Monday, September 28, 2009


PICTURE: Ex-'INHALANTS' stars finally re-united, as part of Hiromi Nagashima's 'GLUE-SNIFFING REVIVAL A GO GO!' champagne brunch presentation, which was hosted in the Portico Rooms, Somerset House, during a busy and well-attended London Fashion Week. "I see solvent abuse as the most prolix response of all to simulated recession," the 43-year old Osaka designer and bedwetter wittered to a bunch of pissed-up cunts from Italian Vogue.

Left: jeans, jacket, glue bag, model's own. Right: Union Flag shirt, £4, British Movement; Crombie, £100, Enfants de Fumier; bleached jeans by Mad Pam (deceased)

Well, fuck it, I've had it with music after this rotten month. Listen - in the early 1980s, do you know what the BEATLES meant to me? I'll tell you what - a broken pair of spectacles in a mound of splattered brains, a degenerate pervert serenading cartoon frogs, a far-out hippie threatening his wife with a broken whisky bottle and an ape narrating some nauseating piece of Stakhanovite propaganda about an obsequious talking train, which, for some lunatic reason, was deemed 'suitable viewing' for pre-pubescents.

Listening to the Beatles was like being transported back to a golden age where men walked around in top hats, babies died of consumption, families bathed in cold cabbage water (in a tin) and all turntables had a massive deaf man's trumpet attached. This band had no place in a world that had discovered microchips and sanitary towels. They were a tinny, whining mess, fit only to scare young visitors to the History Museum. As part of an exhibition entitled What our ancestors listened to when every waking hour was a razorcut of excrutiating fucking boredom, or similar.

And as for VERA cunting LYNN...I mean, are you kidding me? At least Josef Locke had the decency not to haul his carcass, kicking and screaming "HEEEEARRR MY SONNNGGG", into the 21st century. Vera Lynn! Didn't she play with Hawkwind, or something?

But - Buddah doing something you don't typically associate with deities! - here we are in September 2009, and BOTH of these tortured relics are clogging up the Top Ten of the UK albums chart. Words fail me. Cigarettes fail to placate me. Vomit escapes me. This is what the majority of the British music-buying public are wasting their cash on. Are you NOW in any doubt as to why the BNP did so well in the Euro elections?

So, sod it; I decided to concentrate on fashion instead this month. As most of you probably couldn't give a fig about, London's just hosted its prestigious 'Fashion Week' - seven sizzling days of sartorial innovation. Give or take a couple a days, maybe...but hey! Who's paying heed to lunar rotations, we only care about the thread count!

I'm no stranger to style myself. Why, back in my wilderness daze in Luton, I was often complimented on my tartan bondage strides (not the ones with the strap between the legs - how was I meant to run away from lagered-up freak-bashers at 11pm with one of those contraptions slowing me down?) In fact, I can count on two fingers the number of times women shouted "Nice trousers!" at me. You know, secretary types and all! And even a member of the Bury Park Youth Posse thought my kecks were 'skill'. He may have been taking the piss, but at least he didn't lamp me one. The only person who vocally expressed his disapproval was a bus driver, who informed me they were 'gay' - but any bus driver worth their salt has a decidely low opinion of humanity anyway, so at least I knew I was in for a safe ride home.

Do I still own this cheaply-sewn cloth combo of Highland clan couture and rusty zips? No, of course I don't, ya fools! That's not how FASHION works. Every garment ever produced in the name of 'fashion' has its 'season'. I ended up giving the trousers to someone as a symbol of my undying love (she actually wanted my black army jacket, but there was no way I was relinquishing THAT to a mere mortal). The trousers were promptly stuffed into the back of her wardrobe for a few months, and then discarded in a bin. A bit of a metaphor for life, if you ask...someone with nothing better to think about.

Fashion is constantly on the move, roaring through the cosmos like a Babylonian dragon. It takes no prisoners; it discards all chains. One minute, you're sauntering down the street in a denim skirt, lycra leggings and ballet pumps, cars smashing into each other as their awe-struck drivers gawp at your elegance - the next, you're screaming and locking yourself in the bathroom, broken mirror shard hovering over artery, as an acid-trippy vision of girls wearing imitation biker boots and floral dresses - a.k.a THIS season's thang! - MOCK you with derisive cackles! Fashion literally sucks you in, chews you up and spits you into the NAPKIN OF IRRELEVANCE, in the time it takes to say PHILIP GREEN'S A TASTELESS FUCKING GARGOYLE, or OH COME ON, WE ALL KNOW GAP MADE THEIR PROFITS OUT OF MUTILATING 6-YEAR OLD INDIANS, THE PASTELLY CUNTS.

