CONTENTS 22 28 36 40 50 54 60 68 70 74 80
Bad Young People Today The New Psychology Getting Away With It Soho Faces The Ranters Bowls Recollections Man Like Me - “London Town” Celebrity Outpatients The Colony Room Another Tale from the Colony
CONTENTS 84 Running Late 94 The Birth of The Cool 104 “If Hitler Had Been a Hippy, How Happy Would We Be” 112 Millennium Heist 118 Glass Eye ... Glass Soul 128 The Grime of It All 132 Banished by Exiles 138 “Pedigree Chums” 146 Meeting Ronnie Kray 150 Vertigo of London
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STAFF Mike and Stephen Malbon Sir Frank Zoltar The Magnificent Frank Green Adam Pasulka J. Nicely Justin Briggs Dan Tochterman Craig Wetherby Anton Schlesinger Shanti Garcia Thomas “Bongi” Bongiorno Ian Allison, Peter Bach, Janette Beckman, Orlando Campbell, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Fabricator of Uselessness, Alex Friedman, The Friends of Cuts, Philip Jones Griffiths / Magnum Photos, Mary Harrsch, John Isaacs, Gary Kemp, Dr. Robert Laing, M.D., Kieron Livingstone, Dan Macmillan, Man Like Me, Howard Marks, Keith Martin, John Maybury, Don McCullin, Dan Mitchell, Museum 52, The Photographers Gallery, Prakope, Chris Salewicz, Mark Saunders, Johnny Shankhill, Chris Sullivan, Trolley Books, Professor Frederick Van Der Greier, Vote Prime, Stephen Webster Amanda Abramson, James Carter, Christian Hinterosa, Andrew Kay, Shon Lindauer, Brandon Mchie, Louis Rivera, Witnes Brian J. Marvin Eric Shorter Domingo Neris Christian Alexander, Daks, Max Perlich Todd Nisbet Mr. Bee Dave Cove Daisuke Shiromoto Lyntaro Wajima, Takayuki Shibaki Yosuke Nakata, Yoshiharu Kudo firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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BAD YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY Words Chris Salewicz Photos Zoltar Duane* knows the runnings. Like, where he can get a drink in bars and pubs in his section of Clapham Junction after the official closing time - even though, at 17-years-old, he is below the legal drinking age. Why can he buy drinks so late? Because barmen in those joints work for him, peddling smack and crack to interested customers. His occupation earns him a steady cash wage of ÂŁ800 a week, and this snappily dressed young Black man is paid respect as a ranking face. He is also part of the statistics behind the egregious outburst of gun and knife killings that have rent asunder Londonâ€™s Black community, 70 dead in the last 18 months.
Duane went to the most desirable and prestigious of the primary schools in his section of South London. He rubbed shoulders with the White sons of bankers and media highflyers who’d moved into the district specifically so their kids could attend that school. Now, he sometimes sells drugs to them. Duane is a lieutenant in a crew that deals on a local housing estate, sitting up all day on one of the balconies that overlooks its courtyard, bored out of his skull most of the time, constantly kicking his brain into a state of alertness for potential trouble – what people don’t seem to realise, he complains, is the hard work and long hours involved in being a drug dealer. Or how complicated and unorthodox life can be from time to time: having to sit in the sauna at the local leisure centre for a minimum of five hours to clean out every trace of gunpowder residue – everyone knows to do that - after you’ve shot someone and dumped your nine off Chelsea Bridge into the Thames and burnt your clothes. Paradoxically, considering the explosion of gang violence, former mayor Ken Livingstone – voted out of office on May 1 this year – and the Metropolitan police had been putting out figures that purported to show that street crime in London had fallen. Yet such statistics seemed only designed to conceal the truth: the reason you’re less likely to be held up for your phone or iPod as you leave your local tube station is because some time ago the crews figured out that there was no long-term financial future in muggings or steaming Pakistani newsagents. Anyway, for the Mayor and police to linger on such truths did not give exactly a positive picture to
the image of cool and groovy multicultural London – even though such a positive image was bound to have a dark shadow. Co-opted by older men who saw a way of putting to use these gangs of feral youth, often barely into their teens and many seething with an amorphous fury, the council estate phone-snatching crews formed into serious gangs dealing hard drugs, readily armed with the weaponry that has illegally poured into Britain since the end of former Yugoslavia’s assorted civil wars. When it hits the news that yet another youth of West Indian or Nigerian or Somalian background has been gunned down or stabbed to death, it seems part of the convention that they are inevitably lauded as churchgoing pillars of the community. That was the story at the beginning of last year, when a 15-year-old boy, not much more than five feet tall, was gunned down outside his home as he returned from school; the estate where this happened is close to where I live, and I made some casual inquiries. “Him kinda bad,” was how one youth, himself the son of a convicted drug don, contradicted the saint-like picture presented by the dead boy’s family and friends. It turned out that, for unknown reasons, the boy and - the really worrying bit! - “several others at his school” had decided to stop paying the Mr. Big who supplied them with the heroin and crack they dealt. Killing the boy, of course, was to encourage the others. Though everyone seems to vaguely know who was responsible, there have been no arrests for this murder. Beneath these criminal acts lurks the pathetic presence of gangsta rap and
bling “culture”. But it’s only one symptom. These kids see bankers, stock market dealers and property dealers making fortunes through legalised, and sometimes not so legalised, theft. They see belligerently aggressive nations invading other countries to grab their oil wealth. They see everyone in the capital’s high streets getting high on booze and drugs, as though they are in some collective bar on the Titanic. They also know that, as long as this decimation of young teenage men is confined to Black neighbourhoods, the majority White community – and possibly the police - will be concerned, but privately doesn’t really give a shit. If they’d legalised drugs years ago, none of this would be happening. But you suspect that’s not an argument being debated too closely on the corners and corridors of London’s drug-dealing council estates.
Duane wants to get out of the “life” – at 17 he is already jaded and, more significantly, perpetually nervous and worried. But he doesn’t know how to navigate his exit. Even worse, he worries that if he attempts to do this, he too will become a statistic. Anyway, at least street crime is down. Chris Salewicz is the author of Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer.
Words Ian Allison Images Zoltar This life propels us forward, but we can only understand it in reverse. London and the summer of 1999. So warm among the throbbing race mass, all lobbing around in the sun. Idling crowds, not doing a handâ€™s turn all day. Too hot to quarrel. Nevermind the nail bombs. Feeling the air move first with the shock of the blast: rice, glass, air, confetti, moisture; the law of moving bodies, a vast kinetic pay-load cutting, blasting, tearing your cheeks away; over there a torn and bloody tennis shoe is thrown to the street, inside only a heel.
Screaming random hatred and murder. The first bomb was in Brick Lane, the next in Brixton. Panic in the silly season. Kill those Black and Tans. The news: black with daggers and eyemasks, again and again and again. Whatâ€™s happening?! What really got me, though, was the execution of Jill Dando. The Mrs. Beufoy of Crimewatch telly. A product of careful nurture. She utterly bought it on her doorstep. BANG. One shot,
straight in the face. And got clean away with it. Concerned cops much later framed up a chanceless half-wit. But you could feel the hysteria. Slapbang Armageddon. Finally curtains for the Nescafé generation. I’m in bed with a stranger; he who awakes me. Suddenly and it’s a fluster. He’s embarrassed. He’s late alright. Late for his work at a photographic studio somewhere. Should I leave right away, or leave with him? I don’t want to be fractious, whatever that means. Forget it. It’s a way we gallants have in the Navy. Uniform that does it. Nevermind. But then again, this doesn’t feel like the brush-off. I look at him straight; I look for the lying in his eyes. He would have me stay but – the eyes again. He doesn’t know me at all. I wish he had … I’m a man misunderstood. Who can we really know but ourselves? But one night only. We will meet again; he tells me this in the street. No really, today, later, after he’s finished his work. I’m too beastly awful weird for words: taking him at his word, I’ve palmed what I’ve taken - taken to be a copy of his latch key. Sitting there in a picksorting dish at front door. So I’m a romantic. Breach of promise he shall not. The silence demoralises. What if he turns out to be a flirt, heart the size of a fullstop. Below in the street, the Hari Krishnas are marching early. I catch a whiff of incense rising from the procession below. Shout salvation in King Jesus. Happy the chanting, instead I find the news: “The Crimewatch veteran … killed by a single shot … at close range … the police are appealing for witnesses.” But that was her job. Bored, I start rummaging. Wow. A black rubber butt-plug in the shape of
Mickey Mouse. I see he’s taken an HIV test recently. This is wrong. Less of a sin is early libation. Last night’s frolics reached checkmate with frozen vodka. I open his freezer and out rolls wafts of icy fog. Where’s the Stolichnaya? Perhaps we finished it. More freezing fog rolls out. A bag of ice from the shop is melding to glassy blocks. I can only see a frosted plastic bag which is full of something. I pull it out. It’s frozen hard what’s inside. Meat, it must be meat. On the table now, I pull the bag away. It’s a baby – in fact, it’s a boy. The stone-hard weight knocks the wooden tabletop. It’s a doll, arms recumbent at its sides. The skin’s a dull necrotic grey, which still looks too real. White death, backwards birth; I scream like murder. It’s solid. More mist saunters out like breath, like a sigh. Black crystals of frozen blood marked the shutlines of the eyes and mouth. A lone tear had made its maiden voyage then stopped frozen sorrow; hard like the rest of him. Who did this? The darkest places imaginable then some, I can’t … I simply can’t. I’m trying, but I can’t … Moisture collects on the table around its form. I’m trying not to look now. The obscenity of its thawing confronts me. I can’t touch it, so unnatural: a mite of God’s clay, ambushed in ice. Every cell blocked, denatured, arrested, aborted. The temperature halting and holding an irreversible carcass, someone’s idea; atrocious infanticide – I’m fucking out of here … Outside in the street I gasp for air. Why? Why did he have a frozen baby boy in his refrigerator? He wasn’t medical - not that that would mean it’s
alright ... The mother? Was it kidnapping? Nothing in the news. I’m walking fast now, up Old Compton Street. I must report it. This is the news. The tabloids will curse him. Can’t not tell. Fucking psychopath – no other explanation. I take deep breaths. People stop laughing as I barge into them. A drink: what I was looking for in the first place. Soho’s gay tourist favourite: the Admiral Duncan. The barman looks at me with a kind of indifference that could only have been affected over thousands of orders. A double, I think. Early afternoon but the place is quite busy already. I order another. I laugh nervously. Then BANG! An end to everything comes suddenly. Not that I can really say I feel anymore, but if I had to, it’s as if a red-hot crowbar removes my face. Two men sitting at a table are blown through a glass wall out into the street. My eardrums have
been blown out, so the immediate rupture, reaction and carnage, to me, is in silence for the last few seconds then it’s black. What’s left of my body is taken to University College hospital. Others are rushed in, nails embedded in their faces; or digits, hands, feet missing. It was the third nail bomb attack in London in as many weeks. Later, a farright splinter group, the White Wolves, would telephone a BBC newsroom and claim it was responsible for the Soho explosion. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police told a news conference that they would defeat whoever was responsible for these cowardly attacks. “We will catch them,” he said. And they did, eventually.
