Saturday 28 May 2011

Your cassette pet

There are so many reasons not to like cassettes.  How many times did you hear something go awry as you played one through and a horrible spinning/whipping sound replaced your favourite track? - you’d press ‘eject’ and find miles of thin brown tape spewing out like intestines from its plastic casing.  Or you’d left your tapes on the dashboard of your car, within handy reach of an absent-minded grope for one as you kept one hand on the wheel and your eyes on the roundabout you were just about to negotiate, only to find that the previous week’s heatwave had rendered them all into some strange, melted work of art. This abstract sculpture of plastic and magnetic polymer had also now adhered permanently to the interior of your vehicle (ironically in ways that no tax disc holder ever did, no matter how many times you wet it and tried to stick it to your windscreen).

Then there were the inlay cards.  Some kind souls on the product design team at the TDK / Sony / Maxell / Dindy (or whoever) head office had thought this one through and allowed us DIY tape compilers plenty of neat lines on which to write out the full details of our track-listings, bless ‘em.  Hmm.  Lines that were 4cm wide with 3mm space in between, requiring the ability to scribe neatly at a fifth of the size of one’s usual scrawl, preferably using a writing implement with an impossibly micro-fine smudge-free nib.

One of few cassettes I still have - all taped off the radio, 1977

Yet I have such fond memories of recording on cassette.  Early on in my taping days, as a schoolgirl without enough pocket money to spend much on records,  it was the only way I would get to hear many songs more than once.  I’d tune in to John Peel, desperate to hear a session from Wire or Siouxsie & the Banshees for instance, but because it was a week night and everyone else had already gone to bed I had to keep the volume right down.  Between 10pm and midnight I could record Peelie’s musical choices with my ear pressed up against the speakers, straining to hear - and then play them, loudly, at last, when I got home from school the next day.  Late at night in the half-light of a table lamp, I’d be on standby with two fingers at the ready on the heavy, clunky ‘record’ and ‘play’ keys, or to let the ‘pause’ button on and off at the end of one and start of the next song.  I remember one fateful night when I somehow ended up getting it the wrong way round, like missing one step in a dance routine and staying out of synch for the entire duration; I was releasing the pause button when I thought I was pressing it, and ended up with all of John Peel’s dulcet-toned introductions and comments (so there were plenty of 'this one fades in slowly’s) but absolutely NO music…

Best of all, perhaps, was the chance to make compilation tapes for special people.  Every tape had character, maybe even a bit of covert meaning, and a great deal of thought, care and, sometimes, passion went into the compiling of them.  It still does with CDRs, of course, and with these we can have fun making up our own fancy full-colour covers (and tracklistings that are actually legible) with technology that we could only dream of back in the cassette heyday, but there was definitely something about the handmade-ness of a taped comp that was so endearing.  The handwriting of the person who made it for you was somehow comforting and extremely personal, or if you were making it for someone else you might deliberate over your (miniscule) calligraphy like it was a love letter - which in some instances, perhaps, it was.  Sometimes you even heard the needle in the groove of a 45rpm or - if the tape’s creator wasn’t quite spot on with the timings - the sound of it alighting on, or lifting off, the vinyl.  It was like you were there.

Yes, there are many reasons not to like cassettes, but in a way there are just as many reasons to have loved them too.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes

The rather ambiguous-sounding name Hard Meat suggests all sorts – perhaps the title of an Andy Warhol film or a Scandinavian porn mag, maybe even the name of a militant anti-vegetarian group…so you may be relieved to know that the Hard Meat I’m referring to here is a 60s/70s band from Birmingham.  Even then one might expect them to be Black Sabbath soundalikes, complete with controversial lyrics and dubious imagery - however, they had a far softer and more psychedelic/folk/acid rock sound and one does wonder why they chose such a name.

Their first single was a cover of the Beatles’ Rain’ (b/w ‘Burning Up Years’ which was covered by NZ band Human Instinct - many thanks to the reader who corrected the info stated on here earlier) released in 1969 on Island, and they went on to make two albums for Warner Brothers, ‘Hard Meat’ and ‘Through A Window’.

It is the last track on ‘Through A Window’ entitled ‘The Ballad of Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes’ (also released as a single in 1970), which has been on continuous play in my mind this week.  I just love its uplifting feel, and an overall sound reminiscent of Traffic and early Faces.  I was also intrigued by its subject matter because Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes were real characters who, through the late 1800s/early 1900s, resided in the historic town of Colchester, which is just a few miles from where I live.

