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Atilla the Stockbroker Diary

On getting among the clues of a Daily Mail crossword, getting Covid and going off beer and being hostage to texticles

I’VE not taken crack or sniffed glue
Or drunk water straight out of the loo
And until last Wednesday
I could truthfully say
I’d not been a Mail crossword clue
 
As you may expect, in my 64 years I have never once before consciously set eyes on the labyrinthine, brain-taxingly complex phenomenon which is the Daily Mail crossword.

Last Wednesday I did, because a friend's mother informed him that I was a clue in it. And what a dreadfully anodyne effort.

Was it “Dangerously subversive Sussex ranting poet, scourge of complacent suburban bungalow bigots, who once wrote a song about Prince Harry’s Knob and thinks this newspaper should be taken over by the Morning Star and Paul Dacre forced to join Coldplay?” NO. It was simply “____ the Stockbroker, stage name of English punk poet born in 1957.”  What a disappointment.

There may be one redeeming feature in this violation of my artistic sovereignty, though.

Obviously, nobody who reads the Daily Mail will have heard of me, and they’ll have to ask someone younger who understands the internet to put “Stockbroker punk poet” into “that Google.”

Then they may become so enamoured of my words and music that they decide to read more, cancel their subscription to the Mail and get one of ours. (The crossword is far better too.) We can always hope.

I tested positive for Covid last Saturday.  Of course, I wrote a poem about it.
 
I’ve been in many a red bar
As through the world I roam
In St Pauli, or East Berlin
I always feel at home
Just fill me up with IPA
I’ll play the punk rock jester —
The only place I don’t like them
Is doubled, on a tester!
 
Covid has had two major effects on me, both most unusual. For the first time in my life it gave me an aversion to beer: there are obviously sound biological reasons for this, since alcohol suppresses the immune system, but it is nevertheless pretty spectacular.

As the days went by and the little lower line became less prominent on the testing kit my fondness has however returned.

As I write this (Thursday 27), the landlord of our lovely local Duke of Wellington is preparing a delivery to arrive in time for my live stream this evening, a fundraiser for the Hope Orphanage in Sierra Leone organised by Punks 4 The Homeless, a brilliant bunch who have been doing sterling work for years.

The other Covid effect, passing now, was to increase the number of texticles in my written output. For the uninitiated, a texticle is caused by predictive text turning a word or phrase you are writing into bollocks without you spotting it. That phase is also over now, thankfully.

One record review: Icons by Nick Burbridge and Daniel Booth. Nick’s a fine singer-songwriter from Brighton, best known for his pioneering and influential ’80s rabble-rousers McDermott’s Two Hours — a huge influence on fellow Brightonians The Levellers. Daniel’s the incredibly accomplished fiddle player — nay, violinist — from rising punk-folk stars Ferocious Dog.

Nick and I go back nearly 40 years, when he gave me a cassette demo of his first band, The Bliffs. Icons goes back to that stripped-down sound, just vocals, guitar and fiddle, beautiful, angry, socially aware words and soaring melodies.

It refers back to the songs as well, because several, I’m certain (Prisoner, Cover Me, Soldier’s Heart  and the ubiquitous Dirty Davey) are from that original demo! I was waiting to hear Harry Brewer, his finest song from that early period, but it wasn’t there.

This is an absolutely beautiful album, where for the first time, as far as I know, you can hear Dan’s truly superb violin artistry showcased uncluttered and unassailed by punk rock, alongside Nick’s words and tunes. You can get yours from nickanddan.co.uk.

Stay safe everyone.

Visit www.attilathestockbroker.com/merch.php My main Facebook page is www.facebook.com/attilathestockbroker; Twitter: @atilatstokbroka.

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