Yes, believe it or not, I too have fallen foul of Fashion's fickle dictats. Like the time I purchased a bomber jacket with an orange lining, and a Union Flag and the word COMBAT sewn into the label (I got it from a branch of Millets, lol). I wore it to sixth form once and it bucketed down. Occult cloud revenge for all those 'RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!" spells our infant school coven used to chant at North London's leaden skies. The rain came back another day, alright, and soaked me to the bone. My 'hard man' jacket dissolved like bog roll. I had to wear my dad's old donkey jacket from then on in - a genuine 1960s building site number. "IT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MAN WHO BUST HIS BALLS CLOTHIN' AN' FEEDIN' YA!" he raged when I didn't jump for joy on seeing my new jacket for the next 12 months. Everyone used to assume my bag was stuffed with copies of Morning Star. Whenever it rained, the jacket certainly kept the water out, though it did smell of dead dog for a few days after each downpour. You know how I sometimes refer to a certain 'ex' as being mental? Well, this isn't a puerile dig at her. I can ground this assertion in fact, here and now - she thought this garment of toil was 'sexy'.

All I can say is, the time - ages later - I looked in the old man's wardrobe and discovered a pristine, original Crombie (which I claimed), I learnt the true meaning of A Boy Named Sue.

And - oh Jesus, wipe away the memory - there was the fluorescent yellow and black Celtic away top. Even if I did obtain it at discount price - AT THE AGE OF 21 - why I thought it'd be a good idea to cling to some notion of Irish heritage by dressing like a glossy queen bee still utterly mystifies me. This item was destroyed by an explosive foreign match in the Marquis of Granby in New Cross, whilst watching a heated Old Firm game on Sky Sports. Celtic lost.

As for the studded wristband or the snide Police shades (20p in Thailand)...anyway, enough of all that. I decided to celebrate Fashion Week by observing my fellow passengers on the bus and tube. Sadly, even a relatively muted British summer brought out all the usual affronts to Western civilisation in their shorts and sandals. Thankfully, all the ballet pumps seem to be going the way of my bondage trousers. I observed a few men sporting jeans with white squiggles on the bum pockets - and I've been informed these monstrosities cost about £170! What the - ? If I tippex-ed your arse, you'd probably smack me in the kisser, not pay through the nose for the privilege of looking like a child who's been victimised in Art class.

So, what do you actually need in your wardrobes for the Autumn / Winter '09 /'10 season? Well, furry Russian hats for a start, but...I decided to check out some of my fellow online scribblers' opinions, before holding court on the subject. My first search came up with, so I guess they're the best. Firstly, for all you little ladies out there, the site recommends:

* "Over-the-knee/thigh-high boots". Well, OK, I'm an ex-Adam and the Ants fan, I don't mind this. It's not as if they're telling you to hollow out watermelons and wear them on your trotters.

* "Capes, capelets and cloaks". The only people in England who still wear capes are Odinists who listen to Neo-Folk bands called Axis of Blackbirds. Don't do it, woman! You'll look like a twat! A cloak indeed!

* "Leather clothing". Right, so we're on for 'risque' pseudo-dominatrix revival' this winter? Actually, I'm not hostile towards Ugg boots, unlike most loud-mouthed male commentators - they make me think of snowball fights in the street, and 70s 'white rasta' punk stars jumping around on abandoned car roofs in Derek Jarman flicks.

* "Ripped tights and stockings". Is a bloke writing this? I can see the appeal when you're straight, male and teenage, but after you've sat through The Accused a couple of times...((according to the site, these represent a new era of neo-Grunge, which, if it's anything like 'nu rave', will be nothing like 'grunge' whatsoever - thank Pan for small mercies! Anyway, you too can go to Top Shop and pay £25 for your pins to look like goth / punk girls' used to, whenever they naturally snagged their nylons bunking over a) cemetery walls, for the 'Midnight Cider Rite' b) cordons at demonstrations, to avoid the oncoming, baton-wielding 'Wall of Pork')).

Actually, who am I kidding, ripped tights sound great. Sorry, I still haven't confronted and slain my inner crustie...

* "See-through clothing". 2010's sheer pieces are a mixture of the soft and feminine, to the opposite extremes of the hardcore sex-kitten. This is like Jackie Collins writing sci-fi.

Right, time for the males.