SOHO FACES Photos Keith Martin Portraits of Soho characters.
The Ranters Words Mark Saunders Images British Library
Booze, blasphemy and fornication were all in a day’s work for them. Mark Saunders introduces us to the religion of the rant. For mark these words. In the three years that followed the execution of Charles I in January 1649, the head of the Church was literally severed from its body. England was plunged into a state of religious turmoil and the blood of the King lay splattered across the conscience of the people. The sea, the earth, yea all things now gave up their dead. For Cromwell’s army was infected by millenarian excess. Puritans clung to their one God while all around them, Levellers, Seekers, Diggers, Lollards jumped head first into the baptismal fire. But one group, called the Ranters, took more risks than many. Spiritual libertines par excellence, their brief but hectic revival of the “free spirit” would seem to strike a chord in our current culture. Strange new way. The sentence is gone out of my mouth against you. As a term, the word rant implies a noisy, bombastic declamation. For the Ranters, it meant much more: a way of life where language became transformed into the illumination of God’s word, and a symbol of the free spirit. Those Ranter texts which survived the censors’ flames provide
a rare glimpse of an ideology that ran throughout the Middle Ages, from the Anabaptists to the Adamites, where self-deification became synonymous with self-emancipation, in a time when religion was the straightjacket of the mind. According to records, the Ranters numbered upwards of a thousand and were spread throughout the country, although it is believed that London had the greatest concentration of supporters. Many Ranters from this area rejected conventional patterns of work in order to become fulltime preachers of the Ranter doctrine, such as Jacob Bauthumley, who wrote a tract called “The Light and Dark Side of God” in 1650, and was in the New Model Army as a quartermaster before he was finally court marshalled for Ranter blasphemy. His punishment was to have his sword broken over his head, his tongue bored with a red-hot iron, and his book burnt before his eyes. Others moved in more desirable circles, such as the group called My One Flesh, where free love was considered preferable to the restrictive costumes of the infantry.
Preaching afforded many Ranters the opportunity to forego the drudgery of everyday work and concentrate on more pressing matters to their souls. Charity or theft provided them with the means to pursue the doctrine of the Free Spirit, allowing them to celebrate the Divine in any place or time. For, in a period of social upheaval, when many believed in the second coming of Christ, the Ranters rejected orthodox Christianity in favour of a more practical understanding of God’s word. Personal spirituality was tailored to their everyday needs, with guilt being superseded by sin, a recipe for salvation that led man to pursue a life stripped of all social restraint. Indeed, Ranters believed that they were as pure as the driven snow, the chosen ones who had come to understand that all things were pure unto them: adultery, fornication, blasphemy; all were sanctioned because sin didn’t exist except in the imagination of man. Just as the Old Man of the Mountains, Hassan I Sabbah, stated in the Middle Ages, “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted.”
as much in the tavern as in the Church, as easily in sex as in the dregs of a beer! For, as Abiezer Coppe states in his tract, “The Fiery Flying Roll”, “Not by Sword; we holily scorn to fight for anything; we has as lief be dead drunk every day of the week and lye with whores in the market place, and account these as good actions...” His comrade in drinking, Joseph Salmon, agreed: “Well, drink I must but mark the riddle. ‘Twas given me that I might drink, I drank that I might stumble, I stumbled that I might fall; I fell and through my fall was made happy.’”
In a cunning take on the Bible, Ranters proclaimed God to be in all things, even in their tobacco pipes! One truth propels another, for if God was in all things, then God dwelt in them, too. In fact, Ranter philosophy decreed that each man or woman was a part of the Supreme Being, and as all Good Christians know, God cannot sin. In one fell swoop, immorality was made to disappear, and all opposites became one. To quote Laurence Clarkson, a self-confessed “Captain of the Rant”: “The Devil is God, Hell is Heaven, Sin Holiness, Damnation Salvation, this and only this is the first Resurrection.”
As you might have guessed by now, the favourite haunt of these high priests of debauchery was none other than the pub. According to one manuscript written by a hostile critic of the times, eight Ranters were apprehended in a tavern called the David and Harp in Moor Lane. The landlord was a man named Middleton, and it was his testimony, along with a spy who had infiltrated the group, that gives us a first-hand account of what actually happened in the Ranter feasts of yore.
In the Ranter code, Heaven was therefore to be found here on Earth,
All forms of intoxication, whoring and swearing were permitted for spiritual reasons (a line of thought that should ring a bell with anyone who has found themselves “enlightened” on a Saturday night). Ranters, such as Coppe, equated these with prayer. “Well! To the pure all things are pure. God hath so cleared cursing, swearing, in some that which goes for swearing and cursing in them, is more glorious than praying and preaching in others.” Too fucking right!
Apart from the general swearing by both men and women present, there was the occasional act of exposing the genitals for all to see.
Cries of “fellow creature” and “all is ours” echoed through the room, interspersed by outrageous singing which took the form of blasphemous lyrics exchanged for the words of the psalms. All this was hard enough for a stout Puritan to stomach, but it wasn’t until they sat down to eat that the true significance of the Ranter creed began to take shape. The transcript reads: “One of them took [a piece of beef] in his hand, tearing it asunder, said to the other, ‘This is the flesh of Christ, take and eat.’” To our modern minds, such acts may seem tame enough; I’ve seen worse in a pedestrian high street in Worcester. Oliver Reed is certainly a modern-day equivalent. Yet the Ranters represent a rare moment of anarchic freedom in English history, a freedom that is separated from the restrains of guilt. Their collective unity, which preached a communistic approach to all prop-
erty, wasn’t afraid to renounce the shackles of work in favour of a more sublime existence of sex and alcohol. Spirit reigned supreme, attitude spoke volumes. In conclusion, it seems quite appropriate to quote a verse from S. S. Gent’s satirical comedy of the period entitled, The Joviall Crew, or, The Devil turn’d Ranter. A worthy epitaph ever there was one! “Come away, make no delay, of mirth we are no scanters. Dance and sing all in a Ring, for we are the Jovial Ranters. No hell we dread when we are dead, No Gorgon nor no Fury; And while we live, We’ll drink and fuck, In spite of judge and jury.” For more about the Ranters, see Norman Cohn’s The pursuit of the Millennium, printed by Pimlico. It’s the key text!
