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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

How does it feel to be the father of a million goths?

If you look in Greengalloway Archives for November 2005, there is a blog Positive Punk- the origins of Goth. Scroll down through it and you will find the Feb 1983 NME article by Richard North mentioned in the following Guardian feature.

I will ask Richard how it feels to be the father of a million goths.

Back in black

Goth has risen from the dead - and the 1980s pioneers are (naturally) not happy about it. By Dave Simpson
Dave Simpson
Friday September 29, 2006

The Faversham, a pub close to Leeds University, is a brightly decorated bar, popular with lawyers and office workers. But a couple of decades ago it was the very heart of goth. The Fav, as it was known, was where goth's dark lords, the Sisters of Mercy, would hold court, and where black-clad students who had enrolled at the university or Leeds Polytechnic to be close to their heroes would go in the hope of some goth stardust rubbing off on them. "Heads would turn the minute we walked in," remembers Gary Marx, the guitarist who founded the Sisters with singer Andrew Eldritch. "People wouldn't literally throw themselves at our feet, but it was close."

Goth has returned to cast a long and dark shadow over rock music this summer and autumn. In August, the NME put the Horrors on the cover - a London band influenced by the Cramps who look like five grinning death's-heads. Other new acts such as Betty Curse and Dead Disco have put out CDs, and two compilations have claimed to bring together goth's forefathers. Goth has even reached the mainstream. Victoria Beckham and Colleen McLoughlin have recently dabbled in "goth chic" - faces made up to look pale, black lacy clothes and deathly nail varnish - though it's hard to imagine the Beckham and Rooney households rocking to Betty Curse, let alone the forgotten bands of the first wave of goth. It's a dramatic revival: barely a year ago, London's goth hangout, the Devonshire Arms, was saved from closure after a nationwide appeal to goths to boost its business.

The original goths seem unnerved by the return of their cult. "I read this thing that described Russell Brand as 90% goth," says an appalled Julianne Regan. The singer with All About Eve, she admits to "exploring" graveyards despite being in her 40s and is thus "guilty as charged" of being a goth. "I thought, 'Don't they mean 90% twat?'"

And the Horrors? "Pure NME Camden wankery. As goth as a daffodil in a yellow kitchen."

Oh dear. So what is goth anyway? And how did a dead cult become, well, undead?

Steven Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees - who always maintained they weren't a "goth band", but were nevertheless a pivotal influence on the black-clad bands of the 80s - insists it's important to distinguish between "goth" and "gothic". "Gothic", Severin says, describes the bleak, dark music being made by Joy Division and also the Banshees around 1978-79. Severin admits his band pored over gothic literature - Edgar Allen Poe and Baudelaire. But "goth", he says, has connotations of "people in purple lipstick running off to Whitby". According to Severin, the prototype goth band may have been the Velvet Underground - "intense, feedback-driven songs and macabre subject matter" - although Bauhaus's 1979 single Bela Lugosi's Dead is now generally credited with starting the genre.

Initially, it wasn't called goth. In February 1983, NME lumped together several mostly forgotten bands (Southern Death Cult, Sex Gang Children, Brigandage, Specimen, Blood and Roses) and tagged them "positive punk". Meanwhile, Marx fondly remembers tabloid hysteria about "suicide pact kids killing themselves listening to Sisters of Mercy", an eerie precursor of a story the Daily Mail ran only last month warning of the "threat to our children" posed by goth and emo (although they're two different cultures).

Most of goth's enduring musical cliches were laid down by the Sisters, who lived together in Village Place, a stone's throw from the Faversham. Marx (formerly Mark Pearman, before a name switch fooled the DHSS, as was) had come to Leeds from Hull, attracted by gigs by the likes of the Fall and Gang of Four. His co-conspirator was a languages student who decided that the name Eldritch (meaning "wizard") carried more mystique than his own Andrew Taylor. Eldritch has often claimed the Sisters/ goth phenomenon was his immaculate conception, but Marx admits at least some of it was fluke.

Yes, Eldritch had the band's logo (a dissected head surrounded by a pentacle, which he had adapted from Gray's Anatomy) before they had even played a note. But according to Marx, the characteristic doomy goth sound only emerged when the Sisters added Craig Adams, a child piano prodigy. Adams was "running from his past", says Marx. "He turned up with a fuzzbox on his bass and wanted something brutal, relentless." A £60 drum machine (nicknamed Doktor Avalanche) replaced Eldritch's early bashes on drums. When the "wizard" concealed his less-than-Sinatraesque vocals with reverb, goth's defining sound was complete. The Sisters namechecked MC5 and Motorhead in interviews and caused a "considerable reaction" within a music press who had been frothing over Haircut 100.

Eldritch became thought of as a poet of doom, fond of dark pronouncements. But Marx admits that there were no black candlesticks at Village Place. In fact, even the goth look was partly happenstance: wearing nothing but black meant the band could put all their washing in one load. In fact, in early photos the Sisters looked "nondescript, like students", but that changed when Marx realised his check shirts looked silly next to the leather jackets worn by Eldritch and Adams in homage to the Ramones. Once Marx also adopted black, a uniform was born.

The enduring image of the Sisters live is of four black stetsons poking out of dry ice: a cross between Once Upon a Time in the West and horror flick The Fog. That, too, was an accident. Guitarist Wayne Hussey, who joined in 1983, recalls that the band had been touring America in a minibus and one night he got so drunk that he fell asleep on Gary Marx's shoulder. Marx then "threw up in his sleep all over my head. The venue wouldn't let me in 'cos I had sick in my hair. So I went across the road and bought a hat - and that's where the look came from."

Around the country, others realised black could have benefits above and beyond its ability to conceal stains. Alien Sex Fiend's Mrs Fiend (she is literally Mrs Fiend, having been married to the band's Nik Fiend for 28 years) remembers a disastrous photoshoot when a green light wiped out all her make-up.

"I looked like a fucking corpse, but not in a good way," she remembers. After that it was "black, the blackest you could find". Home-dyed clothes and hair horrors proved equally striking: "People said, 'Excuse me, dear. Have you been electrocuted?'"