It’s assumed that Hard Meat were spending some time in the Essex countryside when they heard talk of these legendary local characters in a pub and were so struck by the stories that they decided to write a song about them. 

Hard Meat: The Ballad of Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes

Marmalade Emma and Teddy Grimes, pictured below in 1910, lived as eccentric tramps and roamed the streets of Colchester begging and blagging all that they needed to live on, drinking beer slops from the local pubs, sleeping in ditches and hedges, and probably managing to get by very adequately on very little.  The local community tolerated them in spite of some controversy and brushes with the law – on the 1891 Census Emma registered her occupation as ‘prostitute’, the only one on the list, and was also sent to prison briefly for swearing at a policeman.  Story has it that on her return from the clink some local lads asked her where she’d been, to which she replied, “to college”.

Reproduced by courtesy of Essex Record Office

I find this picture so captivating, you can just imagine the feisty Emma, standing proudly here in her best bag-lady attire, swearing at anyone who looked down at her, and by her side her devoted life partner, looking dignified and solemn, wondering where the next meal would come from and whether their bed for that night would be in a hedgerow or under a bridge.

It’s rather endearing to think they are immortalised both here in this evocative early photograph and contrastingly so on vinyl by a Midlands rock band called Hard Meat.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Record shop memoirs: an introduction

High Fidelity - Barry, a lesson in customer service...

It’s the last Saturday before Christmas, 1983.  The big metal grilles at the front of the shop have just been raised and I’m standing behind the counter, heart beating fast.  The hordes of people who were outside those industrial shutters a moment ago are now all in here at once, a stampede of shoppers.  I feel like an animal in a zoo, trapped behind the boundaries of the shop counter, on show and somehow vulnerable, not knowing quite what will happen next.

It seems like a thousand people are simultaneously perusing the numerous carefully laid out and freshly filed racks of vinyl in this independent record shop that is now open for its first day of business.  It’s my first day too, my first full-time job and I’m wondering what the hell I have let myself in for.  The very first customer is a tall young skinhead with an imposing physique and a face that simply says, “Don’t fuck with me”.   It feels like he has made a beeline for me and I do my best to oblige with a rather feeble, “Can I help you?”  He proceeds to ask me if we have anything by the Chantells and I’m thrown.  In spite of priding myself on  - and getting the job on the basis of – a fairly broad knowledge of music I don’t know who he’s talking about.  I could have answered so confidently to a question about Bowie, or the Pistols, or even Peter Hammill and Van Der Graaf Generator… but not the band that the scary looking skinhead wants.  I blush, stutter that I don’t know and go to thumb my way through the long shelf of masterbags for artists beginning with C.  Once I remember where the C shelf is located.

Anyway, this was to be the start of four and a half years of working in a record shop that was in many ways both the best of times and the worst of times.   It was a surprisingly interesting job in which customers’ quirks and queries provided some colour and  humour - as on the day that someone made their way past rows of racks stacked with 12” albums (and the chart singles box on the counter) to enquire, “Excuse me, do you sell records here?”  On the plus side, I heard and bought loads of great music and made some good friends but, on the down side, had to deal with unsavoury characters and take a fair amount of abuse – on one occasion I was accosted by one of the town’s well-known drug addicts who came behind the counter, grabbed me and stuck his tongue in my ear.  Eww.  That’s no way to ask for the latest Madonna single, surely?  I’m just glad he hadn’t come in for W.A.S.P.’s ‘Animal [F**k Like A Beast]’…

I've often felt like writing a bit about it so I think I'll serialise some of it on here.  More soon.

Roses are red

I sipped the last few drops of cool golden liquid from the bottle.  There’s nothing like a cold beer to wash down the final mouthful of vegetable dansak.  The conversation continued idly around me… Jo was explaining her lifelong obsession with tortoises, Neil was laughing rather absently as he tried to catch the waiter’s eye, and me – my thoughts had switched to slight concern, a tiny knot in my stomach starting to form over whether or not I had enough money to pay my share of the bill.  And, if not, could I put it all on my card and ask the others for cash?  Would they object?  With one half of my mind on this and the other vaguely aware of a story unfolding about Jo’s childhood pet Timmy and the shell-painting fiasco, my hand moved up and down my empty Cobra bottle, enjoying the feel of the cold glass against my hot palms, an almost hypnotic motion to help me think through this thing about the bill.