BOWLS Words Howard Marks Photos Mary Harrsch, Prakope, Vote Prime During the mid-1980s, Howard Marks had 43 aliases, 89 phone lines, and 25 companies trading throughout the world. Bars, recording studios, offshore banks: all were money-laundering vehicles serving the core activity: dope dealing. Marks began to deal during a postgraduate philosophy course at Oxford and was soon moving large quantities of hashish into Europe and America in the equipment of touring rock bands. The academic life began to lose its allure. At the height of his career, he was smuggling consignments of up to 30 tons from Pakistan and Thailand to America and Canada and had contact with organisations as diverse as the CIA, MI6, the IRA, and the Mafia. After many years and a world-wide operation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, he was busted and sentenced to 25 years in prison at the United States Federal Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana, the site of Americaâ€™s only Federal Death Row. He was released on parole in April, 1995, after serving seven years of his sentence. Since receiving my senior railcard and free bus pass, I concern myself with still untried challenges. Consistently heading the list is competency at any sport. I have never attempted to ride
a bicycle, row a boat, windsurf, skate, or ski. I have not been slightly tempted to hang-glide, pole vault, climb a mountain, or step into a ring to box or wrestle. My physical exercise has
Sir Francis Drake
been largely limited to a bit of yoga, walking while carrying suitcases, and dancing all night under the influence of a psychedelic drug. It was time to change. I considered archery and bowls. Each requires minimal stamina, strength and flexibility. Anyone of either sex, aged from nine to 90, can play both. Loitering around the streets with a criminal record as long as mine is dicey enough. Carrying a box of what resemble cannonballs would be inviting trouble, while arming oneself with a crossbow and a quiver full of arrows would be clearly suicidal. Of the two, bowls seemed a marginally safer pursuit. I looked at its history. The Ancient Egyptians played bowls. The game spread through well-entrenched channels of commerce and culture to Ancient Greece, Rome and the rest of Europe. Aztecs, NativeAmerican Indians, Maoris, Chinese,
and Polynesians all played varieties of the game. During 14th Century England, bowls became much more popular than archery. The fear of the monarchy that the skill of archers in battle would suffer led to Parliament passing statutes restricting or forbidding the playing of bowls. Edward III banned all bowling games within London, and Henry IV imprisoned those caught playing. However, many illegal bowling alleys opened and, according to the authorities, played host to “unlawful assemblies, conventicles, seditions, and conspiracies”. Henry VIII, a keen bowls player himself, banned the game for those who were not “well to do”. Despite Henry’s 1541 Act remaining in force until 1845, the English commoner carried on bowling in the face of heavy fines and imprisonment. Bowling locations popped up everywhere, and serious gambling at them was commonplace. On July 18, 1588, Sir Francis Drake, the greatest sailor of his generation,
was bowling at Plymouth Hoe when the Spanish Armada came into view sailing up the British Channel. His immortalised response: “We still have time to finish the game and to thrash the Spaniards, too.” Sir Francis lost the match but smashed the Armada. I was comforted to learn that one of the greatest commemorations of any British historical hero is that of an Elizabethan 48-year-old pirate (an old geezer in those days) breaking the law. I could not wish for a sport with a more appropriate role model or personification. This has to be the game for me. In 1522, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, accidentally cracked one of his woods during the middle of a game. He rushed indoors and sawed off an ornamental ball from a banister. As one part of the ball was flat, its trajectory curved at the end of its run instead of continuing in a straight line. Playing with bias enhanced the game with intricacy, sophistication, and challenge. One could successfully aim the wood to come to rest in positions impossible to achieve with a normal, fully-rounded ball. Soon, all woods had bias built in, originally achieved by appropriately weighting and later by shaping one side of the wood to be less round than the other. Every sport has its bad boy, usually someone with enormous talent who also likes a caning session. Griff Sanders from Devon is the bad boy of bowls. The movie Blackball is about him. John McEnroe verbally abused umpires; Diego Maradona sniffed cocaine; Eric Cantona kick-boxed a football fan; Ian Botham smoked weed; Ben Johnson ran too fast on steroids; and Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear. None of them was punished as severely as Griff Sanders. His inappropriate dining routine (drinking lager,
smoking cigarettes, and eating a bag of chips while playing), flouting of the dress code (wearing multicoloured socks, T-shirt, and Bermuda shorts), and disrespect for officials (calling the county secretary a “tosser”) disqualified him from the Devon County first team while he was county champion. Eventually, Griff was banned from playing any outdoor bowls for ten years and told not to make a fuss, as ten years was merely a sixth of a bowls player’s average career. Bowls is not currently famous as a sexy sport, but there are plenty of handsome hunks ligging around the lawns, bending their backs and sporting their equipment, and fit females love to play old men’s marbles. It is not widely acclaimed as druggy or cool, but a game of bowls is called a “roll up”, and the quality of the grass is of the utmost importance, so it at least shares a vocabulary with pastimes that are. It’s hardly rock and roll, but I think I like it.
RECOLLECTIONS Photos Philip Jones Griffiths / Magnum Photos (www.trolleybooks.com) Wales. 1936-2008 Liverpool. Northern Ireland. Cambodia. Central Africa. Algeria. South East Asia. Agent Orange. Viet Nam. Inc. Human cost of conflict. London. Sceptical not cynical. Little black box. Apocalypse Now. Remember boyo. Hearts and minds. Magnum. Soldier of Love. Open-cast mines. Dark Odyssey. Viet Nam at Peace. John Pilger. Recollections. Ashes. Hero.
Outside Pentonville prison where their friend was being hanged.
CELEBRITY OUTPATIENTS Photos Johnny Shankhill Tabloid fever is as strong in London as anywhere; gossip pages arguably began in the British news. But in London, a city far rougher than Americans would ever imagine, affairs of the heart are only a small piece of the gossip pie. Much more interesting to set up shop outside the Royal Hospital or St. Bartholomewâ€™s and see who comes stumbling out; whether put there by football lads in the pub or by sheer self-determination (Amy Winehouse, left), London loves to see the battered face of celebrity. Like a journalistic Quasimoto, photographer Johnny Shankhill observes the mayhem, a silent watcher hidden high in a flat above. Come stand with the vultures.
The Colony Room Words Orlando Campbell Photos Zoltar, The South Bank Show The Colony Room Club has been a haunt for hard-drinking artists since the formidable Muriel Belcher founded the Club in two small rooms up a staircase in Soho, and paid the young Francis Bacon £10 a week and free drinks to bring in the clientele. He did, and Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Michael Andrews, Patrick Caulfield and Barry Flanagan were among the Colony’s regulars - as well as Bacon himself, for whom the Colony was a second home. Now the Colony’s emerald green, nicotine-stained rooms play host to a new generation of artistic alcohol-lovers: Damien Hirst’s young son Connor was made a lifetime member, propped up on the bar at eight days old. Tracey Emin and Mat Collishaw; Sarah Lucas and Angus Fairhurst; even Jay Jopling and Sam Taylor Wood are among the artist-couples who have done stints helping the Club’s current proprietor, Michael Wojas, behind the bar. I was first carried into the Colony in a carrycot and dumped on the banquet, under the large and well-worn Michael Andrews painting which is a copy of a Bonnard. Later on in my life, I would sleep there often, sometimes all afternoon and even a few nights. I must have been less than one, but by then a regular. I was later told that Muriel Belcher would put vodka on her thumb and shove it in my mouth when I was teething, but I don’t remember that. I was seduced, and doomed from then on. When I was about four years old, I moved to Newcastle in the North of England and couldn’t visit as much as I would have liked. But in the holidays
we went to see a film in the West End, because apparently there were no other cinemas in London (although the Chelsea Cinema on Kings Road was about five minutes’ walk, and Fulham Road Cinema was a five minute bus or taxi ride away). I suspect my father found it very stressful dealing with us in the holidays, but we always ended up at the Colony before and after the film, or even on a few occasions a play; we could nip in there at the interval. The one I remember the most was Dad’s Army, because we met John Le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson), who I think was another regular at the Colony. The Colony by then was Heaven, as every time we went we were given as much Coca-Cola as we wanted,
which was not normally allowed, and Muriel would tell Ian Board to open the till and give us two pounds so we could go to the amusement arcade around the corner. This was a lot of money in those days for two young innocent boys from Newcastle. Eventually, aged 18, after loafing around art college in the North, I moved to London and got a job in a restaurant near the Colony, in Covent Garden. By then I was definitely an art groupie and had grown up listening to stories about Francis Bacon did this and Lucian Freud did that in the Colony. I was bored and decided to go and find the place, as I remembered vaguely where it was. I remembered it was green and up some stairs, but so were all the brothels. On two occasions I found brothels. Being young and naive, I didn’t know what two young French models would be doing
in the Colony, as I only remembered meeting Doctor Who (Tom Baker) and some other very glamorous, fat, drunk people in there. Eventually, I got the right door and walked in. It was terrifying. This thing that didn’t move off the “perch” said, “What the fuck you want, dear?” I had never been called dear in my life. “I’m Charles Campbell’s son.” “Charlie’s boy. Well, why the fuck didn’t you say so?” A great, big, red, pock-marked nose lunged at me (the nose was later described by Patrick Conyngham the artist and poet as “a different planet”, it really was that big and definitely had craters in it) and his disgusting and fowl smelling mouth gave me a great, big, wet kiss, with a tongue just to round this experience off. I did not
stay long, but long enough for Ian and Michael Wojas (who by then was the barman) to buy me so many drinks, which at that time I was not used to, that I was blind drunk. My terror evaporated. Finding it again would be the problem. The shyness and terror wore off. I was a poor bus boy and got a lot of unwanted attention from older gay men, and because I was Charlie’s boy, lots of people would insist on buying me drinks and boring me to death about how wonderful he was. I thought so too, but I had heard it over and over again. Ian was always very generous to me and insisted on taking my wages, which were paid in cash every Friday, and giving me an allowance. So I had to be very charming to the clients in the restaurant and live on the tips, or go to the Colony every day. I went every day.