* "Suits"
* "Military"
* "Deep V-Neck"

Oh, what a surprise. I mean, nobody could see those fuckers coming a mile off.

* "Brooches". The site explains: As if taking their cues from the Cool Britannia revival

Hang on, hang on - WHO in buggeration's used that WRETCHED term since those evil, dank days when 'the party of the prole' swapped Clause 4 for fucking D:Ream, and we all had to tolerate that hideous, mediocre crone from Sleeper, sweeping aside years of well-aimed Riot Grrrl polemic with her 'feminists should shut up and shave!' quips, mainly uttered to land her compost heap of a band a few more (unlistenable) album sales among the Kelly Brook/Jo Guest-obsessed DRIPS who thought that idolising the behaviour of the 1972 Leeds United squad (though actually passing out after six pints themselves), wearing brown vintage Adidas t-shirts ('to look like Renton'), reading Loaded articles on how to eat fish and chips like a 'geezer', and cheering on every dismal release by Ocean Colour Scene and Cast was the best that 'youth culture' could throw at 'The Man'? I mean, who's used the term'Cool Britannia' since? Cos, if anyone has, and you know where they live, you owe it to your community and your country to go and crush these reptiles with spanners.

Sorry - back to the experts. As if taking their cues from the Cool Britannia revival, the most popular of men's brooches take their cues from vintage Anglo-Saxon, English and Scottish brooches, and old-world motifs such as stag heads.

They're pushing a bloody Neo-Folk revival! Look, no shit - if I see anyone ponceing around London in a cape or runic brooch, the gutters will gush with blood. Cloaks went out with the Knights Templar - deal with it.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse:

* "Goth ninja". Goth Ninja/Batman meets Rick Owens/Dorian Gray meets Damir Doma/Japanese rock star...

...independent fashion site/a few Google Ads meets badly rushed NME live review/taking horse tranquilisers inside a piss-soaked cubicle...

...whatever you call it

Bollocks, perhaps? Goth Ninja...oh, reader, READER, I've heard it all now. Whatever happened to the Pirate Goths, incidentally? They were meant to be popping up on the horizon three years ago, but I haven't seen one yet. The fashion equivalent of an urban myth. How about Goth footballer? I'll permit Goths to wear shorts, just for the duration of this 'season', natch.

So, there you go. That's the way Fashion's blowing at the moment. If I can fling you a meagre scrap of advice, however - invest in a good Russian hat. It's the one immovable object that Fashion simply can't negate, denigrate or demote. In fact, it's pointless for me to give you general fashion advice, cos then you'd all look like me - and how would we ever learn to love and trust each other, trapped within a nightmare labyrinth of mirrors? But a world filled with Russian hats - I can dig that.

Oh, and if you're going for the 'military'look, - for Chrissakes, go to an army surplus store. They're cheap, and you won't be buying an over-priced car coat that's had a couple of epaulettes sewn on by a malnourished Indonesian orphan. Don't go near those retro red 'Rorke's Drift' jackets that Pete McLibertine used to wear. You'll look like one of the Queen's Guard - and we all know what fate awaits THOSE traitors, come the glorious day the Russian hat-clad insurgence sweeps into the Mall.

And so concludes my London Fashion Week review.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I'm a bit ambivalent towards 2-Tone these days. I used to really like it when I was 11; now, with the possible exception of a few songs by Brummie pop-ska combo The Beat, I find a lot of it quite juvenile and cringeworthy. Take Too Much Too Young by The Specials; a scathing Malthusian snipe at a young girl, whose 'crime' seems to be settling down and having a kid with a man who isn't Terry Hall.

Ain't he cool, no he ain't, El Tel grizzles about his ex's wee babby. He's just another burden on the welfare state! / You done too much, much too young / Now you're married with a son when you should be having fun with me!

Now, I don't want to take sides. Having a former flame tear your heart out of your chest and toss it to a pack of slavering wolves really sucks. But she's obviously kicked Terry to the curb for a reason, and I'm not entirely convinced it was the wrong move. Let's revisit some other Specials material, and work out exactly what sort of 'fun' the silly moo's opted to miss out on:

* "Stupid Marriage": Terry obsessively stalks an ex-girlfriend, spending hours hanging around outside her and her husband's pad. When the peeping tom spots the couple cavorting, starkers, he has a temper tantrum and lobs a brick through their bathroom window. He ends up in court and receives a custodial sentence.

