Post by franklinmarsh on Jun 23, 2008 11:35:14 GMT
Chopper - Peter Cave NEL 1971
After all that horror and Wild West malarkey I decided to dive back in to the world of NEL and check out some of the defining moments. Where better to start than with NELs original UK based contemporary (well,for 1971) biker story Chopper. I think this books cover is unbeatable. My affection for it stems from having a number of these novels back in the mid to late 70s and having Chopper's mug leer out at me from the back of just about all of them, but never getting hold of a copy. In fact, it took me about 20 years, and inevitably, actually reading the thing came as something of a disappointment. I've attempted to get hold of JustinCultprint again because I really need to read his Peter Cave interview but the email address I had seems inactive. Oh well, perhaps something will turn up. In the Laurence James interviews he gives PC a glowing review - an editor's dream, always on time, delivers the goods etc. (ie unlike the late James Moffatt who allegedly had a drink problem and was a bit of a deadline misser). Chopper came after Skinhead and has been unfavourably dismissed as being a skin-in-bikers-clothing job, but Cave had to start somewhere. In rereading this, it's quite a puzzle. It begins with Chopper Harris, No 2 (so must try harder) in a London Angels chapter hearing the sound of revving bikes. Realising that they're covering the sound of a 'bundle' he fetishistically dons his fighting gear (studded glove etc - see Scorpio Rising, the beginning of Electra Glide In Blue and so on) and comes across a dozen or so of his pals dealing out whacks to about six skinheads. After the bonehead bashing the Angels repair to Nick The Greeks caff for refreshments and alibis. A couple of coppers look in and Chopper makes a hash of giving them lip. Moving on to his flat his discovers recently absent leader Marty Gresham (aka Big M) and his mama, the gorgeous,pert,pouting (and ultimately dangerous) Elaine waiting for him. Cue pot party, and with the introduction of Samantha, a typical Angel bird (ie a nymphomaniac willing to be treated as a drudge) we can complete the NEL trinity with some humping. But Chopper really has eyes only for Elaine.... Despite this sex/violence/drugs opening I couldn't help noticing that, at the beginning of the book anyway Cave tends to undercut his 'heroes'. The difference in numbers between Angels & Skins in the opening rumble is stressed. Chopper swallows amphetamines before fighting to rev him up and effectively remove any conscience he may have. Despite being second in command and initiating the police baiting he's outfoxed by one of the plods and another Angel has to rescue him. Throughout the book (and I don't know if this was deliberate) there's a kind of distancing of the Angels victims. You know nothing about them, not even their names, so it's hard to feel any sympathy for them. Mind you the main characters are barely sketched in so the same applies. Perhaps the most affecting sequence features Chopper hitching up with a couple of rival chapter Angels (Big M is losing his grip, beginning to drift away - perhaps a new leader is needed) and travelling to Piccadilly Circus. A hippy junkie is beaten up in the toilets and robbed of his fix. This is used to tempt a hapless girl addict outside the all-night Boots. They take her back to 'her place', a dingy tenement at the Kentish Town end of Camden where she is used and abused. Even Chopper is not comfortable about this but has to conform. It seems the Angel code and way of life is even more strict than that of the hated pig citizens. You can't relax unless you're in an alcohol or drug fuelled stupor. You're always on trial, having to show class. A friend one minute is an enemy the next. And if you're ever out and about on your own.... Elaine encourages Chopper in his thoughts of taking over. It seems Marty would willingly give up the presidency of the chapter but can't bear to lose Elaine. A wild occurence is Elaine's mention of the Ides Of March. It seems she & Chopper have some education. Is she Cleopatra to Chopper's Mark Antony? Big M is 29 nearly 30. He's had enough of kicks and mind-snapping. He wants to settle down, get married, have kids, maybe even run a hog repair shop ferchrissakes! Cave never took the Angels to the heights the other NEL hacks attempted. His are straightforward small-scale tales of life in a motorcycle gang. His piece de resistance is Rogue Angels IMHO. Alex Stuart seemed a more authentic counter-cultural voice. Mick Norman (LJ) would project things a few years into the future and depict the Hells Angels as a tiny revolutionary guerilla army battling the forces of repression. But for a first dip in the murky oil and bloodstained waters of Hells Angels (UK Fiction Chapter) it's an interesting start.
