Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 20, 2007 13:01:12 GMT
Dem chucked this title on to the website but we haven't got around to doing anything with it. You'd have thought with the mega-success of the first two RA novels publishers would have been clamouring to get a piece of the action but NEL had things virtually sewn up. RA on one side, the Hells Angels on the other. They churned out a few more youth orientated novels (Doug Lang's Freaks, Samuel Fuller's 144 Piccadilly) but they didn't seem to have the same magic. Not that I've read them - but you can see them on Trash Fiction. As per discussions I had with Dem last year that seems to leave about three. Michel Parry's Agro for Mayflower - originally Corgi (but is that a biker novel?),'Frank Clegg''s Soccer Thug for Sphere and, back at NEL, Maisie Mosco's Gang Girls. The latter two I'm rereading and will be putting up covers and reviews a s a p. There seems to have been little of this youth in revolt fiction before Allen. There's a second-hand bookshop Iin Alton I try to get to about twice a year - mainly to look longingly at a paperback called Teddy Boy circa 1960. It seems the USA had tons of Juvenile Delinquent lit but we didn't really get going here 'till 1970. (I hope I'm wrong here and will gladly be corrected). The weird thing seems to have been the interest shown in Richard Allen (and NEL) in the mid to late 1990s with articles, the NEL tv doc, the reprints then a series of novels by fans, imitators, emulators,ironists and chancers. The reason I put Tony White's Road Rage in my wants list was an internet article about him. An Allen fan who gave readings of the old novels, he apparently wanted to write one. A survey of the tabloids threw up the bete noirs of the time - single-parent mothers and crusties. Feeling the latter had more potential and using the Allen-inspired tenets of a) do no research and b) make sure there's sex and/or violence on every third page he came with his own pulp, duly published by the low-life press. I hope to pick up and write about a few of these late entries too. Although perhaps more along the lines of crime novels perhaps the different culture origins of Victor Headley's Yardie and Karline Smith's Moss Side Massive may be worth exploring.
Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 20, 2007 13:02:45 GMT
Soccer Thug - Frank Clegg - Sphere 1973 'Striker wasn't all bad... he did enjoy agro and birds and the roaring power of his Triumph Bonneville. But the big thing in his life was the United football team. And especially the flamboyant Irish superstar, Donnell. Striker followed United everywhere, ready to support his team on the pitch and its reputation off-field. His fervour dropped him into trouble: with the police, with rival fans, and trouble with Rantic who wanted to take over the gang. But whether it was women or agro Striker usually knew how to look after himself. Usually... Soccerthug - a shocking indictment of the violent world of the terrace tearaway.' So sayeth the back cover. Hmmm. A dreadful catchpenny tabloid title. An abysmal cover - what self respecting soccerthug would attend a match with not one but two (count 'em) massive rosettes? At least the NEL cover hoodlums looked believable. Check out the bloke on the right though. The long black hair. The can of beer. I reckon its Demonik with another of his Alfred Hitchcock style cameo appearances on the cover of a 70s exploitation novel - where will he pop up next? 'Frank Clegg'? It says copyright Christopher Wood inside. And we all know Woody was Sphere's answer to Stanley Morgan. They must have commissioned him to try his hand at a Richard Allen. Welcome to the wonderful world of Harold 'Striker' Rickards - the Unlucky Alf of the hooligan world. (Striker? Bit Roy Of The Rovers isn't it?) Striker begins the novel in a cell. He's been falsely accused of agro. He kicks his bed in frustration. And remembers he's wearing plimsolls. And it's all downhill from here. He gives The Man a bit of backchat and is promptly released with the promise of a good job in a garage as he has a mechanical bent. He returns hoome to narrowly