Early goth was largely a provincial movement: the Sisters in Leeds, Bauhaus in Northampton, the Cure in Crawley. The London scene congealed around the Batcave club, associated with bands such as Alien Sex Fiend and Specimen; there, boys and ghouls rubbed shoulders with the likes of Siouxsie Sioux and Nick Cave. Mrs Fiend remembers "fetish gear, Victorian clothing, girls with their tits out. One night the DJ played the Sex Pistols and for the first time, everyone sat down. It was obvious that no one was interested in continuing what had gone before."

Goth spread rapidly - fans visited the Batcave or Leeds Phonographique and then set up their own clubs - and a sense of community developed. Goths formed bands with each other, slept with each other, copied each other and recorded with each other: Severin collaborated with the Cure's Robert Smith as the Glove. The Sisters' Merciful Release label helped soundalike bands such as the March Violets and Salvation, which Marx suggests was a hangover from the self-help culture established by Leeds bands the Mekons and Gang of Four. The "suburban Siouxsie" clone became a peculiar feature of 80s Britain, and whenever the Banshees toured in Latin American or Mediterranean countries, Severin notes, they noticed Siouxsie had become "a role model for dark-haired women".

Goth could be silly, but many bonded through genuine alienation. Regan admits she was "introspective and depressed" and sought solace in darker music. "Mentally ill?" she considers. "Some of us."

Another glue binding the scene together was drug use. Goth is virtually the only youth movement not identifiable with a single substance, but Regan admits that it was "very wild. It started with snakebite and a laugh and ended in psychosis for some. Luckily, I was a sissy."

"All my friends took drugs," admits Hussey. "I used to put speed in my coffee." Initially, drugs enabled the guitarist to mask a natural shyness, but eventually his character transformed. He began the 80s quietly reading Rimbaud and ended them fronting the Mission, whose wine-spilling, cartoon image was almost Carry On Goth. "We made buffoons of ourselves in public," he says, "but it was endearing for a lot of people."

It didn't last. Hussey vividly remembers standing on a railway station platform and seeing two girls in Stone Roses T-shirts. "I knew something else was coming."

In the 90s, goths all but disappeared as dance music became the dominant youth cult. The movement went underground and fractured into cyber goth, Christian goth, industrial goth, medieval goth and the latest sub-genre, zombie goth. Around the world, however, goth hit the mainstream. Goth crossbred with electronica and heavy metal in the form of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. While the music of Nine Inch Nails owed more to the industrial-influenced music of Throbbing Gristle and Ministry, their subect matter (murder and trauma) and style (head-to-toe black leather) were unmistakably goth. Marilyn Manson, meanwhile, fused Alien Sex Fiend's electro-goth with Alice Cooper's theatrics and went to the arena circuit. In Germany, the industrial-techno-metal sextet Rammstein took much from gothic horror, and Hussey says his mother often tells him how much the cult Finnish band HIM sound like the Mission.

And now it's hip again here.

Goth will exist in one form or another as long as young people are alienated and fascinated by death. Mrs Fiend expresses anxiety that goth could turn into an off-the-peg fashion style. However, Severin is darkly optimistic.

"They read French novelists. They've gone into it with a complete passion and I don't blame them," he says of the new goths. "I've always thought there's room in pop for different languages, one of them being an exploration of the blacker side of human nature. There's nothing to be afraid of in the dark."

Five goth classics

Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi's Dead

The 1979 single that invented the genre overnight. In an atmosphere of unease, Peter Murphy eulogises Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula with a cry of "Undead! Undead! Undead!"

Available on Crackle - Best of Bauhaus (4AD)

The Sisters Of Mercy: Amphetamine Logic

This stark, driving track defines the Sisters' oeuvre and sums up Andrew Eldritch's cod-vampiric lifestyle: "Nothing but the knife to live for."

Available on First and Last and Always (Merciful Release)

The Cure - A Strange Day

The Cure were always more of an alternative pop band than 100% goth, but A Strange Day's melancholy sees them fitting into the genre.

Available on Pornography (Fiction)

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry - Walking on Your Hands

The Leeds-based Lorries, originally a typical if moody indie band, adopted goth cliches such as flanged guitars for this thrilling 80s nightclub staple.

Available on The Gothic Box (Rhino)

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Night Shift

One of the darkest cuts from the album Juju: a harrowing groove that explores street prostitution.

Available on JuJu (Polydor)

· The Gothic Box 3CD/DVD set of early goth is out now on Rhino. Blue Sunshine by the Glove has been reissued by Universal
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Levellers and Highlanders

Sent Prof Tom Devine copy of my Galloway Levellers Update [blogged below] and he e-mailed back saying please give me a ring to discuss. Which I did. We had a good chat - he suggested my introduction was setting up a 'straw {wicker?] man - which it is, the cattle trade was well underway by 1707...

He also mentioned this lecture.

UHI annual lecture will reveal Scotland’s secret history
by EO01AN — last modified 2006-09-28 09:36
Contributors: Glenda Johnson

Historian Tom Devine will shatter the Highlands’ cultural possession of the notorious clearances when he reveals Scotland’s secret past at the UHI Millennium Institute 2006 Annual Lecture on Friday (29 Sept).

He will tell a near-capacity audience of around 300 that, although the clearances are associated only with the Highlands, significantly more people lost their land in the Scottish Lowlands, yet history has failed to acknowledge this.

Professor Devine, one of the foremost experts on the history of modern Scotland, will be offering his own explanations for this in what he promises to be an “explosive” lecture at Dornoch Cathedral.

“I hope I’m not going into the lion’s den,” he added.

The lecture, which Professor Devine describes as a puzzle from the past, is entitled The Scottish Clearances - why were the Highlands different?

“In the Highlands, landowners had an unsavoury reputation – they were regarded as the clearers. In Lowland society, they were regarded as enlightened improvers. The curious thing is that both types of landlord adopted virtually the same policies. This deepens the puzzle,” he said.

“There was considerable protest in Highland society against removals which led to the great Crofters War of the 1880s, and resulted in the Crofters Holding Act of 1886, still the fundamental basis of crofting tenure.

“The dispossession in Lowland society, however, caused hardly any violent response. And there is no folk memory, despite the fact that, although precise numbers cannot be given, in my estimate significantly more people lost their land in Lowland society than in the better known clearances in the Highlands. Yet Highlanders have cultural possession of the clearances.”

Professor Devine, who is the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Paleography at the University of Edinburgh, does acknowledge and will advance reasons why the human consequences of the clearances were more devastating in the Highlands.