One of the best things about the Colony was that it opened at three o’clock in those days, because of the crazy licensing laws, which were a hangover from the War. All the pubs shut at three o’clock and reopened at five-thirty. I thought that was very civilized. While the saddos were working in dreary offices, I was quaffing champagne with Francis Bacon, John Edwards, Patrick Caulfield, Craigie Aitchison and a load of other freaks and has-beens. On more than one occasion, I became homeless or in-between flats and stayed at the Colony, but not by myself. Ian would not let me, sensibly. All that stopped when, early one morning, I felt his hand down my trousers, and being polite, I said nothing and moved a bit. It started again; I moved again. This went on and on, until I sat up and he went to the glass-cleaning sink and threw up again and again, until he
had some brandy, and coughed up what he called “oysters” in his hanky. He then asked me if I wanted some orange juice. I said yes, and his shaking hand poured the juice, followed by a huge vodka. I couldn’t cope with the situation. I left and vowed never to be homeless again. Being an art groupie wasn’t all that glamorous after all. His fowl mouth got him into trouble a few times. On one occasion, he turned on the local sex shop owner. After a barrage of abuse, the pornographer could take no more. Very quickly Ian pulled him off his perch, opened the door and threw him down the stairs. Twenty years later, I can admit that I took advantage and rushed behind the bar to buy the whole bar a stiff drink that I forgot to pay for. Eventually, the Groucho Club opened next door, even though Ian had a fully rehearsed diatribe against it. I spotted him and Michael there a few times with the more well-heeled clientele from the Colony, but not Patrick Conyngham, who was banned on the opening night for peeing on a policeman’s helmet from the first floor window - although he did insist on using their facilities, like ordering a taxi even if he didn’t need one. If anything, it made the Colony better because the Club always closed early, at about tenthirty, and the Groucho at one A.M. Sadly, Ian died in the hospital after refusing any treatment for cancer. Michael took over and the Colony got a new lease on life, and gradually, a new set of artists. Damien Hirst reconditioned the “Jewish piano”, as Muriel used to call it, and it is now hopefully worth more than what is put into it in a year. Ian always liked the sound of the old-fashioned rings and bells because he said he could hear how much was
going in, and it made an alarm-like noise every time it was opened. Most of my family have been to the Colony. Even my grandmother seemed to know it well, although she would have found the Gargoyle Club across the road more comfortable. I did find a book on the Gargoyle, in which I found her name in an illustration of the signing-in book. Somewhere there are two Matisses, still buried underneath concrete and wallpaper. Most of my important birthdays, like 18, 21 and even my wedding day, was spent there. The only other thing I remember was the Belgium pedophile Marc DuTroux was caught, and it was reported in great detail by Roger Boyes. My favourite cousin and friend Dan regularly uses the Club. I think I introduced him, but he probably would have found it himself. He brought a very nice man called Steve-O from the Jackass T.V. series. I thought to myself, if he likes doing stupid things, I’ll show him. I opened the window next to the payphone, jumped out, and crawled and walked across some roves, thinking I knew the geography and layout of the Groucho Club well enough to know the ladies’ lavatory, which was always empty. But I got it wrong and climbed into a packed upstairs bar. But nobody seemed surprised that I was climbing into an impossible window with a celebrity, and the celebrity just thought this was normal and carried on the conversation we’d been having on the roof. I live in France now, but every time I go to London I visit the freaks and losers - only now I am one of them. Orlando Campbell aged 12
Another Tale from the Colony Words John Maybury Photos The South Bank Show When I was a baby punklett, aged 17, a magnificent old queen – painter, occultist and raconteur called Michael Wishart - had taken me to some of the only good restaurants in London in the mid-seventies (L’Escargot, Le Caprice, Voulstin) in a vain attempt to get his filthy old hands in my pants. Along with trips to the opera and the ballet, there was one visit which brought him closest to success. As a little know-it-all, I thought I’d seen it all as he dragged me up a grimy staircase on Soho’s Dean Street. Pushing open a door which released clouds of
billowing smoke (cigarette and otherwise), I found myself bathed in the deeply unflattering, absinthe-green glow of the Colony Room. As an art student in my first year of so-called studies, I immediately recognised the poisonous, waxy face of one of my great heroes. No, it wasn’t William Burroughs, or a coke-addled David Bowie, but the greatest living painter (according to me), Francis Bacon. [I would later fight this argument of the “greatest living” status out with Sam Wagstaff (Robert Mapplethorpe’s “patron”) at my own one-man show in
the East End, where Sam fought the cause of Cy Twombly, a later hero of mine. The argument lost me a show in New York, but saved me from bedtime with Sam and its sadly subsequent and inevitable consequences.] However, I digress. There before me, beady-eyed, paralytically drunk, but supremely alert, Bacon eyed me up before I was melodramatically distracted by the hostess of the Colony Room, the equine, sphinx-like Muriel Belcher. Unbeknownst to me, Miss B was in the final stages of a ravaging tsunami of cancer, yet her Roedean posture and London gutter poise leant her the hauteur of a diamond expert appraising a dodgy fake. Somehow, my powder-free, pan-sticked face passed the test. I suspect my underage status and super-tight, Vivienne Westwood bondage pants afforded me entrée, despite the fact that Wishart was particularly disliked by the cognoscenti of that shabby little room. In a blurry haze of alcohol, snuff and other stuff, I somehow found my way home alone to my exquisite squat in Queensgate Kensington. I slept a peaceful solitary sleep with Mother Fist and her five lovely daughters. Cut to 1990-something, and the BBC asked me to make a movie about Francis Bacon, a biopic they said, a suggestion I immediately refused. But once I read Daniel Farson’s brilliant memoir, The Guilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon, I remembered my student days and my adoration of the sequence of paintings Francis had produced on the subject of his lover, George Dyer. These pictures had inspired me throughout my youth, particularly those depicting, in triptych form, the suicide of Dyer. I, too, in the intervening years had lost my lover, Trojan, to a tragic and premature death invoked by excess use of pharmaceu-
ticals; I felt that, somewhere between my own experiences and the reality of Bacon’s life, a story was there to be told. However, this is not an article about death, this is an article about life, and that ultimately is the essence of the Colony Room today. In the late 90s, having become a regular of the Club, its other inhabitants, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Angus Fairhurst and Gary Hume and the other so-called YBAs were not only friends but extras and actors in the resulting film, Love is the Devil. More importantly, Michael Wojas, owner and host of the Colony Room for the past 27 years, became more than a friend: a confidant, advisor and, had I had my way, a bit on the side. This brilliant Polish maverick has managed to maintain not only the spirit of Muriel Belcher and Ian Board, her successor, but to bring the Club into the 21st century with insane performance nights, the same salubrious selectivity on who can and cannot walk through the grisly door, and a guaranteed supply of the cheapest, nastiest champagne in London. With the future of the Colony Room in question, one thing remains certain in my mind: as a club, it is not a building, nor is it a location; the Colony Room exists in the spirit and energy of its membership, and more importantly, in the soul of the person who tells you to “fuck off” when it is time to leave. For 60 years, the Colony has been a refuge for reprobates, refuseniks and rebels from all strata of society, the only real requirement for membership being a sharp wit, a strong liver and the balls to walk through the door. When Muriel named her club the Colony, I suspect her real meaning was that we were all refugees from some other nation, cast adrift in a foreign land.
RUNNING LATE Words The Photographers Gallery Photos The Friends of Cuts Running Late is a photography collaboration with the legendary hairdressers, Cuts, located on Frith Street in the heart of Soho. Established over 20 years ago, both the workers and clientele have seen many changes in this part of London, and this project is an attempt to capture some of the observations of Soho. Drawing from their connection to and support of the creative industries such as music, photography and the visual arts, many of the clients are a roll call of well-known names. The idea arose as a creative alternative to waiting for your appointment. As the title of the project indicates, many appointments run late; rather than flick through dog-eared back issues of magazines, clients were given disposable cameras and the brief to go out and photograph Soho.
Words Chris Sullivan Images Zoltar, Don McCullin In the early 50s, the clichéd image of the sartorially rebellious and angst-ridden “teenager”, the fuel of a thousand movies, the subject of a million articles, did not exist. The term was then just a demarcation of age used to denote that ever so awkward middle ground between child and adult, undetermined mire where the young aimlessly drifted in an attempt to emulate their parents’ every nuance. Girls dressed like their mothers, boys like their dads and most looked and behaved like adults – in miniature. “Most people went to Burton’s to get the same clothes as they’re fathers,” says Tommy Roberts AKA Mr. Freedom. “They looked like little old men coming out.”
The War had left a population bereft of resources in the UK while America ruminated on the birth of consumerism. Rumblings of discontent were heard the world over, but it was perhaps in Great Britain that the most visually beguiling teenage cult of all time was to be born: the Teddy Boy. In the heady world of adolescent rebellion, it was the Teddy Boy who first strutted onto the stage and across the front pages of the British newspapers. With their meticulous mockery of upper-class Edwardian dress, they were stepping out from what novelist John Fowles called, “the grotesquely elongated shadow of that monstrous dwarf Queen Victoria” - and they stepped out in style, these pomaded peacocks, their open razors flashing bright against a drab backdrop of ration books, bomb sites and tram cars. With the full force of a Molotov cocktail, the first salvo in the youth war had been fired, but its origins were far from predictable. As early as 1950, Harper’s Bazaar proclaimed “The return of the beau” as moneyed ex-guardsmen centred on the “row” to order a style known as the New Edwardian, a name that, according to social anthropologist Ted Polhemus, “served to symbolize a time when the greatness of Britain was beyond dispute and to put a check on the increasing cultural hegemony of the United States.” Led by the example of Cecil Beaton and designer Hardy Amies’ right hand man, Bunny Rogers, the New Edwardian style was, as author and performer George Melly says in his pioneering tome Revolt Into Style, “a fair symbol of class privilege.” Indeed, many a toff “ex-guardsmen” sauntered up to the Row and followed suit, ordering outfits that were the complete antithesis of the drab, post-war Demob issue, and
ipso facto became the uniform of the post-war gay man. As Richard Walker says in The Savile Row Story, “The outfit featured slightly flared jacket, natural shoulders, slim waist, tight sleeves and narrow trousers; a curly brimmed bowler set atop a longer hairstyle and long, slim, singlebreasted overcoat with velvet collar and cuffs completed the look.” Dressed as such, these predominantly homosexual ex-soldiers minced around London’s West End like a gang of peacocks, head and shoulders above the eminently drab grouse. Unashamedly flamboyant, the New Edwardian look flagrantly and bravely defied the government’s conservative post-war ethic and was viewed by many as positively anti-establishment - which was precisely why it attracted the attentions of a different breed of customer altogether, who, just as the teenager of today wants their designer mufti, so wanted the outward trappings of success. Legend has it that the look was first spotted on a routine salvo by a South London teenage shoplifting gang known as the Forty Thieves. Such young, working-class criminals saw the look as unattainable and therefore (in true teenage spirit) adopted it, not realising that their inspiration was a bunch of extremely camp ex-army officers who were as bent as a butcher’s hook. This was the first time that such youth were to be influenced by such a minority … but certainly not the last. This seizure of the trappings of the upper classes was seen by many as a deliberate attempt by the working classes to undermine the social standing of those considered to be their betters. As far as they were concerned, they had not fought a war
for nothing. They had been promised a new egalitaria and these “toffs” were deliberately flaunting society’s inequalities, and the working classes didn’t like it. Just as a teenager today will beg, borrow and steal to achieve that Gucci or Prada, so then did they. It is this ethic that has fuelled the rise of teenage fashion ever since, but it was born with the Teddy Boy. The first rumblings of discontent were heard in some of the most hard hit areas of London’s Elephant & Castle and Borough neighborhoods, which were now little more than bomb sites and produced a street gang known as the Elephant Boys, who comprised some of London’s most able families, such as the Reyburns, Brindles, MacDonalds and last but not least, the Richardsons. They later supplied,
according to former member Brian MacDonald, “the heavy mob which kept the West End gang lords in power.” Apart from being physically adept, they were also, as MacDonald states, “all snappy dressers. Suits cost roughly the equivalent of two weeks’ wages or more. They were made to measure by excellent tailors on the basis of a deposit, and some of the balance paid at each of the two fittings, with the remainder paid on collection. When the Edwardian fashion came in, it was a three or four buttoned three-piece suit without velvet collar, although this appeared on overcoats. Fashionable materials were mohair or 22 ounce worsteds in, say, clerical grey. Notable tailors were Harris and Hymie of Blackfriars, Diamond Brothers of Shaftesbury Avenue and Sam Arkus in Berwick Street.”
