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Moonstomp by Tim Wells

003Tim Wells has been (still is, in fact) one of the great stalwarts of poetry; as a poet, promoter, and historian of all things working class, for the past four decades. One of the original ‘ranters’ of the 1980s, he has been a regular on the London poetry scene, as well as wider shores, giving it large with poems about working class lives; poems that don’t pander to the type of melodrama or demonisation which undermines the notion of class as being some drop out numpty who drives a van with its break lights not working. “I was a teenage suedehead. Dressing sharper than the posh kids and our style was crucial to us. That, and I don’t drive,” he told me.

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Tim’s running a Crowdfunder with Unbound (who published the hugely successful The Good Immigrant) and is over halfway there. Have a read below, and at the work he has done so far with the campaign. If you can bung it a cock & hen or two to help it over the line, the world will be a slightly better place, and you’ll be helping one of the good ‘uns.

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001Through his site, Stand Up & Spit, he documents the poetry of the 1980s & many steps beyond, putting it into context with music, politics and sport. The site looks back to working class and spoken word poetry from around the world and through history. The site draws from a variety of music papers, and other rare finds. He is also the editor and publisher of the poetry zine ‘Rising’ (tough on poetry, tough on the causes of poetry), which has been going since 1993 and has just put out its 70th issue. Tim’s also a great supporter of poets, always bigging up the old and the new, with his legendary all-dayers at the Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon, and taking Stand Up and Spit on the road.

He previously featured on Proletarian Poetry, with his poem Version, a tribute to the Jamaican poet Michael Smith, who was murdered following an altercation at a political rally. The poem comes from Tim’s Penned in the Margins collection, Everything Crash.

Tim gives nostalgia a proper name, and he is doing it again in venturing into an old love of skinhead/horror pulp novels, with his own take on the genre, Moonstomp. As he says:

AlbionThose New English Library skinhead, football aggro, and Hell’s Angel books were read by all my mates back when we were lads. We liked the Pan anthologies of horror stories too. They were a big part of my generation’s youth. Moonstomp brings youth cult to occult and I’ve pretty much written up my teenage years with an added werewolf. The book is set in 1979, the music and clothes are precise, which is something you rarely get when people write yoof cults.”

I’ve read a sample chapter and it’s banging. But don’t take my word for it (although you are welcome to):

The novelist John King (he of the Football Factory, Human Punk, Skinheads) says:

“Howling back to the days when we used to pass the Skinhead and Hell’s Angels books around school, and watched Hammer Horror films at home on our black-and-white televisions, Tim Wells has written a fiendish tale of a skinhead werewolf rampaging through London in 1979. Being a sharp-dressed lad (still), the clothes and music are spot on. Snap up a copy before it bites your hand off.”

And the alternative UK national treasure, Phill Jupitus sings along:

“Skinheads and werewolves and reggae and boozers, lager and kicking in fat city losers, Punk rock and Sta-prest when Lene she sings. Tim Wells has written a novel about a few of my favourite things… You can feel the sticky floors of the gigs and the sweaty menace is tangible as you read Tim Wells’ swaggering prose. This is no rose-tinted amble down memory lane. The landscape of his world is a London that was swallowed whole by the eighties. For a book so full of life, there’s a lot of death in it as well. Beautiful. Brutal. Brutus. It’s got the lot! “

So, as I say, if you want to keep working class fiction alive, then kick a bit of pocket here. You won’t regret it.

Version by Tim Wells

In 1980 I organised a short-lived reggae night on a Monday in a pub back home. We had the usual agreement with the gaffer; it was free to get in, free to have the space, and he would make money at the bar on what is typically a dead night. It was a success in terms of the number of punters (an assortment of rastas and retired punks). But everyone was skint, and those that weren’t just bought Lucozade. We lasted three Mondays. That was my single attempt to marry my new musical love, reggae, with the punk which by now had dissipated. It was a year before the riots and the scar of Thatcher’s claw.

Punk was linked to reggae at an early stage, for the two movements had much in common. After I had seen the line of punk bands that played in our town; Clash, Pistols, Buzzcocks, Banshees, etc., reggae artists started to appear. But it was still very divided. There were few white people at the gigs for the likes of Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, Culture, or Prince Far I’; this was what I call the high tide of reggae, which I got into via the likes of Don Letts, Adrian Sherwood and a Mike Dread. And of course there were a number of good UK reggae bands such as Misty in Roots, Matumbi and Steel Pulse.

micyaanbelieveitSomeone who has much deeper roots in this history and whose site, Stand Up and Spit, chronicles many great moments of these times of punk and reggae, is Tim Wells. In his poem ‘Version’, he describes the time he first heard the great ‘dub poet’ Michael Smith, “That hard yard voice rumbled from the deck;/so unlike ours, but it spoke to us all the same.” The conditions of unemployment, poverty, and discrimination were described in a common situation experienced in the cities of the UK & US during the late 70s and 80s. “We were shook awake: no jobs, no money, no future./Hackney, Detroit, Johannesburg or Kingston JA.” (more…)