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EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK -

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.
Without knowing it at the time and I’m sure almost subconsciously. Songs sounds and mythical sounding tunes accompanied by intoxicating words and emotions, that at such an age I couldn’t possibly have understood the impact of. Began to slowly permeate themselves into my very being.

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.
I couldn’t have known then where any of this would lead and still running the race I can’t possibly know where it will all end.

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.
His name was Marc Bolan and anyone reading this who is of a certain age will know exactly what I mean. My life would truly never be the same again. From that moment on while not exactly knowing what it was I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew already the things I definitely didn’t want to be.

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.
Pre historic beasts bestrode a twentieth century landscape littered with references to Greek mythology. Monoliths and Metal Guru’s inhabited the same worlds as John Lennon and Alan Freed.

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
Imbued me with a clearly defined sense of both football and to some extent family history.
It wasn’t long before I was taken to witness the creation of my own footballing hero’s. Players like Tony Currie, Alan Woodward and Len Badger would etch themselves into my life and would for some time to come be the closest I would get to true rock star type adulation.

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.
Occasionally this grey mid seventies world would be spiced up by wildcat strikes and power cuts, exciting stuff when you’re a kid!. Legitimate days off school and shopping by candlelight only added to the general feeling that something was about to change. While not fully understanding what was going on something was most definitely in the air.

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.
I don’t remember exactly when or where these new musical icons entered my consciousness maybe it was a gradual thing through late 76 and early 77. Snippets of newspaper articles, news broadcasts and only half-heard radio references began to awaken me to a whole new musical form. A whole new set of ideas and ideals a new way of thinking and a feeling that I wasn’t the only moody kid on the block.
The Sex Pistols blew into my world quite literally. Like some explosive musical holocaust spitting bile n invective and snarling disenchantment with what seemed like every ounce of their being.

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.
Living in a provincial northern town just liking this music could bring ridicule and quite often the threat of violence from the ‘’normals’’. The people who just didn’t get it. That made it all the more worthwhile.
Not having the luxury of hip London fashion or the convenience of the Kings Road. We made it up as we went along. Punking ourselves up with home made T-shirt designs ragbag army surplus and classic sleekly lapeled suit jackets from seconhand charity shops. Flared trousers and oxford bags were replaced by tight fit jeans and straight leg pants. We were cool, fast, sleek. A speeded up version of the past and a guttural two-fingered salute to the future.

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.
Suddenly the words of the songs spoke directly to me. Having an emotional and personnel political impact that has remained with me ever since. Helping to inform my creative instincts. The likes of Joe Strummer (The Clash) and Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers).
Roused in me an awareness of what could be achieved with words. And that if you had something to say then it was probably best that you got up and said it. What affect it had or what people thought of it was almost an irrelevance.

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.
Presenting them in some weirdly unique way that would be peculiar to my own skewered way of thinking and looking at the world.

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.
Finding an ally in my schoolmate Griff we began what could loosely be described as rehearsing in his mother’s loft making a sound that could best be described as somewhere between industrial noise terrorists Throbbing Gristle and Sheffield Electro pioneers Cabaret Voltaire.
Detuned guitars and percussive noise battled with muffled tapes of Radio Moscow news broadcasts and horror movie sound effects while I spewed out improvised and freeform poetry.
Some of which still survives and is sporadically contained within the following pages.

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.
By this time my mate Griff had been replaced by another of our then close knit gang Jez and our approach to mixing poetry and music was beginning to take a slightly more disciplined though still heavily improvised turn.

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.
Over the next couple of years I continued to perform this strange and quixotic mix of screeching poetry improvised rhythm mixed up movie images and increasingly all to coherent music. An idea I found both pointless and utterly conventional. The performances in numerous venues began to get more and more extreme, what felt like almost life threatening at the times or at the very least a danger to the emotional well being of all those involved. I had achieved some local success in the previous two years. Publishing a small collection of poems entitled Less Than Awkward and began to perform my work in a more traditional style. This was 1984 the year of The Miners strike and there was plenty of opportunity to play numerous benefit concerts in the north of England for the striking workers. This was a particularly long and bitter dispute and I felt both humbled and honoured to perform at these events.
Again a number of poems from this period are featured here. Having been ‘’lost’’ for a number of years and only recently rediscovered via old tapes of these shows.

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.
I had moved to Glasgow in 1985 and began the process of slowly disentangling myself from my own history and read poetry and performed live only very occasionally during the following 5 or 6 years.
A considerable number of poems featured here originate from that particular period.

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.
An extended stint of busking mostly on winter nights or October cold afternoons in northern city streets
gave birth to a number of still born songs and from time to time I would continue to write poetry but I had for the most part become disconnected from the wellspring.
A period wring for a music magazine in Glasgow in the mid 90’s looked like it may begin to re connect me to the creative vine but I grew bored gleaning tiny nuggets of clichés from young and up and coming musicians. I was no good at feeling like part of the establishment and I quickly began to feel like the enemy

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.
He is as much a stranger to you dear reader as he appears to me.
By this time I had what could best be described as an idiosyncratic approach to writing poetry and at worst could be explained as being downright careless. I didn’t care much for it and it didn’t appear to care much for me. And looking back at the poems from that period is a bit like looking at myself through an extremely thick and dense emotional fog. And If any of this proves of interest to you then I will allow you to place those poems in their rightful place along the timeline of human existence and allow you to fall through that fog at any given moment of your choosing.

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.
I then began the process of searching through my personal archives. Dog eared notebooks and crumpled papers fought for my attention alongside long forgotten tape recordings of distant nights of youthful anger and an ever present sense of dissatisfaction.

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.
After this incident over the coming weeks and months and for some unexplainable reason I became more aware and unusually determined to continue this new found creative renaissance and if possible make a more conscientious effort to bring the work to a much wider audience.

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.
What I present here are a small series of echo’s from the perpetual moment of being. In writing this introduction I invite you into the world in which these poems are rooted. The people and places I speak of are an integral part of my life and therefore were then and continue to be now the reason for and inspiration behind many of the things I write.

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

Graham Tiler
Sept 2007

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