Monday, 30 March 2009

Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone?

It's like you wake up one morning and you say to your wife, "I had a dream last night that there was a film about Eric Cantona. And it was directed by Ken Loach. And Eric was in it, and so were loads of familiar-looking faces." And she looks at you with a pack it in face. A pack it in right now face.

Friday, 27 March 2009

The Go-Betweens - Head Full of Steam.

I’m not one for ‘favourite’ things to the point where I chose to have designated ‘favourites’. Designated favourite film – ‘Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory’, designated favourite book ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ by Raymond Carver, designated favourite band, The Go Nuts (it used to be Buzzcocks, but The Go Nuts got the nod due to the sentiment expressed in their magnificent Go Nuts Theme) . This clip, however, of The Go-Betweens performing Spring Rain on Whistle Test (nee The Old Grey Whistle Test) in 1986, is my nailed-on 100% favourite ever live music clip. A perfect document of a great band at the very top of their form.

(I was going to write about Manchester magazine Belle Vue, but I realised that that would be three ‘fanzine’ raves in a row, so I’ll post about them later).

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Only Fun In Town

Cover of City Fun issue 20, originally uploaded by mithering.

City Fun was a fanzine published in Manchester in the late 70s and early 80s. At its height it was being published fortnightly. Having had to move from Salford to Grantham just as punk broke, and on the eve of Thatcher's rise to power, it was my talisman, my touchstone, my connection with the opportunities I'd left behind. Possibly. Stuck on a council estate on the edge of town in a family of non-drivers, in a place where the buses didn't run at night, and where there was literally zero entertainment for your archetypal bored teenagers, I had plenty of time to read. Initially the NME, from cover to cover, sometimes Sounds, and very occasionally The Melody Maker or Record Mirror.

It on one of my school holiday visits to my Gran's in Kipling Street that I happened upon City Fun, the magazine that opened my eyes fully to the possibility that you could, actually, Do It Yourself. I bought my first copy from England's Glory on Peter Street when I was in there to buy comics from their ever-bountiful, ripe with stale, damp, promise basement.

The earliest issue I now own is number five, but I may have bought that at a later date. The important thing is that they had an editorial policy to print all submissions. (I'm not convinced they printed 'everything', to be honest, as the content is, at worst, always readable, if sometimes dull). I longed for the day that I could contribute something meaningful and my chance came when I bought tickets for A Certain Ratio at The Derby Hall in Bury. I'd calculated that I'd be allowed to go on my own because it was in Bury not Manchester (therefore no chance that I would end up smoking the 'reefer' dreaded by my Gran) and that it was at the end of the 95 bus route, which ran late and along Great Clowes Street. And so it happened.

I took a pencil and made notes on the back of my ticket, planning to write the review I knew I had in me. Best of all, there were tickets on sale that night for the following Tuesday's appearance by hyped-to-the-Gods-by-the-music press Joy Division. It was a huge piece of luck as I was due to return to rural drudgery the day after the gig. Little did I know that the first piece of writing I had published anywhere (City Fun issue 21) chronicled a piece of bizarre rock and roll history that I would later see (badly) dramatised in 24 Hour Party People, and that would lead me into publishing and writing my own fanzines (over fifty at the last count), and to working as a music journalist for some years.

So, City Fun, thank you!

I've uploaded a complete scan of this issue in CBR format, which is a full-screen image reader usually used for reading comics and magazines on computer screens. CDisplay Comic Reader can be downloaded, for free, here: . This issue can be directly accessed at

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Under The Boardwalk.

utb, originally uploaded by mithering.

The latest issue of Under The Boardwalk, the FC United fanzine, has just been published. After nineteen issues of a magazine centred around a non-league football club you’d think that they’d run out of things to say. You’d be right to wonder how many barrel-scraping facts or cliquey pieces of gossip such a magazine would fuel itself with after three years and seven months in the back of the back of the footballing beyond. Instead, that hasn’t happened. Mostly because Under The Boardwalk isn’t really about FC United the football team.

