Tribute to the Cows of Glastonbury

As the sunrise of Glastonbury week breaks, we the poets, the troubadours of the 21st century raise a wordspun glass to those sentient beings whose home we are borrowing for the week. Those bovine refugees whose transient presence paint this green and pleasant land with bold splashes of black and white now pootle off to their respective B&B’s in Bournemouth (we think). Ladies and gentlemen, a toast to the cows of Worthy Farm…

cow_pyramid

Vanessa Kisuule

I raise my sadly super market bought
Pint of semi skimmed to you
The true headliners of Glastonbury
You take centre stage
All other days of the year
And then one fateful week in June
You let us ticking glitter bombs
Piss our hedonism into your soil
We are sorry in advance
We almost definitely
Won’t leave it as we found it
It will take you some time
To strip away the shrapnel
Of our four day decadent dance
But we shall leave echoes
Of the choruses we sang along to
The festival friendships formed
Fast as a sailors knot
Then faded to phantom grey
We will bend down on our knees
And baptise ourselves in the mud
You will christen us crazy
In your field of dreams and whimsy
And on Monday as we trundle back
To the gunmetal of day to day
We will turn our heads back
To the post-apocalypse scene
Behind us
And nod sagely
In silent respect to you
The cows of Glastonbury

Harry Baker

 

howard

Howard

Howard lived in cow woods,
living how a cow would live,
chewing grass and making pats
were the main things Howard did.

They said Howard was a coward,
feeling how a coward feels,
fear would overtake excitement
looking at the outward fields.

It wasn’t easy living in the woods,
there wasn’t that much space,
but it was all he’d ever known
and that made him feel safe.

He’d heard about
this herd and how
they roamed completely free,
he hoped if he was brave enough
one day that’s where he’d be.

But
how would Howard leave
as a cow so cowardly?
He scoured cow wood’s trees
and caught a glimpse of the outside.

For
an hour now or three
he’d been about to bow and see,
but he’d allowed the doubts to breathe
and now he wants to run and hide.

But then one foot at a time
he tries
to set his fears aside,
he sighs,
and then he steps outside
his hiding place.

No longer sheltered by the trees
he feels a breeze,
he cannot breathe,
suddenly weak at the knees
his cagey heart begins to race.

So he retreated to the woods
where he knew that it was safe,
and told himself another day
he’d try again.

 

Carly Brown

cowpat2

A Poem for the Cows

Cows do not like poetry.
This fact is sad but true.
They do like painting and ballet
and even music too.

But try to get a cow to read
one line of a haiku?
They’ll roll their great big dopey eyes
and run away from you.

Cows cringe at bawdy limericks.
They scoff at tawdry verse.
And rhyming ballads, for a cow,
those simply are the worst.

That’s why the cows are happy now
to be away from here.
These pesky poets in one place
is what the bovines fear.

So while we poets stamp and jeer
and slam and speak and riot.
The cows all slumber dreamlessly
and wait for peace and quiet.

 

Charlotte Higgins

Cows

In six months I move to the city
I keep a tube map in an app and in my pocket
But lately I don’t always have to look at it to get to where I want to go

In a year or so, will I recognise London street names
The way I used to know the horse and two donkeys at the end of our road,
Or the cows I could see from my window

The half-conscious rhythm of that field
That I’d look out on, ploughed, then left fallow,
Then – always of a sudden –
Filled right up with cows
As if they’d been there from the get-go.

 

Erin Bolens

laptop

Air bnb: customer reviews.

Host: Worthy farm cows

Guest: Brenda, Cross Gates.

Feedback:

We had a great stay on worthy farm
Full of worthy charm.
We must have picked a popular week!
It was sort of like playing hide and seek
With everyone you’ve ever met.
The garden was extensive,
Local restaurants seemed expensive
Given chairs were sparse,
For most of the time we sat on our… bottoms.

