Category Archives: Vic Godard

Henry Brock Reviews Cold London Blues

CLB---3d-stack_d400And says:

 5 out of 5 stars  London is a violent violent town

February 21, 2018

There are so many gems in Paul D. Brazill’s “Cold London Blues” that this review could contain nothing but a bulleted list. If I did that, surely it would be enough to convince you that you need to read this smart, violent and funny book.
I should try a little harder to point all of the fantastic elements of this short sharp novel and certainly I could do better than that bulleted list, but hell, I can’t resist sharing at least a few:

“The bar had the smell of a soggy nun”
“A storm had gouged open the battered and bruised sky”
“A wiry old duffer sat nursing a half-pint of Guinness and reading a battered copy of Ivanhoe, pausing occasionally to sniff the pages”
“There comes a time in every man’s life when he knows he will never be The Fonz”.

I loved this book. It captures the cold damp violent sleaze of London that makes us love that city. I miss drinking pints in those pubs. The dialogue is true and fresh and the characters are interesting and surprising. I think of this as a London underworld novel, with emphasis on the ‘world’. There is such a rich cast of characters that you will feel like you are getting a glimpse of the rough world that most of us (thankfully) don’t see in the real world. You won’t regret reading this “Cold London Blues”

Jack Strange Reviews Cold London Blues

cold london bluesOver at his blog, Jack Strange says:

‘The story itself is a can of worms into which the freakish cast is drawn willy nilly, through their different points of contact with a criminal family, a heist, a number of hits, and one or two murders that aren’t hits.

But this book isn’t just about characters and plot.

First and foremost it’s about language, and this is where it really shines.

It’s written like a hard-boiled novel from the fifties, updated for the present day, turbocharged, and powered by rocket-fuel.

There is at least one line on every page you’ll want to quote to your friends. On many pages there are several. ‘

Read the rest here.

Halloween Flash: The Stamp Of A Vamp

Alison Day was a mousy woman who had barely been scuffed by the wear and tear of life until the day she met Lulu, the effect of which was like lightning hitting a plane. The Autumn night draped itself over the city, and the moon bit into the sky as Alison rushed home from her usual Wednesday evening yoga class. She felt edgy and fumbled for her keys as she heard the click, click, click of high heels on the wet pavement. She turned. On the corner of the street, beneath a blinking street lamp, a woman was smoking a cigarette. Her silhouette seemed to appear and disappear like warm breath on a cold window pane.

The woman was tall and, like Alison, in her early thirties with wan looking skin, a slash of red lipstick across her full lips and her black hair cut into a Louise Brooks bob. She was wearing a red PVC raincoat and shiny black stiletto heels and Alison suddenly felt very dowdy with her green cagoule, Gap jeans and mousy, unkempt hair.

The woman slowly sauntered towards Alison-and in a muddy foreign accent, said:

‘Keep looking at people like that and you’ll be in for a good tongue lashing.’

And then she collapsed in heap at Alison’s’ feet.

* * *

‘Would you like a cup of tea?” said Alison, “I have …’
‘Something stronger, maybe?’ purred the woman as she sat up from the sofa.
Alison rummaged in a cupboard and found an unopened bottle of absinthe.
‘How about this?’ she said.
The woman smiled and lit a Gauloises cigarette.
‘My name is Lulu,’ she said, filling two shot glasses with absinthe. ‘Drink with me, eh?’
As the night hurtled on, Alison got drunk and in the process told Lulu her life story, such as it was. Lulu seemed fascinated by Alison’s idyllic, picture postcard childhood in Yorkshire and her job at Bermondsey Library. Lulu revealed little about herself, however, except that she had come from Bucharest shortly before the revolution and that she was married to a nightclub owner called Nicholas.

‘You know,’ said Alison ‘I hardly ever drink. My friends say that I can get drunk on the sniff of a barmaid’s apron.’ She giggled. ‘This is the first time I’ve drunk absinthe.’

‘They say it makes the heart grow fonder,’ said Lulu, licking the rim of the glass and holding Alison’s gaze.

***
At some point during the night Alison woke up in bed, in a cold sweat, with no recollection of getting there. Lulu, naked, was smoking and gazing out of the bedroom window. The tip of her cigarette glowed bright red and then faded to black.

***

In the morning, as slivers of sun sliced through the blinds, Alison awoke and saw that Lulu was gone. Memories of the night before fizzed like champagne bubbles as, on the bed, she saw a business card for Vamps Gentleman’s Club in Shoreditch. Written in red lipstick, was a phone number.

