What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)


What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity

Terrorism , paranoia and police state!

I have been quite reticent to write some of the items in the next few stories.
Firstly because I want to protect my old acquaintances and I worry that if MI5 or the FBI or Interpol or someone reads this that they will go berserk and want to find and arrest people.
***So all I will say to all you people who might be from any of those agencies is that all these events happened 23 or so years ago. All the people involved are either now completely law abiding or have had some form of psychiatric treatment. In 2007 we /they are no threat to any government or members of the public or to anyone at all.So calm down!

We are living in strange paranoid times. In the late 60s and 70s the London I grew up in was full of bombs. As a child I used to wake up regularly from some kind of explosion in the middle of the night. There were letter bombs and car bombs and bombs left in plastic bags in London and throughout the country mainly by the IRA but also by the PLO and others.In case the reader is too young to remember , Lord Mountbatten a public figure , famous as a soldier and member of the Royal Family , Prince Charles’ great-uncle and mentor was killed off the Irish coast by a bomb on his boat along with other members of his family and crew. Can you imagine the response if a member of the Royal Family was killed now. They would have to question every Muslim under 30 in the country!
There would be mass panic and 24 hour coverage on the news.
There were countless attacks on Britain by the IRA. The US government were often unsympathetic to these attacks.
Another case in point was the Brighton bombing in 1984 where the government were directly attacked at the Brighton Party conference. Five people died and several permanently disabled as a result, 34 others injured.
Now the daughter of one of the ministers killed in the blast Jo Berry who is an acquaintance of mine campaigns all over the world for peace. She has allied herself with the IRA bomber himself and both now campaign against terrorism and for peace. Whatever your opinion is on this matter , one has to admit it’s quite an achievement and can only inspire other former enemies to find a different way of bringing about change.

However if you watch the news these days you’d think we had never had a terrorist threat before in this country and that somehow we must live with constant surveillance and with extra police powers , and that we must at all times be scared and suspicious.
I understand that possibly the plans of Al-Qaeda are to cause devastation on a much bigger scale than for instance the IRA, and I understand that September the 11th was a terrible crime against humanity. I’m a pacifist and believe that violence just creates retaliation and more violence. I am not on the side of terrorists of any kind however I do think now part of our brainwashing is to leap on and kill anyone subversive in case they could be a terrorist threat. It’s Carte Blanche for the authorities to suppress and destroy any little group of subversives they come across and young people today are therefore not only apathetic about politics but also the ones who do protest put their lives at risk. Maybe that’s always been the case and young people were braver before.
It strikes me that a lot of the protests done by young people I know of is through ” partying” in public places or in ways that are unusual. These are protests but they are not overtly political but it’s certainly better than nothing and less risky to those involved.However the wonderful Circle Line parties , which I was lucky to take part in once, have been stopped because the Spacehijakers were worried about people getting taken for terrorists and harmed by the police. All we were doing was having a drink and a dance on the tube!
(only a few hundred of us on the same train).

My second reservation for telling you the following stories is because I do not want the readers to lose sight of the original message. The Anti-Media message is a vitally important one. It is anti-corporate, anti-advertising, anti-brainwashing to buy products we do not need at a time when the planet can no longer sustain our levels of production and consumption.
The Anti-Media message could almost be equated with Anti-Stupidity and thinking for yourself. However you will read in some of the following stories why I left it all got too extreme for me. However they are still great stories and I love to tell them. We weren’t terrorists , we were only challenging modern culture in our little ways. But still once explosives were involved I had to quit.
Have I mentioned at least three times that I am a pacifist? Good, then I will continue on a lighter note…

Odds and Ends
Some More Anti-media Stories

The Kidnap of Ronald Mac Donald

There was a plan to kidnap Ronald Mac Donald.
At children’s birthday parties at Mac Donald’s they often had a member of staff dressed as Ronald Mac Donald clowning around to entertain the kids. There was an Anti-Media plan to kidnap one and hold him for ransom.
A couple of years ago I bumped into Richard and asked him if this had ever taken place .
He told me there had been an attempt at this. They were a really nice bunch of people and although they often had pretty crazy plans they were too nice to ever do anyone any harm. They had modified their kidnap plan and instead they infiltrated Mac Donald’s and one of them got a job there and volunteered to do the children’s party dressed as Ronald McDonald.
As he was doing the party they pulled up a van outside and bungled him into the back and then sent a letter telling Mac Donald’s of various anti-media demands to be met or they wouldn’t see Ronald again. The plan failed because Mac Donalds ignored the letter and other bunglings. The guy quit but they may have made some kind of film of it somewhere.

