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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Martin McGarrigle

     

     

    Part two of Martin's video

    [TRACK 1]

    TONY WRIGHT: This is Tony Wright, it’s the 28th of August 2012 and I’m talking to Martin. And can you tell me your full name is and where and when you were born?

    MARTIN MCGARRIGLE: Yeah it’s Martin Anthony Lawrence McGarrigle…and I was born in Ballyshannon……in Shiel Hospital in 1960…..in Donegal, in the north west of Ireland.

    TW: Right….yeah…….so were you raised there?

    MM: No, I grew up in Bradford, but I was….I was there until….I was a baby basically and me ma and da, they were living over here, and then me mum went back to have me over there until they got a place sorted.

    TW: Right. So you don’t remember much of that.

    MM: No, but you know, I have got…..baby memories or, you know, because it was on the beach….it was on the beach….where, by Rossnowlagh, where me mum’s family come from and then further up the coast, only a number of miles, about five, is where me dad’s family come from.

    TW: Right. So you feel a real connection with that part of the world then?

    MM: Oh yeah, yeah, I go back every year pretty much.

    TW: Right, okay. And so you were really brought up in Bradford then?

    MM: Bradford.

    TW: As a child.

    MM: Yeah.

    TW: What was Bradford like in the sixties then?

    MM: Well that was……I mean cobbled streets, you know, and it was…..it was Manningham, in the middle of Bradford, which was an immigrant area…..and we grew up on a street called Salt Street, after Titus Salt…..you know, the Shipley guy

    TW: Yeah.

    MM: And there was mills round there which were part of his empire as well…..and….it was…..what was it like….I mean as a little kid, we lived on a corner as well, half way down the street, and so there was like snickets; there was like a little side street to a snicket that way and a side street to a snicket that way, but that one was blocked off, and then diagonally opposite our house was the Manningham Ward Labour Club…. bit like The Trades Club here but in them days it was a proper Labour Club, you know, and that was a big place; two storeys……about the size of The Trades Club, both were, there was like a dance hall downstairs and then upstairs was the club as it were, you know, and……I have memories of that, because we lived there until I was seven, then we moved, but my memories of that are…..my earliest memories are sitting out on the street corner as a tiny child, in good weather, playing with the…..the gas tar that used to bubble up in between the cobbles, and that was our…..that was our plasticine, so we’d make things out of that, and you’d just end up getting covered, completely covered in gas tar shite, right, which you can’t get off; it stains you brown like, you know, so….but one of the only things that used to get it off was butter…..funnily enough.

    TW: Is that right?

    MM: Yeah, butter, and vinegar I think is what they used…..you used to have to really get….you know, my mum would go ballistic and so would everybody other’s mum like, you know; it was the advert, you know, where the kid comes in covered in shite and the…..the….the mother turns round and goes ‘oh good….good job I got a giant packet of Omo’ and then starts beating the children around the room with the big packet, you know [laughing] it’s that sort of thing, you know, that sort of scenario, you know…..yeah, gas tar…..and….and so…..and also, all the cars……all the fifties and sixties cars you see I can remember, cos they were all….they’d all be parked…..and we used to let the tyres down with matchsticks you know, because there was a few of us just sat there on the pavement, just letting the tyres down you know, and the people got mental, of course they would like, you know, and…..you know, yeah, really, and……..but we never got done for it or owt, you know…..and also the cars in them days, some of the older ones, they used to have….they used to have indicators like little rods that used to flip out at the side like that, half way along, and of course they’d all get broken off and stuff like that you know, terrible really, and…..all the kids in that area were cajoled into gangs, yeah….I didn’t join any but, even like at five, six….four, five six, just big massive groups of kids you know….

    TW: Were they all kind of…..were they all Irish or were they all this kind of group or

    MM: They were all Yorkshire tykes mainly, and Ukraines and….Poles and Italians and Irish and…….and everything like that, you know…..and…..a few West Indian kids…..and the Asian kids were just moving in at that time, and we weren’t allowed to mix; there was a sort of separation then you know. The Asians were really looked down on…..everybody was….was what you’d call now institutionally racist; they just were culturally racist, everybody was, I mean we didn’t learn racism until…..I was in my….mid-teens you know…..didn’t really know what it meant……and…..so the sort of crack that the tiny kids would get up to was….the next street along was a tarred street…. Carlisle Place, and that…..that was down the back street, and that, and that was…..that had that sixties kind of gravel….you know, reddy kind of pinky surface, you know, greeny pinky surface of like….gravel, set into the tar, you know, so it was a smooth surface; it was like somewhere in the south of England or summat, you know, and so what happened was, it was really good for bikes, so all the kids would play this….this game called British Bulldogs and no matter what age you were, you were cajoled into it, you were forced into it you know, so basically all the kids would assemble, and you could have up to a hundred kids maybe, in two teams, one at the top of the street, one at the bottom of the street, and then on bikes, all the kids on bikes would be at the front and all the little ones like me would be at the back so it was like two armies, and it was this game of British Bulldogs right, and then they’d just charge each other, and then there was a kid, I think the way it worked was there was a kid in the middle with a mallet….right, a wooden mallet, and he actually chucked the mallet and whoever it hit…..then they were out…..something like that, can’t remember how it worked, something like that…..anyway, but I was terrified of this game. Jesus, cos even like at, you know, like four, five, like ‘I don’t wanna get hit by this’…you know, scared like…..you know what I mean [laughing] so you know, that was a big form game…..and then there was…..the other thing I remember of it….oh and catapults…..the really…..you know the ones that are illegal now; catapults were big in the early 60s, and zip guns, and pellet guns, but I didn’t come across zip guns or pellet guns until I was older, but all the…..a lot of the older kids had them, but everybody had a catapult; it was just……you know, the….the toy of choice in the 60s, you know, and there was a lot of like, you know Dennis the Menace sort of implements like…..you know, fire at the…..the copper’s helmet, and, you know, because they had the big copper’s helmet, and it was very like that you know, all that sort of thing you know, and…..and what I remember…a memory that I’ve got from that time of being very young was…..it snowing and playing out obviously, making snowmen and snowball fights on that street, on that street, on Carlisle Place or Carlisle Terrace whichever it was, and……deep snow and wellies, and what would happen is you know, your feet would get really cold in the wellies and then what would happen is me mam….I’d go back and me mam, she’d get some coal from the fire and she’d put coal, a piece of coal, in the welly, just for a moment or two; it would heat the welly up and then tip it back in you know,

    TW: Oh right

    MM: right, and then plastic bags on the feet and then the socks you know, so a pair of socks, a plastic bag, a pair of socks and then into the wellies you know, and warm wellies…..so I remember that. The other one I remember from that time was……me mam was between…..she worked as an industrial nurse for Grattan catalogue; she worked there for thirty years, but she had a break when she had kids - she had two breaks – so she had a break obviously when she had me and then she had a break when…..my sister…..my sister’s three years younger than me so that was like ’60 and then ’63, so basically…..when she stopped working at Grattan after me sister, she then did other cleaning jobs and stuff like this you know, and….we used to walk…..down to….Lumb Lane which was nearby, which was a sort of a….a red light area, prostitute area, and all the pubs on there…..and a woman who became an aunty, an adopted aunty, we called her Aunty Imeda, ran this pub called The Flying Dutchman which later in years, in the 70s, turned into The Pink Pub and they painted it pink, and Aunty Imeda, she had two children the same age as me and me sister, you know, there was a few months between us but the same age, so…..Alex was six months older than me and Ann, she was…..six months older than me sister sort of thing you know, so…but the four of us would muck around together you know, but we were confined to the beer garden; there’s a beer garden there walled off high, and that was it and the pub you know, and me man cleaned and sometimes we’d help her, and Aunty Imeda, if you know what….Amy Winehouse looks like, right, that style, yeah, very Italian looking, and then the big black bouffant hair, beehive, that’s what Aunty Imeda looked like, and……she ran this pub on her own, well first of all she had….one husband had died, then she had this fella in……and….basically, I don’t know what happened, he f’d off but she got married again and he died, but she’d wear ‘em out you know, she was tough as nails, and……she was incredibly…..incredibly brutal and violent….right, and she used to beat her children every day with the brush; she’d lose her temper over something and she’d go ballistic, and Alex or Ann, whoever was in the firing line, would get it, and it would be with the brush, with the stick, and whack ‘em around the place; they’d have to run about, and we were just terrified, me and me sister….you know……and…..Aunty Imeda…..she lived on and on and she died some time I think in the early 90s……but during her reign as…..as a landlord……a pub owner…..she….later on in years she got a pub on the way from….Shipley to Bingley, on the canal side, a big Victorian pub about four or five storey pub, squashed between two mills, in a very sort of little industrial dark bit if that area, you know; a place where there would have been communities but not any more, so she was pretty much there on her own, and during the early 80s there used to be…..these murderers going about in Bradford - the Yorkshire Ripper and the Black Panther. Now…..almost simultaneously, I can’t remember which one came first, but they were round the same time, so anyway this dude, the Black Panther……right…..broke into her house….into her pub knowing she was a woman on her own……and…in the middle of the night, came into her bedroom with an axe, right, this is a famous story, so she’s….she’s an old….well she’s a middle-aged older woman in her sixties or whatever, and she’s in this pub, a big massive Victorian hornet place on its own, and this guy comes in with an axe. She noticed him, the story goes she notices him, and waits until he gets towards the bed and as soon as he got towards the bed with the axe, she jumps out of the bed, got the fucking axe and hit him with the axe, and out he went, out through the fucking window, however many storeys that was…..serious, or legged it, and then, but you know there was blood and this that and the other and, you know, and she’d have died or broke or whatever, but anyway he fucked off; he got away….yeah yeah, but that was…..that was ‘woman fights off……the Panther’ you know, famous story you know…..so….it served her well, her ferociousness you know

    TW: Yes, yeah, so you were till seven?

    MM: Yeah I was there in Manningham till seven, yeah.

    TW: And then where did you go?

    MM: Then we moved to….Bolton Road, about the same latitude across….the same sort of distance, about half a mile out of the…..out of the city centre, but on the other side of the valley; Bradford’s a kind of valley and there’s a valley running…..which is valley road and there’s…..there’s the football ground there, Bradford City, and then the other hill, so we moved there, to a bigger house; we were in a back-to-back, a corner back-to-back, and also, I forgot to mention, all the relatives came to live with us till they got sorted or went back to Ireland, you know. My dad was a ganger on the buildings, so we had a lot of people staying and calling all the time, and at that time Irish weren’t allowed in the Working Men’s Club…or Blacks……no Blacks or Irish were allowed, and it said ‘no Blacks or Irish’ you know……so….and also there was a thing in them days……unions, a lot of unions wouldn’t take black people or Irish people; you really had to be British…..born here you know, so that was the same crack on the Working Men’s Clubs you know so, yeah…….but what happens is….so my dad was a ganger on the buildings and all the relatives are calling of course, and then they’re all wanting, so they do…..some of them get put up, get flats or this and the other, but they all get a start you see because there was loads of work obviously, loads of building, and demolition, and so……so that’s…..so our house was like a Working Men’s Club every night, it was full of people and there was dominoes and darts and….cards going all the time and I was….in a room about this size and I was….you know, I was the entertainment on the scooter, you know…….so yeah, I grew up very sociably you know, but yeah so then when I was seven we moved…..things had changed by then; them days had passed so this was like 1966; I was six, sorry yeah, so it would have been 1966 or summat like that……and…yeah so we moved across the valley, and we moved into a…..you know, a through terrace house like this you know, which seemed absolutely massive, you know, on a main road, on Bolton Road….again only about half a mile out of the city centre you know…..and…..yeah, I lived there until I was…..eighteen.

    TW: Oh right. So when you moved out, what did you do? When you moved out at eighteen where did you go, what did you do?

    MM: Well I went travelling – I went all over – well I worked, and I used to go away; I sued to work, go away, come back, save money, and then go….off again you know….

    TW: Right

    MM: But you know I kind of officially retired from work at twenty-one…..

    TW: Right

    MM: Because I’d been working since eleven……in markets

    TW: Oh in markets?

    MM: Yeah, in John Street Market in Bradford.

    TW: Selling what?

    MM: Chickens.

    TW: Selling chickens?

    MM: Yeah, poultry; chopping chickens.

    TW: Oh right.

    MM: Yeah……twelve…..eleven….twelve, I started……

    TW: So where did you used to travel to?

    MM: What?

    TW: When you started travelling you said.

    MM: Oh…..well…….I mean France, Morocco, Scotland…..teaching around Scotland you know, just….yeah….and made friends and stayed places

    TW: Did you hitch everywhere then or did you have a van? How did you

    MM: No no no; hitched….I was…..I was….from the age of about….fifteen, sixteen….. which was unusual for them days; I was completely opposed to the motor car….

    TW: Right

    MM: [laughing]….I didn’t mind vans, lorries or buses, because I could see the point of them, but cars I hated; absolutely hated with a vengeance you know, and then, in 1978 when The Buzzcocks brought out their first LP and other music in a different kitchen, they had a song on there ‘Fast Cars, I Hate Fast Cars’…..like ‘these are the boys for me’ you know [laughing]…..as I did; I hate them.

    TW: Right

    MM: You know, because you know I was…..yeah, anyway I just…..yeah, cos I grew up on a main road and I thought ‘this is fucking mental’.

    TW: Yeah…..yeah, so……you say you used to go away, work, save money, come back, do all that sort of thing. What kind of work did you do when you went away then?

    MM: I worked…..I worked when I was here.

    TW: Oh right…….and then you travelled?

    MM: Yeah yeah…..so I worked a long stint; I worked…..I mean I worked from like….what….seventeen I left art college; I went to art college for a year and a bit; two years course you know, and…..and I got accepted for the Fine Art Degree and all this cos I was a self-declared artist.....and I was good, apparently, you know, a good line drawer, I could do a bit, and…..and also I could use cameras and all that because of another story what happened in that place you know….and then basically……I earned my living as an illustrator….I went to work in a printer’s first of all, in a big label makers up Leeds Road, down the back, and I used to cycle to work every day of course, a couple of mile, and…….in this printer’s they made labels; they were label makers, over prints, and basically I used to do all the art work for them

    TW: Right.

    MM: and….then they got a….block making facility built in the corner, and when it went for the demonstration, there was about six of us; the managers da da da….. and there we are, and then at the end of it, it was like…..the guys go away and they showed us how to use it all, and it’s like……there was only….I was the only one who knew how to do it, and it was like…..fucking great you know, ‘well who else is gonna do it?’ so I’ve not only got to do all my other full-on duties, because sometimes you’re working till nine at night to get orders out you know, it’s one of them things you know; not that you’d get any compensation or whatever, but I used to hassle them for time and a half and all this, but if you didn’t hassle them you wouldn’t get it, you know, it’s just like you know, a normal sweat shop factory like any factory, you know, they’ll get away with what they can, so this was my kind of….my first….well it wasn’t my first introduction to industrial relations but it was one of my first you know….I had had one before that; a tribunal and won…..I got compensation you know, when I worked, because I ended up working at Morrison’s part-time….you know, when I was going through college, and…..long story short, they got…..they cleared out the warehouse, when I was working at Morrison’s they cleared out the warehouse one time and they got all us casuals to then dismantle everything, take everything out, dismantle all the things, take all…..take some shelving down, and then…..and then get it shipped out, and then the floor….we were employed then to scrape the floor so you had like a concrete based floor and then it had like…..up to six inches of shit over the years, of grime and sort of tar, and the only way you could get this off was…..so they had us scraping the floor for ages, about a week, and…..this….so the only thing you could use was this really heavy industrial effluent stuff, you know, chemical shit yeah; they gave us no protective clothing, they gave us no breathing masks, no nothing; it would be completely illegal nowadays, but you see in them days like…..like now, kids will wear whatever their best clothes are, or near it, you know, they won’t wear scruffy clothes to do this or that; they’ll wear the item, whatever it is, so all the kids had their best jeans and their shoes and all this sort of stuff and I was no exception you know, and I was a little soul kid so I had my good shoes on, and okay jean trousers you know; not the best, but basically what happened was…this stuff got all over my fucking shoes and all over my jeans, so everybody’s clothes fell apart – everybody’s who did it, you know - our shoes were shagged. Now in them days, exponentially, shoes were much more expensive than they are nowadays; there was a point in the 80s when shoes came right down didn’t they, but shoes were an item man; you know, they were summat your mam saved up for for ages, and, or on the catalogue, and you know, you know, shoes were an item you know, they really were; it was like exponentially more expensive than anything they were, boots and shoes were.

    TW: Yeah

    MM: As far as I remember anyway, you know, I mean twenty quid was a lot of money then; a lot; it was nearly a week’s wages for most people in 1970….1975, 74, 75, 76, it was a lot of money….so anyway all the fucking, so then basically, so I’m saying to all the kids, you know, I’m not a radical or anything, I’m just like…. ‘oh fucking hell they’ve got to pay for it…..they’ve got to pay for it’ so….and we had a lovely….what do you call them…..what did you call them then….Liaison Officers….

    TW: Not a Shop Steward?

    MM: Not a Shop Steward no, but you know, they….they sorted all the problems out you know, in whatever you know, a woman, and she was lovely; she was great, really nice, and you could always get on with her so, you know, I went up and I made a thing like of saying ‘look, the kids want….we want compensation for all the gear because we’re only on a fiver a day, so we want compensation for all the gear that you know, has been trashed’ you know, so bit by bit, right, over the ensuing weeks afterwards, you know and months, not months, but weeks and weeks yeah; we got called into the…the…Personnel Officer, so we got called in….so we got called in, and it was like….. ‘oh well….blah blah blah blah’…..sweet-talked into not getting the thing; sweet-talked into not getting the….the money for the shoes and for the jeans, and I said ‘no’….I says ‘no way’…. I says ‘the shoes were four weeks’ money working here; the jeans were more….you know, you know what I mean, and I’m not having it’ you know, da da da….. ‘no, I’m not doing it’ you know….charming, you know…..and every single kid dropped out, so these are all kids you know, in the mid 70s, who are going into the sixth form, then going on to university, then going on to, you know, Local Government reasonable top jobs or whatever eventually, career boys, yeah, right; they’ll go on and get their A Levels and them A Levels are gonna turn into university qualifications, and qualifications are gonna get them jobs, and there was then, late 70s early 80s, if you had that….if you were going in that strata, you will get summat, you will get a decent wage; there was a lot more going on, right, than there is now, and so them people, all of them, dropped out, fucking, to the man, right, apart from me, and I ended up getting my compensation, forty-five quid of fity quid, sixty quid or whatever it was then, you know, so I got the money for the shoes and I got the money for the jeans, you know, and then, one of the….managers upstairs, cos we…..we worked in the warehouse…..was completely on my case all the time from that point onwards, absolutely, you know, and that’s how they train them; that’s how corporatism works, and that was my fist….and that was a low level Morrison’s supermarket, so they were training young guys in their late teens, early twenties, to be assholes – ‘oh he’s a trouble causer, you need to get rid of him; that’s gonna be good for you our kid’ do you know what I mean, blah blah, so already the corporate shit was there. Now this was my introduction to it you know, so anyway I won, and then, about a month and a half later I was out on me arse….and my parents were disgusted….me dad was like [Irish accent] ‘Jesus Christ I never lost a job in my life’ you know ‘I’ve only ever left on my own accord’ and all this you know, and he was completely disgusted you know, and I explained it to them but you know, anyway….I was at art college you know and I was having a good time.

    TW: So why didn’t you finish art school then?

    MM: I did.

    TW: Oh you did?

    MM: I did yeah. It was a two year course, but I couldn’t, you know, I didn’t get a grant and….and by the time I was finishing, I was only eighteen - I wasn’t even eighteen – I was one of the youngest in the year you see, and then basically you couldn’t get a grant of any sort then until you were nineteen, so….what was I gonna fucking do? It was like me dad….and I was living at home with me mum and dad and they were basically saying that, you know, ‘there’s no way…..there’s not way we’re gonna keep you for another year; you can forget it; you need to go out and work’….my dad was fucking livid, you know, so……so that was it, yeah, you know, so that….so that was me, and also, the college itself had come to me and said ‘you should apply for St Martin’s in the Field down in…London’ and this that and the other and all that, ‘because you are the genuine article’….and….and I was like ‘yes, but’….oh and they said ‘oh we’ll take you on…..on the….degree course for the next year’ I says ‘well’ I says ‘can I get a grant?’ and they said ‘no’ they said ‘not until you’re nineteen’ no they said ‘yeah I’m sure we could arrange summat’ and I said ‘but it’s said that you can’t get it until you’re nineteen’…. ‘oh how old are you?’… ‘oh right okay yeah….well not until you’re nineteen but you can start the course; come and do it, it’s no problem’ but I couldn’t do it….because you know, that was it; that was the bottom line.

    TW: Yeah

    MM: So basically….I went and got a job then…what I did then was, I went and I did Volunteer Community Arts cos I was used to that sort of stuff, down in a building opposite the art college, and did screen printing and all that sort of stuff, which I could do anyway, so I was teaching kids at eighteen, but then I got a job pretty quickly, in a few weeks, at this place, Overprints, and then I started working there

    TW: How long were you there?

    MM: Eighteen months…..every day.

    TW: Yeah. Did you not think about then going back to art school? Or had you kind of like....got off the thread of that?

    MM: It didn’t…..it didn’t occur me….it didn’t occur me….by that time I was twenty and summat you know, and of course these were….these were heavy times for me because basically you’re that young and everything’s going on, but also it was punk rock time, you know, and so loads of things were happening musically, and gigs and everything like this, you know, and okay, I used to get forty-two quid a week but that was a lot of money then….to me it was a lot of money and I used to give my mum a tenner of that, you know, and so….and provide most of my own food…most of it……so there were no complaints, and……and basically I worked there then, and then I left…..again, there was another scenario going on there, similar to that other one….I ended up at an industrial tribunal when I left….because when I left they said they’d sacked me, and I said ‘no we came to an agreement’ right, because I’d got fed up with it, you know, and…my health had suffered; my eyes had gone worse than they’d ever been; I’ve always worn glasses since I was six – stigmatism – and I was in a dark room, you know, eight, nine hours a day, cycling and in there eight or nine hours a day or whatever you know, in…..in a dark room…..and it was labels and everything was nought point fucking type, so I……I really seriously……strained, trashed my eyes even worse than they were…….mercury lights exposure is a classic in developing you know, so……..and…….also my health…..in an environment where it’s all chemicals……and…..you know, industrial thinners, you know, in concentrated forms and paint thinners and all this stuff and the inks, all the ink stuff you see……and a bit of a crappy place as well, but you know, whatever, but all that on your lungs every day, cycling in the freezing fog behind fucking big lorries, you know, in traffic every morning…..and I was fucked….fucking burnt myself out man; I was completely…..fucked. I used to…..I used to go out with two friends, three friends on a Friday night and we’d meet in the……..we’d meet in The Ring O’ Bells at the bottom of the road, which was a…..a plinky-plonk piano pub you know, and it was great crack you know, and we’d be the three…..odd punk rocker types you know; the Asian, the Lithuanian and the Irish you know [laughing]….oh and there were a gay lad, the other Steve, and so we’d be there you know, with our eye liner on and fucking you know, spiky hair and what not and…you know, no-one gave a toss, Teddy boys drank in there….everybody drank in there and no bother, it was a bit like the Working Men’s Club you know, ‘roll out the barrel’ and there was a woman who was under five foot; she was like Pauline at The White Swan, and she used to dress in black lace all the time, lesbian woman, and she used to sit on the stool and her legs didn’t touch the floor, and she was like in her sixties, seventies, and she’d just bash it out like….honky-tonk style you know, any tune, whatever it was you know, and it were just round t’corner from the theatre so you’d get all the theatre people coming in as well, you know, it was a great crack in there you know, and this was like you know, ’77 ’78 you know, ’79 and…..I can remember many’s the time going in there and getting a couple of pints in, and then we’d….we’d meet up and we’d be sat there, and I’d just take a fucking few drinks; I’d have…..I….I’d probably have a pint and then get up to go and get some more, then I’d pass out; I used to get blackouts all the time

    TW: That’s cos of the chemicals and all the rest of it?

    MM: Yeah….yeah, totally.

    TW: Right.

    MM: Or I’d have to go into t’bogs and just throw everything….throw up….all me dinner, everything like this, and then….you know, and then after a while I’d feel alright, so it was pretty intense you know…..but it was an intense time as well and I lived in an intense household you know….you know, and like I say you know, and…….you know, I’d be there and they wanted me out you know, really, you know, it was like ‘fuck it this is insane’ [laughing]….

    TW: So….so how did

    MM: You raise children and you kick ‘em out, that’s the deal then. You don’t look after them for the rest of your life…you know, that’s a modern phenomenon.

    TW: Yeah….so what happened then? How did you get out?

    MM: Well…..yes I did that job then and that…..that was the printers wasn’t it? No sorry I had a break then, so how old would I be?......Nineteen or summat, and then I started and I….worked at an advertising agency in Leeds, as an illustrator; now I was cycling down the station every day and commuting then cycling…..Leeds but it was the city centre; it was Woodhouse so it wasn’t far from the train station really, about t’same distance you know, so I’d do that every day and….that was a bit more interesting you know, and a small go-ahead advertising agency that used to get all…..in the middle of all the other advertising agencies, and then they got to be more successful and then they moved on to Guiseley….Menston, Guiseley way, which was a right ball-ache to get to, so I managed to sort of hang on in there for a bit longer and then I fucked off and…..and then I’d saved up fourteen hundred quid by then, which was a fucking lot of money in them days, 1980 it was….1981, and……yeah I was twenty, and……my mate Dalvinda …..who’d been in India when he was sixteen, was then……me and him had planned a trip to go to India…..right, and he’d saved up as well, fourteen hundred quid; he worked in a tyre place, and basically what happened was he used to see….this French woman; she was a lecturer at the university, and you know, he….he was tall, thin, looked a bit like Jimi Hendrix, but wore a suit most of the time, you know, a punk rocker with a suit looks funny [laughing] but yeah, so you know, this French woman fell in love with him and…..she was a lesbian as well - that’s another twist to the tale – so he went to visit her one day and….knocked on the door; she didn’t hear him so he went round…..it was kind of flats, knocked on the window, looked in and there she was in bed with another woman! [laughing] So he was devastated; well he wasn’t, he kind of wasn’t as well, but anyway they had it out, anyway they split up, and then he met….I think it was Yvonne……and him and Yvonne got it together, and eventually got married and had kids together and whatever and I think they’re still together you know, years later, thirty odd years later, but….so happens is….during this period when he’d just…..met Yvonne……basically what happened, his brother found Dalvinda’s stash of personal knick-knacks; they were a Sheikh family right, and lived in Manningham… Highfield Road, found underneath the floorboards, found his box with his personal photos in which was photos of us being punk rockers and all this sort of stuff, and his girlfriend, you know, he had a girlfriend and then he had this French woman, Maurice or whatever her name was, and then…..and then what’s her name….Yvonne…and basically what happened was…….the brother finds it; the brother was…a you know….60’s Asian, hung out with….he was a Teddy boy Asian, cos you know, they were tough were Asians, you know, so he then went on the hunt with a fucking hacksaw or a shot gun or something, looking for Dalvinda. Some taxi driver warned him so we got him into hiding; eventually we got him…..a house to rent…..under her name or somebody else’s name from this….African landlord….who was an accountant for all the….clubs and pubs and West Indian things in Bradford, and a lot of Asian stuff so he was a major accountant; he had big scars…little bloke, and he had three big scars on his cheek like that - tribal markings – and he was the main accountant, anyway so we got him a….got him a house with him down in Frizinghall, and that was cool but they were in hiding; he couldn’t go to work , couldn’t do fuck all you know, so it was all a bit difficult for him you know, and the brother was out for the blood; he was gonna fucking chop him up….why, we didn’t know…so he’d gone and stayed at his sister’s who lived up Leeds Road, before we got him this place, and the brother….they’d got wind that the brother was away. Dalvinda hid somewhere in the attic and the brother came and fucking started axing down the door… ‘I know he’s in here blah blah blah’ right, so…..this was round the corner from where my mate Steve lived like, so fucking hell, we missed it…he’d fucked off by then, but basically we went round there and you know, t’police had come and then he’d fucked off like, but basically what happened is first of all they took all….cos they was supposed to give the money to the parents; took all the money, the fourteen hundred quid to go to India with, right, and…. ‘who is this?’ you know, and then gave pictures off her and him to all t’taxi drivers in Bradford… ‘if you see him ring me’ you know ‘ring our family’ you know blah blah blah big honour sort of shit……so fucking hell man you know, that….that passed, but anyway they got the money; they got the fourteen hundred quid so he couldn’t go to India, but then we got him somewhere to live, so then I was there like and I got an option then to go with a bunch of guys taking transit vans over, you know, and they were teaching me how to drive and I used to take them down through Afghanistan, down through t’Kyber Pass and some of ‘em were…..Pashtun and all this sort of stuff, so that….you know, so anyway….I think in my better judgment, I dropped out of that; there was a whole bunch of old hippies you know, they were all kind of druggies you know, and these guys you know, these Asian guys, who were mates….. Naz and all and that lot; brilliant, but they all did it, and then all came back, but then all ended up in Dutch jails [laughing]….for smuggling coming back you know

    TW: I see

    MM: so that was the kind of deal you know; you got….you got transit vans down there, you go the whole trip, you got paid, you spent your money on dope, and then you brought it back, but then if you got caught you ended up, luckily, in a Dutch jail, you know, so that’s….quite a few of them ended up doing a couple of years in Dutch jails like you know [laughing]……so kind of like my better judgment…..and I felt a bit like the cabin boy….you know when I got to know ‘em all for quite a while and you know, hung out with ‘em a bit smoking dope and that, I felt a bit like the cabin boy and I felt….you know, I felt a bit…at a risk really [laughing]……yeah, but yeah fucking……Dalvinda …yeah, so anyway that were that bit in between…..