The bathrooms had a minimalist vibe
(i.e. pretty much just a hole inside)
But we found this liberating,
Borderline invigorating!
But be prepared for a little waiting
And hanging around.
And we also suggest that you don’t look down.
The decor was bang on trend:
Like the apocalypse meets the West End,
Like a collage from your favourite friend,
A hipster version of make do and mend.
The neighbour’s music was pretty loud,
And seemed to pull a hefty crowd!
We didn’t realise this was allowed
Until we saw a copper in kaftan
Telling people to “have a laugh man”.
So we embraced the eccentricity
And got hooked on spicy tea.

So thank you cows for an enjoyable stay!
We hope to maybe meet one day
And say thanks for all the fun and larks,
It was a lovely alternative to our usual Centre Parcs.

 

Dan Simpson

Glastondairy Moosic Festival

The cows are going away for a week
they’re having their very own festival
a massive affair, but chic and boutique
it’s going to be unforgettable.

The bands are all booked, the tickets all sold
Daisy canters her way to the main gate
hoof-band put on, she’s brought into the fold
so excited she really just can’t wait.

Crowds of cows arrive and brave the bull run
the sound of a thousand hooves stamping
they go to pitch tents in space where there’s none
jealous of those cows who are glamping.

Don’t have a cow, Daisy – there’s room for you
in these fields where no humans will come
relax and chill out, just don’t give a moo
try to enjoy this long weekend of sun.

At least, they hope – are they grey clouds up there?
they don’t want ’97 again
but cows always know – a change in the air
they start to lie down as it starts to rain.

Daisy forgot wellies – waterproofs too
just stays there, watching, chewing the cud
till she needs to go to the portaloo –
how now brown cow? Daisy’s stuck in the mud.

Daisy loses her friends – all of her herd
starts to wander, lonely as a cow
enters a tent called ‘Poetry & Words’:
thinks: “not for me – that’s far too high-brow.”

Daisy’s exhausted, she sits for a while
listens to acts who perform poetry
and gradually her frown becomes a smile
she forgets all her worries totally.

So on Worthy Farm, the cows are all gone
off and away to explore pastures new
we raise our voices to those who belong
to this land that we’re just passing through.

As you enjoy your time at Glastonbury
look down, remember, these fields that we roam:
our ownership is just temporary
we’re only here until the cows come home.

And now, some of Dan’s Cow-based Band puns…

cow_kanye

Moo Fighters (pulled out)
Florence and the Milking Machine
Alabama Milkshakes
Graze-alia Banks
The Hoof
Cattle Williams
Kanye Dairy Crest
Dairy J Blige
Motorherd
Moodimental
Mark Oxen
Sleaford Cuds
Paul Heifer
Herd Bacharach
Beef Patty Smith
Bully Bragg
Fatboy Skimmed
Salt-J(erky)
Ungul-ate Tempest
Milko Johnson
The Of-Fall
The Maccabeefs
Catfish and the Burgermen
Cariboeuf
cow_lemmy
 .
.  
Thanks to all the poets who contributed to this. See you on the field…
Scott 🙂

 

 

Advertisements

Introducing the reigning Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champion – Erin Bolens

She kept her nerve, she fought off stunning competition, she broke through the judges’ (I was one of them) icy forensic gaze and even held in a wee to become 2014’s Slam champ, joining the ranks of hugley respected poets like Toby Thompson, Hollie McNish and Luke Wright. I asked the thoroughly charming “but not so confident you want to punch her” Erin Bolens about her win, her work and her tips for this year’s slammers.

erin

First off, an extremely belated congratulations for winning last year’s slam. You did brilliantly (obviously) and looked so relaxed despite the intensity of the setting. Can you tell us about the experience?

Thank you! I remember being really nervous actually and dithering a lot about when to run to the loo.

It was all very surreal. Dolly Parton was playing in the background, my friends were sat covered in mud and eating ice cream. It was one of those experiences that even as a dream would seem bizarre. I very nearly didn’t enter – mostly I just the wanted the experience of performing a few poems. When you’re starting out you rarely get more than two minutes anywhere so it’s really hard to get that experience. That’s what drew me in. It’s something the festival and Poetry & Words should be so proud of. It opened a lot of doors for me and made me feel able to pursue it with more vigour.