* "Nite Klub": Terry goes to a disco and spends the night lurking in the corner, a sneer plastered across his mug. I won't dance in a club like this he snorts. All the girls are slags, and the beer tastes just like piss! Tel also reasons: I don't work, cos I don't have to / I don't work, there's no work to do, which is a bit of a cheek coming from a man who accuses newborn babies of stretching the welfare state to breaking point.

* "Little Bitch": a clearly disturbed young girl attempts suicide. Terry's response? Sneer, and tell her she's the ugliest creature under the sun.

* "Friday Night, Saturday Morning": Terry heads out clubbing again. The highlight of the evening is when he stops off at a fast food joint in the small hours, cos the pies are very nice.

* "Do Nothing": Terry buys some tassled loafers, then falls into a deep depression. He walks around the streets and complains that nothing ever changes and that his life has no meaning.

Fuck me, what WAS this chick thinking when she ditched him? Hanging round the pie shop and dissing brainless disco bints (or exes who've 'stung ' him) must have been one big laughter riot - especially when the alternative's being chained to the cooker, making currant buns for tea. Hall never really got the hang of late '70s lyrical prole posturing; if Jimmy Pursey had written this tune, the girl would've at least rustled up beans and chips for tea. Then again, Pursey never banged on about his old girlfriends - well, except for the one who sped off in the getaway car with her new bootboy squeeze, in Borstal Breakout. But I think Chairman Jimmy was justified in being a bit narked about that act of treachery.

Anyway, the Special AKA Live! EP also contains passable cover versions of '60s ska classics like Guns of Navarone and Longshot Kick The Bucket, as well as awful renditions of Liquidator and Skinhead Moonstomp. I can't remember the last time I felt the urge to play this.

Here's Rat Race b/w Rude Boys Outta Jail. On the B-side, Terry emerges from HMP Onley after aforementioned window-bricking episode, and celebrates by hitting the town ((though God knows why, given his opinion of night clubs and the slags who infest them)). On Rat Race, he has a dig at students. Yes! All you slithering, trendy lefty scum, with yer fancy PhDs, stripey scarves and NUS discounts. Blabbing on about Nelson Mandela, when you KNOW you'll ALL be fiddling figures at Ernst & Young, living in luxury apartments, drinking champagne and stomping all over the working man by your 35th birthdays!

I've got one Art did nothing for me! Tel whines. Well, case closed - clearly, higher education is a complete waste of time and energy. ((By the way - if any students are currently reading BTi Blog - stop it. Yeah, it's all funny ha-ha, but I ain't gonna bail you out when you're £15,000 in debt and crying, cos you're too over-qualified to burn steak bakes at Gregg's, and mum actually doesn't want you to 'have your old room back'. Concentrate on your studies, then come back here in 3 years' time. This blog's already survived two assassination attempts, it's going nowhere fast ["literally!" - a voice] You're the doctors, scientists, architects and theorists of tomorrow. If I ever get misdiagnosed, cos you were too busy whooping it up over reports of DJ clashes in Kings X boozers to thoroughly absorb your copies of Corpus Hippocraticum, I'll scalpel you to your own operating tables)).

Fortunately, the targets of Terry's insane vitriol didn't hold a grudge when The Special AKA released the SU Bar favourite Free Nelson Mandela a year later.

Ah now, reader...I dunno. Who was the best 2-Tone act out there? Bad Manners were vaguely amusing (if you were 5) - but Doug Trendle ended up shuffling around onstage with thick ex-Combat 18 slobs, and that chorus in Lorraine, where the spurned, 65-stone skinhead gurgles When I find her / I'm gonna kill her, sounds like a wet afternoon at Wifebeaters Anonymous. The Selecter? Three Minute Hero?? Try writing a decent three-minute song, maybe? The Beat? Yeah, I do like them, but Hands Off, She's Mine is pathetic - a couple of tanked-up nobheads squabbling over who saw the girl in the white cowboy boots first. The under-recorded Bodysnatchers? Easy Life was a top tune - just a shame their mash-up of ska / soul revival didn't sell so well, so a 7" and a turn on the live Dance Craze LP was as far as they got, before the singer joined Special AKA and put out one of the most uncommercial singles ever, The Boiler.

Mind you, the doll who recorded the EP below wasn't bad. From what little info I've managed to scrape together, the diva spent an inordinate amount of her time transubstantiating her bloodstream into Tanqueray and getting nicked by the filth in Camden. We could be soul mates! Well, it beats singing about pie shops, any road...

