11 Days Remaining

Saturday 19th
posted by Morning Star in Arts

On the Road with Attila the Stockbroker

TRUMP. A lunatic misogynist billionaire with a nuclear hairdo has somehow convinced millions of working-class Americans that he is on their side. The world has gone even more nuts, so there’s even more to shout/ rage/organise about. I’m on the case — half an hour of new material in the last week alone.

But I’ll start off with a big well done to Steve and all the crew at Cafe INDIEpendent in Scunthorpe. I hadn’t played in Scunny for 30 years, simply because there was no suitable venue. Well, now there is — a former supermarket converted by a bunch of dedicated volunteers into a cafe, bar, music venue and drop-in centre for people in need.

I had a lovely gig there last Sunday, ably supported by fine Hull poet Ian Winter, followed by a long chat with the locals about all the changes in their town over the past years.

Driving in, I had passed a sign saying “Welcome to Scunthorpe – industrial garden city.” I smiled. Seemed a surreal concept to me but Scunny is surviving better than I thought it had, the Iron are top of the Third Division and now they’ve a great new venue too.

Fellow performers, check out the Indie on social media. They’ll make you very welcome.

On Monday, it was over to the O2 in Manchester for a benefit for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity alongside my old comedian mate Steve Gribbin, ace poet Matt Abbott, radical singer-songwriter Grace Petrie and a host of other friends and comrades.

Finishing off the evening was Tom Stade, a very clever and perceptive Canadian who is definitely my new favourite comic I’d never heard of before. And he can hold his ale too, as Steve and I discovered at a session which went on into the small hours…

More old friends the next day in Menai Bridge in north Wales. Rhys Mwyn is one of the pioneers of the Welsh-language punk scene and it was great to see him again.

A while ago, Rhys gave me a copy of his autobiography and it was great to be able to give him mine. Big difference though — he could actually read it. My Welsh extends to “Tethau yn ffwydro gyda mwynhad” (“My nipples explode with delight.”)

Rhys’s current band Welsh Rebel Outpost did a storming set and a fine turnout for a Tuesday night gave me a lovely reception. From there, after indulging my coastal dweller’s fish fascination with a visit to the Anglesey Sea Zoo — the recently-rescued rare Olive Ridley turtle was in intensive care and not on display, sadly — it was down to Coventry for a pioneering gig at the Albany Social Club in Earlsdon.

It used to be the Earlsdon Working Men’s Club, until modernity caught up with the name and now, thanks to Gill Dawson and her friends, modernity has caught up with — some of — the committee too.

After years of covers bands, karaoke and all the normal fare, I was the guinea pig — a sometimes rude and very left-wing performance poet on a Wednesday night.

Brave people put their reputations on the line in the face of the kind of “nothing must ever change” attitude sadly prevalent in some of those venues and I’m happy to say it worked and then some — there will be more such gigs.

Afterwards, we had a long discussion about the fate of Coventry City FC, held to ransom by a hedge fund. The fans need to do what we did at Brighton and simply drive the scum out of their club.

And now an appeal in a very good cause. On Sunday December 11, from noon until 10.30pm, more than 50 Brighton poets are taking part in a Poem-A-Thon at the Komedia in aid of the Refugee Council. In the era of Trump and Exit Right — which is what it is going to be, sadly — such initiatives are needed more than ever and I am proud to take part. Well done, organisers. I’ve collected over £500 at my last four gigs and of course it’s online too. You can donate to my Justgiving page at Thanks.

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