Post by franklinmarsh on Jun 23, 2008 11:36:03 GMT
Angels From Hell - 'Mick Norman' NEL May 1973
'"They're the Last Heroes" The time is a little in the future. The place is England. Repression has driven the Hells Angels underground. But they are still around!' as the back cover tells us. Laurence James, NEL editor and science fiction short story writer turned to the Angels for his first novel. All credit to him, he submitted it under the pseudonym and it had to pass seven checks before being cleared for publication - no nepotism here! He takes the contemporary biker worlds of Cave and Stuart and gives them an extra twist. The book begins with the shocking death of blind teacher Jerry Richardson in the subways beneath Hither Green railway station under the wheels of high powered motorcycles. The following news report blames outlaw gang The Last Heroes commanded by messianic (well, according to press hyperbole) leader Vincent. This is part of a new wave of gang violence. The Angels are real outlaws facing police brutality if captured and gaol sentences for wearing Colours or riding chopped bikes. Home secretary George Hayes is attempting to implement The Hayes Code (?) - more repressive laws. At the end of the 60s there were over 100 gangs with 8,000 members. We're now down to five with barely 400 souls. And one of these, the Wolves from Wales seem to be almost mythical. Enter Gerald Vinson, 28, arts graduate with a useless degree , one of 3 million unemployed (in hindsight, a wildly accurate bit of soothsaying from LJ) who served five years in the army, mostly in Northern Ireland, experiencing all manner of atrocities in the name of Religion. Dissatisfied with his lot, the old and reactionary Government, a chance meeting with Brenda at the Young Anarchists reveals she sees the Angels as 'the last hope of the Left' and 'the ultimate apostles of freedom.' The duo whizz up to the Herts/Essex border where they find the Last Heroes enjoying a post run party in a ruined training college for missionaries. They express their wish to join up. If Brenda can 'pull a train' and Gerry defeat massive Tiny Terry in unarmed combat they're in. And so we're off! Vincent is an interesting character if briefly sketched. He mirrors Gerry in that he's a university dropout and army deserter. He also has no left ear (obvious comparison? He's no artist - and a police spokesman later claims he took his name from a horror film actor). After inductions it becomes clear that Gerry has plans for the Angels. But Vincent isn't about to give ground easily. Gerry is all for using military skills and tactics to transform the bikers into a small scale guerilla army. Giving him a chance, the gang kidnap a bank manager's daughter to blackmail him for funds. The raid is partially successful but increases the inter-group tensions. Things hot up when,despite police pressure, low grade would be Roger Corman Donn Simon announces his intention to make a quickie biker flick and wants to use real bikers. In order to rendezvous in Birmingham, Vincent uses his remaining influence with the gang to demand they go on a for old times sake fully fledged colour wearing run. This is perhaps the best part of the book, undeniably exciting, and despite Gerry deciding to take an easier option, has a kind of Wild Bunch/Butch Cassidy one more time feel about it. As the end draws near things go haywire. The film is partially made, but violence ensues. The heavily armed police close in. Gerry and Vincent have a final showdown. And the ending leaves you in no doubt there is more to follow. As a debut novel this is a cracker. LJs trademark cultural and fellow author references are well in evidence. And above all he sees the Angels as the last gasp of the 60s ideal of freedom. In contrast to the closed world of Chopper (who is namechecked!) this is all about attempts to prevent the Angels from riding free, wind in their hair, doing the ton, no rules. In fact it could best be summed up by Heavenly Blues (Peter Fonda) comments from The Wild Angels (1966) as known to millions through their sampling on Primal Scream's Loaded (1991) Just what is it that you want to do? We wanna be free We wanna be free to do what we wanna do And we wanna get loaded And we wanna have a good time That’s what we’re gonna do No way baby let’s go We’re gonna have a good time We’re gonna have a party
Post by franklinmarsh on Jun 23, 2008 11:37:02 GMT