Where sits your fabulous trophy now?

Until recently I was living in very mouldy quarters so I protected it fiercely and locked it away. It survived and is now on my bookcase. I couldn’t believe the level of care and detail that had gone in to it – it’s so spectacular!

As a consequence of you winning you are faced with your first official Glastonbury Poetry&Words booking. A full twenty minute spot to engage with a crowd who have thousands of other performers outside the tent clamouring for their attention. Looking forward to it? 😉

So much! I hadn’t really thought about all that. I guess I naturally assume that I will be performing to my mum and a couple of twitching sleeping bags, but maybe I’ll be lucky and it’ll rain (sorry!) and there will be loads of people just grateful not to be drenched.

I’m also doing a set in the Greenpeace field at 00.50 on Wednesday night – I’m not sure that’s the most natural time for poetry and also not a time I often see so I think that one will be interesting too!

Will you come prepared with an unshakable set in mind, or do you plan to wing it when you arrive? (I have no problem with either approach).

Last year I got a bit confused. I didn’t really know the rules of a slam as I had never done anything like it. For some reason I was convinced that you had to write pieces specifically for the competition. I didn’t manage three on the spot as I didn’t think I’d get that far but I wrote my first, about the festival, a day or two before. I realise you don’t have to do that now – I’ll be a little bit more rehearsed!

You have a very relaxed, punchy and distinctly Northern style (I can say that, I’m a Geordie) in your gentle mockery of pretence and celebrating the absurd. Does your observation tend to always lean to the comic, or would you consider doing a hyper-serious 24 stanza epic about the futility of existence?

Really? I’ll take that. Um, it probably does at the moment but it’s not an intentional style. I think it’s different for everyone. I feel that you need a massive amount of confidence in your own views and opinions to write very hard hitting stuff; I find that difficult to muster and feel it has to be earned a bit by age and experience. However, I’ve heard other poets speak similarly about writing comically so I guess it’s just horses for courses.

As I gain experience I’m beginning to become more comfortable writing more personally. For me that comes with getting more airtime – I was getting into a habit of doing two minute slots and performing the same couple of poems. I don’t like becoming bored of pieces because I’m wheeling them out too often! It’s great to be trying out more new poems at the moment.

As for being Northern – that has definitely intensified since I moved to London. Its probably something very deep about identity.

The futility of existence? I’d be up for that – perhaps it could be a group piece we all write over the course of the festival?

You recently came runner-up in the prestigious Roundhouse Slam. Tell us about that.

It was amazing! I think 700 people were watching 12 young poets – that’s incredible. I was really naive about it; I had no idea how popular it is or how big the Roundhouse main space is – from above it looked like this huge sacrificial pit. I started to think maybe one of us would get burned at the mic. It was a real celebration of words; the standard was very high and the styles very different so I was so chuffed to come second.

Quickfire camping questions

Airbed or Roll-out mat?

I upgraded to an airbed a couple of years ago. Do it.

Lager or cider?

Gin til I die.

PieMinster or Goan Fish Curries?

As much as I love a pun based meal I don’t think I’ve had either – I tend to take advantage of all amazing vegetarian feasts. I also spend about a month’s wages on chai. At least.

Wellies or docs?

Wellies always.

Trapped in a tent with – Lionel Ritchie or Roger Daltry?

Probably have to be Roger. I don’t think I’d have a lot to say to Lionel after establishing it wasn’t him I was looking for. That in itself would probably take longer than it should.

Finally, what advice would you give potential Glastonbury Slammers this year?

Do it! It’s such a great atmosphere. I’m often a little put off by the competitive element of slams but as long as you remember that it’s all subjective and there’s a big dash of luck in the first rounds particularly, then it’s really good fun. I really can’t wait to watch.

P.S. Really enjoying these posts Scott, cheers!