avoid catching his mum on the job with the tele repair man. His dad's dying in hospital. His bird Lynn works behind the sweet counter at Woolworths. He's also got a loveable gang of stereotypes. Bazza - big, tough, reliable, works on building sites, yellow boots. Snadger - grotty little weasel, unreliable, works in Tescos. Cleft - he's got a stammer. And, apparently a very small dossier. There's also a fly in the ointment, a new nutboy in town. Rantic. A sadistic psychopath and latent homosexual who's got a flicknife and may one day actually use it. He wants to lead the gang. He's already bunked off (and up) with Lynn. He's the one who leads the gang on a tea hut rmpage at the next home game to get the short sighted old josser who grassed Striker up. And goes in a bit too hard. The words 'leadership challenge' and 'showdown' spring to mind. Striker is entranced by United's new signing Sean Donnell a footballing genius. Privy to the magic he even turns up at a match with a Donnell hairstyle (to everyone else's mirth). Reading Donnell's column in the local rag he decides to try lightly grilled kidney's - but ends up with bloodstains on his shirt and a slightly queasy feeling. Woody can't quite reach Allen's horrendous madness. He's got plenty going on in the Ag 'n' Shag stakes and the usual Noel Wilde dialogue - 'F*** off, you c***!' etc. The story avoids RAs London-centric view by being set in a mythical Oop North. There's a delight in Striker's consistent bad luck. He loses Lynn to Rantic. Gets a number of kickings. Doing well in his job, he starts to buy a motorcycle but ends up in a crash. (His promising soccer career had ended owing to an unfortunate accident).He loses his job. United's fortunes parallel that of Striker as their initial promise goes out of the window. Donnell's off field success increases as his on field lethargy grows. And Rantic lurks in the shadows waiting for a chance to gain the ultimate victory... Woody invests the book throughout with dashes of Woodfall films/kitchen sink/It's Grim Up North flavour - there's even a character called Arthur Seaton. (Saturday Afternoon And Sunday Morning?). There's an extraordinary scene set during a midweek friendly with an Hungarian side during a torrential downpour in a three-quarters empty United stadium where Rantic is stalking Striker. And a fantastic pastoral idyll where, after a match, Striker hops on a bus and ends up in the posh part of town. He follows the conductor and driver into a pub. It never ceases to amaze me how much drinking and driving went on in '70s fiction - without tragic consequences. It's like watching the Sweeney smoke 150 fags and drive around without seatbelts. It was a mans mans mans world in them days. The pub is upmarket and Striker stands out like a sore thumb to his delight, bringing a bit of anarchy to the comedy landlord and his regulars by burping and ordering pickled onions. I'm fast beginning to adore pub landlords and policemen in these books. There's a couple of coppers who patrol the Redford End - one of whom is a bigger hooligan than Striker and his mates. Anyway, Striker's world is suddenly turned upside down - "...a beautiful girl came in the pub. She was blonde and wearing a long, semi-transparent dress which showed the outline of her crutch as she moved." It's posh tottie Suzie Rayburn, ordering a bottle of Bells and a dozen tonics, put on Daddy's account. Her folks are away and she's having a party. This is like a red rag to a bull to our landlord. "She's a baggage, that one... You should see some of them. Long-haired fairies. Stinking of dirt and drugs... I've knocked about a bit in my time, I don't mind admitting it, and I'm not a prude. But I don't hold with goings on like that. If I was that girl's father I'd give her a good thrashing." Makes Dennis Wheatley sound like a hippy, doesn't he? As you may imagine Striker is round the party like a shot and is amazed by how forward upper-class girls can be. I don't think this quite counts as product placement but - "Striker had never realised that anybody who did not work at Woolworth's could behave like this." And there is so much more...