    TW: Okay……so….

    MM: Then I went travelling

    TW: Then you went travelling

    MM: Then I went travelling

    TW: Where?

    MM: All over, just, you know, first stop France then down to….nipped over then to see….stayed with some friends in France….we moved to Brittany, back again; I was there over a whole….like a month, Christmas time, January and all that, and then I was back and then….then I decided to take a trip round Britain you know, and just hitched around Europe; went to Stonehenge that year for the first time, Stonehenge Free Festival, that was a…that was a life-changing opportunity you know….

    TW: Why?

    MM: Eh?

    TW: Why? Why was that so….such a big thing?

    MM: Well I’d….I’d walked into…….[knocking at door]….

    TW: Next door neighbour…………….

    Now that we’ve done our good turn and helped my neighbour move her car, you wanted to backtrack a bit you said.

    MM: Yeah….first of all backtrack a bit to….mid ‘70s…….like I was saying I was…..I was working…..in….John Street Market chopping up chickens at weekends…..and….and then….these were part-time jobs, and then…and then Morrison’s in the warehouse so I’ve explained a bit about that, but what was really going on, cos where I lived, most of the kids were growing up, teenagers with David Bowie and all this sort of stuff, and I’d discovered Northern Soul as a thing you know, right, soul music, and I got that through me mam’s radiogram, right, and I used to listen to American stations and….get really badly….bad reception funk tunes you know, and then record them with a little hand recorder in front of the speaker ….you know, but I liked these tunes you know, cos you never heard them like you know, and I liked these, and…..so I started buying and selling and dealing records really young cos I was in the market anyway, so I’d get….I’d kind of…I’d be hitting the stalls first thing in the morning or at the lunch break, I’d have half an hour lunch, and hit the stalls and I’d just be trawling and trawling and digging they call it you know, mining and digging yeah, so I’d be doing that for….for rare tunes and I….I did pretty good at it you know, and I started from the age of fourteen, I started going to Wigan Casino all-nighter, and to…..Manchester Ritz all dayer on a Sunday, and to the Cat’s Whiskers in Leeds all dayers on other Sundays you know, and so on at various places like this throughout the north of England you know, and my parents were okay with that

    TW: Was that for…to go dancing or

    MM: Yeah dancing, all night dancing

    TW: Right

    MM: And then all day, followed by all day dancing [laughing] so I mean…..you know…..Saturday night I’d trot off with me bag and all this you know

    TW: Well Brian who lives on….a few streets down there, he’s a few years older than me - he’s in his early sixties – he still does that now

    MM: Yeah, wow

    TW: Anyway, carry on.

    MM: Anyway, so….so that was quite a major influence you know, and has shaped my world….and then the other thing that really shaped my world at that time was…on the end of my street there used to be a big Victorian ex……church; let’s call it a big massive church hall which had been converted by a sea cadets’ organisation into a big hall like a ship, and basically, through a process of…whatever, they left in 1970…..beginning of ’74 and hippies came and squatted in it and took it over, like freaks from all over like, which was fantastic, but community arts freaks - they were all committed to community arts – there was a sort of movement at that time….for people generally from the south of England but not all from the south of England, cos this was happening big in London and Manchester and places like that, to come and help….bring art to the…to the masses, the kids basically, and I was one of them who they brought it to, and what they did was they took over the building and they started showing some films, and…..inviting us to sit in circles and…and discuss what did we want to do with this place that we were gonna turn into an art centre you know, into a….into a community hall like you know, which they did for a good number of years, and through that I made lifelong contacts you know, people who were older than me you know, so that transition of like moving out of your…..the area you grew up in and your friends and everything like that, like I was invited to all their sort of student type parties and hippy type parties you know, so I was kind of like….you know I felt quite sophisticated about that you know, and that was quite nice you know……so did all the kids you know, so from that we….we started a Thursday night….disco, a Northern Soul disco and then the….the…..kind of normal pop disco was on the Friday night, but ours was so popular that we ended up getting the Friday night, and then kids used to come…pre-all-nighter, going to all-nighters on a Friday night…..and…..meet there and exchange records….and drugs…cos the Northern Soul scene introduced me to a lot of dodgy people, but a lot of drugs, so by the time I was like fourteen fifteen and so were all the other kids, not only could you memorise all these artists, labels, you know, songs, you know, everything to do with the whole record collecting thing, you know, but also, drugs….everybody had a MIMS, and MIMS is a booklet you get and they come out periodically; they used to come out very regular, I don’t know how often, but it’s got all the drugs in, and it gives you a description of what the drugs are and what their effects are and what the side effects are, so all the kids would be chatting away, memorising all these you know, and then…and then older kids would be robbing the chemists….and then everybody would meet up down in….in a hotel, in the….in the city centre near the train station, and all these would get exchanged, you know, so you’d have your record box on there and somebody would come and they’d just put a…a brown envelope in the back of your records as well as flicking through, you know, blah blah blah, for free….well of course it was you know, all these things were the stuff they chuck away, they was all for free, so it was primarily… barbiturates and a few uppers…..most of the uppers weren’t there, but it was mainly barbiturates and tranquilisers you know…….yeah, and so…….I always used to have loads of these, but I was….me mum, like I say, she was an industrial nurse so under the stairs at our……our house was a pharmacy [laughing]…..you know…..at school we had Benzedrine inhalers, Benzedrine inhalers; they were like a sort of….a little jelly sort of…..thick blob like that, and it’s full of liquid, and it was like a highly menthol type of liquid inside, yeah, if you put it on your tongue it would go numb for instance you know, so….you’d break….the idea was you’d break these into a…..into a hankie, and then you’d just, like glue sniffing, and you’d just do a load of that, and you’d be totally wired and you wouldn’t be able to sleep, which was really handy for…..dancing all night, because I was…..even though…even though I was in that I environment I was still very very very cautious about what I put in my body, because even at that age, there was people injecting….right, and using needles, you know, not through some….like it’s portrayed nowadays you know, some….you know, smack culture or something like this, although I’m sure it….it had that, but it was…it was because…generally drugs weren’t, you know….you know, most of t’population didn’t take drugs, not like now where most of t’population does, in them days they didn’t, and so these were the free hits; these were what….so all the people, you know, teenagers and upwards, were….you know, who were involved in all that sort of scene, you know, the bike scene or the soul scene, or whatever, were….were interested in getting free drugs, you know, so robbing chemists was a big thing in the ‘70s, and then they would get filtered down like that for free…..you know….I met a few dodgy characters and that but generally it was fairly benign you know, but I was really cautious about what I put in my body; I was really cautious about it, you know, because I was a cyclist, so I was kind of….and I’d you know, like I said I used to get health problems, because fucking….you know, where I worked and all that so I was used to chemicals….chemicals you know…..

    TW: You were talking earlier about the…..pre-citizens advice

    MM: Oh yeah…….what happened then was, like say….so that was that; that had a big influence you know, that was…..Vicky Hall that was called and there was a place based across in Manningham and this was Bolton Road, so there was Vicky Hall; we used to have fantastic gang shows and all that at Christmas and on high days and holidays you know, really hilarious, you know….so then….later on then, after I’d left the…..advertising world at…..twenty, going on twenty-one, or twenty, I decided I was….what I did then was I started volunteering for the….Claimants Union. Now the Claimants Union was a….nationwide alternative organisation which was pre-CAB…a lot of people who worked in the Claimants Union then went on to form CABs and became big in the…..Citizens Advice Movement, you know, which was still part of the kind of overall ethos of Civil Rights you know, which I was aware of course because being Irish and then Belfast…..and the whole thing, and knowing about the….the….you know, the struggle of black people in America, even as a young kid, that was, you know, Mohammed Ali was our God because my dad was really into boxing cos he had been a boxer, and it was like you know, Mohammed Ali was….and also…..because….because we were Irish we always supported the underdog [laughing]……but Mohammed Ali, he was the dude like you know; whenever he were fighting we’d do that, you know, or…or Joe Frazier even; it was a shame when they fought each other but there you go…..Smokey Joe Frazier……..first round knock-out or summat; he had a single in the ‘60s….a sort of stomper which was a Northern Soul classic, Smokey Joe Frazier; his world ended then; I’ve seen him since, but anyway….yeah, so….the CAB formed out of the Claimants Union, you know, the Claimants Union were going for ages so I used to volunteer there, and of course it was punk rock time, and……so we started putting on benefits…..to raise money for the…..for the Claimants Union, and raise money for…..political prisoners, for the Anarchist Black Cross….so we started and we did….we did a series of benefits in and around the college area of Bradford, cos that’s where the office was, and…..and basically…..from that, cos there was nowhere for punk bands to play, so from that, and poets and all that sort of thing, the alternative poets, so I was an inner city kid so I was kind of entrenched in that then, and basically what happened was…….from that then we decided to have meetings and form a club….where we would form a club without a building, without even any premises, and we would score premises, you know, and so that’s what we did, and we would then….the first place we got was the……the upstairs room of The Black Swan, on the corner of Thornton Road, in Bradford……and….that was the first punk rock gig place in Bradford, and basically we had a lease, not a lease, but…you know, for however long, six months, a year there, and we formed a club, and it was 30p in and that was your membership as well, so within two months we had over two thousand members, which was pretty good for them days you know, but we ended up with….after a while with the biggest membership of any club, organisation pretty much in Bradford, within, you know, within The….The Working Men’s Club thing you know, and…….and then we got moved from there because of, you know, punks and all this, but of course you see, meeting in the pub had got used to this Thursday night hit….bigger takings than probably a lot of the other nights and so his…..his business was successful so as soon as it was successful, he booted us out you know, saying the punks were doing this and doing that, but there was never any trouble, that’s the thing; all the punks were upstairs, all the….. ‘hey up lads’ were downstairs, you know, with the…..in them days all the straight guys used to look like Rod Stewart with kind of blonde hair, the pigeon hair style, and the medallion you know….rings and all that, and so yeah….so anyway….we ran that then and……we ran that for years and years and years, and eventually we managed to score some money, but by that time we were an institution because we had a festival every year with this and that, da da da…..and of course some bands had become famous like New Model Army for instance, like….Sudden Death Cult which came on to be The Cult….like Poets, like Seething Wells; Seething Wells, Steven Wells, a mate of mine I grew up with, he became a skinhead poet and he was…even by like ’79 I think it was, ’79 ’80 he was on…..’81 ’82 he was on The Old Grey Whistle Test, but as one of the presenters, you know, he’d do these….he’d do these poems in between stuff you know……lots of things came out of that obviously, because you know, it was a flowering time like, and….so yeah……..that club that we started in April 1981 is still going

    TW: Really

    MM: with its own building, four storey mill in Bradford, and still a huge, massive international membership……for instance….and of course with it being….and we based our….we based the whole ethos of the 1 in 12 Club on the Anarchist Unions of Civil War Spain, pre-Civil War Spain. We based it on the CNT…..an Anarchist Union, big Anarchist Union. Barcelona for instance was the capital of the CNT….

    TW: What does CNT mean?

    MM: Oh….it’s in Spanish; I just can’t remember now

    TW: Okay never mind, okay.

    MM: Yeah yeah….trabajar; it’s work or summat at the end….nationale or whatever…. but…and liberty, equality and solidarity was our thing and we had membership cards with it on and everything like this, and….you know, so we had a huge….and it was great crack, and of course…it was quite political in its outlook in terms of like…..you know, that we gain some power over….over our own situation for making music and rehearsal and….you know all this sort of stuff…equipment shares and all the rest of it you know, collectivism you know, and we ran the club as a collective and it still is run as a collective; there is no boss, nobody in charge; it’s…..the collective run it, you know, so I learnt a lot about Circle Politics….about collectivism you know, which is….stands you in great stead if you ever wanna do anything in the world, you know, like in…..in Holland, Austria, and a few other European countries, that’s what they learn when they go to youth clubs; that’s what they learn; they learn Circle work; they learn everybody gets a say, and you know, and so on and so on; that’s how you do it; you make your own world you know…….and of course the powers that be, meaning the police and the Freemasonry crowd didn’t like it at all, or the politicians you know in the Council, they didn’t like it…..they were threatened by it; they were threatened by a bunch of kids, right, and young adults…..for getting a hold on their own situation you know, I mean, it was insane really, you know, but they was, you know, they were threatened by it, you know, and of course we were extremely anti-fascist, so any time fascism would be coming into Bradford we set up the telephone tree with all the Asians and everything like this, and all the gay….lesbian movements and everything like this, and you know, so within…fifteen minutes we could have like hundreds of people down in the city centre you know, not we, but you know, that’s how the telephone tree worked; you rang three people; you went to t’phone and just rang three people, then every person out of them three people rang three more people, so within a short period of time, you know….pre…..net….pre anything, you know…. networking…so basically then…….that’s what that was all about and….and of course the Rock Against Racism was just before that and I was part of that as well like you know, and…..yeah, so…..so then…..they were still going basically…..I’ve forgotten what I was gonna say about it but yeah…..

    TW: Well they do arts….they do a lot of art stuff up there now as well don’t they I believe?

    MM: Art stuff…oh they do drama, you know, you name it, yeah, all sorts of stuff, yeah, yeah….yeah.

    TW: Yeah

    MM: It’s still pretty grungy, but I’ll tell you a little…anecdote. This year, 2012, right at the beginning of the year……the….powers that be decided to change the….Fire Regulations, and so they made it so that the fire escape had to be….oh and the roof….had to be altered, something like this, right, so it wasn’t meeting some Regs that they’d just changed of course, so that’s like thirty grand man….a lot of money…not fucking tattle or tittle or anything you know, so a few of the people who…who had been involved over a lot of years since I dropped out, in an age, people have been at it for years, who are now kind of at the end of their phase on it, like people who have moved over here for instance like punk Martin, and stuff like that….they all went back and they….they put the word out, and within……I think it was….two or three weeks, not only did they have all the volunteer labour, I mean a huge amount of people to actually do the work, but, they’d raised more money sent to ‘em by donations from places like San Francisco, from places like fucking Sweden, Norway, Denmark….all the European countries, you know, Germany, anywhere there’s a hardcore thrash punk metal scene, political….they all sent ‘em summat….fucking amazing; that’s the power of the net; that’s great….

    TW: Yeah yeah

    MM: You know, so they….they had the money to do it….another crisis averted, you know….cos they’ll do owt you know; the powers that be’ll do owt. One of the things we did in the ‘80s was…….we did an expose on….on corruption in Local Government. Now….the one thing nowadays; the juxtaposition between us doing that then and the so-called purges into….expenses and all that sort of stuff that is now the whitewash of nowadays, is they don’t look into the real corruption. Real corruption isn’t about fiddling a few expenses; real corruption is about decisions that are made undemocratically, and all decisions…..all decisions are made undemocratically, because everywhere, not just in Britain, but everywhere…the people who are in them positions of power, even lowly positions of power, have to join a secret organisation, and that secret organisation is the Freemasons

    TW: You think so?

    MM: Absolutely, and also….I fucking know so. We did an expose into it into the ‘80s and nothing has changed; in fact, it’s got worse; it’s got more entrenched, and they’re more bolshy now. The European Union…eight years ago, abolished….the…the thing where you had to say that you were involved in any….any other organisations, so they…..they said if you were involved in this club, that club, a union, this that and….you know, interests, but they…..they made away with it so you don’t have to say that if you’re a Freemason or not; they’re all fucking Freemasons….the whole lot. Now what happens is, all them….three years’ decision down the line is being made now, and so we did an expose on them to do with, linked in with Paulson and that whole…nonsense, that whole corruption, you know , linked in with all that, and then some contemporary stuff and….cites here and there that were hand-shaked and stuff like that; it was all pretty low fire stuff really, but we went into who they are, what they are, what nonsense they have to garble to be in that club, and what deity do they worship? What is it they’re actually worshipping? And what are their secret words and everything like this. Now we had people on the inside….they gave us all the dirt, they gave us books on it, they gave us everything. They all went, you know, I mean they were only around for a very short period of time, but it was enough time to get all the information, you know what I mean…….and so…..you know, that……world that….my father’s generation grew up in the Northern Ireland of the Orange bully boys and all decisions being made by them, and no political thing for…..you know, Catholics, was evidently still going on, and it’s still going on now; it’s not sectarian or anything, it’s….you’re either in or you’re out, and that’s it, that’s how they work it…..everybody in t’police, everybody in ….most Civil Service jobs….any….you know, the army of course, you know, Civil Service, the whole lot…they all….architects…you can’t be an architect if you are….not a Freemason, right, but you can….because there are women architects now, right, but in that time, when we…..when we scored…..I won’t tell you how we scored the money for…..to buy our building

    TW: Yeah

    MM: but it is quite an interesting one, but….

    TW: Never mind carry on

    MM: We sent our own guy basically to Brussels, and got him to get our money and pay it, you know, to us, then the Council tried to stop us….that was in 1985 ’86 or summat ’87 yeah, cos we had started building by ’87, so it was before that; also there was all these…there was a publishing collective, there was lots and lots of different collectives, and one of them was the building collective cos….and that took about five years…of meetings every few weeks, every month, whatever, committed people, and eventually it come off, but how it came off was through a series of fate and a bit of jamminess; we sent our own guy to Brussels, he scored us…..he scored us the money for our own unemployed organisation. They paid it…..we then had to get it paid through an….an officially recognised Council organisation; the Council put that stipulation on so we got it paid through the……… Centre Against Unemployment……and then they handed the cheque back over to us and then we got the building; we bought the building off….off a guy who owed the Council…..a sweat shop owner who owned the Council fuck loads of rent, so we paid his rates, gave him a little bit of money and ended up with half the money to do the building up, and it was cool; everybody was happy. The Council weren’t…..they were really pissed off because what they’d done is….about quarter of the way through the year when we’d been awarded this money and they found out that we’d been awarded this money, oh, and we put out the thing in a fanzine; ‘Knee Deep in Shit’ was the name of the fanzine, the 1 in 12 fanzine came out periodically - a punk thing, political punk thing – we did a ….we did a pull out expose on the history of Freemasons in Bradford…..and the Council got…we only printed a thousand copies but the Council got hold of a few copies and then printed twenty times more [laughing[ you know, for internal distribution; they were all fucking plopping themselves [laughing]….yeah, course they fucking were

    TW: Right

    MM: you know…….because really if you look at it, like it’s just…you know without my story or whatever, just if you look at it, if you live in a democratic country, why is it allowed that everybody has to belong to a secret organisation that’s all linked to make the decisions? Fuck that, that’s not democracy; that’s dictatorship through secret societies, you know, and sure you’re always gonna get a bit of that, but it’s completely and utterly….utterly to the core corrupt, and then not only that, they have to….they have to implement plans from on high locally, you know….you know, and it’s all about militarism and military structures, and when I was a peace activist I learnt a lot more about that side of things but this was all around the same time you know, in my twenties, you know, peace camps and stuff like that, you know, I went on a peace camp one time and the first one I ever went on….Easingwold…nuclear…secret nuclear training college…..right, so people in Civil Service, in police, in military and this that and the other…..even in, you know….I don’t know, organisations like supermarkets and stuff like that, managers and stuff like that, they won’t get paid to go on these week courses or weekend courses to…what to do in the event of a nuclear…..leak or whatever you know, a nuclear accident, you know, this was big in the ‘80s…so while everybody else was like….this is a nuclear…you know all us on the left were all……this is a…. ‘Sheffield and everywhere, this is a nuclear free zone’ you know, ‘we’re declaring Sheffield a nuclear free zone’ or ‘so-and-so declared a nuclear free zone’…. ‘so-and-so declared a nuclear free zone’…………

    [END OF TRACK 1]

     

    [TRACK TWO]

    TW: Okay, Martin McGarrigle take two……right, where were we?

    MM We’re still…..still in the 1 in 12 days

    TW: Oh right

    MM: the early days of the 1 in 12 club yeah, during this period of course the miners’ strike happened…..and we obviously were very highly involved in…..raising money for the miners, so that got all over the country and all sorts of stuff you know, but mainly in Bradford you know, and local collieries like Kellingley and Fitzwilliam and all the rest of it you know and different places, which was a very….you know, an amazing time – pretty heavy – picket lines were very heavy you know, police were crap you know, and they were also…at that time I became aware of a phenomena called ‘agents provocateurs’ so you’d have……you’d have guys dressed up as punks and then they’d go down and start scrapping with t’coppers so it was coppers trying to kick us head in you know, so that….that was an odd one you know, and there was a lot….there was a lot of anomalies with the miners’ strike but one of….one of the interesting things that came out of that…..our involvement with it, the 1 in 12 involvement, my involvement, was the publishing collective….publishing collective put out a book….two books during the miners’ strike; one by a miner’s wife called Jean Gittins….and that was…..that was poems about the miners’ strike; very very good, and then there was another book that got put out by Sky and Trees; which was The Chumbawumbas…..publishing collective….by….I can’t remember his name now… Dave summat…..and he was a miner, and he put a book called ‘Tell Us Lies About The Miners’ and basically what that was, was taking all the news….news reports and then putting the news reports of what was supposed to have happened on the day, and then of course, what actually happened, but with all the interviews of the people you know, so that was…that was anarchy stuff, that was really interesting, but….. because it was so like…….my…..my religion at that time was pretty much Revolution, you know, and that meant Social Revolution you know, it didn’t mean violent revolution or anything but I was you know, a community activist, you know, I wanted things to get better for people you know what I mean; I wanted low cost housing and all the rest of it; all the social things that needed to happen you know, still need to happen, even worse now……but, during this time, [laughing] I remember it, something like January 3rd or something when I was, where I lived, there was…there was a paper that came out…. The Star, like a local free paper; not an alternative paper, you know, the local Star…and on the front page was….a story about a West Indian lass from Checkpoint which was the West Indian organisation community place, who’d won a free trip to Cuba…..right, sponsored, so basically what happened then was, I rang up this number and they then sent me the forms; filled in the forms, sent them back…..this was right at the height of the miners’ strike of course, 1984…..and….sent them back and I was one of the three or four, five people who were….you know, chosen for the interview, so during a really busy period…at that point we were running three gigs a week, right, three benefits a week – a week – right, and there’d be three bands on at each benefit, and they weren’t all in the same venue, but we used to store our stuff….above….in the storage place in the top of like The Kirkgate Centre in Bradford, which was….there was a pub there, and we used….that was our pub at the time which we were…..had a lease on to do the 1 in 12 Club; Market Tavern it was called, and so concrete back stairs and everything like this, and right at the top was a storage place and that’s where we stored our PA and equipment, so every….so we’d go there, like five o’clock, take all the equipment down and load it in…..load it into a truck or a van, take it off to the gig, do the gig….put it all back in, bring it back and then at whatever time, dick o’clock in the morning, we’d put it all back in; three times a week…..so we were pretty run ragged really you know, but I mean I was twenty-three so I was full of it like you know, and then basically….so I was kind of…..full on revolution, so basically I got…I got short-listed for this interview, so I went and it was in a downstairs bar in…..Bradford University….tea-time, that’s six o’clock, around that time…..summer, early summer, or something like that, in spring or whatever, and….so these people, older people, you know, types at that time in their thirties and forties interviewed us, but basically sat with us; chatted, and then they split into….two of them stayed with us and then they went to the other side of the room and they bought us all Guinness and everything you know, and then they sat at the other side of the room, and there was….I think there was three of us being interviewed…..one woman, she’d….we were all similar ages you know in our early twenties; one woman, she’d grown up completely in an Irish Labour Party full-on left wing teachers and the whole lot…family, you know, so she was very ensconced with it all you know; the other fella, he was….I can’t remember what….he was in a union from whatever…..some job or summat, steel or something like that, I can’t remember, and…..and me, who was like a 1 in 12 you know, and….you know, self-styled community activist you know, and so what happen anyway, is….we do the interview, and they get interviewed da da da……and I was the second I think, or the third, last; maybe I was last, let’s say I was last, so I went over, sat down and I’d been reading the English translations of the….it’s called Granma cos it sounds like grandma….Granma….that’s the paper - Cuban newspaper you know – so I were looking at copies of that, the English version… ‘oh yeah yeah’ this that and the other you know, blah blah blah, the odd mention of a little strike and stuff but not much you know, but of course…..anyway, I’d already got loads of dirt on Cuba by this time because you know, I was involved with the Anarchist Press, well basically like as soon as I mentioned to any friends ‘oh Cuba’ they’re all going ‘yeah but did you hear what they did to them sugar can workers’ and fucking blah blah blah la la la, so I got…..my head was just full of dirt on Cuba; not the good thing about it, but all the…..all the….state oppression you know, state oppression…….so anyway then…..so I was doing all this; I’m at the interview, I’m there at the interview, and…they’re basically saying to us… ‘well look, if you don’t’ you know ‘if you don’t support Communism’ you know ‘why…..why are’…..you know… ‘state Socialism…..why are you here?’ you know ‘what’s the story?’ and I says ‘well it’s obvious isn’t it? It’s a free holiday in the sun’ [laughing]…..well they did as well; we all bust out laughing, and then I qualified as well and went ‘yeah but also’ I said ‘they’re that side of revolution, and right at the moment, with all the strikes and everything that’s going on, it feels like we’re this side of it, so summat’s gonna….summat’s gonna change’ you know ‘even if the miners lose it’s still…..something major’s gonna change’ you know……fucking hell man, so anyway what happens is right, they rang me up the next day and said ‘right you’re going’

    TW: Oh right

    MM: you’ve won but you have to go for induction weekends down in London; there was about three inductions at different times during that summer - induction weekends – yeah……so I went on the induction weekends down to…and we were staying….. I was staying at a friend’s in squats in Brixton….very nice, very together you know….loved it; summer of ’84 in Brixton, collecting for t’miners while I were down there you know, on t’front line I’d go to all….cos I grew up in that sort of area in Bradford, I’d go to all t’rastas and all t’coke dealers on t’street you know, down Brixton and in Coldharbour Lane…

    TW: I lived there then.