The Mess-Age Magnet

Hogan and Howard had asked me if I wanted to contribute something to their Anti-Media magazine ( a contradiction in terms) called the Mess-age Magnet. When I asked them what kind of things they wanted me to write they told me to write anything. I like anarchic organisations of all sorts where you are given trust, freedom and responsibility. It brings out the best in me.
I didn’t know what to write. This must have been in 1985 while we were still doing Anti-Media events.
Every summer myself, Michael and our son would go off to free festivals. That year was particularly interesting as the free festival scene and the country was changing.
The scene had changed because it was growing and Magaret Thatcher was calling us all
” medieval brigands”
although I think the most illegal thing we did on our travels was to sell excellent tea, real coffee and pancakes at a very cheap price from our makeshift cafe without a license . We were even parked on land where it was legal to do so, but the government changed the laws so that The Stonehenge Festival became illegal, and other festivals on sites where there had been traditional fairs, and squatting rights, common land laws etc..were all changed so that our little peaceful free festivals became illegal. As they became illegal the people who went to them changed too. But that’s another story.
In 1985 on our travels from festival to festival we landed at The Cantlin Stone festival. It was one of the happiest times of my life. We were travelling with other groups of hippies in little tribes to deserted places and living off common land, collecting wood, the children who were not wild as they were at some festivals were playing together exploring the hills and countryside around from sunrise to sunset. Every single person I met at Cantlin Stone had interesting tales to tell. Many had come from Hull and other northern towns. Some told us they had been unemployed for several years due to the closing down of different industries and had decided that instead of being on the dole and living in a city full of desolation and junkies that they had chosen to take to the open road, living on buses and in teepees. It was an idyllic lifestyle. I was never lonely, I always felt supported, so happy and so rich in the company of so many benevolent and highly intelligent and colourful interesting people. We were living without TV or newpapers or news and we were very happy.
Therefore it was while I was at Cantlin Stone, perched up on a hill of heather and woods which the forester had shown me was damaged by acid rain, that I wrote about my time there and how our whole sense of selves changed from being away from TV and all sources of news. In fact we probably were in the news if not at that festival then at others we travelled to that summer without our knowledge.
My contribution to the magazine was only 2 pages long. The rest were collages of newspaper and magazine clippings and cartoons with scrawled comments on various issues such as” Is Modern Life Rubbish?“, ” Dress like the pig you are“, “If you think home-taping is killing music you know nothing in either ear.“, ” Love me less, respect me more”.
There were articles about many issues:

” ANTImedia seeks GURLS to contribute to magazine and performances. a GURL regards her environment with contempt and distrust..she is fed up of seeing her contemporaries hanging around with men who are fashion conscious cool and hedonistic….GURLS don’t like the media one bit.”

Another page had a ten step programme ( with 13 steps of course) .They are a bit dated as now it would be computers and computer games and social networking sites and cds and dvds they would avoid as well as TV. Also men with pony tails were quite slimy and trendy at the time and Walkmans were the latest thing…but anyway.

TEN STEPS

1. Turn down the volume on your television during advertisements

2. Turn off altogether

3. Sell television ( and/or all modern conveniences such as expensive hi-fi , or extensive record collection).

4.Cancel standing subscriptions to any daily/weekly/monthly magazines

5.Avoid high neon low life restaurants and take away diners.

6. Avoid high streets and shops bigger than the size of a living room.

7. Allow not your gaze to wander onto street adverts, thus immediately disarming the use of said items.

8. Make a stencil and disfigure the above adverts and invent other creative ideas to occupy yourself positively during your newly found creative life.

9. Tell your friends and discuss anti media ideas with them.

10. Lose them

11. Avoid all modern so called culture.

12. de centralize anti-media by forming your own groups

13. With your new capital from abstaining from bad goods, finance anti-media housing, transport, publications, etc..like buying a pair of garden shears to clear obstacles from underground trains, such as ponytails and walkman leads .
Take the ten steps and your life can only be Improving.”

A flat in Bloomsbury and the Telecom Conspiracy

Hogan had a flat in Bloomsbury and I was invited to come to an anti-media meeting there to discuss various plans.
Hogan used to live there in a media free zone. I remember him telling me he’d met this homeless guy , who I think was an alcoholic and allowed him to move in for a while for free.
Hogan, Richard and Andy were there plus myself and my son.
During the meeting I needed to make a phone call. By the phone there was a window and what I thought was a telescope next to it . However you didn’t need a telescope to see the BT tower. It had been the Post Office Tower but we were living in an era where the Thatcherite government was privatising public companies. The GPO( General Post Office) had split and now we had British Telecom sold off in shares along with British Gas, British Rail etc.. It is hardly surprising that anti-corporate anti-media would have resented the newly renamed Telecom Tower and all the publicity in launching the British Telecom brand.
I saw a jar by the phone which was full of coins and I assumed it was to go towards the phone bill. So I offered to pay for my call and put some money in the jar.
However as I offered to put in ten pence for the bill they told me that each time someone made a call the money was not going to pay British Telecom but to buy explosives to blow up the Telecom Tower. I then looked at the telescope again and I think they were going to use it as some kind of rocket launcher and it was pointed straight up at the Telecom Tower a couple of streets away.

