three nights).

From 1984 Lucy teamed up with Jim Custance to form Indy duo, The Firehills. Aided by a LinnDrum machine, they cut a demo in the renowned Pathway Studio where Jim was also sound engineer. Lucy’s voice sounded confident and strong and the duo had a melodic but edgy sensibility. Knowing how to try to turn this into music industry success was something else though.

The Firehills (Lucy Nabijou & Jim Custance)

With the exception of that duo, Lucy never felt central to what any of the guys she had gone on to perform with after Schitzoid Joe were doing. By 1987 she had also concluded that trying to work out via her songs the personal demons inflicted by her father was way too painful. Looking back she also feels that her chronic, early shyness and often complicating relationships with the dominant ‘father figure’ in some of these bands stymied what she wanted to be and to do musically. ‘I sold myself short,’ she says.

Lucy at the GLC music festival in Jubilee Gardens 1985

Nick Bunker and Pascal Consoli carved out careers in the music business. After Schitzoid Joe, Nick took to playing guitar as much as keyboards. Within a few years he was touring with Irish Indy band Fatima Mansions before later joining the more renowned Fischer-Z, a British band that enjoyed both commercial success and Indy cred. Pascal Consoli is still a highly successful drummer, at one time having played with acid-jazz band D-Influence when they supported Michael Jackson on tour, and has recorded with Tom Jones and Bjork among other big name acts.

Nick Bunker gigs at his own wedding in 1984 (with, in the background, Pascal Consoli on drums)

Pascal Consoli circa 1981.

For Lucy things could not have been more different. In 2007, after two decades away from music, and having been diagnosed with MS, she had gone home to live with her mother who was to be very supportive to her at this incredibly difficult time. Lucy remembers it not getting off to a great start though: ‘I needed looking after but on the day I arrived she flew out on a pre-booked holiday.’ Lucy had researched her particular condition and concluded that her decline would be imminent and totally debilitating. In her early 40s, she recalls believing ‘My life was over.’ Asleep for much of that same day she remembers being woken by a persistent ringing at the door. She dragged herself out of bed and there at the door stood Jeremy Cooke, who, unknown to Lucy, was a friend of Lucy’s former musical collaborator, Simon Reeves. After swearing at this stranger Lucy was told that a music publicist had listened to one of her demos from the early ‘80s and was interested. For Lucy, Jeremy suddenly became transformed into an angel of mercy. Inspired by his news Lucy took up playing again, and joined with Jeremy and Simon in a new incarnation, ‘StrangeStar’. They reworked a couple of songs that she’d performed with The Firehills and wrote new material. Sadly, in the nature of these things, that band would eventually fold too, but not before putting two EPs together, including ‘Inglorious Gambles’ in 2012, and performing some London gigs. Lucy still felt that she never escaped the sense of being an adjunct to the boys, even when she was co-songwriting and singing all her own lyrics.

Lucy Nabijou in a StrangeStar promotional shot

Lucy is currently pursuing several different musical projects. She has organised the recording of a song, ‘Adversity Rhyme’, that she wrote a couple of years ago on the refugee experience, an issue that prompted her to co-found the refugee and migrant support network ‘Haringey Welcome’ in 2015. Sung and performed by an international group associated with the network, the track was launched in July 2020 as a video project to raise awareness and funds specifically for vulnerable migrants working during the pandemic. Lucy has also been having piano and singing lessons and composing, and feels that she is now defining herself musically after all that her father did to try to impose his musical world on her. Lucy will take one of his Modernist compositions and totally rework it, making his music hers in order to better understand him and to better subvert him.

Both Lucy and Steve retain a very strong sense of what brought them together musically though. Steve sees it as a shared feeling of being outsiders, of not being remotely comfortable in the expected gender, cultural and material roles that their upbringing and wider society enforced. It was that spirit that is perhaps the essential ‘concept’ behind Schitzoid Joe, and it’s that inspiration that makes this lost album sound as fresh today as it was four decades ago.

Prompted by the interviews conducted for this article, Steve and Lucy made digital transfers of the original mouldering reel to reel master tapes and have, finally, released the Schitzoid Joe album. You can listen or download it via this link.

Artwork for the album (‘edited’ by Steve North from an early ‘80s painting by Lucy Nabijou)







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So, they’ve failed to take over the world –
yet, still, the Nazis somehow always prevail.

But even though they always win
(and will always win),
I won’t give up.
I will never give up.

Even now,
in the endless time-warp of our Lord, 1945/2016,
I remain, as ever, deep behind enemy lines,
playing a constant game of cat and mouse
in the Kent countryside,
knowing I can’t afford to rest
(not even when I come to rest),
pausing only briefly at the very edge of a rhubarb field
and, concealed behind the perimeter hedge
with my two-way transmitter,
relaying all that’s happened, everything I’ve seen
(activities, movements, troop concentrations)
and, in between that, listening in.

However, what’s being said –
in the endless slew of transmissions I intercept – 
is frustratingly hard to understand,
especially with the poor signal
and constant interference
(but, despite that –
and even though I’m always cursing Babel,
unable to read its garbled codes –
still I do my duty
and intercept each garbled cable).

Then, just for a moment,
something comes through clear:
“Gable’s hair is all that’s straight
and smooth about him.”
That’s code for something, definitely –
though what?

But, yes – Gable:
Of all the things to have happened
in the craziness of World War(ped) Two,
that takes some beating.
Even the most committed Krauts
must now have doubts
about their smooth-haired leader’s sanity.

Gable, Goering and Goebbels.
I have to admit, it has a ring to it,
but even so…

My handler knew how shocked I’d be to hear the news.
So, when he initially broke the story
on his breakfast show,
he first gave the warning:
“Today, don’t slick back but sit back –
cuz you’re gonna need to:
Hitler’s only gone and changed his name,
and his appearance too,
to that of the famous Hollywood film star,
Clark Gable.”

Not gonna lie, I didn’t see that coming:
Hitler turning himself into Gable –
no longer a square H,
but a well-rounded G.
I’m trying to picture him
with a pencil moustache and slicked back hair,
and I’ve been warned that when, at last,
I reach the Chancellery,
it’ll be that,rather than the bullet-hole
in the middle of his forehead,
which’ll make me stare,
stare so long and hard I’ll turn to stone,
only for victorious Soviet soldiers
to carve their initials into me.

But, in the meantime,
Gable’s been elected President of the United States.
He may be dead
but, being as it hasn’t been confirmed,
he’s out on loan.
He’s due back in Berlin in 2045.
Ich bin ein Berliner.
Even with a hole in his head,
he’ll always still be Mr President.

To think, I first met Trump
back when he was still a tramp.
I came across him in 1991,
asking for change in Victoria station,
just days after all the bins
had been taken out of every railway station in London,
in response to the IRA placing a bomb inside a bin
which went off during the rush hour,
killing one and injuring thirty-eight.

I found him on the station concourse,
stood within a ring of rust
on the ground where a bin had been.
It was like he thought
it was some kind of magic circle.
At any rate, he refused to leave its confines –
and, though soiling himself in the process,
as far as he was concerned,
I was, undoubtedly, a demon.

Well, it might behove Trump to know
that my demons have now been exorcised.
Gay conversion therapists,
in partnership
with Nordic Model advocates,
have seen to that.
Not that they invited me
to their joint victory ceremony –
but, as I stood outside the window of the grand hall,
and watched them celebrate
with a sumptuous banquet,
I couldn’t see any difference between them at all
as they toasted each other on their latest success:
Gaining control of Sodom and Gomorrah,
and agreeing to administer one zone each.

Slap bang in the middle of these two zones,
of course, is Checkpoint Charlie –
and, there, I learned something new
as I watched a movie with the other guard on duty.
Called Hannibal Barca,
the movie was all about the great Carthaginian general
outwitting the Romans.
‘Inspired by true events’, it told the story
of how Hannibal’s army was able to traverse
the impossible-to-pass mountains of the Alps,
mainly because his troops were carried on elephants
which all had incredibly long spindly stalk legs
that stretched up into the sky,
much higher even than mountain peaks –
as, of course, faithfully depicted,
centuries later, by Salvador Dali.

That was the film’s finale –
the big reveal –
that Hannibal’s stream-of-consciousness
was, alone, enough to conquer the Roman army.
Well, that was where Hannibal’s genius lay –
in his mind: Mind over matter.

However, in the end, the Romans won.
People like the Romans always do.
It may look as if they eventually lose,
but all they do is change their name,
like Hitler has.
And now –
in the time-warp of our Lord, 1945/2016 – 
he’s on the verge of victory.

But even though they always win –
and will always win –
I’ll keep on going,
constantly gathering and transmitting information,
checking for signals,
knowing I can’t afford to let myself get captured.
We’ve already lost so many good people,
who are all too often irreplaceable.

Me, I’m expendable, and always was –
or, at least, I certainly always was compared with my wife.
She was a renowned writer, a political satirist, 
and the Nazis would probably have killed her
if they could have done –
if they’d managed to get to her in time.

Before they could, however,
she blew herself up in the kitchen
while assembling various packed with meaning sentences.
The coroner ruled it suicide, but I know better.
In any event, there was nothing I could do to save her,
and now I’m on the run –
on the run as much from the memory of that,
as on the run from the Nazis,
and all they represent. 

And though they always win – 
and will always win –
if they come for me at night,
I have my wife’s books, all opened up,
on the floor of my hallway,
laid out like traps.

If they’re going to be censored,
let them be shut tight on jackboots.





Thomas McColl
Cover Art from No Bonzo

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Orson Welles’s psychedelic adaptation of Plato’s ‘allegory of the cave’


click on picture or link


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            What way are you?

            Far from perpendicular friend
            So refill the parting glass.

            See that tendril’s curve
            Of beaten gold, well
            Clean water’s worth no less.

            Over the land, soft rain moves
            Like a cooling hand’s caress.

            True craftsmen are all whisperers-
            A fraud yells I am blessed!

            Some scholars puzzle happiness
            While a baby’s fed at breast.

            What way are you?

            Still pondering this immensity:
            Each birth ensures a death.






Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor


A new book of poems

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Afterthoughts on WAR AND PEACE.

Lockdown Reads

The book is proto-existential in its theme of meaninglesness and absurdity in both war itself and in peace where there is no love. Love is the spiritual salvation of all of the principal characters regardless of their fates. So the book is a comedy in the pure sense as love triumphs over death and there is even a flurry of marriages at the end just as in any classic comedy. The most philosophically challenging aspect of the book is Tolstoy’s insistence on the determinist nature of reality and time. As he rails against the Historiography of the day, where History is written as the triumphant and eventually vanquished will of great men, Tolstoy asserts that man is bound to his fate as a petal is bound to its flower first budding then blooming and eventually wilting within its flower’s embrace with no actual free will of its own. He describes various Napoleonic battles in wonderful detail and shows both opposing generals the super-active Napoleon and the cunningly passive Kutuzov as almost entirely bound within the flowers of their own circumstance. Almost all of their decisions are obvious and unavoidable as both leaders react to the circumstances of the weather, the state of the troops both in terms of supplies and morale, the terrain and the pressure from their power elites at home. Tolstoy goes as far as to suggest the man considered by the 19th century to have most imposed his will on reality and History, Napoleon Bonaparte, was the least free of all as everyone of his acts of will were more or less determined by the competing wills of more people than anyone else alive. Napoleon was swirling in a whirlpool of myriad-willed circumstance from which there was no escape…

So this has me thinking about free will versus determinism…
Are we free? Or do we merely think we are according to the philosophies handed down from one branch of Christian theolology… or are we bound by circumstance according to the philosophies handed down by the other branch of Christian theology?




Roddy McDevitt
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Musk’s 5G Spy Satellite Megalomania


Keeping us preoccupied with a phony virus which was supposed to kill millions and landed-up causing no more deaths than the normal winter flu, sure was a useful way of directing attention away from the earthly and upward deployment of the 5G microwave weapon.

While billions were under home arrest in semi suffocation from airless apartments, ridiculous masks and insane social distancing, Mr Elon Musk, megalomaniac extraordinaire, had hired Cape Canaveral and was enjoying his own private launch pad parties in celebration of his ‘Space X’ company blasting hundreds of 5G satellites into the ionosphere fifty miles above the Earth.

Multi billionaire Elon Musk likes to believe that smothering every last inch of the planet in a blanket of beamed toxic electromagnetic pulsed ‘arrays’, is exactly what we have all been praying for.

Mr Musk claims to be the ‘inventor’ of the electric car – the forthcoming models of which just happen to need no drivers but lots of electricity – 5G electricity to be precise. Autonomous cars steered by 5G microwave beams with transmitters situated along every major road and street in the world.

Musk’s great ‘vision of the future’ is to marry his obscene wealth to the most advanced artificial intelligence technologies for the ultimate enslavement of humanity. He wears his vision just like obsessed Covid believers wear their obscene masks. Just like that other multi billionaire Bill Gates wears his vaccination death wish.

Multi millionaires have a way of smiling as they explain their dystopian visions of suffocated life on Earth. Their sad minds can only see the perfect algorithmic march of a super cyborg AI civilisation stretching out in front of them ad infinitum.

So when Mr Musk, adored guru of ardent technophiles, tells us how his twenty thousand satellites are going to spray our planet with a perfect wall of 5G weaponised electromagnetic laser beams from satellites put into orbit in the delicate protective atmosphere of the ionosphere – we are supposed to fall on our knees and cry “Thank you, Mr Musk! We always believed a saviour would come at this time and rescue us from what remains of our deeply upsetting urge to live.”

Elon Musk and fellow 5G satellite corporation owners and believers, have been ‘on the money’ almost from the day they were born. But once on the roller coaster of what constitutes ultimate ‘success’, their ambition – rather than being slated – simply wants more of the same. And when it gets that, it then wants an even more grandiose expression of its unquenchable desire for godliness.

Musk, and his techno-cronies, want absolute control of surveillance operations on planet Earth. Gates wants absolute control over population numbers. The two combine to produce a marriage from hell.

Arthur Fairstenberg explains in his most recent circular ‘Putting the Earth in a High Speed Computer’ “The threat to life comes from the fact that all these satellites are located in the ionosphere. The ionosphere is a source of high voltage that controls the global electric circuit, which in turn provides the energy of life.” He explains further “Every living thing is part of this circuit. It provides us with energy for life and information that organises our bodies. If you pollute this circuit with billions of digital pulsations, you will destroy all life.”

Those who feel powerless to put an end to the reign of megalomaniacs who set out to destroy our common home with complete impunity, must now cease to accept this as a reason to do nothing other than wallow in their own sense of tragedy. Man and nature are one. A tragedy in one is a tragedy in both.

There are initiatives we can and must take that will play their part in putting an end to this nightmare and they should start immediately by using the law courts in order to directly challenge the global purveyors of destruction.

Further actions of an indirect nature can be equally valuable. In this particular case, abandoning your cell phone is the number one action to be undertaken by individuals honest enough to act on what they know to be necessary. Like everything else in the world of commerce, ceasing to buy-in to the offending product, destroys the industry that produces it.

A steady decline in the market for the latest cell phone will do more than anything else to prevent the domination of near space by weapons of mass radiation destruction.

All aspects of modulated WiFi radiation emitted by the EM towers and smart grids asphyxiating human and planetary life today must, for the sake of the species, be put an end to without delay.

If we are to come through this period of unprecedented top-down technophobic deception and manipulation, we will only do so because we saw fit to challenge its manifestations face to face, at every opportunity possible.

Giving-up one’s latest toxic toy must be first on the list of contributions to preventing the outright destruction of the great cyclical electrical circuit which supports all life on Earth.

As Arthur Fairstenberg states “There is no more important task on Earth right now – not climate change, not deforestation, not plastics in the ocean, and not stopping 5G on the ground. None of that will matter if Space X is allowed to go forward with Starlink.”


Julian Rose

Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, writer, international activist, entrepreneur and teacher. His latest book ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’ is particularly prescient reading for this time: see www.julianrose.info

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How to keep your man


(From the column of a woman’s magazine agony aunt, circa 1965)


Don’t confide in him too much, but always tell the truth.

Never mention marriage, having children, the future or his mother.

Don’t cry in front of him, lapse into self-pity or be emotional.

Learn not to expect anything from him.

Always be sure not to keep him awake at night, or wake

          him in the morning, unless instructed to.

Never let him see you drinking alcohol, except that

          given by him.

Learn to be an expert navigator and cook and be sure

          that any areas connected with food are exceptionally hygienic.

Be wary of arguments, he’ll never let you win one anyway,

          unless you can prove your point rationally and unemotionally.

Never phone him or owe him any money.

Ensure his privacy.

Always let him have his own way, unless you can

          (which is very rare) show an obvious or logical

          way why he should do otherwise.

Be willing at all times to do things in a practical

          and efficient manner.

Skilfully change the subject if he says “you’re

          beginning to irritate me”.

Learn to take the fact that he does tend to be

          reliable, during which he considers, extreme emergencies.

Make sure his work comes first.

Let him think you are completely under his control.


Don’t categorise the above, it is uncategorizable.


Don’t show him this, though I know you will!



Léonie Scott-Matthews

Pentameters Theatre


Art: Godfrey Old

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Through thickening weed,
Reflected sky carp pulse
As my line begins to drift,
Tremor, the reel clicks back

To another afternoon,
Eyes closed, her breathing
Eased to whispering: at that
Moment, her touch
A veil of sunlight all around me,
Swifts hook the sky and a crying child
Is picked up, soothed and held.






Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor


A new book of poems

Buy at:

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Ah, Thanatos and Eros; the curious no man’s landlessness within.
Between the death that brackets a life, the same life  lived
between death’s double parentheses.
Better to sleep and dream of better days.
than to wake and find the sorrow of our ways.
Awaken gently au naturale seduced by some half dreamt aubade.

And somewhere maybe, a once breathing Presley is singing
‘She’s Not You’ still to you, to me,
and beautiful though she is to see
she never will be.
Bid a less than fond adieu
to those who
often speak with great eloquence
on matters of which they blindly grope in ignorance.

YOU fuck THEM up your mum and dad… get it right.

After the drought there was just a small pond in a big fish.

Spent our nights tripping on acid
building pyramids with playing cards then watching them tumble in slo-mo.
Dominos collapsing like well rehearsed and choreographed performers.
The antichrist of christendom.
The ultimate anti establishment icon.


Cultural colonialism.
If Christ came back as a con man.

‘I don’t live to eat I eat to live’ she said.
‘ Well don’t we just eat to eat?’ he said.

Yes, some things might be none of my concern but I’m still entitled to an opinion. What that opinion might be is none of your concern.

I would like the chance to rediscover one day
Some of those gifts that I once threw away.

Some people just run in the sand and spread more joy than a thousand poets.

As was. As is. As always will be. The makings of men. Nothing changes but perception.

Someone with a dagger in their heart
has little concern with the woes of the world.

I’ve just discovered that if you take any of the ancient sacred books,
turn them upside down and read diagonally
from the top right to the bottom left corner then diagonally
from the bottom right to the top left
it doesn’t make one iota of sense. That’s the meaning. Really.

the jury is out. For good. The defendant shot them all.

The thoughts and innermost desires of every living human being
form this world’s outer reality
far more than all of our physical actions;
the latter springs from the former
and the ethereal operates on a much subtler,
deeper level than the purely corporeal.

In your ignorance you taught us; in your image you formed us.

Cunning stunts form and reform in the bubbling cauldron
of our existential styled elasticated bloomers.
The Big Bang theory of a new mindset may be reproduced
beyond a laboratory setting yet. Those self loaders
seek refuge in the dark cellars of their warped selfish souls.
The zeitgeist may be changing and
the rampant grubbiness of exploitation may be ripe for a rancid implosion. Long live
unselfish love!
Ditch statistics!

If people bother you too much don’t bother too much with people.

Come along you clinical and cynical,
indifferent and diffident,
cravers and ravers:
you may be witnessing history!

Always remember this:
beauty is found in the darkest streets.






Mike McNamara was born in Ireland but lives in South Wales, UK. He had his Selected Poems ‘Overhearing The Incoherent’ published by Grevatt and Grevatt  in 1997. He is a singer and published songwriter.  His poetry  has been  read on radio and published in dozens of mags. from Acumen, The Atlanta Review, Orbis,  International Times,  October Hill and The New Welsh Review to Tears in the Fence, etc. Mike also had a selection of poems published in The Pterodactyl’s Wing (Parthian). His ebook This Transmission was published in Oct. 2019 by The Argotist Online. His print book Dialling A Starless Past was published by Arenig Press in December 2019. His new collection Loose Canon was published this month  with Subterranean Blue Poetry based in Montreal, Canada.


Photo by René Maltête

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Possessing genius is one thing,

but are you prepared,

on finding it encased inside a grenade,

to pull out the pin to release the genie,

and therefore be

on the receiving end of the huge explosion?