Angel Challenge - Mick Norman NEL October 1973. 'Lock your doors - the Angels are running again!' 'This is for Josiah Hedges - one of my favourite people who is indirectly responsible for this.' We've moved on from 197- to 198-. The pitched battle between police and Hells Angels at the end of Angels From Hell has revolted the Great British public and the repressive regime of the likes of George Hayes has gone, to be replaced by a more benevolent, lenient form of Government. Youth cults are flourishing again - and (literally) getting away with murder. Take the Skulls - 'Mix in the old skinheads of the late sixties and add a dash of "Clockwork Orange". Work in a bizarre dress sense, odd rules and season well with incredible viciousness. That's your skulls."- led by people like Charlie Marvell - "He wore tight, faded jeans ,white shirt with a ruffled front, an elegant embroidered waistcoat and black ankle boots with platform soles nearly four inches thick. His hair was cropped almost painfully short, his skull gleaming bone-white through the stubble. He had long curling sideboards." Take The Ghouls - a bike gang but all swishy in their satin 'n' tat. These proud,perfumed,pansified 'Angels' in their silk and sequins make the Sweet look positively dowdy. Led by Evel Winter, and with members such as Rohan, Vanya and Shelob (who lets the side down somewhat - he's fat, sweaty and bearded) these camp quasi-homosexuals may seem quaint but make no mistake, call them p**fs (or should that be p**ves?) and they'll break most of the 206 bones in your body - if you're lucky. The downside to The Ghouls is they've hooked up with deplorable perv journo Melvyn Molyneux of popular rag 'The Leader' (come on, come on!) He's devised a fiendish plot - The Ghouls are claiming that they're top boys and The Last Heroes/Wolves (a proper Hells Angels chapter) are washed-up nobodies. Gerry and his band come down from the Welsh hills (they've no choice - most of an Angel's life is taken up with showing class - to be dissed by made-up mincers cannot be unanswered) to find that each motorcycle gang is to be given five clues that will lead them to an area of London where they have to retrieve a copy of The Leader. First back to The Leader's office is the winner - and undisputed champion of Angeldom. Loser burns their colours and retires. Possibly the second pulp novel I ever stumbled across and one of my all-time faves of all-time. Ludicrous but somehow just clinging on to believability, so fast-paced as to be supersonic and with a cover featuring someone who looks like a Hells Angel. Brimming with Laurence James references and injokes, I just can't fault this. And there's a terrific scene that's stayed with me since my childhood. The Skulls get lucky and torch a few Ghoul bikes. The Ghouls find out that the Skulls take over their local swimming baths once a week. The futuristic skins are happily splashing around in their pool when all the lights go out. After the initial shouts, an eerie silence descends, save for the tapping of boots around the edge of the pool....
Post by franklinmarsh on Jun 23, 2008 11:37:56 GMT
The Bikers - 'Alex Stuart' - NEL November 1971 I'll never tire of this one. Trash Fiction has the cover, synopsis and a bit of a kicking but I think it's one the best - certainly the best book 'Alex Stuart' ever wrote - that I've discovered. The fount-of-all-knowledge LJ interview told us that his real name was Richard Gordon (not the Doctor In The House bloke), he wrote SF as Stuart Gordon (anyone know anything about this?) and he jacked it all in to go and live in a commune. Well, if that's true, he walked it like he talked it. He gives his novels a weird kind of counterculural voice which I'm assuming is close to the underground press of the day (Oz,Frendz,International Times etc) which for me gives them a strange sort of authenticity. Little Billy is an awesome character - huge, wild-haired,tattooed,stinking bulk with half his left arm hacked off and replaced by a metal cylinder ending in sharpened claws. He's the president of the Shoreditch chapter of The Apostles From Hell, a breakaway faction of the East London Angels. As the book opens, he's away in the good ol' U S of A sussing out the Oakland chapter, learning and teaching. Vice-prez Larry The Lamb, notable for his massive puffball of multi-coloured hair has taken over the chapter and Linda, Billy's enigmatic old lady. They're on they way to a rock festival in Somerset when some chancer on a Honda Super Hawk cuts in and flicks them the Vs just before the Greenford crossroads. Big mistake! There's a nasty pile up involving several deaths (including an Angel) but