If you haven’t already done so please read my note above ***.

Anyway I rejoined the meeting not sure if this was a joke but my head was swimming and I knew I needed to rethink my involvement with them. Later they gave me and my son a lift home. I have never been so scared in the back of a car. Richard had just learned to drive and had a full license but Andy was driving with a provisional license. The drive was very scary and I seem to remember us going the wrong way up one-way streets and through red lights etc..My son was oblivious and I rediscovered a long-lost belief in God as I prayed we would make it home. After a while Richard said to Andy casually ” So when’s your first driving lesson?”.
After this I reflected and I knew that although my friends were lovely and I agreed with their challenging the media and mass consumerism that somewhere along the line there was a screw loose and marbles gone a-missing.
I still didn’t know if they were joking about the explosives but I knew I would not be part of it anymore. Pooing shit on the TV is one thing( see previous post about crap on the tv), saving up for explosives and my son’s safety were another. It had got too extreme for me.

Exploding Jimmy Tarbuck

About a week or so after that in the rush hour along one of London’s busiest roads they exploded something. There was a huge billboard of Jimmy Tarbuck’s face grinning next to a giant 3 D microwave. In the microwave oven there was a 3D rotating turkey. It was a whole 3D installation, trying to persuade people to roast their turkeys at Christmas in a newly available microwave oven.
They put an incendiary device behind the turkey and it exploded to the amazement of people caught in rush hour traffic. They immediately then called the fire brigade as the billboard was catching fire. No one was hurt, Jimmy Tarbuck’s huge grinning face remained intact.Please see note *** above!

Russell and his explosions

Russell poor lad was one of the anti-media crew I knew less well than the others. I had been out for a drink with him and others once in Hampstead . I barely knew Russell and a couple of others I have not mentioned as they did not perform at the Anti-media Pentameters events or come to Dead Dog promotions /Treatment gigs..( see previous entries in blog for Pentameters events).

When I met him , Russell was shy and quiet, he looked a bit like a young Bob Dylan but wearing some kind of chunky hand-knitted jumper with pictures on it. I thought he looked like the kind of repressed kid who might have been bullied as a child. Russell got a kick from exploding things. Hogan and Richard had told me a few tales about Russell’s behaviour before he finally got psychiatric treatment.
Hogan had left the flat in Bloomsbury and shared a house with Russell for a while. In order to entertain themselves they started to paint furniture and objects in the house, then the carpet was painted. I think Hogan was trying to find something therapeutic for Russell to do as his mental state was clearly worrying. Then Russell took it a stage further and started to set fire to things around the house, he even put lighter fuel on the lawn and set fire to that.
By then Hogan started to realise this was no longer “anti-media art” but simply lunacy and couldn’t live with him anymore. Richard had also told me a story where they were visiting Russell’s parents and he suddenly let off an incendiary device in their living room. He told the others to run and drive off but their car wouldn’t start and eventually being in the middle of a remote part of Scotland and without mobile phones, they had to go back into the parent’s house. They helped them with the damage and then called the AA waiting for them in the family home Russell had just tried to destroy.
Please read note ****

Epilogue

So that is the story of Anti-Media or what I can remember of it.
It went from idealism into anarchy and insanity but the idealism without the insanity is what we need now. We need to counteract the power and morals of the media, advertising and corporate thinking if this planet is ever to have any hope of a future. But not with bombs, explosives or violence but with words and thoughts and hopefully communities collaborating away from media and advertising intervention.

So where are they now?
I bumped into Richard at The Notting Hill Arts Centre where he was DJing. As well as being a DJ and he also set up his own record label and worked for a couple of other independent labels and a music project involving a member of Blur. I asked him if he had talked to anyone from Blur about them using our slogan “Modern Life is Rubbish”. He told me that a few years back they had written to Sony records to complain that they were using our slogan without our permission but didn’t get a reply. He said he might mention it again in the future.

I bumped into Hogan a few years ago in an Oxfam shop in Drury Lane where I was working . He still buys his clothes in Oxfam shops. He had a couple of adoring women in tow. He looked exactly the same and hadn’t changed in 20 years, neither has Richard. Hogan told me he was now working as a documentary maker and had just made a series for the BBC.

I last saw Leonie and Om together as a happy couple at a blues gig at the George Robey opposite The Rainbow in Finsbury Park before Club Dog moved there. He was playing harmonica on stage with a blues/garage band with other friends of mine including Clive and Adam from Treatment. Leonie was expecting a baby.

The other Anti-Media people I have never seen again.
As for me I live in Notting Hill and I write and teach music and recently started writing blogs in response to my son’s request and a guy from Wigan who wanted some stories about completely different things but which involved some of the same community. Next Monday more ranting and a new chapter “The Chainsaw Party” .

Astragone Arglegargle (that’s me that is!)

