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  • 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: Cayn White

    EVA:

    Hello, I’m Eva and I’m interviewing Cayn White who’s a punk poet in Hebden Bridge.  So Cayn, when did you first get into poetry?

    CAYN WHITE:

    First been into poetry since…I don’t know, since…I were about twelve to begin with just from school and poets such as Simon Armitage, and then got into punk poetry which I’m doing now about five year ago and started performing on the 10th of September 2005.

    So who would you say is your main influence?

    In performance poetry it would have to be people like John Cooper Clark, Attilla the Stockbroker and Nick Toscak, who pretty much – I already knew what I wanted to do with poetry. Nick and Attilla showed me how to go about doing it.

    So when it comes to your poetry, what would you say is your main subject matter?

    Main subject matter is really just from weirdness of life really cos I do various different subjects – ‘I Dated A Psychopath’ or ‘Biscuit Falling Into t’Tea’ or ‘Spunk In An Ex-girlfriend’s Tea’ all that type of stuff.  Even if they don’t seem to be connected, they just pretty much explain how strange and surreal life can actually be and it is basically connected to the real world which is summat I don’t think most poets do any more.

    What would you consider a good poem from life?

    A good poem – it’s got to be simple, it can’t be summat what..it’s got to relate to you for a start, it can’t be any of this ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ crap to be honest, it’s got to be summat you can relate to your own life, but actually can better the action and pretty much just keep it simple.  Don’t use words that someone’s gonna reach for a dictionary cos gonna lose interest, so it’s just got to be simple and easy to relate to.

    How do you go about writing a poem?  Would you say there are rules?

    Again the main rule is just to keep it simple, make sure you know exactly what you’re talking about, and just try and enjoy it, enjoy writing it, cos if you’re gonna do a poem what you don’t enjoy, say you don’t like the subject matter, you’re not really gonna get owt out of it if it comes round to performing, so that’s pretty much the rule – keep it simple and know the subject.

    Do you say that your poems have to rhyme?

    No, not at all.  Certain poems do and it can add – cos it adds to the rhythm, but other great poems what don’t – I’ve done a poem like ‘A Glimpse of God’ – that don’t rhyme, it just tells a story and that’s much more effective than poems like ‘Biscuits’ that do rhyme.

    What is a punk poet?

    Just a word really, it’s basically, well the punk scene started out who all got big in about seventy-six, seventy-seven, and not] just bands and musicians like it is now, it involved everything, it were just one big sub-culture so you had your musicians and your bands, there were also like your comedians, poets, and it were just all classed as one thing, so it’s just basically a poet what’s out for moments just stuck in the past.

    I’ve heard one of your most well-known poems, which is the ‘Biscuit’ poem.  What’s that based on?

    ‘Biscuits’?  Well what happened was…2005, in July one of me mates passed away and I did this stupid thing where, I think it were cos of the shock of it all really, I were in mourning, so I just stopped eating and drinking, I mean I were nineteen at that time so the death of me mate hit me pretty hard and at one point I thought ‘well I’ve got to eat and drink summat’ and so I were dunking this biscuit into me cup of tea, it would have been about three o’clock in t’morning or summat daft, and as I were doing it the biscuit snapped off and fell into the drink.  I thought ‘well I have to try getting it out’ so I focused on me energy as I’m trying to fish bits of me biscuit out, and while I were working on that, I pretty much forgot everything else what were going on, so I kind of made the joke that the most important thing in the world, instead of death and also that cack, is actually when your biscuit falls into your tea, so it’s basically what happens there and then can be more important than summat that’s happened since a month or a week.

    Do you get sick of people always requesting the ‘biscuit’ poem?

    I wouldn’t say I get sick of people requesting it cos it means that they know the poem and they enjoy it, so the fact that they come asking for the poem, it is a flattering thing.  I would say however that I do get sick of performing the ‘biscuit’ poem night in night out because I wann try other stuff, and it seems to be if I do a serious set which I’ve done before, it does seem a bit stupid to end on a note about biscuits falling into cups of tea, and it can diminish your set.

    What’s your favourite poem to perform?

    By me or by other people?

    One of your own.

    At the moment I’ve got one which I’ve just wrote called ‘Boring Poetry Night’ which is pretty much being stuck in a boring poetry night, and I performed it a couple of times and so-called real poets tend to hate me for it because it’s…it’s my views and apparently it slags them off, so I enjoy performing that because it gets a decent reaction, mainly an angry one, but still a reaction, and ‘A Glimpse of God’ because no-one expects that type of poem from me, especially that type of death, and now whenever I perform it you can just hear the entire room go completely quiet.  This different atmosphere just appears.  I think if you can do that with just one poem then you’re on to summat.