Shucks, aint she sweet? You can see why Erin Bolens is such a formidable performer in the Poetry&Words tent on Friday 26th at 4.55pm

The 2015 Glastonbury Poetry Slam will take place on Sunday 28th at 5pm at the Poetry&Words tent. If you wish to sign up for either the Poetry Slam or an Open Mic spot (which takes place Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) come as early as possible to the Poetry&Words tent and approach one of the MC’s to put your name down.

More fab folk on the way…

Scott 🙂

Behind every great Slam Trophy…

…is an artist hoping the slammer won’t drop it before they get off stage.

Behold, this year’s Glastonbury Poetry Slam trophy and she’s a beauty. This proud, rearing mare awaits she or he who holds their nerve and delivers the most powerful poetry performance at this year’s Poetry Slam.

trophy_unicorn

This wonderful work of unsubtlety was created, as always by the poet and visual artist, Peter Hunter. I asked Pete recently about his involvement with Poetry&Words over the years and his inspiration for this year’s piece.

Peter Hunter – artist & P&W unsung hero

PHglastoblog1

You’ve had a long history of creating the prestigious Glastonbury Slam trophy. How did you get involved in the first place?

I met Helen Johnson (then Gregory) when she started performing at an open mic I was running in Bristol many moons ago. We became friends and were involved in several projects with other poets over the years. When Helen inherited the Poetry&Words stage, she invited me to help out. As part of this I volunteered what skills I had, other than poetry and hosting,  in trying to find a revamped identity for Poetry&Words, this included the stage props and backdrop, various sorts of signage, redesigning the Poetry&Words poster each year, the introduction of the mini-programme and of course a glamorous trophy for the slam winners to receive in recognition of their poetic derring-do.

Tell us about your background as a sculptor and visual artist.

I have always had an aptitude for visual arts, it was the thing I most liked doing at school, and I was fortunate enough to study (study being a loose term) Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art back in the days when going to college didn’t leave you with crippling debt afterwards.

After that, for some reason, I became a ceramicist (making things out of clay, rather than sitting at a potter’s wheel making ‘pots’ and being a potter) and had a studio in central Bristol where I didn’t quite scrape enough money together to earn a proper living. I also did a short stint at an animation company making plasticine puppets for TV shows (to this day you can find some of my work on Youtube – I made the mouths for the animated Elton John in the Stars in Their Eyes titles from the 90’s).  I had some of my work featured on TV as an April Fools – fossils of fairies found on the banks of the river Severn – and at one point a woman came to my studio claiming to be the aunt of Robert Downey Jnr and bought him some chop-stick holders that I’d made that looked like little reclining people. (‘He’ll just love them!’)

In 2007 I managed to combine both my sculpting and poeting skills for Bristol Poetry Festival by creating a faux contemporary art exhibition at Arnolfini (Bristol’s main contemporary art gallery) which I then critiqued in rhyme. It was a controversial piece that didn’t go down very well with contemporay fine artists but apparently the volunteer staff liked it. Also the Arnolfini had to call me in because one of my ‘exhibits’ was starting to rot and the smell was getting into the air conditioning and begining to stink out the whole building, which I thought was a nice, if unplanned, touch.  There’s a (poor quality) vid of the piece here if you’re interested:

This year’s effort is quite special, having departed from your usual convention of a mic with embellishments to the radical creation of a rearing unicorn with a logo on its butt. Can you tell us your inspiration for this?

I try and make something unique and relatively different each year. It’s an opportunity for me to try out ideas within a loose theme. Usually the ideas are a reflection of what I’m generally interested in, or whatever pops into my head when I’m soaking in the bath.

Last year’s 3D pop-up book trophy was because I was wandering around charity shops and there seemed to be a lot of pop-up books and I thought I’d give it a go – it also meant that the trophy was relatively safe to transport when the book was closed.

erin_trophyPreviously I’ve got hold of a microphone and, as you say, embellished it – once as a space ship, once as a towering sculpture over a festival site diarama. There is always an element of tongue-in-cheek about the trophy and this year I thought I’d push it a little further by creating this grand rampant golden unicorn with the microphone carried in it’s mouth, as if the unicorn represented the poets’ magical transformation from slam hopeful to slam champion! Or something.