In other words, are you prepared to be obliterated –

meaning you won’t even get to see,

above the billowing smoke,

the now-released genie granting every wish

to all your atoms that, dispersed,

and already forming into new but lesser versions of you,

will proceed to take all the credit you were due

as if you’d never actually existed,

as if the credit had always been theirs to take?


Essentially, it’s genius

for everyone else’s sake but yours,

yet still the only kind of genius worth possessing –

the kind that changes everything:

Grenade-less genius is worthless.


It’s just that, if it turns out

you’re the one who pulls the pin,

there’s no guarantee you’ll even be remembered,

for only one thing is certain:

The grenade genie –

arbiter of atoms –

doesn’t care.

He knows that genius

is a combustible commodity;

once released,

he’s simply there to give out

all the credit indiscriminately.


Anyway, the undeserving horde

that ends up in receipt of it

will, soon enough, be wiped out too,

when everyone least expects it,

in the unlikeliest place –

and it’s almost always

the unlikeliest person who’ll set things off.


So, who knows, maybe it will be you:

out of luck and living in abject poverty,

with nothing to lose –

your possession of genius

amounting to nothing more

than the pulled pin held between your teeth,

and the self-belief that got you there…


…except that there, as it turns out,

is right in the middle of nowhere.

But that’s fate,

and though the explosion will mean

your life ending

without you being, in any way, rewarded,

the main thing is that history will be made –

and incredibly:

vast armies of advancing traditionalists

(who seemed, to everyone, unstoppable)

all taken out with just one genius-filled grenade.


And who knows? Maybe the day will come

when the atoms you released upon your death –

which, having congealed into lesser versions of you,

the genie bestowed all credit upon –

will, in gratitude, honour your selfless act

by placing, at the very spot

where you blew yourself up,

a commemorative plaque

as round and blue as the Earth…


…the Earth, which, in billions of years,

the Sun will swallow up.

And that’s the thing

(why none of it really matters):

even the round, blue Earth –

along with your round, blue plaque –

must one day shatter into atoms too.


Let’s face it,

everything and everyone

is nothing more than atoms.

Even the brightest human is nothing more

than the lowliest animal, organism

or inanimate object:

it doesn’t take a genius to work that out.


And though nothing matters

when we’re all just matter,

it still remains

that people who think

they’re more than what they’re made of

are there to be brought down.


Even if that moment’s unplanned,

the grenade genie –

arbiter of atoms –

will always be on hand.


Trust me, somewhere, right at this very moment –

a moment borne out of desperation –

there’s another rat amongst the dinosaurs

about to pull out the pin with its teeth.





 Thomas McColl



Thomas McColl lives in London. He’s had poems and short stories published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole, Bare Fiction, Rising and Fictive Dream, and his first collection of poetry, ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’, was published in 2016 by Listen Softly London Press. One of the poems from the book, The Chalk Fairy, was subsequently included in the Shoestring Press anthology, Poems for Jeremy Corbyn, and ended up getting quoted in the Evening Standard. He’s read his poetry and stories at many events in London and beyond – including Landing Place, Celine’s Salon, The Quiet Compere, Birkbeck Writer’s Room and Newham Word Festival – and has been featured on East London Radio, BBC Radio Kent and TV’s London Live. His second collection, ‘Grenade Genie’, is out now with Fly on the Wall Press.


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Stoned Circus Radio Show – 20th Anniversary

Stoned Circus Radio Show – 20th Anniversary

by Stoned Circus radio Show – 20th Anniversary LIMITED EDITION



Streaming + Download
Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.


  €5 EUR  or more



  • Stoned Circus Radio Show – 20th Anniversary LP – 350 hand-numbered copies !

    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    In September 1995, a new programme psychedelised Canal B schedules.
    It’s been 20 years now that the Stoned Circus progamme travels back from the 60s to modern day times, exploring Garage rock, psychedelic music, Rock’n’roll, Soul music, in short, all genres where fuzz and farfisa flows freely.
    On board of their Time Machine, Stoned Circus introduces you every Monday night, from 8 pm to 9:30 pm, to the best psychedelic garage over the last five decades.
    So to celebrate their anniversary, Stoned Circus gathered on a mix-tape, only on vinyl, the best of today’s Garage and  more

    Sold Out

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It is like going to the Antarctic
except it is out West and there are
no snow or penguins. But the great
unknown can be a city too. She
wants to try all the fast food that
she can and watch the cars go by,
the smog settle over the hills
with the sun shining through,
and find out why she has come
to the city of angels, of light,
of digital dreams. It is all a game,
a new world of source material,
background noise and city hum.
Six lanes of slow-moving ideas
but she does not know where
to go. She joins the dots
of the scribbled city by subway
or waits for the occasional bus
to take her past film stars’ houses
and luxury hotels. She is looking
for life and that restaurant that
was recommended by the friend
of a friend of a friend. Ten hours,
six days, and a plate of perfect fries
would cure her homesickness
and make up for jetlag. The traffic
never stops, she does not know
who all these famous people are,
why anyone would live here rather
than move out to the valleys, away
from ‘this weird place full of fakeness’
to where there is room to live and die.




   © Rupert M Loydell

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the sonnet-ballad

Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
They took my lover’s tallness off to war,
Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
He won’t be coming back here any more.
Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
When he went walking grandly out that door
That my sweet love would have to be untrue.
Would have to be untrue. Would have to court
Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange
Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort)
Can make a hard man hesitate—and change.
And he will be the one to stammer, “Yes.”
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?




Gwendolyn Brooks
Picture Deborah Victor Kushelevitch


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if a birdhouse
in the forest
was an altar
I prayed
to an avian god
I fly away
from this 
fucked up





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We keep what we have when we give it away
A beautiful adage that’s easy to say
More than that it arrived just in time
To help when my mind was at a loss for a rhyme
I first heard those words in drug recovery
They worked for others
They might work for me…
Wisdom through experience
They had accrued
Providing my thoughts with much needed food

No matter how tortuous at times is my style
If in humorous mode I make one person smile
Their happiness is mine
And I wish them to know
That smile
Makes me want to go on with the show




Harry George Stanley Lupino
Illustration Nick Victor

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Covid Conspiracies


In the last ten years I’ve lived in many places around the world. Across Europe in Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Hungary and more. At festivals, gigs and arts and music events. Plus having more permanent places to lay my head down – my base camps – in both Southern Scotland and West Yorkshire. Two stunningly, naturally, beautiful places – the Berwickshire Coast and the Pennines.

Todmorden in Calderdale is now in Local Lockdown 2 for the northern area of England. A ‘local’ lockdown for more than 4 million people.  This feels, and is, incredibly divisive. To many in the area it appears to be an Orwellian ‘blame game’ – targeting areas where there are larger Muslim populations and/or poorer people. Many who live in multi-generational households and work in factories, shops, garages, bars and cafes where social distancing is incredibly difficult. However, the real impact of the secondary local lockdown will be in people’s responses to it, and in the ability of the local and national authorities to enforce it. The new regulations do not seem to be being obeyed much, as far as I can see in Calderdale. Folk have tasted some freedom. A step backwards is resented, and places like boozers and restaurants need customers from more than one household at their tables in order to survive commercially.

Perversely, it has also coincided with the month-long roll-out of the UK government ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to encourage the exact opposite to ‘staying at home’! Forget social distancing and support your local businesses! It will be interesting to see if this ‘Eat Out’ programme is closed down in Lockdown areas.

In pubs and eating places, on the streets, out on country and coastal walks, in shops – I’ve met dozens of people who have their own personal theories of how and why the Corona virus has originated, how it has been spread, issues about wearing face-coverings, personal restrictions on movement, the effects on holiday plans, and, for a growing number, whether Covid-19 exists at all.

Personally, I live and work amongst an amazingly diverse range of people. I consciously like to talk to a wide range of people. This includes plenty of folk who have totally different belief-systems than me. I know half a dozen Flat-Earthers; Survivalists; Illuminati-followers and opponents; disciples of David Icke and his fight against the Babylonian Brotherhood; UFO believers; Vegans, Vegetarians and Meat-eaters; Climate change activists and those who deny it. I’m mates with fervent nationalists and staunch Europeans; Internationalists; Anarchists; Monarchists; Land-owners and Communards. But, down in the pubs and amongst the folk working  in factories and the shoppers, amidst the watchers of TV soaps – the realities of life are ripe for the spread of conspiracies, nationalism, localism, vigilante-ism , and sadly racism, fear and loathing.

With these thoughts in mind, I started collating this ‘Conspiracy theory’ piece which involves some comments on Trump, who seems to be a one-man conspiracy-theorist, comments from the new Freedom Fighters of the world, from the Awakening Movement, QAnon and from scientists, fact-checkers and more…

President Donald Trump, 15th July 2020:

“Make no mistake. We hold China fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world.

They could have stopped it, they should have stopped it.

It would have been very easy to do at the source, when it happened.”


Here are some of the popular beliefs

I’ve heard all of the following comments in the past few weeks:

  • Covid-19 is no more dangerous than flu and is not a major killer. We don’t need the lockdowns and restrictions.
  • It’s a man-made disease – probably originating from China, or, from a powerful world organisation.
  • It’s a part of an international (or national) government/world organisational plan to cull the world population and increase control of the populace. 
  • It’s being spread by Muslims and other foreigners.
  • Lockdowns and other restrictions are not legal and are completely contrary to our personal freedom.
  • In areas and sectors of the population where more tests are done, there will inevitably be more positive cases identified.
  • Vaccinations against the Coronavirus and other diseases are an infringement of personal freedom, potentially harmful to health, and should be opposed.
  • There are already treatments for the Covid-19 disease but they are being withheld.
  • Going on holiday is a personal right.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is one of the most celebrated international organisations advising both governments and the public on the most effective responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the myths and misinformation surrounding the spread of the disease. Especially through social networks:


Here are some of the ‘Facts’ from the WHO:

“FACT: There are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19

While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop and evaluate medicines to treat COVID-19.

FACT: 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19

Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose. 

FACT: The prolonged use of medical masks* when properly worn, DOES NOT cause CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency

The prolonged use of medical masks can be uncomfortable. However, it does not lead to CO2 intoxication nor oxygen deficiency. While wearing a medical mask, make sure it fits properly and that it is tight enough to allow you to breathe normally. Do not re-use a disposable mask and always change it as soon as it gets damp.

* Medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are flat or pleated; they are affixed to the head with straps or have ear loops.”

FACT: Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

Do not under any circumstance spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes.

Bleach and disinfectant should be used carefully to disinfect surfaces only. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children.”


Thinking Globally and Speaking Out Locally

I’ve found myself receiving increasingly impassioned and angry Facebook and other messages from people I am acquainted with, and in some cases, whom I know quite well. I’ve anonymised these ‘voices’ in the following on-line debates. But they are a pretty good indication of the power of the social media to spread truths, opinions, lies, science, disinformation and ‘conspiracies’:

Jane:  “It’s upsetting that close friends are so willing to dismiss me as a deluded ‘conspiracy theorist’ instead of actually listening to what I’m saying & attempting to understand where I’m coming from. The Awakening is an interesting process. It involves a lot of research & new knowledge, spiritual activation & inner revelations. Big love to everyone we’re all at different stages of the awakening path. Am enjoying the new connections tho x”

Rachel: “Yes but do you listen?

The rabbit hole of conspiracy theories is very interesting but there’s more subterfuge than actual truth in most of it.

I was as involved and as believing as you about 20 years ago but when I realised that there was an anti-Jewish thread through nearly every theory I began to realise I’d been duped. The theories have become ever more ridiculous over the last 20 years and the tiny vein of truth ever harder to untangle. I prefer my sanity and positivity thanks chick but good luck to you.”

Jane: “I’m perfectly sane & positive thanks  & yes the 13 families at the top of the pyramid are indeed Jewish. That doesn’t mean I’m against all Jew’s. Just the ones that are enslaving humanity for their own gains & raping, torturing & sacrificing children. Of course I listen! I listen to my intuition big time. This is the implementation of the New World Order as a smokescreen to bring in ridiculous Orwellian laws. Question everything you are being told & don’t trust the government or media. They’re lying! Think for yourself xxx”

“Great to see so many people shopping without masks on!!! Freedom! To all those who want to wear a mask for the rest of their lives to ‘protect the vulnerable’ and completely mess up their own health in the process. Go right ahead! All the evidence is out there. I’m done with the passive aggressive emotional blackmail x”


Trev: “Print these out. Please share.”



“Trev, I work for a clinical trials research unit. Believe me, the amount of regulation, external audits and peer reviews that researchers are beholden to means that falsifying anything isn’t really possible. It’s a very serious business with very serious penalties for faking results or even accidentally failing to document things properly.

What does happen, however, is that the media, pressure groups and conspiracy theorists who don’t have single bit of oversight or accountability regularly misunderstand or deliberately distort research findings to fit their own agenda or prejudice.

I hate wearing a mask, especially with my Gandalf beard (took me ages to find one that even does the job), but it’s a small inconvenience to wear for a few minutes in a shop if there’s a remote chance that it’ll help keep someone alive down the line.”


The Storm and The Great Awakening – conspiracy theories at the heart of QAnon:

“Generally they all believe that Donald Trump is fighting against a secretive and evil global cabal, members of which include former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, who both have been hate figures for the American political right for many years.

The supporters believe that a person or group inside the administration – the eponymous “Q” – is posting coded messages online to inform Mr Trump’s supporters about this secret war, and preparing them for an imminent event in which the president overthrows the evil cabal and imprisons its members.”


According to Travis View, who has studied the QAnon phenomenon and written about it extensively for The Washington Post, the essence of the conspiracy theory is that:

“There is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping paedophiles who rule the world, essentially, and they control everything. They control politicians, and they control the media. They control Hollywood, and they cover up their existence, essentially. And they would have continued ruling the world, were it not for the election of President Donald Trump. Now, Donald Trump in this conspiracy theory knows all about this evil cabal’s wrongdoing. But one of the reasons that Donald Trump was elected was to put an end to them, basically. And now we would be ignorant of this behind-the-scenes battle of Donald Trump and the U.S. military—that everyone backs him and the evil cabal—were it not for ‘Q.’ And what ‘Q’ is—is basically a poster on 4chan, who later moved to 8chan, who reveals details about this secret behind-the-scenes battle, and also secrets about what the cabal is doing and also the mass sort of upcoming arrest events through these posts.”



Anna McLaughlin, King’s College, University of London:



“We are all prone to believing information when it is repeated, easy to process and when it aligns with our prior attitudes and world views.”

Full Fact – the UK’s independent fact checking organisation

Anna: “Where do conspiracies come from?

Ultimately, people get caught up in conspiracy theories for a multitude of reasons.

It might simply be that the theory aligns with their pre-existing beliefs and opinions, giving their feelings of anxiety an outlet to focus on. For others, placing the blame on a specific person, country, or organisation, may give a face to the invisible threat of the virus. They may even simply just provide a form of escapism that distracts from the bleak reality of the situation.”

Matt Laslo:

“Shut your windows, lock your doors and unplug your Wi-Fi: Conspiracy theories are coming for you. Unlike in the past, though, they’re emanating from the president of the United States himself in the midst of a raging global and disproportionately American pandemic.”



Anna McLaughlin:

“And, if you need a trustworthy alternative to mainstream media, do look at reputable and independent science websites, such as Science News (which is also non-profit), Nature News, or Science Mag. These websites cover the latest scientific research and events, summarised in everyday language, by writers who are qualified to interpret the results of studies.

We need to recognise that conspiracy theories are flourishing due to a climate of fear, mistrust, and lack of knowledge about the virus.”

My friend Angus Cockburn posted on my Facebook:

“It’s got to work (the Lockdowns in the UK and restrictions and other actions world-wide) – this pandemic should have been billed like Ebola not flu – the daft British public might then have taken it seriously – if allowed to run out of control it would take 10-12% of the population – about 6,000,000 people – is that serious enough?”

A Final Note from Alan:

I’m no longer that optimistic about the likely success of the various UK government responses to the Covid pandemic. At a global level, ye gods only know! I sense growing exasperation and confusion amongst the local people where I have been living in West Yorkshire and to a slightly lesser extent back in the Scottish borderlands. Where there was once some semblance of community spirit, co-operation and shared ownership of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus and the most efficacious responses, there’s now ‘disunity’, ‘fear’, increasing mental-health problems, social and economic disintegration. There’s also an ever-growing level of ‘civil disobedience’, which could easily escalate, as has been seen in the second lockdown in the Australian State of Victoria with the rise of ‘Sovereign Citizens’ fighting with police.  Maybe I’m now becoming part of the problem. For example, at a completely personal level, I may well ignore some of the Scottish devolved government travel advice, when I get the trains back from Todmorden to Berwick-upon-Tweed and up into Scotland. First Minister in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has said: “I strongly advise anyone planning to travel to areas affected in the north of England, or anyone planning to travel to Scotland from those same areas, to cancel their plans.”

I think that allowing and to some extent encouraging international travelling, whilst (at least temporarily ignoring climate change), and most of all, the totally ineffective local and national enforcement of regulations will see the edifice of the ‘mandatory and compulsory’ restrictions and laws erode and crumble.

Once a critical mass believe that public order is no longer functioning…the whole world, not just in the UK…the result will see us in the midst of a dysfunctional meltdown…we stand on that precipice…Weird Shit is getting Weirder and Shittier!





Alan Dearling

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The Mangrove demo bust 50th anniversary

‘The Mangrove Restaurant in All Saints Road was raided yet again this weekend and the police succeeded in charging a number of people with possession of cannabis. Since the Mangrove opened a year ago it has become as well known to the police as to the black community, but another sort of pressure is being brought against them now. A petition is going around asking to have the place closed.’ Mangrove Busted People’s News no 23 June 30 1969

By the end of the 60s Frank Crichlow’s Mangrove restaurant on All Saints Road was on its way to becoming the single most recurring cause for legal advice on drug related matters of the next couple of decades. In 1968 the Hustler black underground paper, edited by Courtney Tulloch, contained the first ‘Turn on West Indian and English feasts’ advert for the new venture of El Rio Frank Crichlow, the Mangrove restaurant at 8 All Saints Road, the black community centre of the 70s and 80s. In ‘Days in the Life’ Courtney Tulloch recalls the move from the Rio at 127 Westbourne Park Road (after he found the new premises in the Kensington Post) as the turning point from the 50s hustling scene to 60s Black Power activism. If anything, this made the new venue of more interest to the police. As the Mangrove became the hippest Notting Hill restaurant of them all, ‘turn on West Indian and English feasts’ were served to Sammy Davis Junior, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Four Tops, CLR James, Vanessa Redgrave and the original cast of The Avengers. Frank Crichlow reminisced in the Kensington Source magazine: “People would be waiting outside in cars until tables were free. The place was out of this world – in just a couple of months it was pop-u-lar… The place would be packed and we’d see the police peeping through the windows…”

As the Westway flyover opened to traffic on August 9 1970 there was a re-housing protest on the hard shoulder, and on the same day there was a protest march under the flyover. In the late 60s and early 70s there seems to have been a demo in Notting Hill virtually every other day, while All Saints hall hosted at least one community action meeting a night. The march was protesting about police persecution of the Mangrove Caribbean restaurant on All Saints Road, outside of each of the 3 local police stations; the Notting Hill station on Ladbroke Road, Sirdar Road in Notting Dale, and the plan was to finish at Harrow Road. But, as the march went up Great Western Road, under the newly opened Westway, police attempts to divert it away from the Harrow Road station resulted in a mini-riot on Portnall Road, the arrest of 17 demonstrators, and the infamous trial of the Mangrove 9 – including the restaurant owner Frank Crichlow and the Black Power activist-future TV personality Darcus Howe.

Michael Storey’s ‘Days in the Life’ recollection of All Saints Road, when he was working with the film-maker Horace Ove, included Michael X coming round at the height of his notoriety, boasting that “with 6 good guys” he could start a Black Power revolution: “Stokeley Carmichael came over to meet him… There were all these heavy black dudes everywhere… They were glamorous. They had something that I felt I hadn’t; it was going into another world. We used to go to each other’s houses and dance and play music all afternoon. Then I lived in St Luke’s Mews. The Mangrove was round the corner and I slipped into this whole lifestyle of not really doing anything. You had shebeens, the right music, open houses… Horace told me when I came with my pink cheeks that I wouldn’t last a year; I lasted less… I was busted outside the Mangrove, I got burgled by a junkie who I had staying in the flat, and then I left.”

