Ok, the first album review of 2016 isn’t an album at all but we won’t let that get in the way of things shall we!
On the front of Arguments Yard there’s a picture of Attila wearing a black T Shirt that has a quote on it and the quote says “ Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people” It’s a quote by Adrian Mitchell and I like it. It pretty much hits the mark because when most folk think of poetry they think of poncey aristos writing guff that has about much relevance to them as something with no relevance whatsoever. For me at least this perspective of poetry shifted a little with the advent of the likes of John Cooper Clarke and Attila The Stockbroker. Gone was the stuffy old crap and to replace it came poetry with attitude that spoke directly to me and with wit and with humour. With the advent of punk, poetry, although still on the sidelines of interest, suddenly became much more pertinent and with a message I and many others could relate to.
Some of you will know the name Attila The Stockbroker, but there will be many more who won’t have a clue. He’s not your archetypal poet by any stretch of the imagination (all la-di-dah and stuffy)..certainly not! He’s acerbic, caustic and a right royal pain in the arse for the folk that get on the wrong side of his political beliefs or want to bugger about with his football team’s ground. He’s a “ranting” poet and Arguments Yard is the story of his life from primary school onwards and it’s a bloody good read!
Attila’s is a life that has been lived (since leaving home on the arrival of his step Dad on the scene) very much on his own terms and with punk’s DIY ethic very much to the fore. He’s been flavour of the month (as he calls it) with the music media of the day, but has managed to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and has maintained a career in poetry, performance and music with little help from the establishment and this has to be applauded.
I thoroughly enjoyed Arguments Yard…it struck a chord (one of three) as it talks about stuff I know about and was involved in – Anti Fascist Action, direct action, punk and less mainstream politics. Attila even mentions the “legendary” Bunker in Sunderland where I’ve seen a good few gigs (including the first time Leatherface played an impromptu gig (RIP Dickie) right after Conflict finished… I think), recorded a record, had a studio and a record shop. The book has stories of fisticuffs and stand offs with fascists where things could have got right out of hand and the story of the direct action at Focus DIY is pure genius, but there is much more to Arguments Yard than a collection of punk rock anecdotes from a denizen of the left.
You get to feel a good sense of the man behind the mouth with this book – the caring son and the vulnerable partner – and this was good to read. It would have been much easier (and less painful I imagine) to write an autobiography focusing on only the “public face” of Attila, but there are moments in this book that will pull at your heartstrings, stories of everyday struggles with family illness and of coming to terms with difficult personal situations and it’s all the better for it.
For folk of a certain age and involved in punk in its broader sense, Arguments Yard will resonate. There are stories of life on the road (he’s been all over the place), of Joesph Porter’s sleeping bag (whoda thunk there were other folk who liked Blyth Power), of visits behind the Iron Curtain before the fall of the wall and it’s all written in a way that manages to steer well clear of becoming all preachy and what not, which would have grated a bit.
Of course there are smatterings of Attila’s poems throughout the book and these will give you a taster of what you can expect to hear at a live performance…you will want to go see Attila after reading this and you still can catch the arse end of his current tour.
I began this “review” talking about the quote on the front of Attila’s T Shirt about poetry and I’ve not tried to write anything since I was about 16/17 (and it was all crap then) but I thought I’d “have a go” (in the true spirit of punk) and end with a poem myself…in for a penny, in for a pound and all that. I apologise in advance to all concerned.
Attila The Stockbroker is a poet and ranter extraordinaire
He’s a bit of an arsey type, you know a bit … au contraire
He loves his footy and he supports Brighton and Hove Albion
But let’s not hold that against him coz he likes his real ale…oft by the gallion
He hates the fascists, the right and particularly loathed Thatcher
But behind all this gob there’s much more to his stature
He’s done what many couldn’t and wouldn’t… and then some
Coz when she was sick he took time out and cared for his Mum
He has a band called Barnstormer, they’re medieval punk
From what he says in this book they’re often quite drunk
But this books a bit more personal and at times you will feel sadder
And Attila I hope all goes well with the bladder
Ok, you get the picture and I’ll stop now coz I’m certainly no Bard
But you really should go out and buy Attila’s Arguments Yard
Out now…Go buy it!