Larry, Linda and the rest of the Apostles make it through - although they're now Wanted fugitives. Unbeknownst to them, Little Billy has docked at Avonmouth and,after freaking out police and customs men, leaps astride his Harley and heads for Bristol. A quick comfort break at a disco provides him with drugs,chicks and some pseudo-skins to paste. The young ladies tip him the wink about the festival, and, figuring that's where Larry will be, he roars off for the traditional power struggle showdown. Larry's lads have paused for refreshment at the Green Man close to the festival site. It's a boiling hot day. Striding into the hostelry and consequently emptying it of all other patrons, the bikers are confronted by the obligatory ex-RAF mutton-chopped landlord, interrupted in mid dial. In response to their refusal to prove they can pay for drinks ordered he tells them 'I'm not running a charity for bloody layabouts who're fit to do nothing but terrorise decent people!' Exit landlord. Luckily for him underground journo Dan Lewin and his right-on feminist groovy chick girlfriend Carolyn are on hand to save the publican from certain death and warn the Angels that they're top of the Old Bill's sh*t parade and should lose themselves in the festival (sans hogs and colours) pronto. Surprisingly, Larry agrees. Little Billy has barrelled into the festival via another route. 250,000 other people have turned up - it's still searingly hot. Police and security guards attempts to keep order are upsetting the freaks and heads and students. Everythings beginning to simmer. Then the police and security are withdrawn and the army surround the site. Storm clouds are gathering. The music plays on. Billy's looking for Larry... Owing a large debt to Altamont, it's a great snapshot of Britain at the time. The paranoia induced in the Left and alternative society by a Conservative government getting in in 1970 is rampant. Britain is virtually a police state. Practically the only people prepared to stand up to them are the anarchists and the Angels. I assume the Angels novels died out because Labour got back in and the mood of the country went the other way. Still this a top NEL. Newcastle Brown Ale,Embassy fags and Coca-Cola all get placed. Stuart describes the Angels as filthy, smelly, nasty,dangerous types - they can't be classed as heroes but they can stand up to an oppressive authority - if only 'the kids' will take notice.
Post by franklinmarsh on Jun 23, 2008 11:38:54 GMT
Mama - Peter Cave. NEL March 1972. This new edition December 1974
Chopper may be dead but his girl lives on. A motorcycle groupie becomes queen of the Hell's Angels.
There's a great expectation from exploitation (although most exploitation is all come on and no delivery)- you can spend all of your time having your protagonists commit the most heinous acts, and enjoying themselves, as long as they get their come-uppance at the end. Hell's Angels are not the ideal role models for a nation's kids (anymore than skinheads) so NEL glorifying their adventures must have seemed pretty bad taste at the very least. 'Mick Norman' eulogised their apparent freedom, living outside and above the law. 'Alex (R) Stuart' emphasised their nasty, brutal outlook, but their anarchism (ie self government) made them an illuminating adjunct to the 70s Underground. Peter Cave, although writing about them, seems to dislike them intensely, and to portray them in the worst possible light. Any clean up campaigners would probably support PCs portryal - if they could see past those glorious NEL covers. Mama was a novel I didn't acquire back in the day, and wasn't particularly fussed about, apart from completeism. Like 'Richard Allen''s Skinhead Girls, there didn't seem to be enough testosterone to get me through. I pondered whether NEL were paying lip service to Women's Liberation, but (especially in 'Allen''s case) it seems their marketing department discovered adolescent girls were also picking up these scandal- fuelled tomes. The Spoilers have begun on the cover. If you haven't read Chopper, one glance at the cover of Mama reveals that he's dead. The chapters have been given titles in this book, and chapter one is..erm...Funeral. Chopper's mum and dad have had the last laugh - ensuring that NEL's enduring symbol of youth rebellion has been stitched into a suit, and his biker mates locked outside the crematorium. Marty Gresham, former leader, has turned up on a borrowed hog, but walks away from the bike, his colours, Nazi helmet, hopes,dreams and past life left at the