    MM: and all them. Yeah it was amazing you know, I mean that Brixton dole was really funny man, it was like a fucking….bedlam wasn’t it? And like…..but, you know and I’d go to…. ‘what do you want?....[rasta accent] ‘Them miners, they got more money than me, man,’ and I went ‘oh alright go on then’ [laughing]…..you know, right, and….but yeah, and…… ‘you’ll only keep the money’…. ‘no I won’t mate, I won’t’ you know, so I had a good time there like you know and that was great, and then these induction weekends you know so, we’d go each day and we’d spend all day in the….in these beautiful attics you know, because they’d done the houses up lovely in London you know, with lovely gardens and everything and nice vegetarian food and all the lot you know; sunny as well, it was a really hot year ’84 wasn’t it?.....And….and I was there…and one of them…them dates, on one of the induction weekends, I think the middle one, was June 9th 1984, and June 9th 1984 was when Ronald Reagan came to London…..and there was a fucking huge protest, I mean massive, you know, like as big as the CND protests you know at the time, and…and lots and lots of chaos, and….my girlfriend at the time, Rachel, Rachel Benson, she was there in amongst it all, and of course, I….any break we got I was listening to the radio you know, about what was going on and I’m….I’m in like left wing heaven, you know, Camberwell Darling or whatever you know, and you know, lefty London – brilliant – loved it, but at the same time I was like, I was really distressed because…you know ‘the police have just charged all these anarchists at Trafalgar Square’ and I’m like ‘oh Rachel what’s happening’ you know…..[laughing] she were alright in the end, but….you know, so all my friends were down doing that as well like you know…….so….yeah…..anyway so basically did the induction thing and….they sponsored me to go and I….I ended up going that September so it was siz weeks I think….September to October during the monsoon season and we went and….went to Cuba, and that was a life-changing….that was a life-changing…..experience, because…..yeah, going to a…so-called third world country which it is, you know, or a developing country, no but actually it’s quite static because of all the embargo and you know, la la la and you know, state control and all this sort of stuff, but fantastic lively, absolutely lively country you know, like Ireland in terms of it like…piss poor but music is king, you know, so everybody knows songs and poems and so the history of the whole people is really really really really strong; the history of all the religions, the history of everything is really strong there you know, so I learnt a lot there you know. I was particularly interested in…….. how religion survived in Cuba, you know, because everywhere there was derelict churches; every village you went to there was derelict churches you know….which had either been done up, turned into sort of like a….a community centre, but quite a lot of them were just taboo - people wouldn’t touch them – there was always that, so there was a lot of…there was a lot of superstition in Cuba; people, instead of…what they….what they had was they had a…..everybody had a little shrine in their house, okay….not many people had crosses but they a little shrine and what they were was……black Madonnas, so they were like….everybody has them in Ireland, but there they have the Sacred Heart on the wall you know, with a glow…..light on it; well they had similar things in Cuba but….but it had little…..little…..a little altar somewhere; everybody had it, and on it would be……you know, Our Lady but made out of wood, just brown wood…..and not painted you know, I mean in some places they were painted but mostly it was just brown carved wood of Our Lady you know, and then you’d have other little statuettes and stuff like this, and then little flowers and beads and money put on and a bit of food and stuff like that; that survived and that was called….I think that was called Shangai (Santeria) and that was voodoo basically, or…..a kind of mixture of the Caribbean religions you know, which was quite interesting you know….and you know, then you’d see……I mean particularly in Havana you’d see different people….I remember seeing….black tattooed people for the first time, cos I never saw tattoos on black people in Britain; that became popular when hip-hop became big, but before that you’d never see black people with tattoos, well I didn’t, even though, you know, I worked in t’markets and everything; there was always the…..there was always the….Ukrainian sailors, the old boys, you know, the battleship Potemkin boys, who’d be covered in tattoos you know; they’d even have a watch on you know, tattooed like you know, all this, but….but anyway going back to that…… they…..they….so people who, you know, so you’d have like……witch doctors as it were you know; they’d have a little drum, they carried a little drum; lots of bells and stuff like this, lots of bones, teeth….necklaces made out of bones, and completely head to foot, completely covered in tattoos. Now these guys were sailors; they were Caribbean sailors basically, that’s what they were you know……yeah, you know, and you’d see quite a few of them; and Cuba was…..Havana was just sort of changing a little bit at that point……..some of it was starting to get done up, but most of it was pretty run down and I think it’s sort of fairly similar to that today, you know, twenty-five, thirty years later or whatever, you know; it’s not changed that much either you know……..we stayed 12 clicks, 12k out, in a camp in an army barracks outside of, you know, in an army barrack type place, and what it was was…….it was an international brigade and we were the European International Brigade, so every other European country was there, represented with twenty to thirty people in each brigade, so there was a huge amount of people, plus all the Cuban translators, so every group, every brigade was designated up to ten, five, ten fifteen translators yeah, young Cubans working with you who want to learn….European language, mostly English but, you know, others as well you know, for international work, you know; learnt a lot about Cuba – fantastic – in schools they do…….half their lessons outdoors…well it’s a hot climate, but….you know, and every school grows a crop or two of something….so they learn their biology and science literally in the field, and it’s a really…..so….and so the general standard of education, up to pre-university level in a third piss poor country like Cuba, oh and also the National Health Service there was par equal to Britain at the time, but the education was better; there was less dumb downed people, you know, much…..people were educated. When you finished school at whatever age it was there you know, sixteen or seventeen, you then had to do two years’ compulsory……like state service….overseas service sort of thing, so that’s how come…and then people would get a crash course in medics, so everybody was at least basic bottom line paramedic trained – everyone – so you know, and they knew biology and they knew science and they knew basic medicine, and they knew numeracy, you know, these are not….middle class or whatever you know…….so that….the basic bottom things were there; people ate, they were fed….the housing was pretty crap because of overcrowding and you know, waiting lists you know; your kids had grown up by the time you got your flat or whatever, you know; when we were there we were in brigades and we were….we were doing two things; we worked doing fruit picking, which was avocados and the big orange/grapefruit crosses, you know, do you know the one, the sweet grapefruits; they were the first to kind of grow them really, so we were picking them and then the other thing we were doing was building site work, but en masse everything was over-manned there, and we were building three storey…..blocks of flats….you know, and there, what happens is……the flats get built……and all the fixtures and fittings and everything like that, if it’s your flat, say you’ve been designated that flat, you…you go there every weekend and you do it up – you do it – you finish it off; you put the lights in how you want it, da da da, you plaster it even in some cases - not always - but you know, do you know what I mean….you finish it, so it’s yours, cos it’s not gonna get taken off you, you know, it’s yours for life, a council house type of thing you know, so we were building council houses for Cubans yeah, and picking fruit…..and we had a fleet of…..about eighteen buses which were all British Leyland 1960’s big, square, beautiful buses you know….and drivers….and….so the camp operated on that all the brigades….we like….cos it was a European/International brigade, we set our own programme, even of course we were liaising with the Cuban authorities and all our people, our liaison people, so we….we visited prisons .....hospitals, schools, mental hospitals………local CDRs….CRD, Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, Self Policing; they were just bringing in….introducing the thing at that time in the ‘80s of Community Policing right, which was….yeah, okay, let’s not go there about that, but, in Cuba, how it worked was…you see like you’ve got a block of streets like this, like this one here; this block of streets would have one house which would be….set over for….it would be like a tiny community centre for the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. From that house you would organise all your dustbin collections, your refuse, this that and the other of whatever happens, and in the back of that house there would be a strong room built; breezeblocks, iron door, serious locks on it, and in there is white boiler suits of all different sizes and shapes [laughing]….helmets and automatic weapons, okay…..right and kalashnikov’s but automatic weapons right, and so…..everybody over the age of eighteen, over the age of eighteen, is on a rota system, and you have to do guard duty in your area; that’s how they did….it was called Poda Popolare , Self Policing; it was one of…it was one of Che Guevara’s main things; Che Guevara’s two main things were obviously health care cos he were a doctor….get rid of money [laughing] which they didn’t, and Poda Popolare, they were his main things you know, him and……..Cienfuegos….Camilo Cienfuegos….cos there were three of them; there was Fidel Castro…..Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos; they were…..they were the three boyos, you know…….and…..of course them other two are dead……and basically…so one of the sights you would see normally…oh and Cuba was very gestural; there’s a lot of debate….it was like Czech Republic people years later in the ‘90s when I was there were like that, and Ireland; full of gab, and they’re asking you ‘what do you think about stuff?’ and then having a big argument or a….or a big discussion about it. Cuba was like that… ‘oh what do you think about blah blah blah’ and then off you go….arms would be gesturing and all that, and the rum would be flowing and…Jesus the parties were great man you know [laughing] do you know what I mean, absolutely fantastic, but…and music you know of course all the time you know…..so…..one of the things you’d see when we did get the odd time to go out in Havana you know, we’d get taken on buses ‘right we’ll pick you up at midnight’ blah blah blah and that’d be it you see, you know…..so…..you’d basically go there and you’d change your ten dollars if you had it; I didn’t have any money – I had no money with me – nothing, you know, but you’d change your ten dollars and that’d become a hundred dollars on the….black market, so then you’d use them….a hundred Cuban dollars that is, so you’d use them like and there was all sorts of dodgy things with money, but you know….we didn’t want to risk it because we were official you know because anyway….but on the last night when we were all there we had a huge party in Havana, it were amazing, but anyway…..anyway what happens is…..so we’re there, and one of the things what you see when you’re wandering round anywhere, even in big housing estates, cos when we were there it was…it was the…it was twenty-five years of the Revolution, right, exactly, like it’s just been fifty-two years ago in two ten, two nine, well it was…..it was….it was twenty-five years cos it was…1959 so it was 1984, so that was twenty-five years…twenty-five years of Self Policing, so that…the Poda Popolare, so everywhere, there was street parties everywhere so we got taken to these huge big housing schemes, right, you know, with flats and everything like this, here there and everywhere, different places where everyone would be, and there was massive street parties and fucking, you know, it was amazing; it was like…..carnival all the time when we were there, and I’m sure it’s not like that all the time but you know, it was amazing, and….so what you see is….you’ll be going along like, and there’ll be like….say, a couple arguing, or four people….two couples arguing like fuck on the street….you’d have whoever’s doing the guard duty, you know, Doris down the road, and Bruce up the road, you know, the….boiler suit’s too tight for him and it’s too big for her cos she’s only five foot do you know what I mean? And the kalash… and the fucking automatic weapons would be there just propped against the wall, and they’d be there like intervening you know, mediating, and they’d be saying [Martin makes up an improvised argument in Spanish]……do you know what I mean? That was really common…..fucking hilarious [laughing]….you know, it were really hilarious……

    TW: How long were you there for?

    MM: It was…..I think it was…by the time I came back it was nearly six weeks. Tell you a funny story about….I’ll stop now on that one. When we came back, we flew into Britain and of course we landed in Heathrow…..and you know, you’re on a downer by this stage you know, cos you’ve been in the sun and everything like this and you’re a bit knackered and all that, and I was starting to feel on a bit of a downer, and I was also feeling a bit sad like you get…..sort of when you do travelling and stuff; I was feeling a bit emotional because everybody else had people coming to meet ‘em, but I didn’t cos I live in the north of England you know, but a lot of people had London connections and stuff and people could meet them or whatever…….and I didn’t and I thought ‘this fucking bus, all the way up’….it’s that Easy bus all the way up to Leeds you know…. fuck’s sake…..anyway, so……no worries…..so basically…..I’m there and we get off the plane…….and…..we got all delayed before we went through customs and I thought ‘well we’re all gonna get turned over completely’ because we’d been in, you know, a Communist country or whatever you know, but anyway we went through customs no problem; they didn’t go over the top, it was alright; we walked into the fucking terminus and there was no people….only police, in couples…..it was like…. ‘what the fuck’s happened here? Has Britain turned into a fucking police set and everyone’s got to wear a fucking police uniform now?’ there was no people; there was only police…right, but hundreds, even thousands of ‘em…it was like…and we were all there like….completely in shock….. ‘what the…..frig has happened here?’….you know….it was the day….it was the morning after….the Brighton bombing, and they didn’t know whether the Cabinet had been killed or not, at this point….so everything just went…..so we’re there….you know, the paranoia just went….I just….I just…..I was completely and utterly paranoid; I don’t know why but I was, you know; I was in shock and I was paranoid……and…..the whole place is full of police, and then….and then people came over then to meet…..Alison, my friend, who, you know, from Bradford, and da da da but she was staying in….about another week in London, so….and Joe who I knew from Bradford, they came over with…you know, a bunch of ‘em… ‘oh hiya, hiya’….. ‘what the fuck’s happened man? What’s happening?’ and they’re going ‘oh didn’t you hear?....The Tory Party Conference last night, the hotel got blown up and it looks like….they’ve all been killed’….and we all went [laughing]… ‘what?.....what?’….you know…..but as it happened only Tebbit’s wife got killed didn’t she? I don’t think anybody else got killed which was a shame, but you know…….but……yeah, so….anyway…..yeah, so that was…..that was….you know, it was like….fucking hell, it was like the Revolution had started you know, it were like…..you know, but anyway it hadn’t [laughing]…..and once I came back I had an incredible come down and depression after that, you know, it was quite….you know, back on the dole in Bradford and…..da da da you know, took right off, but yeah, you know…..I was alright…you know…….so that was Cuba; that was in the middle of the miners’ strike…yeah, right in the middle of it, you know, and of course I’d been to Stonehenge that year and there was a lot of…there was a lot of that….that year, you know, a lot of….clashing….one of the things that was good about them years was….Stop The Cities demonstrations. They were what became the Anti-globalist Movement….Stop The Cities were…..where we would go to London on the two days of the year where they have to physically take paper bonds out of every bank, top up what they’ve got in reserves – assets and everything like this – and bring it to selective clearing banks, they’re called clearing banks you know…like I used to remember the names of them all but I can’t remember anymore…..and take a….take these….so we used to…..the first few months we had in ’83 and then ’84, like that were in ’84….did it; they actually….they ground it to a halt you know; there was…it was a bit like the Poll Tax Riots, except without as much…as much smashing; there was just more like grinding the place to a halt so that would delay the thing and that would make a massive….influence on the Stock Exchange you know, and it did, and it got the point across, you know, to all the inner city London workers you know. Ninety-nine per cent of them were going ‘look we support you’….you know…. ‘we know’ …..because they worked for all these big banks, stuff like that, and they knew it was all a con you know, funding wars and the whole lot…you know, and worse you know, funding major polluters you know…so none of that’s changed actually, so all that…what we were protesting about then…..is now actually…. you know, it’s completely at its head, all this money collapse and everything like that is…. you know, it’s a con; it’s a script that they’ve been working on for a lot of years, and they’re bringing it in now; that’s where they are at the moment you know.

    TW: Right……well it’s interesting you say that cos……if you’re talking about…..all that sort of thing was going on in the ‘80s…..and you….you relate that to kind of like what’s been going on here for the last few years

    BB: Yeah

    TW: and you see that as a kind of master plan of

    MM: Oh yeah definitely, yeah

    TW: Of how we’re controlled really. Well if you believe that then, how do you view your life then of…..you know, you being a real activist then [phone ringing]….hang on

    MM: Yeah just put it on pause

    TW: Oh it’s stopped, okay. You’ve been a big activist [phone ringing]….oh let me stop…………

    Right, I’ll start again. You did all that activist work back in the ‘80s and then you see it like, really like nothing’s changed really. So how do you feel about that? I mean the stuff that you do now shall we say, cos you’re still…..quite active in doing things aren’t you?

    MM: Yeah yeah.

    TW: So are you still fighting that same battle or do you see it in a different kind of way?

    MM: Oh I see it in a much different way yeah yeah

    TW: Yeah. Well how….

    MM: Yeah. In your twenties you…..whatever you do…..it’s part of your persona; it’s part of your armour. You become that……that becomes your…..your whole…who you are; that’s who you see yourself as, but then there comes a point where that becomes very insignificant, you know, for instance when children come along and stuff like this you know…..but….I mean the basic thing is the same you know…….and I don’t….I just see it all in a kind of long long long term historical context, I mean……..power….. you know……is periodically……in the hands of the masses, but mostly it’s in the hands of the leaders, who oppress the masses. That’s political speak but… you know, society is…. you know, whatever way you look at it is the government, one way or another, you know, by oppression, you know, cohersion and slavery, you know, so you know, you kind of find your place in all that don’t you really, so….and I always thought that even in the ‘80s, you know, even with all the nuclear threat when that was the big…..overarching thing that people were quite concerned about, it’s only like….the end of the world and God is gonna smite you, you know, it’s the same thing, I mean you know like they say you can walk out and get knocked over by a bus or whatever, it’s the same thing; you’re only gonna live as long as you live, you know, so the….the fear….is particularly a Western thing you know because we don’t believe in reincarnation, the fear of death…..is paramount you know, in the psyche of the Western mind, you know…..and I don’t have that, I mean I’ve got a bit of it obviously cos I survive, you know, but……. you know basically it’s like your live until you die, and that’s it, you know, and……what you can do in your life is, you know, you can….you can do good work and I even had it then, cos I ….you know I studied Herbalism and the history of witchcraft and homosexuality, you know, throughout the ages, so basically it’s always been the same…….absolutely always been the same…. you know…..the only difference now is that there’s a lot more power concentrated in a lot fewer hands….globally, I mean there are regional, factional differences but they’re all global super powers, and they are competing and…..they don’t like each other, and the global elites who run all that, they’re the same, these various big……organisations, you know, families, you know, the names of them all….Rothschilds and this that and the other, the fucking Bilderberg and all the rest of them, they…..they’re not all happy with each other either; they’re all vying for their own fucking strategic interests as well, you know, controlling media all over the world and all the rest of it you know….the only difference is that……..the consciousness of the mass of people on the planet is much greater than it was then…..in terms of like how everybody’s been shafted, conned, lied to….killed, you know, and….and have to swallow this, but people don’t people know, you know what I mean; people know what’s going on but whether they choose to accept it or not; a lot of people don’t accept it because it’s too scary for them, but it’s still true, you know, the all benign king is actually killing them people… ‘oh wasn’t that terrible, you know, that whole village got wiped out man, you know, the whole town; they’ve put them all to the fucking sword’ you know, this is the Middle Ages like you know, , ‘oh God Save The King’ that’s your king mate, you know, you know what I mean, it’s your cousin what’s gonna do it and all your fucking brothers died doing it as well, you know, it’s the same bollocks now, so that’s all I think you know, I just put it in a long term historical context; I don’t see it as winners or losers; it’s the kind of vying like that you know, you know what I mean, species…. you know, working for different….resources you know.

    TW: Now when I met you a few years back now, you were……..into kind of land management or you had land

    MM: Yeah……yeah.

    TW: and that sort of thing. How did you get into all that then?

    MM: …..pretty much by…..when I went to Ireland, to live in Ireland, in 1980……we were in Ireland then we came back, and then me and my partner split up, and then I could….I was so paranoid here; I mean I was seriously with mental health problems, you know…..so I went back to live in Ireland cos it was….it was safe and it was…..there weren’t hardly any people….and just nature

    TW: Yeah

    MM: and I….I had a vehicle that I could live in; by then I’d learnt to drive, and I had somewhere to stay as well….so you know….from that then I….went on the road from Donegal, went on the road, I mean I brought some people over with us you know, in various trucks so we travelled around a bit together and explored Ireland….in 1988, and then, very quickly, met up with some people and formed a circus. The circus went all round Ireland….sixteen act circus….street circus…okay, The Ozone Art Street Circus, and we took that around and that was pretty amazing a lot of the time and pretty…..crap some of the time you know…..but….we did it, and….and it was great for a lot of rural Ireland cos they were right pleased to see us and they accommodated us amazingly. From that then…….I settled in Galway for that winter……or was that the year later….no I can’t remember, anyway basically yeah I settled in Galway or summat like that….and then….for a year on the edge of Lough Corrib, and then….of course illness has played a part in my life quite a lot, you know, different severe illnesses, anyway so, I had a recurrence of a kind of bronchial thing which turned into a kind of rheumatic fever and I managed to scrape through it, you know, living in damp conditions and also that was my first year away from my daughter who was…..my heart was broken……but I was too paranoid to live in England……… you know, scratching….bureaucracy, dole, fuck all, you know, the interviews, you know…..anyway, so there it was much simpler you know, anyway so then….and I managed to get healthy again you know, and basically I did this job where I took a teepee down; I used to do….I had a lorry by that time, you know, the van and then a lorry, and so the first year I took the circus round Ireland and then basically……ended up settling then in Galway for a year, and then in West Cork on land with other travellers you know, settled kind of travellers, and then…..basically started working with a…..a crowd called Future Forests in Bantry…..which was a saw mill and a garden centre, and winding down the saw mill at the start of it, part of it, and building with all the materials, and……you know, big turf roof, Saxon barn da da da da… you know, you name it, and so I did….I started contracting with Mike Pollard and Louise of….of Future Forests

    TW: Right.

    MM: and…..I did that for years; twelve years, thirteen years. I still have contact with them you know, so I learnt forestry basically; all about trees and the planting side of things, and a bit of…..and woodland management, but I was never a chainsaw freak; I never got in there doing chainsaw – I did a bit of it but that’s not my main thing – my main thing was planting for farmers, creating hedgerows and wildlife corridors…that sort of thing you know, fencing and creating wildlife corridors….raking the big fuck off fields up that were flooding all the time, after they’d done the whole ‘80s grants and…..fucking it up, making fields too big in inappropriate places, and reinstating a lot of…..a lot of smaller fields

    TW: Was all that in Ireland or was that over here as well?

    MM: Ireland, but that was…..that was in West Cork, primarily in the south west, it … you know and a bit in Kerry and a bit over….maybe a bit of East Cork but that was it you know, learnt thatching, learnt everything you know…. everything to do with you know, materials….woodland materials and all that, and right as we speak my friends run a whole summer school camp there at the moment, but they’re running it in Clare at the moment; they have a woodland contract there, open to the public, all people can come on courses, yurt making da da da, staying in yurts, teepees, all this sort of thing, and it goes on all summer; it will go right through into the….right into the autumn, and then there’ll be courses in the autumn then as well, with an organisation we formed a lot of years ago called Celt East Clare Coppice Association, basically it’s in Irish you know, so it’s East Clare Coppice Association…..one of the things that we did….so that’s how I got into all that, right, and one of the things that we did there during them years in the ‘90s was…… formed the Irish Rainbow Network after the Rainbow people came in, The National Rainbow people came to make a Rainbow gallery in Ireland, stuck around West Cork, didn’t get it together and then did the following year, but in the meantime we formed the Irish Rainbow…..like network alliance type of thing you know……and started to have gatherings, regional gatherings…..every…..on key points, key power points, key fire points, on tops of mountains, specific places by…. you know, ancient, you know, ancient

    TW: So there was a spirituality aspect of this?

    MM: Yeah…..yeah, kind of pagan spirituality you know; I’ve always had that though, you know…..and so that….that was pretty successful you know, the Irish Rainbow Network you know, so for two years we did a double spiral around Ireland, creating this double spiral ending up at Uisneach on a certain date…..and the day it got to the mountain on the border was….and it was just coincidence, it was the day, I mean it was in the ‘90s and it was the day that the first cease fire happened.

    TW: Oh really

    MM: Fucking amazing, so we had like eight people up there with a bit of paraffin and some sticks and windy weather and fog and rain, and they got the fire together and lit a fire and did the thing, you know, and that was the day that they announced the first ever cease fire you know, but they were great days in Ireland because………Mo Mowlam was the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland…..and……she became President…….Mary Robinson…..Mary Robinson the lawyer, she became President of Ireland, so we had two women in key positions, and that actually, in the psyche of the people, gave enough power to……the women of Ireland shall we say, to put enough pressure to say ‘well fuck this, you can’t be playing these ‘60s ‘70s games of like…..bad mouthing the…..the single mum in the village’…..all that changed, you know; one week it was ‘she’s a whore’ the next week ‘she’s a saint’ literally overnight; I’m not joking, in a two week period, and that all coincided around the cease fire cos you see, the fucking war was a lie, and even people who supported it in principle….the sentiment of it, you know, civil rights and all the rest of it, never supported the war, because it was a big Mafia game; it suited the fucking Mafiosis, you know, d’you know what I mean?.....That’s all they did, you know, it was big farms, big gold rings, big four wheel drives, big fuck off….by the way, you know, on both sides; that’s the thing what people…you never hear; it’s like when the…Balkan Conflict kicked off; you never heard about the massive peace protests….you never heard…..massive….no no, we’re just gonna bomb ‘em….it’s all….it’s all choreographed…..Tony, you know, when you live in Ireland, when you…when you’ve got an Irish psyche, you don’t believe….you don’t believe the hype. When a bomb goes off and they say it’s so and so you don’t believe it; all you’ve got to look at is whose interest right now does that serve?.....You know, like all the ones like Warrington and Omar and all this sort of shit that happened…. The Real IRA, the Old IRA, it’s all bollocks; who does it suit?.....Okay….Who does it fucking suit and I’ll tell you one thing that happened during the ‘90s when all these bombs went off in Britain and elsewhere, was when the fucking intrangient…..intransigent …..crowd – Paisley’s mob – wouldn’t play ball; they were playing….what’s his name….. Shaftio or whatever his name was, the General, the fella who came in and he was saying this you know, right, Oh, I’m saying this ‘oh it’s not enough, oh it’s not enough’…. ‘no, you do summat now….you make some leeway….you are the ones who benefitted from this when there was no vote for anyone….so now, you move an inch or two and we’ll see what happens’ you know….. you know…..now they don’t mind because….the warring hand did its job for the British state you know; it kept armed in this fucking…… you know, disharmonic…. you know……..state…..for years, so the north gets resources….military resources, military infrastructure, surveillance infrastructure, as a nice little twenty, thirty year experiment for the rest of England - everybody knows that – all the kind of…..bridges of civil liberties that….that….that were brought in; emergency powers, this that and the other; did they go away?....Did they fuck…. you know, so internment now is your basic law isn’t it? You’ve got a basic law saying… oh anybody can be accused of anything and detained for what….oh it’s so many days or whatever; no, not if they say you’re a terrorist…. you know, that blanket fucking cover all, you see what I mean, all that stuff, so….I’m interested in civil rights and I am….still….so, if I’m fighting owt, I’m still fighting for civil rights; social justice, civil rights, environmentalism….environmentalism, not carbon counting; I’m not into head tax for the world, you know, at all; completely opposed to it, you know, I’m into people like organisations in the world that are the mass polluters…..getting called to….called to book as crimes against humanity…..you know; can’t see that happening in my lifetime, not with the current state of things, you know, but sooner or later, you know, history will….will show, no matter how they write it, it will still show the truth of it you know….when a terrorist act happens, going back to my original point about what you learn, what happened during that period in the ‘90s where it was…you know, you had two women in power, you know, suddenly, it was like ‘yeah’ and then suddenly everybody was going ‘yeah, oh fucking rah this, rah that’ you know, ‘fuck ‘em’ like you know, ‘they never did any favours for us’ you know, ‘they just extracted money and they did this and they were a Mafia organisation’ you know, similar on the Protestant side you know, what did the fucking UDF do anything for us apart from being, you know, bully boy teaching all the young guys to hit…. you know, so….and of course with the ecstasy boom at the time as well, that also fluffed it as well, so that kind of helped… you know…..but going back to….going back to that, when you see an act of terrorism, you don’t go… ‘oh an act of terrorism’ you go, you know, whoever’s supposed to have done it, you know, whoever the media tells you has done it, but you go ‘who does it suit?’ so when nine eleven happened, right, everybody was going ‘fucking they’ve done it to themselves; CIA bastards have done it to themselves; they’re killing their own people’….why? Because they wanted to launch the war on terror…the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on fucking anything….that’s what they do, and the war on…..means destructuralisation it’s part of the script; the destructuralisation of society, right, so they can impose their….new world order, a different set of paradigms, never mind Human Rights Act, never mind civil rights, never mind any of that….this fucking blanket kind of…..what they had in Germany, the Nazis, what they created, same kind of thing; it’s tyranny; it’s oppression and you know and it’s state…..tyranny, and it’s…it’s corporate….corporate state tyranny, you know; we’re split between corporate and governments. All governments now are glove puppets…..for bigger organisations, okay, they always have been, but now they really are…..they’re all in turns, they’ve all been programmed, they’re all that’s it – bang - even if they’ve worked their way up from the Council, you know, and got in a position of power…. you know, because…..they’re working for a bigger….bigger agenda now, you know, and they’re working together for that, you know, and everything they touch they destroy, and that’s the whole point of it; the more successful they get at destroying something like the NHS or whatever, the…..the bigger the bonus; the better they’ve done; that’s how they work it. Why would they be wanting to do that?......Because…..in the world……they’re, sad to say, this is what politics does to you; you learn far too much which is not really particularly good to know. They have what’s called a world depopulation programme…..okay. Now you can argue the pros and cons of all that, but basically they set this programme way before the end of the Second World War but the Second World War was when they instituted it with…..with the UN……I read it…..and they want to stabilise the world population……world population growth, so they fuck about with the figures making it seem like there’s far more people than there is; there’s a lot of people but the planet can support far more people than this, but if you want a world of feudalist elites……the more people there are, the more potential there is for fucking overthrowing them elites, so they have to keep it down always to certain levels; that’s what wars are about. They’re not about resources anymore; they’re not even about anything…same with…climate change; climate change is a real thing; climate chaos is even realer…..okay…..meaning that….with the toxification of the planet through….mass industrial pollution processes…..this is having and has had affected quite a long time, since about…..18th Century onwards when the chimneys started really pumping the shit, you know, so yes, it’s….it’s created climatic effects….and toxic effects with water and everything like this; now….they’re doing it on purpose……because there’s more….if you’re a big corporation there’s more kudos, there’s more money, there’s more power in the fuck up than there is in the actual production…..like oil for instance…. you know……. money…..nowadays, the money….the money is in disaster capitalism….okay, disaster capitalism is where the books are; that’s what they do. War, restructuring, da da da…..problem, create the problem….off with the…..off with the solution….and come in with the fucking…..create the problem, get a reaction, and then come in with the solution; problem reaction solution, that’s what….that’s what’s going on at the moment. Dark times; dark times for the world; dark times for the people of the world; dark times for the species, all sentient beings on the world; dark times for the planet because the power in concentrated into very very few massive corporate….corporate hands; that’s the problem….that needs to change; but it will…….it will; there’s a lot….there’s a lot of stuff you know, that’ll change. The….the power bases and compliance that that….that you need for that to enable you can only achieve through mass…..oppression; mass oppression creates many many many many many many small reactions all the time everywhere….you can’t keep all the people down all the time everywhere [laughing]….so that’s how I….I….find my way through that sort of mess.