Yet, due to the non-existence of style magazines or youth culture per se, the New Edwardian style took a while to catch on. To add the classic Edwardian suit, due to cloth rationing, was way out of reach for many teenagers, but just as the Pachuco Zoot Suiters had defied the American cloth restrictions, so did many young Britons. Dougie Millins, then chief cutter at Cecil Gee, concurs. “Rationing meant that people had to save six coupons for a suit and weren’t allowed turn-ups.” Indeed, only those who walked on the wrong side of the tracks (such as the Elephant Boys) and earned their living from the lucrative black market could afford or acquire such extravagance. As writer Nik Cohn explains, “A proper Ted suit would cost between £15 and £20, hand made by a back street tailor, and all the accessories would double that. If you wished to make top Ted, you had to be prepared to stroll into a dance hall with £50 on your back.”
Esteemed photographer Don McCullin lived in Tottenham and used to hang out with a gang, but never got fully involved. “I was making £3 a week on the railways,” he says. “How could I afford that?” Adopted by ne’er do wells and, due to the not unsurprising gang warfare that exploded all over London, it was not long before the outfit became synonymous with teenage violence. As The Times said in March of 1993, “They began making headlines from early 1954, although the first reference to ‘Edwardians’ is from the London Evening Standard of September 22, 1953, that described them as, ‘a teenage gang of hooligans dressed in Edwardian-style suits who frequented Clapham Common and were a regular evening nuisance.’” Indeed, the media did not tolerate them. “The Cosh Boys have killed all hopes of men’s fashions that really are different,” said Daily Sketch, Decem-
ber 9, 1953. In fact, they were considered such a problem that measures were taken in Parliament to curb their effect on society. It seems that the first newspaper that used the term “Teddy Boy” was the Daily Express, on September 23, 1953, but it was not until 1954 that the phenomenon really took off. By then, as Woodhead adds, “Teddy Boys were associated with teenage violence, the idea of fashionable clothes as a threat to society was born. And that was how James Dean, Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley came to symbolize rebellious youth.” Of course, what also aided the advance of the Ted was the rise of the clothing manufacturing industry. As Richard Walker states, “Clothing manufacturers seized upon the style [New Edwardian] and adapted it, so by 1953 it had become the badge of the Teddy Boy.” Savile Row dropped it like hot bricks and some even denied they had ever made such a garment. By now, the New Edwardian look had transmogrified into something else. The velvet collars and fancy waistcoats from Savile Row were added to the long drape of the jacket of the American Zoot Suit. As the style hit the high streets of the nation, it developed an eccentricity of its own, as the youth added the bootlace tie and the crepe soled shoe (particularly the Eton Clubman) or the Brothel Creeper. Another all-important facet was the hair, which George Melly describes as, “a great deal of grease supporting some form of quiff at the front but a certain amount of variation at the back, i.e. the duck’s arse, or DA. There were other eccentricities: the elephant’s trunk - a rather obscene sausage like shape that was allowed to dangle down onto the forehead; and the apache,
a very radical style in which the whole head was shaved except for a fore-to-aft ridge.” In May of 1954, the nation’s favourite magazine, Picture Post, displayed a young teenage Ted posing outside the Tottenham Royal on its cover and “it” all kicked off. The image launched a million quaffs from Lands End to John o’ Groats, and all were ready to embrace the cultural tidal wave that came in its wake. So when, in July 1954, Elvis recorded his first 78 for Sun Records, and Bill Haley’s “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, hit the US charts, the Teddy Boy had all the prerequisites of a youth movement – clothes, music and attitude. He was now was ready, willing and able to upset the status quo. Aiding and abetting the rise of the Ted was another phenomenon - the rise of the “teenager”. The term had first been used in the early 50s in an advertising campaign that proudly proclaimed, “We are living in a Teen Age”. Imported into Britain, the tailored term “teenager” waltzed down the isle of insurrection hand in hand with the Teddy Boy and became, as Ted Polhemus states, “a Frankenstein’s monster which could not be subdued; reaching out far beyond its demographic territory to leave its mark on almost every aspect of Western Culture.” As if by magic, in 1954, Masaru Ibuka of Sony made profound improvements in techniques for manufacturing transistors, and a new technology flooded the world as portable radios propagated the sound of rock ‘n’ roll. In 1954, the first Burger King opened and Ray Kroc got his first look at the original McDonald’s, while William Golding published The Lord of the Flies – a dark and menacing teenage tome.
It was as if all the elements of teenage culture for the next half-century were conspiring to come together all in the same year, and the year was 1954. “You’d buy into the whole thing,” says Tommy Robert, a schoolboy in Catford at the time. “Read paperbacks about New York gangs and juvenile delinquents and go and see films like The Blackboard Jungle, which was really the start of youth culture. The only place you heard loud rock ‘n’ roll was at the fairground.” By the end of 1955, Teddy Boy riots swept the country, living up to their tabloid cliché. As writer Nik Cohn explains, “By 1958, the full Teddy Boy regalia had become hopelessly outmoded, and those that wore it were deliberately archaic.” Since then, the Teddy Boy has existed like some relic of a bygone age, filed carefully away at the back of the cabinet of youth culture, a curious anomaly that exists in a time warp, if only by virtue of its obsolescence. If the Teddy Boy had fired the opening salvo, then what followed was grape shot, as the youth cut their teeth and diversified. Emerging from the original Ted gene, many rockers - inspired by the example of Laszlo Benedek and Stanley Kramer’s 1954 movie The Wild One - took to the road. Marlon Brando’s character Johnny is asked, “What are you rebelling against?” His answer, “Whaddaya got?” became a clarion call for thousands of archetypal, disaffected youth, many of whom took to their bikes and followed Brando’s example. Known as Ton Up Boys in the UK (due to their penchant for exceeding the 100 M.P.H. mark), the original British bikers hung out in coffee bars such as the infamous Ace Café and Teds - both on London’s
North Circular Road - and Snitch’s on the A10. Their main concern was riding their glorious Triumph and BSA motorbikes, hanging out, listening to Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochrane and drinking coffee. Just as the Ton Up Boys found their feet, many style-conscious Teddy Boys were moving on to pastures greener. Brian MacDonald, original Ted and South London gang member, says in his book The Elephant Boys, that the cardboard cut-out Ted antics were, “too unsophisticated for us. We had discovered be-bop in the mid-fifties. Charlie Parker had brought jazz up to date with a sudden jolt. We got onto the Italian style, with a fairly short two-button jacket with ‘sloop’ shoulders.” This new breed of style monger, known as Modernists, was named so because of their adoration of the very modern “cool school” of American jazz, whose chief exponents were Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and The Modern Jazz Quartet. The “cool school” musician had adopted that most conservative of American styles: Ivy League. The trousers were always flat-fronted without pleats or turn-ups, while heavy soled wingtips (brogues) or Bass Weejun loafers were the choice of shoe. The UK modernist of 1956, in true Brit fashion, coupled the Ivy League template with a distinctly Italian flair to create the Modernist profile. By 1960, the die was cast for the future of youth culture. There were the Modernists: the working class dressing up and listening to Black music. There were the Trads: middle class dressing down and slumming, and there were the Teddy Boys: an almost redundant tribe who had retreated to the suburbs, never to change again.
Images Jake & Dinos Chapman courtesy of RS&A Ltd (London) and Triumph Gallery (Moscow) HELL hath no fury Like a Chapman spurned So come see the second â€˜Cos the first one burned.