Whhhoooooooaaaaaahhhhh!  The strangest, strangest thing happened next.  Was I hallucinating?  Was I in a dream?  A genie – a real live genie – popped out of my bottle, floating there in mid-air on his tiny airship of a cushion, arms folded just like you’d expect… I won’t bother to describe the rest because we all know what the genie in the pantomime version of Aladdin looks like and this one looked just like that.  I guess it was a stereotype that was hard to break.

“I am here to grant you three wishes” he announced.  Bit of a clich├ęd way to introduce yourself, I thought but, what the hell – who am I to judge?  Three wishes… hmmm…  Better make some choices I won’t live to regret.

The first one was easy.  “I wish for world peace.”  On that point I’m with the beauty contestants (the one and only thing I have in common, I should add).

The second one wasn’t too difficult either.  “I wish for mankind to save the planet.”  A bit of a tall order again, perhaps, but definitely worth a punt.

But the third one… if I was going to live in a peaceful world on a healthy planet, maybe I should keep back just one wish for myself?  My first thought was to wish that I had enough cash for the curry but I quickly dismissed that one – I needed a wish that could last me a lifetime and the dansak would be out of my system and down the drain in around six hours, after all.

“OK…” I ventured, “my last wish is… I really, really wish that I could stop…STOP BLUSHING.”      

The genie stifled a laugh…

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’ve made most of this up.  But I honestly do WISH that I could stop blushing.  It may seem silly to anyone who doesn’t get embarrassed easily, but if you’re a chronic blusher it can feel like an affliction, an inhibitor, a millstone you take with you everywhere.  It feels like you’re wearing a flashing, neon saucepan-lid of a badge that reads: “I’m so shy!  I might be offended!  I might be guilty!  I might be a prude!  I might fancy you!  Or you might fancy me! I’ve done something wrong!”  And, in every situation where you feel yourself blushing, you’re doubly embarrassed by the awareness that the person reading this ‘badge’ may assume that those words emblazoned on it are true.

In most instances, they are NOT!  It’s a peculiar aspect of self-consciousness that betrays something which doesn’t necessarily exist in the first place!  I can blush purely because I’m already worrying that if I do, the other person will think I’m guilty/offended/etc. and then that fear alone starts if off.  Still with me? I mean it’s a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.  I can blush because it seems like it’s expected.  And because I’ve been a blusher all my life I’ve put up with people pointing it out, which doesn’t exactly help.  Often I don’t even realise – I’m feeling cool and vampirically pale – and then somebody says those words: “Ha ha, you’ve gone ALL RED!”  Why, thank you for that.  Every last drop of blood now races to my cheeks, a mental paralysis takes hold and all I can think about is blushing, blushing, blushing…

Some say that self-consciousness is a form of egocentricity, as in: what makes you think you’re so important that others are  interested in you enough for you to react to that notion?  I can see this is a valid point but I don’t think it’s really as simple as that.  We know shyness can also indicate low self-esteem too.  But I wouldn’t say I suffer from that in any real sense.  Whatever the psychological cause behind the tendency to blush, once it’s a part of you it’s hard to be free of it.

I don’t let it get in the way of things - as a young child I would try to avoid potentially blush-inducing situations but later deliberately drew attention to myself (and got it!) through being a punk, etc. and enjoying looking unconventional. You just accept that you might blush and decide not to care, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. But in the back of my mind there is still this hope, this wish, that one day I could just be free forever from the curse of the reddened face.

What can one do?  No genie is going to appear to grant me my wish so I guess I’m just going to have to keep working at it on my own.  And I’d still give priority to world peace and saving the planet, but I’d just like to do it all without turning beetroot…

Hmmm.  I suppose the first step might be to cut down on the curries – you know what they say about spicy foods and burning cheeks…

Artwork by C / Sun Dried Sparrows

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Oh Baby!

It’s quite strange to be reminded of what the world looked like to you when you were just a child and I think these snippets say quite a lot. They are the original (biro!) drawings for ‘Oh Baby Your Waisting Time’ (sic) from 1969.  The young author/illustrator was heavily influenced by the fashions of the time as seen on TV shows that year like ‘Top Of The Pops’ and in her older sister’s copies of ‘Jackie’ and ‘Honey’ magazine.  (Note the fringed jackets, choker and ringed belt and also the maxi coat and braided hair portrayed here which show the increasing popularity of more hippie styles.)  The language too is characteristic of the period; the word ‘baby’ as a term of endearment features frequently and one of the characters is named Cliff.