***

Vamps was suffocating in black leather and red velvet. It was cluttered with noisy groups of brash City Boys and semi-naked young women who wandered around with beer glasses full of money. The DJ played ‘Goldfinger’ as a statuesque blond, wearing only a pair of angels’ wings, crawled up and down a glistening pole.

Alison sat on a large black sofa next to Lulu, who was dressed in a red leather nun’s habit with a gold pentagram dangling from a chain around her neck. Tearing the label from her beer bottle she moved in close to hear Lulu speak.

‘I suppose marriage to Nicholas was a marriage of convenience.’ Lulu said. ‘I wanted to stay legally in England and he wanted…well, a pet. He promised me a job in a West End nightclub and I ended up here. But the worse thing is, he makes me have sex with other dancers. His business partners.’

She downed her drink in one.

‘Can’t you leave him?’ said Alison, red faced.

‘If I leave him, I’ll be deported and that will be that’, she said. Alison blanched.

As Autumn trudged on into Winter, Alison and Lulu’s meetings became more frequent and murderous thoughts hovered over them like a hawk ready to strike its prey until one night Lulu eventually said, ‘Okay. Let’s kill him.’

***

‘You see, ninety nine percent of the human race are just here to make up the numbers,’ said Nicholas, in a voice stained with nicotine and brimmed with brandy. He was an elegant, handsome man in his sixties. He indifferently smoked a large cigar, the smoke rings floating above his head like a halo or a crown of thorns.

‘They’re just cannon fodder. Don’t you agree?’

Alison couldn’t agree or disagree. She couldn’t say a thing and she couldn’t move.
The plan had been simple enough. She was to go to Vamps on New Years Eve and ask about work as dancer. When the place closed she’d accept Nicholas’s inevitable invitation to go to his office for a night cap with him and Lulu. They were to poison him and dump his body in the Thames along with the drunks who tottered into the river’s dank and dirty water at this time of year.

But after the first couple of drinks she realised that she was paralysed. In the oak and leather armchair she was like an insect trapped in amber. The clock struck twelve and the room was lit up by exploding fireworks. Lulu and Nicholas’ eyes glowed bright red and then faded to black.

‘Happy New Year, my sweet,’ said Lulu. ‘I hope you like your present.’

‘I’m sure I will, darling,’ said Nicholas, ‘I know how difficult it is to find fresh meat in these decadent times’. He chuckled and seemed to float from his chair.

As Nicholas sank his fangs deep into her neck, Alison felt pain greater than she had ever felt before. She wanted to cry, to scream, to tear herself apart but she could do nothing except listen to the sound of fireworks and Lulu’s cruel, cruel laughter.

(c) Paul D. Brazill

CLIP: Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400Cold London Blues (CLB) is a blackly comic slice of pulp fiction (or Punk Fiction, if you fancy!) published by indie publisher Caffeine Nights Publishing.  CLB is a follow up to my book Guns Of Brixton (GOB) – a violent gangster romp, a sweary Ealing Comedy. With GOB, I used the titles of Clash songs to – loosely!- frame the book.

Whereas GOB was a tad Mockney music hall in its approach, with CLB I wanted something more noir, more torch song, and so I used Vic Godard and Subway Sect songs in the same way. (I’d previously named a couple of characters after Vic. In my story The Last Laugh there’s a hit man known only as Godard and a bent copper called Vic Napper.)

The following scene features the murderous priest Father Tim Cook, who is going through a delayed mid-life crisis.  He and his friend Gregor are on a pub crawl which takes them to a smokey, pokey bar full of sinners known as Noola’s Saloon.

NOBODY’S SCARED

Noola’s Saloon was even more crowded than the pub they’d just left but that certainly didn’t deter Father Tim and Gregor, who had decided they were on a drinking mission. As they shuffled through the door, the Wurlitzer jukebox burst to life and Howling Wolf snarled out ‘I Ain’t Superstitious.’

The pub was dimly lit and smoky, despite the fact that no one was smoking. Gregor found a small table near a disused cigarette machine and Tim went to the bar. A dishevelled and unshaven old soak, who seemed to be dressed like a private eye from some old black and white film, nestled on a bar stool, calmly contemplating the glass of whisky that was in front of him. The ice cubes seemed to shimmer, glimmer and glow in the wan light.

He looked up at Tim.

‘Twilight time,’ he said, his hangdog expression never changing.

‘Isn’t it always,’ said Tim.

The old soak nodded and went back to staring at his drink.

Tim briefly turned his gaze outside. The wet pavement reflected Noola’s Saloon’s flickering neon sign. Headlights cut through the heavy rain. He unsteadily shuffled up and leaned on the bar, plonking the sleeve of his jacket in a puddle of spilt lager.

