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Cutting corners to barnstorm and return home to meat

Next years 21st Century Marxism will take culture out of the corner, says ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER

I was really looking forward to my spot at 21st Century Marxism. But my heart sank when I saw the programme. "Cultural Corner?" This happens a lot on the left.

There's all the meetings, debates and stuff - the important bits - and over there, stuck in the corner, there's "culture." In this case, yours truly.

As always happens in such situations - and I've experienced a few - I thought: "We'll see about that. The only corners I like are the ones that end up in goals for the Seagulls, and the last time I stood in one was at primary school."

I emailed the organisers and predicted, very precisely, what would happen and it did. Exactly. So I was even louder, ruder and more Marxist-Leninist than usual and the nine people who ventured into the "corner" seemed to enjoy themselves a lot.

And then I told the organisers that I was going to run the entertainment next year, that it would be on the Saturday evening after the meetings and workshops rather than the sodding Sunday afternoon during them - rather like having your annual union social at the same time as the AGM - and that it would involve lots of energetic music, decent beer and passionate words somewhere that wasn't IN ANY KIND OF BL**DY CORNER!

Fortunately my concise comradely criticism was taken in the spirit intended and my offer accepted. Watch this space in 11 months' time.

And thence to Germany with my band Barnstormer for a nine-day tour. As in much of mainland Europe, it's so different over there. Most major cities have autonomous social centres run by the left, so rather than trying to find sympathetic pubs or arts centres there is a ready-made circuit for us.

We started with a packed gig in Essen in the industrial Ruhr area, a favourite stomping ground, then south to Siegen and on to Frankfurt to join my great friends and dedicated anti-fascist skin-punks The Stage Bottles at their 20th anniversary celebrations.

Seven hundred people turned up, most of them ending up on stage at one point or another, along with showers of underpants, teddy bears, roses, inflatable guitars and an awful lot of beer. Beautiful chaos.

Also on the bill were The Movement from Denmark, playing Marxist mod, a new sub-genre for me -kind of Jam meets Redskins, absolutely superb, and I invited them to my Glastonwick festival next summer on the spot.

Then on to Aschaffenburg, east to Dresden and up to Berlin and one of my favourite venues in the world -the Schokoladen, an old East German chocolate factory turned into a gig venue and communal living space.

I did 20 or so gigs in the GDR before the Berlin wall came down and I'm happy to say that my song Marktsektor One, sung in German about the aftermath and disappointments of reunification, strikes a huge chord in the East.

Given that a majority of east Germans now say they were happier before the wall came down, that's hardly surprising I guess. Two local bands have covered it, which I take as a great honour.

And then Hanover, Gottingen and Bielefeld and home to some meat. I have never worked out the connection between being on the left and vegetarianism, and it's particularly strong on the scene in Germany.

Brussels sprouts, tofu, cabbage and leek soup do strange things to five blokes in a small van...


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