The  entire story (which is a bit lame to be honest) and its carefully drawn illustrations were completed in one day, after which the book’s creator probably sucked on an ice pop, watched an episode of ‘The Clangers’ and then retired to her bed after eating a tea of macaroni cheese and a rice crispie cake.   Later in life she went on to illustrate some real books, and found how to ‘waist’ time in numerous ways including blogging now and then too.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Mr Love and Justice

A little while ago I was very kindly given another beautiful old paperback.  And yes, it’s another Penguin, another Colin MacInnes and with another Peter Blake cover – it doesn’t get much better than this! 

Like my copy of ‘Absolute Beginners’ (see post Feb 2011) this is an endearingly worn 1964 edition with toast-brown pages and a front cover the colour of single cream.  It is the story of two young men – one an ex-seaman who finds himself involved with a prostitute and working as her pimp, and the other a newly appointed Vice Squad officer; inevitably their paths cross and their lives become irrevocably intertwined.

Turn the book over to look at its characteristic orange binding and the blurb on the back from the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard sums it up well:

 “….Trainee cop and apprentice ponce both have their problems and we learn with them as this modern Mayhew takes us on an eye-opening tour of the corner-caff, cellar-club world of off-street London vice…”

“A penetrating, riveting, and convincing analysis of the relations between the criminal and the Force”

As in ‘Absolute Beginners’, MacInnes displays an incredibly sharp understanding, awareness and perception of the subjects he writes about, in this instance the different but yet not so dissimilar workings of both the leading characters’ lives and careers.  I found myself rooting for Frankie, the book’s lovable criminal, and his prostitute girlfriend in ways I had not expected.  I also found myself feeling mistrustful and cynical of the police in so many aspects portrayed here (but in ways that perhaps I did expect…)

‘Mr Love and Justice’ presents an insightful view of late 1950s London – perhaps superficially quite different from the city that exists today and yet, in essence, it seems little has changed.  MacInnes’ lead men are multi-faceted enough to seem very real and his anti-police stance surprisingly blatant.  He manages to express this skilfully in a way that shows no prejudice by presenting the thoughts and words of his characters with honest and realistic conviction.

On putting this book down I just found myself singing this great song by the Equals (I wonder why!) – also later covered nicely by the Clash…. 

Don’t you just love this?

Friday 13 May 2011

The rise and fall of Spangles

1974 Spangles wrapper

I realised after writing my last post that if you didn’t grow up in 1970s Britain the mention of ‘Spangles’ may have been a bit obtuse.

So many things are well-known for being synonymous with a 1970s UK childhood, like Klackers, Funny Face ice creams and spacehoppers… I don’t want to bore with any more but Spangles were at the height of their popularity in the seventies and are definitely high up in the list of my personal and most immediate nostalgia-fest references.  They were great little square boiled sweets that came in a vast variety of irresistible flavours, many of which were sharp and fruity. Much as I adored them I can probably lay the blame almost entirely on Spangles for having a mouth full of amalgam dental fillings now.  Let alone all those afternoons after school suffering a sore, raw tongue from sucking one after the other after the other until they turned into sharp splinters that basically had a similar effect on the soft parts of your mouth as sandblasting a piece of raw steak.

Spangles, which were first manufactured in 1950, were eventually discontinued in the 1980s.  Sometimes, when I pass one of those ‘Ye Olde Fashioned Sweete Shoppe’ type establishments which seem to keep cropping up in small town England high streets (complete with staff in jolly hats and stripey aprons), I think excitedly: “Ooh, I wonder if they have any Spangles?!”   But the truth is that if I were to eat one now I would probably never need/want another again.  Sometimes sweet memories are best left just as that.

They even get a brief mention in this Fall song 'It's A Curse' (I really like this track which has that insistent Sonic Youth kinda feel to it, although I’d be happier if it were half as long!) Here Mark E Smith is rather more disparaging: “… Balti and Vimto and Spangles were always crap, regardless of the look back bores…”    

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Pretty pennies

 courtesy 'The Artist' 1967

Here’s a rather neat little ad for Winsor & Newton oil paints from one of my 1967 copies of ‘The Artist’.  I love the bold, simple graphics, and those flowers plus the combination of purple and orange could only really have originally come from that era.  I can just imagine them on dress material, wallpaper designs, sofa fabric, etc.