After a while, he caught the eye of the barman , a grumpy-looking bloke with a pock-marked face and inky black quiff. He slowly put down his copy of National Geographic and Tim made the two finger gesture for two pints, making sure his hand was facing the right way.

The antique Wurlitzer Jukebox was playing Mel Torme’s version of ‘Gloomy Sunday’. Tim had always been a big fan of The Velvet Fog but the cacophonous voice of a fat bald bloke in a corduroy jacket boomed over the lush sounds.

‘Well, I’m certainly not a fan of the popcorn trash that the multiplex inflict upon us but at least Christopher Nolan treats Batman with the gravitas he deserves,’ said the bald, fat man.

A tall, twitchy man who was looming over him, almost spat his half pint of Guinness over his Armani shirt.

‘Gravitas!?  It’s about a bloke who dresses up in a rubber bat suit to fight a baddy who dresses up like a clown. It’s not exactly Marcel bloody Proust, is it?’

‘Well some critics would argue that it’s a metaphor for …’

‘Critics! Jeez! Film critics! Have you ever been to the BFI?’

‘Of course. The recent Alain Resnais retrospective was …’

‘The British Film Institute is a very creepy place indeed, my friend. Creepy people, too. And the shite they spout. Like that crap about Dawn of The Dead being a satire of consumerism because the zombies go to a shopping centre. I mean, that’s one gag in the whole film! There’s also a scene where one of them gets decapitated by a helicopter blade. Is it a satire of air traffic control? Eh? I ask you?’

The bald man shuffled in his seat and wiped cappuccino froth from his top lip.

‘Well …’

Father Tim, picked up two pints of Kronenburg from the bar and resisted the temptation to give both of the blokes a slap.

‘Wankers like that are what put me off going out for a drink in the West End these days,’ he said as he put the drinks on the table.

‘The city is riddled with them these days,’ said Gregor. ‘They’re like the clap. Even worse than northerners.’

‘I was in that poncy over-priced sandwich shop before I came here,’ said Tim, unsteadily sitting down. ‘Away in a Manger or whatever it’s called. Anyway, they were playing Nick Drake. ‘Fruit Tree’ to be precise.’

‘I like Nick Drake,’ said Gregor.

‘Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of Nick myself but there were a couple of media wankers in there talking about his mum’s LP’

‘Whose mum?’

‘Nick Drake’s. Some sad bastard has put out a few songs she record in the olden days.’

‘Any good?’

‘Dunno. Never heard it. Anyway, these twats in the sandwich shop started prattling on about how Drake and his mother’s music was ‘quintessentially English’. I mean what the fuck’s that all about? Quintessentially posh sissy boy with a quintessentially stuck-up mother, I’ll give you that. Quintessentially poncy. It’s all that John Betjeman, cricket on the village green, Downtown Abbey, Latin quoting detective cobblers that they punt to the Septics because, well, Yanks are thick. And it has nothing to do with the life of a hairdresser from Wolverhampton or a bingo caller from Hull or the vast majority of English people. You know what I’m saying?’

‘Poshness. Poshnessabounds,’ slurred Gregor, sinking even lower in his seat. ‘This country is crippled by its class system.’

‘Exactly. Switch on the telly and it’s all Sherlock poncy Holmes or Dr poncy Who. This is the bullshit we have to put up with. Oxbridge twots and Oxbridge wannabees.’

‘We need another class war, that is what we need,’ said Gregor. He spilt a splash of lager on his shirt as he slurped it.

‘I blame America for it … well, I blame America for everything …The United States Of America is a cancer. A poisonous virus that has fatally infected its host,’ said Tim, reclining in the leather chair and waggling his outstretched fingers, trying to get the circulation back in them. He checked his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t looking so good.

‘It’s like in those horror films, eh?’ he said. ‘They say you shouldn’t make your home on an Indian burial ground but when you think about it, the whole of the United States is a bleedin Indian burial ground. Think about it.’

Grab COLD LONDON BLUES here, if you’re that way inclined.

5 Overlooked Punk/Post-punk Singles.

rythm-of-crueltyI regularly listen to Gary Crowley’s Punk and New Wave Show on Soho Radio. A recent show was about overlooked or ignored singles, and these favourites came to mind.

My Place – The Adverts.

As much as I liked The Clash and the Pistols, they were never one of MY bands. The Adverts, however, were very much my band. They were a great live band who released some great punk singles and a great debut LP.  My Place was a change of pace, though. Moody and stripped down, it was pretty much ignored, unfortunately. The B-side – Back From The Dead– was co-written with The Doctors Of Madness’ Richard ‘Kid’ Strange and is also a lost gem.

Split Up The Money – Vic Godard & Subway Sect.