‘The police case arising out of the Mangrove demonstration was shown up for what it was at Marylebone Court this week. The magistrate threw out charges of incitement to riot and only after evidence had shown that the fighting was spontaneous. The prosecution attempted to say that banners with ‘Kill the Pigs’ on them were evidence of an incitement to riot (this seemed to be the only evidence) but the magistrate said this could not be taken literally. The prosecution had to agree that if the slogans had been ‘Fuck the Pigs’ or ‘Bugger the Pigs’ that would not have been taken literally so the same should apply in this case. 6 were still sent to the Old Bailey on charges of making an affray but at least the police fabrication of incitement and riot were rejected. A bad day for the pigs.’ Charges Quashed People’s News vol 3 no 3 January 18 1971


‘The trial of the Mangrove 9 began at the Old Bailey on October 6 in a way that makes it obvious to the most naïve observer the repressive role of the courts. The clerk of the court, upheld by the judge on the first day, has refused to allow relatives of defendants to sit in the well of the court. They are only allowed in by personal ticket to the public gallery. Friends have queued for hours outside to get a seat although there have been empty places inside. No reason has been given for these new restrictions. Obviously they do not even want justice to be seen to be done. Defendants and supporters have good reason to doubt whether it will be done. The first 3 days were spent contesting the all-white jury. There were not even 12 black people on the list of 150 jurors.


‘The charges of riot, affray and assaulting police arise out of a demonstration against police harassment of the black community on August 9 last year. Of the 17 people arrested during the conflict between police and marchers in Portnall Road, 10 were fined and 7 acquitted. But 2 months later new charges of incitement were brought against Frank Crichlow of the Mangrove restaurant (where the march began from), Roddy Kentish and Rhodan Gordon. When new incitement charges were also heard against Althea Lecointe, Barbara Beese and Radford Houve the prosecution could bring no evidence. The next day they substituted a riot charge. This charge was rejected by the magistrate but has been re-imposed by the Director of Public Prosecutions when the defendants were committed to the Old Bailey on the charge of affray. The other defendants are Rupert Boyce, Anthony Innis and Godrey Millett. The trial will take about 6 weeks and what happens and how it happens is important to all of us who are struggling against the increasing repressing in this area and throughout the country. A background paper on the trial and very good weekly court reports can be got from the Information Centre, 301 Portobello Road W10 969 4123.’ Closed Trial People’s News vol 3 no 36 October 11 1971

‘There is to be a benefit concert for the Mangrove 9 on Wednesday November 17 from 8-12 at Imperial College Union, Prince Consort Road. Tickets cost 50p and can be got from 120 Talbot Road or 17a Rendle Street. Music by Third World War, Ginger Johnson, Ojah and the People Band. “This place is a haunt of criminals, prostitutes, ponces and the like” Pulley on the Mangrove People’s News vol 5 no 17 May 8 1973 The notorious PC Pulley is back in Notting Hill and the management committee of the Mangrove in All Saints Road has put out the following statement. ‘PC Pulley has returned to Notting Hill. Within days we have had complaints from 4 different sources about the officer’s behaviour. In response, we have written an open letter to the Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police stating our demand – that PC Pulley be immediately removed from the area. This demand is not new. In fact Pulley was removed from the area following the black community’s confrontation with the local police on August 9 1970. At the trial which followed, the Mangrove trial, Pulley appeared as a major prosecution witness. His evidence was challenged on the basis that he was dishonest, that he was a liar. The jury acquitted 5 defendants and intimated in discussions following the trial that Pulley’s evidence was not believed. It has since been stated that he was transferred to Scotland Yard. We are not aware on what basis he has returned to the area, neither do we care. We simply want him out.’ The final sentence of their letter sums up the position. ‘We demand his immediate removal from the area. The responsibility for whatever happens as a consequence of his prowling around the area now rests squarely on your shoulders. You know the facts, the responsibility is yours, you ignore it at your peril.’ Mangrove Benefit People’s News vol 3 no 41 November 8 1971

1971 ended with 2 Notting Hill trials at the Old Bailey, the Mangrove in Court 1 and the first of the Angry Brigade in Court 2. In the latter Jake Prescott was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment; but the Mangrove 9 were acquitted of conspiracy to cause riot and affray. As reported in the Mangrove trial special International Times 120, ‘in the pub afterwards, the jurors explained why they went against Judge Clarke’s biased conduct of the trial and told defendants they were astonished at police methods and thought they often lied. The trial also revealed the pigs’ prejudice against and their over-reaction to the demo.’ In the constabulary’s football analogy the verdict was seen as Mangrove 1 Police 0. Even though the charges were thrown out of court, the notorious PC Pulley remained adamant that 8 All Saints Road was a legitimate object of frequent police investigation, as it was “a haunt of criminals, prostitutes and the like.” The North Kensington Labour MP Bruce Douglas-Mann said in the trial that the mere presence of Pulley constituted “a provocation to the black population.” Pulley’s boss Gilbert Kelland cited him in ‘Crime in London’ as ‘one of the most outstanding operational officers the force has ever known.’ David May of Friends and the Kensington News concurred, calling him “a superstar” as he looked back on a time of better race relations (from the 80s), when Pulley’s line was, “I am in no way racist, but these blacks are breaking the law with Marijuana.”

In Miles’s radical restaurant review in ‘Days in the Life’, the IT and Indica founder visited the Mangrove with the cover artwork for Teamwork, the magazine of the West Indian Standing Conference: “First of all there was a lot of rustling and ‘What is this white boy doing in here?’ sort of thing. Then they all had a lot of design theories, gave it a lot of criticism. The Mangrove used to be insane; the smell of dope coming out of the kitchen was enough to wipe you out just sitting at a table.” Jenneba Sie Jalloh evokes the restaurant’s distinctive vibe in her ‘All Saints and Sinners’ black history book with: ‘Mangrove, smell of hashish, swirling clouds of ashen smoke, weave in, around, away, palms like giant fingers, sounds of laughing, belly deep and penetrating, wise words and indiscretions, deep canary yellows, matted reds and browns, a tropical tapestry of colour, light and sounds.’ In ‘Days in the Life’ Courtney Tulloch of IT and Hustler cites the Mangrove as the spiritual home of the Carnival: “That was a good example of using the skills, abilities and crafts of all those people who were condemned as pimps and so on… It was those same people, the ones who were called pimps and prostitutes and drug pushers, who created Carnival and keep creating it. We demonstrated that those people could come out of those basements and create their art and their music, which is what they’d always wanted to do. On that level the establishment did not suppress the black movement. We won; we more than won. We created a community.”

As the police inadvertently brought about Courtney Tulloch’s black British revolution, the Mangrove was transformed from a regular Caribbean café into the Black Power restaurant-community association-working men’s club-revolutionary talking shop. The Met’s reefer madness (originally directed at hippies, rather than black people), and PC Pulley’s early efforts to curtail the Notting Hill restaurant craze, began a couple of decades of Mangrove raids, busts, trials, demos, riots and general antagonism between the police and black community, which made All Saints Road the epicentre of young black London seeking legal assistance, the capital’s main reggae artery and the Carnival backstage area.





Tom Vague



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At The Time of Nationalistic Erections



My house, frigid, boils sleep.
Muffled proclamations of some announcer penetrates and pains the cool and sooth.

An old fashioned chariot heaves and hawls religious symbols somewhere outside.

The horses are groomed by Anwar, I decide. He does that, and the town has no one else to feed the beasts.

My daughter runs into the kitchen where I sit and sniff at the thoughts, asks, “What is Hindu?” I sigh, “What is a Hindu?”

She says, “I want to see the chariot.” “Let’s go to the roof.” I lead her upstairs.

From the roof we watch the procession. They must have desired some white horses. We know Anwar has none. The town has none. They must have made Anwar paint his dark ones.

The spines of the horses mimics some benign snakes. The hood of the chariot looks like a dot.
My daughter whispers, I want to sleep.” “Let’s go down. I shall read you the news.” I say.






Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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Trump’s Five Words








Mike Ferguson

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Devon – son of Gregg Allman, and

Duane – son of Dickey Betts are at the core of

The Allman Betts Band, with album

‘Bless Your Heart’ shaping up to be one

of the finest of 2020.


Alongside the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers have claim to be the great American Band of the seventies. Check out the singles chart and there’s not much evidence of that. The easy “Ramblin’ Man” – ‘I was born in the backseat of a Greyhound bus rolling down Highway 41’, with Dickey Betts guitar and vocals about ‘trying to make a livin’ and doing the best I can’, was a US ‘Billboard’ no.2 on Capricorn records in August 1973. It was lifted from the group’s fourth studio album ‘Brothers And Sisters’ (August 1973), completed after the death of Duane Allman. Then Gregg Allman’s slinky solo take on the band’s “Midnight Rider” peaked at no.19 in January 1974 – lifted from his own debut ‘Laid Back’ (October 1973) studio set, which also catches restless movement, ‘one more silver dollar’, riding, desperation and the yearning to escape. Yet even the band’s albums were initially slow to catch fire. Both ‘The Allman Brothers Band’ (November 1969) and ‘Idlewild South’ (September 1970) were slow burners that only went gold when they were repackaged as ‘Beginnings’ and reissued in 1973. It was the live double-album ‘At Fillmore East’ (July 1971) that provided their mainstream breakthrough, capturing the full magic of their onstage chemistry.

As with the Grateful Dead, it was as a hard-touring live band that the Allmans built their tribal following and cult reputation. And there’s an argument that this might just be the best that Rock ‘n’ Roll ever aspired to. Check out the live YouTube clip of them playing “Jessica” – the purely-instrumental second single from ‘Brothers And Sisters’, albeit from a 1982 Florida Bandshell concert, and the dual-lead guitar interplay flows as clean as country water and wild as mountain dew, with jazz levels of band cohesion, dexterity and interaction. The Allmans took all the root-music forms of America, soul-ripping Blues, the sweetest Country, relentless Boogie and the supernatural freedoms of jazz improvisation and time signatures, and poured it out with seemingly effortless ease. This is the point at which all these strands came more perfectly together in slippery synergy.

But this text is not about the Allman Brothers Band then. It is about the Allman Betts Band now.

Watch Duane Betts take lead on that same “Jessica” – his father’s composition, with the Allman Betts Band live at Lowell Summer Series during the June of 2019, or at the Pennsylvania State Theatre, with a solid line of guitars, striking rapid-profile poses in cowboy hats, and listen to those grumbling mumbles about the vicinity of apples falling from trees. Do we doubt? Weighted heavy with unrealistic expectations, the consensus on The Next Generation of Rock Stars is still very much up for debate. Do we have reservations? Surely a degree of considered suspicion is the only rationally healthy response

Yet “Magnolia Road” is their majestic lead single from CD or double-vinyl package ‘Bless Your Heart’ (BMG, August 2020), with its semi-autobiographical vocal-lines shared by Duane Betts and Devon (son of Gregg) Allman – ‘my old man said this before, got to aim for what you’re looking for,’ ironic in that this is the album’s one song solely authored by band-collaborator Stoll Vaughan, ‘never waste your time, for the days are long but the years fly by.’ The video is old-style cartoon animation – not digital imaging, of the band playing a huge festival, with dancing hippie-chick crowds in headbands and dreads, playing Frisbee, having sex in the shrubbery and rolling pass-around joints. Not exactly retro, more a timelessly renewing rite-of-passage that could relate to just about any American decade since the sixties. And that’s the first key. Then check out the helicopter circling the skies above the festival site, referenced ‘GLA 47-17’ – that is Gregory LeNoir Allman 1947-2017. Which is memory, and continuity.

“Pale Horse Rider” opens the album with big dramatic swathes of crashing chiming guitar chords building into ‘a thousand miles just don’t lead you anywhere anymore, a hundred signs placed there to confuse you,’ ominously evolving into a dark and dense tumble accentuated by an unbridled storm of guitars, evoking the spirit of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse or their upgraded counterpart, My Morning Jacket. Then “Carolina Song” – a gospel intensity of wailing Soul back-up voices, with guitar interplay as deep and profound as eternal truth, building into long intricate instrumental play-outs. There’s shimmering slide and Stonesy straight-ahead ass-kicking boogie rhythms to “King Crawler”, complete with honking sax, then mournful harmonica haunting a landscape where horses run free on “Ashes Of My Love” – ‘you say I’ve got a wild heart, can’t be tamed by love,’ a warning, he’s a waster, a loser, don’t waste your time on him, he’s ‘made the desert my friend, buried bones along the way,’ a mourning motif of romance and wreckage, flecked with trail-dust harmonica to complement the cinematic ‘Badlands’ spook. But it’s the instrumental “Savannah’s Dream”, running to a full 12:04-minutes of dancing electric keyboard, the kind of rattling slithering percussion that crawls up and down your spine like a diamondback, and dual guitar duetting that most obviously assumes the Allman Brothers mantle, improvisations defined by sharp stuttering punctuations.

How do you deal with legacy? How is it possible to top what’s already been done? For the band members, there are other rich histories. This line-up was never a case of port of first refuge. A third but very necessary personnel-link is provided by bass-player Berry Duane Oakley Jr, son of Allman’s founding bassist Berry Oakley. Yet he’d already honed his chops playing with Tommy Roe’s Romans, former Door’s Robby Krieger Band and as part of Bloodline with Joe Bonamassa. While Devon had forged his own creative identity through two albums and European tours with Honeytribe, as well as stints with the Royal Southern Brotherhood. Admittedly, Duane had guested onstage with the legacy Allmans for its ‘Woodstock ‘94’ festival appearance, but by then he’d already played with Oakley in Backbone69, and with Alex Orbison – son of Roy, as Whitestarr.

Maybe the DNA gravitational pull of constellations aligning is simply too massive to resist? The music-history and friendship between the three – Devon, Duane and Berry, traces back to the 1989 Allman Brothers Band’s Twentieth anniversary summer tour where they first met, and often sat-in with the onstage musicians. The partnership between Devon and Duane firmed at the huge December 2017 San Francisco Fillmore family tribute show to mark what would have been Gregg Allman’s seventieth birthday. Betts then went on to play opening sets for the year-long 2018 Devon Allman Project world tour, guesting for a musical nudge to their respective fathers for each of a hundred nights. After the tour, yielding to the inevitable, the two officially pact, calling in Berry Oakley to be the third leg of the new band.

Debut album ‘Down To The River’ (June 2019), is the first time the full seven-piece Allman Betts Band line-up had played – as well as recorded together, with producer Matt Ross-Spang helming sessions at the same historic Alabama ‘Muscle Shoals Sound Studio’ where Duane Allman had once played session-work for Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge plus the Derek And The Dominoes’ ‘Layla’ project (all those iconic licks aren’t necessarily by ‘Slowhand’ Clapton). The band try out their take on Tom Petty’s “Southern Accents” – ‘there’s a southern accent, where I come from, the young ‘uns call it Country, the Yankees call it dumb, I got my own way of talkin’, but everything is done, with a southern accent, where I come from.’ There’s one by the late Chris Williams (“Autumn Breeze”). The rest are band originals, with Stoll Vaughan – a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles (via Kentucky), collaborating on five of the nine tracks. The very atmospheric monochrome video for Betts-Vaughan’s excellent “Shinin’” opens like a ‘Dukes Of Hazzard’ outtake with Devon and Duane in a Good Ole Boys roadside stand-off, ‘we gotta jam, it’s been too long’ and ‘let’s do it!’… They head off to the old Cotton Mill rehearsal studio where Berry is telling the rest of the band ‘so when the verse kicks in we want to be nice and solid in the groove there and kind of settle in till Duane starts singing. Then kinda keep an eye on wherever they’re going and keep an eye on when that bridge comes around again.’ A useful glimpse into the band’s collective working process. They tour ‘Down To The River’ relentlessly through the year, from sold-out US theatres in spring – Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Tybee Island, Georgia, Chicago, Illinois and Charlotte, North Carolina, upscaling to festival dates in summer, then crossing the Atlantic for a string of European dates.

All the while there was a growing stash of new songs, fuelled by road-forged camaraderie and their generous sleight-of-hand with three-chord tricks, scribbled down in hotel rooms or riding the tour bus between dates. They re-enlist Stoll Vaughan to help shape the material, and book a window at Muscle Shoals, with Matt Ross-Spang to reprise his role. Ahead of the studio dates they decamp to Nashville for rehearsals, fleshing out the new songs until satisfied with them. ‘We thought if we can maximize the potential of each song, then we have a shot at making a cohesive, great record,’ says Devon. Under a siren’s warning of approaching tornados, they were soon secure in the familiar, single-story brick-house Muscle Shoals hospitality. Recording thirteen songs over a week’s time on two-inch tape, the dividends were immediate and plentiful, ‘once we got rolling, the floodgates opened’ comments Betts. Devon adds that after the ‘two-hundred races the horse had run… now we know how the band plays. We know to trust each other’s instincts. The dynamics have a flow to them, when to step back, when to push forward.’ Friends call around to help out, with guest contributions from Jimmy Hall, Shannon McNally, Art Edmaiston, Susan Marshall, and Reba Russell. There’s additional tracking in Memphis and St. Louis.

Musically the album evokes the group’s affection for The Band, or the Grateful Dead wrapped in Confederate flags, while drawing inspiration from their symbolic hometown – a place Devon calls ‘the United States of Americana’. And which the label’s PR calls a ‘conflagration of influences and invention, confidence and ambition… ragged and stomping. Heady and frayed. Soaring and scorching. Generational and genteel. West Coast scenes and Gulf Coast shores. Gateways of the Midwest and swamplands of Florida. Wyoming’s Big Sky. New York’s Big Apple. Chicago’s Broad Shoulders…’

As ‘Vox’ journalist Edwin Pouncey once astutely observed about an earlier reformation, ‘the emphasis on the new music they play so impressively together, is to retrace their original roots where Southern Rock and Country Blues are stirred together to create a highly intoxicating musical mint julep’ (October 1990). “Airboats And Cocaine” counts in to hard raw heavy rocking, with tongue firmly in cheek, a Southern Gothic tale of an everglade woman, pusher and supplier – ‘she was born right into the game’ on the wrong side of the track, while her guy regrets his incidental associations with the underbelly of swampland contraband, all wrapped up in a loose, mid-tempo sting. Then the “Southern Rain” that washes away guilt, pain and remorse, ‘almost fell, straight to hell’ – with the reassuring voices of the past. “Rivers Run” is a slower acoustic strum, ‘these are the stories we tell’ about trying to find the way back home, with an attractive ascending guitar figure. Berry makes his ABB vocal debut on his original song “The Doctor’s Daughter”, which has a kind of slow Plastic Ono Band piano echo feel to it. While Devon channels his baritone Colt 45 Johnny Cash vocal for “Much Obliged”, on a Bonnie And Clyde trip with the embedded double-edged ‘bless your heart’ message, open to nuanced interpretation. Clear through to closer track “Congratulations”, which reiterates the bitter theme of escape from small-town restrictions. To ask for more would be greedy.

The original Allman Brothers legend is a long-running epic of alcohol and substance abuse, crisis and tragedy, communal spirit and fall-out, high times and high-speed motorcycle death, drug-bust and betrayal, plus celebrity marriage (Gregg was married to Cher). It began in Nashville around the mid-sixties as The Allman Joys and then The Hour Glass, feeding classic Blues through a British invasion lens (covering the Yardbirds “Shapes Of Thing”) while Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley, were doing a similar thing with Second Coming (covering Cream’s “I Feel Free”) – while drummer friend Butch Trucks was playing with Thirty-First Of February. The mighty six-piece Allman Brother Band, twin guitars, twin drums, keyboard and bass emerged from the fusion of them all. The breakthrough ‘At Fillmore East’ double-set features a full “Whipping Post” weighing in at twenty-three minutes, in what critic Phil Sutcliffe calls ‘an overstretched piece of R&B jamming sustained by the phenomenal drum partnership of Trucks and Jaimoe ‘Johnny’ Johanson’ (‘Q’). A step ahead of the many basic Rock ‘n’ Blues, boogie and country roots bands who would go on to define the seventies.

Gregg became accidental focal-point following the deaths of guitarist-brother Duane and bassist Berry Oakley, both killed in motorcycle accidents within thirteen months of each other – and on the same stretch of Macon, Georgia road. In a masterstroke, Gregg replaced Duane with piano-player Chuck Leavell, freeing himself up to swap delirious solos with Betts and never get tangled up in painful memories. While Betts’ melodic songwriting also came more to the fore following the Tom Dowd-produced ‘Eat A Peach’ (1972). The band continued around the remaining nucleus, taking in spin-off solo projects, on and off through to century’s end. There were no tidy conclusions, they just kept keeping on. A story retold on their 1989 ‘Dreams’ four-CD (six-LP) box-set, a five-hour fifty-five track odyssey compiled by Bill Levenson from obscure demos, previously-unissued acetates and hard-to-get sources as well as all the expected career landmarks suspended in time, signposting some mythical Dixie turnpike. But more than that, more even than the songs, fretboards and riffs, the Allmans attuned to something deep in the southern cultural and subcultural psyche that resonated, and still resonates.

Can a generation brought up to stream its lifestyle soundtrack by the litre be seduced away by the lure of big black wheels of vinyl? ‘I think we definitely challenged ourselves, pushed ourselves artistically, and widened the spectrum on all levels’ says Betts. ‘We wanted something that was a little more sweeping. A deeper experience.’ ‘I hope what people hear on ‘Bless Your Heart’ is a band that’s having a love affair with being a band,’ adds Allman.