There's scant mention of her in the history of this era, and she hasn't even made the 2-Tone section on Discogs, so I guess this platter's a bit of a rarity. Maybe this is an apt opportunity for her rehabilitation?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


On the oche, Martin “Wolfie” Adams successfully defended his title by attempting to channel the spirit of the victorious England cricket team. “I take a lot of, sort of, like ... solstice from our Ashes win, you know?” Adams confided. It’s possible that he meant solace. Alternatively, it’s some kind of druid-based reference that I don’t get.

Thanks to Paul STN for spotting this.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Post 13 in this seemingly endless yet easily distracted 7" series has to go to Brazilian LSD witch DE KALEFE and her 1970 (?) psychedelic garage pop platter Guerra b/w Mondo Quadrado. Bizarrely, this was pressed on 33, even though both tunes are barely two minutes long, and was released on 'Artistos Unidos", which is presumably a UA subsidiary. The A-side also featured in Coffin Joe's brain-strafing surrealist horror flick Awakening of the Beast (where I'm guessing the year from).

I don't speak any Portuguese, so I don't have a clue what she's singing about, and the lyrics on the back cover are just rubbing it in. Is Guerra an anti-war tune? An ode to the apocalypse? A Manson-esque statement of intent? I was gonna post the lyrics up, in case some kindly Brazilian stranger washed up on this URL ((while googling for 'David See')) - but sod it. Sometimes comprehension only gets in the way of a good thing.

Guerra starts off with some spooky reverb clatters and wheeps, before De Kalefa's backing coven drifts into fragile guitar'n'organ crypt-pop, her spectral, echoey vocals beamed in from some beat club at the end of the universe. Give me this over Bat For Lashes performing to a bunch of gnats at Bestival, any day! Lyrically, I couldn't say whether Mundo Quadrado counts as the earliest incarnation of the notorious TIME CUBE theory, or if it's just cocking a counter-cultural snoot at straight society - but as an anthem for hippies scrambling around Sao Paulo on mopeds, it's pretty lush. I have to say, judging by the sleeve, the Brazilian hippies had much better haircuts than their British and US counterparts.

I haven't been able to turn up much info on De Kalefe, except she recorded at least one other 7", a cover version of Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang. Maybe it's just as well - it'd suck to discover she ended up running for office, or presenting contrived TV dating shows. Perhaps, if she's still alive and googles herself, we'll find out.

Then again, perhaps we won't.


Some bloke called Mark came down to our floor and was gabbling on about how a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Well, that's shitty luck, we said. Must be the worst aviation disaster in years. Mark, who had a face like a horse and who always looked suspiciously nervous, even when he was smiling or laughing, left us and I went back to swapping emails with my mate Chris, randomly surfing the internet and finishing a 2,500 word article on ultra-high-pressure hull-blasting equipment.

Then everyone started flooding in to our floor, saying a second plane had walloped into the remaining tower. Me and Chris went for a fag in the drizzle outside, and everyone was asking, "HAVE YOU HEARD?" - all happily talking to each other, rather than splintering off into their own private factions. My sister rang me, asking "HAVE YOU HEARD?" I remember feeling quite excited about the whole thing, especially when umpteen rumours of impending doom started to whizz around the office like wildfire.

First off, someone announced that nine planes had been hijacked, and that one was heading for London! They were going to crash it into the Lloyd's Building, allegedly, and staff there were being evacuated. It was the moment when the teacher left the classroom; people running around, empty desks, cracking up laughing in the kitchen. This monstrous assault on the forces of liberty, an evil attempt to curtail the freedom of the most democratic nation on Earth; and, here in London, we were all pissing ourselves and chatting away in a state of euphoria, heading for the conference room to turn on the TV and watch the repeated handycam footage of the kamikaze jet exploding, again and again and again.

The BBC admitted they didn't know how many rogue planes were now circling the skylanes, honing in on their intended targets. By 4pm, we were all switching off our Macs, sticking our jackets on, hooked on adrenaline. "I HOPE THEY TAKE THIS FUCKING PLACE OUT!" grunted Pete, an antisocial designer, and we all laughed.

Me and Chris went down the pub, by which time we'd heard another plane had bellyflopped onto the edge of the Pentagon. How many Iraqis and Afghanistanis alive that afternoon, now interred in bits and pieces?

We went to The Fox, where the girls from the fashion retail company downstairs all hung out. Eric, the friendly, tattooed French barman, gave us a pint on the house. He was like, "HAVE YOU HEARD?" Some guy in a grey pinstripe suit and pink tie, late 40s/early 50s, put down his copy of 'Metro' and told us: "It's the Chinese. They're the only ones with the ability to pull this off. They're the best pilots in the world, it's too meticulous to have been anyone else." GWB had had a load of hassle with the Chinese shortly before, when a US spy plane had knocked a member of the Chinese air force straight outta his cockpit. I guess this incident was the only real lead Ol' Pink Tie had to go on for his hunch, but he was convinced this whole thing was retaliation for that aerial mishap.

