BUILDINGS IN A HOUSE OF FIRE
[PUBLISHED BY CAULIAY PUBLISHING]
REMNANTS OF A NORTHERN DREAM: AN INTRODUCTION
When I was young and growing up, back in the late 60s and into the early 70’s in a small town on the north East Coast of England. In an age of black and white Tv and only 3 channels of it at that. In a place where large amounts of people it seemed still didn’t have a telephone and record players were still being made with three speed settings. I began to become, from a very early age transfixed by what would have loosely been termed back then as Pop Music.
Mostly drawn from the record collections of my mother and older brothers and the stuttering crackle of a battery driven transistor radio. These songs began to form the emotional blueprint of what was to come in the years ahead. Artists like Del Shannon, Billy Fury, The Beatles and Roy Orbison were just a few of the names whose music provided the soundtrack to my earliest years.
It was as if someone had fired a starter gun and it was time to begin running the race.
As the end of the 1960’s arrived and the dawning of the 1970’s began I was in my first two years of school life. Fairly early on it became clear to me I felt different to most of the other kids, either that or I made some kind of subconscious effort to be different or convince myself I was.
Into this landscape came my first real musical hero. A guitar toting corkscrewed dancing prancing pouting space age vision of sheer exotica. It was as if the Martians had landed in the back garden and welded together the bio chemical blueprint of Elvis and some maniacal elfin demi god to a kind of Tolkien spaceage rock n roller. I was immediately and utterly transfixed.
A whole new world had opened up to me. A doorway to a fantasy world of bouncing rock n roll poetry filled with mythical references mutilated and mixed up with visions of Wizards and Cadillac’s.
I wanted in on this world, I wanted involved. I didn’t know how or even why yet but I wanted to be a part of it in some way. I began by immersing myself in all things Bolan. Revelling in the innocent yet visceral thrill of spending my pocket money on the likes of Hot Love, Get It On and Jeepster. Nothing before or since has ever felt quite like it. The only thing that could even begin to compete with all of this at the time was that other great working class escape football. The two went inseparably hand in hand. My father’s stories of ancient games and players with names like Jimmy Hagan and Doc Pace
As those early school years passed by other less influential artists and their music began to penetrate my world. All of it infinitely more interesting and exciting than the drab uniformity of school life.
It wasn’t long before a new more threatening and menacing set of musical heroes would be vying with Mr Bolan for my attentions and as my teenage years approached the timing was all but impeccable.
From the first moment I got to hear what they actually sounded like no one was ever going to tell me how to look think breath or behave ever again. For a kid reaching his teenage years in 1977 this really was the revolution in progress.
The nihilism and all out fuck you attitude of The Sex Pistols provided the catalyst that helped spark what amounted to an all out cultural revolution. I embraced it with all my teenage vigour I was in a world where the rules had suddenly been changed.
Obsessed with wanting to do something different with my life and break out from the accepted norms in just about every way possible. Inspired by the do it yourself punk rock ethos i began writing down my own thoughts in the form of poems and stream of consciousness prose and began harbouring thoughts of maybe getting up on a stage and putting them to music.
The first tentative steps in this direction were taken while still at school. Cobbling together a hotch potch collection of musical instruments battered guitar amps and anything that could be hit with a stick.
Eventually more by accident than design. This insane cacophony was eventually unleashed on an unwitting public when our first proper paid public performance took place early in 1984 in the sleepy environs of The George Hotel in Barton On Humber.
Poem For The Misinterpretation is the only complete surviving piece from this period that was originally intended for audio accompaniment and is included here for reasons of nostalgia duty and some strange and indescribable sense of honour.
Inspired by the anarcho punk ethics of Crass and their Dial House community collective. Pioneering activists of anti globalisation politics who completely by passed the mainstream music industry by putting out their own records artwork and literature. I began to put out small collections of poems complete with photocopied artwork and distribute them freely in local record shops and books stores or on street corners under the title The Frog Of Espionage. My own ‘’Poetry For The People ‘‘ personal revolution.
Around about 1987 I took a step back from performing my poetry live in any form whatsoever.
The 1990’s were for the most part a creative vacuum. I know longer felt sufficiently connected to the process to make it happen with any great effort or integrity.
To some extent I find it hard to recall who that person was back then. The man who put pen to paper back in the dark days of the 1980’s and early 90’s and created some of the layers and atmospheres contained within a number of the pages in this book.
I continued to write sporadically over the next few years, though it has to be said with little ambition or motivation to even attempt to bring it to any kind of audience. For reasons beyond even the simplest comprehension around 2001 I began to mysteriously find a renewed vigour for the inspirational world of words that had initially inspired me all those years ago.
Thus began the process of dissemination. The struggle of word over the power of memory. Vast oceans of my past life spread out on page after page of permanent dialogue. Here was my story or at least what seemed like a part of it. This clinical examination of thought slowly began to re awaken in me both the need and in part the ability to write seriously again. And for the first time in a number of years i began to write with something at least approaching a disciplined regularity. A small selection of these writings make up a section of the book you hold before you. The seeds that were sown on this personal journey of exploration slowly drew me back into some sort of creative hiatus. The results of which also feature here. And encompass the years 2002-2005
After the death of my farther in 2006. While taking his ashes across the country to Sheffield on the Trans Pennine Express the overly romantic name for the Cleethorpes to Manchester train service. In order to lay him to rest. Buried a foot under the side of the pitch at Bramall Lane. Home of Sheffield United Football Club. Suddenly and without warning an idea began to form in my head for a poem. This hadn’t happened in a while and seemed all the more strange considering the circumstances at the time.
Perhaps partially inspired, though inspired hardly seems the appropriate word, by the aftermath of the emotional rollercoaster of helping to look after my farther in the last months of his life. Diagnosed with cancer and facing this debilitating illness with a wit a bravery and a typical northern stoicism. It was suddenly illuminatingly clear to me that my story was also his story.
That the story we all tell and the vision we present to the world however cleverly we think we may hide it is the story of every person we ever meet. It is the story of our parents, our family and friends. Those we choose to share portions of our life with, whose company we choose to take and who’s jokes and songs and stories we also partake in. They are as much a part of what I choose to present here, as the faceless stranger or the broken friendship the forlorn lover or the beleaguered thief of relentless thought.
And if by some chance you happen to recognise a part of yourself in any of the pages of this book then feel free to answer me with the eternal voice of the human heart