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FIRST column for a while and a simple reason for that — it’s called “on the road” and I haven’t been, partly because of the recent medical scare documented in my last offering and partly because I have been busy finalising and proofreading my forthcoming autobiography Arguments Yard.
I’m waiting for its publication by Cherry Red Books in September before embarking on a massive splurge of gigs.
Medical scare hopefully behind me. Biopsies came back not too bad, diagnosis low-level bladder cancer, hopefully thoroughly zapped already. Another flexible cystoscopy in September and, if that’s all clear, then once a year.
Having a camera up your knob twice in a month certainly concentrates the mind — the prospect of a third visit by what I now call the Outside Broadcast Unit right in the middle of a hectic book launch schedule is a bit daunting but it has to be done.
And of course it spawns new material, the latest being a Kraftwerk remix. “Radioactivity, it’s in the air for you and me” is now “Flexible cystoscopy, it makes it painful when you pee” and Trans Europe Express has become Trans Urethra Express. (OK. I’ll stop right there.)
It also gave rise to a wonderful, inspirational act of kindness. When I told my old mates at the legendary radical Hamburg football club FC St Pauli that I’d have to cancel my appearance at their festival, they displayed the banner (pictured) at their next home game. An amazing tribute to 25 years of friendship which brought tears to my eyes. Thanks, comrades.
Gigs have started again now and well done to my old mucker Tim “Teething” Wells and Speaking Volumes for organising the definitive gathering of ranting poets at the Camden Centre last Thursday.
On the bill were John Cooper Clarke, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Joolz, John Hegley, Porky the Poet, Janine Booth, Emily Harrison, Ginger John, Little Dave, yours truly and Tim himself, all hosted by Mark Thomas.
In the ’80s, I was the centre-forward of the ranting poetry movement — quite literally, we had our own football team — and used to organise regular gatherings. It was wonderful to be part of another one over 30 years later. There is a really vibrant spoken-word scene now and its young practitioners are mostly unaware of our pioneering efforts back then. The exhibition of old fanzines and publicity material which Tim and his helpers have got together is an absolute tour de force and he has an excellent blog at standupandspit.wordpress.com.
And then my bass guitar and I went over to Brussels to rehearse with my old Belgian punk muckers Contingent before a gig in Paris last Saturday.
We drove there via the Waterloo battle site, scene of some very serious 200th anniversary re-enactments — there were several serious injuries apparently — and it got me thinking how much better it would have been for the poor of both England and France if the progressive revolutionary forces had won that day.
So much so, that tonight I am off to my lovely local, the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham, with a proposal that we change its name to the Napoleon Bonaparte in honour of the 200th anniversary. My pet corn snake of the same name will happily preside over the ceremony.
And, as you read this, my wife and I will be on the eve of celebrating my 26th consecutive Glastonbury. Best festival anywhere. Cheers, comrades!
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