“Attention focused on the Highlands because of the tragedy and drama, and the region represents the soul of Scotland,” he pointed out. “The Highland clearances have to this day, among all Scots, a considerable cultural and political resonance, but the term Lowland clearances have none.”

Tom Devine will be introduced by fellow historian Professor Jim Hunter, director of the Dornoch-based UHI Centre for History, part of North Highland College UHI, which is hosting the lecture.

Professor Hunter, a former chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and author of eleven books on Highlands and Islands themes, said: “Tom Devine is easily the leading historian of modern Scotland. I hugely welcome that he has engaged so actively with the Highlands and is doing us the honour of delivering this lecture. His theme is obviously controversial, but controversy and Tom Devine tend to follow each other.

“It has been recognised for a long time that removal of people happened in other parts of Scotland, the UK and Europe. Karl Marx made the point that what was happening in the Highlands was no different, but far more compressed in time and carried out more brutally. This is what distinguishes the Highlands clearances from the others.”

Tom Devine first touched on the subject of his lecture in his 1999 best-seller, The Scottish Nation, and goes into greater depth in his new book, Clearance and Improvement: Land, Power and People, 1600 – 1900, due out imminently.

It was the 19th century English radical William Cobbett, who travelled throughout Britain, who first alerted Professor Devine to what he calls Scotland’s secret history. After visiting the Lothians in the early 1830s, Cobbett wrote: “Everything is abundant here but people who have been studiously swept from the land.”

Professor Devine said: “I read this in the early part of my career and it gave me the first inkling of a major puzzle and a remarkable oversight.”

He now hopes to inspire debate and attempt to correct “the distorted picture of Scotland’s past”.

“For too long, history has separated out the studies of Highland and Lowland societies. We should look at them together as both were affected by the same influences which made for cataclysmic change.”

Professor Devine will give the fifth UHI Annual Lecture which is being hosted by North Highland College UHI, home of the UHI Centre for History. Previous speakers have included Lord Puttnam of Queensgate, Irish President Mary McAleese, conservationist and founder of the Eden Project Tim Smit, and Canadian Supreme Court judge, the Honourable Madame Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella.

Some seats are still available for the lecture and anyone wishing to attend should contact Catherine Shearer at UHI on 01463 279000.

There will also be a formal presentation to the first UHI Student of the Year, Shetlander Margaret Johnston, while two staunch supporters of the campaign to create a university for the Highlands and Islands, Dingwall-based Robin Lingard and Ullapool Cllr Jean Urquhart, are to be made UHI honorary fellows.

Other events on the day will include a UHI students’ showcase, a golf handicap tournament, a ghost walk around Dornoch, and a ceilidh.


Professor Devine is happy to give interviews before or after the lecture. Journalists are also invited to attend. To make interview arrangements, please contact Glenda Johnson (PlatformPR at UHI) on 01463 279222.

Notes to Editors:

· Last year the BA (Hons) Culture Studies of the Highlands and Islands course won the Most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning category in the inaugural Times Higher Awards, run by the Times Higher Education Supplement.

· UHI Millennium Institute was designated by the Scottish Parliament in April 2001 as a Higher Education Institution. It provides university-level education and research through a partnership of 13 colleges and research institutions. Currently over 5,200 students are studying on UHI courses or undertaking postgraduate research with UHI.

· The UHI mission is to create a University of the Highlands & Islands by 2007. However until university status is attained, please do not refer to UHI as 'University of the Highlands & Islands' or 'University of the Highlands & Islands Millennium Institute', as this wrongly suggests UHI has already achieved university status. For more guidance on this see www.uhi.ac.uk/uhi/for-the-media.

· Dornoch Cathedral, in the county town of Sutherland, is the smallest cathedral still in use in Scotland today. The 13th century cathedral has seen an increasing number of high-profile events in recent years, including the baptism of Rocco Ritchie, the son of Madonna and Guy Ritchie.

About Tom Devine:

Tom Devine is the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Paleography at the University of Edinburgh, and was previously the Glucksman Research Chair of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen.

He was also Director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Centre in Irish and Scottish Studies at Aberdeen, the world’s first centre of its kind which was formally inaugurated by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, on St Andrew’s Day in 1999.

Prof Devine is a leading expert in the comparative history of Scottish and Irish economic development. His many books include the best-selling The Scottish Nation and the more recent Scotland's Empire 1600-1815 which inspired a six-part BBC2 series. A new edition of The Scottish Nation is due to be published next year on St Andrew’s Day, bringing Scotland’s story up-to-date, and will coincide with the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union.

Winner of all three major prizes for Scottish historical research, Professor Devine is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a Fellow of the British Academy, one of only five historians of Scotland elected FBA in the last hundred years.

He holds Scotland’s highest academic accolade, the Royal Gold Medal, which was awarded in 2001 by The Queen. Last year he was awarded the OBE for services to Scottish history.

UHI annual lecture will reveal Scotland’s secret history Poor literacy and numeracy skills are a problem for the economy Creative projects lure men into education UHI Sabbatical Scheme - application closing date 30 September UHI student of the year More news…

Forthcoming events
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Monday, September 25, 2006

Relevance of History

Following from The Observer newspaper based on Chris Whately's work. I have been passing on snippets to Chris from my Galloway Levellers research.

Betrayed? No, Scots wanted the Union

As the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union nears, an academic has fanned controversy by claiming the 'parcel of rogues' did not sell Scotland down the river. Lorna Martin reports
Lorna Martin
Sunday September 24, 2006

The 1707 Treaty of Union has long been portrayed as a tale of bullying, bribery and betrayal. As such it has given the Scots much to moan about over the years. 'We are bought and sold for English gold. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation,' wrote Robert Burns as he raged against Scotland's loss of independence.

But a controversial book by one of Scotland's most eminent historians, Christopher Whatley, published ahead of the 300-year anniversary of the event, casts doubt on the popular idea that the Scots were sold down the river by their neighbours and presents new evidence that suggests that many parliamentarians went willingly into the Union.

Whatley, professor of Scottish History and vice-principal and head of arts and social sciences at Dundee University, said the men who negotiated the treaty should be celebrated north of the border, rather than maligned as a shower of rogues and fly-by-nights who were bribed into abandoning their parliament. The suggestion that it was a measure imposed by England on reluctant Scots is, he said, a gross oversimplification.