Post by franklinmarsh on Oct 20, 2007 13:03:34 GMT
Gang Girls - Maisie Mosco NEL July 1978 "It began in the boredom of the job queue and the streets, with a craving for the action and excitement the tower blocks and wasteland of the city could never give. Karen relied on her sharp tongue to teach people the 'lesson' she reckoned they needed. Plain, gawky Gina used her physical strength against her tormentors. Seraphina joined them for the security they gave; she needed to belong somewhere. But Di was the acknowledged leader. She had a car, money, style. Di was sick of her self-satisfied and wealthy family. She hated herself for what she had and what she was. The only way she could make amends was to hit out at people with possessions even when they were 'her own kind.' At first they roamed the streets, bored and aimless, looking for trouble. Then the money dried up, and the knives and knuckle-dusters appeared. They had become the Gang Girls." Whew! An odd one this, coming right at the fag end of NEL's original hooligan cycle. I thought Maisie Mosco was such a charming name, it had to be a pseudonym, but no, Maisie is a genuine and now well-respected writer who stayed with NEL but produced enormous best-selling Jewish family sagas. She had been a journalist, and wrote a play that was filmed as BHF favourite Mumsy,Nanny,Sonny And Girly. She seems to be a very private person. There is little or no biographical detail about her, and , when I tried to contact her through her agent, she declined to answer my questions on the grounds that she was too busy and not happy with her answers being available on the internet. A shame because I was hoping to get a little insight into how GG came to be written. At first glance it's yer typical NEL yobbo fare, great title and great cover. 'Richard Allen' had paved the way with Skinhead Girls, Sorts and Knuckle Girls but here is a hooligan novel written by a woman. Karen and Gina are hopelessly trapped in their high-rise prisons. Karen lives with her mum, violent dad, ex-skinhead brother, his wife and new baby. Big Gina is with her mum and Gran (and later a new stepdad). They draw the dole and have nothing to look forward to. Except possibly beating up anyone who crosses them. They are joined in a cafe by Di, from the other side of town - affluent, confident, possessor of a car and a million miles from the working-class girls. She's had a punch up at college and is sick to death of her parents well ordered life and plans for her. The unlikely trio watch a downtrodden black waitress being racially and sexually harassed by her boss. It ends in violence and newly-liberated Seraphina joins the others. She lives in a tiny cramped flat with her oppressively religious mother, and is at first taken aback by the other girls taste for aggro. Although Di has assumed leadership almost subconsciously, Karen is smarting , as she has always given the orders to Gina. There follows the usual shenanigans - football hooliganism, taking on anyone who starts, then robbery. This escalates as Di's father, appalled at her attitude change, stops her generous allowance. Things slowly deteriorate as the crime sprees get more desperate. MM deglamourises the violent behaviour - if the girls are on the receiving end they hurt, and any they dish out is ultimately pointless. Their violence is a dead end. Sex does not really enter their world except through Karen, who is gang-raped (off-page) and has a dangerous liason with a boy called Chuck - again shown in a distinctly unglamourous light. Perhaps because of the gender of the writer this is an unusual book for NEL. The cheap sex and violence thrills promised by the cover are provided - but not in a format you would expect.
there's an innate problem with the spawn of allen when we talk about the likes of Tony White and Stewart Home (although he's moved away from this genre now). the books mentioned above were written 'straight' as exploitation to appeal to a prevalent market. but road rage (which i enjoyed tremendously) has a different agenda. it's very much about looking back and emulating as an experiment. it's 'knowing', and as a result lacks the innocence and straightforwardness of the true exploitation title (if innocence is the right word!).
at the risk of over-complicating matters, there are really two spawn: those who sought to emulate the success at the time, and those who later came to emulate the style as a kind of literary exercise. both have very different aims, and the results are quite different. much as i like the White book, it has a different kind of satisfaction to it.
Post by franklinmarsh on Dec 21, 2007 13:59:07 GMT
You're undoubtedly right, PH - apart from the four books published by LowLife press which were genuine attempts to recreate Allenland for the 90s. Unfortunately I've only read two of them. I've still got happy memories of discovering Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting and John King's The Football Factory and thinking 'It's like Richard Allen - but much better written.'
The 'real' hooligan memoirs are the modern day equivalent. In Tesco's last night I saw 'Tottenham Massive', 'Perry Boys' and one about Aberdeen Casuals.
Finally got hold of a copy of this. Not sure what I can really add to Franklin's review above (or here if you're reading this in '30 most recent posts') but you'll note this has a different cover to the 'massive rosettes' edition mentioned by Mr. Marsh.
Not sure how long this scan will last on Photobucket - they're a bit funny about swastikas...