Monday, 11 December 2017

And All Around Was Darkness

Gregory Bull & Mike Dines (editors) And All Around Was Darkness (2017)
This is another collection in the general spirit of 2014's Tales from the Punkside, a smaller, numbered edition with badges but a larger format more closely resembling an issue of Re/Search. With a full on raging psychopath in the White House, Brexit, and a general public which seems to have decided that the Nazis were actually the good guys all along, we probably need this sort of thing more than ever; this sort of thing being a timely reminder of options beyond sitting on your arse and passively consuming until you eventually die of cancer from all those cheeseburgers. As with Tales from the Punkside, this book collects anecdotal material and accounts from around the anarcho-punk years of individuals, fanzines, and bands inspired by Crass, amongst others, some academic in spirit, others more freewheeling. It's everything from personal revelations brought on by noisy music, to gluing the locks at one's school, to taking to the streets and demonstrating against the fur trade. I was on the periphery of some of this, had a fair few of the fanzines mentioned, and was even in a subsequent incarnation of one of the bands, so it's impossible for me to be entirely objective about the collection even without glancing down the list of contributors and realising that I know at least four in something resembling a social context.

I used to write to Alan Rider of Adventures in Reality many years ago and ended up living in the same city, albeit after he'd moved away, so there was enough in his contribution to fill at least three or four evenings of conversation down the pub; and I ended up playing guitar in a band for which Chris Low had been drummer, which was how I met Ted Curtis, and Nick Sims whom both Ted and Anth Palmer write about; and then I encountered Phil Hedgehog more recently when I contributed to an issue of Poot! comic, plus he seems to know the Cravats etc. etc. Happily most of the stuff written by persons to whom I'm not socially connected seems to be of similar high and generally fascinating quality. It seems fair to say that something has really been captured and encapsulated in this collection.

In fact it's been encapsulated so well as to encompass material representing aspects of the anarcho-punk scene which I actively disliked, and so found myself skipping a couple of contributions in the general vicinity of the Green Anarchist material; but it would be a boring old world if we all liked the same thing, as they say. Nevertheless, that which I like about this book outweighs that with which I had any sort of problem, and the problem I had in itself speaks well of Bull and Dines commitment to presenting a broad cross section of varying perspectives, so I'm not complaining; and I also realise I should probably get around to buying that album by the Mob.

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