    Do you have any musical background?

    I’ve got background where I play stuff that you won’t usually consider music.  I’m currently in a band called ‘The Dole Dossers’ and another one where I play bass for a group called ‘The Liberators’ .  I do backing vocals for a bit of a side project, which is a folk band called ‘Folk In Shite,’ so that’s pretty much my background to date, and I’ve done a few gigs with ‘The Dole Dossers’ – we actually came second in a Battle of Bands contest which were a bit amazing, and ‘The Liberators’ are just getting ready to do a couple of gigs in January.

    Are you the first in your family to be involved in poetry?

    No.  The first one and the only one I’m aware of to be honest were me mam.  She did some stuff which got published, I think it were one of the Penguin books anthologies years ago, and she did summat in a local punk fanzine in 1979 which I can’t remember t’name of, but she did a poem in that which were just having a go at mods. I’ve seen a copy of the poem – she certainly wasn’t the best poet in the world but it’s a basis for inspiration if I ever need it, so I think that makes me a secondary generation to be honest.

    Have you ever done any gigs with any big names?

    Too many.  I’ve done John Cooper Clark last October in front of four hundred at the Carling Academy in Newcastle.  The first ever gig was ‘Supporting ‘Attila the Stockbroker’ but the less said about that one the better.  I’ve mostly supported people like Nick Toscak, Sham 69, Anti-Nowhere League, ‘Sub-Humans’, ‘Conflict’ – it’s endless to be honest.

    What would you say was your most interesting gig experience?

    Not the first one – the first one were an eye-opener because I just thought ‘yeah, punk poet, easy – anyone can do it, in fact I don’t even need me notes for this poem and I can get drunk beforehand’ which unfortunately in the real world, that don’t work because I forgot me notes, well I forgot my words, I got stage fright half way through me poem and on me way home I got beat up, so that were my first major experience.  Others have either been…well I think every gig can be an experience; either the people you are talking to or stupid things like getting arrested after a gig, so every gig can have its experiences given the right price.

    How do you remember all the words?

    I just…cos I don’t have time to practice when I’m at home, I just – like I go to open mike nights or me own gigs and initially I read from the paper and eventually after a couple of nights the poem will sort of get stuck in me head.  It’s not a tried and tested method that I use, it’s just write it down and hopefully it sticks.

    So how would you go about preparing for a gig?

    Mainly I’ve learned is when preparing always carry your poems with you, so if you are stupid and really drunk and forget your words you’ve got them in front of you.  It depends on the venue and the crowd, so if it’s strictly a poetry crowd I kind of prepare in a different way sorting out me set list.  If it’s just a punk rock gig where not many people are gonna listen anyway, I can be a bit more rude so I’m not as nervous about that; have a few beers, sort out a quick set list and just get on with it.

    Have you played with all of your heroes?

    Nearly all of them, yeah.  In the punk scene definitely nearly.  Wouldn’t mind playing with….wouldn’t mind doing gigs with bands like ‘Stiff Little Fingers’ the main punk band what’s influenced me, but whether that happens or not is a different thing.

    Have you been published?

    Just self-published.  Me first book came out ‘Drunk and Incapable’ earlier this year which sold out all hundred copies within a month, and I got published by…in an anthology ages ago which I don’t like advertising because it basically ripped off poets anyway, and Channel 4 Teletext got hold of one of me poems as well.

    Is the ‘biscuit’ poem in this book of yours?

    Well I had help with the book, to get it printed and stuff, and the person said she’d only actually pay for it for me if two poems were in.  One were ‘Glimpse of God’ which I didn’t mind being included and the other were ‘Biscuit’ poem, which I spent about a week refusing to put the poem in the book because I think it’s just summat what – I prefer poems like that to be shouted out on stage rather than be read by someone in an armchair.

    What advice would you give to up and coming poets?

    Quit! [laughing]  No…learn your stuff, don’t get too stupidly drunk, don’t be afraid of being big-headed at times.  If you’re getting into something like that and you’re going to be on your own on stage with sometimes anything between five people and four hundred people watching you, over confidence can be a good thing, you do need self-belief cos if you don’t believe in yourself no-one else is gonna believe in you, so you do have to get up there and you do have to know you can do it.  Don’t be afraid of getting nervous, but just know –  know that you can get up there and do it, just have a laugh with it, don’t take it too seriously and don’t take yourself too seriously.

    What would you say is the future for Cayn White?