MILLENNIUM HEIST Words Alex Friedman Photos the Met I was thinking about the River Thames and speedboats the other day … Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you were an aspiring jewel thief, perhaps a bit too ham-handed for the erudite delicacy cat burglary requires, perhaps a bit too thick around the middle for scaling walls, zipping down cables or even fitting through windows – velvet gloved, you ain’t. Well, fuck it then, I want those jewels, and I’m gonna take ‘em … and I’m gonna do the job in proper Ernst Blofeld meets Bob the Builder style. So – get the clearances from (ahem) up Above or over East, guarantee a
slice to the appropriate sources, call your mate with the bulldozer, read him the article about the jewel display that’s going to be at the Millennium Dome shielded only by a flimsy sheet of nylon, and with the seamless operation firmly in your mind’s eye, try and remember who’s got a boat. Not a fooking sailboat, either, something that’s got speed … I imagine that’s roughly the story of Raymond Betson, a career criminal from a small village outside of Turnbridge Wells, who, in a bit of debt after two foiled contraband cigarette
shipments were busted, with dreams of a criminally respected retirement in Spain, heard that the Millennium Star diamond, a 203-carat chunk of rock worth an estimated £200 million, would be displayed in the Monet Zone of London’s Millennium Dome. So he put together a plan and recruited a gang. He contacted Bill Cockram from Catford (where the fuck is Catford?) to help plan the operation, Aldo Ciarrocchi as a “communications man” who would monitor police scanners, and for the “smash” of the “smash-and-grab” he recruited Bob Adams, an experienced London bank robber, to employ a nail gun and sledge hammer to break open the jewel case. Finally, Betson brought in Kevin Meredith, who would transport the gang and the haul in a waiting speedboat across the river to a stolen getaway van. Meredith, using the idiotic false name of “Tom Diamond”, hired a Pilton GGS 160 speedboat (top speed: 55 M.P.H.) from a London brokerage. Needing an entryway into the Dome, they stole a JCB bulldozer from Turnbridge Wells, outfitted it with legitimate-looking license plates and stripped the interior so as to accommodate the criminals hidden beneath a blanket inside. Betson also contacted two men, well-known figures of the London underground,
to arrange for the fencing of the soonto-be-purloined jewels. Whoops – one of those men turned out to be a police informant. The gang did their due diligence and surveyed the Dome, posing as tourists for several walk-throughs and dry runs. Unbeknownst to them, many of the camcorder-wielding tourists around them were members of the Flying Squad, giddily recording the whole thing. The gang prepared to do the job, and on 6 October 2000, they assumed their places. But the speedboat had engine problems, so the attempt was aborted. The police, ready to pounce, held their ground and waited. A month later, on 6 November 2000, the thieves again prepared their assault. But this time, Meredith concluded that the tides of the Thames would make a getaway too difficult. So they backed off, as did the Flying Squad. The next morning, however, on 7 November 2000, more than 100 undercover police officers looked on, as the gang, armed with two-and-a-half pints of ammonia, stink bombs, smoke grenades, police scanners, bolt cutters, a nail gun and a sledge hammer, barreled towards the Dome in the JCB and crashed through the wall, emerging a mere 20
yards from the Money Zone. Throwing smoke bombs, they approached the jewel cases, and Adams went to work breaking them. His technique was described by De Beers’ own head of security as “brilliant” – using the nail gun, he shot three times into the glass, and while the case was weakened and still warm, he set upon it with the sledge hammer. Twentyseven seconds later, the diamonds were within arms’ reach. So … imagine your surprise when the sanitation workers languidly loafing about the Dome pull HKs out of the bins, screaming, “Strike! Strike! Strike!”, pin you to the floor with a knee to the back of the neck, and smugly say, “Scotland Yard, motherfucker” (or something to that effect). They laughingly take the glass replica that had been put in place of the actual Millennium Star and rub it in your face like poo to a puppy. Your muppet mate out on the Thames, in his hired shitbox speedboat (which had a rebuilt engine they neglected to repair) has got a gun to his temple with the polite request to hand over the keys and step away from the helm. As you feel urine pool around you, your mind flashes to estimates of five to ten years of incarceration and forced sodomy, and how are you gonna break the news to Gran? How could you let this happen? Everything was so … worked out? Except one thing: these bumblefucks were so smug and self-enamored that one of them, probably lagered to the tits, said something, to someone, somewhere, sometime. And lo and behold, the Scotland Yard boys got wind. Well, here’s where the cops had a bit of fun: rather than break up the heist before it began, they decided to let these Guy Ritchie-movie-
wannabes go right ahead with their “operation” and wait until the hand was in the proverbial cookie jar before bringing the hammer down. Think how excited the Special Operations locker room was that morning; joking around, extra clips checked and rechecked, perhaps a friendly wager or two bandied about. Today is gonna be FUN, they surely mused. And, for the cops, fun it was. All the while, the morons with their racing heartbeats and loose lips are feeling like Danny Ocean and Co. … Their babbling and boasting before the job worthy of a monumental smackdown, perhaps in a freezer truck, from Goodfella’s Jimmy Conway. But the money … ah yes, the money … Costa del Sol and all that. I have real admiration for the actions of law enforcement officials that day. They allowed themselves a bit of fun, got to break out the toys, flex a little muscle. Scotland Yard loves the smell of terrified thug-urine, and they must have laughed and high-fived till the final bell at the pubs that night. Good for them. How deliciously satisfying to hold onto incriminating information to wait for a guns-a-blazing in flagrante takedown. Fuck paperwork and subpoenas and warrants. Let the fuckers think they’re pulling it off, and then … Oh boy, and then … The takedown took 20 seconds. The gang was sentenced to a total of 71 years in Bellmarsh Prison. That’s a long way away from the Costa del Sol, and a long time to wallow in the urine-stench left over from a prime example that “loose lips sink ships”. As Jimmy Conway says, “Always keep your mouth shut.” True enough. And always - always - double-check a boat’s engine.
GLASS EYE ... GLASS SOUL Introduction Professor Frederick Van Der Greier Images John Isaacs If it is at all possible to offer an exact reproduction of the world, a universal facsimile, then all questions of the imagination would be answered. Though it would appear that this is an outwardly apparent utopia of objective practices, human history is one built on the intellectual need to both clarify and obscure, with each step taken towards a â€œtruthâ€? faltering within the confines of technical objectives and the inbuilt mechanism of our own physical and mental biology. There are of course windows, moments in which the light shines through, illuminating the world with such clarity that we can at least believe it to be more than a vision, but this aspiration dissolves as quickly as it appears. We are left then walking through the landscape built of the rubble of our history lying on the foundations of our dreams.
Words Stephen Webster Image Janette Beckman In the summer of 1977, I left art school in Rochester, Kent and headed for London to embark on a five year apprenticeship as a goldsmith/jeweller. My art school tutor had previously taken me for my interview with the 150-year-old goldsmithing and watchmaking firm of Saunders & Shepherd (S & S). Pre-apprentices (as we were known then) were 16-year-old boys. An apprenticeship was and is a way to learn a craft or skill thoroughly with virtually no other distractions, unlike the other woolly option, “the university degree”. This, as we all know, is a chance to go to uni for a few years, take a lot of drugs, smoke, and drink too much cider, then get your shit together in the last half-year (in hindsight, probably a lot more fun). On my first morning, I headed to the old firm of S & S nestled in Bleeding Heart Yard, in the middle of Hatton Garden - the centre of London’s jewellery trade for over 200 years. I thought I was probably the luckiest 17-year-old alive. During my time at Medway College of Design, I had embraced the jewellery and silversmithing course with such enthusiasm that a potential career in
the trade felt like it would be money for nothing. That’s the way you do it. This was going to be the road to a glamorous life making trinkets for beautiful people! A workshop was an exclusively male place back then, rows of benches and equipment that looked one step away from being steam driven. Our particular workshop housed one of the last engine turners left in London. This is a process used to apply the very distinct pattern found on fancy cigarette cases. The actual piece of elaborate machinery that applied the patterns looked like a fantasy created by Jules Verne. The jewellers, I soon found out, weren’t great conversationalists. Words were kept for necessities, like, “Can you get us a sarnie, Steve?” or, “Any chance of a cup of ‘Rosie Leigh’?” Rhyming slang was used whenever possible; this was for the sole purpose of maintaining a barrier between the workshop and any kind of management including the workshop foreman who was
not from London and treated us all with contempt. My first task each morning would be to go to “the Hall”, this being the Goldsmiths’ Guild Hall where all the pieces of jewellery manufactured in London would be tested and given the ancient marks of quality and origin. This is the oldest mark guaranteeing quality in the world, having been carried out since 1478. Coincidently, this year, 2008, a piece made by my company was selected for a ceremony to mark the first item of jewellery made in London to be hallmarked by the Hall, but in a new facility at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, showing that this institution is keeping up with the times. Often, the bag of unfinished items I would carry between the workshop and the Hall would be worth thousands of pounds. My only security was a battered briefcase and my youth. This journey would take me through Smithfield Market. This was a game of dodgems first thing in the morning. Thousands of men in white coats and hats, covered from head to toe in blood, running here, there and everywhere, pulling long barrows piled with carcasses, all shouting to clear their way to lorries about to head to every butcher’s shop in England. My next task was to get everyone’s sandwiches. Always salt beef from the Knosherie in Greville Street for the Jewish workers, and cheese rolls for the rest. We all used to get luncheon vouchers as part of our pay packet. I had 15 pence a day. For this I could get two cheese rolls and a bath bun. Every place I stopped for the lunches, the owner would make me a cuppa. On a good day, I could get four free teas and make the task last 45 minutes. Very quickly I got to know all the
characters in “the garden” and Leather Lane, which was the street market that was parallel to “the garden”. Not all vendors took to me as well as others. I forgot to mention that I was the first punk in the trade, which most people were cool about, but had to comment on every day. “Oi Steve, did you get a fright last night?” “Does your bird know you’ve been in her makeup bag again?” However, in a few, it provoked a reaction that seemed a tad extreme. A barrow boy in Leather Lane once dropped the oranges he was weighing out just to chase me all the way to Clerkenwell Road. No sooner would I return to the workshop to get down to making something, than I would be up and out again visiting the never-ending list of specialists that traditionally never work with the goldsmiths, but were spread all over the area: engravers, platers, diamond setters, enamellers and polishers. These affiliated trades would all be carried out in impossibly small cupboards, in conditions that today would have health and safety officers rubbing their hands together with glee. Each crumbling building would have so many of these sub-, sub-divided rooms, that the whole place had an organic feel. That, combined with the sweet almond smell of cyanide, used by the platers, made a trip feel more like a journey to Middle Earth than a place in East Central London. I soon found out that my five year apprenticeship was going to be very little about making tiaras and treasures. As for glamour, that was only to be found in the stripper who performed every lunchtime in the Rose and Crown, a meeting place for all the apprentices on a Friday at twelvethirty P.M. for a pint and to catch up on the grime of it all.