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There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).


anti-media continued…. mess-age-magnet-on-careers.jpg

Some other memories of the Anti-Media films. They took lots of footage at Wapping where there were protests by printers at job losses due to computerisation . I think I may be getting some of my years mixed up…apologies for that ,Wapping was in 1986 but I am talking about involvement with Anti-Media events for a period of a couple of years so when I have written 1983 it could have been 1985! I will write more about this in other blogs connected to Club Dog and Alice in Wonderland’s Magical Mystery Trip.
They also had films of shop dummies in windows, it was a bit eerie.
I remember attempting to do stand-up “alien” comedy jokes at our events at Pentameters. My jokes died live on stage. I realised telling jokes was not my forte but throwing jelly at the audience saying it was my ex-husband who suddenly disintergrated was making them laugh, as was playing my silver fake electric guitar, getting out of my silver cardboard box spaceship, emerging from being covered in a mass of newspaper like a mummy shedding it’s bandages, singing love songs to Mr.Spock ( not Dr. Spock) and general anarchy.
I performed as Astragone Arglegargle in many different contexts but performing at the Anti-media events at Pentameters gave me a space to experiment with my act ,write and record new materials, in front of a small supportive audience before doing bigger events or performing to hostile audiences!
I also had an act of performing “Opera Classics”. At that time there were some awful albums of “Rock Classics” i.e. orchestras playing perfectly harmonic arranged and orchestrated versions of famous rock songs and in one fell swoop missing the point of rock music altogether. So I dressed up in a beautiful pink and yellow long dress , wore some kind of fake pearls and sang songs in a suprano fake operatic voice with appropriate posh body language, facial expressions and gestures. I sang Arias including
Hey Fattie Bum-bum“, (Sweet sugar dumpling) by Carl Malcolm, “War Pigs ” ( Black Sabbath), ” Assault and Battery” ( of the human anatomy) by Hawkwind, and of course ” Anarchy in the UK” by the Sex Pistols and other songs I can no longer remember.
Although this kind of thing has been done since then it was a first at the time.
I gave Christmas cards at one event but had tippexed out all the messages and instead gave the audience cards with unusual messages such as ” Throw away your TV” or random symbolic messages from the I Ching or vague affirmations on self-realisation. This was also before the concept of ” affirmations” tore its way into popular psychology books and made us feel guilty for not being able to achieve our perfect goals for ever more.
There was also performance poetry, from a poet with a club in Barnet, it was as I recall stream of consciousness stuff. There were a lot of masks and balaclava helmets, there was spontaneous political anti-corporate/anti-media ranting, jazz piano playing, live graffitti, more films slash edited and experimental in the style of Jean-Luc Godard , strange trousers and costumes, always deliberately wearing the most unfashionable types of clothing, more interviews with people in hair, fashion and maybe even TV executives, Jud Suss, ( a band of multi-instrumentalists mostly of Jewish families pretending to be Hasidic Jews with much melodramatic wailing naming themselves after an anti-semitic nazi film ..more in another blog), more films, more poets, more crazy music and acts of nonsense .
Leonie was always there in the background like a benevolent force smiling on.
I wish I could remember more but because I had to memorise my own bits and pieces and was often cowering with stage nerves at the side of the stage during the other films and random acts I didn’t always take in what was going on.
However one day we went too far for Pentameters and for the world.

Unbeknown to me there were plans afoot in Hogan and Richard’s mind of which I knew nothing , on this occasion and others. They seemed like such sweet young polite lads too!
After an evening of performances, I finished the show or so I thought with a bit of Astragone Arglegargle alien Music-Hall type stuff.
Then Hogan and Richard put a large TV on the stage. Both of them looked really serious and were in the wings. I just knew something bad was about to happen.
Hogan went on stage and faced the television set, he looked like he was doing some kind of ritualistic silent prayer with the TV set as an altar and made ritual gestures. Then he unzipped his trousers and pissed on the TV. I remember being worried in case he electrocuted himself.
Now forgive me for forgetting who exactly performed the next bit but I had my head turned away and left pretty promptly around this time. So I cannot remember if it was Hogan or Richard , but someone then made the most enormous sausage of poo on top of the TV set.
I heard later that they had been saving it up for 5 days to be sure it would work.
The punchline was ” Look ! There’s a load of crap on the tele as usual!” ( boom,boom,)
A lot of the audience left but about 3 remained and Clive ( Treatment) then grabbed a bagel which was on a table put a bit of shit in the middle and went up to individual members of the audience saying:” Would anyone like a shit sandwich?”
I left. I was slightly peeved that they hadn’t warned me that a show I was taking part in was about to make such a coup.
The place cleared easily with some heckling and later we regrouped at Bob’s place up the road where I seem to remember Clive removed the banister from the staircase by accident of drunkenness. The first time I met Clive a few years before, he was crawling down a staircase head first and there have been a few Clive staircase related incidents since..odd.
Leonie was not at all happy she ordered Hogan and Richard to have the place fumigated and disinfected and I believe Pentameters had to close down and cancel shows as a result. I think the shit sandwich had been passed around a bit too much.
That was the last Pentameters Anti-Media event sadly…but Anti-Media was not dead. If you think that was extreme forget it!
Next time I write you’ll understand why names were changed.
(I so wish blogs were not written with the last one at the top…it would be better the other way around. Thanks for reading.)