The book, even before its publication next month, has sparked a furious debate, with nationalists condemning it as pro-Union propaganda and Unionists seizing it as evidence as to why these two uneasy neighbours should remain united.

There is a resurgence in interest in the Union on both sides of the border ahead of next year's anniversary. Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have ventured north in recent weeks in an effort to try to defend the merits of 'Britishness' to an increasingly sceptical public.

Whatley is at pains to stress that his book is not a political manifesto. Instead, he hopes it will lead to an evidence-based debate about the future.

'For many years there has been a view that Scotland's supine politicians were bribed into abandoning independence. It has led to the view that the Union was an illegitimate act that shouldn't have happened and that it wasn't Scotland's decision. Parliamentarians who negotiated the Union have been regarded as traitors, while opposition MPs are seen as the patriots.'

He claims this is not entirely true. 'There has been an element of invention. The long-held and popular notion that the Scots were bought and sold for English gold simply doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. The argument that the Scots bargained away their Parliament for free trade and access to England's colonies is an important one and what I once believed, but not the whole story.'

He insists a number of Scottish parliamentarians fervently wanted the Union, and says any debate about its future must recognise this. 'It was not forced on them. It is of critical importance that the debate should be conducted in today's terms and not on the basis of some sort of grudge or mythical understanding of how we got here in the first place.'

His highly controversial conclusions are the results of four years of painstaking research, examining handwritten records of the speeches made about the Union, piles of burgh and church records, private diaries and the papers of minor politicians whose votes were crucial in securing the union. Whatley believes many of the materials have never before been studied in detail and said his findings took him by surprise.

With the help of his research assistant Dr Derek Patrick, he compiled a list of members of the Scottish parliament from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the Union and then carefully tracked back their history, voting records and political ideology. It is the first time this has been done and shows many held pro-Union views, primarily for religious reasons, though also economic and political ones.

'I didn't expect what we found. Nor did my researcher. He went into this project expecting and hoping to find all sorts of evidence of bribery. But the records that we looked at showed that politicians were not simply "bought off". Most of them were on board already. They didn't need a bribe to vote for the Union.'

He also cast doubt on the famous book by George Lockhart, also known as Lockhart of Carnwath, whose Memoirs of the Affairs of Scotland is the key source of information about bribery allegations. It is a critical document in Scottish history. In an appendix it lists 30 people who received sums of money - the £20,000 of gold that came north - from Queen Anne.

But Whatley claims that at least four of those people did not even have a vote in parliament and, more importantly, most of those who did receive money were actually long-standing unionists anyway.

'I'm not saying money didn't change hands,' he explained. 'It did and I think around four or five people were actually bribed. They include Lord Banff, who did change his mind at the last minute and who received a relatively small sum. But this idea that bribery was the main reason why Scottish parliamentarians gave up their independence is completely misleading. It fails to appreciate that for religious and economic reasons most of these characters were pro-Union anyway.'

Whatley says money was paid largely for legitimate reasons, including for back salaries and as compensation for the Darien disaster, the ambitious scheme to establish a Scottish colony in Panama, which ended in loss of life and financial ruin. The venture was not helped by King William of Orange and many Scots, to this day, believed that their chance of independence had been deliberately sabotaged by the English. They were completely incapable of going it alone afterwards and felt deeply betrayed.

'I'm not suggesting that these Scottish parliamentarians who negotiated the Union weren't flawed. Yes, they were womanisers, drunkards and inconsistent. They were politicians - they also wanted to get to the top of the tree. But to reduce it all to the idea that they were bought off for their own personal gain is simply not true.'

Compensation for the Darien venture is sometimes called the great national bribe. But Whatley also challenged that view. 'It wasn't a bribe. It was a victory for the Scottish negotiators because they got what they wanted. That is why many walked away from previous discussions. But in 1706, they got something which they would never in any other circumstances have achieved: their money back plus five per cent for a failed scheme. I'm not saying we should be grateful to the English. Leave them out of it. Darien failed for various important reasons, including the location. But the compensation allowed Scottish investors to start from scratch within a new economic environment. I consider it a great negotiating victory, not a bribe to supine Scots.'

Most controversially, Whatley casts doubt on the origins of Burns's quote. 'Bought and sold for English gold,' is one of his most famous and has long been widely thought to refer to the Union treaty. Whatley points out that it in fact predates the Union, and was used in the late 17th century to condemn government ministers who supported William on the Darien venture and were therefore seen to be in the pay of the English.

There is also a widely held view that had the Scots not accepted English proposals for the Union, the country would have been invaded. According to Whatley this is another convenient myth. He said troops were ordered to the border in 1706 but at the behest of Scottish politicians who were concerned about riots, disturbances and even the threat of the parliament being stormed.

At the time it was the Jacobites who were protesting most vocally about the union as it would have banned a Catholic ever again sitting on the British throne, a piece of 300-year-old legislation that, to the disgust of many, still stands today. Whatley said Scotland was a nation divided and that had troops come north they would have been welcomed by many presbyterians who feared more than anything else a Jacobite insurgency.

Despite his insistence that his book is not a manifesto for the future, it will no doubt be seized upon by pro-Union politicians at a time when the fissures are becoming deeper by the day.

Gordon Brown, trying to convince himself as much as his audience, recently spoke of 'ever-closer connections between the nations' and of being 'stronger together and weaker apart'. Afterwards, Alex Salmond looked more relaxed than ever. He dismissed Brown's backing for 'Britishness' as a desperate attempt to woo the increasingly resentful English. He believes his party is capable of making big gains in next year's elections and knows his independence cause can only be helped by the perception south of the border that Scots are a nation of whingers.

Into all of this comes Whatley's new findings, casting doubt on the widely believed tale of bullying, bribery and betrayal. So the Scots may not have been as hard done by as previously thought. That's certainly something worth moaning about.

· The Scots and the Union by Professor Christopher Whatley is published next month, available from good bookshops or direct from Edinburgh University Press at www.eup.ed.ac.uk from 23 October.

· Professor Whatley is working with novelist and Observer columnist Ruaridh Nicoll on a BBC Scotland documentary to be broadcast early next year.

Crass/ Christ/ Album/ Review/ Punk/ Lives

Crass : Christ The Album, Crass the Band (Crass Records cat. no Bollux 2U2) Double album £5

[Review by me from Punk Lives no idea which issue, front cover gone, but 1982. Other reviews of The Dark, Anti-Pasti, Bow Wow Wow, Lords of the New Church, The Fits and Billy Idol]

Boxed in black, the people we all misunderstand.