Of course, apples don’t fall far from applesauce. But this is not the New Allman Brothers Band. Because there’s no longer an old Allman Brothers Band. This is now. It’s not about legacy, it’s not about renewal or revival. It’s simply a continuity. And it blasts pretty-much everything else you’re liable to hear on Daytime radio clear out of the solar system.




BLESS YOUR HEART’ (28 August 2020, BMG Records)

  1. Pale Horse Rider
  2. Carolina Song
  3. King Crawler
  4. Ashes Of My Lovers
  5. Savannah’s Dream
  6. Airboats And Cocaine
  7. Southern Rain
    8. Rivers Run
  8. Magnolia Road (the first single, released on all DSPs, June 19. The official music video for the track exclusively premiered via The ABB official YouTube channel the same day. Allman and Betts joined the premiere and chatted live with fans)
    10. Should We Ever Part
  9. The Doctor’s Daughter
  10. Much Obliged
    13. Congratulations

The Allman Betts Band Line-up is Devon Allman (guitar, vocals), Duane Betts (guitar, vocals), Berry Duane Oakley (bass, vocals), Johnny Stachela (guitar, vocals), John Ginty (keyboards), R Scott Bryan (percussion, vocals), John Lum (drums)



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(That Last Evening)

First Fragments I

                    He remembered her as she had been on that last evening, sitting high up in the theatre circle, a vision in brown, gold and black. The gentle narcotic of her eyes. Her raven hair on his face.
                   “You’re not interested in me,” she had said, “you’re acting out a private charade.”
                  “It’s not really like that…”
                  “I can’t trust you – you are so on edge…”
                   She suspected ulterior motives.
                  “Not where you are concerned,” he said.
                   He looked round for something – for someone – some way of changing the
                “How is everyone?”
                 All the people they had known hooked on the higher education kick, now, long since abandoned for Cadence, Twigstress and Grimm, known as ‘The Angels’. But not real angels like Wow & Flutter; in any case she had never been ‘in’ on the Angels thing and yet, even now, he could hear the Dirty Lowdown Blues; just a distant solo piano.
                “I feel I owe you something…”
                “It’s a bit late now isn’t it?”
                “Yes, well, I thought…er…”
                 She was so beautiful…she reminded him of the sky in October.
               “I’m being watched by three black birds – dark spots in an otherwise perfect blue sky…”
               “The Azur…” she said, “Mallarme…”
                Azur. The word stirred memories of a lost summer – dust in the high street, sunlight on the river, cigar smoke in the twilight, luxury, poetry, quiet laughter in formal gardens. Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra playing Perdido. That amazing Gonzalves solo.
                 Later, on Hungerford Bridge, they had stood looking down-river, at the headlights streaming over the water. He caressed her hair. He said:
               “I suppose you never want to see me again…”
               “It would be cheating…”
               “If you say so.”
                She looked down at the slimy water.
                Her coat was fur and when he took her in his arms it exaggerated the frailty of her body. He stared into her deep, brown eyes, kissed her quickly then walked away.
               Her lips were as cold as two o’clock in the morning.
              There was nothing more he could do, so he boarded a train and, in no time at all, found an empty compartment. He took off his coat, put it on the rack, undid his jacket, loosened his tie and dropped into a corner seat, slamming the door shut with his foot.
              Did she realise the effect she had on him?
              The clatter of the train drowned out his thoughts as he sank into a vacant reverie. It started to snow. White planes stretched away either side of the tracks. He stared at a face reflected in the window. It was his – or was it?          
               In sequence the face was Barke, it was Anne, it was Margo, it was Regina, it was La Nouvelle, it was Fang, it was Gorpe, it was Jim Cadence, it was Grimm, it was Twigstress, it was Lucretia B., it was The Heavenly Host. He grimaced.
               Angels or no angels, he was well shot of all of them.
               The whole scenario was a mess.
               The train slowed. It stopped. Signals were red.
               He flung on his overcoat and found himself in the corridor.


              Snow gleamed in the starlight.
              White snowflakes drifted down, brushing with ghostly touches against the train window.
              Somehow he merged with the night.
              The sound of the train coughed out its life, lights vanishing into the white, frosted distance where a signal turned to green. He was alone in a landscape that rustled under a bitter wind. His face was spattered with flying snow. Gritting his teeth, thrusting his hands in his pockets, he stumbled across a field, across a blanket of snow, tripping over ruts and bricks lying treacherously out of sight. Eventually, limping, he reached a road where tall hedges afforded some protection from the icy wind.
             At last, he came to an iron gate set in a wall twice as high as a man. Broken glass cemented to the parapet gleamed wickedly in the dim light. A rusted letter ‘H’ was clearly visible, bolted to the wrought iron. A house loomed beyond. A light seemed to jeer at him over the whiteness, dancing like a will o’ the wisp.
            A strange fascination for this place gripped him. It was home but not homely. It was familiar but disquietingly bizarre. It might be his inner crucible.
           He pushed the gate open and walked quickly up the crunching gravel path, glittering with icy filaments in the half-light. Sphinxes slumbered beneath snowdrifts.
           The front door opened easily and he trudged into the hallway, dripping slush over the tessellated floor. He found a cloakroom equipped with coat hangers and a washbasin. But the water was searingly cold.
             Next, he set out to explore the rest of the house, extending like a labyrinth all around him.
            All he could find was empty rooms, bathed in a curious silence. Peeling wallpaper, dead light-bulbs, dusty floorboards, empty picture frames. No shadows. No cobwebs. Nothing. Sterility.
             At last. A circular room paved with black and white marble tiles.
             In the centre were three candles in huge gleaming sconces standing to shoulder height.
            It had once been a magnificent ballroom, but now it was an icy cavern. The ceiling had fallen in. There was masonry lying everywhere. The place radiated an oppressive atmosphere, chilling the workings of his mind, imposing a calcified stasis.
            There were suggestions of obscene rituals.
            At one time he would have been fascinated.
            A number of statues stood in a wide circle – at least they looked like statues. He examined the nearest, a fine St. Michael, and found to his surprise that it was not made of stone but a leathery substance covered in a fine network of wrinkles. Dried flesh, like preserved fruit. They were mummies. St. Michael was particularly impressive with his dull, gleaming eyes, his hands clenched stiffly round the shaft of a giant metal spear impaling a savage-looking, demonic figure with green wings and the tusked face of a Japanese storm-spirit. The trappings and clothes were encrusted with jewels and gold, the hair entwined with silver wire.
            The room was a funeral parlour for all the gods of the world. There were saints and cherubs and starved amoretti, there was an emaciated Buddha and unsung heroes. There was Simon atop his pillar of jade, there was Moloch squatting on an altar of skulls. There was a hermaphrodite and a whole host of lesser angels. No sign of Wow & Flutter.
           “Good evening,” said a well-modulated voice.
            He spun round.
            One of the so-called statues was speaking.
           “Over here,” said the voice.
            It was seated on an ornate chair, atop a raised dais.
           “Now let me see,” said the figure, “you must be…?”
           “Odd, Edward Odd.”
          “Who…? Come closer…”
            He moved towards the figure, a thin, lanky, saturnine man in a dark, black frock-coat of nineteenth century cut.
          “As you see,” said the figure, “I have not quite gone yet.”
           He raised one hand, white, paper-thin and delicate. He raised the other: it looked deformed, claw-like, leathery rather than white. A ruby ring glittered brilliantly in the fitful moonlight that poured down through the rotted ceiling. A few flakes of snow tumbled between them.
          “What did you say your name was?”
          “Odd, Edward Odd.”
          “Edward Odd? What sort of name is that?”
          “A perfectly reasonable sort of name,” the new arrival relied, irritated.
          “Well, yes, of course it is…er…well, well, well…er-hem…” the figure coughed with a dry, hacking sound.
          “Are you the only one left…?”
          “As you can see,” the other gestured feebly at the rigid mummies. “Do you like Max Ernst?”
           “Who are you? Do you have a name?”
           “No, or rather, yes – far too many, actually – never mind all that now, just look at
my Max Ernst.” He indicated a painting propped up where he could see it against the mummified remains of Saint Cecilia. It was Joie de Vivre a large, ironic picture painted in the ‘forties or thereabouts – definitely an original.
            “My personal favourites are The Eye of Silence and Totem and Taboo.
           “Ah, yes! Excellent taste, Mr Odd, excellent!” said the figure, “So encrusted, so mysterious, so evocative! What technique – do you know I correspond regularly with the artist? We exchange collages, you know. Charming… charming fellow. Ah, well, that’s life…” He seemed suddenly depressed.
            “Really? Look, I didn’t come here to discuss aesthetics; I want a serious word or two…”
             The figure coughed again and slowly stood up.
            “It’s the legs that are the worst,” he said, as he shuffled painfully down from the dais.
           “I want to talk to you.”
          “Well, well, I thought you might,” said the other. “Shall we retire to the library? It’s so much more cheerful than this museum of cadavers – I can show you those collages too – what technique, what mastery, what vision, what surreality!”
           He staggered and gripped the visitor by the arm.
          “Sorry, I’m not what I was, you know…”
          A cloud passed across the face of the moon and the hall was suddenly plunged into gloom.
          The two figures disappeared into the shadows.
         Snowflakes fell into silence.





A C Evans

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Notalona Diary No. 20


Convinced that if I stop these diaries now, there won’t be a Covid spike, I will make this my last entry. Then I’m going to put them all together, my twenty pieces published by Pentameters Press as a pamphlet, joining other pamphlets of twenty pieces; to date Leonie Scott Matthews’ collection of poems Excelsior and Robert Ilson’s  Selfies With Significant Others.  There will be more, the collection of pamphlets to be housed in a box, a comforting cardboard sleeve to contain all the passions and thoughts and ideas, prose and poetry, much as our homes have been for us.

While charting the course of a global pandemic, I was still concerned at losing a courgette to night frost or upsetting my neighbour by moving a bench. And that’s how it should be, for as the environment shrank, the centre held.  We became parochial, but not small-minded, which helped when thinking of the big stuff.  And so, at home, eating stuff from the allotment, drinking cut price home delivered wine in my old railways workers cottage  (nice, all of it) I’ve watched the world – not so much go by as slide by on the wing of stupid media and the prayer of hope that at least this virus will make things better. The Chinese word for crisis is a fusion of the meanings of danger and opportunity:  and that we chose which it is to be. So, if not stripped of agency, we can see opportunities.  I did wonder though, if Bruno, the owner of the bike in the photo is in danger, or if he is creating opportunities. I hope the latter. And I’ve left the phone number, of the ‘man who can do everything’ for a bit of extra publicity for him.

My evening’s zoom-watch this week has been a series of live lecture – or provocations – leading up to the August 1st centenary of the founding of the British Communist Party. The series was called Pandemonium,  covering subjects as varied (yet connected) as Apocalypse, Science, Neo-liberalism, Art, the Global South and Capitalism. and I was honoured to be asked to take part, and the provocations can be seen at

Mine was was Vital Signs; Literature Post Covid – and this is some of what I said.

Humans have a proportionally larger cortex in the brain than any other animal, in which grew the capacity for language, essential for abstract thought and therefore culture.  Experiences, emotions, thoughts, dilemmas are abstracted – ie taken out of the world, into the mind where sense, or meaning or new meaning is given to it, and, crucially, shared.  So in a way it’s a collective mind.   And we’ve all, globally had the incredible experience of Covid 19 lockdown, or even directly.
          To quote Cuban writer Ignacio Ramonet (in translation).“I would define the pandemic as a total social fact. This is a concept of social science pointing out that, at times, a social occurrence has the ability to disturb everyone, all institutions as well as all the values of society. There are very few total social facts, but the pandemic is one of them; it is not only a health crisis.

The other social fact is the necessity of literature. We’ve told and listened to stories ever since we sat around cave fires and stared into flickering shadows on the wall.   It’s part of the shaping of us. 

So all being well, ie if not starving or illiterate or very ill, literature is vital part of our lives. But what happens when we need them more? Stories may not be true, but if they are to fly and catch in the mind they need emotional truth based on lived and shared experience.

          What ever our Covid situation – and these have been myriad ,  ranging from useful, revelatory, cosy, miserable, to dire – the energy required has been huge: Stamina, Intelligence, Creativity.   That most people still have stamina and reasonable health is down to the remnants of a National Health Service – Intelligence and creativity by virtue of being human – no exceptions.    But social networks have been vital and in many cases newly formed. 

There’s been an explosion of Covidian writing – it might even be a genre one day, with writers working away on the great Covidian novel.  Maybe it will have its own prize.   But space has been there – like it or not – for thought and reflection.  It would be interesting to do a study of reading during lockdown.  I’m on the last of the Hilary Mantel trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. What’s this got to do with the current situation?  Nothing and everything.    A book about the political machinations of an Omni-potent male ruler is very much a subject for now.  Besides, beautiful prose set in story with characters who behave much as we might, is as soothing to the mind, reordering it when needed, in the way that listening to Bach is.

The explosion of action and solidarity of Black Lives Matter is fantastic – and that’s its happening under Covid interesting.   That slogan, I can’t breath has multi meanings. But there was an explosion of literature about black experience and slavery before that. James Baldwin’s writing is classic and I quote ‘The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.’

To replace a tedious bit of sculpture with a Mark Quinn is a lovely bit of radical art performance. To remove it, a level of philistinism and reactionary thinking that led to Colson being there for so long in the first place.  That Quinn’s superb sculpture of a female black activist is locked in a cupboard in the Town Hall – waiting for its owner to collect is provincially awful in it lack of imagination.

And drama whether stage or cinema, requires an audience in collective consciousness, as the work has been targeted and produced – for collective communication.  So watching staged productions on line has been a problem.  Groundlings shouldn’t be sofalings.  Yet material written for the medium of zoom is more interesting as it deploys the medium to good effect, actors as characters talking straight at you, as if zoom was another character.

Our theatres, when reopened will be necessary to help us make sense of what has happened.  The big tankers, like the National Theatre – Bridge – The Vics, the big regionals will be OK – it’s the small local craft that will struggle and sink.   Theatres are huge employers, – the complexity and variance of the work force – playwright – director, producer, actors, set designers, scene shifters, box office workers, cleaners  – all jobs that produce this parallel world into which we project and by which we become nourished. 

         Literature can become comprised – governed by fashion, liberal pre-occupations and genre – aimed at sales not quality.  With emphasis on identity, and the plethora of life writing courses, there is an explosion of biographical writing, and the establishment love it.  But much of it evades class, unless it is to tell where the author came from, and how much better and fulfilled they are now that they aren’t there anymore. 

Writer/ activist Richard Bradbury kindly said this at my recent launch of my book of short stories, Stormlight.

There are too many writers around in society at the moment who think that to tell us autobiographical details of their lives is important. (He didn’t mean me by the way)  I disagree, and would like to quote Thomas Mann. “The suspicion grows that there must have been a time when the artist shared the reality of their fellow people, and was distinguished from them not so much by a unique vision, as simply giving form and shape to the common experiences of their meaning.”    

Bradbury’s own novel, Riversmeet is an account of the life of escaped slave Frederick Douglass, based on Douglass’s speaking tour of Ireland and England in 1845.  Irish and Chartist politics are brought into it too, with their commonality, social class. 

My own writing output hasn’t been vast – I started late and it emerged from experience and activism.  I was instrumental in the successful Free museums campaign in 1997 when Blair’s government proposed charges on all publicly funded museums and galleries. Because I was in a Communist Party at that time, I could get advice and support from other comrades on strategy and tactics.   Then later working with other writers on events, producing and writing for TEN at the Royal Court, a series of short plays for the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  10 years before that, readings for Not In Our Name, at London’s City Hall.   That event couldn’t stop the bombs, but it did produce new alliances of writers for the struggles ahead, much in the way that the huge march changed the face of protest globally. Witness Amir Amirani’s film We Are Many – its title taken from Shelley’s poem We are Many They are few.   This has morphed in to ‘for the many, not the few. This is literature serving progress.  

But theory about literature can be an obstacle to good art, like the millipede, who, when thinking about how all those legs work together – falls over.  But theory has its own delights: Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Edward Said – so we don’t make art without context, sense of the past or how it might affect the future.

I think of the French 19th C painter and Communard Gustav Courbet who  said that more art came from other art than it ever did from nature.  And that ‘I paint no angels because I see no angles.’  He was considered the forerunner of modern materialist painting.

How art and an understanding of its importance as common culture has informed all of my political work.  My politics are Marxist.  Yet the great theorists, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Rosenberg, didn’t write much about it, other than that good literature was a good thing.  But are there such a things as progressive and reactionary literature?   Sure – but the reactionary stuff doesn’t quite ‘catch’ in the mind, and I’m not going to name any. Good writing helps the message slip down without being polemic.  In fact it can be argued – and I do argue, that writing that carries too strong a polemic it is didactic and if a reader or audience feels led by the nose you lose them.

Progressive change is in our nature.  But in societies divided by class – we have to ask whose progress?   And whose interests does literature serve?  What is it that’s chosen to be published, produced or mediated?  That’s political and will depend on the leanings, liberal or other wise of the selectors: their education, background’s and budgets, and many artists have to accommodate that, or keep creative integrity by doing what they like.

Here endeth – for now.





Jan Woolf








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Goats hit, kicked at farm supplying milk to Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Ocado

Animals were subjected to a string of brutal attacks at a farm that sells goats’ milk to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and other supermarkets, footage from hidden cameras has revealed.

Goats were seen on video being punched, kicked, hit with a pole and slammed onto their backs at a plant that supplies St Helen’s Farm, in east Yorkshire.

The animals were also filmed crying in pain as they were held by their necks, had their ears tagged or their tails twisted.

Goat milk, yoghurts, cheese and ice cream sold by the St Helen’s Farm brand are the best known goat milk products in the UK and are stocked by major supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado. Demand has risen amid a switch away from cows’ milk in recent years.

Tesco immediately suspended the brand when shown the footage by The Independent, and Waitrose followed suit.

About an hour’s worth of video was passed to the Surge animal rights group, which then showed it to a vet and to lawyers at Advocates for Animals, who it said “highlighted many serious issues”.

People filming using secret cameras told Surge that at one supply farm, they saw goats being:

  • Kicked and punched
  • Hit with a pole
  • Held by the throat
  • Having their tails twisted
  • Shoved and roughly handled
  • Left lame and struggling to stand or walk after the rough handling

Goats were also slammed onto their backs on a conveyor belt before their hooves were roughly trimmed, the video showed.

One was seen being dragged by one leg along the ground while struggling.

Animal suffering was also prolonged when injuries went untreated, the witnesses said after reviewing the footage.

The people behind the footage also reported seeing workers letting goats fall off an operating bed and become stuck between fences. In one case a worker “played the drums” on a goat’s stomach after a procedure. The footage also shows farm employees dragging dead animals away in front of live ones, and Surge was told that dead and dying animals had been seen around the farm.

St Helen’s, which is a brand rather than a single farm, also buys goats’ milk from other farms in Yorkshire and the Midlands. A spokesperson confirmed the footage was taken at one of St Helen’s supply farms, and as soon as the company was alerted by The Independent to the treatment of the animals, it cut off the supplier.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 states animals, including farm animals, must be protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease.

Ed Winters, co-founder and director of Surge, said: “St Helen’s is the most prominent and well known goat company in the UK. They are regarded as being the best of the best when it comes to goat farming. But that means nothing to the animals.

Goats are sensitive, curious and gentle animals, but the animal-farming industries treat them as commodities they can exploit for profit.

“St Helen’s say on their website the milk is a reward for looking after the goats and that their staff have a genuine interest and love for the animals. But it is obvious that the opposite is true at one of their supplying farms.”

He added: “These animals are thrown around and dragged and when they’re no longer producing enough milk to be considered profitable, they’re killed.”

Surge says about 50,000 mostly male dairy kids are slaughtered each year.

St Helen’s Farm told The Independent it was supplied by farms that were expected to comply with a rigorous code of conduct and that it had several animal-welfare accreditations, adding: “Today we have been made aware of allegations that one farm has infringed animal welfare standards, which we would find totally unacceptable if true


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The firefly in the room betokens its clan 
raising a constellation of silence 
as the valley listens to us making love, 

and this bedroom, tiny, (Yes, 
blessed are those budget’s slaves
who keep promises.)
metamorphoses into the vast we 
comprehend but never understand, 
something breeze cool, summer warm 
and autumn sadness, something we 
should do, urgent, but we cannot, 
and that something makes me writhe 
to see your profile in the flicker of one firefly 
embodying every firefly ever graced the night.





Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)





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Eyes of Time


Deborah Victor Kushelevitch

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Street writer (part five)


When I went to college I was studying sports science.

At that time I was a full time martial artist!

I worked part time jobs all my teenage life.

I started off as bottle collector in a bar in Donegal. I sorted out the clear bottles from the coloured ones.