What happens when a good idea degrades into chaos and insanity(Anti-Media stories part 5)

Modern Life is Rubbish and Harpers and Queen, glossy fashion magazine!(Anti-Media stories part 3)


Now…..Back to the Anti-Media Events

Some further memories of our Anti-Media events at Pentameters.
I remember another film Hogan made which was shown at their events but also at our psychedelic gigs at Club Dog/ Alice in Wonderlands and various venues.

There were 3 bored looking teenage Teddy Boys sitting in a bus shelter. One of the Anti-Media crew had a stencil and a spray can and went up in front of them and started to spray anti-media graffitti. The 3 sullen looking Teds looked on almost interested but then something extraordinary happens. You have to understand that the Anti-media films were of real life nothing was set up. I can’t remember if it was Hogan or Richard doing the graffitti but a police car stopped and he was arrested.
The film continues outside Paddington Green Police station where they hold high security terrorists he walks out released after hours of questioning. He is smiling and looking bemused. It was a great unplanned little story.

Fame through Graffitti

I used to smile each time I came across some Anti-Media graffitti in London , I knew my friends had been there. They had a couple of slogans.
One of them was ” Modern Life is Rubbish” and like” Anti-Media” or “Sierra Scum” ( they had something against people driving new Ford Sierras!) could be found sprayed in numerous locations. One of the last places I saw it was on the outside wall of a big hotel on the Bayswater Road close to Marble Arch. That must have been up there for 15 years at least.
I once heard in an interview I think with Alex James or another member of Blur that they had seen some “hippie” graffitti saying “Modern Life is Rubbish” around London and decided to name their album after it.
We were surprised and a bit gutted that our slogan had been used by Blur and gone into mass production and the mass media.

I just looked up on Wikipedia this snippet according to them:
“When the album was released, Albarn was rumoured to graffiti the album name with a spray paint can to reproduce the title in public places such as toilets in public houses and on walls to raise the profile of the new album.[5] Bassist Alex James said of the graffiti in a 2007 interview, “We got fined by Colchester Council for spraying the title on a wall. There’s probably a frame around it now”.”

Well you can’t trust Wikipedia or the media for accuracy. Although so many people do.
I don’t know about Colchester but it was definitely the Anti-media people who had graffitied “Modern Life is Rubbish” throughout central London in 1983 onwards, I never saw one that looked like it was from a different stencil to ours.There are more links between Anti-Media and Blur but you will have to be patient.
In the meantime I encourage bored teenagers to find places to do political graffitti. Not tags, that’s like dogs peeing to mark their territory, come on if you’re a teenager be a rebel what’s wrong with young people today? Their minds are enslaved! Come on do something political away from CCTV cameras. In fact all of us should get the spray cans out and decorate our cities with witty political slogans. Make them works of art or like me just write a blog and hope the right people find it.
( It’s legal still, just about!)
I remember I was performing at a cabaret night in the Finchley Road one night and got drunk, some of my Anti-media allies came to the night and on the way back home me still in my green slime, I seem to remember climbing up on a roof and spraying “Modern Life is Rubbish” . But that doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing I would do normally…maybe I imagined it while a bit inebriated.

back to some more recollections of our Pentameters events…

(apologies in advance to my son who will read this)

Our son Ben was about 2 and a half or 3 at this time. We decided to do an improvised play (most things were improvised at our shows) with him. We told our son that he had to pretend to be our parent and tell us off if we did anything wrong and that we would pretend to be the babies. Ben thought this was a great idea and though very young he was extremely eloquent and comfortable with groups of adults. So Michael and I and Ben took to the stage with no rehearsal .Ben was the star of the show. Michael was squatting bouncing up and down with a dummy in his mouth and I was doing something, I think I was pretending to cry and teasing Michael.
Ben was a fantastic improv artist alternating in comforting us , talking to us gently and patting us if we were crying and when we were hitting each other or being naughty he was warning us in an authoritative but kind voice, then if we were really naughty he was pointing at us telling us off angrily and spanking us…. I don’t know where he learnt his parenting skills from!
Of course it was fun being the two naughty children but mainly I was stunned at how well our young son could role play.
The audience loved it and so did our son who felt at last he got his rightful place in charge of us parents ( mind you no great change there! Sorry Ben! But everyone thought you were fantastic and it’s the one Anti-Media scene people still remember now).
A photographer took pictures of Ben with one of us in a Nazi helmet ( I think) and these were published in that stylish glossy fashion magazine “Harpers and Queen”. How on earth “Harpers and Queen” got to find out about us is a mystery to me but I was asked along to an interview in Pimlico at the time and since the group wanted to remain anonymous and they had all these political ideas of what we should or should not say I just kept out of it. I was too scared of blabbering on as usual in my uncensored way and upsetting someone.
I have the article somewhere and if I ever find it I might quote bits in a subsequent blog.