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Banished by Exiles Words Ian Allison Images Zoltar, Keith Martin Exiled in London, expelled by anarchists, Arthur Rimbaud said he did not understand revolt. But before turning away from poetry, he planted verses like ticking bombs, waiting to explode.
It’s a foggy episode that’s descended into legend. The Parnassian, Paul Verlaine, had been married for three or four months. The couple were doing quite well, despite the demented antics of Verlaine, whose brain had been unhinged for a long time, when unkind fate brought to Paris a lad – Rimbaud, a native of Charleville, who came all on his own to present his work to the Parnassians. In morality and talent, this Rimbaud, aged between 15 and 16, was and is a monster. He can construct poems like no one else, but his works are completely incomprehensible and repulsive. They eloped together like lovers, to savour their happiness and what followed. “We love each other like tigers,” exclaimed Verlaine. So saying, he bared his chest, which was tattooed with knife wounds administered by his young friend. These creatures were in the habit of lacerating each other like wild animals just so they could have the pleasure of making up again afterwards. Traveling under Saturn, the sign of wanderers, detours, misdemeanours, they stopped upon reaching the greatest town on Earth. From lodgings at 34 Howland Street on the edge of Soho, they met Eugene Vermersh and Felix Regamy: exiles of the Paris Commune. At a meeting place above the Hibernia tavern in Old Compton Street, Soho, they joined a meeting chaired by the father of revolution, Karl Marx. Verlaine, like the foolish virgin, fell hard in love with his infernal bridegroom, reflected in the song which, “melts in the calm light of the moon/the lovely melancholy light that sets/the little birds to dreaming in the tree/and
among the statues makes the jets/of slender fountains sob with ecstasy.” The couple cut an odd shape alright: Rimbaud, aged 16, in long threadbare coat, battered hob-nail boots, looked a tramp, save for a satin top hat purchased from German Street his most prized possession. Verlaine, twice his age, dressed in a dirty cream suit, walking hand in hand, lamentably drunk, away down to the docks. They would perform the old trick still used by the Angels to freak out straights: publicly kissing one another long and hard on the lips. Soon it would prove too much for the anarchists and they would be expelled from the Communards. Verlaine’s marriage, meanwhile, was a claustrophobic shoo-in, close to rupture. He had the autonomy of a dead leaf. His wife hired a constable, Lombard of the 4th Intelligence Brigade, Paris Constabulary, to track him down. They expected the drifting leaf to come to rest in some dive in the Latin Quarter. As time wore on, the bride’s father searched enthusiastically around the city’s morgues, hoping to find the poet’s corpse. In the end, he accepted that his daughter had wed an alcoholic pederast. To judge simply by their writings, Verlaine and Rimbaud had not an active political idea to juggle between them. “I don’t read the French papers any more,” Verlaine wrote to a friend in June, 1873. “But what harm in that?” If they were anarchists, it was the anarchism of insobriety, bad company, irregular meals. Rimbaud was mesmerised by overpeopled London, the unfashionable metropolis which churned out empire,
run amuck with food-stained whores and slobbering boot-blacks; the blackened docks, the opium dens, the spider’s web library – the whole thing, like a mirage, could disappear into the fog. There is tension in Rimbaud’s reordered senses, between materialism - the twelve-tone clang of London in the throes of a grand building project, emanating the raw energy of empire - versus his most ethereal, intoxicated poetic musings. From the indigo straits to the seas of Ossian, on pink and orange sands washed by the vinous sky, crystal boulevards have just risen and crossed, immediately occupied by poor young families who get their food at the greengrocers. Nothing rich - the city!
Rimbaud recorded everything, from newspapers to theatre bills. He saw clearly “a mosque instead of a factory, a drummers’ school consisting of angels, coaches on the roads of the sky, a drawing room at the bottom of a lake.” According to Walter Benjamin, Rimbaud’s Season in Hell is indeed the first document of Surrealism. Can the point be more definitively and incisively presented than by Rimbaud himself in his personal copy of the book? In the margin, beside the passage “on the silk of the seas and the arctic flowers”, he later wrote, “There’s no such thing.” Pushing the poetic life to the limits of possibility, it becomes a repository for a teeming miscellany of telegraphic
At home, an Indian wing had been added to the Exhibition at South Kensington and an electric light had been installed at great expense in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. After the recent late-night frosts, a period of brighter weather was expected. When the poets returned to London, it was to Camden Town, at 8 Great College Street. Here they fought with knives wrapped in towels so only the tips could stab. This saved them serious injury and the cost of hospital bills. After shrieks and stabs, the two would repair to the pub.
phrases. Landscapes of his early life: circus clowns, church book Latin, fairy tales, pornographic books, the colours of each vowel. The workmen, bathing at noon in the river, blend with the morning papers of 21 June 1873, on sale that morning at the Bishopsgate Station newsstand in London. In bold back and white, they state in Paris, President Thiers had been forced out of office and replaced with Marshal MacMahon, the exterminator of Communards. Something called “moral order” was to be restored. In Spain, another “outrage” had been committed by the Carlists, whose rebel army was attracting mercenaries from all over Europe. The Shah of Persia, currently visiting St. Petersburg, was due to arrive in London on 18 June.
One day, as Verlaine returned, Rimbaud sniggered, “Have you any idea how ridiculous you look, with your bottle of oil in one hand and your fish in the other?” Enraged, Verlaine swiped Rimbaud across the face with the fish. The old man left in haste for the next packet boat from St. Katherine’s Dock. Rimbaud pawned his clothes immediately. The next time the two met was in Brussels, a week later. Verlaine shot Rimbaud with a pistol, wounding him in the wrist. So marked the end of the affair. Between 1865 and 1875, a number of great anarchists, without knowing one another, worked on their infernal machines. And the astonishing thing is that, independently of one another, they set their clocks at exactly the same hour, and 40 years later in Western Europe, the writings of Dostoevsky, Lautremont and Rimbaud exploded at the same time.
“PEDIGREE CHUMS” Words & Photos Zoltar Clothes & Props Zoltar The Magnificent There was a time before hoodies and happy slappers, where innocence prevailed in England’s green and pleasant land. Still reeling from rationing, the blitz, and the threat of invasion by the sausagewielding Hun, the country submerged itself in pastoral nostalgia. No, this was not some Wordsworthian nirvana, but a propaganda effort built on the foundation of Dad’s Army, wholesome fun with chums, magic woods and talking twigs! Though something was lurking beneath the veneer of scones and clotted cream, that was the hope that the generation of whippersnappers, now affectionately known as the baby boomers, would not fall into the same chasm of hedonism as those youngsters after the “Great War”. This nihilism pit was full to the brim with Fascism, Communism and impoliteness. To insure the safety of the next generation, a character emerged from the ashes of a smoldering Europe. This phoenix’s name was Rupert, Rupert the Bear. His rallying cry was not “sieg hiel” or “da comrade”, but “thank you very much” and “that will do nicely”. This affectionate character has been etched into the subconscious of British culture. As vivid as Alex and his merry band of droogs, as kitsch as Benny Hill and as poignant as the Renaissance artists’ love of that most romantic of subjects, the fall of an empire.
Words Gary Kemp Photos Fabricator of Uselessness The door of Broadmoor Hospital closed behind me like an airlock. What I breathed seemed rank, poisonous even, heavy with the carbon dioxide of killers. I was inside Britain’s infamous highsecurity psychiatric prison and on my way to meet one of its most celebrated inmates. The building’s heavy Victorian Gothic, oppressive for even the sanest mind, seemed steeped in the malevolence of some of the darkest crimes ever committed. Here, somewhere around me, behind these very walls, resides the killer of children, Ian Brady, the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, and the man I’ve come to see, the leader of a fraternal duo that once held London in a grip of fear – Ronnie Kray. With friends from within show business and politics, such as Sinatra, Garland and Lord Boothby, and pictures of them taken by David Bailey and society photographers, the Kray Twins, Ronnie and Reggie, were the supreme rulers of East and West London’s underworld in the 60s. Their name became a byword for proletarian power, and they dressed in the stark, dark uniform of the workingclass male, which owed more to the sartorial soberness of the 50s than anything that could be considered “swinging” in that hip age. Dark suits, white shirts and sombre ties with small, vicious knots pushed up to strangling point. They threatened; they hurt; they killed, and they evaded the police for 15 years. Eventually, the conspiracy of silence crumbled, and in 1969 they were imprisoned for life for the murders of George Cornell and Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie.