    TW: ……well one last thing really……how did you end up here then?

    MM: How did I end up here?

    TW: In Hebden Bridge.

    MM: My girlfriend was pregnant and I always said I won’t….if I have kids I don’t want them to grow up in the inner city…..that’s just….that was one of my things so we….we looked for anywhere outside of Bradford that was rural or semi-rural and we tried to get a place to rent and do all that so we did…..1986….and then my daughter was born here in….1987 in June, 1987…..in….number one Unity Street.

    TW: Oh……number one?

    MM: Number one…….yeah. We were renting it.

    TW: I know who lives in that house now.

    MM: Yeah, Penny.

    TW: Penny and Jerome

    MM: Yeah yeah, I know.

    TW: Oh right. Is that right? I didn’t know.

    MM: She was away travelling the world; she was on her world travels.

    TW: Yes yes, I knew Penny back then yeah….oh right I didn’t know her from there yeah……so are you gonna stay here do you think?

    MM: Yeah yeah yeah

    TW: Yeah, okay

    MM: Yeah definitely; it’s a great base…..I mean….it’s…..its’ as equal to go anywhere in t’British Isles, so it’s…. you know, it’s handy like that you know, and…..and I wouldn’t live….if I hadn’t lived in Hebden Bridge I wouldn’t…or anywhere like it, sort of, but in the north of England…. you know, with the…..industrial bit, the rural….lots of different diverse people…..working class…..down to earth….then no matter what people make up about Hebden Bridge it’s still very down to earth…..and this whole area…….I…..I couldn’t live in England if I didn’t live here….I’d find it impossible, because it’s just….it’s like Ireland…..

    TW: Yeah

    MM: people……people communicate and they’re not all…..they’re not all bitter…. you know; you got to a lot of places and people are really bitter and they have a bitter way of talking…..and a bitter outlook on life, and they believe whatever’s on that fecking screen - that’s the problem – that is a problem; brainwashing is a major massive problem….certain places, certain pockets, people don’t have that massive brainwashing. They just don’t switch the fecking telly on; they don’t bother, you know, so….. you know, and…..and generally……but no matter where you go people are sound; it doesn’t matter; you know, and no matter where you go……..if you’re useful…. you know, if you’re handy and you do stuff with people and you help out, you know, cos like I say, I worked in markets when I was quite young; that was a great training….obviously numeracy, maths, sociability, the whole lot, you know what I mean…….it was a really good training…. you know, so you learn how to be useful….you learn…don’t fucking sit there….do it… you know, the cup needs moving, you know, so whenever I…..I was always….when I was young and I had shared houses, you know, rent the house and get all my mates in type of thing you know, I was the one who’d do it; I was the one who’d the agent or landlord, get the house, get the drums and all the recording stuff down in the cellar, fucking make sure everybody paid the rent, you know, try and keep the phone going as long as we could until somebody fucked up on the bill you know, and so on and so on you know; I was the one….I was the one who did all that.

    TW: Do you think you’ll ever move back to Ireland?

    MM: …..yeah…..yeah I can see it….but how and what I don’t know…..I mean because……when I….when you say move back to Ireland, when I…..what I equate Ireland is…..is I equate it with living on the land you know, in a big caravan….. you know, with a…..with a greenhouse stuck on it or whatever you know, that….that’s what I….if I was to….you know, when I’m old…..if I was to retire….if I had any money to live on……or I could get money to live on, then I would go back to that life, because, you know…….I used to be very scared of the anonymity of populated places…..especially when people get old….but if you’re anonymous and you’re in t’middle of nowhere, and you’re just with nature, and you’re going out there and you’re just doing your shit pit and your fire pit and your fire’s lit and you might be doing some……doing the washing up outside or something like that, you know, and you’ve had your porridge and whatever, and you sit down and it’s a beautiful morning and then you have the stroke…..I don’t mind

    TW: Right

    [laughing]

    MM: You know…..

    TW: Okay

    MM: Do you know what I mean?

    TW: Yeah yeah

    MM: It’s like…. you know, that one’s okay; I can handle that one, but you’re in some shit flat stuck in the middle of…..like you see, cos you know, I mean…cos my dad being on t’building and all that….you see most of my dad’s….all his friends were like….most of t’Irish had fucked off you know; they were either dead, only in their fifties you know, they were either dead….so all his mates were like Italian, Ukrainian, they….they only ever went to Ukrainian clubs; they never went to Irish clubs; my dad wouldn’t associate with Irish, because……he was a ganger… you know, and he hired and fired…..so he would have made a lot of friends but he would have made a lot of enemies as well, you know, people would hold grudges for years so we never….we didn’t associate with the Irish community…..at all, so when the Birmingham bombings happened in 1974, my grandma in Ireland, my dad’s mum, was dying at the time, and we were ringing Donegal…..my aunty in Belfast and….my aunty in……in Walsall in the Midlands all the time; we had a phone, so we were ringing them all the time, so from then our phone got tapped, and then we had…..fucking….two guys, for like three years, sat outside in a fucking Escort cars; three years man….from 1974 to 1976…..but you know you’d talk to other people when you’d be on holiday about the click whirr and all the rest of it, or they could hear you and you couldn’t hear them….or you could hear them but they couldn’t hear you…it’s cos whatever the…. you know, the sophisticated technology there was at the time didn’t work right well so everybody knew, and they used to sometimes….cos one of the things they used to have as well was….. you know, cos when I grew up and I met more Irish people, you know, at universities and all this type of thing and different camps and all that, you know, we’d talk about these things and we’d go ‘oh yeah sure that’s just bypass’…..they used to flick people on bypass just for the crack…. you know, so one of you could hear each other, but it would be like ‘hello hello’ you know and they couldn’t hear you, or they’d…..they’d fuck about with it you know…yeah, bypass they used to call it, so you’d only get so long to speak because whatever their programmes were at the time and their unsophisticated…..computers, they could only record so much at a time so they’d have to… you know, so what you’d do is you’d put the phone down and start again….yeah, so there was all that you know…..so, when they say…..when they say infrastructure with Cameron, you know, local….when the local…..when the……when the…….current crop of glove puppets….Cameron, the whole lot of them, they’re all the same, the glove puppets, right, when they turn round and say ‘infrastructure, infrastructure’ what they mean is mass surveillance infrastructure and a complete and utter disregard for anything to do with privacy – absolutely – complete and utter surveillance all the time and monitoring. That sounds like too far fetched; it’s not. That technology was available by the mid ‘90s….right, and a guy who’s one of the major military developers of it wrote a whole book and a whole load of stuff about it, and then he got himself put in jail on purpose because he was being attempted to be assassinated; I read the whole fucking thing, you know. That was developed then; it was called remote viewing in them days. Nowadays remote viewing is Wi-Fi….okay, and I’ve explained loads of times to you about….about the whole cable business and all that…..and….and it’s true, because one of the stated aims of glove puppet Cameron is…they don’t like the privacy area over the Human Rights Act, oh and another thing that they’ve done with the Human Rights Act is you’ve got various organisations that process your Human Rights Act, you know, so if you’ve got a human rights case, so what they did…..they diminished that down to how many staff, right, to deal with it, and so you’ve got a fucking years backload now….that was one way of doing it….. you know, one of the things they did in America today, in the last month, is…..in certain areas, in certain states where the Republicans are…..more powerful shall we say, more…..more local power….they introduced….. ‘let’s stop fraud in the electoral process’ so everybody’s got to get their original birth certificates with the particular kind of seal and stamp on it and watermark, and of course in Pittsburgh and places like this, and these have been coming back, it was on t’radio today, coming back to black and Hispanic areas which will be Obamah….supporters……so they can’t vote because…it’s….it’s not gonna come back; they’re gonna have to send it back in time; the guy laughed when he was telling him about it; when he was being interviewed, some little…. you know, [incomp], right, he turned round and he said….they said to him…..they said to him ‘well don’t you think that this is blatant….interfering in the political process?’ and he said [American accent] ‘well if people can get down to the welfare office then surely they can get down to the equivalent of the DVLA to get their blah blah blah’ and he’s laughing while he’s saying it…. you know, some young twat, guy in his thirties….I mean that’s where you’re at; that’s what I mean about there’s so……..like that Republican who went the other day, last week, when he said something about…..you know, rape….same sort of thing; they’re so entrenched in…..Freemasonry, their corporate Freemasonry, that they don’t realise that…. you know, we’ll get ‘em [laughing]……….

    TW: Okay….well I think….I think we’ll end it there then.

    MM: Yeah yeah that’s fine, yeah.

    TW: Well thanks very much Martin.

    MM: Okay, thanks very much Tony, yeah….cheers

    [END OF TRACK TWO]

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Chris Green

     

    [TRACK 1]

    TONY WRIGHT: This is Tony Wright, it’s the 15th of November 2012 and I’m talking to Chris Green. So can you tell me your full name and where and when you were born?

    CHRIS GREEN: I’m Christopher Steven Green; I was born in Harrow, London on the 8th of May 1954.

    TW: Harrow, that’s up Middlesex way isn’t it?

    CG: It is indeed.

    TW: And what was it like in Middlesex when you were growing up?

    CG: Interesting; suburban and a bit boring, and…..I went to the local primary school and I thought that was…..that was the boundary of my life, of my world; I was in the Cubs and so on, and my mother was the Arkala of the Cubs but I was not allowed to be put in her pack because they thought I might have too much influence, she might be too nice to me, so I was put in the…the Wednesday pack as opposed to the Monday pack…..I went to school at the local primary school and I thought I was King of that; I was Captain of the football team and I played football the previous year, the year up from everyone else – kids do that – but then my first match, I scored an own goal, it sort of ricocheted for me, and the balls were so heavy; you couldn’t kick them anywhere you know, sort of heading leather balls in the mud, you know, but I was so mortified, you know, to score an own goal at that age…..tears running down my face, you know, but…….there were the usual things at primary school; chess club and a recorder club……there was no…..there was still an Eleven Plus in those days, and I was put in for a scholarship to the local public school, and….I didn’t know anything about these different systems and so on in those days, and I took this exam, walked into this school up this amazingly long drive and sat there and was asked interesting questions, and it was things like ‘where are the Pyrenees?’ and I said something like ‘oh they’re between France and Italy’ – well I got a bit of it right, so I guess that’s why they gave me a place you know [laughing]

    CG: and I still do believe that was incredibly unjust in that……it’s a use of Local Authority tax payers’ money to subsidise some young men from ordinary schools to go into this privileged environment at a major cost to the local tax payer. There were ten kids a year got this scholarship; ten boys a year I might add of course, because it was a boys’ public school…..and of course that then becomes your formative years because that was for me for the next seven years, from eleven to eighteen.

    TW: Harrow School, that famous Harrow School?

    CG: Not Harrow School…..we used to play rugger of course and we used to play Eton at rugger, but Eton were regarded as crap…..sort of soft, but Harrow, that was a grudge match……and so one of them was called Merchant Taylors; we used to play Harrow, Westminster, Rugby, Mill Hill, all these top boys’ schools are grouped around London, you know, there’s a few in the north, you know, but mostly…. Haileybury and ICS; that name, Haileybury School, stands for Haileybury and Imperial Services College……can you imagine?

    TW: Merchant Taylors; isn’t that a Guild, going back to the…..the Middle Ages?

    CG: It certainly is; that’s where they make their money and they’re still…in London…..the Merchant Taylor’s Hall…..when I was eleven in my first year, we got a trip to visit the Merchant Taylor’s Hall and we got lectured about….about sort of the interesting….the history of it all, and then we come back on the underground…..and there were four or five of us, sort of….lads, eleven-year-old lads, sort of just enjoying themselves running up and down the….whatever we were doing…..somebody wrote to the Headteacher….Headmaster of course, and complained, and then when we got back to school our Football Master just said ‘oh hello lads’ you know ‘how did you get back from’….you know, and extracted the information that us four had travelled back together, sent us off to the Headteacher, where we got beaten

    TW: Really

    CG: for not standing up, and obviously we’d met with this lady on a train and for not….for causing too much noise and so on you know, so it was two strokes of the cane; that was my sole experience of corporal punishment, and I don’t think it’s a good idea.

    TW: Right. So you sound like…..you didn’t really enjoy being there.

    CG: I’m not sure I did or I didn’t; I wasn’t……the biggest issue for me was I suddenly wasn’t the cleverest kid in the class anymore…..and I think that makes more of a difference when kids change from sort of a small school to the big school…..and gradually over the years of course I started to realise about privilege and the fact that most of the…..most of the kids who were at that school had come in at the age of thirteen, having spent four or five, six years at prep school…..preparatory school, which again is fee paying, it’s you know, for the children of the privileged who were boys largely of the privileged, and we used to go and play them at sports; when I was in the eleven-year-old class we used to play the top teams at the prep school, so I saw a few of these places and I used to think ‘it’s quite extraordinary, all these boarding schools’…..and it was just barbaric is the word I would use….those were barbaric privileged, but of course……you realise that vast numbers of the Conservative cabinet come from this background; have never experienced anything remotely about real life; never met many people in real life apart from being able to talk down to them, you know.

    TW: So would it be true to say that you become politicised because of your education?

    CG: I would….I would say it was partly that….I mean my parents were good Socialists; they used to vote…..they used to vote Labour and read the….The Sunday Citizen which was a new…..a Sunday newspaper; it was a mass circulation Sunday newspaper, and my father was also always a very committed, non-combatant, for example in the Second World War……and they had a very equal relationship which has…..informed my work and my life ever since.

    TW: So after….after Harrow then, what happened to you then?

    CG: Then I went off to university up in Manchester, again, my parents and I all agreed it would be a good idea to go away from home, not because I didn’t enjoy my home life, but there was a certain amount of tension….when you’re eighteen, seventeen or eighteen, so I packed my stuff up in to a friend’s Triumph Herald car, Nick Cavertal, he had a car; I didn’t even think about cars and we drove up to Manchester; he was going to a college in Manchester, so was I, and…..there I was.

    TW: Right. What did you study there?

    CG: Economics and Sociology…..but it was the Sociology which stuck.

    TW: Right…..right, okay……and how did you find Manchester compared to Harrow then?

    CG: I was always involved in the political groups and I was very proud of myself; I was elected to the Student Council in my first year; I was the youngest person to be on it and I was External Relations Officer which meant I was like the Foreign Secretary for the university [laughing]….it was so arrogant to think I was so important, you know; we had……stuff involved in……we were a South African Liberation Society and…….also I did environmental action; I remember we went into the stores and said ‘this product is over packaged’….we were on a free bus and again people were so suspicious…. ‘why is it free?’….. ‘because we want to show that free transport’s better than cars’ you know, and the same with the over packaged products; it was just….environmental issues, ecological issues, and this is 1972, you know, and I was also involved in……other parts of the Peace Movement as well…..did very interesting summer projects while I was at university….first year for the summer vacation I worked….I always worked in the summer as well to make some money but after working in the summer I went to Tanzania with a bunch of people from Third World First and then we all split up and went to separate villages which was interesting, and again, very very educational for me, and the year after that I went to Northern Ireland and worked in a Peace Movement in Northern Ireland in a youth club in Derry, and at the time some bombs went off at the Tower of London from the IRA and it was a challenging time to be there; I had passes to say who I was because I was challenged by local kids, saying ‘who are you?’ and they’d report to the other people who I was, and the British Army would want to know who I was, wandering around there; and I was staying in a flat, or in a house with a lady there……and I went back up through streets one night and there were British soldiers in my front garden, sort of, you know, patrolling and hiding in gardens, seeing who was out and about; it was just eye-opening; an ordinary terrace of houses in the UK, and soldiers in the streets, and I was just for me……it was just so bizarre, you know, and,….but also…..made me very much……interested in the Peace Movement; they created Peace activities.

    TW: Did you see any violence there or……or the marches, any of the marches?

    CG: No. I was…..in a meeting in a pub, sort of the Third Political Trotsky militant….. militant fringe organisation, and they had a meeting and the soldiers just came up and lifted, arrested two or three people in the meeting, just took them out, banged them in the back of what they used to call a pig, took them off to……one of the police stations, and of course we all had to troop down to protest about it, you know, and maybe after a few hours’ questioning they might get released you know, I can’t remember what happened…..but low level violence….I’ve been…..since then…..I’m going to jump a few years; I’ve been to Palestine and that….there is saw real violence there of course, I mean shockingly real violence and……very interesting….first time I’d been in morgues and seen….bodies…..first time I’d been on the streets on my own, just me and a tank, you know, because…..because I was a foreigner I was allowed to break the curfew, because I had a phone, a camera and a British passport, and to encourage little kids to break the curfew, because if little kids are breaking the curfew

    TW: Hang on…..[interrupted]…..

    CG: I went to Palestine as a result of……the young woman in Hebden Bridge who had been in Palestine, who had an article in the Bridge Times about being shot and then talked about it and I thought ‘if she can work for the International Solidarity Movement for a few weeks…..well she was there for a lot longer than that, but I can…..I can manage a few weeks in the summer holidays and so on’ and I went with another…..Hebden Bridge resident, Mike Prior, and that was completely eye-opening…..as I say, to work in a…..we were given……different places to work in; help support people picking oranges and picking olives, and……to find the settlers coming down with machine guns and saying….you know, ‘you’ve got to move’ and we were able, because we were foreigners, to stand in between them but they were scary people, the settlers, because they’re not even as disciplined as the Israeli army; they completely go off on a tangent…..and that…..that was really, you know, I got frightened. The Israeli army frightened me because they are subject to…hopefully…..rules and, by and large, because you’re from Britain they won’t touch you; if you are Palestinian they don’t have such qualms…..and that, as I say, to stand there and say, when somebody’s blaring through a…..loudhailer saying, and on a tank, saying ‘go home, go home; you must observe the curfew’ and your legs are shaking like jelly, you think nothing’s gonna happen, but it’s just the daunting prospect, and I’ve never met such a welcome and any of the Palestinians who we were with would stand in front of you if there was any danger, you know, because they were so….wanted to protect you because you were their guest, and they would give you things, you know, their last meal….lovely people.

    TW: So was that in the West Bank or Gaza?

    CG: That was only in the West Bank; our co-ordinator said to me did I want to work, just as I was leaving, they thought I was a stable enough chap that I could manage Gaza, because it’s so easy to get so emotionally caught up in it that you want to do something, and do inappropriate actions in terms of just…..which would risk your own safety and the safety of the people you are with, if you go charging up at a soldier and start shouting at them, which is what you want to…..I helped a number of ambulances get through checkpoints; that’s one of the things I did, work with the ambulances at night, and you sit there; the ambulance call comes in, and you’re just talking them through checkpoints by being nice and talking about football with soldiers, you might get them through a checkpoint half an hour earlier so that somebody who’s sick in the back gets into the hospital.

    TW: Right, I see……..what kind of………attitudes did you find amongst the Palestinian people, cos I suppose if you want to relate it to like the IRA and then the Northern Ireland sort of thing……it’s all based on religion, but it’s not, in a lot of ways it’s not is it? And isn’t the Palestinian Israeli thing very similar; it’s not really about religion, it’s….it’s about power really. Can you equate the two?

    CG: Yes it’s about…..it’s about occupation and so on you know, and…..for example, as we speak…..the….Israeli government have just…..assassinated a Hamas militant leader in Gaza, but that’s not the point; the point is that what they want is to kick off an escalation of violence because…..even the BBC said yesterday, there is an Israeli election coming up in….in January, and it’s just so calculated, and the fact that ten Palestinians are….have died in the bombing, and it says ‘ three Israelis are reported to have been injured’ and you think they look for some of these that have got a scratch and….you know, absolutely people shouldn’t….the militants should not be sending missiles into Israel, but those missiles are pretty useless and it’s a bunch of guys wanting to retaliate, you know, and of course you understand why they’d want to retaliate, but the retaliation is so futile….you’re based against one of the most experienced, one of the largest armies in the world, and that’s all…..who are also using remote control missiles and bombs and so on; it’s so…….that’s what I’m very upset about, but nobody should be violent, but I think I might have saved lives in terms of going to Palestine and I’d be doing more Palestinian if I wasn’t now completely caught up in something called the White Ribbon Campaign.

    TW: Yeah….okay, well after university then, what….. did you…….go back down south or did you stay up north?

    CG: Because I didn’t want to be one of those people who just hangs around and becomes a long-term student, I chose to go back to London even though I hadn’t really got a job to go to, like so many young people these days, but I went back down south; I stayed for one more year and did a Youth and Community Work Diploma, and I thought people would be offering me a job - I was twenty-two – I knew all about how to run communities, how to run youth clubs……and after a few months of doing odd jobs here and there; I worked for an organisation called Patchwork Community which…..worked for……it was a building organisation, so we would…we would go out and repair short life properties for……for short life licences, not……nice and squatty in other words, for six months, a year, sometimes ten years they were occupied for, and…..that’s Patchwork Housing…..but I was also living in a community of about seven people, where some people had more problems than other people….drugs, drink and so on, and that was a very useful community; I’d been living in communities for most of the time I was in Manchester; shared houses they started with and then communes they were called later on.

    TW: Yeah…..right…..so how did you come back up north then?

    CG: I worked for a number of years as a youth worker in London, in Stoke Newington……for the Methodist Church, and ran two youth clubs there and that was very interesting….Stoke Newington, a very big, black community, and on a disco night or whatever they call it, a sounds night, I’d be the only white guy in the building and there’d be about two hundred kids in there with sound systems blasting through the walls, and I would sort of….just stay in the kitchen counting the money [laughing]….and that kept the Youth Club going for all the rest of the time, but it was hardly youth work as I knew it; it was like running a commercial disco which I wasn’t equipped for; I was neither equipped for nor wanted to do with my life, and I did that for a couple of years and then I set up a workers’ co-op, when I say I set up a workers’ co-op, I mean, had the idea; I started it and then other people joined us and we gradually got a few more full-time staff to do printing and badge making and T-shirt making, and just propaganda I think; being a thorn in the flesh of the establishment.

    TW: Right

    CG: And I did that for a……three years, and then I had a sort of a row….that’s the trouble with co-operatives; you can’t get your own way [laughing] and I…..I left….probably still associated with that time, I had……mental problems, breakdowny problems, you know, so I ran away back to the north, back to somewhere, the house where some of my people had…..and I remember I stole some of my equipment back, which was really childish instead of discussing it properly but, you know, my badge machine for this……we ended up talking about it, talking it through some months or years but it sort of…..I was feeling very angry about it; I definitely paid for this equipment etcetera, but that’s not the point; it was not a very mature way to handle things, and so I came back north and…..set up the same sort of operation here; it was called Trojan Printing in London and I called it Raven Printing in the North, and the same sort of idea…..a local community print collective in Manchester, and also…..our own catalogue of badges and T-shirts and so on, which was fun.

    TW: Was that in the centre of Manchester?

    CG: It was in the centre of Manchester; Great Ancoats Street. The building’s now been knocked down; it was unsafe….we owned one floor and also, in order to share the costs, we advertised for other groups to be in there, and….The Northern Animal Liberation League had a…..and those were seriously political people…..lovely people, but not…if you did anything to hurt an animal, you know…..we called them The Animals [laughing] and they were…..they were serious militants……I was….I was very pleased with the work we did, both in Trojan and at Raven, and it was…..the same sort of thing that I do now, and it’s just sort of bits of activities….sort of community activities; it’s the people coming to you who are the interesting people, saying ‘I want to print five hundred leaflets to stop the demolition of this building’ or something like that, and….the orders you get from when you got some radical T-shirt ‘Down With The System’ – you get an order from Eton College – you think ‘yes that’s really fun!’ [laughing] I hope that…..I hope those ideas stay with you. laughing] But as you can tell, as you’re laughing, I mean I…..I always try to have fun in my life; that’s….that’s what my life has always been about.

    TW: Yeah….yeah….so, how did you come to Hebden Bridge then?

    CG: …….I got a job….after that I was applying for jobs and I was working in workers’ co-operatives and I saw this job for a Co-operative Development Officer, and…..when I was younger I always thought those were sell-out people, you know, they get paid by the City Council to help people to support co-ops but of course as you get older you think ‘oh the salary would be a bit nice’…..and…..I really didn’t know where Calderdale was or anything like that, so I came for the interview in Halifax and they said ‘you’ll be based exclusively in the Upper Valley – Hebden Bridge and Todmorden’ and I got a job…..I got the job which was very nice…..and the office was in Todmorden….but I didn’t go about it properly, the way Local Authority people are supposed to, and if I needed office equipment I went to an auction and bought it, instead of buying it at sort of ten times the price through the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, because I knew I had a budget of £35,000 so I thought ‘the more we save the more we can give to community groups’ but it doesn’t work like that in Councils……and I remember I had some good times as a Co-op Development Worker….the North of Watford Actors’ Agency was set up during my time there; a number of people with…..in the food industry…..apples….. a co-operative making chutneys and sugar-free foods……Aurora which was a wholefood shop…they were already existing when I arrived here, and The Bear in Todmorden, so it was a wholefood based….you always got people applying to run a sandwich stall and you think ‘oh this is hard – they just want a job’ and I had the power to help them work out their business skills and their business plan, and then give them a thousand pounds and people would say ‘a thousand pounds – with that we can change the world’ and you can’t, you know, it’s just a tiny little fraction of the amount of money you need, but the…..Calderdale Canal Co-operative was set up to run trip boats up and down the Calderdale Canal, and that was another real possibility, and there was another…..there was another travel agency called Mills and Moors Tours which was to offer tours to this area, based on the Labour and Socialist history and I thought that was a really interesting one as well.

    TW: And that was based in Tod was it?

    CG: Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, yeah, I served the whole valley but my job was to be based

    TW: But that particular….Mills and Moors…..sounds fascinating, but I’ve lived here for a long time and I don’t remember hearing about that.

    CG: Exactly. That’s it; it’s always…..it’s to do with….public relations and……I thought when we had a….a full page advert in the Hebden Bridge Times and Tod News, with all the co-ops having little adverts round the side, and I thought that so much public relations, publicity would be great, and I just realised that nobody noticed it; you have to keep on and on and on with public relations and publicity, and….you know, none of the businesses that I was working with did enough….on that.

    TW: Right……so that’s….that’s a lesson for anything; anyone now wanting to start up; that should be a big part of….of their…you know, promoting themselves….longevity comes through promotion.

    CG: Yeah I think so, and…..and I think ambitious funding requirements, expectations…..don’t try and be the cheapest at anything, and there’s a recipe for death and disaster; go for the high end which is often an anathema to people because if you have sort of social ideals, you want it at the best value for the lowest price, but no, increase……increase your margins, go for high margins you know….

    TW: So how did you get on to……working with White Ribbon then?