I have just found out that Harpers and Queen is now called Harpers Bazaar, isn’t that bizarre?

I suppose it’s like Jif and Cif or Marathon and Snickers.

Next Time more terrible tales of Anti-Media…

There’s a load of crap on the TV again(Anti-Media stories part 4).

Goings on in Pentameters Theatre:Anti-Media event, rantings on TV, fashion slavery and incompetent policemen(Anti-Media stories part 2)


I was told to go to a fringe theatre in Hampstead called “Pentameters” above a pub called “The Three Horseshoes” opposite Hampstead tube station.
A lovely smiling woman called Leonie was running this theatre and had allowed the mysterious anti-media people to run an event there. She had no idea what she had taken on. In an interview with the Camden New Journal about her theatre she later said
“…I was doing some amazing shows. We did anti-media shows. And they were as radical as you can get.”
Considering that before us she recently had Rik Mayall , Jennifer Saunders plus some of the Young Ones and the Comedy Strip performing there you have to take this as a compliment.
I was quite nervous when I arrived at their first gig to perform my alien act complete with green slime and cling film. I was also there to do others things in the show but I had no idea what. We were backstage and a fairly manic tall young man was on roller blades wearing a pig’s head mask , he shook hands with me and introduced himself as Andy.
Hogan and Richard looked nervous and then said “Let’s go on”.
I said ” What? What do you want me to do?”
They said it didn’t matter we all just had to go on stage and improvise something,anything that came to our heads and be spontaneous.

So we went on stage. Me in my glistening glowing costume, Andy on his roller blades and pig’s head, then there was this quiet guy simply called “OM” who never said anything but was a cool gentle hippie who had cut his hair and now wore a Nazi uniform with a silver polished Nazi helmet and then Hogan and Richard in their untrendy attire.
That was my first experience of Anti-Media.
We walked around the stage area in interweaving circles mumbling things to ourselves and occasionally to one another to a fairly packed room.
Later I performed as Astragone, I had written an extra song called “The Television’s on Everywhere”
I can still remember the opening lyrics
” The television’s on everywhere,
If I want to know nothing all I have to do
is switch on to TV A.M. ,
I really must stay in to wash my brain tonight,
because Quincy is dissecting in my living room,
I hope the sofa don’t stain.”

and here is an Interlude….cue a potter throwing a pot…..an Interlude of ranting about TV:

You have to understand some of the reasons for our rebellion against TV. We were the first generation of children brought up with TV. Our parents didn’t watch it as much or if they did it was with some background of life without TV in their lives.
My mother used to say TV was a great babysitter.She told me how she could place me in front of it all day long propped up with a pillow when I was a little baby and leave me in front of the Test-Card with music playing while she worked . I reckon at least I had a pretty great early music education thanks to hours in front of the Test-Card and I remember from an early age imitating the sound of the TV going “ooooh” in perfect unison with the high pitched tone it would blast out once all the music was played and there were no more broadcasts. I used to sing to it. But don’t pity me I was a sixties baby and millions were like me, plonked in front of the TV from birth and through all the stages of childhood.
I used to have nightmares about advertisements for fairy liquid .The perfect woman/mother/housewife in it was coming to murder me and I had bad dreams about other advertisements too.
I used to have sleepless nights after watching horror films late at night from an early age with images of scenes from Hammer Horror films like flashbacks that stayed with me for years.
I heard debates of how important it was for women to have “sex appeal” and what was “sex appeal” and how we all had to be stick thin. I grew up with the messages that if you are not stick thin and do not have sex appeal that you are worthless and no one will love you.
Any psychologists who dare to say we are not brainwashed by TV and that our children are not affected by it are plain stupid, crazy or blind or trying to protect advertising / TV/ Film companies. Or maybe it’s like smokers in charge of telling us smoking is bad for us .They’ll tell us it’s OK for years until they get found out. Maybe they are simply in denial themselves.
TV is a passive addiction that induces a semi-hypnotic state. That is why advertisers use it. If TV was not the best vehicle to brainwash people with then why on earth would they spend billions on their 20 second slots to sell millions of products. Anyone with a logical brain or business sense can see TV is a brainwashing device even if it wasn’t designed to be like that.