A double attack, another outrageous outburst, more blows against the empire, but now the image starts to crack, now the solid black facade, the wall of noise just a little frayed and the people showing through. I even laughed, more than once. So will you. Starts of ‘same old stuff/you heard it all before/ Crass being crass/ about the system or is it war....’ (221984?) and then they start to let it all fall apart a system splintering into diversity. Crass play games with Maggie and with “sentiment”. The punk thrash bash warps into a radio played out of tune (Carol Bayer Sager?) and then it is ‘Birth Control ‘ and ‘Reality Whitewash’. Is this Crass ? Sure is and I love it and it’s brilliant if only you can let them try and whisper sweet subversion in your ear. Do you dare? Or are you scared. “Not punk mate, is it?’

Who makes those rules? There are no rules. Remember? Individuality, difference. The Crass crew are human too, not some unreal bunch of anarchist punk super heroes out to save the world. They are still angry, they still care. The passion is unabated but the music is moving, shifting and changing. Not just jumping up and down and then going home to bed, songs don’t all have to remain the same. Or is that what you want?

Don’t worry, there is still lots of noise and speed and excitement and raw power, new and old. Half the double blast is live - 100 Club June 1981, is amazing. It just won’t lie down, keeps crawling around and leaping out of dark places. Like the two pieces of ‘77 stuff - one from a pirate broadcast advertising a Roxy gig (OK?). Real punk cred, huh? Funny too. And don’t miss the bollocks.

They fill up all the spaces with creative chaos, confusing and amusing, charming and alarming. Hey it’s almost COLOURFUL! Still not nice, not safe, no reassurance, the ugly nature of our world is always confronted, no escapism and cleverly crafted pure pop songs. But there is love. Love? Yeah, love. “I Know there is Love’. Crass get almost personal, get emotional.

Read the 30 page booklet you get with it. Especially the bit where Penny comes clean ‘The Last Of The Hippies - An Hysterical Romance’. The true life romance. The day the Crass turned day glo... Hey maybe anarchy could be fun again! The whole idea is become your own Crass. INVENT YOUR OWN EPPING. Shatter a few illusions. The Beatles did it White, Crass do it Black. I’m still coming in colours. Christ the Album. Yeah, and Jesus was a woman too.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Levellers of Galloway - update on research

The Galloway Levellers

On first appearances, the story of the Galloway Levellers seems fairly straightforward. Although the economic impact of the Union of Parliaments in 1707 took time to become apparent, by the 1720s progressive landowners in Galloway were benefiting from the Union. These ‘improving’ landowners began enclosing farms on their estates to profit from the export of cattle to English markets. In 1724 the process of enclosure was met with opposition from those dispossessed by this new economy. This opposition took the form of direct action - the enclosing dykes were thrown down i.e. levelled.

Between March and June the dyke-levellers gathered in sufficient numbers, up to 1000 strong, to over awe the landowners. However the landowners were able to call in military aid, resulting in a stand-off between troops and Levellers at Duchrae (Balmaghie) in October 1724. Possibly with local memories of the Covenanting period still strong, the conflict was resolved peacefully. Some 200 Levellers were captured, but only a handful were ever brought to trial. The Galloway Levellers uprising may have checked the process of enclosure for a generation, but from the 1760s onward it was renewed. By the 1830s, the landscape of Galloway had been transformed almost beyond recognition. The traditional ferm-touns the Levellers knew remain only as the names of some of today’s farms. Even these represent perhaps a only third of the ferm-touns which once dotted the landscape of Galloway.

However, when this rather neat historical narrative is checked against local historical sources, a more complex picture begins to emerge.

To begin with, the trade in cattle which was the economic root of the Levellers’ uprising can be traced back nearly sixty years before 1724. Following the restoration of Charles II, London was undergoing an economic boom which neither plague nor fire could halt. To supply London with beef (and hides for the leather industry) 70 000 Irish cattle a year crossed the Irish Sea. In response to pressure from landowners, the English parliament banned the import of cattle from Ireland in 1667.

Of the 70 000 Irish cattle, around 10 000 per year came from the north of Ireland, passing through Galloway en route to London. Only 1000 or so local cattle per year were exported to England before the ban came into effect. Unfortunately there is then a gap in the Dumfries customs records, but by the 1680s, local cattle exports had increased to 10 000 cattle per year, replacing the Irish cattle exports. Where did the 9000 extra cattle per year come from?

Some came from the Baldoon (Wigtownshire) cattle park of Sir David Dunbar. This was described by Andrew Symson (minister of Kirkinner parish) in his Large Description of Galloway: 1684 as being ‘about two miles and an halfe in length and mile and a halfe in breadth’ and could hold up to 1000 cattle. Symson also noted that at least five other Wigtownshire landowners had also created cattle parks. There were also cattle parks in the Stewartry.

From the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds[ KSCD] there is an entry, No. 1265, dated 6 March 1688 which contains instructions by Sir Robert Maxwell of Ochardtoune to his nephew, Robert Maxwell (younger) of Gelston, for the management of his estate - Sir Robert now having his residence in the kingdom of Ireland. According to these instructions, the park of Neitherlaw (managed by a herd called William Johnstune) ‘is not to be set for ploughing’. From other references in the KSCD, it is clear that Johnstune was involved in the cattle trade, i.e. there was a cattle park at Netherlaw by 1688.

Cattle parks also existed in the parish of Borgue. KSCD entry No. 1940 (dated 4 January 1692) reveals that Hugh McGuffog of Rusco had been in partnership with Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon (senior, died 1686) and Patrick Heron (younger) of Kirroughtrie. Entries 3182 and 3183 (both dated 22 October 1698) concern the herding of the parks of Dinrod, Kessarton and Laigh Borg -all in Borgue parish - and the ‘upholding’ of dykes around these parks. Entry 2147 (4 April 1693) links Hugh McGuffog with William Johnston ‘in Netherlaw park’. Therefore there were probably cattle parks in Borgue parish before 1686 and definitely by the 1690s.

Clearly then, the local cattle trade was already well established before the Union of 1707 and the construction of cattle parks was not an innovation in 1724. So why did the Galloway Levellers uprising occur in 1724 and not a generation earlier?

