The Sweeney

“London’s a slick place, London’s a swell place, London’s a fine place to come on a visit—”

That’s my favourite line from TS Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes, and I got to speak it in this prerecorded reading for Sunday night’s Glue Factory, the online salon hosted by critic David Collard.

There’s a great version of Sweeney Agonistes on Youtube, produced and recorded in 1965 as part of an Homage to T.S. Eliot: a programme of poetry drama and music. Devised and produced by Vera Lindsay. Presented by the Stage Sixty Theatre Club for the London Library at the Globe Theatre, London, Sunday 13 June 1965. That version featured Cleo Laine, Anna Quayle, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Bernard Cribbins, Clive Revell, Alec McCowen, Nicol Williamson, John Le Mesurier.

Our version featured David Collard, and (clockwise from top left), Paige Niblet, Alex Kapila, David Henningham, Ray Davies, David Henningham again, and me ;)

Here’s the 1965 version – I’m afraid that it doesn’t include visuals, so you’ll just have to imagine Bridget Riley’s projections.

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Road Rage 25th anniversary

Twenty-five years ago today my first novel Road Rage! was published by Scottish small press Low Life Books, with a launch at the Tactical bar and bookshop on D’Arblay Street in Soho! As far as I know, no photos exist of that event. Read more about Road Rage! here, and there are some review clippings in the ‘Press’ section of my site. Low Life was run by the legendary George Marshall, who’d been reissuing the Richard Allen novels in three-volume omnibus editions and was looking to publish contemporary examples of what he termed ‘street fiction.’ I’m eternally grateful to George for his faith in my writing (which was why, he said at the time, he’d put “Tony White’s Road Rage” on the cover) and for giving me my first break.

Here’s what Steve Beard wrote in i-D Magazine:

Who would have guessed that Richard Allen’s range of ’70s bootboy novels would have proved so influential? First Stewart Home samples the speed and aggression in order to turn round the political message and make the link with Burroughs and Blake; then Victor Headley steals a few riffs to draw up a map of the Black Atlantic in London. […] what subculture could be appropriated next? Tony White’s Road Rage makes it clear. Mixing psycho-social realism and techno-pagan fantasy, Tony White stakes out a position between Stewart Home and Martin Millar to offer a vision of London which is romantic, revolutionary, and conservative all at the same time. This is a signpost to the fantastic worlds of a Michael Moorcock or an Alan Garner, and it’ll be interesting to see what White does next.

(Steve later became a good friend and neighbour in Whitechapel, London.)

The cover of the Low Life Books’ paperback of Road Rage! features my by then former Beck Road neighbour Dave McCairley’s photograph of a fire artist. The picture had been taken in 1996, during a demonstration outside Hackney Town Hall against evictions from ‘The Spikey Thing With Curves’, which was the name of a large squat in a former Salvation Army building and Methodist Hall opposite the Hackney Empire on Mare Street. Such a great photo – we were so lucky to have it.

Thank you Dave, George, Steve and all!

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Good Pizza

PIECE OF PAPER PRESS becomes ‘Pizza Paper Press’ for a day to celebrate publication of ‘Good Pizza’, by the acclaimed short story writer David Hayden. It’s a story about being young and about being old, about being out late in early snow. It’s also about pizza. But is it good pizza?

Piece of Paper Press was founded in 1994. The fortieth title in the series, ‘Good Pizza’ by David Hayden, is published 6 July in a numbered limited-edition of 250. Hayden’s story was premiered in a live performance by actress Stephanie Ellyne at David Collard’s online salon The Glue Factory 26 July 2022.

Other authors who’ve contributed to Piece of Paper Press include Tim Etchells, M John Harrison, Susana Medina, Michael Moorcock, Courttia Newland, and Joanna Walsh.

All pre-2000 titles from Piece of Paper Press are included in Artists’ Books: The Book as a Work of Art, 1963–2000, by Stephen Bury, Quaritch, 2016. (Revised edition.)

An exhibition of ‘Piece of Paper Press: artworks and ephemera 1994–2017’ was at Site Gallery, Sheffield, as part of Strong Language curated by Tim Etchells for Off The Shelf Festival of Words, 2018.