crematorium gates. Danny The Deathlover assumes the mantle of caretaker manager. Writhing with frustration in her lonely bedsit is Elaine Willsman. Former main squeeze of Marty (back when he was Big M), and lover of Chopper. It was she who encouraged Chopper to challenge Marty for leadership of the chapter. Chopper won everything, including Marty's Harley-Davidson (ironically the instrument of his death). Elaine promises herself that she will avenge Chopper. She destroys her wardrobe (including three brassieres to the delight of the reactivated Globeswatch team) and draws on a Girl On A Motorcycle - style one piece leather jumpsuit., sensing that it is her destiny to lead the rudderless Angels. She's got the gear, but has no chance of command without a motorcycle. The remains of the prized Harley are stashed at a backstreet garage in Walthamstow. Proprietor - Bernie. An oil-stained grease-monkey, friend to the Angels and mechanical wizard. When approached by Elaine, he stammers that the repairs are gonna run to two hundred, parts alone coming to a hundred at least. Elaine has £50 withdrawn from her post office account, and her finger on the zip of the jumpsuit, which begins to descend.... Cut to Nick The Greek's caff, as depressing and unhygenic as ever. Bereft of motivation the bikers sip tea and coca-cola, scuffle with each other, and listlessly hurl the odd knife at Nick. They seem to prefer to rumble with each other than go out Hell-raising. The door smashes open, a restored Harley roars in, bearing the curvacious, leather-clad Elaine, complete with BIG MAMA in studs on the back of her outfit. After the Amazonian vision sinks into the Angel consciousness, Elaine snaps, "Haven't you anything better to do than fight amongst yourselves? You're Angels, or you're supposed to be. Angels fight the citizens, they fight the system." Mama then leads her devoted horde to a pub opposite a cinema. As satisfied picturegoers leave the late show, Elaine organises a pincer movement to ambush a small group of suedeheads. As the youngsters are beaten senseless, Elaine helps herself to any cash. When queried, she outlines plans for an Angels fund, for beer, fines or any other necessary expense (forgetting to mention that she'll be siphoning off enough to settle her debts with Bernie. She's sick of paying him in kind). Soon the Angels have acquired an old warehouse as an HQ, and Elaine is sending them out on crime sprees - to the disgust of Danny. The middle part of the novel definitely sags, with crime being the bikers primary motive. Certain Angel set-pieces (initiation, wedding etc) crop up, but are dealt with perfunctorily. There's also a racial dimension. A young negro joins up, proving himself as good as the others - though they dub him Superspade. Lovable drug addict (amphetamine via needles) 'Juice' James (where did that surname come from?) is stabbed by Pakistanis, and Mama leads an armed retaliation on a community centre. This is pure 'Richard Allen' and I can't help wondering if it's a parody of the 'Allen' style, as, without the racial angle, it's almost farcical. There is a tragic ending - which is totally thrown away. Just before this raid, Cave examines the problem with his own novel. Not only is Elaine a woman, but she has assumed control of the chapter by default. There was no power struggle - 'A sad thought crept into her mind...almost painful in its sudden, blinding revelation of the true nature of things. In this unusual insight into the situation, Elaine could see the Hells Angels as what they truly were underneath the created myths and forced creeds. They were merely a pathetic band of failures - dropouts from a civilisation they couldn't cope with. Because they were unable to belong, they cowered together in fear and trusted only their own massed numbers.' And there's more - welcome to the most anti-Hells Angel Hells Angel novel of them all! I'd hesitate to call it dull, but Cave does seem so determined to undermine his anti-heroes, it all becomes a bit exasperating. The bikers long to escape from 'this pissy little island' to America, where they can ride unfettered. Elaine is even setting up a big crime caper to finance the move. Of course, it all ends in disaster - and, curiously, that's where the book comes alive, an honest-to-badness NEL - in the last couple of pages. Too little, too late really.
Angel Challenge by Mick Norman (Laurence James) An NEL Original, First paperback edition October 1973 (reprinted March 1975)
"It is better to reign in hell, Than to serve in heaven."