I was here to find something in Ronnie that would help me portray him in a movie of his life: a voice, a speed, a weight. Written by Philip Ridley, The Krays played out the story as a working-class tragedy of egos; directed by Peter Medak, it was a heightened, grand guignol telling of the twins’ lives; a stylised East End opera. Ronnie was wearing a sky-blue seersucker suit when we met. In Broadmoor, they are not prisoners but patients, allowed to wear their own clothes and meet visitors in the large canteen that acts as a social hub. He held his arm high to shake my hand and welcomed me to a little table that he’d chosen for our meeting. I felt his grip and noticed a large gold cufflink containing a diamond encrusted ‘R’. He looked thin within his shirt-collar, gaunt, surprisingly an old man; no longer the large bulldog powerhouse
once known as ‘The Colonel’. Legend has him sitting alone in his East End apartment, playing with his boa constrictor and listening to recordings of Winston Churchill’s speeches, firing himself up for murder. Now he was politely ordering non-alcoholic lager from a nervous looking inmate and offering me a seat. He noticed my earring. He must have known that for the last ten years I’d played in a pop band, and was worried that I wouldn’t cut the mustard. “You won’t wear that when you play me, will you?” His voice was surprisingly high, even a little camp in an old fashioned way, like an affectionate auntie. Ronnie was openly homosexual at a time when it added to his list of misdemeanours. It was a contradictory twist to his macho status that would have unsettled his enemies even more. “No Ronnie, I’ll take it out.” I wasn’t nervous, but Ronnie had a socially graceless manner of looking directly into your eyes without ever glancing away. I felt that I had to look back, hold his stare, gain his blessing. I wanted to understand him. I needed to empathise. After some small talk and a few sips of the watery beer, I asked him if he ever felt in competition with his twin during their heyday. He looked shocked. “Never, never. We were a team.” Maybe I’d gone too far too soon, but I didn’t believe him. I knew too much about him. He tasted his beer and I noticed his cufflinks again and commented on them.
“Look.” He opened his jacket and proudly showed me a monogram on his shirt breast: a blue ‘RK’ with a small crown on top. “How is it for you in here, Ronnie?” “It’s okay. Lots of nice people. We all get on. It’s important to me that my mum doesn’t swear.” He meant in the film. Ronnie was famously devoted to his mother. When she died, the twins were allowed out to her funeral, and stood handcuffed to freakishly tall prison officers in an effort to literally belittle them in front of a media frenzy. “I never heard her swear in my life,” he said gently. When the film was released and Billie Whitelaw, playing the mother, Violet, at one point said “Bastard”, Ronnie sent a message of disgust. It was out of my control, and anyway, right now I was here to ask a more pertinent question. “Can I ask, how did you feel when you killed George Cornell?” Ronnie had walked into a packed pub, The Blind Beggar, unloaded a Lugar into Cornell’s forehead and casually walked out. It took more than a year for anyone to admit seeing it happen. “I didn’t feel anything. I’d fucking do it again if I could.” He was staring straight into my eyes, leaning across the small square table. “I walked in and he was sitting on a stool by the bar. I went up to him and he said, ‘Hello Ron.’ I pulled out my gun and shot him through the head. I remember he fell forwards - that surprised me - and blood was coming
out. I went home and told my brothers what had happened and gave Reggie my clothes to burn. We sat and listened to the news on the radio and it came on that he’d been killed and I thought, thank fuck for that.” I thought he meant that if he were still alive he’d tell the police who’d tried to kill him, but he continued. “Because if he wasn’t, I’d have to go back and do him again.” There was a moment of silence and we sipped some beer.
Behind his glasses, his eyes looked rheumy. He stood to leave and I thanked him. The canteen was full with visitors and in the far corner sat a man. I was sure it was him. “What about the Yorkshire Ripper, Ronnie? How’s he treated?” Peter Sutcliffe had murdered 13 women. “He’s alright. We have to get on in here.” I watched him leave. Straight-backed and proud. He’d obviously dressed for our meeting. It was impressive.
“Do you regret it, Ronnie?” “No,” he fired back. “I’d do it again today if I could.” He meant everything, really. Not just the one murder he was charged with. A look of softness crossed his etched face. “I do regret hurting me mum though.”
The obsequious inmate who’d served us arrived and put the bill on the table. It came to £100. “We only had two beers,” I said. “Hope you don’t mind, but Ronnie put a few cigarettes on there.” I paid the money. I was desperate to get out into the air.
I shifted my gaze. Copyright Gary Kemp 2008 “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, “I get dehydrated. It’s the medicine. I’ve gotta go now. Nice to meet you.”
VERTIGO OF LONDON Words Peter Bach Images Zoltar Of his love for his city, he was sure. Maybe he was never quite meant for this world. Maybe he was like a crofter on a mainland ward comfortable, at times, with his own soul, but seldom with anyone elseâ€™s. But on the subject of the city, his city now, he knew he was quite sure. So why did he feel so nauseous? Or did he always feel this way before and after, which is to say sick, sick as truth sometimes, sick like some political virus working its way into the body martial? He needed wisdom, advice. Before going back to the mountains, before the fight again, he needed it fast. His city, like him, was under threat. This was why he spent longer than usual pulling himself out of bed, if indeed it was bed, entering and exiting the other room, the so-called room for ablutions, kneeling by the bowl like a half-believer, whom he had almost forgotten, in his attempt the night before to body-surf across the up-raised hands of London, was a London man through and through. He entered the populous streets and walked alone in a long straight line. Romans. Boudica. Anglo-Saxons. Danes. (Runestones?) He needed some advice and he needed it quick. The air by the river was fresh but no
match for the mountains. Even with everyone in both places armed, at least over there you felt nature’s triumph. Here these days he found only former magnitude. And even with the mines over there like seas of jellyfish once the rains had stripped away the upper surfaces of the soil, nature did nothing wrong. Here, within the conurbation, within that which he had up until this very moment thought he knew well, cars continued to target the money, with their businessmen and businesswomen and service-based minds. Credit crunch? A mountain stream, he thought. Fifty million tonnes of cargo on the river each year? How about a place where the angels sing? Anyway, he felt the swelling in his throat again and began concentrating on the city’s enemies, for this was one of his other tasks. He thought about their deliberately unimposing houses in the suburbs, their dissociative glances, here as well as in the mountains, and he thought about their stealth. And he remembered the quiet, increasing gatherings: the beards, darting eyes, and closing minds. The giant, epic, other bowls, of granite, made of granite, in mountains far away. And he wondered why they wanted to kill him so much? He crossed the Thames Valley floodplain, by Parliament Hill, Addington Hills, and Primrose Hill. He crossed the busiest and oldest road, at least of his world, and saw some of the lights on in the building. This was his building of advice. These lights, he knew, these bulbs, like bulbs, like beacons of enlightened but depressed courage, belong to this city. Even though it is day and the clouds have parted and the sun is sending wave upon wave of ancient heat and light to stoke the city’s heart and stroke the city’s skin, these lights will always remain on. He didn’t bother with the lift and kept on walking. He could feel the sweat on his collar and still he kept on walking. One bead ran the length of his back and did a kind of detour past his scar. Vertigo, he was thinking. He never used to get vertigo and yet two weeks before in the mountains - before his sister died and he rushed back to London writing her eulogy in his head - he got vertigo, started trembling - right there, on the mountain. And this was exactly when he saw them, the city’s enemies. It wasn’t like the old days. Not like with the Muscovites. Not like when with blazing Hind-D gunships coming at you and screaming like undertakers, you
popped behind a rock. Not like when with the night-vision and the titanium and more rocks, you fed their children. Not like when they hit above your heads and you had to lean right back and watch what you thought was the mountains fall. He had a pet theory about vertigo and it was this. As you eat your city sandwiches by the river and dream of falling in love again, please remember. They donâ€™t give you vertigo when you are young because you are expendable then. Vertigo is there to save your life when you have children. The carpet was soft, thick, violety. It was also, in patches, a quiet, almost shy, salmon pink. (Like a salmon, bouncing its bloody belly upon the tooth-like jagged rocks, he was also thinking, I shall reach my goal, I shall make a shoal of my affection ... ) Anyway, a woman in the room to his left took her feet off the desk. He couldnâ€™t see who she was, not to talk to, but felt a kind of respect, like they were two sides of the same river. He proceeded towards the end of the corridor. This was when everything fanned out like a beautiful idea, like he had always hoped the city would again, and
this beautiful idea was like a kind of half-nightclub and half-sitting room in which you might find God. He moved cautiously, careful not to crunch the candles. On the wall to his immediate right - as he checked the cameras in each corner - was a large glass cabinet. Inside were these small sculpted heads, urban voodoo bracelets, handwriting on parchment, and very small pieces of amethyst. Amethyst. The Ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst because they believed it prevented intoxication. Some of the pieces were also violet and some the colour of purple grapes. ‘Ah, there you go,’ came a voice. He looked around, staring at the cameras first, but could not trace the source of this voice. He looked behind but didn’t see anyone there, either, only a chair, a lime-green, or possibly turquoise, chair. ‘Is that you?’ he asked the strange voice. ‘Is that who?’ ‘Are you ... you know ... the one?’ ‘You know the difference between your mountains and London?’ The Londoner stepped back a few feet and listened. ‘London, your London, is built on clay, and the energy, get it, the energy is absorbed, gets absorbed, right into the ground. Your mountains, however. The mountains from where you returned. The place where you say you saw this city’s enemies. They are all rock, the mountains ... all rock. There, there, in the mountains, everything pings straight right back at you, and doesn’t get absorbed at all.’ ‘Is that it?’ ‘You tell me.’ ‘No reason for them to want to kill me, though,’ he said. Siren sounds passed through the street outside. ‘More prisoners?’ he asked, hearing them. ‘More people about to be absorbed into the ground.’ ‘Somebody said to me that you wanted to know why these people wanted to kill you, is that right?’ ‘That’s right.’ ‘Well they don’t.’ ‘I’m sorry?’ ‘They don’t.’ ‘Don’t what?’ ‘Want to kill you.’ ‘Is that it?’ ‘No. There’s one more thing.’ ‘What?’ ‘They love your city.’
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Published on Jan 27, 2012
Frank151 joined Zoltar the Magnificent in the creation of a grand spectacle spanning the ancient and the futuristic, the idyllic and the app...