Instead, it’s about a Universe which has FC United at its centre, and all else spins off it, like a clichéd ripple from a clichéd stone in a clichéd pool of water. This issue, surfing the wave of positive vibes from a great day trip to Kendal Town (every other club at this level is called Something Town), tells you why you don’t need a car in a metropolis (a clue, they're big, they begin with ‘B’ and this blog reflects a minor obsession with them (although not in a spottery kind of way)), the surprising origins of a perennial MUFC song, and who are the Top Ten Wilsons.

There’s also room for reviews (Reblochon cheese and Luvdub get two thumbs up), a politicised (with a small ‘p’) look at Premier League football, and a brilliant assassination of The Cult of The Casual which made me laugh out loud on The Village Bus on the way into work the other morning. In the words of ‘MancMouth’, and in tribute to anybody ever chased by Perrys, “Our history has been rewritten by the pseuds of Face, Football fanzines and the weekend fashion supplements… The school bullies who thought music and fashion were queer have been elevated to a lionised version of working class cool that never existed.”

Monday, 16 March 2009

Repost - Gang of Four - Damaged Goods - Live, Atlanta 1980

Who says the 80s have to be all fey fringes and eye-liner? Self-described as 'The Clash without the cowboy outfits' (or something like that) their thundering live sound was never successfully captured on disc, so here are The Gang of Four tearing through Damaged Goods in 1980.

Reposted to test YouTube blockage.

The Streets Of Your Town.

View Larger Map
Being a curious sort I've set myself the task of walking along every street in Central Manchester which I've not consciously walked down before. This time round it was Sussex Street, which then led me to another street, I think it was Kent Street, but Google Maps don't name it. It joins Sussex Street and Pall Mall. Neither street, I'm afraid to report, carried anything of interest. Even the litter was nondescript office bumf. I've passed these streets thousands of times without feeling the need to detour down them, and will now skip them forever in favour of the more direct Norfolk Street / New Market.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

It's Over.

The cover of The DFC #1, originally uploaded by mithering.

So the Great White Hope of British children’s comics has finally come a cropper. As of issue 43 (only three more issues to come after tomorrow’s issue 40 hits the doormat) The DFC is no more. According to a post on the Paw Quality Comics blog, Random House can no longer fund it, presumably because the experimental method of selling it by subscription-only has failed to attract sufficient interest.

This will, sadly, leave several serialised stories up in the air, including Philip Pullman’s John Blake, Mo-Bot High, and the newly-returning Crab Lane Crew. Realistically, it is difficult to see where the strips currently and recently running in The DFC could find a place within the moribund world of British Kids’ comics. John Blake could, conceivably, be completed and issued as a graphic novel on the back of Pullman’s name (even though it is not particularly good), but would there be a market for the amazing Mezolith, the cute and compelling Vern and Lettuce, or the consistently-funny Little Cutie?

It’s early days, so the individuals involved in the strips listed above, along with several others of quality, may arrange some alternative vehicle, may issue the strips themselves, or may just leave them hanging. Either way, having spent several years only picking up US material, such as the odd issue of Angry Youth Comics or Hate Annual, it was good to see that there was intelligent life outside the knowingly-ironic world of the American Underground, and that it was in a format I could buy for and share with my kids.

So, cheers, David Fickling, it was worth it for me. I hope it was for you.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Up Against The Wall.

M. TITLEY the FAT SLAG, originally uploaded by mithering.

I love this sort of graffiti. Petty, childish, frustrated outpourings of anger. We should all get a go at it one day. Get something off our collective chests.

When I was growing up in Salford in the 70s somebody had daubed 'One Ball King Dong' in two-foot high letters onto the wall of a ginnel near the chip shop. To this day, I have no idea why, but I do know that 'Anita Hepburn is a coppers nark'.