Then I became a cleaner in a bar.

After that I became a waiter in a hotel and I stayed there for four years.

After leaving that job I became a shop assistant.

I was 17 by that point.

I left the shop assistant job to train full time, teach on the side and go to college.

In my first year of college I met a man called: Geoff Thompson. He was the no.1 self-defence instructor in the world and a guru.

I got to meet him in person after emailing him one Monday morning and getting ready to go to his seminar that same weekend!

My dad actually said to me: who do you think you are emailing a man of that calibre?

He was one of my heroes!

I read all his books and watched all his DVDs on martial arts and self-development.

Who the fuck are you not to do something like that?

If you don’t ask… you don’t receive… as the saying goes.

After meeting Geoff in a McDonalds and having coffee with him… he saw something in me and he gave me a gift…

He offered me a £1200 masterclass under his instruction for a year for free.

You see, if you don’t ask you may end up with regrets and become mundane for not asking.

While I studied in college and trained with Geoff in Coventry once a month for that year I was desperate to try something new…


I was 17 years old and college and the masterclass were coming to an end.

I asked Geoff if I could write an article about the masterclass for a martial arts magazine I used to read every month.

My dad grew up reading it and Geoff used to write for them as well.

He told me to go for it!

On my way back home in the airport, I picked up a cheap notebook and a pen and I started penning it on the plane.

When I got back home I wrote it within a week and rang the editor of the magazine…

I got the go ahead for publication and I took it!

Within a month… the article was out and I was a published writer… something I yearned for since I was a kid!

I turned 18 and I went back to the second year of college but… I didn’t want to go back!

I wanted to become a writer.

I was called in by the tutor of our course and he told me I didn’t pass the first year.

I literally smiled and laughed at him.

He was a little taken aback by this… but it was a huge relief for me!

I told the tutor I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to leave all this training shit behind me and live by the pen.

He asked me if there was any way he could help and assist me. I told him ‘no’ and that the streets will talk for me and I’ll learn it as I go along.

I set out at 18 with this aspiration and I decided to write another article for the same magazine, but about my life experiences as a martial artist.

Yes, and again it was published by the time I was 19!

I was penning a manuscript on training and self-development, but they didn’t quite work out in the end up.

I was 19 years old and my life was about to be turned upside down and it would never be the same again.

It was about to get dark and ugly!

We’re going to get into this in the next article.

But for now… I’m going to leave you with this poem: A show off on the mat!





A show off on the mat


He really wasn’t that good

Of a fighter

On the mat

I’d hate to see him

On the street

He was a showman

A show-off

I admire his showmanship

When you know

Good from bad

From all the effort you put in

The hours

The days

The weeks

The months

The years

I never classified myself that great

Like this man


I knew something he didn’t







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seeing double

a slick cycle whizzes by me
sharp blue frame
yellow handlebar tape
yellow pannier-bag carrier
its rider too in good shape
dressed perfectly for
his pursuit
no maillot jaune
he wears instead a replica
Tour de France vest
and yellow track gloves
they too look the best
zut alors
I recognise them
I recognise him
the boy on the bike –
who’s riding a tourer
which once was mine own –
is my younger cycling son
(my other –
the drummer one –
is only riding his cymbal)
and it’s my sleeping bag
bungeed above
my panniers
it’s my pump
my puncture repair kit
my spanners
stowed in those bags
I’ll be bound
it’s my old ‘B17’ leather saddle
set for his height
given half a chance
I swear he’d be wearing
my cycling shoes
my French ankle socks
in any case his feet
are strapped in
my French chrome-plated toe-clips
stamped ‘Christophe’
after a fabled champion*
comme si étrange
it’s as though
I’m looking at myself
but no
lo! it’s my son
his only new accessory
the chrome-plated retro front lamp
and such a perfect fit
I feel a pang of envy
oh if only
mum and dad could see
him so mounted
cyclists all their lives**
they’d be as amazed as me
as pleased as me
I would never have thought
that this could happen
to see my cycling self
reborn as my son
in another decade
my family
will have been cycling
for a century
oh who would
have thought



Jeff Cloves

Eugene Christophe (1885-1970) beloved French racing cyclist invented the cycling toe-clip in 1925 it is claimed an elegantly designed version with his name on itis still manufactured today. Christophe was also the first rider to wear the Yellow Jersey (Maillot Jaune) in Le Tour de France 1919

My mum and dad met in the Spartacus Cycling Club circa 1935
it was a division of The British Workers Sports Federation and mum was the only female member of her local (Walthamstow E17) section after they married they bought a tandem and my cycling life began in a sidecar attached to it.

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Acute Mania


                       Singing, laughing, talking nonsense
                        Or crying alternately, thinks I’m not really
                        A Doctor, believes I’m George Robey.

                        Didn’t look for work, her sister says,
                       Until she was nearly twenty. 

                       Maniacal, excited, constantly chatting
                       Or rambling determidly, pinches and 
                       Scratches herself most cruelly.

                       Was always smiling, her sister says,
                       Was ever anxious to please.                                       

                       Refuses all food so is fed by the pump,
                        Dirty and wet in her habits, frequently
                        Uses foul language, has no sense of


                        Was a pretty girl her sister says,
                        Suspects she had a lover quite unknown
                        To me. 

                        She often asks for Allan
                        And fancies she’s a Queen.          





Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor


A new book of poems

Buy at:

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      for Miriam & Kenneth Patchen
      for her caring and his classic
      Journal of Albion Moonlight

say the word love
and we shall see
how the groundown & graded
long to be free

say the word love
look me in the eyes
open your arms love
see liberty among the lies

say the word love
sing all day be free
write your children love
your hand will see

say the word love
reveal your breasts
open your thighs love
show me your nakedness

obey no laws love
government is nothing free
say the word love
move into me
                            move in with me





Dennis Gould



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Beat Girl

Delia walked dazedly down the steps of the sleazy tenement where the beats were having their jam. She was a slick chick, with long black unkempt hair, tight jeans, an enormous white shirt, and bare feet. Her face was white, eyes black and suspiciously bright. The cats thought her the mostest.

She went in. There were soft lights, low blues, a bit of detached sex, poetry reading and a reefer being passed around like a pipe of peace. “Hi chick”, yelled a voice in the corner, “Enter into Cloudsville and come and dig my crazy sax”. “Don’t be a drag or I’ll cut out on your pad”, she retorted and mooched over to a bearded fellow in dark glasses. “Got any bread to get some pot, or are you holding?” “Lay off it Dee for a night or you’ll get us busted”. I dig this Parker cat, he’s real cool. “Come on let’s get hip”, he drawled. “Nothing doing buddy, get swinging some other place. I’m off to another gig”, she intoned huskily and strolled over to the dealer.




Léonie Scott-Matthews
Pentameters Theatre
Art Work GodFrey Old



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school’s out for summer

in the car-empty precinct
a can bounces across
tumbleweed tarmac
is kicked again    fiercely
hands in pockets three lads watch
it rattles the weary wind
they make no move to catch
there’ll be other cans

gies yir phone ah’ve nae credit

no choice but to be here either
his ma’s boyfriend is staying   drinking
in the corner    telly on loud
house full of money worries
and coughing
he doesn’t know about the lessons
piled up on his school website
hasn’t a computer or cash
to feed the leccy meter

Above boarded up shops
scrawny seagulls observe and
learn as foxes stalk plump cats



  Finola Scott

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Darren Cullen ….Things



Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives Logo



29 Jul 2020


All the flags US astronauts planted on the moon are, by now, bleached white by the sun. In hundreds of millions of years, after every trace of civilisation has been wiped from the surface of the earth, these flags will remain on the moon as a final monument to human existence.

That and, tragically, six copies of Richard Nixon’s autograph.




21 Jul 2020




17 Jul 2020


I was recently interviewed for the Apartheid Off Campus podcast. You can listen on any of the usual podcast repositories, search for Apartheid Off Podcast or listen here.




10 Jul 2020


If you’d like to populate your nightmares, or the nightmares of your loved ones, with the endless frustration of a recursive jigsaw jigsaw, I’ve started a Kickstarter to get these made up: www.kickstarter.com/projects/darrencullen/jigsaw-jigsaw




6 Jul 2020


Anyone fancy posting this in some boomer groups on Facebook?




3 Jul 2020



Surprisingly honest fireworks display I went to the other night.




2 Jul 2020


Corporations and woke ad campaigns will not save us. A corporation legally cannot take a stand for anything except shareholder value. Their campaigns are simply attempts at commodifying and neutering political movements. We can’t buy our way to a better world.

More subvertising.




29 Jun 2020



Great to seen Shell showing support for #Pride this year by committing substantial resources towards changing the world. More from this project here.




23 Jun 2020


If you’re still waiting on an Ad Space Hack Pack order please bear with me, it had 400+ orders, far more than I was prepared for, so been working through the backlog.

Two post bags gone out this week, waiting on key restock then will post the last 100 envelopes out next week latest.

I’ve taken the listing off my shop because I reached quite a bit past the limit of what I can afford to refund. I may add them again once I clear the backlog.

I’ll be posting photos as they come in here.




6 Jun 2020


The keys to open bus stops are now available from my website shop, if you use them to put up a black lives matter poster I’ll refund the cost of the pack – just email me a photo. You can paint or draw on the back of the original posters you find in the bus stops. Every poster you put up gives you another poster to adjust. Let’s cover the streets.

If you can afford to please donate to US protester bail funds and write to your MP! Let’s not pretend that racist police violence is just an American problem.



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grave         allegro ma non molto       grave

This year is the 76th   anniversary of the bombing of Dresden Germany – a cultural city destroyed by Allied Forces to merely show Stalin their might – since his troops were to occupy the city a few days later.  The number of people who lost their lives will never be known… I dedicate this creation & questioning to them . .. …  and Antonio Vivaldi

dim dusty dusk
notes scattered across the Elbe
mist & fog shroud the clefs & cityscape
hindsight is taken
as truth – reality
not expectation

my soul & being
bombarded by forces allied
to take & destroy destiny
once meant for me
unwritten movements of chamber music
inside me & amongst the rubbled building walls

lost in a poetic lair
within the rhythms of instruments
seeking shelter & refuge
the port of call
closed & abandoned
yet wharfs laden

crossing the river of profane & profound
remains of the oldest bridge span holds my passage
perhaps I should wander to the Czech border
across what is left of Saxony & myself
burning memories & music
echoing upon silenced waters

where will dawn find me
crescendoing first words about the last ending
what hides in this restless city
the reorchestration of life
merely laden with smoke & shadows
a lost & forgotten symphony







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When the romance is over, there’ll be mountains of washing up, used tissues, ashes, and every sink blocked,

less comforts, more phone calls, alternate high-fibre-low-fat, more picture-perfect contacts, messages, and kicked buckets,

cellophane wrappers, overflowing rubbish, levelled liquid letters that sharpen sparks in dull eyes,

no music playing, just the incessant hum of speakers, skin-tight memories, and their dire need of breath,

inherent, inherited, responsibility and obligation, telling someone you could never love a lie, with certain conviction,

on a microphone wire all failures get hung, the death of the animal, its constant martyrdom and pardon,

kitchens of possibilities, visions and hymns, motion’s opalescent picture show, broken and thin,

ideomotor movements, tambourine twilights, gestural fading neon, over clockwork ocean skylines,

surrendered currents and allowed disasters, devoured present moments of fresh flesh and bone.

crudely dubbed promises, beginning’s march and end, monumental gardens, hanging threads and beds,

the cracked parchment lips of sleep and time, the seeds and germs of stolen spindles and story,

ruby red crescents in assembled steady echoes, on a stained empty page, where once a poem laid waste.

Tomorrow could be any of a hundred days.




     © Greg Fiddament 2020

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A Future Blue

a fact unnoticed,
and falsely denied,
humanity is actually born to die,
until Covid-19,
the one percent seemed ignorant of this fact,
Americans, Europeans, and the other world elites,
now quiver,
crazy with fear,
as the days tick on by,

for the masses,
death has always been a daily occurrence,
a daily fact,
death will find you,
inside your house,
and behind your mask,
to live in the present,
the fate of the poor,
no thought of retirement,
or I.R.A.s,
night time instead a celebration of surviving the day,
the future unknown,
and still insecure,

the unknown has now spread to the terrified one percent,
left in a mindless panic,
for they could die,
the day,
not certain,
but before their time,

the world pauses,
the rich hiding inside,
wasting day after day,
waiting for Covid and death,
to just go away,
but the fact unchanging,
humanity actually born to die.



Doug Polk

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My Generation Reading the Newspapers

We must be slow and delicate; return
the policeman’s stare with some esteem,
remember this is not a shadow play
of doves and geese but this is now
the time to write it down, record the words—
I mean we should have left some pride
of youth and not forget the destiny of men
who say goodbye to the wives and homes
they’ve read about at breakfast in a restaurant:
“My love.”—without regret or bitterness
obtain the measure of the stride we make,
the latest song has chosen a theme of love
delivering us from all evil—destroy. . . ?
why no. . . this too is fanciful. . . funny how
hard it is to be slow and delicate in this,
this thing of framing words to mark this grave
I mean nothing short of blood in every street
on earth can fitly voice the loss of these.




Kenneth Patchen
Picture Rupert Loydell

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Self Pandemic

Atlanta Wiggs

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Furtive Discursive Generation


I saw the us-not-them generation cornered by their own unquestioning natures and blind loose allegiance to atomic vegetable laws.

I tried to abide keeping myself as a pet in the strip club neon wonderland of all things virtual and horrendous.

I witnessed the dawn of each incalculable horizon a death show of twilight blossoms floating fluttering falling through cyclical madness.

I wrestled the living daylights from the rocks and the flotsam of dying possibilities left damp and unturned.

I read a dialogue of rigid counter thinkers comfortably coalesced into starving pieces pools and puddles of reluctant gumption.

I sung a squall of pitch and tar and glue for the bucket spun witch trials our surest smallest sense of victory’s fall.

I gave blood gladly in love of breadcrumb breakables a stitch hardened collection of lust filled insatiables.

I borrowed and stole and begged in the name of dutiful unhearded mechanical bullseyes.

I called out in silence but the dead black eternal only sent back an echo before my lips found place to part.

I crept off incredulous bound in want of storm and shelter and breath and bed and betterment.

I scraped back the furtive discursive in-valid murderer murmurer blessed the cursed from their filtered edges.

I met the hard rain rhythm of ugly execution set rigid a pulse and darkness in place of each empty room.

I shuffled many roads with many friends fading tomorrows wishbone secretions in backward uniform contact absurdity.

I killed the creatures in cosmic defiant decline giants of masterful anguish deceit constellation colours and connection.





     © Greg Fiddament 2020
Illustration: Rupert Loydell

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Isolona 19


I was honoured to have my piece in the RSL’s Only Connect lockdown series of tiny letters, to be used for their 50th edition.  

Only Connect

‘Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be
seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer’ — E.M. Forster

Today is our landmark 50th edition of Only Connect. We launched this tiny letter in March
with the hope that it would be a companion in isolation. We have collected letters from
across our community and from around the world, all responding to items from our Library.

We hope these letters have brought comfort and inspiration during these past few
challenging months. As lockdowns ease and we enter a new phase, we will continue to
share letters from the RSL’s community as a means of keeping us all connected. 

Today’s is from RSL Member Jan Woolf, who has chosen Hamela Malek‘s
poem ‘Leaving Afghanastan’, written about her last day in Afghanistan and the emotio
n she felt during the time when she left her hometown. Hamela was awarded 2nd Prize in
our 2018 Poems For Peace competition, which marked 100 years since the death of
Wilfred Owen by inviting 11-to-18-year-olds to write a poem for the future they want to see,
and about what peace means to them.


Illustration by Anna Trench


Poems for Peace Competition – 2nd-Prize: read Halema Malak’s poem about her last day in Afghanistan
and the emotion she felt during the time when she left her hometown.

Leaving Afghanistan

I go back to that day and find
the room almost empty,
everything neatly presented as if
it had never been used. The door
is open to the hallway, and
to my right, the kitchen door
is open for the animals, so their eyes
look straight through the sad house
through the weeping and the chink
of light guides me outside where
the hot sun reflected on the windows
and the beautiful trees, the grass
and flowers dying for lack of water.
I slowly walk to the crowd
gathered near the main door, pass
the people talking, crying, to where
a girl aged ten stands with her shoulders stiff
her body shaking silently. Someone shouts
and the girl turns round. Her puffy red eyes
stare through me. Her pain could be seen
by a blind man. But she can’t see 

what journey she’s going to take 

Halema Malak
16 years old
Oxford Spires Academy


“I chose Halema Malek’s ‘poem for peace,’ because home is everything right now; friend,
companion, parent and sometimes lover with its arms around us. As a child it’s your world,
as it is for us in lockdown. I was nearly uprooted at her age; an upgrade not flight,
peacetime not war. We didn’t go, yet I relate to all her emotions. Home is who we are, and
Halema lingering on those objects, drawing them up into her soul is very moving. The
blind man seeing into her heart is wonderful.” Jan Woolf

Where I’m Writing From… 
“I’m an RSL Member, and writer-in-residence at Pentameters Theatre London, finishing
my novel in solitary. Currently reading Bill Johnson’s translation of Stone Upon Stone by
Wieslaw Mysliwiski.”
Only Connect by RSLiterature
Somerset House, Strand London, WC2R 1LA United Kingdom
Sent to janwoolf@hotmail.com — Unsubscribe
Delivered by


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Turf wars


After the neighbours had builders redoing their kitchen and conservatory for three months we decided to retaliate and had a loft conversion built, and a small extension. We’d see how they liked the noise. In response they had a swimming pool constructed, just beyond the patio. The work went on for weeks and required the use of a small excavator. We countered by erecting a studio at the end of the garden. Now they’re having a loft conversion, which has to be pure spite. Why do they need extra space in the roof? There are only the two of them living there. Iain’s now investigating the possibility of excavating under the floor and creating a utility area, a games room for Sam, and a wine cellar. 




Simon Collings

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Memory Junket

Eighty years old and bursting with fire, I can smell the circuits burning.
Rebirth head, rebus interlope, dark passage then the light, all things going all ways. Kaleidoscopic visions, old black plimsolls in the sun, a dog’s piss streak on sandy road, my life old pulp pages of excited ink, smudged, recycled myths on the Underground, youths sniffing glue.
I want to move out, erase the past, yet again rising like Lazarus even as flesh gets old, the bones zing like electric codes replenished by stars in different galaxies, picking up the broadcasts, lunar base of lunar sea, reflecting Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in nineteen thirty nine, where an old buddy was incarcerated, writing with quill and oxblood transmissions from the ethers. He exchanged words with Malcolm Lowry, that hot-head genius encapsulated in tar and awnings, greasy bars with whiskey sours as an indigo light shuttered the sky.
Now I can rejoice in such a rich life, desperate to get it all down and yet of no consequence, all out of synch, memories of events I did not witness but others did and I cannot discern who said what but the scenes are impregnated in my mind, like the sandy road which curved along the coast, sand dunes and spiky grass edging the wide ochre beach, quicksands which swallowed people, as seagulls swooped over head as if sensing food, and the rare cloud floated above the landscape, escaped from a Paul Nash painting, casting a shadow as if following me. 
I was on the way to my aunt with a book from my mother, the August sun on my back, the book curling. I could see my aunt’s house, redbrick, steep gabled roof and the windswept, stunted apple trees in the garden with the battered fence. I always seem to be walking this road at noon in times of anxiety, as if the worn, weathered paperback, poems by Dylan Thomas who my aunt liked and once met in a pub in Wales, becomes fused with the glamorous sky blue dress hanging out the washing line, my aunt smoking and adjusting her sunglasses as if they are are my saviours. The key to everything coming back together, making the world whole.
Peter Woodcock 2020
Author of ‘This Enchanted Isle-the neo-romantic vision from William Blake to the New Visionaries’ and ‘Stone Clouds-Liquid Skies. The Shamanic Art of Derek Hyatt’
published by Gothic Image Publications.
Photo: Claire Palmer
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Coal Black O



I hide the metal and the flesh
in the cool bosom of quicklime,
say Grace, hear the heart deciding
on the aftertaste of silence
that an action savours as a chaser
to violence.

The onfall of the wind 
quivers the Zippo-flame.
The unlit cigarette sees an ember
and the act of its asphyxiation.
I can never leave you. May that act
never occur to this trice.





Kushal Poddar 

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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Julie and Andreas: Tango Livestream.


“Harp with bandoneon?! The duo Julie & Andreas did it anyway! …and the result is a truly breathtaking tango and folk fusion.”

Julie and Andreas are a sibling duo from Norway. Using harp and bandoneon, sometimes employing techniques more usually associated with contemporary experimental music, they present their own unique take on Latin American tango.