    Pretty much the same as for the past few years really.  More gigs, got a new book coming out in t’New Year – ‘Same Shit Different Cover’ and a second documentary’s been done where we’re getting interviews with people like John Rob from Goldraid and John Cooper Clark and Attila, all lined up for interviews.  Got the  CD ‘Menace To Variety, that’s coming out and a three month tour from January, well four month tour from January to April which is currently getting booked.

    How would you like to be remembered, and would this include ‘biscuits’?

    Well what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna get remembered for ‘biscuits’ whether I like the poem or not.  As to how I’d like to be remembered…don’t know, probably just as a punk poet that did his own twist on it really, but definitely not just for ‘biscuits’ and definitely not for some of the more embarrassing stories!

    Have you always lived in the valley?

    Yeah, I were born and bred in Luddendenfoot which were about four miles from here, and before moving into Hebden itself earlier this year. There isn’t really any reason why I’d want to leave, I’ve got quite a lot of friends, my family’s here, well not here but further up the road and I’ve pretty much everything I want.  It’s either in Hebden or Luddfoot to be honest.

    Did the local area influence any of your work?

    No…no, not initially and probably not obviously, but I think it depends really.  If I lived somewhere like Manchester my style might be a bit different, but I can’t really honestly say if it’s been a big influence or not.

    Can you make a living from being a punk poet?

    I’m going to hope I can at some point. Some people do – John Cooper Clark does through basically being the first real punk poet and charging a blooming fortune for gigs, when he decided to show up. Attila and Nick Toscak, they both make livings from it.  I think to be a punk poet – because you’re not just a normal poet, you’ve got – it’s more of an edge to it, so some people are willing to bend over backwards booking you, others won’t. Nick Toscak can do tours over in Thailand just from being a punk rock poet.  Because I’m stuck in England at the moment I can only do what gigs are offered to me for however much, so to make a living for me it would have to incur a lot more hard work.

    How do you make ends meet now?

    Signing on. To put it mildly, it’s t’first time since I’ve received or asked for any benefits at all, and so that were a bit of a shock to t’system, and realised I needed Government handouts to survive, but apart from that and obviously a bit of money I do make from performing, it’s pretty much just signing on.

    It must be quite frustrating.

    It is, because knowing I can go on to better things and I can do better.  I also know if I got my finger out a bit more and did more gigs, if it’s physically possible to do more gigs, I could make maybe not a comfortable living, but I could make some form of – I could survive on a day-to-day basis.

    Do you find all your own gigs?

    Pretty much yeah.  When I first started it were a case of just asking other people and begging other bands and other poets for gigs, and these days I can do a gig – I recently did a gig up in Rawtenstall and I got a few extra gigs from it, and so other people are now watching me and thinking ‘oh he’s good, he know what he’s doing, he can do it, we’ll book him for our gig’ and because of that and because of the documentary that came out, other people are booking me all over t’north of England at the moment so

    Documentary?

    Yeah.  It were a weird one.  I performed at a poetry night which were round at someone’s house and there was a Sheffield University student there called Pamela Eddington, and she’d just been co-producing a film over in Sheffield called ‘The Beat is the Law’ which is worth checking out, and she wanted to do a documentary about me, so a couple of months back we ended up – I ended up having every gig for the space of a month, filmed and before and after gigging, having to give interviews and it was pretty stressful, but we persevered with it and it got shown at the Odeon cinema down in Sheffield and it seemed to go down pretty well and a sequence has been done for the New Year,

    Is it on You Tube at all?

    No.  We decided that we don’t want it on You Tube because we’ve still got a bit more editing to do to make it better, which I think if you an always make summat better there’s no point presenting it to the public because you’re ripping them off in a way, and so we’re gonna try and make it as best as we possibly can then just try and give it more of a general release.

    How can we find out more about you?

    Just ask in any pub really…., or pretty much just check me…just e-mail me and I’ll put you on the mailing list of gigs.

    What’s your outlook on life?

    …[laughing] that’s a bit loaded!  Outlook on life – don’t particularly have one, I just take every day as it comes and just hope for t’best, when I go to bed, everything’s still gonna be okay in t’morning.  Not very profound to say I’m a poet, but there you go.

    Do you ever get writer’s block?

    Ye, pretty much all t’time.  I can write probably between two to five decent poems or songs and then…I won’t be able to write owt for a couple of months, but in them couple of months I normally don’t have time to write anyway because I’m gigging.

    Lots of punk poets are political.  Are you?

    Not as such.  I used to be.  In t’first couple of years of performing I used to be very political, to t’point where I used to be head to head with certain political groups and I kind of decided that through my performances I wanted an escape, because I mean politics affects every walk of life.  I wanna escape that walk of life, even if it’s just an hour a night where I’m offering someone summat different, and I thought the whole politics in punk poetry, that seemed to be like an unwritten rule where people thought you had to be political to do punk poetry, and I just wanted to break that barrier and just give them another side of it.