    CG: That comes……that comes a bit later really

    TW: Oh before that then

    CG: Okay so before I started working between then and I…….I went off travelling for a year……I did a couple of….gap years, both of which were relatively recently; I never did it when I was a student…..and….when I came back from the first one, I……didn’t have a job because I was working for the….I went from Calderdale Council to Kirklees Council as Community and Co-operative Development Officer, so a community businesses thing, then…..I thought ‘I’ve had enough of this and I want to have some time to myself; have a year travelling’ and they wouldn’t keep my job open for me, so I threw it in and said ‘well sod it, I’ll find something when I come back’ and since then I’d…..I’d got a Masters in Business Administration which is one of…..supposed to be a recipe to making five times as much money, but I thought it was just an opportunity to give the social businesses some of the business skills, because……they knew how to hold hands and talk about stuff, but nobody knew about operations management or…..really about marketing, or really about…..budgeting, so I did this MBA and I thought ‘well I’m equipped with that, I can have a year off, go around the world, come back and pick up another job’…..but when I came back, after a bit of time as a painter and decorator, which I’m not at all good at; I was just helping other people, I got a job….at Manchester Met University…..because I’d been involved in the printing industry before and I was interested also in business; this was……a Business Lecturer within the Printing Department and I thought those married up my skills, and so it appeared I got a job; at the same time I’d picked up another job working in Finland, but I didn’t want to stay away from the valley…..and so I gave up the job as a….Communications Teacher in Finland and came back to work in…..at Manchester Met for the next twenty years [laughing]

    nineteen years I think it was……so that was commuting along the valley into Manchester, and for the first ten or fifteen years I was playing the game; I was writing books, I was…..going to conferences, I was working my way up the hierarchy and working very hard with former students…..and then they closed the course, so….it was….it was too expensive; it wasn’t quite…..the appropriate thing for the Faculty of Arts to be printing; it’s a bit dirty and impractical

    TW: Was that because of computers coming along?

    CG: No, it would have fitted very well with that because I also taught Media Management MBA at…..in Finland while I was working in Manchester, sort of, you know, for a couple of weeks a year, so Media….it’s cross platform, it’s not a problem; it was more to do with the attitude of some of the Fine artists thinking ‘these people get their hands mucky; when we’re talking about printing we mean printing a limited edition of ten; they’re talking about printing ten million’ you know…….and it wasn’t….it just didn’t fit, and we were expensive, and our students were…..because they were…..people who just wanted jobs rather than…..people who felt cool to be an artist, we didn’t fit at all, so….it was unfortunate, so that course got pulled; I then went on to do a bit of jobs here and there; when I had my next year off, my next travelling off round the year, came back, had even less to do, but was still employed by the University, and that was when I started the thing about……well White Ribbon was set up during that time, and it got busier and busier and busier, and I thought ‘yes I’ll take the plunge; I will go into working on this full-time’ and that’s also another lesson…….take plunges, go for it, jump off the cliffs, you know, somewhere something happens and it makes it worthwhile.

    TW: So the White Ribbon…..is it a national…..organisation?

    CG: White Ribbon is a national and international organisation; I set it up in my…..I set up the White Ribbon UK in my attic, having seen the……website of the Canadian campaign; the Canadian was the first campaign, and to be fair they then set up, sort of, and said to other people ‘you should follow this model’, and when we started there’d been campaigns in maybe twenty other countries, and this campaign’s in fifty other countries now, and it…..but we are……on that road to be of a size and the same sort of level of significance as the four or five other major White Ribbon Campaigns around the world, and I see it as our job to help spread the word across the world as well as…..but certainly in the UK.

    TW: Right. Well what is that message then, if anybody doesn’t know what White Ribbon’s about? What would you…..how do you define it then?

    CG: We recruit and work with men to……challenge other men that men should never commit, never condone, never excuse, and never stop speaking about the importance of opposing violence against women.

    TW: Right.

    CG: I mean, it’s a bit of a long sentence but that’s the pledge, never to…..so…..and that’s what wearing a white ribbon has meant for the other organisations, that we’ve taken up that promise as well, I mean…..it’s very simple; it’s the biggest human rights violation in the world, because one in four women suffer violence by men, and so we……we think something should be done about it, and…..so now increasingly, other organisations think the way to create a…..an interpersonal violence-free future is to work with men, because most men are not violent; most men don’t want violence, and it’s up to us then to challenge other men and to work on our own feelings, on our own education, to make sure that we never…….we never get involved in violence.

    TW: Now, you say most men aren’t violent, and I think I would probably agree with that, but if one in four women are experiencing violence, that means there’s an awful lot of violence going on; is that just a kind of a small proportion of men doing a lot of violence, or is there…..you’re saying most men……you know, twenty-five per cent of men are creating violence and seventy-five per cent aren’t. Is that what you mean?

    CG: That would still be most men, but I mean there is…..there are some serial offenders as well, I mean there’s plenty….obviously some men go from one partner to another partner, and they repeat their….their behaviours……but…..I think it’s up to us to work on ourselves all the time, you know, and…..because it’s not just about the physical violence, because when I said one in four it’s really….that’s what’s recorded as……usually as physical violence, but there’s the……the threats of violence, emotional violence, psychological threats, you know, which….we all might want to get our own way at any one time and I think we have to sort of step back and say ‘no, let’s just negotiate’ you know, so ‘what’s good for me and what’s good for you as well’, and that’s why I think it’s really important first to look at areas of masculinity as well, and when we look at the messages that young men get from pornography, which is their basic source of sex education, sex and relationships education, because it’s not compulsory in the schools……and certainly the acadamies are all opting out of….of those sorts of areas of work, so we have to make sure that…men start to look at….sorry, we have to address porn and…..and also prostitution as well as an issue, because it’s the…..when men start to feel a sense of entitlement – ‘I’m entitled to sex when I want it’ without negotiating, without discussing it, that’s when violence is likely to arise later on…..and so we have to get rid of the sense of entitlement and replace it with a sense of negotiation and equality and respect and all these things; it’s….it’s not hard to talk about it; it’s sometimes harder to get it into our heads, how we should be behaving…..and I think it’s very useful for men to talk to other men about their feelings and so on, and that’s…..I want to move White Ribbon as well, to doing that sort of work as well as just sort of saying ‘we’re against violence’ [shouting] you know, and stuff.

    TW: It makes me think about……well two things really. One is….working like at grass roots with individuals or small groups…….about getting a new mentality, but then extend that mentality into the corporate world or the governments, and those huge…..or the UN even, or whoever, going for those big organisations so that they can start promoting it as well, so the kind of work that you do; how do you deal with those two different sides of it?

    CG: Well I…..I…..we’re very interested in working with the corporate sector and it’s very hard to them to play ball, but we do have standard policies on……violence against women for companies and for organisations, but as you say it’s…… how am I going to succeed unless I push and shove and behave in a sort of macho, aggressive sort of way, and that’s….big changes need to be made, but part of that is…..the…..the new suggestion by the European Commission to have forty per cent of women on the board, you know, would be fantastic progress. Where you see the best progress around violence against women are the countries where they have got in the last few years, a much higher proportion of women into Cabinet…..Spain…..France, just in the last couple of years and the last year, and immediately there’s some changes been put into place……and you think Spain and France, very traditional Catholic, very traditional male roles….but they’re changing. Iceland of course has a lesbian president, you know, and completely unashamedly about it, and doing fantastically brilliant work because they’re as I say, ‘we’re….you know, we are proud to elect this woman’, you know, ‘we stand saying we don’t care about people’s sexuality’ in fact I should have said why do I care about it, because it’s the first one I suppose….and the first open….well not necessarily the first one, the first open, and that’s Iceland which is a pretty traditional male society there as well, but….so that electing women to positions is….is a start, and appointing them to boards and so on and so on, so….empowering women is such a major part of the sort of work which we want to do to prevent violence, but also getting men to say ‘there are other things in life besides power and control’ you know – being nice, enjoying stuff is better - it’s more fun, you know, so, lots of interesting challenging work together, and at White Ribbon we don’t do enough of that extending…..doing men interesting things way.

    TW: Yeah, it seems to me that …..at a very high level, whether it’s in corporations or government or what have you, there’s more women involved, and not just women but men who have….a kind of open mentality about these sort of things, then the ordinary person who….a man who might want to look after his child for six months or a year, but he can’t because his boss sees it as being bad and his boss’s boss sees it as being bad, and so he’s trapped; although he might want to, he’s…..he’s trapped within the kind of structure, but if it came from top down as well as from bottom up, it would be a much more open and equal society.

    CG: Absolutely. And interestingly then you start to get opportunities like….extension of paternity leave, and for our work as well, [incomp] men don’t want to say….if you say to a guy….. ‘well your daughter might get attacked’….. ‘oh I’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen’….if you say ‘your son might be a perpetrator’… ‘oh I’ll do anything to prevent that happening’ ….the average guy in the street would say that, you know, and so to work with……men and talk about their children is as you were just saying, it’s…..guys in the home saying things would be different, and that is something that Governments can do by extending paternity ……leave, and by making it easier for men to have part-time jobs and so on, and for heralding it, and for people and men in Government saying ‘yes we think this is a good idea’. There was recently an MP who was going to apply for a post as a job share, as an MP; what a great idea, what a great role model, an example; a job share MP, and the media were saying ‘no you can’t do this……’ and I said ‘of course they could; you’d get far more out of them’ you know, because two people – it’s well known – two people sharing a job work twice the time as one person, so lots of…..lots of good examples, lots of good work to be done, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of, you know, new roles for men.

    TW: Right. So do you work with women’s groups as well then…..focusing on men’s violence?

    CG: Yes, absolutely, I mean next week I’m going down to talk to the people who work on Women’s Aid helpline, because they’re really interested in talking about…..White Ribbon Campaign and having a talk about what we do…..but….I recently gave a talk to Women Against Violence Europe and they said centre on the cooperation with other women’s organisations and I was able to list sort of eighteen British women’s organisations that we’d worked with; not just at a token level, but at a significant level…..and we are also members of Domestic Abuse Partnership, which unfortunately…..when I go there, is eight women and me….you know, it’s domestic abuse; why shouldn’t men be…men should be saying ‘yes I’m interested in this group’ and so often that’s the case, that I go and address women’s organisations when I should be talking to the local darts team or the local rugby club, you know, assuming those are men’s organisations……the local Freemasons Society or whatever……talking to men.

    TW: Right…..yeah.

    CG: We can go back in time if you like, cos we’ve skated over years and years…..

    TW: No it’s fine…..well what would you like to go back to?

    CG: I don’t know…..I’d like to go back to when I was young. [laughing]

    TW: What in reality or in this conversation! [laughing]

    CG: In this……in this conversation……no but in reality, I don’t understand why I didn’t start doing this years ago; thirty years ago I was involved in sort of men’s politics…..and we were talking about the masculinity stuff now, and if I’d realised I could have started organisations then, oh my goodness I would have done so, because…..I don’t think I’ve wasted twenty-five, thirty years of my working life, but I would have been far more interested in doing this sort of work then, and

    TW: Well it does seem to me that you have a progression, in the sense that……you were in a Peace movement which was basically against violence, because war is violent but it’s against violence against children, women and men…….and anybody else for that matter that might come your way, and you’ve progressed from that sort of universal war…..anti-war thing to….now…..and almost…..almost in a way, wider things and it’s like……half the people on the planet are men…..and so you’re trying to deal with that, so in some ways you’ve focused on a particular gender, but in another way you’ve widened it out to a lot larger…..so I can see the connection of where you’re coming from don’t you……don’t you feel that?

    CG: Absolutely. Couple of things to say about that; I mean first is some of the people we work with have talked about why aren’t we working on men and militarism, you know, and I think that’s a very interesting big question; I think…..I would love to….we’ve done a little bit of work with the army, but not enough……and….partly because they had particular issues around domestic abuse and violence to women in general, as in armies, rape is used as a weapon of war…..internationally, and of course, they say ‘oh not in our army’……yeah yeah, just see what happened in the Second World War or….anyway, but the second thing is…..going back to talk about……thirty years ago, is that my agenda on men was far wider than it is now, and I was talking about men and sexuality; men and……….reproduction and contraception; men and marriage, you know, I’ve been happily married to the same person now for……sorry to say happily married…..that was some mistake….happily unmarried [laughing] to the same person for the…..for the last twenty-nine years…..and….for us that was a political statement and it remains so, you know, and….and I think sort of marriage is sort of….the marriage ceremony itself is about…..women serving men, and going subservient to men…..but it’s very difficult when I’m in another country talking about sort of…..White Ribbon and violence against women, to somebody who says ‘well of course I want to talk about sexuality, I want to talk about marriage, I want to talk about contraception’, but I think those are fundamentally part of the same package about men and violence

    TW: Do you talk to religious groups then, because an awful lot of……well, the three classics….the Jewish, the Catholic, the Muslim, are all very male orientated…..and an awful lot of violence against women I would think comes from those sort of, you know, religious bases.

    CG: I did a…..two minute slot on Channel 4 last year, and it was called ‘can your God be a woman?’ and I thought ‘well of course she can’…..if there’s any such thing as a God, you know, I mean, it was…..during the week they had different people speaking and my mouth drops open really with what some people would say they believe, you know, and it was….. ‘it’s a guy on the white throne sitting up there’ and I thought….they’re mentally ill, in my opinion…..

    TW: I don’t know if I’d go that far, but they’ve obviously been brainwashed to some extent

    CG: Yes, brainwashed, but people would say I was weird, that I didn’t believe this, and I think ‘no – you prove that this is in existence’…..and that’s……that’s the sort of thing, and I think it’s very strange that sort of people can…..but anyway it was an interesting show and I was as nervous as hell; I’d done lots of research about it all, and I wasn’t able to talk about violence against women, and of course the church and how………….in the Middle Ages, millions of women were…..burnt at the stake as witches……just to keep the status quo, you know, you’ve got weird ideas….you don’t come and let the local priest tell everybody what to do….. ‘you’re crazy’ they’re saying…… ‘who’s crazy?’ you know, just because we’re a bit independent

    TW: It’s….. ‘our’ again isn’t it?

    CG: Yeah…..so, very interesting times, yes, and….but I think I was trying…..yes we do do work with faith communities and I sort of bite my tongue, because to have….. members of faith communities condemning violence and getting their people ….men in their congregations to do something about it, is progress, but I would rather I weren’t going into those buildings in the first place, but that’s…..you know

    TW: That’s a different point I suppose isn’t it?

    CG: Yes I mean…..we call it baby steps; somebody wearing a ribbon…..it’s a baby step of a commitment; you know, somebody signing a pledge to say ‘I will not….commit or condone or remain silent about violence’ is another baby step, you know, have your photograph taken signing something, you know, another little step along the way…..so I just think it’s starts and maybe gets people starting to think, and what we need to do then is to provide literature and information so that they can then talk about the wider roles, but that’s what I think….the media has such an important role because in five minutes they can undo five years of our work by reinforcing terrible gender stereotypes……as I said before, I mean like…..years ago, you know, pornography was a couple of pictures of women with nothing on in Playboy or something like that; pornography now is graphic images of women being upset, hurt and……looking as though they’re in pain, and a guy at the young end just thinking ‘oh is this what it’s like?......you know, ‘this…..this is how we’ve got to treat women all the time’ you know, and it’s….weird, you know, so these people….we have to roll that back somehow, and somebody recently was talking about……having nicer porn; I don’t……and I…..you can call it erotica or what have you, and I think that might well be a way forward, but I haven’t talked about that as an issue, or broached it, and I think that’s……that’s probably a bullet that I will be biting in the next sort of year or two, working with groups to try and develop that sort of work

    TW: I was gonna ask about what you’re gonna do next, or what your plans are, you know, your most recent and then your forward planning; what kind of things you might be, you know, looking at.

    CG: Well at White Ribbon we know we will continue with…..the joy was to get it sustainable, and it seems sustainable now. We get no grant from Government, but that might change…..but we…..at least we get massive amounts of merchandise, and the very fact that every…..people out there around the rest of the world, or the rest of Britain anyway, saying ‘what’s happening on White Ribbon day this year, November 25th’, the international day to eradicate violence against women, means that next year they’ll be saying it again; next year…..so, something will happen, so in that case I could just sort of pack up and stop doing it, but I want to do different work, but in the…..in the knowledge that work will continue in some shape or form….and for example, we’d just been asked, or somebody had just suggested us having motorbikes with a white ribbon and we’ve just developed a design which has these white ribbons coming out of the exhaust of a motorbike, because……a biker said ‘I could sell these at some big rally’ and just…..and in the New Zealand White Ribbon campaign they have motorcyclists going round for two weeks, roaring up into a town, hundreds of these guys, and just saying ‘right, we want to talk to you about masculinity’ – what a cool thing – so, that sort of diversification means that we can keep spreading the message in different ways, and I want to diversify as I say sort of into me, personally looking at wider issues of….of masculinity. I was Chair of something called The Coalition of Men and Boys, but that….got a grant for one year or two years and then the grant finished, and that’s a suicide note for an organisation - give people money and then take it away – because we did just cease to be, and the national organisation which was part of the coalition sort of completely disappeared, and so we just didn’t have anything to work on, but to look at that sort of thing; a bunch of men’s organisations from different areas – men’s health….men’s sport if you like, men’s schooling and education…..men at work – just talking about all of these sorts of areas and having….set some policy…..to get Parliamentarians doing stuff is a good sign - change laws – but also local groups….I once met a guy who wanted…oh a couple of million quid to set up a men’s group in every community in Britain, and I thought ‘it’s a great idea but the couple of million quid is like gonna be the problem’ [laughing] but to have men’s groups in…..when I first moved to Hebden Bridge I was in a men’s group and…..two years ago another little local men’s group set up and I keep joining them, but they have no momentum, they have no reason to exist

    TW: Well a funny thing that’s just struck me…..you spoke earlier about being in like the Cubs or Boy Scouts when you were young. You would think that you might be able to get a message to those sorts of young men at an early age, if it was part, you know, if they had to win your badge out of something that they did

    CG: Great, a great idea, and…..we are in touch with national youth organisations but interestingly, and of course typically, it’s the Girl Guides who are running a big Violence Against Women and Girls Campaign, and the Scouts think ‘oh it’s nothing to do with us’ and that’s…..that’s the way we have to….conquer that, and I said could they put us in touch with their equivalent in the Scouts, but it’s the way of just getting in to people at an important senior policy level, for them to say ‘yes we will make a badge’ – that would be fantastic……it’s always opening doors, but we are getting doors opened to access at Governmental levels, and in fact in the last few days…..I’ve been appointed a United Nations…..Men’s Leaders Group, which is about twenty men around the world; I’m thrilled to get that request, and some of them are Prime Ministers doing particularly important in their countries; others are leaders of men’s organisations in other parts of the world, where they have active anti-violence activities, like in South Africa…..South America and North America, so I think that’s changed…so we’re making progress into being recognised and being known about.

    TW: Sounds fantastic!

    CG: It is, but it’s only a question of doors opening, and the more you do, the more you realise people say ‘your work is useful and important’ and the more you realise you need to do even more because, you know, once every six seconds a woman cries - once every three days a woman dies, you know, so our job is to get men to speak out about this all the time, and…..and as you said before, change our own behaviour as well.

    TW: Yeah……..I’m just wondering….I mean we’re getting near to the hour mark

    CG: Yeah yeah

    TW: Is there anything I haven’t actually asked about, that you would like to say something about?

    CG: …..Hebden Bridge; let’s go back to Hebden Bridge……..last week or the week before, somebody had a fortieth birthday party in Hebden Bridge and it was in the Town Hall

    TW: And I went

    CG: forty years of Hebden Bridge, and it was fantastic, and it was all the people talking about the….the history of all the issues, and….somebody else…..sorry I’ve remembered another story which adds to that….I was going to say that’s the reason I want to live here for ever, you know, except for the damp [laughing], I mean because it’s a wonderful place, but I was in London and….a couple of weeks ago, taking pictures of MPs and one of the people who works in the parliamentary Labour Party said ‘oh yes, my sister lives in Hebden Bridge, and she describes it as treacle’ – you know, you move there and you never leave because you’re stuck to the floor [laughing] and, because it’s such a wonderful place, there’s such a sense of community and……it’s….I don’t understand why it’s so different to…..it’s the heritage….I came here almost by accident….and I hope that I’ve added a little bit to the rich heritage, but I feel I’ve benefitted hugely from the……the heritage of….the modern incomers as it were, the hippies if you want me to say shorthand, who have helped enormously with my education and my social life, and…..and I’m having a great time here.

    TW: Right, okay

    CG: There’s probably loads more; there’s always…..later on I’ll be saying ‘oh I wish I’d talked about that’…..I don’t feel I’ve talked enough about how wonderful Hebden Bridge is, and the wonderful people I’ve met here. I always go off and start to preach about the White Ribbon Campaign instead of talking about our experiences

    TW: That’s fine…..hopefully…..our next project will be…..in six months or maybe longer, it depends….will be talking to all those types of people that came…..and we want to tie the thing in with…..the so-called hippies, the incomers, with….we want to look at all the shops….as well; we’d like to go to Mytholmroyd because a friend of mine, born and bred here, there used to be forty-six shops in Mytholmroyd and something like forty-eight different works, and he’s drawn me a map of what they all were and what they were all called, and now there’s not that much here, and it would be very nice to do a project where I’m looking at the shops in Hebden and Mytholmroyd, and comparing……looking at the change and why Mytholmroyd’s got smaller and Hebden Bridge has got bigger, and they’re only a mile apart; it would be a very interesting thing to look at

    CG: I think people often…..when they talk about the building we’re in now, say ‘oh yes I remember when it was da da da….. and people who do know the area…..I think that’s a great project; it will be really fun, but all your work, all your project ideas sound fantastic

    TW: Well if we get that together I’ll come back and talk to you again about all the people, well all the incomers, yourself included, and all that side of it.

    CG: Yeah…..and I just think it’s all been….it’s all been….I feel very privileged, you know, and…..that’s….that’s why you sort of feel the opportunity to give something back, but the trouble is, going back a little bit, suddenly you get more bonuses, you know, you get invitations to go and talk to these people and meet with these people, and you think ‘I want to share that out, not get more for me’ but, as I say it’s been very…..a wonderful…..forty, fifty, nearly sixty years [laughing] and you’ve got to keep laughing through life, that’s the important thing. Well done, thank you very much Tony, well done.

    TW: Right, thank you. [END OF TRACK 1]

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Martin Jones 2

     

    [TRACK 1]

     

    TONY WRIGHT:

    It’s Tony Wright, 31st of May 2011 and I’m interviewing Martin Jones at his home.  So can you tell me your full name and where and when you were born? (Martin’s dog is in room)

     

    MARTIN JONES:

    My name’s Martin Jones, I was born in 1966 at Queen Charlotte Hospital, Hammersmith in London and it went downhill from there really [laughing]

     

    TW:

    And Hammersmith – what was it like in Hammersmith?

     

    MJ:

    It was alright.  I was brought up in Shepherds Bush really which is next to it, West London.  Yeah nice place, it was great because it was a largely West Indian, Indian-Irish community which was great to grow up in as a kid….went to Elesley Road School till about the age of ten……then moved with my parents to Abingdon in Oxfordshire which was very nice

     

    TW:

    What brought that change about?

     

    MJ:

    Wanting to get out of London I suppose. I went back to live with my grandmother later on but I spent most of my life in…..either London or Oxfordshire

     

    TW:

    So if you moved with your parents was it because of their work that they moved to Oxfordshire?

     

    MJ:

    No they just wanted  something better I suppose because it was….dunno…clean air, clean air, fields that sort of thing

     

    TW:

    Right.

     

    MJ:

    I never ever left the house when we got there.  

     

    TW:

    What work did they do?

     

    MJ:

    My father was a mechanic……my mother was a hairdresser…..both very decent, hard-working people…..my mum for some reason….family reasons, now lives in Kenya, my dad lives in Great Yarmouth which is where I met my partner Samantha sixteen years ago and moved to Norwich for a while…..eight years, nine years maybe and then I moved to Hebden Bridge

     

    TW:

    Right.

     

    MJ:

    There’s an awful lot happened in between that obviously but

     

    TW:

    Yeah, there’s a lot really.  So, did your parents….were they born in London?  Were they Londoners who wanted to go away

     

    MJ:

    No, my mum was an Eastender…..my dad was, I think he actually came….my dad was born….he was actually born in Abingdon itself, I think is what made him want to go…..I can’t remember…..I think we lived an a place called Harwell as well but I was very, very small so I don’t really remember that…..I remember going back to London but it’s……never really talked about it – it’s nearly thirty years ago, so…..yeah, forty years ago…..

     

    TW:

    So it was almost like your father going back to his roots in a way.

     

    MJ:

    Yes he had all these brothers and sisters and obviously his mum who I never met; I never met his father as well – his father passed away, I think before I was born……yeah is was his town, it was where he was brought up, so…….haven’t been back there.  We drove through there once a little while ago but like everything, they’ve built on every bit of green landscape, and where it was a separate town with small villages around it, it’s now…..the….housing estates seem to be drawing them all together if you know what I mean.  What was once green belt area no longer exists and fields we used to play in, allotments and things like that are…..they’ve gone which is a shame, but…..that’s the way of the world

     

    TW:

    I knew some friends who lived in Abingdon – went there in the late seventies…..a place called The Grange which was quite a large sort of old manor house and they turned it into a kind of commune.  There must have been about thirty or forty people lived there and it seemed to be….in that part of the world there was that sort of mentality of people were working together and doing things…..do you think any of that kind of idea has rubbed off on you, or did your parents agree with that sort of thing?

     

    MJ:

    No, I think my mum and dad both………….I suppose I could say they were working class….but they…apart from the time thinking now….in the seventies when Labour had really messed everything up big time, and it was….it was the three day week and I can remember…..the power cuts, three days of electricity and that sort of thing, cos my dad…..because of his work…..they were part of the people that voted Thatcher in….I didn’t like that…..and yeah…..I’m at the other end…..sorry we’d better cut it……no it’s fine, sorry

     

    TW:

    So you would have been….a young teenager at that time

     

    MJ:

    I think that Thatcher was voted in it was about ’79……I’d sort of be like eleven, twelve, maybe a bit older, I don’t know, it was the year I started my secondary school so I’d be….yeah, eleven or twelve and I knew there was something wrong with her right from the start

     

    TW:

    So were you sort of rebelling against your parents’ attitude do you think?

     

    MJ:

    I think so, yeah, I think it started me off as a punk rocker, I just dunno….yeah definitely…..went against everything they stood for, yeah and probably still do…..so I haven’t seen them in years…..probably haven’t seen my dad - haven’t seen my mum in ten years, haven’t seen my dad in probably….six years, seven years maybe……that’s just the way it is.

     

    TW:

    Is that because of politics?

     

    MJ:

    No, it’s just……don’t know, just…..how I live and how they live are at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t have this craving for money and awful things – cars and big houses which is what they wanted. My dad……he owns a guest house now; they did own a thirty six bedroom hotel until they split up, or something stupid like that – it was a massive place and….as I said my mum moved to Kenya and I’ve seen her once since which was a great loss, and my dad – my dad does his own thing, he’s a biker…..right wing biker…..two good reasons not to speak to him……[speaking to dog] Go!, I’m not speaking to Tony.

     

    TW:

    So, back in the seventies, early eighties, you were just going into high school, you’re conflicting with your parents…politics and you’re getting into the whole punk thing then, so what kind of…..what was your…..kind of….. what were your ideas about, you know, growing up at that time?

     

    MJ:

    I think I liked the music and I liked upsetting people.  It was…..yeah, it was…..I dunno, it was…..I suppose when anybody gets into rock ‘n’ roll or punk, or whatever you wanna call it – it’s just a name – it’s that thing of discovering who you are, how you’re going to define yourself in life and that was a building block for me, and it also…..yeah, it just…..it’s been part of my life every since and I got into the sort of music and fashion thing, it’s now the politics of it, cos in the late seventies it was anti-political and hate everything and destroy and smash everything up, and mid eighties, early eighties it was very… well,  for me, the punk rock thing put CND back on its feet in the seventies and early eighties – very late seventies, early eighties, which was a massive part – I still believe in that today….and it also got me into the DIY aspect of things, form your own bands, do it for yourself, don’t….put money in other people’s pockets for your hard work…..I still go with that ethos today……just got older and fatter now [laughing]

     

    TW:

    When you say DIY, do it for yourself, do you mean everything in life or just the music side of things?