At the time of the Anti-Media events we had a new channel, channel 4 .We suddenly had 25% more TV to watch in the UK and we now had just invented breakfast TV where you could still be half awake and watch TV. I remember when I first saw adverts in the morning, I couldn’t cope as there were times I thought I might be still dreaming and any tune from early morning ads would stay in my head for the rest of the day echoing round my brain like a tape loop.
I guess I’ve acclimatised to it now. I do love watching films and programmes, often the most shallow ones but at least I am an adult.At least I know that what I am watching is bad for my mental health in large doses just like I know smoking ten fags a day is bad for my physical health but I can make a choice. I try to limit my TV/film viewing to a maximum of 2 hours a day now and although I frequently fail ,I certainly feel emotionally and mentally better off from my TV diets. I think watching TV with other people if you are discussing and sharing the programmes is different you can question it but watching TV alone for hours on end should definitely carry a mental health warning.

End of ranting Interlude and back to recollections of first Anti-Media event:
After my alien act, I remember seeing Andy roller-blading in his pig’s head for a bit and possibly OM playing the guitar dressed as a Nazi.

Then of course there were the films made by Hogan and Richard. They liked to film people and scenes in the street :homeless alcoholics dressed in layers of rags , a dog wearing a big plastic collar to help heal some wound, footage of police riots at Wapping and the miner’s strikes. Their films were not staged but often interesting things happened on these and created more of a story. One film taken I think at Wapping showed a load of aggressive policemen standing in line taunting members of the public, one looked directly at the camera and suddenly blew his nose from a great distance deliberately expelling a bogey onto the camera lens and completely obscuring the picture. It kind of reflected their maturity in dealing with the public at that time.

An ad break to make a cup of tea or to rant about police in the 80s…..
We lived at a time of riots in Brixton ,Liverpool , Bristol and near revolution. National Front Skinheads and protesters from the Socialist Workers and The Communist Revolutionary Party were clashing and rioting in the streets.

As for my friends ,we weren’t interested in riots , we were listening to music and playing music and having a good time with our friends but we were constantly stopped and searched by the police .Myself and my partner used to get searched whenever we went anywhere in our van ( a 1960’s VW camper van…not a very good disguise for hippies). Eventually we twigged that our number plate was on the Special Branch computer probably because we had gone to the Stonehenge festival while it was still reasonably legal . Once we moved house and got another vehicle life was a lot easier, getting searched once or twice a day at times was extremely stressful and gave us a healthy disrespect for the law which came out in our creativity.But other “normal” friends of mine also got searched constantly. Some looked completely law abiding and respectable, one of our normal looking friends got searched four times on the same day in Finchley by different groups of policemen. They never found anything yet we felt nervous whenever we saw police walking down the street. There’s no denying the police really harassed alternative non-violent young people . They searched us hoping to find large quantities of drugs but they’d seen the “French Connection” ( not the designer label..the films!) far too many times and they had no idea how to find any drugs. In fact their search methods were hilarious except they were constantly humiliating us by strip searching all the guys in public, as a woman I was fairly safe as legally they needed a woman to strip search me and it was always men who stopped us . However I got frisked with my clothes on by male policemen which was pretty awful at times for a young woman. The only people I knew who got busted successfully by the police were the ones with dogs, they were far more talented at this. But to me drugs were not important , they are still not important to me and to the Anti-Media group drugs were not used or needed.

“And Now…..Back to the Anti-Media event…”
Our evening ended with a kind of open chat show. Hogan and Richard had invited a fashion clothes designer to interview him in a kind of open Terry Wogan chat show with questions from the floor.
The designer looked happy enough to start with sitting back in his chair, all debonair ready to answer questions on his new collection and how successful and great he was. Unfortunately for him though ….they had also invited someone who I think was from Oxfam, in any case they only wore charity shop clothes or ones from jumble sales. The designer talked about his work but then was challenged on clothes made by child slaves in sweat shops and how we didn’t need a constant supply of new clothes and how it made more sense ecologically to recycle all our clothes by buying second-hand. At that time charity shops were dirt cheap, much much much cheaper than Primark in case you were wondering. Also people from the audience joined in who shopped at Camden and bought second-hand clothes. They were commenting how we didn’t need designers to tell us or guide us on what to wear that fashion and style could be created by the wearer in an ethical way by sewing old clothes together to make new creations.
There were no set questions and no set beginning or ending or cute jokes like on a TV chat show. I know that now the ideas in this interview are pretty well-worn ( pardon the pun) but 23 years ago it was the very first time I had ever thought of fashion as being unethical and questioned who had made my beautiful Indian Hippie clothes. As an indirect result of that evening I then bought second-hand clothes for years and worked for a couple of years in an Oxfam shop where I made some fantastic friends. While writing this I have to say that although Primark has been my friend these past 2 or 3 years I think I’ll go back to making my own clothes or buying second-hand in less expensive charity shops. In fact even charities have been brainwashed and operate so much like businesses that there is hardly any difference. Some charities pay their employees such high revenues that people who only care about their bank balances are working for them.
After the Anti-media event we all went back to Bob’s who had recently moved to a flat a few doors down from Pentameters. Michael had come to see what I was doing although it was good for me to be involved in performance independently from our gigs and him . My alien act enabled me to do this subsequently in many different types of venue away from our psychedelic gigs. Some members of Treatment were also there and attended the subsequent Anti-Media events.
That was the first Anti-Media event I can recall but it got wilder as time went on…..