This performance was filmed and recorded during lockdown at their home in a converted church in Rotterdam, as a livestream special on the eve of their debut on Spotify. You can see the entire performance


Julie and Andreas can be found on Spotify here

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I Don’t Get It

Could you explain yourself?
Why’d you say that in the first place
and second place and all over the place?
Didn’t anyone teach you liar liar
pants on fire? Why, Donald
J. Trump, do you think? Does your mother
run from you when you dream of her?
In another dream is your father on a throne?




John Levy
Painting Rupert Loydell

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First Fragments II

        Meanwhile, he came upon a tattered figure, shuffling ahead of him down the hollow corridor, illuminated so vividly in the glare of the overhead strip-lights.
         He slowed his pace so that he was following this curious old woman who, though stooped with arthritis, was moving with an air of urgency. She led him to a door inlaid with panels of whorled glass, decorated with undulating metal tendrils; iron blossoms creeping across pearl grey-pink panes engraved with angelic, ethereal faces Drugged eyes, drooping lips.
        He listened but could hear nothing.
        Ahead and behind, just a deserted corridor with gleaming white tiles and veined, marble pillars and far away he thought he saw the reflection of a distant comet.       Knowing the old crone had gone inside he was compelled to follow and – for his audacity – was greeted by the most fascinating vision.
       He was standing high on a gallery fashioned out of iron, its balustrade extending around the perimeter of the entire room. Across the other side, exactly opposite, was another door of the same design as the one now swinging gently shut behind him.
       Between was an abyss.
       Blue air.
       Streaks and eddies of violet light.
       Trailing streamers of purple tinged with black. In the centre a shaft, rising to the empyrean, falling to infinite depths.
        This was the Soft State Zone.
        Soundlessly, gracefully, continuously, slabs of golden metal drifted past, sailing upwards with a turning motion, slowed down images of jet aircraft at high altitude, where all sense of speed and direction has been eliminated in favour of a feeling of weightless progression. Busy machines scuttled across on wires that led nowhere. Boxes, bristling with metal arms and tubes, latticed with ostensibly decorative holes in arabesque patterns, floated static for a second or two before dropping away into some abyssal realm beyond all perception.
        Neon lights flickered. Black holes in the fabric of the almost tactile atmosphere opened and closed with obscene noises. Wires and electrodes gleamed in the suffused light.
        He noticed a vague, female figure suspended in space. It was slowly revolving, feet together, arms outstretched; fingers hooked convulsively, head thrown back in ecstasy or pain. Whole metal plates encased her limbs like sculpted armour. Cylindrical objects revolved in a circle about her. Above her head could be seen a black thunder cloud where lightning flickered with subdued ferocity? White plates the colour of asbestos floated on the surface of this cloud and letters of the Greek alphabet appeared and disappeared on their surfaces in random patterns.
        To the left of the cloud, above the radiant face of the female entity, was suspended a curious contraption. Its main component was a square cuboid apparatus with a curved horn-like feature projecting from one of its corners. Clipped to its side was a complex of pipes and wires from which was suspended a tube with a bulbous swelling at one end supporting a metal plate. A cluster of delicate, pronged instruments reminiscent of dental equipment was in contact with the figure, constantly probing, tapping and massaging the figure’s back with wide sweeps as she floated this way and that, suspended in viscous luminosity.
        Below the figure and to its right three shapes glowed silver. The first was a diagrammatic representation of an exploding star, a sort of giant asterisk. The second took the form of three concentric rings. The third consisted of twelve oblong blocks of silver laid together in such a way that their inner edges formed a circle.
        Lights flashed on and off beneath the glass floor as, suddenly, a brilliant flare lit up seven gold cones, luminous forms materialising for an instant before vanishing amid drifting rainbows.
        His attention was again drawn to the suspended figure. He noted the wide open eyes and fine black wires trailing from her russet coloured nipples, so swollen and inviting, twin crowns for her hypertrophic breasts. He saw, blossoming in the air below her feet, three grinding cylinders surmounted by an inverted crucifix drifting among sonographic echoes of extinct birdcalls, among a galaxy of component parts arranged in six zones. There were ascending, coiling Soft State paths of black and silver.
       Gripped by vertigo he clung to the rails of the balustrade. The whole area seemed to tilt and roll like the deck of a ship caught in a storm. The central figure opened and closed her legs thrusting her body in a contortion, moving her arms in slow circles – a blind swimmer in an acid bath. The near zone was drenched in a sticky, oozing cloud of white, milky light that dripped over the quietly whirring machinery, sending impulse needles spinning behind glass plates.
        A cage materialised. A vicious portcullis above her head which descended around her body, moulding itself to her throbbing, armoured, plastic flesh. There was a spasm of mechanistic carnality and a spurt of crimson was ejected into the shimmering haze.
        As he turned to leave the centre of this vast hollow space became brilliant white, glowing with the intensity of lava in the bowels of a volcano or metal in a furnace. Bolts of red shivered across the scene illuminating the inferno in a hellish glare. He heard a long, breathless sigh, an eerie sound on a descending chromatic scale of soft, warmly textured notes, melting into cascades of snowflakes, congealing into the faces of Netherlandish angels – wide eyes, cheeks formed from the wings of hummingbirds – blue, turquoise, violet – all the colours of unattainable dreams.
        Then, far away, he thought he saw a distant comet.
        This is the here and now.




A.C. Evans
Image title: The Here and Now

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On A Wensdee W/SONLIFE

SONLIFE was back for another slowed and soulful 60, weaving between jazz sounds from The Steve Kuhn Trio, country from Earth Girl Helen Brown and electronica from Jesse Futerman. All stitched together from field recordings of Nunhead Garden, Whitstable seafront and other spots in SE.



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Terrorizing the trapped, the terrified?

Racing to redden the writhing sea?

Animals (fellow beings) attacked?…Atrocity!

Delighting in death cult devilry?

Intentionally ignoring the cries of the dying, the suffering?

Trench warfare against the helpless unarmed?

Innocence stabbed at, cut up, butchered alive?

Ordinary people lost… in a Satanic frenzy?

New life, torn out of wild wombs?

Not all ‘traditions’ deserve preserving: slavery, wife-beating, cannibalism…the massacres of fellow beings.



Heidi Stephenson

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Two Girls

For Shamima Begum and Katherine Howard

I was a girl. Tongue-tied, almost invisible,
hid under tables, scooped confetti from someone else’s wedding.
Until they named me, I was just a girl, with other girls
in rooms, in houses, where men came.

Where we lay, accepted compliments which fizzed away;
insults slapped hard. Until

my face fit someone’s list
and I became a girl in a grown-up’s world,
where men fought men and girls
like me were sometimes in the way.

Seeing something once or twice sends cold
from your neck to your heel bones.
After that you feel nothing.

A girl like me is easy to forget until she speaks,
after months, years, weeks of being silent
in a place where your face is hidden. When you speak

it’s quietly and slow, you force the words;
they split the frozen air, blindly at first;
no one hears, so you speak louder,
and they stop

the fighting and the talking and the killing,
and turn to look. But because you’re just a girl
they hardly notice when you point out
what is happening.

They don’t hear until they listen because you
have made them. Listen,

I am a girl, yet they treat me like a woman
with a woman’s hair and woman’s breasts
and children from my woman’s womb.

And though my head thinks like a girl,
I don’t have the tools to turn my thoughts
to woman’s words, when I speak
they see a woman, speaking like a girl.

And then they turn me out into the world.


Gill Lambert
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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Returning downhearted to the hospital
parking ramp, I start the car, and
the CD I was playing earlier,
Mississippi John Hurt’s Today!, comes on
again — Make me a pallet down soft and
low, make me a pallet on your floor.

What was it about John that was so
nourishing, even healing to us
traumatized white kids in the Sixties?
In a moment of frightening, turbo-
charged change bearing down on us and our world,
his voice offered what we longed for but
which the adult life we were growing into
withheld — an earthy warmth, a human
eros, a dignity, a kindness.

I suppose that’s why I still pull John Hurt
off the shelf when I’m feeling empty and
forlorn, as I do after this hospital
visit.  Now I’m feeding the ticket and bills
into the pay station lit and tinseled
for Christmas.  There happens to be an actual
person in the booth, and exiting I turn
to wave.  An older black man waves back,
his round face and heavy-lidded eyes looking
uncannily like those of Mississippi John.
I know I must take this as an omen.





Thomas R. Smith

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Covid-Capitalism: A Case For High Street Resurgence


Covid-Capitalism: A Case For High Street Resurgence 

Covid-19 is evidently bigger than anything. It has altered most if not all of humankind’s activities and interactions. Yet, as with the Titanic, ample prior warning of impact has not altered fiscal and neoliberal economic policy. The mentality appears to be “keep on course and we’ll carry on with whoever is left in the lifeboats.” It has not forged a collective global effort against the pandemic. Why? And how can a return to high street retail aid all communities in gaining more power to reform governments?

De-growth determination.

With deprived populations gravitating to affluent countries combined with the knock on effect of Covid-19, there is increased talk by humanitarians about re-thinking how capitalism works. But not amongst those who currently control those markets and the opportunities open to the shifting masses. Some advocate that de-growth of industry and population is necessary to save the planet. With the colossal burden upon taxation amidst plummeting incomes, disintegrating small and medium size businesses, high street retail and the most extreme fiscal policies, people wonder what the long-term backlash will be. Where will all the money come from, when it took a decade of punitive monetary policies to pay for the 2008 crash, now eclipsed by this latest recession?

So, for conservatives (a contradictory term) the struggle for a share in the global financial market, or more accurately not to become subject to the demands of whoever dominates the market, intensifies. Britain will need to seek more powerful allies than Europe to compete with the US; or end up subsumed. Either way, the fiscal choice for the UK seems mightily inhibited right now. The political will to benefit from collective bargaining power seems obstinately opposed, even to tackle the greatest catastrophe that has ever hit a truly global population.

With financialization governing 95% of the world’s wealth, the reduction of population, manufacturing, logistics, fossil fuel production and demand works in favour of the elite 1%. So why would governments jeopardise that life raft in favour of those who have little to offer and are seen as hangers on? This is why we need to reassess not only fiscal policy, but what kind of people we are responsible for putting in place to resolve our needs, and why we are powerless to do anything but sit by and watch them decimate our economic rights and lives, just as thoroughly as Assad has devastated Syria.

(Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As 40,000 UK residents are mourned within the space of nine months and government experts glibly predict another 100,000 deaths over the next six… Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings want to prevaricate further, over any public inquiry, so their expensive legal team can divert taxes to defending their appalling lack of basic care. Whenever they wish to spend on favourable unfulfilled contracts; contracts for faulty or inadequate services and products; litigation; changing department names; reshuffles and over-staffing priorities… it is always “government money.” But “it would be inappropriate use of tax payer’s money” to urgently save more lives and hold them to account.

Johnson will go, along with Cummings, and their deceit and mass of preventable deaths will be their legacy; they are not the only conservatives directly responsible for thousands of deaths. Surely there must be an immediate legal culpability rather than excuse and side-stepping. The level of critical ignorance is demonstrable political choice by this administration, whether it is ignoring the scientific advice, or vulnerability to foreign influence. So, how do we protect ourselves against further abuses, when politicians play Russian roulette with people’s lives? If the mentality within the Labour Party is our only recourse, the prospects look bleak. Even a regression to some form of socialism may appeal to some, for respite from this blatant dereliction. That is not necessarily what is on offer with Keir Starmer, though. Is it not obvious that in all democratic governments, cronyism and the system of monetisation, including bribes, is core to restricted agendas and representation? Party Politics is way past its use-by date.

This offers little hope to High-Street retail but examining its systematic destruction and of public and political empowerment, may offer a partial solution. But it requires a progressive approach, more than simply undoing neoliberal policy and implementing de-growth or localisation. How far can we take it and can we afford not to act? 

Tied Hands (and feet)

Due to neoliberal policies since Thatcher, our economic welfare has been bound to the imports and exports markets, or mercantilism. During Covid-19 the Internet has been a lifeline, but this retail development is a serious issue of opportunist exploitation of millions upon millions of people. It may well offer reduced prices (an unsubstantiated argument, long-term) for anything under the sun, but this market has not expanded choice, it has focussed and restricted it. Monopolies flood the Internet with variations on their own products appearing to be from separate retailers and suppliers, to give the appearance of choice. But when you dig into where these items originate, especially the Chinese companies, you find you have to scroll through page after page of Google or Ebay to find any alternative, as the sharks have infested search engine capabilities using big data.

Mercantilism has got way too big for its boots. This is the well established routine of monopolies and how they systematically undermine retail choice. It tethers governments to dependency on those markets, whilst hypocritically pursuing aggressive competitive and prejudicial foreign policy, including arms trades and pre-meditated decimation of foreign infrastructure. People, in other words. 



Considering all the returns, refunds and protracted disputes for all parties, it raises the following questions:

  • ‘What is this costing our economies?’
  • ‘What is the carbon footprint of this duplicated exchange, including the waste output?’
  • ‘What misleading effect does this have on records of productivity, GDP and real wealth?’
  • ‘What is the social cost to morale; practical time-consumption (like distraction from productive or employers’ work time); generating public disquiet, illness and crime?’
  • ‘If delivery services had abysmal practices previously, why is there no consumer choice?’
  • ‘What is the real effect to these online businesses and consumer fall-off?
  • What is the cost in fiscal subsidies of UK based import and export companies, food production and farming?
  • ‘Will Brexit improve or compound these issues?’


The opportunist and sometimes fraudulent practices of many on-line retailers could trigger a resurgence of high-street retail; snatching their customers from them, if they are canny enough to offer just simple basic quality of products and service. Nothing new or out of the ordinary required. Just plain and simple WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), without waiting hours or days at home, missing appointments and losing work (paid or unpaid), to be deceived about delivery dates and times, blamed on Covid-19. Whilst retail outlets close down, Hermes courier services announce thousands of job vacancies as the only viable hope for many during this crisis.

A personal experience of this past three months’ trend must be multiplied by hundreds of other experiences and now challenges the practicality of online retail; not just imports. As a one-time postman and multi-drop delivery person, what is happening in home delivery now appals and concerns me in equal measure; considering also, every individual item is now bar-coded for specific stock selection and often tracked.

Due to their success with government backing and monopolising, products services and logistics quality has deteriorated. This is an argument for a resurgence of high street retail, even if the wholesale involves the same mercantile suppliers. Monopolies are holding back the entire world from progress, economically and technologically. There are profitable and much greener technologies available to make our lives easier and far more effective, progressive and eco-friendly; but elite mercantile companies are too successful peddling what is out-dated and inferior. So more advanced and reliable products get suppressed, if they see the light of day. Glass 3D data discs a case in point (though rich high-tech corporations probably already use them to manipulate big data).

Plugging the gap

The issue with the economy is not that there is insufficient money to go around. There is plenty of money and governments have far more than they are letting on, often fuelling financialization in offshore accounts. Even if they do not have enough, other companies have far more than enough but won’t part with it. Money can be created at any stage in any quantity if you can leverage sufficient assets against that debt. But politicians fear this as mass deficits affect national debt and the ownership of it. Neoliberals court foreign investment and trade deals, offloading long-term responsibility for short-term political goals. They will not be in office for long enough to achieve anything lasting. And the biggest hitters can always out-bat governments. They don’t worry about what happens below them. But ultimately, this process is not necessary.

The problem for government reliance on taxation is that these corporations have been made the retailers, whereas taxes are generated from small and medium businesses and High Street retail. This is the problem with mercantilism – how it benefits from financialization that governs the global economy and dependency on foreign markets; profit maximising by monopolies; government tax concessions and tax evasion. It is like transfusing blood into a terminally sick patient that is bleeding out and the public pay the prolonged hospital bill, being scapegoated as the cause of the illness.

While money is a circulatory system, neoliberalism diverts the circulatory system towards stockpiling – mostly in foreign companies – transfusing blood into a blood bank of those who do not need it, but will sell it on more expensively by withholding instead of benefitting those who need it. So, other ‘experts’ proclaim the necessity to increase the middle classes as the main source of redeemable taxation. What they conveniently omit is that financialization did this but was ultimately a false economy that caused the 2008 crash.


Sticking plaster or replacement surgery?

We’re led to believe the economy is everything. But that argument is only valid if the money circulates nationally and locally. This was the motivation for Brexit. The reason this will not happen is because politicians go googly-eyed and weak kneed at individual and party contributions from the rich. They will never pay taxes as long as they can get away with it, so why side with them? Because they control financialization and can offer incentives. They can survive whatever happens to public resources. At the same time, governments waste so much taxation resulting in health issues and social disintegration; the dissolution of everyday people’s rights has become a far broader and more disturbing practice than in any previous recorded peacetime history. So, how is control of the economy wrested from the hands of the unscrupulous that are sitting pretty and see no need of change?

If we want to make sure government facilitates access to what everyone needs and if we insist monetary taxation pays for it, redevelopment of the high street and local services is the way to go. To invest in these in the short term with created money would not be a bottomless pit. So what if it was anyway? It’s only money. It’s far cheaper and cost effective to invest in people. And people want to contribute to their own locality if the money circulates. It doesn’t require alternative circular economies, but they really do help and are a model worthy of replication (see Post-Covid: Fears, Dreams & Choices).

The idea of Universal Basic Income could be economically more efficient than government hand-outs from the diminishing taxes of those who can still afford to pay them. It empowers people to be more productive and produce more profit and eventually becomes self-financing, if it circulates through the tax system. Results from the Canadian and Finnish experiments are mixed, but again they are affected by changing fiscal and foreign policy. Around half of the subjects reported decreased use of alcohol and tobacco, while 79 percent reported better physical well-being and 83 percent reported better mental well-being… around a third of all subjects reported reductions in visits to doctors and hospital emergency rooms. This suggests basic income may be a useful general public health strategy resulting in a reduced load [and cost] on public health services.” Rich Haridy, ‘Canada’s Cancelled Basic Income Trial Produces Positive Results’ New Atlas; March 12, 2020.

But we can do much more than wait for this revolution. We can empower it independently from government and corporations if we choose an existing non-monetary option on a scale that potentially far outstrips monetary capitalism. It is available to us now and could take just two years to establish. All it needs is for the existing relevant organisations to examine and adopt it as a mass existing market. It can then instantly reward people for any form of labour, including forming rotating public assemblies to dictate to local councils and government the use of monetary taxes, and to choose majority political representation instead of minority party-politics; all requiring no taxation of personal incomes (see: Covid-Capitalism or Corvée). 

It will fuel a resurgence of unlimited access to employment and economic empowerment for all, (including monetary capitalists). It can transform this world economic crisis into uninhibited global expansion in green energy, technology and conservation. What are we waiting for? The corporations and politicians will not bring it of their own volition. They have cost thousands of lives through not cooperating on addressing the pandemic, or preserving nature, but now risk countless more in an escalating cold war of epic proportion. The high street is waiting for you to gather with others who want the same things. Some are already doing it. For a pathway that signposts not only this process and those who can bring it about, but also how it remedies the current global economic struggle please check the link below. It will turn international conflict and protectionist policies into cooperation, encouraging repatriation and restructuring without any regime change, whilst rewarding every individual of any age and circumstance as a contributor to social cohesion and continued care.

Our collective demand outweighs the current supply from monopolies and mercantilism and prospective government taxation. That’s why money is an inept out-dated mechanism. It is paltry in comparison with what every person individually has to offer our economy. Collectively we are bigger than Covid-19 and any challenge this world requires of us. This is not ideology. The practical answers already exist. Money prevents their development, but so does our fetishism of it and that of so called experts and celebrities that divert our energies to convince us it is the only answer worth fighting for. As neoliberals would have it and look where they have brought us. How much we want a different world will be determined by how much we’re prepared to look into one and do something about it, instead of waiting for people who have ulterior motives to do it for us. Instead of Johnson making compromises or more conflict with China, he could make mercantile contracts contingent upon supplying the high-street, initially endorsing and supplementing it as a partial recuperative strategy, rather than foreign businesses.

This is our immediate choice: more austerity feeding the ultra-rich, or a resurgence of local services and high-street retail. If we wished to, we could do it independently of them or tax-payer hand-outs. Using money the high-street and government are co-dependents. In the parallel non-monetary economy (PNME) the high street and general public of all persuasions and backgrounds dictate to government and corporations.



Contributed by Kendal Eaton – Author of ‘A Chance For Everyone: The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy’ (available for free or pay what you choose in download formats) – achanceforeveryone.com



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Signs of the Times


Reflections on life and many universes from Alan Dearling


Been down in Todmorden and around the Valley in West Yorkshire for over a week now. It really is like being on a different planet – or perhaps ‘planets’, plural. Very, very different than where I was in Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders for the four months of lockdown.