I strongly suspect that the answer lies in the realm of politics. A key target of the Levellers in 1724 were the Stewartry cattle parks built by Sir Basil Hamilton of Baldoon. Hamilton was the great grandson of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon. Dunbar had been a supporter of the Stuarts during the post 1660 Covenanting era. According to Andrew Symson (who was an Episcopalian minister imposed on Kirkinner parish), Dunbar and his son were the only two parishioners who remained loyal to his ministry at this time. Basil Hamilton appears to have inherited the Dunbars’ political and religious loyalties. In 1715, Hamilton supported the local Jacobite rebellion (led by Viscount Gordon of Kenmure and William Maxwell, Earl of Nithsdale). Along with Kenmure and Nithsdale, Hamilton was captured with other Jacobites at Preston. Kenmure was executed but Nithsdale managed to escape from the Tower of London. Hamilton avoided execution but his estate was forfeited to the Crown.

Of the local Jacobites, Hamilton’s was the largest estate. Significantly, most of his landholdings in the Stewartry had been acquired in the 1660s and 1670s by his great grandfather from the Maclellan lords of Kirkcudbright who had bankrupted themselves through support for the Covenanters in the 1640s and 1650s. Furthermore, when the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 threatened to reverse the ‘Revolution Settlement of 1689’, a local militia was swiftly raised. According to Rae’s ‘History of the Late Rebellion’ (published in Dumfries in 1718), as many as 100 men in each parish of the Stewartry were armed and drilled ready to defend Dumfries and Galloway against the Jacobites.

Amongst the ‘Steward-Deputes’ appointed to raise this militia by the Marquis of Annandale as chief Steward of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright was ‘Captain’ Robert Johnston, Laird of Kelton. In what at first appears as a rather amusing aside to the story of the Galloway Levellers, Johnston managed to save his march -dyke at Furbar [near entrance to NTS Threave Gardens] from destruction by offering the Levellers a bribe of bread and beer. In this he was supported by the Reverend William Falconer, minister of Kelton parish.

However, when studied more carefully, this ‘incident’ is very revealing. Johnston, it emerges, was the son-in-law and business partner of William Craik of Arbigland and Duchrae. On the 27th of December 1688, i.e. four days after king James VII/ II finally fled London for France following the arrival of William of Orange and his army in England, Craik was elected as the first ‘post-Glorious Revolution’ provost of Dumfries. Johnston himself was several times provost of Dumfries and was MP for the burgh in the Scottish ‘Union’ parliament of 1703/7. According to the Latin inscription on his gravestone in St. Michael’s churchyard in Dumfries, Johnston ‘fortiter Union opposuit’ - strongly opposed the Union - by voting against it.

However, it does appear that Johnston’s voting record was not quite as solid as the inscription suggests. He abstained from several key votes. Perhaps coincidentally, Johnston became ‘Laird of Kelton’ in April 1706, buying what is now the National Trust for Scotland’s Threave Estate from William Maxwell, Earl of Nithsdale. Was Johnston ‘bought and sold by English gold’? Firm evidence either way is lacking.

However, it is clear that in 1724, Johnston was firmly part of Dumfries and Galloway’s post-Revolution Settlement establishment. Other significant figures in the story of the Galloway Levellers can also be linked to the ‘Fall of the House of Stuart’. In Borgue parish, the Reverend James Monteith was accused of being a Leveller sympathiser. In 1689, Monteith had been one of the Protestant defenders of Londonderry against the forces of James VIII/II.

Even more directly involved was Colonel William Maxwell of Cardoness. William Maxwell’s father had been the Presbyterian minister of Minnigaff parish in 1661, but was then forced out, dying just before William Maxwell was born in 1662. William was educated in Edinburgh, intending to pursue a career as a doctor. But then in 1685 he expressed his Covenanting sympathies by embracing Archibald Campbell (9th Earl of Argyll) immediately before Campbell was about to be executed for attempting to overthrow James VII/II. William then had to flee to Holland where, rather than continue his medical studies, he joined the army being assembled by William of Orange in 1688. William Maxwell then rose through the ranks of William of Orange’s army, fighting at both Killiecrankie and the Battle of the Boyne. Although in retirement at Cardoness in 1715, William was asked to organise the defence of Glasgow against the Jacobites. In 1724, the Levellers addressed a plea to Colonel Maxwell, which he seems to have viewed sympathetically. In 1725, he was president of a court which fined a group of Levellers £700 Scots for damage done to Basil Hamilton’s dykes.

Furthermore, after the death in mysterious circumstances of Major Du Cary (original commander of the troops sent to quell the Levellers’ Uprising), a Major Gardiner was given command. Like Colonel Maxwell, Gardiner was a deeply (protestant) religious ‘Christian soldier’. Gardiner had also fought against the Jacobites in 1715 and again in 1718. By 1745, he was himself a colonel and died at the battle of Prestonpans whilst leading a countercharge against the Jacobites. [Gardiner features as a character in Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ novel]. According to Robert Wodrow, during his time in Galloway in 1724, Gardiner spent much of his time with local ministers. Was James Monteith one of these ministers?

The picture which begins to emerge is one of a more complex conflict than that of ‘traditionalist peasantry versus improving landowners’. The story of the Galloway Levellers contains a strong political (or politico-religious) element rooted in local history, but with national implications. Even George I is reported as having expressed concerns about the eviction of ‘loyal subjects’ by Jacobite landowners (i.e. Basil Hamilton and Viscountess Gordon of Kenmure).

Nor can the Levellers Uprising be neatly described as ‘resistance to improvement through enclosure’. The dykes which were levelled (in the Stewartry at least) were ‘ring-dykes’. These had their origin in Sir David Dunbar’s great cattle park at Baldoon. They were not field size subdividing dykes but dykes enclosing whole farms. Farms which (from tacks in the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds) were labour intensive arable farms, each supporting eight or more families. When population figures are studied, the Levellers argument that such enclosures had a ‘depopulating’ effect seems to be justified. The same figures suggest that genuine ‘improvement’, i.e. effective crop rotations, the application of marl and lime as fertiliser and the construction of subdividing field dykes and hedges, led to population increase.