I’m reliably informed that the coins here are: half a crown, a threepenny bit and three pennies.  I remember the threepenny bit and the pennies – being just a nipper at the time of decimalisation these were probably the only old coins I'd ever needed to handle in order to buy packets of Spangles and sweet cigarettes (what an idea! But it seemed so cool to my undeveloped mind to be seen sucking on a confectionary ciggy!).  I also recall those cute little silver sixpences on which I nearly choked several times after they’d been hidden in the Christmas pudding. They were probably the same ones that turned up later underneath my pillow in exchange for bloodstained molars. (What on earth does the tooth fairy do with all those gruesome little teeth?  She must be a closet goth…)

But then it all went decimal and I didn’t ever have to fully learn the complex mathematics of the previous currency: that there were 12d in a shilling, 20 shillings in a pound, and that half a crown was two shillings and sixpence - never mind tanners, guineas and florins….

I’m relieved we don’t have to use that complicated coinage any more.  I miss the Spangles, though.

Friday 6 May 2011

Goth but not forgotten

A shock horror true confession

Aarghh!  This is a bit like therapy.  “My name is… and I was a goth”. Well, I’m saying that for effect really, as I was only a little teensy-weensy bit of one, for a rather short while, and a very long time ago.  It all seems far too earnest and po-faced for me looking back now but, hey, I was a young art student at the time.  (It’s amazing how much you can excuse with that line…)  Having touched upon the subject of horror in some of my previous posts, it seems rather fitting that I felt a fair amount of it when I uncovered some pictures from one of my first college photography briefs in the early ‘80s, so I’ve decided to exorcise those devilish demons here.  Then I’ll never touch the stuff again. Honest.

Firstly, a bit of background. These photo projects required you to load fiddly reels of film into your big, manual (and usually ancient, second-hand) camera, fuck about with focus settings, aperture and shutter speeds, take pretentious arty-farty pictures (never anything spontaneous – you were too busy twiddling knobs) and later develop your shots personally in the darkroom.  The college darkroom was a sacred place, with its ‘Do Not Enter’ sign on the door and a characteristic chemical smell, where you worked in the duskiness of a dim red light, preferably alongside a student of the opposite sex with whom to practise some coy flirting. As anyone who still uses a darkroom knows, it was quite a long-drawn out process (and I’m not just talking about the flirting…) but there is a huge amount of satisfaction to be found as you watch your earlier vision start to become real in its tray of development solution – just seeing it appear and get gradually clearer like something supernatural is quite magical.  I’m reminded of scenes from detective series and films like ‘Blow Up’ –  the moment a picture starts to form on the paper is so exciting and sometimes surprising. Luckily there was nothing macabre lurking in any of these images, although in the case of this project I might have been grateful for it (purely for aesthetic reasons, you understand…)

I like the way the tear in the photo looks like a lightning bolt…

So yes, these were the times of a very early interest in, well, I seem to recall that nobody actually labelled it ‘goth’ back then, perhaps just occasionally ‘gothic’ - but there were a lot of references to the associated music being ‘post-punk’ (and it seemed like a natural progression from my earlier punk days) - even the term ‘positive punk’ was used.  ‘Positive punk’ does sound ironic considering most songs were so dark and doomy… We liked bands such as Bauhaus, the Danse Society and Sisters of Mercy, and people who wore a lot of black and looked a bit vampiric.  Vampiric and gothic is not an easy look to achieve when you’re fair-haired and have a tendency to go pink (it’s far too healthy looking) but cosmetics help and I think I probably got through a whole eyeliner pencil just for the make-up here: Siouxsie-style eyebrows, Alice Cooper-ish death-mask eyes and black lips too.  It also came in handy for drawing that logo which was for a (non-existent) band.  C H stood for Critically Headless, which is pretty good as far as goth band names go, you must admit!  As so often is the case it’s much easier to think up a name than to write or play an actual song…  Oh dear.  And being the ‘model’ here I could at least get someone else to fiddle with my calibrations and press my camera button. I should also add that this wasn’t my usual daily look for a trip to the corner shop to buy a packet of Trebor Mints.  (I’d have put a top on.)

Because this was meant to be an art project rather than just pure self-indulgence (and perhaps secretly a potential record cover for a future Critically Headless single, ‘Evil Dolls Are Eating My Flesh’..?), we were encouraged to be experimental, so this second photo was created by developing another picture over an over-exposed version of the first one.  The intention was to make it look, well, ghostly, of course. 