If China had the bottle to take out the WTC, this'd be a world war. The thought that there were scores of unaccounted-for, commandeered planes zooming through the clouds, on a mission to obliterate the West, was weirdly liberating. You probably think I'm a cunt, but I honestly found the thought of apocalypse infinitely preferable to finishing my article on the safest ways to remove paint from the hulls of container vessels((by the way, did you know that you can lop a (wo)man's arm or leg off with a water jetting gun set to a pressure of 2,000 bar?)) Worries about money, rumours of job cuts, visions of deadlines, all evaporated into the ether. I really felt alive.

We progressively got drunk, and couldn't stop talking and joking about it. Eric put on the same CD that The Fox always played on a nightly basis, a compilation with the dub cut of Horace Andy's "Money", some stuff by Lee Perry, Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On". I savoured my Stella and watched the punters roll in, all "HAVE YOU HEARD?" Nobody looked that worried; but, for a bunch of supposed mindless office drones, they had some of the most inventive, creative theories regarding the day's events. Suddenly everyone was an expert on fucking planes. "Do you know why they don't allow you to smoke in plane toilets?" Pinstripe gabbered. "Because of the chemicals in the loo. They're highly inflammable. Light up a cigarette in the toilet, and you take out the whole back of the aircraft!"

Bullshit, laughter and beer. Anyway, it's hard to fear the reaper when you're sitting in front of a fresh pint, and when Sam, the dyed-hair riot grrrl from the fashion company downstairs, is holding court with her mates in the corner.

Chris and Eric went out for a spliff, I joined them for a fag. Purple twilight warping over Old Street, office blocks poking into the horizon. We talked to the fashion mob, Pinstripe, the two beardy artist guys who'd turned up on bicycle and were more worried about their wheels getting nicked.

We asked the fashionistas how they'd customise their gasmasks once Armageddon kicked off for real. 'Shocking pink / muddy brown camo' was the overall winner. Chris wanted MEAT IS MURDER scrawled on his - but then, for a ragga fan, he sure had a strange fucking obsession with The Smiths. Me? I fancied a touch of class in the fallout shelter - my gasmask would be zebra print. I decided I was in love with Sam, though I barely knew her. Unfortunately, when one of her friends asked Chris if she could scrounge a fag, he just grinned like a dope, his brain mushed with weed and lager, and slurred, "I'LL GIVE YOU ONE IF YOU GIMME A KISS". Apocalypse was making monkeys of us all.

I staggered back home around midnight, with a kebab in tow. My flatmate, Dave, was sitting up watching the BBC reports, the same jet, the same tower, BLAM, the same fireball, the same yank gurgling "HOLY SHIT!" Dave couldn't understand why I seemed so excited about it all. How could I explain or understand why I'd just had such a great day and night out? "THIS ISN'T A FUCKING JOKE," he snarled at me, as the arse fell out of my pitta bread, splattering the flimsy wrap with steaming grease. "THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF THIS...IT'S JUST THE EXCUSE THOSE REPUBLICAN FUCKERS NEED TO START A WAR". Bush on the screen, apeman smirk. Blair on the screen, trickle of glistening moisture on his upper lip. Those who can't cry in public, but emotionally snot it out instead. Dave in a huff. Concerned BBC anchor. Unprecedented, freedom, liberty, evil, Bin Laden.

Chris went off the rails, he discovered his ex-wife was seeing someone else and he lost the plot. Work made a quarter of the office redundant, blaming the 'tragic events' for the downturn in magazine ad revenue. My mum sent me a form I had to sign, giving the hospital the all-clear to leave my Alzheimer's-ridden dad to it should he drift into a coma. "They say if they try to revive him, they might end up breaking his ribs," she sobbed down the blower. Dave developed a serious drinking problem which killed him in 2003. Sam stopped going to The Fox, Eric went back to France. And September 11th, an easy enough date to pronounce, became '9/11' forever. 9th November, fall of the Berlin Wall; one enemy swapped for another.