Writing in 1721, Sir John Clerk of Pennicuik estimated that some 20 000 acres in Wigtownshire had been ‘depopulated’ by such cattle enclosures. From Hearth Tax records, in 1690 the populations of Wigtownshire and the Stewartry were roughly equal at around 15 000 each. By 1755, the population of the Stewartry had increased by 41% to 21 205, but that of the Shire by only 9.7% to 16 466. In comparison, for the period 1755 to 1821 which covers the era of ‘genuine’ improvement, population growth in Wigtownshire exceeded that of the Stewartry. The population of the Shire grew by 102% to 33 240. The population of the Stewartry grew by 84% to 38 903. Significantly, by 1790, the cattle park of Baldoon had been converted back (and subdivided by new dykes and hedges into farms and fields) to arable farming. The main crop was wheat which can only be grown on the best quality farmland in Galloway.

In addition to the practical fears of the ‘peasant’ cottars, who faced mass-eviction/ clearance and the political fears of the ruling elite, who worried about the Jacobite threat to the Revolution Settlement/ Hanoverian Succession, support and sympathy for the Levellers’ cause also came from the ‘middle’ class of tenant and owner /occupier farmers. This support was based on economic self-interest. Although it is difficult to get a clear picture, it does seem that significant numbers of cattle were being illegally imported from Ireland by some landowners and cattle dealers.

From the Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds, there is evidence that this had begun as early as 1670. Fifty years later, according to McDowall’s ‘History of Dumfries’, customs officers were ‘scandalised’ by the importation of Irish cattle ‘especially at Kirkcudbright’ and ‘sorely bewailed the connivance given by county gentlemen’ to this trade. A trade which the Levellers did their best to expose by seizing 53 Irish cattle, slaughtering some of them at Dundrennan Abbey and others at Auchencairn.

The farmers’ complaint was that cattle traders (e.g. Patrick Heron junior of Kirroughtrie) were using the cheaper costs of smuggled cattle to drive down the prices paid for locally bred cattle. In other words, rather than supporting the local agricultural economy, by making up numbers through the illegal importation of Irish cattle, the cattle traders/ landowners were damaging it. In addition, as Frances Wilkins research into the local smuggling trade has revealed, the France/ Isle of Man/ Solway smuggling network overlapped with a network of Jacobite supporters in the 1720s.[The Isle of Man and the Jacobite Networks: Wilkins: 2002]

Finally, it appears that the Galloway Levellers may well have had a significant impact on the process of agricultural improvement. Key figures here are Robert Maxwell of Arkland (Kirkpatrick Durham) and Sir John Clerk of Pennicuik. Maxwell farmed Prestongrange near Edinburgh and set up the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in 1723. Clerk was an important member of this Society. Clerk was also kept informed on the Levellers Uprising by his brother (who was a Customs Officer in Kirkcudbright) and his brother -in -law (who was the Earl of Galloway).

The 400 Members of the Society of Improvers included virtually every ‘progressive’ landowner in Scotland. Duncan Forbes of Culloden was one, Archibald Grant of Monymusk was another, as was Patrick Heron (junior) of Kirroughtrie. Heron had been one of the Stewart-Deputes appointed by the Marquis of Annandale to raise an anti-Jacobite militia in 1715. His father had been a cattle trade business partner of Sir David Dunbar. In April 1724, Heron had been one of the 50 Stewartry ‘heritors and landowners’ who confronted the Levellers at the Steps of Tarff. It was Heron who advised Basil Hamilton that the firearms and military discipline of the Levellers ruled out direct conflict. [Heron himself may well have helped drill and arm some of the Levellers in 1715]. It was this confrontation which led the Jacobite Basil Hamilton and the anti-Jacobite Thomas Gordon of Earlston to ride to Edinburgh together to request that troops be sent to quell the revolt.

Later, Archibald Grant of Monymusk had a copy made of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland’s ‘denunciation’ of the Levellers’ actions in case he needed it. Even the Jacobite William Mackintosh of Borlum (captured at Preston in 1715 along with Basil Hamilton, Viscount Kenmure and the Earl of Nithsdale) in his 1729 ‘Ways and Means for Inclosing’ reported that the events in Galloway had turned peasants throughout Scotland against enclosure. [T. C. Smout: History of the Scottish People: 1560 to 1820].

For the recent BBC radio series and book ‘The Lowland Clearances’ [Aitchison and Cassell: 2003] Professor Chris Whately (who has made specialist study of rural unrest) was asked about the wider impact of the Galloway Levellers. He replied ‘One of the reasons why there were fewer of these disturbances in Scotland was partly because the Galloway levelling activities had been so frightening for the authorities that they took care to ensure that that sort of thing shouldn’t happen again. A lot of the activities of landowners in the second half of the eighteenth century are designed to preclude, to pre-empt this sort of activity. That is why people were rehoused and not just thrown off the land. An alternative was created to pacify the people.’

What form did this ‘rehousing ‘ take? The forms can still be seen in the Stewartry and across Scotland. The old ferm-touns were replaced with solid stone built farm steadings, farm houses and cottages. New villages and towns were also planned and built, of which there are over 80 in Dumfries and Galloway alone. To further ‘pacify the people’, new industries were created, with cotton mills built not only at Gatehouse and Castle Douglas, but even at Dundrennan and Stocking in the 1790s. [The Story of Bengairn: Fortune: AHS: 2005]

But, seventy years on, were local landowners still worried by the Levellers Uprising? Quite possibly yes. In the archives of the Hornel Library at the National Trust for Scotland’s Broughton House in Kirkcudbright can be found research notes made by John Nicholson in circa 1820/1830. This research formed the factual background to a play Nicholson wrote about the Levellers in 1838. From the notes, it is clear that tales of the Levellers had been passed down from parents and grandparents for 100 years. Nicholson’s notes even include an account by an actual Leveller of his participation in the Uprising.

At the same time, Joseph Train was also recording local folk-history and passing his research on to Walter Scott. Scott used Train’s research in several of his novels - Redgauntlet, Guy Mannering, Old Mortality and Heart of Midlothian. Sadly, however, although Train provided Scott with information on the Levellers (focussed on the alleged involvement of Billy Marshall ‘King of the Galloway Gypsies’) Scott did not write a ‘Levellers’ novel. It was left to S.R. Crockett to do so in his ‘The Dark of the Moon’, which was a continuation into the next generation of characters and themes from his best known novel ‘The Raiders’.