     

    MJ:

    I think it was….definitely the music side of things.  I believe whole heartedly that….I don’t…..when you make albums, you can, you know, copy it as many times as you want and give it away to your friends.  When we play gigs we play benefits, we don’t actually get anything for it, it’s not why we’re doing it, and if you’re doing it for the money then you’re playing the wrong sort of music.  As far as I’m concerned you should be in a……band on MTV or if you do…..if you’re playing real punk rock it should be about…..like making things a bit better in the world…..knocking down barriers between people and….it got me into the animal rights thing, very definitely….I’ve been vegan over a decade and a half, so no, I think the band ‘Crass’ were a massive influence in my life in that day, because they were mainly….they were a mixture of between middle class and working class people.  Who found……they found a common denominator, they found that they just wanted to be people, you know, middle class, working class, what a load of shit is one of their sayings and I still agree with that, it’s just a case of…you treat people how they are, I don’t care if someone’s a millionaire or…..cut the arse out of their trousers, I couldn’t care less, still give them the same respect and hope I get the same respect back, but it’s not always the way is it with rich people

     

    TW:

    I mean, talking about you know, believing in CND and anti-nuclear, and a few other things like that from the punk era – do you think that was just a new expression of like old hippie values, who were very anti-corporate and all of that.  Is there a connection between hippies and punks do you think?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I think it was Penny Rimbaud who was the drummer in Crass – a very, very well read, very intelligent – he’s a hippie, he’s written a book called ‘The Last of the Hippies’ – he’s very much into the Windsor free festivals and all the free festivals in the seventies, and he was brought up in rock ‘n’ roll in the fifties, cos he was you know, he was knocking on a bit when he was playing drums for Crass and….they had a commune, Dial House, which is….I think it’s Essex way….it’s still a commune now, it always had….it’s a beautiful place, it’s…it’s always had this open door policy.  If you’re an artist or if you wanna go there and think and get away from things, there’s a room, we’ve always had that, that’s why we have people staying upstairs; if people need a room and we’ve got one, they can have it, we don’t charge them for it, and I think Crass did the same – it’s yours if you need it, you know, and…..that was very…..that whole attitude was a very hippie, was seen as a very hippie attitude by a lot of punks, and at first I thought it was, you know, hippie shit, but it isn’t, it’s sort of like you get into an ethos and it’s very connected with the hippies, it’s…..there was a lot of…..punks who started growing our hair in dreads and stopped wearing the uniform and just wore black, just to separate ourselves away from the chaos punks who were just into smashing things up and stuff.  We started doing our own gigs…..started going to see a lot of very influential bands such as Crass, Conflict, Subhumans, Icons of Filth…..Flux of Pink Indians again, that’s what got me into the animal rights side of things…..there is a difference, and I know it’s another sub-culture in a culture, sub-culture…..but we tended to get more done.  A lot of people wrote their own fanzine or organised demos, you know, organised festivals, organised gigs, organised fanzines and now they’re all been done on the computer, and I miss the fanzine, I miss the paper, but yeah, it was a much more constructive way of life; it had its madness as well, you know, it was still a punk rock scene, it wasn’t acceptable in normal society, but it wasn’t….you know, it was….yeah, it was more constructive.

     

    TW:

    Is there any connection then, like hippies as going backwards or going forwards into Goths – is there any connection there?

     

    MJ:

    I like the Goths.  For me when the Goth thing started it was….in the early eighties.  It was, again, it was all part of the punk scene, it was just ‘you’re a Goth punk’ you know, you were all black and you watched Sioxsie and the Banshees and The Damned which I like as well, but again, people….people didn’t want….they broke away and done their own thing, and also…..a lot of people had a problem with ‘em. [laughing]

     

    TW:

    Let the cat out.  Why did a lot of people have a problem with them?

     

    MJ:

    Well it’s just that whole…..bullshit cult division thing you know

     

    TW:

    Categorising people, putting them into pigeon holes?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, my gang’s better than your gang and that sort of….exactly what it’s meant not to be – it’s meant to be about ‘we don’t give a shit’ but really it was just another cliquey set of values from a cliquey set of people on both sides you know, and it’s…..I suppose it still is today.  I like Goths, I think they’re smart, I like the Edwardian look, you know, very…..very classy, certainly better than any punks ever looked, but it’s… the ultimate thing is  how stupid it is….like the young girl that got beaten to death in Bacup….and it’s just what…..over clothes?  And if you could step back and sort of say to yourself, you know, ‘this is absolute madness’ you know……that really upset me….sort of twenty years old and got beaten to death because she was a Goth, it’s just…..I can’t think of anything more abhorrent than that to be honest…..

     

    TW:

    The DIY thing and this idea of being self reliant……it reverberates within this area because the history of this area is full of different kinds of people who stood up for themselves

     

    MJ:

    And sorted it out and did it for themselves, yeah.  Well speaking for my friend Suzie, she must be…..I think she must be getting….I’m not gonna say sixty cos if I’m wrong she’ll punch me, but she was here ..….she’s been here about fifteen years and she thinks she’s a……can’t think where she comes from but it begins with D….anyway she’s a Northerner, she’s a right Northerner and she…..she was explaining the history of the town to me and how it was pretty much a derelict town and it came in and people squatted the area – I wholeheartedly agree with squatting, I think if there’s an empty building and people need somewhere to live – live in it, you know, so long as you don’t wreck the place, you’re more likely to look after it than somewhere that’s falling apart….yeah, so the hippies started all that – the hippies – the squatters came in basically took all the top rows of streets and the kids got brought up with a different attitude to other places, which is brilliant, so I think that’s why I love this town, and you very rarely meet an arsehole, and that I like, and I’ve met a lot of arseholes in my life, and it’s nice….when I first moved here I walked across the…..I walked across the car park and somebody said ‘are you alright mate’ and I went ‘what’s up?  Are you taking the piss or what?’ – ‘no he’s just been friendly, that’s what they do around here’ – ‘oh okay’ and it took me about a year to get used to how friendly people are up here, and I still get took back by it sometimes, it’s nice, and Hebden Bridge is like…..it’s described as where all the punks come to die, and it’s basically a punk graveyard – it’s like the elephants – the elephants go off to die, so that’s what punks do you know, we’re all growing old disgracefully [laughing]

     

    TW:

    What brought you to Hebden in the first place then?

     

    MJ:

    …….I was playing in a punk band in Norwich and I’d just about destroyed myself on speed, and Sam just said ‘why don’t we go’……I’m lucky still to have her, very lucky, and she got me going, we went on a map like that, literally like that and it just happened to be Hebden Bridge, it could have been Tod, it could have been Mytholmroyd; a friend drove us up in winter, it was snowing, sort of didn’t know where the town centre was so we walked through the town centre and thought ‘God, is that it?’ and I said ‘we’ve got to get a house’ – we happened to see a house – we got a seven and a half ton truck up here, brought all our stuff up here, couldn’t fit much of it in the house, ended up giving it to Daryl, the guy who drove us up, cos he worked for a charity, an alcohol and drugs charity, donated all our furniture, had to go back with all this Victorian stuff that we’d happily given away because we couldn’t fit it in the house, so we had to go to the dreaded IKEA and buy all this horrible flat pack furniture and put it upstairs, cos it was the only way that we could fit it in, but I wouldn’t live anywhere else……yeah, I think I’ll just grow old and miserable up here – old and grumpy [laughing]

     

    TW:

    So you said you found the people here….sorry, how long have you been here?

     

    MJ:

    Been here five years, five years now, it seems like I’ve been nowhere else, cos I can walk across to the newsagent’s and I know three or four people – I think going to The Fox and Goose helps, I think working behind the bar is a…..that’s a mistake [laughing] but yeah, I really….I don’t wanna go anywhere else……I’ve got friends who moved down to Cornwall, to places like this, and they moved there, and it’s a case of……. ‘there’s nothing to do down here’ whereas here, there’s lots going on in the town, and you’ve got Bradford, I’ve spent quite a bit of time there, Leeds and Manchester, and York, so you’ve got the best of both worlds.  I certainly don’t feel any need to go to London again – I’m not saying that I won’t, but…..that yearning for the city and the life, it’s just…..no interest.

     

    TW:

    Right.  You said people were very friendly.  Were those local people or were they other people who had come in from the other areas and were like yourself, open… 

     

    MJ:

    I don’t think there’s that many locals round here any more is there?

     

    TW:

    Oh they’re still about

     

    MJ:

    I think we’ve invaded and driven ‘em out haven’t we? [laughing] No, it’s both – I don’t even notice now, it’s all….again, who cares?  They’re nice people…..apart from Pete Sutcliffe - he’s a local….. if you’re watching this Pete, sorry…[laughing]

     

    TW:

    What’s your kind of take on the sort of….the gap, the generation gap kind of idea, you know, kids that were born here and are fairly young, in their teens or early twenties….and some of ‘em stay, some of ‘em leave because there’s not a lot of work and if they do get it, it’s not that…..not paid that well

     

    MJ:

    I think it’s…..I think it’s the same all over.  If you’re born in a small place you wanna get out.  If you’re born in a big place you wanna go somewhere else – the grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it?  But it’s not really, it just looks like that until you get to it, and then it’s as shit as where you are, but I think you’ve got to find your own place where you are but I think people in Hebden don’t realise how lucky they are, you know, even if they’re born here.  I think the film that was done about Hebden a little while ago…..it’s no different from any other part of the world or any other town, no matter, that stuff happens

     

    TW:

    Was that about that young person on drugs and

     

    MJ:

    yeah

     

    TW:

    He committed suicide didn’t he?

     

    MJ:

    I know four, no five of my friends have committed suicide through drugs, it’s stupid, but it happens everywhere, it’s not a….I thought the film actually gave Hebden Bridge a disservice, I didn’t think it was…..dunno, just didn’t think it was that…..dunno, can’t put my finger on it, it didn’t sit right, I think that that happens all over the world, in every town, in every country, you know, and it’s cos Hebden Bridge, it’s very small, and somewhat cliquey place; you might notice it a bit more, but you go behind any bus shelter or under any bill board, there’s gonna be people jacking up, or living behind there and that’s in every town.  There was a young lad,  living in a tent on the top of the hill there with mental health problems, we bought a load of clothes the other day to take up to him and he’s disappeared, so it’s a transient town; you’ve got a lot of travellers here, you’ve got a lot of people come here for summer on boats and whatever, and go….again that’s a very positive thing, cos it’s an input for people, but you also get people who come here because…..it’s the right place to be

     

    TW:

    Well they’re trying to….what they have done made it a tourist town, so you get a lot of visitors who come for a day or two and then go – does that affect you, having that many people around?

     

    MJ:

    No I don’t mind.  I know a lot of people who moan about people coming in and looking – gorping at the shop windows and that, but that’s what keeps the town alive, that’s what makes it, you know, it is a little……someone described it as the Glastonbury of the north, which I agree – it’s got that nice… I don’t think it’s as commercial as Glastonbury, obviously not, but it’s got that…..I don’t want to sound like a hippie, but it’s got that energy about it, it’s got that…..it’s just a nice place to be - it’s very beautiful, even in the winter it’s beautiful, and I think people don’t actually realise how lucky they are if they’ve been born here and live here – stick ‘em in the middle of Shepherds Bush where I lived, or Hackney, stick ‘em there for a month on a council estate on the dole, or in a tower block and they’d wanna come back here, I know I would, and it’s just…..yeah…..right move [laughing]

     

    TW:

    Right, okay.  Well....I mean you’ve been here five years, and even in those five years Hebden Bridge has changed.  Can you notice any of those changes that have happened?

     

    MJ:

    Well the first thing that did change for me was in a structural, physical way, which was the fire station being knocked down, and then it being turned into a car park, and then they were trying to put a supermarket on it or something, and then they wanted to build flats on there, and it’s…..we don’t need more flats, what you need is affordable housing for people to live, not luxury flats for people that are…..you know, who’ve got the money and wanna come and live here for the weekend, cos that’s ….you need affordable housing for the young people here.  They’ve got a great transport system; if you wanna get on a train to go to work it’s there – you can go to Leeds, Manchester, and forty minutes travelling these days, it’s not a lot to get to work, and I think that’s what this town lacks, is affordable housing for young people and, you know, but that’s the same all over since they sold the housing stocks off, they have a job getting their feet in the ladder, and it’s no different here, it just happens to be more prettier.

     

    TW:

    The fire station being knocked down and turned into a car park, and then people putting in plans to build, you know, supermarkets and flats and…it’s not the only scheme like that that has been tried in Hebden Bridge.  People sort of…..protested against it and in many cases, got people to stop

     

    MJ:

    Is this the chap that was trying to build that awful monstrosity in the car park?

     

    TW:

    Well there is that one on Garden Street, yeah, but did you protest against it?

     

    MJ:

    I signed the papers, he was actually in the office, and I just went in and said to him ‘I’ve moved away from shit holes like this – I don’t want it built here – I’ve moved here for a reason’ you know, and that view, when you get off the train and walk over…..I don’t know what that’s called…it’s the…..as you’re sort of going down into town, you go up and over and you can look right over the whole town, down the valley, that’s my favourite view, that is, you can see right down the valley, whether it’s snowing or it’s raining or whatever, I will stop and stand and just think ‘shit, I live here’ and it is, it’s just…..and that would have all been obscured; it was a very selfish thing, but you know, he wanted to put……stacked car parking in there…..he said ‘but they are ecological’ – no they’re not – he’s a ridiculous man.  It’s a classic case of…..he’s one of the very first – he’s done a lot for this town – he was one of the first hippies to come and squatted, bought a couple of houses and now very rich

     

    TW:

    Well he wasn’t , Fletcher you’re on about, he was born and bred here, but has done a lot for this town, but a lot of people are anti some of his plans.  Do you think it’s because he’s…..he has the right – he has the heart, the right heart and he wants to help and improve and preserve this town?  Maybe this part of his vision has gone off track – do you think that’s what it is or

     

    MJ:

    Possibly, I don’t know the man.  All I knew about him was he was…..that’s all I knew – what he was gonna do, and Simon told me he was born and bred here, I suppose he feels he’s got more right to, so…..I don’t know…..but I just think it’s a place that if you…..if you start….. I had an Eric Morecombe moment then, [laughing] if you start…….if you try to improve it too much, if you try to improve something too much, you then ruin it and I think this place is….it’s not perfect, but it’s not far from it, for somebody who’s lived here, lived here for only five years, I’ve fallen in love with the place….

     

    TW:

    What do you think can be done then to improve it?

     

    MJ:

    ……..I don’t know, again, the only thing I think, on the outskirts there should be….I don’t think they should build the centre up any more, I don’t think there should any more building there.  I do quite agree with the whole Town Hall been done and turned over to the people of Hebden Bridge, I think that’s a fantastic idea, but I think there should just be somehow more council housing, more affordable houses – that’s the only thing, you know, and obviously the work thing for younger people to keep ‘em here because if you haven’t got younger people here then a place dies, you lose the idea and soul of the place, but there are still loads of young people here….  I like the way the council embraces the skateboarding thing and…..[dealing with dog, Go]] but yeah, sort of how they built the massive skateboard park for the kids to play in – if you don’t give them something to do, they turn out like me [laughing]…..don’t moan about kids and offer ‘em nothing, that’s stupid.  I think Hebden Bridge is quite an enlightened place as far as that goes; they’re starting to…..you know….the skateboard park is a classic example of giving them something to do. 

     

    TW:

    Do you mix with the other generations, like, I mean, if you’re in your forties, do you mix with people like…in their twenties and then people in their sixties?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I couldn’t care less as long as I get on with people.  As Sam describes me, I’m a gobshite that will speak to anyone, I don’t care, you know, yeah I think people….I quite like speaking to some of the older guys that go in the…..there’s one guy was born opposite The Fox and Goose and explained how it used to look when it was…..it was all terraced housing.  I like looking at black and white photos of it as well from years ago…what’s the really steep road that goes up to Heptonstall…..from The Hole in the Wall

     

    TW:

    Oh The Buttress

     

    MJ:

    The Buttress, that’s it, and I’ve seen photos of all the terraced houses on there which looked really smart but they wasn’t really fit to live in, so….yeah, I can’t explain how much I like it here… 

     

    TW:

    So you think you’re gonna stay then?

     

    MJ:

    I hope so, yeah.

     

    TW:

    What could take you away do you think?

     

    MJ:

    I don’t know…..a hearse!  As I said, I don’t know, I don’t think there is anything….I think you reach that point in your life….I’ve sort of lived, squatted, travelled, you know, I still like travelling now, I’m just starting to discover your fine nation and…it always feels really good to get back here…..travelling to New York for two weeks; second week, Sam’s wondering how the cats are and what’s on telly, you know, so I like being here, it’s good.

     

    TW:

    Right. 

     

    MJ:

    As you can gather, I quite like the place! [laughing]

     

    TW:

    That’s good, yes.  Well we’ll just stop for a minute…..I’d like to go back a bit….about the idea of politics and maybe the anarchist kind of ideals that you had in the eighties and bring it up to date to now, cos…is it replicating itself in any way do you think?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, I think….it seems to be every ten years, this political thing goes around and around and around – nothing ever gets changed, just have a new war, people make a lot of money out of it and people get richer, which is ideally what it’s all about, capitalism, and for me, when Thatcher came into power after the nightmare of the Labour government, and all through the seventies and the strikes which I can vaguely remember, it was very much a dog-eat-dog world [dog barking] there’s a sort of  echelon of people, it’s making money, making money, off the backs of the proletarians, whatever you wanna call us, the people at the bottom, you know, the reason they’re rich is because we let it happen….and that sort of seemed to carry on through the eighties and an awful lot of protests and riots and…..you know, from the miners’ strikes to the Falklands War, you know, terrible, terrible times….again, if you were in the right place and had the right connections you had a wonderful time.  If you had money and you had that attitude, you know, you were looked after, but if you wanted to actually look after your community and give a shit about what’s going on around you, then….then you obviously….you know, you were a trouble maker, you weren’t fitting in line with what they wanted and a lot of people went against that – that’s when you had the riots in ’81, ’82…..and she was gonna get voted out, there was no doubt about it.  She was going, she was going, and then just happened to get involved in the Falklands War which was very convenient, lots of Union Jack waving, and it seems to be replicating itself now, it seems to be happening whenever people seem in trouble and they need something, like Nine Eleven, or something horrific like that, or a war to get involved in.  Again, it’s lots of young people go out, get killed or come home horrifically maimed mentally and physically, and people make millions of pounds out of it.  The only people who profit from this is….is the people who make the machinery they kill each other with, and the people who want the oil and want to rebuild the country, I think this country and America and Europe are as guilty as anything you know, they’re all criminals…and I think the other factor is the rich poor divide is worse now than it was then because it’s been done so….so slyly, you know, so…..it’s deceitful, it’s a very deceitful government; it’s no different from what Thatcher was, and it’s worse, because at least with Thatcher you knew she was horrible, you knew what she was about, but since Tony Blair….to the present Government now, you don’t, well you know what they’re about but they’ve got this very friendly face, you know, smiling at you with one side of his face, you know, and spitting on you with the other side of his face – that’s Government for you….I’m an anarchist [whispering]

     

    TW:

    What’s an anarchist then?

     

    MJ:

    Don’t know whether it’s a political….yeah there is a political side to it, but it’s more ideology.  It’s about, for me….it’s about treating people with respect, it’s about not telling people what to do, you know, I’m not a sheep – I won’t be led, and I won’t lead people, I won’t lead sheep.  I’m probably more of an anarcho-syndicist which I think the collective….is more powerful than the individual, as people, as a unit, as a group, as a movement.  That’s how you get change.  As an individual you can still have your ideas and do what’s right for you and what’s around you, but that’s….as a collective people you can actually make some changes, you can make things better, you know, that’s….you know, that’s proved in this place, you know, cos there are a lot of anarchists, a lot of anarchists….yeah, and you wouldn’t know they were anarchists, and I like that…….yeah, I think it’s a collective….it’s more of a collective consciousness with people, not in a spiritual way, but in a…..a thought process that says ‘right, we can do this together – we don’t need someone telling us to do it, we’ll do it cos we wanna do it’

     

    TW:

    So is that sort of small groups of people or is it like a tribal thing rather than….cos you could say each political party is a collective, but it’s massive isn’t it?....So do you focus on smaller groups?

     

    MJ:

    I think smaller, autonomous groups…..is a pretty cool thing to be involved in but you do come together, you come together like I did in London, and you go into Central London and you arrange it, but rather than sort of…..rather than writing on your own doorstep and then being left in the shit you’ve created yourself, which was happening a lot in the eighties, people writing on estates and then being left like that for two years as a punishment, and then maybe we’ll sort it out, whereas I admire the youth and the black block for going into London and taking it to The Hilton and to The Ritz’ and that, and showing ‘em what it’s like – people were angry and I don’t have a problem with that, because that’s a good thing.  I don’t really agree with the violent side of….blowing things up and rubbish like that, but I do agree with people having the right to demonstrate.  If you’re angry, go and do it, you know.

     

    TW:

    So you think today that movement of people doing things like that, is that getting bigger and bigger – is it like the early start of something else?

     

    MJ:

    I think so, yeah, I mean it started off with the G8, G7, and it was Seattle – Seattle kicked it off…..for me it wasn’t over, I was inspired by what was going on – inspired by the Greek anarchists who fear no-one or nothing, and my friend lives over in Kefalonia, one of the islands, and….it was going on for months and months and months, it was an everyday thing, but it wasn’t getting reported on the mass media because they didn’t want you to know that people are standing up and people are saying ‘oh right, this is more honest than anything that’s on the telly cos you don’t get told those sort of things’

     

    TW:

    Was this a protest that kind of….is it….environmentally based or is it just anti-capitalist, or is there something else?

     

    MJ:

    I think it’s….

     

    TW:

    Or all of those things

     

    MJ:

    I think it’s…again it’s that mass consciousness of people coming together and saying ‘we’ve had enough’ you know, and a lot of it is, I think…..there’s a lot of secular movements out there that are starting to join up with other movements and….you know, you get fifty thousand people on the streets, you know, I don’t know if it would make a difference you know, two million marching through London on a day in mid-summer and being part of a massive anti-war thing, and they said ‘look I understand but I’m going to war anyway’ so I think that just protesting and marching with a placard doesn’t do anything, but it’s the same as the Poll Tax – it was the Poll Tax for me that destroyed Thatcher, and then she stayed on for a while afterwards, but that was what brought her down, you know, cos that wasn’t just people like me, that was…..people in general, which you need you know; you can’t change anything unless you’ve got everyone involved in it, you need…..you can’t just have people who dress in black and who wanna change the world, you’ve got to be able to say to people, you know ‘here is a better way’ you know…..

     

    TW:

    I mean what you’re saying here sounds to me a bit like, or quite a bit like….sort of what happened in Egypt and Tunisia and parts of Libya and parts of the Middle East, you know, over the past couple of months, and of course it’s all gone….each country that’s sort of like this rising up of people joining and thinking together, and different kinds of groups joining together against something….do you think that sort of thing could happen here, or are we far too cosy in our lives

     

    MJ:

     We’re far too cosy in our lives.  I think it’s….I’d like to think it would, but as the saying goes you can be a better society by robbing the old one – I don’t quite agree with that, you know, but I don’t think it will happen here.  I think I’m just a hopeless utopian….dreamer, but it’s not a bad thing to dream of, a better world, is it?  But I think, as far as the Middle East goes, you know, it just proves how hypocritical the West is cos you have people writing on the streets here about things that are wrong and they’re labelled hooligans and terrorists, but then the Egyptians and Lebanese got labelled freedom fighters, you know, it’s words being used very carefully and the shit thing about that is two years ago, or however long, Tony Blair was giving……Gaddafi, you know, we trained those pilots that were robbing people, we sold them the weapons that were killing people, so we made money on that front.  The only reason we wanna go in there and get a secure Government is because of the massive amounts of oil that are there, and people know that – we say that to Government – ‘oh no it’s not for that, it’s for the right reason’ – they’re just lies and it’s….and people know it’s lies but do nothing about it, you know, it’s…..it’s like me coming and taking your camera off you, and you saying ‘it’s mine’ and walking away with it, and you saying ‘it’s mine’ and me saying ‘no, I bought it – it’s mine’ and it’s the same thing, it’s a lie, it’s theft, it’s a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to you, and pulling the shit out of their country in turn, and that’s….but that’s what we’ve always done; we’re very good at war in this country.

     

    TW:

    One last question really about….I suppose it’s about the idea of democracy, because the West, whether it’s the U.S., Britain or the rest of Europe, or countries that were part of the commonwealth, they promote this idea of democracy, particularly in countries that they want to have influence over – however they do it, whether it’s through trade or through warfare

     

    MJ:

    It’s the great D lie we call it

     

    TW:

    Do you think democracy is a good…thing to do shall we say, or a good export?

     

    MJ:

    No I think democracy’s one of the biggest lies ever, cos we’re just…..we’re just replacing one system with another one that happens to be better for….  There’s a system there that’s been in power for ages that’s shit on people – oh we’ll come along and give you democracy, you can have the vote but you can only vote for the people we give you, you can only have what we say, so you’ve got your puppet who stays there, who has as much control over the country as they let him have – it’s the same with the guy in Afghanistan they voted in; there’s no say in what goes on there – corporate America and corporate Britain have a say in what goes on over there, but it’s…..but I suppose if you lived under a dictatorship for years and years and someone offers you all the trappings of the West, of course you can fall for it, because you haven’t had it and it will steal your culture, your identity and it will just become a massive MacDonald’s or Disneyland, which……that’s democracy…..democracy is a bigger better car, bigger better telly, and bigger better bullshit done to you everyday, and that’s….I am quite happy sometimes [laughing]

     

    TW:

    Okay.  The only other thing is – is there anything you’d like to say that I haven’t asked about?

     

    MJ:

    No, no I’ve sort of waffled on enough I think……as an anarchist which I think is another loose, bullshit term, but it fits what I believe – I think you’ve got to trust people, treat people and animals and the environment with a bit more respect, you know, and get to know your next door neighbour…..that’s a start……

     

    TW:

    Well thank you very much

     

    MJ:

    That’s alright.  Thank you for letting me talk bullshit for an hour!

     

     [END OF TRACK ONE]

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Martin Jones 1

     

    [TRACK 1]

     

    TONY WRIGHT:

    24th of May 2011, Cayn White’s interviewing Martin. (Martin’s dog is in room)

     

    CAYN WHITE:

    I’m here with Martin, currently front man of a local punk rock band Trauma Unit and we’re going to discuss growing up with the punk scene

     

    MARTIN JONES:

    We’ll use the words ‘growing up’ very loosely [laughing]

     

    CW:

    Before we get started, because you’re not originally from Hebden, where were you brought up?

     

    MJ:

    I was born in Hammersmith in 1966, in West London…..quite a lot of my time was spent in Shepherd’s Bush.  I also lived in a little town called Abingdon, that’s in Oxfordshire before moving up here; I actually met my partner in Norwich which is on the east coast, that’s sixteen years ago.  We moved to Hebden Bridge about five years ago and…..yeah, love it.

     

    CW:

    What was the growing up like because you were involved with the punk scene early on.  What were the music scene like before punk rock then?

     

    MJ:

    I don’t really remember; I can remember watching things like The Old Grey Whistle Test on a black and white telly on the end of a bunk bed.  I can remember watching all sorts but I think my biggest memory of music hitting me was not actually music itself – it was walking down the Goldhawk Road in Shepherd’s Bush and it was the time when Bowie was doing Ziggy Stardust and there was a poster, it was next to the Shepherd’s Bush Bingo Hall and it was a big, big poster – Bowie’s face with the red hair and make-up, and then I saw him on The Old Grey Whistle Test – I can’t remember, I think he was doing……Spiders From Mars and stuff like that, and that was…..I must have been about eight or nine then; then I didn’t really take much notice of music until about…..again it wasn’t the music but I can remember sitting down in the basement of my nan and granddad’s house watching a programme called Today which was a local London programme, and a bloke called Bill Grundy, it was his show, and he was……the Sex Pistols were on there, it was their first ever TV appearance

     

    CW:

    They were filling in for Queen wasn’t it

     

    MJ:

    That’s the one, yeah

     

    CW:

    Because they cancelled

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, and it sort of went downhill from there really

     

    CW:

    Well going to the Grundy show then, as you watched it, what were your initial reactions when they did the four letter tirade and what was the atmosphere in the house afterwards, cos I know a lot of people got offended.

     

    MJ:

    Well it was mainly my nan.  My granddad was a manager of a construction company called Roberts around in London at the time and he just giggled a bit and called them bloody yobs and that sort of thing, and my nan, who’s a stern, Cockney battleaxe as you can get, used more bad language against them in front of me than they used on the telly in front of other people –I’ve still got it, it still makes me giggle, it’s one of those things. It was a poignant part in music history, as equal to Elvis first rocking his hips in ’57, as poignant as Woodstock, as poignant as Bowie – it was a massive part of musical history and social history and social change, and changed so many things that sort of…..I suppose it was year zero really for music, you know…. ‘sod it, we’ll start all over again’…..I’m trying not to swear [laughing]

     

    CW:

    Going from that then, and where you’re going, you’ve just seen the ‘Pistols’ on the Grundy show, when did you start getting involved with punk from then?  Was it with the first bands you were listening to at the time?

