When I performed at The Anchor Gallery as overseen by Rachel Mayfield on Saturday 23rd, I got talking to a man called James Kerr, instantly yabbering on to him about folk horror and hauntology as if we’d just caught up after seven years away. When it was time to go, after stirling sets from Carys Matic, Pip Barlow and Sue Nicholls amongst others, James approached me to buy one of the books, which the intention of reading some extracts on his radio show on Regal Radio. Last Thursday, he did that very thing…
As stated in the title, it’s a holiday special where Dr J goes on a journey. From his native Scotland he makes it over to Bristol, to Avebury via Swindon, into our lovely native Digbeth in Birmingham, and then back via Alfreton.
The music played in this special is wonderful, Dr J is a DJ with taste, kicking off the show with a nice bit of Poly Styrene. He describes his stay with singer Nicky Coates in the discombulated city of Bristol, all independent shops and cafes, it’s uniqueness brought to the forefront, rather then languishing in Top Shop and Greggs sames. Swindon, which he travels to next to get to Avebury, is much more of a familiar in this regard, which he welcomes gladly after his disorientating experiences in the land of the hip.
Of course Avebury is the land of where one of the most celebrated examples of Folk Horror was filmed and written around, Children of the Stones. We had spoken on the Saturday about the absolute fear that was instilled into the children of the 1970s, not only with the advancement of the technological ages portrayed in PiFs against the portentous electricity pylons, but even more so with the revolt and rejection of mankind from nature. Everything was a threat. The spirit of the times especially well summed up in the harrowing theme tune from Children of the Stones, which is played mid-way in the show.
Dr J’s arrival in Birmingham and his trip to the Anchor Gallery is signalled with a blast of Ian Dury’s ‘You’re My Inspiration’ from his 4,000 Weeks Holiday (1983) album. Dr J recalls the album as ‘much-maligned’ and me, speaking as a big Dury fan, has to agree. It’s not one I’ve returned to in recent years, but this may have to change. Indeed, I played it a lot when I was in my ‘lost years’ from 1990-2, when I ran away from the charts and holed up with British kitchen sink drama and history of the horror film, Grandma’s Max Bygraves albums and my Atari ST for comedy. 4,000 Weeks Holiday, along with the film version of Steptoe and Son, is a beery burp down the earhole, a summation of sleazy love and attempted artistry in 70s/80s Britain, which I enjoyed engaging with in this formative time…(more to come in The Prodigal Songs…)
So indeed my poetry being read after a blast of Lord Upminster himself was a real, REAL treat. He starts of with ‘1920’s Brum Cream Brylcreem and Pies’, and then a quick admonishment of my affinity for free language, going into my analysis of self-image and self-worth ’80 is the New 30.’
One of our big stories amongst our friends here was the fact the Anchor Gallery’s proprietor Rachel Mayfield had done very well in a competition to perform one of her songs at the top of Birmingham’s Rotunda building in an event organised by Songwall, an organisation who are setting out to redefine the relationship between musicians and their fans (in this case, getting music lovers to vote to see their favourite artists play on top of a prestigious Birmingham landmark.) Rachel was in the Top 3, and performed her song ‘To Dad’ on the Thursday this show went out.
After that, Dr J reads out ‘Pigeons’, which segues VERY nicely into ‘Slang King’ by one of my favourites, The Fall. The desk driving that he does here is superb, and made me as a music geek and budding writer very proud. Finally he gets his wife to read out ‘Brum Waitress’ and ‘Brum Waitress 2’, and I have to say I had something in my eye and my throat at this time.
Other people reading out my writing? Especially with an accent? I could get very used that. I could get very used to that indeed. Have a listen!
Regal Radio is a community radio station operated by local radio enthusiasts and volunteers from its studios in the Bathgate Regal Theatre in West Lothian, Scotland. Their aim is to broadcast live as well as pre-recorded shows to the local community and beyond.