The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Let's cut to the chase. Socialist R&B rabble-rousers Thee Faction, as they prove at their launch gig for new album Singing Down The Government or The War of Position and How We're Winning It, are a brilliant live band.
They've got the moves, they've got the ideologically correct songs and they've even got a horn section called Brass Capital, for Marx's sake. But do they mean it?
They wouldn't have Attila the Stockbroker supporting them if they didn't. "I won't call him a legend, because that would be bourgeois," is how Billy Brentford, Thee Faction's wild-eyed lead singer, introduces him.
And the - damn it! - legendary punk-poet runs through an energetic set of his touching, occasionally surrealist, always inspiring material. To experience an Attila show is to be left dizzy from imagery- we get asylum -seeking Daleks, zen Stalinism, the tale of Prince Roy of Sealand and the genius conceit of North Korea mourning the bongo player out of T-Rex.
Thee Faction become Attila's backing band for his last two songs, one of which, Prince Harry's Knob, sounds a bit like a nakedly political Half Man Half Biscuit - wonderful, in other words.
And his rapping sign-off, "when a fascist hits a poet, the poet's doing something right," is perfect.
The main event, Thee Faction, are sharply dressed and ready for action. They're on message straight away - we get the Clash-meets-Stones testifying of Soapbox, the Dexys-B52s' hybrid revolution rock of Employment and the '60s pop stomp of Let's Have a Meetin'.
But the songs, frequently excellent as they are, are just a medium for the message.
As guitarist Babyface explains, in one of his frequent betwixt-song speeches, "These are not protest songs but solution songs."
We are exhorted to brush up on our GDH Cole, remember what the movement's done for us, ditch any Conservative friends and attend the TUC anti-austerity march.
The show finishes with the assertion that "encores are bourgeois" and Billy leaving the stage, demanding "are you ready for revolution?" of individual audience members as Attila pogos in appreciation.
This corner of Putney, at least, seems to be.
Singing Down The Revolution is available on Soviet Beret Records. For details of upcoming performances by Attila The Stockbroker and Thee Faction, visit www.attilathestockbroker.com and www.theefaction.wordpress.com.