     

    MJ:

    I was eleven years old, we were at the backstairs, the fire exits of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, don’t know what it was called then, I can’t remember now, with my cousins, who were thirteen and fourteen, and we saw The Clash, Subway Sect and Slits…….(Martin starts talking to his dog) that was my first sort of…..it’s almost like looking……it’s weird, I can only remember bits of it, it’s like looking back on an old film, but yeah, that was the spark that lit the fuse sort of thing.

     

    CW:

    So that’s how, obviously with Bowie you were inspired by the image and the music at the time, and obviously with the Pistols you were inspired by the attitude.  When did….when did the music start hitting you?

     

    MJ:

    After The Clash….yeah I think it was The Clash – I’d obviously heard ‘Nevermind The Bollocks’ it and ‘Anarchy in the UK,’ but it was The Clash that blew me away – it was just a raw….no-nonsense, not trying to pretend, just…..but they always said they had this Staliness view that would be going back to year zero cos they were all in bands like The 101ers and bands that were influenced by such bands as Mott the Hoople and things like that, but for me that was it – it was new, it was exciting and….yeah, it was just amazing and….

     

    CW:

    Obviously when these bands first started going they started a scene in their own right, where they had kids everywhere saying ‘I wanna be in a band’ and you even had Mark Perry from Sniffin’ Glue was it?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah

     

    CW:

    Saying ‘here’s three chords – now form a band’.  At any point during that did you say ‘yes that’s what I want to do’ and did you?

     

    MJ:

    No I didn’t, not for years….getting involved in a punk band, playing in bands, I think started in the eighties, the early eighties, it was a good four or five years I was…..probably about eighteen when I played in my first band whose name I can’t actually say on camera cos it’s horrible, but it’s…..I went on to bands called Retch, Kick to Kill, Coma……and ended up playing in a band called Terminal City Ricochet - TCR from Norwich which went down pretty well, couple of albums, and now…. ‘Trauma Unit’ 

     

    CW:

    Well we’ll come to ‘Trauma Unit’ later on, but with the first band whose name you can’t……can’t say, what were…..how did that come about?

     

    MJ:

    Boredom.  We’d already seen other people doing it – it was….cos at the time, like you say, every estate had a gang of punks or a gang of skinheads and they mucked about together.  Some of them just wanted to be a social shock, some of them wanted….to be political, some of them wanted to be musical, and it was going through…..so I went to quite a lot of gigs but the ones that inspired me more were the local ones with people I actually knew in the bands – bands in youth centres, we had bands at school, bands that……I could relate to because they were friends….yes, that’s what inspired me, I mean going to see gigs at big places was great, but they were still non-accessible.  From what the anti-rock style thing it was yeah, they were becoming rock stars and leaving….not saying leaving people behind, but becoming…people put them on pedestals and I didn’t like that, and still don’t agree with that, but I was more akin to the DIY bands, squat bands, and bands that are playing youth centres and things like that – people who took their equipment, their own equipment, played badly, had a great time and if they charged anything it was something stupid like fifteen pence at the time to get in, and I still quite….I still agree with that.

     

    CW:

    A key word you mentioned at the start there was boredom, so I’m just gonna throw this one at you, I should have asked earlier really, but….growing up back then in the area you were in, Shepherd’s Bush and stuff, what were it like – what were the opportunities to do, places to go, I mean you now you have youth centres, you’ve got the parks, you’ve got all that stuff.  What were it like then and what were it like with employment when you grew older?

     

    MJ:

    Well growing up was…..I grew up in the eighties.  I was made redundant, let go of more jobs than I care to remember, but as for growing up in Shepherd’s Bush, it was great, it was an Irish community, Asian community, large West Indian community, so I was brought up with a lot of different….you know there was a lot of reggae being played at parties, there was a lot of Indian/Bengali music, still gives me a tingle at the back of my neck, I love all that stuff, we all knocked about in the park together cos there was just beyond Loftus Road, I lived on Bloemfontein Road, they were still bomb sites, so we’d go and play on the bomb sites, so it was……it wasn’t particularly deprived or anything like that, it was just life, that’s how it was.

     

    CW:

    Going round the bomb sites, what was that like, cos obviously that’s a direct reminder of what happened the year previously.  Did that have any impact at all or did you just see as everyday life?

     

    MJ:

    Everyday life, it wasn’t a case…..it was, it was just somewhere to go and hang out, throw bricks at each other, smash things up, you know, which at thirteen, eleven and thirteen, that’s what you do – you’ve got no political agenda, you don’t like anyone because they’re grown up and…..yeah you just hang around together causing a nuisance to be honest.

     

    CW:

    Cos I know that you do have a bit of a political opinions here and there.  When did politics start coming in for you personally?

     

    MJ:

    Well, the word anarchy had been thrown around loads and loads and loads

     

    CW:

    It were Malcolm McClaren stuff wasn’t it?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, that was more to do with the fashion statement and to upset people, whereas the actual……the actual political…..that took a few years….I think it was with Crass, Poisoned Girls, Flux of Pink Indians, it was….you know, it was more a case of when you’re younger you do anarchy smashing things, whereas Crass introduced you to…..I suppose anti….anti-political politics if you know what I mean, it was very…..it still affects me and what I believe in today, and a lot of people, this is why – you go round to most of the people on the travelling sites and squatting, and people that are involved in community things who grew up in that time, Crass were a big influence to ‘em – they still are.  I think they’re a load of tosh now, cos they’re all getting back reforming and doing stuff, but no, they still are, I think now with the climate now, what’s going on with…..civil liberties being taken away and we’re involved in two wars abroad that we can’t afford to be in, it’s based on the fact that we’re being filmed everywhere we go, cards swiping, everything’s traceable, you know, your privacy is being hacked into all the time, and I think the lyrics and what they say, you know, about the environment and what you eat is more prevalent now…..than it was then.

     

    CW:

    How important do you feel the politics climbing into the song lyrics, by this I mean you had The Clash singing about having a white riot, but then you get bands like Crass who kind of hit home with the politics a lot more in the lyrics.  How important do you think it is for politics and song lyrics to combine?

     

    MJ:

    I think it’s very important, I think….I think it’s just as important as….I mean in the sixties, you know, late sixties we had loads of political singers – ’68 ’69 you know, singing about Vietnam, Paris riots, you know I think every ten years something comes along, and I think punk was just, you know, because the seventies were just…..now I look back on it you know, I look back on some of it, unemployment, you had rubbish piled up ten feet in the streets, you had bodies that couldn’t be buried because the funeral directors were on strike, councils were……the National Front marching through Croyden with….I think they had ten thousand marching through and they were I think the fourth biggest party in the country at the time, which is horrific when you think about it, but that’s….and the same’s happening now with people getting frustrated and angry and disillusioned with…..the major parties now so that they’re heading towards rubbish like the BNP and the English Defence League, to try and grab on to something and I don’t like it, but I understand it, I understand why they’re doing it; I think it’s a case of disillusionment and ignorance because people can’t relate to the politicians that are there now…..yes, I hate them.

     

    CW:

    As you’re into….then you are into the anti-fascist scene, how did that come about because you said as you were younger you grew up listening to music from all sorts of cultures, something you mentioned – reggae and stuff like that

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I just didn’t notice peoples colour, cos at the age of twenty, twenty-one I started hanging around with a load of skinheads who I’d known for years.  They really re-wrote my political views and I started drifting off that way, not even realising it.  It took a friend of mine to say ‘what the hell you doing?’ I think she knew I didn’t realise it was that bad and sort of sat down there and just…. ‘I’ve got to fight it’ because if you can get someone….who’s sort of pretty open-minded, then you can trap loads and loads of people and that’s what it is, it’s a trap, a lie and a con, to put people in power.

     

    CW:

    Of your early bands what you did form or join, what was the…..what was the atmosphere of the gigs like?  What were it like trying to get a gig as a band?

     

    MJ:

    At the time it wasn’t that hard.  The actual shock of punk rock had been and gone and the actual

     

    CW:

    What period are we talking about?

     

    MJ:

    Early eighties – ’83 ‘84

     

    CW:

    That’s shortly after the Oi Movement as well, which I’ll come back to asking you about.

     

    MJ:

    Yeah that was still pretty prevalent at the time, you know, cos everyone thinks it finished in ’81 – it didn’t – it was….it was….I think it was easier to get gigs, it was….Town Hall squat, houses, you know, it seemed……yeah, it just seemed easier cos the thing is, after the fashion statement punk had died down and the shop, it was more like, every town you went to, you went to the Market Square on a Saturday, there was thirty, forty punks out and about, they had their own pub, and there was more labels then in the eighties and possibly even more now with home computers and the net.  I think it was a great time to be growing up and I’d got well into the DIY and Crass scene, and moved away from the….I suppose the mohicany, Kings Road  sort of stuff which I do love, I love all that, but I’m not….then at that time it was….yeah, everything happened, it was anti punk punk, if you like. Yeah, anti everything.

     

    CW:

    In the punk scene as you just mentioned then, DIY, do you think the punk scene would have survived without the DIY aspect to it, and do you think it’s the DIY that’s actually gone on to influence and become an important part of the music today?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I do yeah, I think……the thing is, the DIY thing had been going on since the likes of bands such as Hawkwind and Mott the Hoople were doing gigs and I think it was…I think it was a band called Bong who preceded Crass by putting Pay No More Than This on their record, so a lot of the hippie thing that was going on the sixties and early seventies was happening in the punk scene and the DIY scene which was anti meat, anti-violence, anti-bomb, you know, I think it was Paddy Rimmard said ‘punk’s just stopped wearing colours and started wearing black, so rather than having the actual macho egotistical smash everything up violent punks, and this still goes on today, there’s another side to it which is productive.  DIY takes a lot of political issues on; if it wasn’t for the DIY scene we wouldn’t have had ‘Pulp’ , the Class War, you wouldn’t have had the Poll Tax, you wouldn’t have had the Poll Tax Riots, we wouldn’t have what’s going on in Europe, you know, the anti-fascist stuff that’s going on, so I think, well you would have had it going on but it would have gone on in a different guise.

     

    CW:

    If I remember from what I’ve read in t’past, one of the things what combined the two aspects – DIY and politicalising people with the Class War magazine… did you follow all of that?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I used to go to Conflict gigs and Crass gigs , I wish I still had them, well I think they were actually put together…..I haven’t seen Ian in quite a few years now but it’s…..there’s a lot of……there’s a lot of…..anarchist manifestos – there’s Kropotkin, Neil Jackson, who were anarchists from right in the 1800s, yeah,  and then you get up to people like Bakunin and things like that.  It’s very…..dogmatic; you’ve got to trawl through it and it becomes rhetoric if you know what I mean, you’re believing what’s in it, whereas Class War was just written by people in a bedsit in Cardiff I think, or Swansea, I’m not sure and that’s how it started

     

    CW:

    Swansea

     

    MJ:

    Swansea, yeah, and it was just a case of…..them making it easier….it was the anarchist equivalent to The Sun that was what they said, it was for the average bloke sitting down at dinner time – dinner time in a factory on a building site, could read it, read about what’s going on, but still have a laugh at the same time, and that to me makes more sense than giving someone a book on it, which we’ve still got out there and I’ve read ‘em, but which would get left on the side with a coffee stuck on it, you know, I wish I still had mine. 

     

    CW:

    While we’re on the subject of Class War I’m going to through the famous front cover that you know for ‘The Biggest Cut of All’ I think it were called. 

     

    MJ:

    What Thatcher said… 

     

    CW:

    Yeah.  What impact did that have on you?

     

    MJ:

    Oh I hated the bitch, I still hate her.  I hopes she drowns in shit and hope she knows it; I absolutely loathe her.  One of the funniest things I ever saw was the Brighton bombing, and on telly being carried out, and I was just hoping it’d got her but it didn’t.  I don’t wish harm upon anyone really, but at the time they were evil, nasty people…..only caught up by Blair I think, yeah.

     

    CW:

    Well it’s like the anagram I told you about before – Tony Blair MP is an anagram of ‘I’m Tory Plan B’….but backtracking a bit then, the punk scene kind of, as you said, it fizzled out somewhat

     

    MJ:

    No I don’t think it did

     

    CW:

    In a mainstream way

     

    MH:

    Yeah it wasn’t fashionable

     

    CW:

    Yeah in an underground way it stayed alive

     

    MJ:

    Absolutely yeah, it was as strong as ever, and still is very very strong today

     

    CW:

    But then the eighties came in, ’79 ’80 and you had bands like Cockney Rejects who went on to form the Oi Movement and which I also know you……you listen to a lot of stuff by them and you’re into a few of the bands.  What were t’difference between that?

     

    MJ:

    It was more honest, it was street level…..it was a time when you could listen to Crass and you could listen to ‘The Business’ and no-one cared, there wasn’t a division

     

    CW:

    The Big Issue came along pretty quickly didn’t it?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah but it was down to arseholes like Bushell and that, it wasn’t a case of….I think kids still knocked about together, you know, people still hung out together, they just listened to different music and then you had the….then it started, the violence then started, then that’s when the DIY scene went totally its own way…..with such bands as Crass, Subhumans….specially Conflict, I followed Conflict for a long time,  I lost all interest in street punk; I listen to it now, but I’m a lot older, you know what I mean, I do like a lot of it, most of it I’m borrowing off you actually

     

    CW:

    You are, yeah [laughing]… How about the Oi stage then, were you involved in….you were involved in a band in’83 you were saying wasn’t you?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, it was just a…..it was a punk band, it wasn’t a political band……

     

    CW:

    It were around that time of the racist aspect started, you were at the Southall Riots

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, you had bands like…

     

    CW:

    You had … I mean basically

     

    MJ:

    I mean that only started in the mid eighties, then you had the Rock Against Communism thing going which was sponsored by the National Front – they were on the White Power label or something stupid like that

     

    CW:

    What did you think of  the extreme, invading the music or the music scene, the punk scene which you loved at the time 

     

    MJ:

    Well you see I’ve moved away from the street punk scene so it didn’t really bother me

     

    CW:

    But it was still – there was still people turning up of that persuasion, turning up to stuff like Conflict gigs and Crass gigs

     

    MJ:

    Yeah

     

    CW:

    And what were that like, going to a gig and having to look over your shoulder now and again?

     

    MJ:

    Well, either they got barred and we got barred, it was those…..I think it was…..don’t know, it must have been the time the British movement were prevalent in London and probably round most of the country, that they used to turn up to gigs, I think it was Colin who once said,  you know, all the other bands, you know, they let the gigs get smashed up but Conflict didn’t, you stood your ground, still do today, don’t stand down, no platform, I don’t, there again, you know, I don’t think they’re ever gonna be as prevalent as they were – I think they’re rising in Europe now, but in this country I don’t think they’ll ever get bigger than EDL (English Defence League) the BNP (British National Party) – every time the BNP gets so far they put their foot in their own mouth

     

    CW:

    Question Time is the more famous one

     

    MJ:

    Made me chuckle

     

    CW:

    I never watch – I don’t watch it, I refuse to give them that platform really.  What were your opinion on watching that, because that were pretty much the collapse of the BNP but as they collapsed, that signalled the rise of the EDL and the English Democrats

     

    MJ:

    Well I think it’s the same as the British Movement, the same as the National Front.  The National Front were as big as they were ever gonna get…..cos you know, however thick skinned the Government are, the Government won’t let it happen again…. It’s the same when they created a smear campaign against people in the National Front and destroyed them, and I think they’d do the same to anyone, you know, any ultra-right wing party, but in France their most ultra-right wing party at the moment in Holland, and in certain parts of Germany the Christian Democrats so I don’t know, I might be totally wrong, I hope I’m not, I hope they don’t get in, never again, I was awe-inspired by The Angelic Upstarts, Afa Mensi who started Antifa, sorry he started them first, and No Platform and I’m quite an admirer of Anti Fur as well, they put their fists where their mouth is, if you know what I mean

     

    CW:

    Would you say violence in the scene or violence at all, would you say it’s detrimental to certain causes, like you read on the news sometimes you know – such-and-such a person from ‘ let’s say it’s someone from the BNP’s just been attacked, or in Queensbury where they had their windows with bricks thrown through and their car tyres slashed, so stuff like that, when it gets made public, that’s suddenly putting sympathy on ‘em, so is violence always a decent aspect

     

    MJ:

    With rational human beings, violence is as repugnant as it gets, you know, the thought of hurting yourself, but you’ve got to stand your ground against them because I think what’s happening, if you don’t have a say no more then they’re just gonna keep rising.  It’s the same as Cable Street, in Cable Street people said No

     

    CW:

    But can’t ignorance hurt and just as fists. Bottles or words… 

     

    MJ:

    I don’t know to be honest, I think there’s so many ways to look at it.  I think it all comes down to education in schools to start with, but there again if you’ve got racist parents….my parents were racist

     

    CW:

    My parents were racist even though my dad used to hand out copies of Socialist Worker as a young ‘un

     

    MJ:

    So it’s a mixed up world you know, I don’t know if there’s any real answer to it.  I think we rely on….

     

    CW:

    Well obviously you get racist parents, you get racist teachers even.  A teacher were famously sacked for being a BNP member and you still get racism in politics, you know, politicians doing racist strokes for that party, so do you think there’s ever gonna be a point where there is no racism?

     

    MJ:

    No I think that’s just…..there’ll always be racism, there’ll always be hate, because it’s human nature.  Human nature is…..is what it is you know, some people are good and some people are just crap yeah.  I think the Racist Movement is born out of fear; not fear of the people, but fear of having your community and your jobs taken away, but that’s you know, people in the East End are in an oasis.  The East End is a classic example of being a brilliant place, there’s the Huguenots, the Jews and then the West Indians and then the Asians and now Polish and Irish, and that can only be good for the country, you’re always bringing something new, someone else’s culture you know, and just by shutting it up and saying ‘we’re British’ is just a load of nonsense.

     

    CW:

    Going back after the early eighties then, the scene is still like a bit of the hardcore punk scene.  What were it like after….roundabout the ’85 stage when a lot of the Oi bands and punk bands by then were just…..I mean Crass had already petered out in ’94 – they’d have gone – what were it like then cos you

     

    MJ:

    Well I saw The Clash at their last gig in London….think it was The Academy……[to dog] lay down – I’m not speaking to Tony, I’m speaking to the dog…..saw Clash at their last gig and it was it was absolutely rammed and everyone slates that album, but the actual gig itself

     

    CW:

    Was that the Cut the Crap album?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I like that, I like it cos it’s different 

     

    CW:

    You can have my copy.

     

    MJ:

    I’ve got two!  Yeah it was just a good….I think I was still going to gigs in ’87 ’88, it was still quite….again, the hardcore scene had started up from the likes of Doom and things like that, and things were on the change; it was getting harder and faster, more dirty certainly, you know, the squat scene was getting massive….started getting involved in – that was about the time I was getting involved in hunt sabotaging and things like that which

     

    CW:

    Do you wanna tell us about your involvement with that – how you got involved with that stuff – obviously you don’t need to go through all the bloody names of things you’ve done, we won’t tread on that territory

     

    MJ:

    …..for me going sabbing was more a class issue.  It wasn’t till…..you know, I think sixteen, seventeen years ago me and Sam got together and started to go out sabbing three times a week doing the anti-vivisection stuff…..sort of took over your life really and…….yeah the punk scene had gone, well the bands had gone, I’m not into politics, it’s just fencing and it’s a load of rubbish, you know, the hardcore scene went off….. with the Doom, it also brought in the straight edge scene which was punk bands that sort of gave up….no drinking, no smoking

     

    CW:

    I know you enjoy your drink as much as I do.  What do you think of the straight edge thing?

     

    MJ:

    I did it for eighteen months.  I quite admire it actually, because it’s ultimately one of the dirt-free DIY things it’s very focused, it’s very politically focused on such things as veganism, vegetarianism, squatting, anti-globalisation, hunt sab, it’s very…..it’s also….it’s absolutely no fun at all, cos you’re that determined in doing it, where I like going out and having a pint with me mates….or I go and see a band, and I think that’s…..that’s the history of rock ‘n’ roll isn’t it, it’s about having a drink, watching bands and having a laugh with your mates……

     

    CW:

    Coming through…..coming through now to the nineties in the story, 1991 Thatcher left, Major got in, at which point – at what point were you in your life at this point, you know, with work, with bands, music, family

     

    MJ:

    I got married, I had a son that was involved with the Class War stuff, that was just after the Poll Tax Riots, go out maybe a year, got married and…..just wasn’t me, just….dunno…..yeah it was a weird time…..cos the Class War was more prevalent then than the Poll Tax Riots and we’d just had the Strangeways Riot in Manchester, and there was very very…….a feeling of….people knew that the Tory rule was coming to an end and in ‘97 it did, and everybody was happy-clappy about it, but it was just the same, if anything, worse, but as far as me personally, I was…I was involved in the hardcore scene……really like the idea of doing DIY gigs, I liked the fact that punk was…..although it was still prevalent and….a heavy under current, it was very unfashionable so it was a highly introverted little scene if you know what I mean – a lot of DIY records being done, a lot of DIY bands, and it seemed to be, with the onset of MTV and all that nonsense, it seemed to be very fashionable then to be a punk, but then again you see, kids walking round with piercings and blue hair and Doctor Martin’s and I quite like that because they’re not gonna get beaten up for it; I quite like that fact that kids can go and dress up and have fun…..and discover who they are without the threat of being attacked by skinheads or the police, or whatever, or their mum

     

    CW:

    With the fashion, remembering a previous conversation, you liked all the first edition of his stuff.  What were people’s reaction to you when you were walking round wearing things like that?

     

    MJ:

    I don’t know really, I’d like to think we were outrageous, but I think it had been done a couple of years before, but it still was, because it got more severe…..the hair cuts were bigger and there were more piercings……it was a contrived look that had been done before but it was fun.  I still collect it now….but it was a really good….I wish I was around….I wish I was sixteen in 1977 instead of eleven; I’d have loved to have been in that scene and been there and done it.  I think I’d have turned out a completely different person to what I am now, but…..yeah I dunno

     

    CW:

    Do you think fashion still plays an important part really in the scene?

     

    MJ:

    No not at all, well it is a fashion – it’s all black, it’s a uniform the same as every other uniform, some say everyone’s got to have a uniform.  I think that’s as true today as it is…..when we’ve been and gone there’ll be people selling uniforms to other kids, to treat them as individuals

     

    CW:

    Isn’t it hard to preach, as some bands do, isn’t it hard to preach non-conformity when you’re all wearing the same stuff and singing the same songs?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah I think it is, yeah, I think, you know…well we were saying ‘oh we’re not gonna do it’ – we’re not going to spread any message and then it just gets worse [noise in background] it’s Tony walking my dog [laughing] I think it’s……I think it might be….we all dress in black, we all wear trainers, and try to wear stuff that is as ethical as possible….try to buy second-hand stuff from charity shops as much as possible, but I certainly don’t go to high street stores…..because being a strict vegan, I don’t wear leather and all that sort of stuff

     

    CW:

    Hippie! [laughing]…..the nineties as well…..were you in any bands back then or…..

     

    MJ:

    I was in a band called Retch for a while, then I got into the nineties…

    CW:

    How did that come about?

     

    MJ:

    Just got talking to people…..we lived in Great Yarmouth at the time, drinking in a pub…..you notice pubs have played a large part in my life……and got talking to a guy who said I play guitar…. We just came together and recorded our one and only session tape at Tome the Gnome, out of,  support the bands, home studio, I haven’t got a copy of it…..dunno what happened to it and we didn’t go very far and didn’t really get involved in anything till I moved to Norwich and met up with people in the tattoo shop…..Sue used to be in a band called PMT which was a quite well-known DIY all female band that at that time split up.  We had about a five year go at TCR going down really well but you reach a point where you think ‘we’re going down really well?  Let’s destroy this and get on with something new’…..and that’s what I did…..released one album and one EP, there again very DIY because DIY was getting very political…..we played quite a few gigs, supported Veruca, Discharge….. Poison Idea, Stiff Little Fingers…….so you know, nice to say I’ve done that, but….

     

    CW:

    Obviously bands like Stiff Little Fingers have since reformed.  What do you think of all these bands that are coming back, sometimes just for the money?

     

    MJ:

    I don’t. Don’t care.  Some of them have just…..oh I went to see for a ridiculous amount of money when it was my birthday, not last year but the year before; I went to see Public Image in Manchester, we used to follow them about.  I think I had eighty pounds, over eighty quid for two tickets with…..I can’t really knock people who want to go and see bands for fifteen quid and stuff like that you know, I was as big a hypocrite as anyone then but I don’t really care if people reform; if people enjoy going to see music, that’s up to them.

     

    CW:

    One of the bands you mentioned, Stiff Little Fingers – they did a few political stuff songwise.  Do you think if they reform and you go and see them, is the energy and urgency still there as it was first time round, or do you think it’s just more play acting?

     

    MJ:

    I think they still write some really good songs, and I think the stuff when they were writing in Ulster when they were actually living in Northern Ireland with conditions in the mid seventies, early eighties

     

    CW:

    They were down in London, by the second album

     

    MJ:

    They were….you know, if you’ve been brought up in that, you have a right to write political stuff [dog coming in]  Go!… Don’t let Tony in anymore, if you….yeah I think they’ve got more of the right to write about situations [phone ringing]

     

    CW:

    Intermission. Can I grab a beer please.

     

    MJ:

    Of course you can.

     

    CW:

    So…..yeah with the reformations and stuff…do you think it’s important for bands?

     

    MJ:

    What getting back together?

     

    CW:

    Yeah……wouldn’t it be better if they got back together for the right reasons rather than someone throwing a cheque in front of ‘em

     

    MJ:

    Oh but that’s what’s gonna happen I think.  For me, a lot of the bands such as the Subs and the Upstarts and the Upstarts and Buzzcocks you know, are bands that have come straight the way through and I’ve got a lot of respect for them

     

    CW:

    Buzzcocks? They split. 

     

    MJ:

    Yeah but only for a little while

     

    CW:

    Couple of years

     

    MJ:

    Flight of convenience, yeah, but that was….that was back in the eighties wasn’t it?

     

    CW:

    Yeah.  It were ‘87ish when bands started reforming

     

    MJ:

    But for me it’s……I don’t really care because you’ve got bands like Subhumans getting back together and throwing out all the political stuff, you’ve got Conflict getting back together and for me…..for them the opposite end swept out, in was dead in the water, I went to see them five or six times at gatherings and….I thought ‘you’re just doing this for the pose and the money…..I think, you know, Sabians got back together and that was great, I still go and see them.

     

    CW:

    I were remembering interviewing…well chatting to a lass in t’pub really and she made a….what I consider a misguided comment really, cos she said ‘I can’t see the point in forty year olds still thinking they’re preaching on behalf of the youth’ or summat like that.  Do you think bands doing – still doing the early stuff with the same message – do you think they can still get away with that, do you think it’s still relevant?

     

    MJ:

    I think in the political climate, with some of them, no, no I don’t think so.  I think in some respects she’s right but in other respects she’s wrong….but that’s my opinion, it doesn’t make her wrong, it’s just my opinion.  I think you’ve got to…..you’ve got a political climate at the moment which is being glossed over…..it is as bad as the seventies and early eighties; it’s not just the country that’s in trouble, it’s a global thing, you know…..there’s certain messages can be…..I think you can get across and I think a lot of young kids are getting into the older bands and it doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re talking common sense you’re talking common sense, what you’ve got to say, you know, get involved in this because it’s gonna…..it’s gonna help people around you, that’s the pretty good message and if you’re saying ‘oh I’ll go and beat someone up and smash something up’ when you’re forty years old, get a life – that’s pointless…..no I suppose it’s each individual person and each band, I don’t think…..you’re all entitled to your opinion and if you wanna do that, do that, I don’t care, but….going back to Stiff Little Fingers – we played with them in Norwich and Bruce Foxton was playing bass for ‘em, and I liked The Jam, I thought they were a good band, and we had the what they call it – changing room – that room next to ‘em and I recall they were all in tracksuits warming up [laughing] so we nicked their beer – it wasn’t ours – we give’em it back and got drunk, I was,  disillusionment…….[dealing with dog] I’m going to have to lock him out, aren’t I. Lay down

     

    CW:

    He’s right. He’s only running round a bit.

     

    MJ”

    Lay down, lay down, lay down.

     

    CW:

    After that, after t’nineties we had two thousand, the new millennium.  By that point we’re way out of the Tory rule and we’re into the grips of Blairism really.  What stage in life were you in then?