Music is beginning to be played on the streets – buskers and jammers; public transport is running – but face coverings can make it hot and extremely unpleasant, especially on the buses. My friend Oliver and myself did a bit of back-of-the-fag-packet, unscientific statistics’ gathering. Despite the mandatory wearing of face-coverings, we reckoned a third of passengers were wearing something, a third were not, and a third were wearing something that only covered a part of their nose and mouth. Perhaps more worrisome, the majority of the daytime buses we travelled on were carrying passenger numbers well beyond their restricted capacities, so, in reality, little or no social distancing. A significant number of passengers were just ignoring the locked-down seat signs. This was an evening bus – you can see the yellow bands which denote a ‘closed’ seat.

A lot of pubs and eateries are now open with varying levels of social distancing and a baffling range of rules, signs, advisory notes, instructions. More are open in Tod than nearby Hebden Bridge. Post-Covid Tod even has a new hostelry, the quirky Nan Moor’s (Anarchy with a Witch’s Hat!). It led me to pondering what a visiting Martian would decide were the actual legal regulations? What’s going on, on the Planet of Earthlings!

  • Social distancing – what is it? One metre, two metres, no metres?
  • Cash or plastic cards for payments?
  • Logging in with Facebook or a signing-in book. Name, address, telephone number, email. Names of everyone, or, just one per group/household? “We can only request that you comply, it’s not a legal requirement.”
  • Who can you sit with at your table? Friends and family from ‘how many social bubbles? Two, four, six, eight…Derr?’ Or, if you are on your own, perhaps ‘no-one’, as I was told by the manager in one of my local boozers back in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water; hand-sanitise before and after using the washroom, and on entering and leaving the premises.
  • One-way systems in and out of premises.
  • How many people are allowed inside and out?
  • Table service or queue at the bar? Order on-line?
  • Noise levels. Is there a limit? What is it? Is it enforced?

In fact, my Martian has abandoned all hope of working out any pattern of rationality amongst these strange beings that call themselves ‘humans’. Laws, rules….many…or…none. “We do not understand these Earthlings…Dazed and confused. Bewildered and baffled.”

Meanwhile, back in the pubs and parks, lots of people are busting to play games, be naughty, let off pent-up steam, hug friends and family, even go to the loo. It’s a weird new world-order.

But one thing that has blossomed aplenty during the Covid lockdown is ‘nature’. An abundance of plants, birds, wildlife that is more ‘wild’ – recapturing the built environment – re-wilding. And for me personally, a diverse range of places to go walking. Seize the Moment and Seize the Day. Back in Eyemouth, I’ve been spending many hours outdoors, along the Berwickshire coastal paths and inland rural walks. Now, in Upper Calderdale, out along the towpaths of the Rochdale Canal, and up to the ‘tops’ of the Pennines. All socially distanced, of course!

But, what of the people around the UK?


Many are fearful of the ‘New Normal’, staying put in their lockdown-cocoons, either for health or social reasons; the economy is nearly bankrupt, so the governments of the devolved UK have urged many to return back to work, drifting into versions of their old lives (work-pub-footie, repeat), and a growing number deny that the Covid virus actually exists…

Sadly, a significantly increasing number are facing unemployment as the furlough scheme ends, in addition to the stresses and strains of the actual lockdown. Mental health issues abound. Deeply Unsettling Times ahead, methinks… It’s perhaps more post- ‘1984’ than ‘Brave New World’. Certainly, I’d bet few quid that there will be civil unrest. Maybe and perhaps, some serious riots. It’s a contradictory and potentially incendiary mix of ‘freedom fighters’ against restrictions, face coverings and vaccinations; ‘conspiracy theorists’ who fervently believe that the Covid virus is a man-made ‘weapon’; folk who are striving to create a new ‘normal’ that is less consumerist, more caring and kind, plus some who see the spread of the virus as an ‘ethnic’ problem. Throw in the issues around Black Lives Matter and Climate Change…and it has begun to replicate the divisive atmosphere of alienation and angry disagreements that surrounded Brexit.  An incredible and unpredictably complex story is still unfolding…

As for more ‘signs of the times’, I asked my photographer friend, Colin (Rayner), who takes pics around Bristol and Bath for some of his Covid-related pics. Enjoy!

Phil in Devon told me: “This isn’t a good photo, but as I promised to send you a pic – here it is.  The sign is painstakingly written, back to front, on the inside of the library window.  It says:”


‘CHOOSE AND COLLECT  Contact the library via phone (tel. no.) during opening times or via Facebook or email (address) and tell us what books you would like and we will select, issue some for you and arrange a time for collection.’


As a writer and photographer for ‘international times’ and ‘Gonzo’ magazines I’ve become, hopefully on a temporary basis, something of a Covid-Journalist. No choice, really. With festivals and music/arts gigs cancelled, my creative friends have really been having a hard time. Life in the ‘arts’ may look and sound like a cushy or kushti lifetstyle to those not in it. But, especially at the lower end of that economy, it works in the spectrum of the grey and black economy. The majority of my musical friends are reliant on festivals and gigs in order to just about survive financially. Like me, many are optimists by nature, they’ve created new music and arts online utilising social media, virtual events – but they desperately need to get back out into the muddy fields of life! Soon (we desperately hope) it will be time for All Tomorrows’ Parties! Bring ‘Em On!

In the meanwhiles, time to pop down the bank for a quick withdrawal….




Alan Dearling

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Il Giardino dei sogni

Elena Caldera

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2020 Pandemic: a Message to Humanity

Mr. Eye Wood


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ancient diner
eonic epoch 
submerged forgotten

telegraph wires
sending false signals

carpeted orchard 
tempted fallen fruit

enveloped in fog 
towering shadows 
forest of forgetfulness

searching  my library
seeking truth serum
books arranged by color

whitewashed exiled memories 
fragmented past future 
unverbed unversed 







Illustration Nick Victor


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My Aunt Evelyn



Edward Johnston

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In the early hours he’s dreaming:

another room rippled with dangerous
moonlight bombers  moon he yells pinned
against the far wall next to a chest of
drawers bought second hand between the
wars his headboard tilts into a dusty
hedgerow where sudden silence thickens
roots he wedges himself between as locusts
blizzard he kneels to broken statues among
them his own their rising shadows cross his
back while marble fists clench behind him
and circling close in.






Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration Nick Victor


A new book of poems

Buy at:

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Formed in 1965 as the Savoy Brown Blues Band,

Kim Simmonds is the founder member and

sole continuity face of the band across the years

– and across the decades, since. Now, he talks to

Andrew Darlington about new CD:



(August 2020, Quarto Valley Records)


When the man with the big cigar comes backstage and asks Pink Floyd ‘Oh, by the way, which one’s Pink?’… of course, there is no ‘Pink’. If the man with the big cigar came backstage at a Savoy Brown gig and asks ‘Oh, by the way, which one’s Savoy?’, they’d probably point to Kim Simmonds. The Blues is a hard road. You know Savoy Brown, they’re the Blues Rock band for which Kim is founding member and sole continuity face. He’s been doing this for half-a-century, and counting, some of the gig-goers to his concert audience weren’t even born when he first picked up his guitar and ambled onstage, so there must be a tendency to… slacken off? But no. The Savoy Brown August 2020 album defiantly declares ‘Ain’t Done Yet’, and it comes hot on the heels of the previous critically well-received ‘City Night’ (2019) album.

‘The past is over, won’t be back no more’ opens the uncompromising “It’s All Gone Wrong”, and yes, he admits ‘time’s moved on’, but the snarling hard-Rock exuberance and undiminished energy-levels say different, with ideas pouring from his fingers in relentless curling insidious guitar licks, it seems to me that it’s all gone very right indeed! For “Devil’s Highway”, which takes in decades of hard-touring, Kim’s voice assumes a gravel-weary late-Dylan resonance, but his ‘I don’t care, I’ve been around too long’ is denied by the sheer power of the long tricksy fade-out guitar interplay. Consuming his riffs and himself, transcending both.

The new album continues the approach I’ve been taking with the band this past decade,’ explains Kim. ‘The big difference with the new album is the multi-layer approach I took to recording the guitar parts. It’s all Blues-based Rock music. But I try to find new and progressive ways to write and play the music I’ve loved since I was a young teenager.’ So, when he started out – as a ‘young teenager’, he must surely have learned the Blues from record albums, imitating what he heard from LP’s. I wonder – how did he discover the Blues… was it from a friend? another musician? And which artists was he first listening to? ‘I grew up listening to 1950s Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B, care of my older brother’ he recalls. ‘Little Richard, Elvis, Chuck Berry… those kinds of artists. Everything had a Blues foundation. When I was thirteen I started to realize what I really liked was the Chicago Blues style. The sounds of the Blues guitar I was hearing sounded like the sound of the future and I wanted to be a part of that. Guitarist Ennis L Lowery (‘Larry Dale’) who played with Champion Jack Dupree, BB King, Freddie King, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Earl Hooker, Elmore James. Howlin’ Wolf was one of my favourites. There were so many to inspire me. I could probably draw up a different list for you tomorrow.’

This energetic Chicago-style Blues was written into the band’s DNA from the get-go, when Kim formed the band as ‘The Savoy Brown Blues Band’ – named for the 1940s Jazz-Blues ‘Savoy’ label. It was 1965, in Battersea, SW London, part of the fiercely competitive and purist R&B boom. Who were the first Blues artists he saw in a live setting? Was it other Blues bands in London clubs? ‘I used to see The Yardbirds at ‘The Marquee’ and the Downliners Sect at my local church hall’ he begins. Then ‘Johnny Kidd and the Pirates at Wimbledon Palais, a little earlier than that. Georgie Fame at ‘The Scene’ club. Zoot Money at ‘The Flamingo’ in Soho.’ 

Their debut seven-inch single “I Tried” c/w “I Can’t Quit You Baby” (Purdah 45-3503) is a rough and raw respectably-busy driving Blues with wailing harmonica and Elmore James-style riffing over a Texas Blues-song originally done by Larry Davis and Fenton Robinson. Bass-player Ray Chappell comments ‘we recorded this in 1966, somewhere in central London, I forget the name of the studio. It was produced by Mike Vernon for his Purdah label. Only ninety-nine copies were pressed – there’s no income tax to pay that way! The label was a hobby-horse of Vernon’s before he formed Blue Horizon records. These sell for up to £1000 these days. I don’t even remember what happened to my copy.’

But the short-lived Purdah venture did lead to an up-link to Decca, for the ‘Shake Down’ (1967, Decca LK4883) album, with Vernon still on hand in the producer’s chair for a set of ‘rugged, tough-edged, yet sympathetic Blues material’ (‘Record Mirror’). There were reliable covers heavy on Willie Dixon (“I Ain’t Superstitious”) and John Lee Hooker (“It’s My Own Fault”), with a strong early cover of BB King’s “Rock Me Baby”. Black Blues vocalist Brice Portius was soon to quit, and drummer Leo Manning went on the join Bob Brunning’s Sunflower Blues Band. For over the years and albums to come – virtually an LP a year, there was to be a confusing coming and going of musicians… check out their Wiki entry for columns of names who contribute long or short-term stints, with link-points to Juicy Lucy, Blodwyn Pig, Fleetwood Mac, UFO and constellations strewn as far as Foghat.

Second album ‘Getting To The Point’ (1968, Decca SKL4935) has new deep-voice Chris Youlden sharing writing credits with Kim, who throws in a few other songs of his own (“The Incredible Gnome Meets Jaxman”) as well as a Muddy Waters (“Honey Bee”) and Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love” which would be the template for Led Zeppelin’s own revision “Whole Lotta Love”. Next, for ‘Blue Matter’ (April 1969, Decca SKL 4994) – with David Anstey’s creepy cover-art of a monstrous being rising from the evolutionary mire calculated to grab attention from Record Store window-displays, the ‘NME’ reviewer commends the glowering horns that infuse “Train To Nowhere” as ‘a group number loaded with atmosphere, drums and trombones pushing along the train-time beat with hushed Chris Youlden’s vocals. Youlden’s relaxed singing goes on to provide some of the best moments on an impressive side one’ while for the second side, recorded live at Leicester College, guitarist ‘Lonesome’ Dave Peverett takes vocals for a flu-stricken Chris. 

‘A Step Further’ (September 1969, Decca SKL 5013) is another studio/live set that lifts off with the punchy sophisticated ‘from hot to cool’ groove of the Chris-penned desolation-fatigue single “I’m Tired” (F 12978), with side two made up of a single 22:02-minute medley “Savoy Brown Boogie” recorded live at ‘The Cooks Ferry Inn’ in Edmonton. Studio work, as he explains, is tight and controlled, whereas playing live allows a spontaneity rarely captured on record. Here, they’re freed up to hang loose. Then there’s the well-received ‘Raw Sienna’ (May 1970, Decca SKL 5043), made up of all-original material by Kim or Youlden – including honest down-to-earth single “A Hard Way To Go”, and Chris’ startlingly explicit ‘I sleep with the sun and rise with the moon’ addiction-diary “Needle And Spoon”. Audiences knew Velvet Underground and the Stones “Dead Flowers” – but this, ‘when you’re married to H, then you’re married for life’ adds a richer narcotic meaning to the album title. Although this was to be Chris’ final Savoy Brown album, because for ‘Looking In’ (October 1970, Gatefold SKL 5066) ‘Lonesome’ Dave takes vocals. Enhanced again by David Anstey’s cover-art, this time of a goblin peering into the eye-socket of a huge skull, it takes them into the UK album chart and the mainstream of Blues Rock – ‘the lyrics and the feel fit today, and are part of today’ (‘Melody Maker’), by touring relentlessly.

Again there were changes. After the rest of the band spin-off to form Foghat, Kim recruits former members of Chicken Shack, until, by both ‘Street Corner Talking’ (September 1971, Gatefold sleeve TXS 104) and ‘Hellbound Train’ (March 1972, Decca Green Label TXS 107) they crack the US ‘Billboard’ album Top 40.  With gritty Blues-stomp hit track “Tell Mama” on the former – ‘quit my job, ain’t got no money… this life I live has got me sick through and through,’ with Kim playing slide using a green Heineken bottle on his Flying-V guitar; and the latter headed off by ‘the epic relentlessness of “Hellbound Train”, complete with clickety-clack drumming’ (‘Q’ magazine). All the while, they were generating massive responses from extensive cross-America touring.

There have been lots of musicians playing in different Savoy Brown line-ups. Kim’s probably been asked before, but was there a ‘Classic Line-up’, when everything seemed to fall into place naturally and organically? ‘I think the very first line up, with John O’Leary, was one of my favourite line-ups and one of the best’ he muses. ‘Everything fell into place, as you say. The line-up with Chris Youlden singing in the late sixties, and the one that broke the USA was probably ‘the Classic’ in many people’s minds.’

When he first got to the States and saw Blues artists playing in their own settings, it must have been different. Did it affect your attitudes to the music that you play yourself? ‘Watching the Blues artists live was more real, of course, than listening to the records. At that time, I saw BB King playing to an all-black audience prior to his breakthrough to the mainstream. I jammed with Albert Collins at a club with only a few people in attendance. Ditto Bobby Bland. I was quite a seasoned musician myself by then so it didn’t change anything with me.’

Reading back through their press notices, the British music papers were progressively less supportive, Savoy Brown were always the band who were ‘big in America’ where they tour endlessly. And with fickle critical attention distracted away by Glam and Glitter, Punk and New Wave, the band simply continue doing what they’ve always done best. While American critics – such as academic Lillian Roxon, recognise ‘The Savoy Brown Blues Band is one of half-a-dozen English bands that conscientiously play American Blues, careful to be faithful to the original.’ The ‘Boogie Brothers’ (1974, Decca SKL 5186) LP unites Kim with a Brit-Blues supergroup line-up of Chicken Shack’s Stan Webb and Miller Anderson, formerly of Keef Hartley.

‘I like to think that as we’ve matured as musicians, our fans have also matured and can accept what we’re playing now’ Kim explained, ‘we have a much wider acceptance in America of course, and that’s why we spend so much time there. There’s a lot more inventiveness in America because it is such a big place and the different environments obviously shape the music. In America there’s room to literally do your own thing.’ Both ZZ Top and Kiss open the bill for marathon tours, playing alongside Steppenwolf, the Doobie Brothers and many others. As Kim writes on the kicking full-tilt Boogie ‘Ain’t Done Yet’ album title-track, ‘the road can be a hard place, many come and go, it’s so hard to leave, when it’s all you know.’ With dates at the Fillmore’s East and West they were opening up teenage American eyes to their own home territory Blues artists. And, with power-ballad “Run To Me” – formerly a UK hit for Smokie, they broke the US singles chart in October 1981, by which time Kim had decisively relocated to live in the States.

There was never a psychedelic, Freak-beat, Prog-Rock or Arty-experimental phase. For Savoy Brown, there was never that ‘man with the big cigar’ I’m Gonna Make You A Star moment, there was no Svengali, no Andrew Loog Oldham or Tony Secunda manipulator persuading them into outlandish costumes for PR photo-shoots or doing strategic cover-versions in order to gatecrash ‘Top Of The Pops’. Savoy Brown always followed their own vision, did pretty much what they chose to do, and played the music they loved. Proclaiming ‘I’m not going to try to please’ like a statement of intent as far back as “I’m Tired”. Continuing with the hellbound locomotive theme, and subtitled ‘An Album Of Acoustic Music’, ‘Slow Train’ (1986, Relix Records RRLP2023) is virtually a Kim solo tribute to his mentors, Robert Johnson (“Ramblin’ On My Mind”), Lightning Hopkins (“Come Back Baby”) and Willie Dixon (“Little Red Rooster”), forming a seamless continuity. ‘We started out playing Blues in the accepted sense, but to my mind we’re still playing Blues’ he argues.

Kim’s “Soho Girl” on the new album, listens to Muddy Waters. So, who else are you listening to now? ‘I still listen to the same music as I grew up with’ he admits. ‘All the late fifties and early sixties Blues artists. I belong to a streaming service so I get to hear all the new album releases too. You name it – in the Blues-Rock area, and I’ve listened to it. I’m always looking to old – or new artists for inspiration.’

Savoy Brown are the Blues Rock band for which Kim is founding member and sole continuity face, a line-up now completed by Pat DeSalvo (bass guitar), and Garnet Grimm (drums). For ‘Ain’t Done Yet’ they take the old half-familiar rib-shapes and skeletal-structures of Blues-Rock, then twist and mutate them into renewed configurations, which is what the original Blues masters always did anyway. The nice slide on “River On The Rise” plugs back into levee-busting tradition with overtones of gathering troubles as metaphor for dark times ahead – ‘better take the high ground’. Is that political aspect consciously present in the song, about the mood in America today? ‘There’s no political or social underpinnings’ he says, ‘but you’re the first person to bring up the connection. It could be easily heard in that context.’

Then there’s the hard guitar-burn of “Borrowed Time”, contained within a solid amped-up Blues framework, ‘when I look, so many people gone.’ There’s harmonica on the motorvatin’ cruise of “Jaguar Car”, built for comfort as well as speed, and vintage Blues guitar on “Rocking In Louisiana” where Kim dreams of finding solace ‘in an old roadhouse with some boogie piano.’ “Feel Like A Gypsy” slows the pace into the more acoustic contemplation of ‘listening to the night… playing my guitar’, into the dextrously extended Santana-style instrumental section, which anticipates the final searing “Crying Guitar” instrumental. ‘‘Ain’t Done Yet’ is a personal statement, of course’ Kim emphasises. ‘“Feel Like A Gypsy”, “Soho Girl” and “Crying Guitar” were older songs that I had, and the others were written last year. With “Jaguar Car”, I wanted to write a Blues about a car other than a Cadillac! On a sadder note Ben Elliott, the owner and engineer at the studio I recorded at (Showplace Studios), passed away shortly after the recording. Ben was ill during my session and he put his heart and soul into the recording. When I listen to tracks on the album myself I can’t but think that it’s Ben’s gift to me. He did such a good job.’

My take on the album is that there’s a divide between the lyrics – with the resigned ‘I never thought to myself, I’d be around so long’ and ‘so many people gone’… which contrasts with the sheer energy and undiminished vigour of the performance. Would Kim agree with that analysis? ‘A very good insight’ he concedes. ‘I’ve been very lucky in life with my health and with the energy I still have. I’ve survived two life-threatening problems where friends of mine haven’t. I tried to put a little of those thoughts into the songs coupled with the ‘human spirit’ aspect too.’

The Blues is a hard road. Savoy Brown have put out a dozen albums just since 1998, and have toured nonstop forever – one-hundred-plus shows per year. It takes nothing less than a global pandemic to pause them…










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Tim Smith of the Cardiacs


Timothy Charles Smith (3 July 1961 – 21 July 2020) was an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and music video director, best known as the frontman of the cult English band Cardiacs

Tim Smith of the Cardiacs
Brigitte Engl/Redferns

Tim Smith of the Cardiacs performs on Nov. 16, 2007.


Tim Smith, the lead singer and guitarist of cult British rock band The Cardiacs, died on Tuesday (July 22) at age 59.