John Milton - Paradise Lost
Milton's epic poem was presumably something of a favourite with Laurence James given that he later produced his own, admittedly rather different, Paradise Lost for NEL when he was trying his hand at writing horror under his own name. Angel Challenge is the second book in his brilliant Mick Norman/Angels From Hell quartet and I believe, without checking, only the second book he'd written. This Franklin fave has already been covered admirably by Mr Marsh himself so I'll just quickly sketch in a bit of background and add a few thoughts and impressions of my own. A year or so on from the violent events of the first book, we now find ourselves in the eighties. The previous hardline administration has been swept away following a public outcry, allowing various gangs and youth cults to rise from the underground. But things, it seems, have swung too far the other way into bleeding heart liberalism and the country's streets and football stadiums (stadia?) are still not safe from mindless thuggery and turf warfare. The capital is dominated by two very different outfits - and I do mean outfits. Firstly The Skulls; dandified droogs who prefigure somewhat the Clockwork Orange Skinheads who did actually appear in the '80s. The Skulls are one of LJ's finest creations for my money and it's just a shame that they don't figure more prominently here, having necessarily been seen off in Chapter 6 to clear the way for events in the second half of the book. Less prophetic perhaps in terms of '80s youth subculture, but almost as much fun, are The Ghouls; Glam bikers who model themselves more on The Sweet than Sonny Barger. No worries though - they're a bunch of right, albeit highly camp, bastards. (I might be very tempted to write something myself about a gang of New Romantic Hell's Angels - you know, if I was a writer...) Back in 1973, James had some interesting predictions for the youth of the country in his alternative eighties. They'd all be knocking back Southern Comfort (did he like a drop of Southern Comfort himself, I wonder?) and listening to Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen. OK, the eightes didn't quite happen that way but, well... they should have done. That whole Trad Jazz/Southern Comfort thing could have been massive! My favourite bit of prophetic vision is a third division Manchester United struggling against relegation, their failing fortunes and fast-fading hopes only boosted by the appointment of Bobby Charlton as manager. It could still happen. But anyway, what of proper Hell's Angel Gerry Vinson and the remnants of his Last Heroes? They've combined forces with surviving Welsh chapter The Wolves and are forced out of hiding, somewhere near Llandudno, to come back to The Smoke and wipe the stars and glitter off The Ghouls' faces once and for all. If I've got any minor quibbles at all with Angel Challenge, they'd be with the 'paperchase from hell' which James uses as a way of settling the score and which takes up almost half the book. Some of it's great, some of it seems to be stretching things just a little bit too thin. No complaints whatsoever, mind you, with the apocalyptic ending in the offices of tabloid rag, The Daily Leader. All in all this is a belter. Some great set pieces - such as the scene in Bounds Green baths mentioned by Franklin - and I love the Mick Norman style with the narrative being mixed in with lyrics from pop hits of the day, video broadcasts, and interviews from the pages of rock mag Telescopic Knife. Mick Norman rules! (in hell, obviously)
Couple of interesting pictures among that lot. Nice to see Chopper - he appeared in more complete form on the Creation reissue, and very nice to know that the lot on the cover of Cave's Rogue Angels almost certainly were English!
Blurb A giant rock group tour is being planned, with top names from the United States, and security is the big problem with the promoters. How can they avoid the appalling violence from rioting fans, without jeopardising the lives of the security guards themselves? The Hell's Angels seem the answer, and Gerry Vinson's Last Heroes emerge from their Welsh retreat to do the honours. But the American groups have organised their own protection - an American chapter. The inevitable rivalry and ill-feeling is only averted when they are faced with a new threat - the satined and scented skulls.
Britain, 198 - . Tragedy befalls the Mucking Punt/ Erection Set concert at the Sundance Theatre when the combined forces of "middies" (frustrated housewives) and knife-handed teenyboppers riot and massacre an ill-prepared security team comprised of ex-army OAP's. "The baring of the singer's sexual organ was the catalyst that transformed the audience. Pushed them finally over the edge."
Rupert Colt, publicist, can't afford a repeat on his next major enterprise - an eight gig tour by American stadium fillers, Foolsgold and Central Heating, especially as Albert Donegan, the music industry's Mr. Big of Mr. Bigs, is bankrolling the extravaganza. It's an unlikely billing. Foolsgold, a six piece MOR outfit, are the menopause-bopper sensation, possibly on account of they are all aged fifteen or under. "Middle-aged women go into orgasmic ecstasies at the sight of this extremely young group of boys performing. Underwear is often thrown on stage by these women; psychiatrists suspect that there is often a strong mother-fixation involved. Mob scenes at the concerts of Foolsgold are believed to be worse than with any other contemporary group." By contrast, Central Heating, fronted by Freddie Dolan, God of cock-rock, are four thirty-something chancers got lucky with songs about how screwing can give you the clap. Their current set includes timeless crowd-pleasers Meat Injection and Rape is Inevitable plus obligatory overwrought power ballad, My Tongue Can Creep in Anywhere. Rock 'n roll!