I also like the trophy’s to have some sort of interactive element if possible. The spaceship one was also a bedside light, the book was pop-up and this years unicorn is a pencil sharpener. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Which of the trophies you’ve created do you have the most fondness for?

Obviously the latest one is the best one, but I do have a fondness for the spaceship trophy – I think that was for the 2010 slam – it seemed to tick many fun design boxes for me.

11418333_10152788039030044_145298079_n

I used the mic for the spaceship body with the rounded head of the mic being the ‘front end’ with the jack-plug attached for a point. Then I added 3 tail-fins like a 1950’s style rocket – the sort you might see on the cover of an old sci-fi comic – but what I was most pleased with, was that I found a ceiling light that was slightly domed, and when it was turned upside down (so the dome faced up) it was curved like the surface of a planet and I stuck the mic-rocket onto that, as if it had landed – and the best thing was,

if you pushed the rocket down, the planet lit up! It was brilliant!

I still have a love for the trophy I won from the Bristol Slam of 2002 which you made (which was kind of a gold brick with an etching of the UK on it) How far back does your slam trophy creation go?

I think you have the first slam trophy I made (nice one for getting your City of Culture Slam win into the interview, Scott)*.  That didn’t quite turn out as planned. I had intended it to be all sharp edged and geometic and professional-looking, it even has a real gold-leaf coating. But I left it late and the material I made it out of didn’t set properly, so it’s a bit rough around the edges and the varnish I used took the glister off the gold. I seem to remember you refering to it at the time as ‘a golden brick’. Still, I’m glad it has a homely charm. 😉

*Well, why not? it’s not like I brought up the Ant-Slam ceramic fish I won recently, Or the Great Northern Slam microphone, Or the Apples&Snakes Poetry Boxing belt, Or the Belfast Intercity Slam glass bowl… 😉

What are you working on at the moment?

I don’t have a studio at the moment – haven’t for a few years now – so everyhting I do sculpture-wise is restricted to being small enough to fit on my desk.

I’ve been making some props for the local youth theatre production of His Dark Materials and I amuse myself by gluing stuff together to see what happens (the neighbours cat will never be the same again) I’ve also been working on some small lino-prints and then there’s a bigger project in the pipeline that I can’t say too much about, but it’s working with a local arts group and I’m hoping they’ll allow me to make a full-sized mock-up space cargo transporter. All being well…

What advice would you give the winner of this year’s trophy regarding a) taking care of it b) the best room/setting to display it?

Having won the trophy, the next problem is getting it home in one piece (it’s not that delicate, but it may not withstand being worn as a hat in the dance tent untill 4am) If possible, hire a couple of security guards to stand over it for the Sunday evening and then order a helicopter to airlift it off site and back home.

Once there I’d suggest, if they don’t already have a trophy room, maybe try the traditional pride-of-place on the mantlepiece – somewhere that’s in full view to everyone who comes into the house, so they can marvel at it. Or, for a fee, I can build a wall-mounted, climate controlled, plexi-glass fronted, fully alarmed, trophy cabinet. Get in touch with me via Glastonbury Poetry…

If you wish to be in with a chance to be the owner a beautiful gold unicorn chewing a microphone, the Glastonbury Poetry Slam will take place on Sunday 28th at 5pm at the Poetry&Words tent.

If you wish to sign up for either the Poetry Slam or an Open Mic spot (which takes place Saturday 27th at 12.50pm) come as early as possible to the Poetry&Words tent and approach one of the MC’s to put your name down.

Coming up next…an interview with last year’s Slam winner, Erin Bolens.