Smith’s passing was confirmed by brother and bandmate Jim Smith, who wrote, “I’m sorry, on such a glorious day, to tell you the news that my dearest brother Tim passed away suddenly last night. Sorry it’s a brief message but I don’t have it in me to speak at length just now. Love to you all. Be safe.”

At press time no further information was available on the cause of Smith’s death, though according to NME he had been ill since suffering a heart attack in 2008, which led to his developing the rare neurological condition dystonia.

The group — which formed as Cardiac Arrest in 1977 with Smith as the guitarist and primary lyricist — quickly established a reputation for their wild, whip-saw style, which folded in art rock, jazz, psychedelia, metal, prog and punk into a roiling musical stew topped by Smith’s anarchic vocals and hard-to-decipher lyrics.

The group’s mission was amplified by their theatrical performance style, which often incorporated off-putting makeup, costumes, video displays and seeming on-stage confrontations.

In a 2015 profile of Smith, a writer for The Guardian suggested that those who could not understand the group’s approach might see it as, “a ghastly dungheap of quirky self-indulgence and forced weirdness,” while those, like him, who delighted in the oddities love them, “with a fervour that makes Southern Baptists in the throes of worship seem like uninterested wallflowers.”

Describing their music, the writer said, “Cardiacs sound unhinged, the sound of a manic brain firing off jarring time changes and baffling words. Songs sometimes sound like the players involved are trying to catch each other out, only to suddenly blossom into rapturous, pristine melody. The band reject the most common tag attached to them, that of ‘prog punk,’ but there’s a certain truth in it, as they deliver jarring, wonky arrangements with thrashy intensity. But then you have to throw in elements like nursery rhymes, sea shanties, sweet psychedelia, vast hymnal shout-alongs and the occasional, incongruously straightforward rock anthem.”

Beloved by younger fellow experimental bands such as Radiohead and Faith No More/Mr. Bungle, the group released eight albums during their three-decade run, beginning with 1980’s The Obvious Identity (as Cardiac Arrest) through their final full-length, 1999’s Guns.

Like fellow progressive art pranksters The Residents’ Cryptic Corporation, the Cardiacs established a record label and purported omniscient management company with an ominous name, The Alphabet Business Concern, which they claimed sought to unfairly harness their creative ambitions and which often seemed to be at odds with their own artists.

Smith was born in Surrey, England, in 1961 and originally formed the group with his brother Jim, as well as vocalist Michael Pugh and drummer Peter Tagg; more than a dozen keyboardist, percussionists, vocalists and saxophone players cycled through the group over the years.

Check out some of the Cardiacs music and a few tributes to Smith below.


Billboard is a subsidiary of Prometheus Global Media, LLC.



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European Commission Adopts GMO Vaccine to Combat Non Existent Covid-19 Virus

by Julian Rose

In a decision which will shock many, the European Commission has taken a big step towards its ambition to subject its citizens to a totalitarian regime in which DNA altering technology forms the centre piece of mass control and unapologetic rule by despotism.

Under the chairmanship of the German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, The Commission has adopted a new ruling which calls for ‘the swift development of a GMO vaccine against Covid-19’.

Overturning its own earlier regulatory position, the Commission issued a press release on 14 July 2020, stating that this new act provides a ‘temporary derogation’ of clinical trials for a vaccine under what it cites as ‘the contained use of genetically modified organisms.’

The press release goes on to say “The regulation will apply only as long as Covid-19 is regarded as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, or as long as an implementing act by which the Commission recognises a situation of public health emergency due to Covid-19 applies.”
The text goes on to state “The derogation provides that most operations related to the conduct of clinical trials will not require a prior environmental risk assessment or consent.”

Jens Spahn is quoted as saying “A vaccine against Covid-19 is urgently needed. This regulation will ensure that clinical trials in the EU can start without delay and that no precious time is lost. The act adopted today shows that the EU is ready to take the lead in the global effort to secure the development of a safe and efficient vaccine.”

The European Commission, in need of a further ‘fear factor’ to exacerbate worry about a ‘second wave’, has clearly adopted the deeply flawed and widely disproven WHO position, that Covid-19 is a ‘public health emergency’. More than this, it has decided that only a GMO Vaccine can eradicate that which is supposedly the cause of this emergency.

One could hardly ask for a more blatant example of the New World Order centralised control system – being pressed into service at the hands of unelected technocrats, Big Pharma and vaccination moguls whose names we are already all too familiar with.

This calls for a large scale act of international resistance and a reversal of the deeply arrogant rule by despotism which is attempting to wrest control of the planet.

The URL for the Commission’s Press Release and details of the regulation here:

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THE NEWS TODAY (According to The Guardian)

How long until I find out my wife is a cake?
The closest-ever images of the sun
reveal it is covered in miniature flares
but if you have been made unemployed
you should stop reading any books you hate.

Tired of being Boris Johnson’s patsies,
Russian state-sponsored hackers
are using Covid-19 as a smokescreen
to shrink Wispa Gold and Double Decker
as part of a pseudoscientific welfare racket.

I don’t know whether to celebrate summer
or prepare for the worst. Data suggests
we must be battle-ready for winter,
must embrace re-opened restaurants
and bars, catch kangaroos on the run.

Are UK cases rising or falling in your area?
Enjoy a summertime surge, working from home
and stop handing out Halloween sweets
to children. No backslapping or bonhomie:
this will devastate the poorest nations.




    © Rupert M Loydell

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If we were to fully question our saints would those
Who follow faith lose their bearings? For, unknown
To many, there is a soul slicked stain to bright wings.
The Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is one
Of England’s prized medals, given to those working
Abroad who deliver what this disillusioned isle sought
To bring. At the centre of its star sits a small enamel
Painting of the aforementioned Saint Michael stamping
On the neck of a black man, the Devil of course,
To white eyes that fill with the froth of insanity
And importance, not to mention the evil of a history
Authored and torn by their lies. Such lies fuel
The heart of this much deceived country, as England
Becomes its own form of contagion, or cancer, through
The colonial shame of its past. And which we now see
Repeat through the racism that would claim us,
As the former dragon opponents serve approved forces
Who are there to suppress the black heart. As well as
The neck. So on whose side stands that angel?
In whose home or quarter does justice and faith
Now patrol? The death of George Floyd may not
Have occured in this country, but so many have.
Now, the danger is in whose name rests control?
One of the former recipients of the prize was Sir Evelyn
Baring. Govenor of Kenya in the fifties, his concentration
Camps for the natives surpassed the Nazis, as his own
Attorney General described. He raked the Kenyans
Like earth after authorising their beatings and destruction
Casting their wasted flesh to the oceans as the will
Of his whim, Lord and tides. When the facts were
Questioned he proscribed that contaminated water
Dispelled him, as he sanctioned dark magic from
The whitest of wands: man as filth. And Empire as soil
For a strain or stem that’s pure poison, rising up
To breach roses and to spoil the seed each man spills.
Sir Evelyn Baring was Mary Wakefield’s Grandfather.
And Mary Wakefield is Dominic Cummings wife.
How far does the fruit fall from the tree from which
So many were hanging,  if not by neck then by shadow,
And how much influence  leavens the practise and codes
Of each life? We are all ourselves, we believe, separate
To ancestors, so just as a strain of belief rides blood’s river
It can easily be diverted for sure. But then of course,
There’s her man and the Empire he seeks to make
In our background. Was this woman formed by a template
That sought some manner of fouled continuance in the law?
No-one can say, but the connection appals me. As it does
You, I am certain, for what this country is, or was, isn’t us.
But it could well be those who seek to control and corrupt
Things from the rules for Pub tables to the point at which
Veins split and bust. We were led to believe in Saint George
When he wrested the dragon, whose fired breath brought
Destruction to every blade of grass and each home.
But now his order’s been stained by the simple fact
Of one medal. That it exists is the issue, prized and
Pinned on those eager to prise black flesh from white
Bone.  That story’s come back through this very connection.
And the history of oppression that once granted England
False pride. Now, in the fray, we seek strange directions.
I beg once more for discernment,  a sacrificed skill in these
Times, but it will be all we have left, as they raise their new
Swords against us. The glint of steel may have faded,
But in their legislations and actions, I hear the echo
Of the millions lost to murder and the millions more
Yet to die. This could be a world that turns back
To some of its former horrors. Examine those behind,
Beside and before you, and in doing so, find the reason
To rise and resist and defy. Who represents what we are?
And remember, that you can’t tame a dragon. They just
Burn through the flag they were born to.
As do the Angels.
Now, can anyone tell me why? 
                                                                                David Erdos July 17th 2020
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Tony Elliott, Time Out founder dies

Interview: Tony Elliott, Time Out Group

Photo Courtesy: Adweek/Richard Cannon/Getty Images

“People often think they can’t start small, you have to be of some size. I’ve always advised people to aim for a niche and establish yourself in that niche and then build from there”.

It is hard to believe now but finding out what was going on in the nation’s capital was a difficult business in 1968. There were no dedicated listings magazines and getting to grips with the cultural scene in the city meant going through what was then called the “underground press” with such titles as International Times, Oz and Gandalf’s Garden. At this time, Tony Elliott was about to go into his final year at Keele University. Seeing a gap in the market, he decided to use a £75 birthday gift from his aunt to start his own listings magazine.

Time Out would serve both the alternative environment in London as well as established culture, such as the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Alongside this, the publication would offer coverage and analysis of the political issues that were current in London in the 1960s and 1970s such as racial equality, police harassment and the role of the state. For the first few issues the paper ran 5000 copies and was distributed personally by Tony and his co-editor Bob Harris to retail outlets around the city.

Today the magazine not only has widespread distribution in London but it is also found in many of the world’s major cities including New York, Moscow, Delhi and Hong Kong. Such is the appeal of the Time Out brand that the Time Out Group more often than not has overseas parties coming to them asking to operate the license for a particular region. Alongside this, a thriving web platform is becoming increasingly popular as consumers shift from print to digital.


About this work.

This interview has been created for “How Did They Do It?”, an interview series looking at how the contributors have achieved success in their fields. The aim is to publish the series in a coffee-table style book, raising funds for the Prince’s Trust. Tony kindly volunteered his time to support the project. The author is Ashley Coates, a recent graduate. Read more here.

Using this work.

Creative Commons License
This interview is licensed under a 
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. You are free to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work with attribution to the source. 

You started Time Out with a £75 birthday gift from your aunt in the 1960s, could you summarise what took place between getting that £75 investment and actually printing magazines?

I think the short answer is we had credit with printers and other partners so we could run the cash-flow by not paying people to begin with, especially in the early days. I can’t remember the numbers but we weren’t paying for issue one until we were printing issues eight, nine and ten. Printers and staffing are the two major costs of the business and I think we stretched the tolerance of our printers at various times.

So that was one point, the other thing was that, broadly speaking again, most of the initial advertisers were people who were part of the same area of interest, like record shops and record companies, cinemas and theatres. As we were new and because of the openness of the times we could go back after the first or second issue and say, “do you mind paying us, we need the money!” and most of them did give us the money and in some cases I think we started offering small discounts for early payment. We had cash-flow basically.

I guess there was a degree of sympathy from advertisers.

Not sympathy, there was mutuality of interest because the kind of people we were featuring in the magazine also turned out to be people the advertisers knew, so it was all intertwined as it is in all good media projects.

What were the major challenges facing Time Out as a fledgling business?

I think in our case the first major obstacle that didn’t go our way was distribution. I am a veteran browser of mastheads and I remember looking at Private Eye before I started the magazine and saw it was distributed by Moore-Harness so I made a mental note to talk to them. What happened was I, and the person I was working with, Bob Harris, I think we printed 5000 copies of the first run and we just went out and we took the magazines and put them out ourselves into retail outlets.

Then Moore-Harness noticed this magazine. They realised it was beginning to find a market, all be it small, so by the time that we did the third issue they took the magazine on. Our print-run then went from whatever it was we were doing, let’s say 5000, and immediately went to 20,000 and we probably sold about half.

What do you think drew people to Time Out during its early years?

We were doing information. I always say it’s an information business and it was about information from day one. I was fully connected to the way things were going at the time, a lot of the cultural changes, the new-wave, whether that was music, quite a lot of theatre was emerging, poetry, books and the only place where you could really find out about these things was what was then called the underground press. There was a newspaper called International Times but there was also a very good political newspaper called Black Dwarf, and one or two others like Oz and Gandalf’s Garden and things like that.

None of them were doing the information in a particularly focused or dedicated way. I was also interested in what I could do for what you might call the best of the established culture, the Royal Shakespeare Company, I think the National Theatre must have existed, there was also a lot of fringe theatre, so we had the best of the established and the best of the new. I think people took one look at the clarity of what we were doing and thought, “oh why hasn’t anyone thought of doing this before?”. That’s what it was really. It was really plugging a need.

So it was run as a cooperative when it was first started…

No, not at all. The background to this is there was a long period from about 1972 through to 1981 where basically everybody except the very senior management were all paid the same amount of money. That started because there wasn’t a lot of staff and there wasn’t a lot of difference between what the so-called management were being paid and the rest of the staff.

The staff then got very heavily unionised and the NUJ particularly liked using the concept of everybody getting paid the same to kind of keep everyone slightly in line. When we had the big strike in 1981 and closedown it was entirely about the principle of introducing pay-scales and the management’s right to manage the company basically but it was not – I emphasise – not ever, ever, ever a cooperative.

Did commercial considerations force the magazine to drift away from what would now be considered quite a radical stance on a number of issues?

No, the magazine was always commercial, we always sought to sell as many copies as we could, we actively and aggressively went out and sold advertising. I suppose the content of the magazine has shifted over the decades because the decades have shifted frankly. If you look at the 70s, the 70s was a very political period, we had the disaster of Ted Heath and the miners’ strike through to Labour government and then Thatcher coming and in the 80s it was the style decade, it was the beginning of nightclubbing etc. In the 70s you had an extremely important period of time called punk and punk people were commercial in a sense that they maximised their opportunities as was appropriate.

So the content reflected what was going on in British society?

Always, exactly, yes, there was a tension between the view of the world of some of the staff who were quite political, very political in some cases, and some others, including me. So when punk and clubbing began to emerge, some of those people didn’t see that activity as being particularly something worth covering enthusiastically because they had a more censorious view of what was worth doing. That was another contributory reason as to why we had to close down and had the strike in 1981, it was that the whole rationale and direction of the way we had to do things had to change, because otherwise it would have just disappeared.

You’re in the rare position of not having worked for anyone else. How important was self-employment to you and was that a major motivation for you?

I started the magazine when I was still technically at university and I was going to go away to France to study. I was aware all the time that I was working for myself and it is true that over the years I have fought very strongly to keep that independence but I think the project is more important than the idea of being self-employed because you could never have done the project without being self-employed.

How would you characterise your management style?

You’ll have to ask someone else, I have no idea! I currently have a lot less to do with this than I have done, which I am very pleased about. In the period where I was much more hands-on then I could be very direct with people and be very tough and say “this is what we have to do, get on and do it”. You know what has to be done and how but also I believe I have always been very open to listening to people because I didn’t have much experience or knowledge to bring to the business from day one. So you solicit ideas from other people and you have to decide how much of it you are going to use.

Over the last decade or so Time Out has been growing extensively abroad, how have you gone about expanding Time Out internationally?

We’ve had licenses for 11 years now and it started with some people in Turkey, then people from the United Arab Emirates came to us so they did Dubai, then we had people from Israel and then from Cyprus. We organised it very quickly, having employed a consultant who knew about this area, so he went out around the world looking for other interested parties. So you reach this really virtuous point in time when you’ve got the critical mass where people think, “oh actually, I’m interested in doing that for my city”, so they come to us.

It’s really impressive that the brand has been able to maintain interest for so long and you get people coming to you from other countries.

It works very strongly because they want to do it, if you take for example Lisbon, where we have a successful licensing arrangement, the whole idea of a bunch of people from London trying to bring out a magazine in Portuguese is a non-starter.

What would be your advice to someone starting their own business?

If people have got a strong idea that is well executed, and clearly it has to be something that fulfills some kind of a need, the last thing the world needs is 150 new music magazines for example, so you’ve got to pick your spot, really work hard and execute it as well as possible.

I think people often think they can’t start small, you have to be of some size. I’ve always advised people to aim for a niche and establish yourself in that niche and then build from there. I think the era is over really where people have an idea that goes national and becomes enormous. It’s more a question of small and good.

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Lockdown at Hay

The famous painter waits in the wings of the main stage. ‘I know my stuff, and I’m famous,’ he mutters to no one in particular. His interviewer is famous too, what with his yard of books and own TV series.  He was known as passionate, principled.  He’d gone on about it in the green room, before his coda,  ‘but we’re here to talk about you, Sir Stanley,’ the emphasis on the Sir – before genuflecting.
           ‘Oh humph,’ he’d said, every bit the knighted yet humble painter, ‘you’ll be offered one in a few years.’
           ‘I like to think I’d turn it…’ The famous presenter had swallowed the word ‘down’ before it could leave his mouth.  He’d gone an interesting pink – flake white mixed with a smear of viridian red. What a study, he’ll remember that.  
           ‘I have one of your canvases over the mantelpiece at home,’ Mr Turn It Down had said.
            ‘Oh? Which one?’
            ‘Er, untitled.’
            ‘What dyer pay for it?’ he’d asked, knowing that it was Glad Morning in Uttar Pradesh.
An usher comes, a local sixth former, in love with all writers and painters, her hair brushed back, eyes gleaming. Another interesting study, he thinks. Then the presenter is at his elbow, and onto the stage they go, pushing their fame before them, each trying not to trip over the coils of camera wire. They settle to an extended pitter-patter of applause, like rain on the canvas walls. Broad smiles beam up at them, sideways smiles, heads cocked, some of them clapping their hands above their heads.   A man stands in salute but no one follows him, so he sits down, flushed.  Flushed is interesting, he thinks, the red mixed into the white would need to be maroon, the white a Titanium to give it that edge.
A hush descends upon the marquee, and he sees the grey eye of the monster, behind it, its mistress the camerawoman, her hat the wrong way round, tendrils of fair hair escaping. He thinks of Medusa.
My esteemed guest needs no introduction,’ says his interrogator.
           So he doesn’t get one. He notices a few punters consulting their programmes. Ha!  Notices too that all the faces are what his old friend EM Forster called pinko grey.  What a good name for a colour, he thinks. They should sell it in tubes.
He studies the diffused light bleeding like tinted steam through the walls, trying to name its colour, or is it a hue?
He hears the first question loudly, too loudly.  Of course, it’s the second time of asking. ‘Describe your processes, Sir Stanley.’
            ‘Er,’ he replies, and studies the sharp viridian green stain on his white shoe – a rather fine mottled smear from the damp spring grass outside, as grinning loons approached him with pieces of paper for his autograph, a white space at the top for a squiggle, a sketch even. He’d obliged, even though his gallery had asked him not to.
           ‘OK,’ says Turn it Down, ‘the paintings seem spontaneous, not consciously thought about.’
           What twaddle, he thinks, everything is a dance between the Dilly and the Dally, his names for his conscious and unconscious minds.  But he says instead.
The crowd grows restless, a few rictus grins, faces fanned by programmes.  The eye of the camera is steady, the camerawoman smiling. She doesn’t care, he thinks.  She just wants her lunch.  But that bloody eye doesn’t blink – a milky but opaque grey, an oblong hood around it like a cobra ready to strike at the centre of him. The camerawoman’s knee jiggles in her sage green combats.
           ‘Are you comfortable Sir Stanley?’ asks Turn It Down, his voice a tad higher.
           ‘Yes!’ He doesn’t mean to snap but maybe it will release the flow of trapped words. Remove the dam at his tongue. Maybe the words will melt and come trickling out in a sweet flow of art talk, words like voluble, sensual, colour-tension.  Some of them slight enough to squeeze through his teeth – bold, thick, thin – or oblong words like motivation, creative processes, non- figurative. Round, plump ones – ellipse, circle, blob.  But they clog his mouth, a pallet of unspoken colour straight from the tube, some leaking into turds of white. The words also smell, of linseed oil, turpentine, and fixative. But that dull grey eye keeps them locked away.  ‘Our time is up,’ says Turn It Down. ‘Have you anything else to say, Sir Stanley?’
            ‘No,’ he says, feeling that the eye might be his friend after all, deciding to ask the camerawoman to lunch to ask her what she saw.




Jan Woolf
Painting: Ian Hamilton Finlay

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Summary of The Summer



An old man
made of newspaper pink
rocks his porch.
His room, a whistling kettle
one cool shade of darkness
hoards his wife in sepia prints.
You can see me – 
a boy in perpetuity
with a stick to beat the bushes
until bees swarm to buzz me into a blur.




Kushal Poddar


Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)


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The Italian Digression – Part 8

Florence/Firenze a year on . . . drastically side-tracked by Sebald, Sutherland and San Francisco


The black and white marble immensity of Florence cathedral[i] is definitely worth more than a glance if you have an oxygen tank and can fight your way through the crowd – or wait until it rains. May 2019