Policing a few thousand sex-starved harpies and little girls? Talk about money for old rope! Bit of luck, and you might even get your end away. Except ... we are not talking anything as relatively benign as an 'eighties equivalent of Rollermania. "The little girls who used to stir up crap when the Osmonds or Cassidy came to the country were sweet babes of light compared to some of these bitches." In the aftermath of the Sundance bloodbath, no security firm is prepared to chance further murders. The flamboyant Mr. Colt's only hope is that he can tempt Gerry 'Wolf' Vinson and his Last Heroes from self-exile in NW Wales. There have been big changes since the previous novel. The Chapter now incorporate Gwyn the albino and his surviving fellow Wolves, plus Shelob, late of the Ghouls, wiped out by the 'Heroes the previous year.
The proposal comes at a good time for Vinson. The troops are restless. The Wolves are resentful at their absorption into an English chapter, while lovers Holly and Lady are planning a breakaway feminist Hells Angels. Whatever their intentions, the Last Heroes could use big money fast.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
OMGss, I just read your notes about the set-up of the novel. Does "you might even get your end away" mean "you might even get laid"?
Indeed it does, Steve. Indeed it does.
"Try and read anything by either Stuart, Cave or Norman. They knew what it was all about." - Brenda (Wolf's old lady) endorses the poet laureates of Hells A. lore in an interview with Oral magazine, March 198 - .
Of the Last Heroes who set out for London, three don't make it beyond the Watford Gap Service Station. Ogof, riding ahead, is set upon by twelve Skulls led by shotgun-toting Bookie "earrings" Watts. the Skulls - a sharper dressed, "poofy smelling" upgrade on the previous decade's skinheads - have travelled down from the Black Country for West Brom's FA Cup encounter with third-tier Crystal Palace (Big Mal Allison has recently returned to Selhurst Park for a second stint in charge). Nothing like kicking a filthy Angel to death to get them in the mood! Veterans Kafka and Shelob jump in for their fallen friend. They look to have seen off the Skulls when Shelob makes an example of one shaven-head bootboy, dropping him from a bridge into oncoming traffic. The Skull's skull crashes through the windscreen of a family car. The rest of him doesn't. "Ruth Hall had time to scream as the severed head dropped in her lap, straight on the Iris Murdoch novel she'd been reading, splashing blood all over the bag of jelly babies." Carnage on a James Herbert scale ensues as, first one car caught in the resultant pile-up bursts into flames, then another. Multiple fatalities! Arms and limbs strewn all over the motorway! Charred body parts everywhere!
Meanwhile, up on the bridge, Watts shoots dead Kafka and Shelob. As the Skulls split the scene, the leader approaches Ogof, lying broken on the floor, and slits his throat.
But for a few minor instances of crowd trouble and a run in with local Angels in Glasgow (the Last Heroes humiliate them before their own public), the first seven dates pass relatively peacefully - just the two deaths. Wolf, liaises with Assistant Chief Constable Israel Penn to impose crowd control with bare minimum violence, the cop having won the motorcycle outlaws' trust in the previous novel. The Last Heroes also reluctantly team with Freddie Dolan's favoured bodyguards, Rick Padino's Laurel Canyon chapter, who are mightily impressed when Wolf shows them a charter of affiliation signed by no less than "the late and great Sonny Barger." It's been fun .... until Freddie shoots heroin and Bookie and cronies turn up at Covent Garden for the last night of the tour ...
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Thanks for the correction, Dr Strange. I have ridden on motorbikes but wouldn't know a Harley from a Vincent Black Lightning if it fell on me. My comments were meant to be cluelessly joshing and so it was.
Sorry, Helrunar, I too suffered a slight intake of breath at seeing an example of one of the two finest British motorcycle marques ever (Brough Superior, beloved of TE Lawrence, being the other) described as a 'hog', though of course it's an innocent mistake (particularly if you don't come from these parts?). Vincents were a gentleman's bike; probably too expensive, even in the 70s, to fall into a Hell's Angels' hands - its pristine, unchopped condition also confirms this. For the record I suspect that the one in the picture may be a Vincent Rapide, the wonderful Black Shadow's slightly more sedate sister, since it lacks the black-enamelled engine.
The later Vincent Black Lightning (as mentioned in the lovely song) is, in my opinion (for what that's worth) the sexiest thing ever on two wheels.