Yeah I know it’s crap but hopefully laughable crap…

The other picture was taken in an overgrown disused graveyard (well, naturally) - I’m sure that’s a discarded Tizer can or something showing through the undergrowth on the left.  I think that was the only surprise lurking in this image, so no ‘Blow Up’ storylines to be had here. With no such thing as Photoshop these pictures did turn out to be really bad, but I quite like the fact that the only clicking needed then was that of the camera button.  And the sound of the darkroom door closing tightly behind me as I waited to see what might develop.  Sadly, nothing much ever did.

Phew…. I feel better for that.  I think. 
The shame will pass.

(And finally – I just realised this does still sound good to my ears!  It’s short, choppy and upbeat.  Crack that whip!)

Monday 2 May 2011

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that book in your hand?

I worked part-time in my local library for a while, to earn a few extra £s so that I could elevate myself a little from my ‘artist starving in a garret’ position.  (I’m now more of an ‘illustrator who gets a bit peckish from time to time in a two-up-two-down’, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.)   Ironically it was before I started wearing reading glasses and after I’d had a short haircut, so I missed out on the chance to undo the clasp on a French twist and shake my golden tresses free as a tall, handsome stranger whips off my specs for me, exclaiming as he reveals my naked eyes, “Why, Miss Librarian! You’re beautiful….”   (Well, I can dream.  I don’t think the advances made to me in reality by a randy octogenarian count somehow…)  Anyway, before I go any further into fantasy librarian mode maybe I’d better cool down and stay on my intended topic.  …So, yes, thinking about my library days I was just wondering what it would have been like if Joe Orton had been around to tamper with the book covers…  Would I have been dismayed and outraged - or secretly amused and impressed?!  It does have something of a punk feel to it – my mind spins round to pranks and artistic actions played out by characters at the onset of the punk movement – for example, Jamie Reed producing the iconic Situationist-inspired image of the Queen with the safety pin in her lip.

Joe Orton, the young English playwright, was at the centre of much controversy during his short lifetime (1933 – 1967).  His black comedies drew much attention and were often considered outrageous at the time, but before he gained great interest for his writing he and his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, had also attracted attention for a rather convoluted prank that actually ended up with them being sentenced to six months in prison.  The punishment sounds so extreme now in consideration of the crime, but Orton felt this could also be due to the fact they were (to use his word) ‘queers’.  This was 1962, after all, when homosexuality was still illegal.  I find it hard to get my head round that, but it wasn’t to become legalised until 1967.

Orton and Halliwell’s prank involved stealing books from their local library and altering the covers by sticking on unrelated cut out pictures, lines of type containing irrelevancies and obscenities. They re-wrote some of the text on the insides of the dust jackets, and removed many illustration plates too which they used to decorate the walls of their bedsit (I love that idea!  It could be like one room-sized collage.)  They then returned the newly defaced books surreptitiously and, where possible, waited for people to find them so that they could observe their baffled reactions.  I can’t help but admire them for it…!  In recent decades libraries in Britain have worked hard to become forward-thinking, open, modern places where all members of the community are welcome – gone are the days of the uptight, tight lipped, brown tweed clad librarian in horn-rimmed specs “shushing” you for breathing too loudly…(there’s nothing like a good stereotype…)  but in Orton’s era it seemed that was perhaps the case.  He and Halliwell were appalled at the choice of books on the shelves of Essex Road Library and the adulteration and theft of some of those they did stock was an audacious statement of their dissatisfaction.

In homage to this imaginative prank, I present my own version, purely for my own amusement (and hopefully yours too…)

Artwork by C / Sun Dried Sparrows

You can see a gallery of the actual book covers on the excellent Joe Orton Online website here:
(with thanks to Alison)

And a great little TV clip of an interview with Joe on this very subject can also be found on the superb blog, Anorak Thing:
(with thanks to wilthomer)

"With madness, as with vomit, it's the passerby who receives the inconvenience."
 Joe Orton

Sunday 1 May 2011

A phallic symbol for May Day!

I wanted to embed this clip but it won't let me, so here is a link to something from the fantastic (original) film, 'The Wicker Man' (1973).  It brings a whole new meaning to pole dancing - or perhaps not… And how come they never taught us that last bit at my school?!

As I'm on the subject of 'The Wicker Man', here's the Sneaker Pimps' version of 'Willow's Song', using the title 'How Do'...

Please come, say how do...
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