Shit aside, it was a good night out.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Book review: "INHALANTS" by Mark Pownall (1987, Franklin Watts)

Now, as every child knows, the REAL 'skinhead cult' is all about the Spirit Of '69. Spinning Trojan and Pama 7"s; neat number 1 crops; button-down Fred Perrys, loafers 'n' crombies; having a laugh and having a say. Taking a pride in your class. Taking no shit from no-one. A fiver in your pocket for an honest, hard day's graft. Then down the local to pull a foxy chick in a feathercut, talk about the football and drink 10 pints while stomping around to Alton Ellis and Prince Buster.

It's a far cry from the travesty SKINHEAD became in the '80s! Glue-sniffing dropouts...leave it out, mate! Gave the cult a bad name! Skins were always clean, was about sticking by your mates, through thick and thin, and the right to work - not the right to hang around Trafalgar Square, glugging Blackthorn Dry, and ponceing money off American tourists, like a bunch of scruffy, dirty, bleedin' 'ippies!

Sorry, reader - are your eyelids drooping? Mine too! Oh come on - is there anything more BORING than a self-righteous skinhead revivalist, harping on about some fucking 2-Tone tour he didn't even attend, acting like a besotted teenager whenever he clocks a vintage Ben Sherman shirt (((NEWSFLASH - THEY ARE WORN BY 45-YEAR OLD PUB LANDLORDS))) and telling us all to "Leave out the bleedin' politics!" No, you fuck off! We'll talk about what's going on Iran, or whether queer-bashers should be kneecapped, should the topics take our fancy! Shit, even the Climate Camp's a safer bet for an interesting chinwag than listening to YOU wank on about how many buttons a skinhead's allowed to leave undone on his lambswool cardigan. Cardigan.

Nah, gimme the real skins - the ones bleached out of history by the mod degenerates who never got over Richard Allen. Skins like the cover star of "INHALANTS" - Mark Pownall's incendiary investigation into the secret netherworld of solvent abuse. Altogether now: Skin-heads, skin-heads - we are the new breed!

If I ever start a two-chord Oi! group called Bostik Frenzy, this is going to be the front cover of the first EP. Yep, kids - toss that DVD-R of 'This Is England' into the nearest skip - if you ain't got the bottle to tattoo an entire side of yer mush and take a hearty draw on a portion of toluene, you ain't worthy to mouth the word "SKIN"! Nothing less than total commitment, if you don't mind. Downloading a few Cock Sparrer tunes, shaving your head and getting mum to bring you back a Harrington from Covent Garden (((for legal reasons, I'd better not mention the shop - but their clobber's notorious for falling apart))) won't cut it anymore! Personally, I reckon the '69 loyalists are just jealous - they never got invited to appear in Gilbert & George artworks.

Anyway, back to INHALANTS. If you have children, I urge you to read to the end of this book review - it may just save one of their lives. Or it would, if anyone actually sniffed glue anymore. Pownall's no fool, he knows his stuff - after years of heavy engagement on the frontline schoolbooks about drugs, his masterpiece, INHALANTS, remains the first and last word on the Evostik menace. Incidentally, I'm not fucking around here - this post is for the benefit of ALL you BTi viewers, whoever you are - so turn off the dubstep, stop fidgeting and shouting abuse at your monitor, and listen to what Pownall has to say:

Mention inhalant or solvent abuse and people tend to think of groups of teenage delinquents sitting around in a derelict house, breathing in fumes from crisp bags full of glue. This is the picture we have from the horror stories in magazines and newspapers and on television.

It's a fair point - that's all they ever seem to show us. We get bombarded with these images, usually sourced by lazy journalists who crave sensationalist shock stories to make young people look worse-behaved than they actually are. He continues:

But is it true? This book looks behind the often misleading headlines at who really takes inhalants, why they do it, and the harm these substances can do.

Hereditary peers, perhaps? Suburban couples? Acclaimed authors?

'Who really takes inhalants' can be summarised as follows:

Oh, right...OK, it IS generally teenage delinquents, hanging around derelict houses - or, if you get really unlucky, hanging around the Campbell Buildings estate in Waterloo (don't bother, it's long gone). If you enlarge the image, you can see the youths in the inset picture have daubed the names of their favourite punk bands all over the walls - Stiff Little Fingers! Joy Division! PiL! 999! Zoundz! And, er...Toyah. I dunno, there's always one...

Kids today get a bad rap. I doubt many of these outraged of Wallington types recall the dark days of the 1980s, when every late night walk home past the medical utensils supply unit on the edge of Brickwall Industrial Estate resulted in a chance encounter with a gang of violent, glued-up bootboys. It was always the ginger one with the stick you had to watch out for (or punch out first).