To conclude. The history of Galloway is in itself fascinating and revealing. Within Galloway, the differing histories of Stewartry and Shire are no less fascinating and revealing. Within the Stewartry, as the work of the Auchencairn History Society shows, detailed local knowledge can reveal (e.g. the existence of a cotton mill at Stocking/ Collin) features which even regional histories have overlooked. This ‘overlooking’ of specific local historic details may seem trivial, having little impact on the broader perspectives of national histories. And yet...

In the case of the Galloway Levellers, we have a piece of local/ regional history which has been recognised as part of national history. As such, it has wider, even ‘political’ significance. The recent Scottish Land Reform Act is an example, since part of the motivation behind it came from historic problems of countryside ownership and access created by the Highland Clearances. Yet long before the Highland Clearances, the Galloway Levellers took direct action against their eviction from the land. The Highland Clearances are linked at the level of popular history with the destruction of the ‘Highland way of life’ following the battle of Culloden. The story of the Galloway Levellers challenges this version of history. Here it was Jacobite landowners who tried to clear the people from the land, a people who had in 1715 supported George I against James VIII/ III in defence of a ‘revolution settlement’ they and their forbears had fought and died for in the 17th century.

Friday, September 15, 2006

BUY THIS BOOK and derange your senses

History, Herstory, Crassstory and a bit of mystory

The Story of Crass: George Berger : Omnibus Press: £14.95

Shock and awe. Got the book and read it last night. Then couldn’t sleep. Just like after reading Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming - the book manages to transmit the intensity of that which it describes. Which is brilliant. But now I am exhausted. Do I read it again? No, I can’t, today being Friday, I have to rest and relax ahead of a weekend of full on being a carer for a disabled person.

So I am listening to the ATV/ The Image Has Cracked/ 1978 not Crass...Viva la rock n roll...Arthur Rimbaud spoke to me through New York’s new wave ... letting the disorded fragments of my mind re-assemble after the derangement of my senses. Which makes me think of Kenneth Grant as well as Penny Rimbaud.

Certain fugitive elements appear occasionally in the works of poets, painters, mystics and occultists which may be regarded as genuine magical manifestations in that they demonstrate the power and ability of the artists to evoke elements of an ultra- dimensional and alien universe that may be captured only by the most sensitive and delicately adjusted anntennae of human consciousness... [This] would sem to require that total and sysematic derangement of the senses which Rimbaud declared to be the key to self knowledge ...’ The soul must be made monstrous ... The poet makes himself into a seer by a long, tremendous and reasoned derangment of his senses... This he attains the unknown; and when, at the point of madness, he finishes by losing the intelligence of his visions, he has beheld them!’ This formula of derangement was for Rimbaud, as for some of the greatest artists and magicains, the supreme key to inspiration and the reception of vivid images such as those which flash and tremble upon the luminous canvases of a Dali or an Ernest.

Kenneth Grant: Outside the Circles of Time: Fredrick Muller: 1980: 14/15

The Story of Crass as a collective entity can be read as just such a ‘long, tremendous and reasoned derangment of their senses’. The collectivity of Crass is the key. For the duration, a group of individuals gave up their self-identities to that of the collective. In this Crass resembled the Merry Pranksters [Electric Kool Acid Test/ Tom Wolfe], with Penny Rimbaud playing the Ken Kesey role.

This leads on to a recurring theme of the book - the Crass were/ were not ‘hippies’ arguement. Jamie Reid’s ‘Never trust a hippy’ [directed at Richard Branson and Virgin] came from ‘Never trust a Prankster’. But ‘Never trust a Prankster’ came from the Pranksters’ situationist style attempts to create a permanent psychedelic revolution by constantly disrupting attempts to classify/ market/ control/ describe the ‘hippy’ subculture as it emerged in San Francisco before the 1967 ‘summer of love’. Electric Kool Aid Acid Test ends in late 1966 [ Bantam paperback edition: pages 367/8] with a remnant of Pranksters playing music to themselves on a repeating theme of ‘We blew it’. The intelligence of the visions had been lost at the point of madness... but for that brief and preceding moment of ecstasy, they had truly beheld the vision.

Ten years after and ‘hippy’ had become everything the Pranksters had subverted against. [See Barney Hoskyns/ Waiting for the Sun/ Chapter 7/ Crawling Down Cahuenga on a Broken Pair of Legs, or What Were Once Vices are Now Habits. For David Geffen and Elektra/ Asylum, read Richard Branson and Virgin]. The ‘hip capitalists’ had bought and sold the freaks’ revolution, turning rebellion into money as just another marketing ploy. The last freaks left standing were Hawkwind and summed it all up with their song ‘days of the underground’ on their 1977 ‘Quark, Strangeness and Charm’ album.

But as one of the doors of perception closed, another opened, ‘you can’t kill the spirit’ as the Greenham Women sang. Punk renewed the vision, exploding (apparently) out of nowhere to systematically derange the senses of another generation. Hippies, punks or freaks? Poets, magicians or madmen and women?

For Kenneth Grant, such revolutionary eruptions of an ‘extra-dimensional and alien universe’ into the mundane world of everyday life are to be expected. The apparent failure of each such eruption to create a social revolution is to misunderstand the nature (un-nature?) of such currents. The world as physical reality remains the same, but - for those whose senses have been deranged - it is fundamentally different. A shift in consciousness, in perception, has taken place.

Expressed politically rather than mystically, the society of the spectacle has been revealed as a mechanisim, grinding and whirring away as it produces illusion upon illusion. To reconnect with Crassstory, compare now and then. Then we had the Falklands War. Now we have the Iraq/ Afghanistan War. Then we had the Cold War against an Evil Empire. Now we have the Eternal War against Religious Terrorism.

Then we had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Now we have Anthony Blair and George W. Bush. Cue Bloody Revolutions...

Just the same false logic that all power-mongers use So don't think you can fool me with your political tricks Political right, political left, you can keep your politics Government is government and all government is force Left or right, right or left, it takes the same old course Oppression and restriction, regulation, rule and law

still sends shivers down the spine even after all this time.

This is where I came in, where crassstory became part of my story. Conway Hall, late 79, Persons Unknown Support Group [which included Dave Morris so straight link to Stop the City 4 years later] meeting to discuss an Autonomy Centre and suddenly there were all these punks in the room and afterwards we went to the pub and I got talking to Tony D. and he had been reading Kenneth Grant and I wrote him a piece for on magick and anarchy for Kill Your Pet Puppy and... what a long strange trip its been.

Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud. As Patti said. And Penny did.