     

    MJ:

    I was still in punk bands and TCR….to me I don’t look on it as Blair and Liberal-Labour.  There’ll all the same shit in different wrappers as far as I’m concerned.  I think it was my old man who said to me, ‘you’ve got to look at Government like a really really good table, sort of one that lasts for hundreds of years, supported by…..four strong legs – the Army, Navy, Secret Service, Police, whatever you want to call it then you’ve got a thick table, yeah….and then you’ve got a sheen on it and every so often that sheen gets worn down and you’re sick of it, so you take it off, underneath it’s still the same table…..until you destroy that table you’re never gonna get rid of it’ and that’s just how I’ve always felt.  I don’t care what you call yourself, I don’t care what they say to the public because what they say to the public, the public will hear, because the public’s too dumb to think, most of ‘em, so for me it’s…..I’ve no interest in them.  Blair was as bad as Thatcher, and will as bad as Cameron and whatever….they’re all the same……don’t like them.

     

    CW:

    Would you say then….you know when you got politicalised in that area and you were pretty much just an angry young punk really,

     

    MJ:

    Now, I’m an angry old man…

     

     CW:

    do you still think….has that angst stayed with you or has it mellowed, or are you just as angry as before?

     

    MJ:

    ……no I think I’m going into the political wing of Age Concern, as long as I can chuck a brick I’ll chuck one, but I’m as angry now – I think there’s more……the last thing that made me really angry, me and Sam went to New York for two weeks earlier this year and it’s a very very polished, beautiful city.  We’d done the Ground Zero thing which was…..when you think cos people died there but it’s been exploited for what it is…..then we went to get a drink one night and I wasn’t drinking at the time so we got two orange juices and a glass of wine, and it came to twenty-five dollars which is a lot of money.  We walked round the corner and there’s a…..walked round the corner and there was a…..people in firemans’ uniforms and nurses uniforms and families queuing up to get food handouts outside a park, Tompkins Square Park, cos Mayor Gullianno kicked all the homeless people out of in the early eighties, and I saw guys with….with their suitcases who’d finished work and gone to this park and lost their houses, and that was their home and I just thought to myself….it was heartbreaking and happening in every city, just…..the amount of guilt I felt for myself, going and spending that much money on three drinks and then walking round the corner and seeing just decent people, ordinary people having to queue up for food and sleep in parks when they’re working, and just over the road you’ve got people living in penthouses, and that to me has never struck right, and that goes on in every country, in every town, in every city, in every village, there’s always those who have more through screwing other people over, so….yeah I’m as angry now as I was then, if not worse – I just can’t run as fast

     

    CW:

    I’ll bring you back up to date then.  You’re currently in a band now – ‘Trauma Unit’ –

     

    MJ:

    Tuns Ukip, yeah, yeah [laughing]

     

    CW:

    How did that come about – how did you join that?  Who formed that?

     

    MJ:

    When I moved up here….the main thing about being up here, not only for it being a beautiful place, Hebden Bridge, the One in Twelve Club was in Bradford which is run on anarchist principles; it’s not just drinking, it’s got recording studios, printing places…..gig floor, a library, computer rooms that’s all been financed by us, so once you join it you own it, you’re part of it, and it’s up to different co-operatives in the place to keep it going, to keep it functioning, to put stuff on, to keep it……that’s what we’ve got, but it really inspired me, that fact that people weren’t doing stuff out of greed, they were doing it to help each other, which is…..you can put political messages in, whatever you want, but if your next door neighbour’s in trouble you help ‘em, you know, if your friend needs help you help ‘em, that’s….surely if everyone had done that and didn’t try to screw everyone over, not that it’s ever gonna happen…..the world would be a better place, you know, and for me it was a case of….getting involved.  I’ve been a member for about five years now, sort of pretty much every since I moved up to Hebden Bridge….there’s some good people there, there’s some arseholes there, but that’s the same all over, not saying it’s perfect but it’s happening to meet the right people at the right time and start a band…..and we’ve recorded two EPs there, both political, and I like that, but not preachy.  I think it was Crass who said – didn’t actually say it but it was done in a later interview – rather than give people opinions, you just bung loads of questions on to ‘em and it’s up to them to question what’s going on and make their own opinions on what’s happening…..because people….will go along with the status quo….they will, I’ve seen all the shit,  but they will go along with…..doing what they’re told and they actually said ‘why are you doing this?  Why are you fitting into this box?  You’re better than that.  You’re fitting into this box to make their people rich, who pay these people to keep you in line’ and that’s……what I’m angry about and that’s what the band is trying to say also, we’re all vegans, we’re very into the animal rights scene…..which again I suppose is…..it’s more an information network, I view music now, and punk is, I don’t really view it for the music.  I’d rather listen to raggae to be honest…..or……I dunno…..my ears can’t take it as much as they used to and I think of it’s a load of crap, just noise for noise sake, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just what people happen to be in to doesn’t make it right or wrong but it’s just not for me…..as a band at the moment we’re…..yeah we’re doing well, we’re supporting on Frank’s, can I advertise,  yeah we’ve got various bands, various gigs all over the country…..we’ve got a drummer from Brazil, Diana she obviously has to go back six months of the year, we’ve got a friend Trev, who drummed for a band called Active Slaughter, so he’s now drumming for us and it’s working out quite nicely…..

     

    CW:

    Okay.  Looking through all your years involved with music, listening to music and obviously growing up through all the stages of it, if you had to pick one song as the soundtrack of your life……which would it be?

     

    MJ:

    You bastard [laughing]….I don’t know

     

    CW:

     I’ve had that loaded for about an hour.

     

    MJ:

    I don’t really know mate – I could pick an album or two – I don’t think I could put it down to a song

     

    CW:

    Well a couple of albums then

     

    MJ:

    For me, Feeding the Five Thousand which is essentially a twelve inch but it’s Crass – it’s got to be Never Mind the Bollocks by The Pistols and The Clash and The Damned and Stiff Little Fingers and Discharge and Napalm Death and `UK Subs and Kron Gen, and it could go on forever, I think it also depends what sort of mood you’re in.  I think cos I own about fifteen different copies of Never Mind the Bollocks that would be one of the main ones…..my favourite bit of music is Gorecki’s ‘Song Full of Sorrow,’, – it’s classical and opera – that’s what I’d take to a desert island with me,  because it’s beautiful.

     

    CW:

    Over t’years now, well ever since punk started we’ve seen the deaths of so many people, I mean from Sid Vicious through to Malcolm Qwen through to Stuart Adamson through to Stig, stuff like that….through to Joe Strummer, through to…..Poly Styrene just the other week, any of these bands you wish you could have seen one more time?

     

    MJ:

    I saw the Ramones – I saw The Clash…I never saw The Dead Boys with Stiff Baydiss – I’m a big Dead Boys fan……I’d love to have seen Generation X with Poly Styrene

     

    CW:

    Was she with them, ‘Generation X’?

     

    MJ:

    Sorry, X-Ray Specs - rewind…..yeah so I’d love to have seen them when they played The Roundhouse – I assume she knew what was going on inside her body – that was why she played – and I said ‘oh I’ll go and see her next time’ – I did the same for Joe Strummer as well – he played Norwich – Norwich Uni and I said ‘I’ll catch him next time and he passed away,  but that’s life……

     

    CW:

    Any regrets?

     

    MJ:

    …..oh fuck it [laughing]

     

    CW:

    Well you’ve done so well without t’swearing through most of it

     

    MJ:

    It was there – it was gonna come out, it was gonna come out some time!  No, I’ve got no regrets…..if you’ve got regrets in your life – they are certain things that I’ve done which I’m not proud of, but I’ve done them and it’s turned me into the person that I am

     

    CW:

    Would you do it all again then?

     

    MJ:

    Yeah, too right, yeah…..yeah, I’ve done….I do miss the chaos 

     

    CW:

    Anything you want to add, any messages?

     

    MJ:

    No..buy our album!

     

    CW:

    Well thanks for your time Martin

     

    MJ:

    Thank you very much.  Can we hand to our Tony now?

     

    [END OF TRACK ONE]

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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Ally Wood

    View photos and materials supplied by Ally.

     

    INTERVIEWER:

    I’m Cayn White. I’m here with Ally Wood who’s a local performer with various bands and theatre groups.  Ally moved here in 1983 which I’ll get on to later on, but before that you were touring with various theatre groups.  How did you get into theatre work and what inspired you to…well, to do theatre work?

    ALLY WOOD:

    When I was a teenager, my aunt was involved in a group and I used to go and stay with her, and it was amazing to me to see adults working really hard on something that they really believed in what they were doing, and I thought it was great, it was exciting, cos at that time I was disillusioned with everything you know, I thought everything was hypocritical and it was punk time, and….yeah that’s it really, seeing people working hard – adults doing something interesting and not rubbish.

    What was touring with the theatre groups like?

    Well it’s interesting cos you’re with a gang, you know, you’re with one gang of people, a group of people, and you’re moving into a new place, you’re putting your tents up, getting your caravan and….you never know who you’re gonna meet, and what kind of place it’s going to be like.  It’s great being in a gang….and it was really exciting, and making things – often they were site specific shows that we were doing as well so we were going out to the scrapyards and…..to get stuff to make things with, playing music round the bonfires, it was really good [laughing].

    As you just said, in theatre groups it were like a gang.  Was there any internal conflict or was it just one big happy family?

    No there’s always…I think when you get people who care about things, who care about what they’re doing, it’s inevitable that you’re gonna get people falling out about it isn’t it?  And also it’s interesting learning how to work together, and I think that’s been one of the most interesting things – how to get a group of people to work together, communicate together and play music together, and that was a good way to see it cos you’re not in a hierarchy, you’ve never done it before, there’s no rules of what to do, you know, you’ve got to make it up as you go along and every different situation’s a new situation so you’ve got to work it out for yourselves so it’s really exciting – how to get the best out of people.  The other great thing about the theatre was that you’d go to a place, slowly get the ideas for a show, everyone would get their ideas, start working towards it, gradually the pace would pick up until you get to the deadline and everyone would be working really hard and really late, do the show, then everyone was ready for the party at the same time to let off steam, and I really miss that in everyday life now – you know, everyone’s at different rhythms aren’t they?  Some people are working one day, some people a day off, and I think that’s a shame, that we’re not all ready to let off steam at the same time.

    With all the touring and stuff, how did you come to settle in over here?

    Well how we came here, wherever we were we wanted to find a ruin cos we hadn’t got any money, and we just happened to find this in Exchange and Mart and when we got to this valley, came up through the woods and there were lots of empty properties at that time, and we just thought it was brilliant, and as soon as we got here we met other people, like-minded people you know, interested doing stuff and it’s been great.

    You’re currently appearing in a show band at the moment called ‘The Ski Band’ who were originally formed around the year 2000.  Am I correct in thinking these were just a band you have to try and go on holiday with basically?

    Well that’s how it started.  It was from two other working bands, people who were friends, and we just picked the people who we thought would be more fun, you know on steep ice slopes and – cos ski-ing’s quite scary and we just thought the people who would be more fun there and…cos you never know where you’re gonna be playing, so the band started to go on holiday with and gradually we thought – I think it was something to do with the process as well because…because we picked it to go on holiday and people would come and say ‘shall we do this, shall we do this, shall we do that tune, shall we do that tune’ and everyone just said ‘yeah yeah, go on’ cos we wanted to get a band quick to go on holiday with, and after a while we realised that that’s the best way of getting a band together because there was no-one saying ‘oh no wait a minute – that’s not right’ and it was a good attitude to play with, so we started getting gigs in England, working in England afterwards but that spirit still stayed with us I think, of….’yeah let’s try it’

    And to me a show band seems more like a more unique concert than a normal band, more normal conventional band.  How would you describe a show band?

    I think because we want to make a show, we dress up, we want to have fun, we want to go out and communicate to the people and let them have a good time or whatever the occasion, you know, enhance the occasion, and we’re not really a cool band – although I think we are of course really cool – and also because we are working and we need to make our money and that’s where you make the money, by going and fitting in to other situations, but I do believe in playing in the street and going out and playing on the streets you know, we’ve played outside of a lot of major events [laughing] but I do think that’s a good thing to do because you know when you go and play in the pubs and the clubs and sometimes you can end up just being in the background which is great as well, but when you’re outside on the street and people are just walking about their everyday business, and if you can then get them to stop and have a little dance or have a snuggle with their boy or something, you know I believe in that.  I think if more people stopped and danced every day it would be better.

    Playing in the streets and obviously various ski resorts, there must be some gig stories there, some memories there which you would be willing to share with us?

    Oh well – one time we did get taken up to the top of a mountain in the rescue helicopter, in the air rescue helicopter and we all piled into this tiny little helicopter which had like a bulbous glass front and they stashed all the instruments underneath, where the bodies usually go, and we went up – they took us up on to the top of the mountain where you could ski to, and there was a little hut there where the rescue people stayed as well, and it was over lunch time which was about the hour and a half where it was warm enough to play, and we played there.  They got some ferocious liquid out in tiny little glasses and gave it to us to give us more energy – Daz the tuba player nearly got blown off the edge.  It was so cold his valves froze up, and…..anyway so we had a good sort of half hour play and went and retired into their hut while the helicopter got fired up again, and we thought ‘it’s taking a bit of a long time’ and…then….I think did we…we actually got into the helicopter and we heard the guy starting to swear in French and we couldn’t really understand what was going on, and then we all had to get out of the helicopter again because it wouldn’t start, and so we were waiting up in this hut and gradually it got cold really quickly – it suddenly gets cold after about four o’clock, and we really – we were wondering what was gonna happen and he was cross because he was gonna be in real trouble with the helicopter stuck up there overnight you know, what had been a bit of jolly joke, anyway in the end a ski pister machine made its way up to the top of the hill and they jump started the helicopter, so we got in quickly in a bit of a rush, and the guy set off straight over the hill, straight down like that and started coasting the ridge so were like aaaaagh [screaming] and after a while we realised that he was just having a laugh with us – it had been tense to get it started, you know you think ‘what happens if it, if it – what’s that word when the engine seizes – stalls – but he was perfectly fine and he was just doing it to scare us, coasting the ridges over on the way home, and he was a proper hero actually that pilot.  He’d worked all over the world on rigs, in South Africa, all over places, but the sad end of that story is that the next year we came and he’d been killed on a rescue, you know going out in a, in a storm and with a co-pilot.  He’d said ‘no, we’re gonna go, it’s too dangerous’ and then the other guy said ‘yes we have to go’ and they were killed, so ….another story I was really….there was one time we set off to go and play in a massive CND march…it was one of the biggest ones in London, I can’t remember the date, and we put our best clothes on, and of course we got jammed up in all the traffic so we couldn’t get there, so there was just two of us – double bass and accordion, and we were racing to try and find it and it started surging towards us down – we were somewhere in the middle of London – so we just stopped by the side of the road and I think we played to two hundred thousand people that day, but it was brilliant just seeing people walking – tired you know, fed up, need a pee, and just giving a bit of a break to them when they say these two nutters standing there playing with their best frock on.

    You once played in a band called ‘The Peace Artists’

    Yeah.

    Which featured a lot of demonstrations you – well played in a lot of demonstrations.  What was the atmosphere like there cos I understand you did the Poll Tax march in Halifax as well.  What was the atmosphere back then like..at the marches?

    Well……..I think when you go to a thing like that to play, there is always a special atmosphere because all those people have just turned up, you know they’ve put aside whatever it was they were gonna do that day and they care enough about something to go and give time and, you know it’s a slightly different energy cos you can talk to people and you meet people and you know it moves your heart really, and…but I do remember walking up that main road at the front of the parade and yeah…you feel pleased, glad you’re alive really and…glad to be part of….other people feel the same as you do, and it’s good, you know, people like it, we get a lot of people…music…moves people.

    ‘The Peace Artists’ to me, they seemed more politically aware than most groups.  Would you say in fact you’re still politically motivated or have your views changed over the years?

     Oh that’s a difficult one.  I think it’s hard that all you get…and you see that things don’t change, also you see the things that you read about when you were young in the little alternative papers and coming out and being in the mainstream now, but still what happens, you know?  Nothing happens, nothing can be changed, you’re always out-witted by the…the…well the governments have got all the money and they’ve got the men with sticks and guns basically when it comes down to it, and it’s hard to know what you can do and to not be dis-spirited; I imagine a lot of people feel the same, but….I know when I was young, I remember when we went out on all the parades and I’d think ‘well why isn’t everybody coming out, what’s everybody doing, why are they all at home, and now I’m one of the everybody that doesn’t come out and I’ve got to say that’s often cos I’m working, my one working day is a Saturday you know, when we’re going out playing with the band but I don’t know the answer, that’s a difficult question – I’ll think about it tomorrow, and..it’s a battle isn’t it between hope and despair?  I suppose everybody’s got the same battle and some…you can’t be in it all the time, sometimes you have to switch off don’t you and charge your batteries, and also if the answer was easy, we would surely have found it out by now you know – I mean all the people by that, you know.  But yeah, a lot of things are better aren’t they?  A lot of things we were trying to change then now have become ordinary you know, about…. Greenpeace is quite respectable these days isn’t it and I think the next generations that come up now are so much more aware than we were and that’s fantastic, you know there’s always new energy bubbling up and…so that’s great, that’s hopeful.

    You’ve done your fair share of all marches then with ‘The Peace Artists’ including the aforementioned Poll Tax march, CND  marches, Greenpeace ones, has there ever been…have you ever had to choose between two marches from which to perform?

    Can’t remember.

    And have you stood by each march you’ve done – have you stood by it or have you gone back a few years later and gone ‘oh I wish I didn’t do that’ or have you stood by each decision you’ve made?

    No I don’t think I’ve ever regretted going on a march and some of those experiences have…you know they touch you and they change you, it’s when you come out of the confines of what you’ve been brought up – your school and work and everything and you see what people are really like – no I don’t regret doing any of those things.  Although we did inadvertently end up playing, getting booked for a family day at a factory and it was a Rolls Royce factory and…this wasn’t ‘The Peace Artists’ – I’m not blaspheming for them – and it was a family day for Rolls Royce who make engines for…you know their fighter planes and we got down there and we set up at five o’clock in the morning and all the band didn’t know what it was for, and when we got there at eight o’clock that was a real dilemma of just saying ‘no I’m not doing this, no way’ and leave your band members’ friends in the shit cos you’re walking out and they can’t do the job, or whether to stay and do it, and…and I wish I hadn’t done that, we did do it and they said ‘well it’s a family day’ cos that’s a bit of a dilemma isn’t it – do you want to go and play music for those people and…that was always the thing about anti-apartheid wasn’t it – saying you should go and play in those places cos that’s the way that you can change people’s minds….but anyway we did the gig – I think it was probably because I was so tired – we were all so tired, but it was a horrible gig and it was a horrible place and I never want to go there again!

    Over the years you’ve played in various bands, obviously ‘The Peace Artists’ , you’ve also played with ‘The Outer Zeds’ , ‘The Real Macaws’, you were also in…’The Last Chance Saloon Bar Band’ – is there any specific instrument you’ve played with all of them or do you change instruments with each band?

    I play trombone and piano accordion, about pretty even really both of those two.  I got the accordion from a junk shop when I…when I went to the theatre group when I was a teenager and saw someone else playing accordion and I just thought it was fantastic and as soon as I picked it up I kept wanting to play it and play it and play it, and then I went and got one from a junk shop and then I…went busking, that’s what I did, I went to Leeds cos I thought I wouldn’t know anybody there, and…just went busking and that was a terrifying thing, the first time I ever did that, but I did a lot of busking and it’s a good way to…it’s a good way to learn which tunes people like and you get the feel of the acoustic you know, of what the sound sounds like as it’s going off down the road or up the corridor, and I used to play in London, and done Marble Arch---Marble Arch roundabout thingy down there – I went back recently and it’s blocked off now, you can’t walk that way.  I remember one time – I used to play with a dwarf and a bloke with no legs and it was a fantastic combination you know, because I had a pretty cotton dress on and played the accordion – we made a lot of money.

    With busking, in different towns and cities, people are gonna be not as susceptible to it as others...

    No it’s respectable.

    Susceptible, so some people who….hard to ask this…sometimes you busk and people absolutely love you and other times they won’t, they just pretend you’re not there

    Yeah definitely.

    Have your bad experiences outweighed the good experiences or was it vice versa?

    Well a lot of it’s what you choose to remember at the end of the day isn’t?  But it still happens now – yesterday we played, some people stop, they’re just ready for a laugh.  Often I think women are ready for a laugh and blokes are harder aren’t they?  They can’t be seen to look stupid, and they don’t know how to react and…but I suppose that’s why our band is quite robust you know and blokey I suppose and….that still happens, people will walk past, you know five people playing loud – they walk straight past, ‘I’m not gonna look, I’m not gonna look’ and that’s a shame isn’t it?  But yes, mostly, mostly a good reaction and if you get a bad reaction too much that means you’ve got to change what you’re doing quick.

    At one point you played in a group called ‘The Outer Zeds’ – how did that come about, playing with them?

    I had friends – they’ve played in this valley for years, ‘The Outer Zeds’ – what a great band!  And... yeah, I don’t know, I can’t remember who the horn player was before me, but the trombone player left so I went and tried out with them and it was great fun, we used to go and rehearse in the bass player’s workshop which was probably only about fifteen foot square and the noise in there was terrible, but because I was the only woman I couldn’t – I didn’t dare to say ‘could you turn it down please?’ and then after a while I found out that they were all deaf anyway, so…yeah it was a great band, and we played some great gigs with them – lovely weddings, lovely parties, and you never know what’s gonna happen with ‘The Outer Zeds’ but you can always know that you’re gonna have a good time.

    They were actually one of the first bands in Hebden I watched were them. You eventually left the Outer Zeds.

    Yeah.

    How come?

    Because…the other band, ‘The Ski Band’, started getting really busy and…and I just couldn’t do everything really, and…you’ve gotta get your money haven’t you, and the other band, I loved the other band too, but it’s always like that self-employed musician isn’t it, you never know which band’s gonna take off and which band’s not going to so you’re always juggling I think between different groups, but I still dep for ‘Zeds’ now you know, when they’re a horn short I’ll go and play with them and I’m really proud of the stuff that I’ve done with them you know, on their CD and that.  And they’ve…they had their twenty year party this summer or was it twenty-five years?

    Twenty-five.

    And such a great collection of people turned up, it was fantastic, and the audience and everything, it was like a proper big family and an audience of kids were there and….it was good.  You’ve got to practice having a good time in this life, you’ve got to practice dancing and singing and jumping around, but you forget how to do it otherwise don’t you, you forget how to do it and you just stay at home and watch telly and…numb out.

    You’re also in a band called ‘The Real Macaws’

    Yeah.

    Could you tell us about that?    

    That’s a seven-piece….well actually it’s a six-piece now, again with horns, sousaphone, bass, drums, we play Latin American, African, half the tunes are original and half the tunes are transposed from….probably from strange things – African bands and that, and…no singing – sorry I know you’re a wordsmith aren’t you?  So the soloists have to take the vocals and I think you have to work twice as hard to make it interesting with with…the story of the tunes, but again, great – we’ve played all over the place, we’ve played a few folk festivals – Shetland Folk Festival, Towersey Folk Festival, Sidmouth and….I don’t…you know we’re not a folk band but I suppose it’s cos we play real instruments and also that’s the actual sound that those instruments make you know, we don’t need a PA for that as well, so we can be mobile and walk around and it’s great, people really like it and again cos it’s improvising, there’s a certain structure to it so when you get to the heads or the tunes, you can all pile in with a lot of gusto and dance but the fact that there’s soloing and improvising means you never really know what’s gonna happen and that’s what keeps it interesting for us, you’re always listening to each other, see what idea’s kicking off over there and then join in and…

    Musically, who would you say were your main influences?

    Well I really…I listened to a lot of reggae when I was growing and I suppose Bob Marley was…I’ve really grown up with him as well, but a lot of dub and punk, I grew up with that, that’s quite an interesting combination of energy but space and rhythm, and now I listen to a lot of – I love Cajun music, I love dance music –Michael Hurley is someone I listen to a lot, American guy and Latin American.  I find it hard to listen to music in the background now.  You can’t have it in the background can you?  Your mind just engages with it

    As well as ‘The Ski Band’ you are also in a cowboy based band which you formed this year called ‘The Last Chance Saloon Band’ – how did you come about forming them?

    A gang of friends who all seemed to have a very similar idea and it all just came to fruition at the same time.  There are other people who were self-employed musicians or theatre people, so it’s a good gang and we got offered four gigs with ‘The Cabaret Heaven’ which is a…someone who runs a stand-up comedian show, a stand-up show, so that’s sort of what kicked it off, the four gigs, but we took to it like ducks to water and…just…it’s the idea I think of having like barn dances but…not too inhibited and neat, and more…ordinary people like us would want to go to, where you felt you could have a laugh and do a bit of free dance but couple dancing and…all that swirling about bit, so….and it’s been great, people seem to really like it so far so I don’t know if we’ll carry on and develop it further, but I hope so, and again it’s another way of getting people to…you know relax and have a laugh and have a dance and I think…sometimes you think Englishmen….no I want to stop and start again with that phrase [laughing]…Englishmen – they don’t find it easy to dance I’ve found, I don’t know why but in other countries you know, dancing is a badge of honour and it’s very….  man if you can dance good, but I don’t know why, it’s a shame it’s not so always in this country so there you are, that’ll be a happy thing, and with a bit of called dancing it’s easier for the blokes to get up, getting told what to do, although some people I know take it as you know a competitive sport and see who can barge the other ones out of the way, it’s not necessarily….what it’s supposed to be but…

    I’m gonna bring a question out of the blue now, but before this interview, speaking loosely about music and you described as emotional easing fluids, would you be able to explain that concept…of that idea?

    Emotional easing fluid…..yeah because…yeah well…because I’ve not had a musical training really, I’ve always learnt by ear and learnt from theatre, from putting a musical angle or a sound angle from the theatre that you’re making, and the theatre is all about getting people to feel I think, getting people to…to move people, so that’s how I’ve come in from it, and then I’ve met a lot of people, musicians who’ve been through college and they’re fantastic players and sometimes…but they don’t know why they’re doing it, and what they’re doing it for, and now at my great age I think you notice that when you’re playing sometimes and when people are listening, it’s when you let the world go, you know all your troubles…just sink them and you come back to that very thing of being yourself here and now…and…so that’s what I mean by musical – music is like emotional easing fluid, it helps you open up and cry if you’ve gotta cry, and…and laugh and dance and celebrate being alive cos it is the time of our life and…it’s…you don’t wanna be bogged down in all the troubles which are there to get you aren’t they?  So yes, that’s what I mean – that’s a phrase that just came to me and…..I think it makes you feel healthier and happier if you can play or listen and…well it’s always traditional isn’t it to have music when people come together…at births or you know in church, that’s when in the olden days people used to come together and have music and singing, and now the whole, the God thing, sort of…we’ve…we’ve thrown it all away but maybe the important thing was always the fact of people coming together and listening, and someone would tell a bit of a story and we’d all be thinking about what it meant quietly you know, not rushing around doing anything, just..thinking and….and that, so I think that I believe, I think I believe that a part of my job is to keep that culture alive, where people do get together and listen, play, story-telling, poets, you know, a lot of songs are stories, and I think that’s what keeps the culture healthy, it is that very thing of people getting together, leaving their everyday lives behind and…you know having a bit of time out and….juggling about all their innards and their emotions and feeling okay again, yeah there you are – that’s the end.

    What’s next on the horizon for you?

    Ooh…

    Do you have any future plans?

    Well that’s one thing about self-employed musicians, you never really know what’s gonna happen and I think when I got to about forty, I stopped worrying so much and just thought ‘well I’ve made it till now, so probably something will happen’ but especially this time of year, you know you get to after Christmas,  you just don’t know what’s gonna happen you know, I might have three gigs in the book, so….I hope….I hope, ah (laughs)– do you know what you’re gonna be doing next year???  You’re gonna have a fantastic band and….keep playing better, playing better all the time.

    To end with, you’ve….done loads of stuff – you’ve done theatre work, you’ve been in show bands, other groups, you’ve done protest marches, demonstration, the lot.  If there’s one message you could give people listening today, what would that message be?

    That’s a bugger of a question mate!  One message!  [laughing] Drink heavily!  No that absolutely was a joke!  Keep dancing – gotta be that hasn’t it?

    Just like to say thanks for answering the questions.

     Okay – if it will make any sense whatsoever.  Nice to meet you.

    You too.

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About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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