Speaking of punk, does anyone remember that really rare Crass flexi from '81? I think they gave it out to the audience when they played the Nissan Hut in Luton. Sadly, it won't be reissued, as the ex-members of the band are all arguing like a bunch of babies over royalties, or something.

'Punks' spending a sunny afternoon chilling out with BOBBY BABYLON??? Bet you a tenner they're Toyah fans

But in case this is all sounding too slanted towards punks and skins, let's not forget the crippling effect inhalants had on our Muslim Mod brethren:

Pownall details some solvent-related horror stories, seemingly sourced from the basement of Hell itself:

The cost of continuing to use inhalants can be a miserable life centred on blotting out everything. A few users go to great lengths to maintain a source of supply for their habit. One ran to a friend's house for more glue - without any clothes on. His parents had taken away his clothes to try and stop him sniffing.

I know, I know - the old 'force your child to sit bollock-naked in his bedroom' technique normally works a treat when the little sod takes up smoking. But we're up against a more formidable drug here, altogether - INHALANTS! All the headlines go on heroin busts or cocaine smuggling, Pownall whinges. Meanwhile, though: Two Scottish shopkeepers were found guilty of supplying 'glue kits' to young people. They sold blobs of glue, from a stock of several gallons, in crisp bags.

Fucking hell - why do we never hear about this side of the drugs war? Why does the media drone on about smack, but turn a 'convenient' blind eye to the perils of paint-stripper? Isn't this just rank hypocrisy? Few shopkeepers break the law like this so the number of prosecutions has been small. Oh.

I don't like shopkeepers much, anyway. Shower of thieving bastards. I remember the days when having a fun night out with your muckers DIDN'T cost an arm and a leg!

Coke's plummeted, mind you.

Hang on, though - there's a supposed dearth of publicity about the dangers of inhalants, yet Pownall obviously spent a hectic afternoon at the national newspaper archives in Colindale, dredging up a plethora of headlines warning of the deadly effects of this evil habit. Well, you can't fault his research:

I think "SNIFF OF DEATH" actually knocked the '86 Royal Wedding off the front page of The Sunday People. Anyway, we've read about the nightmare of solvent abuse - what can be done about it? Well, Pownall's not just here to state the obvious - he's been pontificating over the solution, and has a few suggestions for our consideration. Arrest all glue sniffers and cart them off to borstal, or some remote island? Maybe not. A friendly visit from a social worker? Hmmm, might do the trick. Ban all glue, deodorants and cleaning products across the UK? Excellent, but perhaps a tad impractical. Confiscate their clothes? Don't even go there.

How about putting warning signs on certain products? Aha - YOU nod your head, thinking that's the way forward...but Pownall's just caught you out! Doing that will obviously alert habitual bag-heads as to the strongest, and therefore BEST adhesives worth nicking from the local hardware store - enabling them to get PROPERLY blitzed in derelict houses, giggling their tits off as Space Invaders bounce around the walls! See, it's a tough nut to crack.

By page 50, the philosophical enquiries are starting to get a bit desperate, not to mention tedious.

Some people give up smoking by taking tablets which make cigarettes taste revolting. The same principle could be used with inhalants. Some form of horrible-smelling additive could be put into inhalant products to make them too unpleasant to breathe in.

Finally...Mark, can we go with this one, and wrap up and hit the pub?

But this proposal, designed to curb inhalant abuse, would also put off the ordinary consumer. Finding something which worked well on a range of products, and which itself was not flammable, and did not cause allergies or pose a risk to health from ordinary use, would be a difficult task - maybe even impossible. Scientists at the UK's Ministry of Defence tried to find such an 'aversive' substance but found nothing really suitable.

Great! So, conclusion: inhalant abuse is here to stay and the MoD - supposedly pulling out the stops to protect Britain from SS20 missiles and crazed Libyan gunmen - in fact spent the 1980s pissing around down the lab, attempting to make nail polish remover stink of shit, purely to save our streets from naked teenage skinheads frantically searching for the nearest derelict house party. Fucking Hell's bells...

Let's not forget the REAL victims in all this, however. The law-abiding youths who liked nothing better than to while away their Sunday evenings constructing miniature Bristol F.2 Fighters - only to find themselves turned away by the shopkeeper (not in Scotland, obviously) and unfairly branded...'SNIFFER'!

If, for some reason, your child decides they'd rather abuse inhalants than, say, ketamine, coke or ecstasy, call the National Children's Bureau, 8 Wakely Street, London, EC1V 7QE, on (01) 278 9441-7.

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