    Do you read a lot?

    Not as much as I used to.  I read…I pretty much don’t read any poetry since I started writing it myself.  Books, I normally read a bit of fiction but mainly music books, like books about ‘The Clash’ and Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthie, basically books about performers rather than books by performers.

    The papers?

    I can’t…no…not many, probably just the free one on the train cos I can’t really afford the daily ones, and also I can’t really trust what I read a lot of the time.  I mean I used to see people reading stuff like ‘The Sun’ or ‘The Daily Mail’ or ‘The Daily Star’ or ‘The Times’ and taking every little line as gospel and I really..if I buy a paper it’s gonna be for t’football results and t’little comic strips, I can’t really take what they say in the news as gospel and I really can’t take it seriously these days.

    So could you tell us any gig stories?

    Pretty much I did the gig in Newcastle with John Cooper-Clarke and he turned up a bit late so he missed me first set, which was probably just as well cos I nicked one of his poems anyway, and during one of me poems I did one called ‘I Dated A Psycopath’ and on stage I move around a lot, and then on the stage at Newcastle they had this stupid rug which wasn’t on the floor properly so I tripped over in front of four hundred people, I fell flat on me arse which didn’t really go too well, and then backstage I bumped into John Cooper-Clarke who in return head-butted me, so that wasn’t a good way of meeting one of your heroes. 

    I did a gig in Leeds once and I missed me train so I had to catch a train from Leeds to Huddersfield and then walk from Huddersfield down to Luddendenfoot.  I were walking on the dual carriageway at two o’clock in t’morning after far too many beers and two o’clock in t’morning, not really getting any traffic going up and down the dual carriageway from Elland to Ainley Top, so being absolutely merry I thought I’d take the mick a bit and pretend to be a car, so I’m just walking down this dual carriageway going ‘beep beep’ and all that cack, and this car comes up and pulls up beside me, and it’s a police car…’have you had a bit too much to drink there sir?’   I thought ‘I’ve not time for this, I wanna get home, I can’t have time to prat about with the police’ so I thought I’d be a bit sarcastic with them ‘no, I think I’m a blooming car’ at which point I were bundled into the back at a rate of knots, turned around and spent t’night in Huddersfield Police Station which were a bit…when they let me out I had to walk to Luddendenfoot all over again cos I lost all me money, conveniently.

    Any other stories?

    They are pretty much the two main ones which most people like to remember, and I pretty much like to forget.  Obviously the Attila one where afterwards I got beat up, and me big brother were walking home with me that night and we have this unwritten rule between siblings where you’re meant to stick up for your younger brother, and me big brother somehow managed to drink more than me which I didn’t think were possible, and decided to hide in a garden and just watch me get jumped by three people.  Best one – I’m at a gig, it was at Marshall’s Bar in Hebden which is always asking for trouble even walking in there, but I were doing this anti-racist poem by Attila called ‘Asylum-Seeking Daleks’ and it features all these brain-dead, bone-head racist comments and this guy heard these comments and said ‘oh yeah you’re speaking me language, you’re speaking me language’ so I ended the gig, saying ‘I’ve got to go now cos me knee’s playing up cos I injured it at work and me throat is messed up, and your head must be completely messed up if you think I’m speaking your language’ at which point he got a bit offended and going ‘you and me are gonna have to go outside’ and I’m going  ‘it’s nice of you asking me out and stuff but I’m straight’ and he says ‘well so’s me fist’ so at this point I’d completely lost semblance of being on stage and forgot I had mike and just muttered over t’microphone ‘not if I break your fucking knuckles, at which point this guy’s storming the stage and he had to be restrained.  I had to be escorted out of the venue a couple of hours later so I had all these musicians on either side of me, straight into a car what were waiting outside and pretty much rushed home.

    Do things like that happen a lot in gigs?

    Fortunately not, no.  Sometimes I can be a bit of a wind-up merchant, like performing in a venue for Leeds United fans wearing a Derby County shirt, but normally gigs these days go a bit more peaceful fortunately, because I’m getting too old for all this running away lark.

    Is your younger brother a future poet do you think?

    [laughing]..he’s not a future anything.  No, he hasn’t got the inclination to perform or do anything, he’s just happy being sat up in Sowerby being a vegetable, so I can honestly say we won’t have a performance career from him any time soon.  Me older brother however is a stand-up comedian, so I think the book actually just stops with me.

    Thank you very much Cayn. 

    No worries.

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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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