to see an interview with the lovely Leonie Scott-Matthews who was not part of Anti-Media but let us use her theatre see:www.camdennewjournal.co.uk/archive/f041203_3.htm

Modern Life is Rubbish and Harpers and Queen, glossy fashion magazine!(Anti-Media stories part 3)

Anti-media, aliens, hippies and the 80s subculture in North London(Anti-Media Stories part 1).


“Anti-Media”= a very small bunch of radical loonies including me. We need them now!
Names of some of my Anti-Media associates have
been changed to protect them.

How I was recruited …. Back in the early eighties……

The Anti-Media people had seen my alien act at “The Chainsaw Party” a crazy spoof heavy metal gig we put on (more of that in another blog) and because the main song I did referred to TV personalities and programmes from the sixties and eighties they felt I was right enough for them.
The song I did called “She just desperately wants hippies” was co-written one evening a couple of months before between myself ,Richard, Michael and Bob at a house in Finchley just after Bob and I had had an argument . It was originally about a girl we knew who came from outside London to the gigs we organised to look for hippies to go out with. I suggested I got dressed as an alien who had come from another planet coming to earth looking for hippies and turned this into an act for our forthcoming “The Chainsaw Party”.
My alien character having seen earth TV through satellite television broadcasts , thought it was 1969 not 1984 as the TV signals had taken 15 years to reach my planet. So my character had come from Planet Foam to Planet Earth looking for hippies and found none because it was the eighties when young people wore suits and were yuppies in wine bars, with mobile phones the size of house bricks and wore smug glasses. In my imagination my alien character chose to come to our psychedelic gigs where the second generation hippies gathered to see “Treatment” and other psychedelic/punk bands. My character was a pop star on Planet Foam and so was touring the Universe with her hits. I suffer from horrendous stage nerves /lack of confidence and having a character to hide behind meant I could unleash whatever I wanted. The song ” She just desperately wants hippies” had absurd TV references . Some of the words were quite rude ( a certain “Mastermind” quizmaster having carrots stuck up his bottom…Bob’s line not mine!).
Bob dared me to sing it dressed as an alien and that’s how Astragone Arglegargle was born.
( I hope no one from Magnus Magnusson’s family ever reads or hears about it! If so…it was nothing personal he just had great aliteration in his name)

During my first performance at The Chainsaw Party I was pelted with mud from the mud-wrestling pit by some skinheads but I continued and won the audience over and as soon as I got off stage four people booked me for gigs including Hogan and Richard of Anti-Media .
Hogan had just started working with us by projecting his experimental super 8 films at our gigs and Richard I had met before at Bob’s place where he was staying, I think they had gone to the same school together.
Hogan was wearing a cream coloured polyester 70s suit and geeky glasses and slightly long hair. In London in 2007 this might be considered a fashionable or interesting “retro” look but in 1984 it was very uncool. Even in our anarchic gathering you had to have a uniform to identify you as a hippie or a biker or a punk or a goth or even a pratt new romantic , but this identified him as someone who defied fashion and labels. Richard looked like a cross between Norman Bates in Psycho ( sorry Richard) and Mike Nesbitt from the Monkees but without a woolly hat. He was dressed in drainpipe trousers and neat shirt with short hair and so he also stuck out from our crowd of crazily dressed hippies, punks and bikers. At subsequent gigs I remember Richard with his “normal look” but if you looked down on his feet he wore cloven hooves a bit of a give-away that all was not quite conforming to normality.

When I asked Hogan and Richard what kind of gig they wanted to book me for they were evasive and said it was an “Anti-Media Event” and they gave me flyers which were abstract and said virtually nothing . When I asked them if it was like an art event in the 60s where art students went through a town at night and would paint all the street furniture and anything they could lay their hands with red paint they looked at me and said “Maybe”. I found it hard to take them seriously at first but they took themselves very seriously they were such nice people and clearly brave crazy intellectuals. Although I was part of Anti-Media I kept to the sidelines to a certain extent as I was busy with my son and the gigs Michael and I were running plus I was recording and performing and at that time I started a charity with a friend too so I was very busy. My stories therefore about Anti-media are only the tip of the iceberg. In the end it got too extreme for me and I had to quit.In order to keep this fairly chronological …..“In the next thrilling episode of my blograma…..my first Anti-Media Event and more ranting “

Goings on in Pentameters Theatre:Anti-Media event, rantings on TV, fashion slavery and incompetent policemen(Anti-Media stories part 2)