Scott 🙂

 

The FULL Glastonbury Poetry&Words 2015 Line up

Behold, the dates and times of all the stars of this year’s Poetry&Words tent at Glastonbury. Thanks to P&W’s very own behind-the-scenes veteran Jack Bird for designing this year’s poster. Is very pretty 🙂

PW Poster Final

The first of our special interviews will be going up soon. Keep watching.

Scott 🙂

I trust I can rely on your poets?

It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? Huge elation for some and crushing bewilderment for others, but Poetry&Words is standing on its soap box to welcome the next five eminently electable and delectable poets appearing in a big top in Somerset in late June. Be you left, right, ecstatic or sitting in a darkened room picturing imminent armageddon, this batch will show you manifestos that every poetry lover can get behind…

Dan Simpson

Dan Simpson

A top poet. A top bloke. I had the pleasure of performing with Dan at the Larmer Tree festival a few years ago. His warm, affable, utterly likeable delivery perfectly compliments his razor sharp writing and observation.

As well being a poet he’s also a regular compere. His poetry deals with love and literature, science and stars, people and Pac-Man: all that good geeky stuff. He was Canterbury Laureate 2013-14, and has worked on literature projects for Southbank Centre, Royal Academy of Arts, and National Museum of Scotland. His first collection of poetry is Applied Mathematics, published by Burning Eye Books, and his poems have featured on the BBC and London Underground. As an educator, Dan delivers poetry workshops in schools and for adults, most recently as a Poet Coach for Apples and Snakes’ youth slam project Spoke ‘n’ Word. Dan has performed at major festivals, events, and venues around the UK, including: The National Theatre, Roundhouse, and BBC Radio. He also performed (poetry) at both a hen party and a death metal gig, and is unharmed.

“charmingly geeky” (The Scotsman)
@dansimpsonpoet

 

Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack

A powerful, subversive, unstoppable, sassy poet I’ve had the pleasure of performing with several times.

Paula Varjack is an artist and creative producer.  Trained in filmmaking and performance, she works across theatre, documentary and spoken word. Her work explores identity, our desire for connection, and our relationship with cities.  She is currently developing “Show Me The Money” a solo performance on the relationships artists have with fees and funding. She has performed at numerous arts festivals and cultural spaces including: The V&A, Richmix, Wilton’s Music Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, Glastonbury Festival, Berlin International Literature Festival,  and The Photographer’s Gallery.

I’ll be interviewing both Paula and Dan Simpson about their creative partnership (including the hosting the Glastonbury Poetry Slam) in a future blog!

 

Erin Bolens

Erin Bolens

Meet last year’s Glastonbury Poetry Slam Champ. Bubbling with wit, energy, great writing and a flawless performance. And I should know, I was one of the judges last year.

Erin had only been performing for several months when she won The Glastonbury Poetry Slam in 2014. Originally from Leeds, Erin currently lives in London where she has been performing and writing regularly over the last year. She is also the co-founder of Culture Cake, a new event that promotes emerging performers of poetry, comedy and music. She says that Glastonbury was definitely a tipping point that allowed her to dive into a world of words and she is very appreciative of such a glorious and rare opportunity. Erin has attended the festival since she was seven so is particularly excited to be performing somewhere that has been such a big part of her life.

“Fun, rhythmical and welcoming. Extremely comfortable but not so confident you want to punch her.” – Char March, poet

 

The Antipoet

Antipoet1

I love these guys – funny, ranty, anarchic, silly and tight as the proverbial gnat’s derrière. One of their more dodgier songs I couldn’t get out of my head for days last year. They’ll be doing the warm-up shows at Poetry& Words in June, and I can’t think of anyone better for pulling a crowd into a tent.

The Antipoet, Paul Eccentric and Ian Newman, are together the world’s finest exponents of beatrantin’ rhythm ‘n views!  A delicious mixture of comedy and spoken word. They have tirelessly toured the poetry, comedy and music circuits, and have appeared at countless festivals including, Glastonbury, Edinburgh, Brighton, Ledbury, Camden, Wenlock, Larmer Tree, Nostock, Blyth Power Ashes and Buxton.