Read the press release here…

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At the Bookartbookshop’s Bloomsday celebration

Happy Bloomsday night, all. What a great day it was, celebrating Bloomsday 2019 at London’s wonderful Bookartbookshop! Thanks all ;)

Piece of Paper Press

© Patrick Walsh, 2019

It was a pleasure and a privilege to read the ‘Willingdone Museyroom’ from Finnegans Wake at London’s wonderful Bookartbookshop’s Bloomsday celebration yesterday. And to see the great Marcia Farquhar’s generous, intimate and mesmerising reading of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses; you could have heard a pin drop.

I was proud to wear my old Royal Mail tie for the occasion, partly because I introduced my own reading by talking about reading Finnegans Wake – my now very battered copy of Faber’s 50th anniversary paperback edition of 1989 – when I was working as a postman in Camden Town in the early 1990s, and partly in honour of the postman who appears on p.488 of the novel:

— Oyessoyess! I never dramped of prebeing a postman

Thank you to Alastair (at my left elbow there) and Tanya for their warm hospitality, and to the…

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Another Jubilee

Something for the #PlatinumJubilee weekend? My Silver Jubilee short story ‘High-Lands’, performed live at the Galway Mechanics Institute for TULCA Festival of Visual Arts 2016 with specially commissioned music from the mighty New Pope.

Featuring (in no particular order) The Stranglers live at the Roundhouse, the Silver Jubilee Spithead Review, a school trip to Scotland, shortwave radio, numbers stations, an alien armada invading the Highlands and Islands, art school, end of term concerts, and class war! — play loud!

‘High-Lands’ was originally commissioned by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm as part of Remote Performances and broadcast live from Outlandia, a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland. Remote Performances was supported by Arts Council England, Nevis Landscape Partnership (Heritage Lottery Programme), Oxford Brookes University, Live Art Development Agency (LADA), and Edinburgh Arts Festival. ‘High-Lands’ is collected in the critical anthology Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture, edited by Bruce Gilchrist, Jo Joelson and Tracey Warr (Ashgate/Routledge, 2015).

But, er, I’d just like to say something. On Tuesday night there’s a gig for the preservation of rights of prisoners. Now, Jubilee year. The origin of Jubilee means ‘set people free’ and they’re not doing it this year. So there’s er, a gig for the Prisoners’ Rights Association at Middlesex Poly on Tuesday night, and it’s featuring 999 and [unclear]. So if you wanna help the prisoners, go along there and have a good time.

The Stranglers, Live (X-cert), United Artists, 1979

‘High-Lands’ draws on research undertaken as part of a loose collaboration with Stuart Brisley, Maya Balcioglu and Dr Sanja Perovic of King’s College London, that was made possible by Tony White’s appointment in 2013-14 as creative entrepreneur in residence (funded by Creativeworks London) and visiting research fellow in the French Department at King’s.

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#PickUpAPageTurner

Does your pool need a Fountain this long Platinum Jubilee holiday weekend? Why not #PickUpAPageTurner . . .

Thanks again, Andrew M for the photo!

June 1st is the launch of National Crime Reading Month. Here’s the blurb:

Run by the Crime Writers’ Association in partnership with national charity The Reading Agency, NCRM is a festival that takes place throughout June across the UK and Ireland, culminating in the prestigious CWA Daggers ceremony at the end of the month. It aims to promote and celebrate crime reading across the genre through exciting events and activities in bookshops, libraries, museums, theatres and online.

Visit the National Crime Reading Month website, or search for the NCRM #PickUpAPageTurner hashtag on all your socials to find out about events near you.

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From a Scottish beach

I’ve missed doing live readings — I’m really looking forward to getting back to that soon.

I especially miss doing live readings on beautiful Roshven beaches on the west coast of Scotland, looking out over a hazy Loch Ailort towards Eigg, visited by pine martens, and dressed only in army surplus boiler suits and insect repellent, with swarms of tiny midges still piling into eyes, nose, mouth, ears… Actually that only happened just the once, and we had to abandon the reading and the video shoot after about a minute!

The photo (deemed a bad’un at the time, but cropped and straightened-up here) is by Bruce Gilchrist. We were all up in Lochaber for London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4FM’s wonderful Remote Performances project back in 2014.

What fun that was — thanks all ;)

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