“Really, really ace! I like what you do” -Ray Peacock, comedian, FUBAR Radio February 2015
“I might not agree with the sentiment, but you said it well” -The Mayor of Milton Keynes, January 2015
“The Antipoet: Funny-arse Fuckers!” -Mama Tokus, Apples and Snakes, December 2014
“It was lovely to corrupt the festival with you” –Helen Gregory, Poetry&Words, Glastonbury June 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF2FOTKarpc 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQgDWzbwo3o

 

Attila the Stockbroker

Attila

Let’s face it, Glastonbury wouldn’t be Glastonbury without Attila. A stalwart of Poetry&Words for many years. A massive force for aggressive good and guaranteed to pack out the tent. So get a patch of hessian mat early if you want to feel angry, elated and fired up to change the world.

Attila the Stockbroker: ‘Arguments Yard’ is the autobiography of Attila the Stockbroker. Published Sept 8 2015 – the 35th anniversary of Attila’s first gig…

Launched into public consciousness by legendary Radio One DJ John Peel in 1982/83, Attila the Stockbroker has spent 35 years touring the world as a self sustaining  DIY one man cottage industry, performing well over 3000 gigs in 24 countries and releasing about 20 LPs/CDs, 10 EPs and 7 books of poetry.

He toured East Germany 4 times before the Wall came down and twice more immediately afterwards, was involved in the first ever punk performance in Stalinist Albania and had to turn down playing in North Korea because he was already booked to tour sensible old Canada. He once stood in for Donny Osmond at a gig. He was targeted by fascists during the early Eighties and as well as the physical stuff once had a 10 minute stand up political argument with notorious Nazi band Skrewdriver singer Ian Stuart in the middle of a Black Flag gig at the 100 Club in London’s Oxford Street.

Having got an encore as the support act, he was thrown out of his own gig by the bouncers on the orders of the main act John Cale, one of his all time musical heroes. His support acts? They’ve included Manic Street Preachers, Julian Clary, New Model Army and Billy Bragg.  And in the early 80s the incredibly influential Radio One DJ Steve Lamacq was his roadie for a while.

He has led his ‘medieval punk’ band Barnstormer for 20 years as well as the solo stuff – but he did his first ever punk gig as bass player in Brighton Riot Squad in 1977 in Brighton’s legendary Vault, where coffins and skeletons from nineteenth century Huguenot plague victims kept coming through the walls.
Reviewing his first album in the NME, Don Watson said that he would rather gnaw through his own arm than listen to it again! Didn’t deter Attila though: that was 32 years ago. Didn’t deter New Zealand either: when he arrived for his first tour in 1991 both national TV channels were waiting to greet him at the airport.  And when Attila argues with a journalist he knows the score because he is one too, having written for NME, Sounds, Time Out, The Guardian and The Independent among others. He currently does a regular column in the Morning Star.

This book is social history and personal story combined: a cultural activist’s eyewitness journey through the great political battles and movements of recent times. Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League, Miners’ Strike, Wapping dispute, Red Wedge, Poll Tax, campaigns against two Gulf Wars. There are memoirs from all over the UK and mainland Europe and his many tours of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, and the centrepiece of the book is the story of his time performing all over East Germany as the campaign for democratic socialist change grew: history observed at first hand.

Back home he had done every Glastonbury Festival since 1983 and organizes his own beer/music extravaganza. Glastonwick, in his native West Sussex. He was at the heart of a 15 year campaign to save his beloved Brighton & Hove Albion FC from oblivion. And he tells of a happy childhood ripped apart by his father’s death  and, forty years later, of  how he and his wife nursed his mother through a 6 year battle with Alzheimer’s.

Above all, though, his message is a simple one:  you don’t need to be ‘a celebrity’ to have a wonderful life earning your living doing what you love. You just have to have a way with words, the self-confidence and organizational ability of Napoleon and a skin thicker than the armour of a Chieftain tank.

The next batch of wunderwordsmiths are coming soon…

Scott 🙂