The impact of the first couple of Subway Sect singles is well documented. The band’s move into swing also. The transition record is the classic ‘Stop That Girl’. But before that was Split Up the Money, a smart and catchy slice of kitchen sink crime fiction that acted as a  taster for the forthcoming What’s The Matter Boy? LP.

Virginia Plain – Spizzenergy.

Spizzoil were a glorious racket- all screeching, discordant guitar and,er,  kazoo- I saw them live twice!- and Spizz’s second musical turn is well known due to the justly celebrated ‘Where’s Captain Kirk?’ but before that was an electro punk version of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’. The song is actually the B-side of the infectious  punk disco anthem Soldier, Soldier: ‘What’s Your Price?’

Rhythm Of Cruelty – Magazine.

After Howard Devoto quit Buzzcocks he returned with a barnstorming single in Shot By Both Sides and Magazine’s debut LP is a classic. But Rhythm Of Cruelty – a sinister, sleazy slice of noir – crept out with little impact. Which is a pity, as it’s a belter.

Love You More – Buzzcocks.

Buzzcocks released a bunch of singles in 1978 and seemingly lost among them was this short, sharp slice of punk-pop. One minute and fifty seconds long. Until the razor cuts.

Cold London Blues Around The World

20160816_201507Cold London Blues with me (and my other books) here in Poland.

cold london blues burkey

Ronnie Burke in the Boro.

Cold London Blues jeff munday.

Jeff Munday in London.

Cold London Blues Haskins

Micheal Haskins in Florida.

Cold London Blues Peter Ord.

Peter Ord in Hartlepool.

cold london blues marky hewitt.

Marky Hewitt in Hartlepool.

cold london blues sparrow

Denise Sparowhawk in Hartlepool.

cold lodon blues kate

K A Laity in Dundee.

cold london blues mar hammonds

Mark Hammonds in the Boro.

cold london blues vic godard 1

Vic Godard in Surrey.

Punk Fiction!

cold-london-blues (2)
Cold London Blues

There has been a long and varied tradition of songwriters taking their song titles from books: Venus In Furs – The Velvet Underground, Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush, Lost Weekend – Lloyd Cole, 1984- David Bowie, Absolute Beginners- David Bowie.

And, of course, it goes the other way too.

My book Guns Of Brixton took its title from a song by The Clash and I used Clash songs to frame it. My follow up, Cold London Blues, does the same thing with the songs of Vic Godard and Subway Sect. And A Rainy Night In Soho will do the same with The Pogues.

And it’s no surprise that many Brit Grit writers have taken the same approach, usually using punk and post- punk songs as inspiration.

Here we go 2,3,4:

Mark Timlin published a book called Guns Of Brixton years before I did.Ian Ayris’ April Skies uses the Jesus and Mary Chain, Tony Black’sLondon based short story collection is invariably called London Calling – The Clash again. Ian Rankin recently chose The Associates’ Even Dogs In The Wild.  Nick Quantrill used a Wilco song for the title of The Late Greats, and The Crooked Beat is one of The Clash’s lesser known songs.James Hilton’s debut thriller is Search and Destroy – Iggy and The Stooges, Jim Iron and John Steel’s Glory Boys is taken from a Secret Affair song. Ray Banks used The Stranglers for No More Heroes. Nigel Bird gave us Mr Suit (Wire) and Beat On The Brat (Ramones). Graham Wynd chose The Fall’s Extricate and Steve Suttie gave us the Road To Nowhere (Talking Heads).

And it’s not just punk songs that work as crime fiction titles. Nick Triplow used a Tom Waits song for Frank’s Wild Years and Adrian McKinty has used five of Mr Waits’ ditties, the most recent being Rain Dogs.

gob
Cold London Blues

Sheila Quigley always uses song titles for her books, starting withLindisfarne’s Run For Home, and more recently The Sound Of Silence. Andy Rivers used The Beatles for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Aidan Thorn chose When The Music’s Over (The Doors).

And that’s only this side of the pond. Josh Stallings Young Americans (David Bowie) and K A Laity’s White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane) are just a couple of recent American examples that come to mind.

And there are plenty more, I’m sure.

So, who did I miss? And any suggestions?

(This post first appeared at the All Due Respect blog.)

Recommended Read: A Moment Worth Waiting For by Kevin Pearce.

a moment woth waiting forKevin Pearce’s brilliant music memoir A Moment Worth Waiting For opens with the release of Vic Godard’s What’s The Matter Boy? LP in 1980. Pearce tells the story of how Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt and Tracey Thorne first bonded over the record, with Ben later lending her his John Martyn records and Tracey lending Ben her Aztec Camera discs. All of which led to them forming EBTG.

This anecdote is only one of the many, many stories in this exhaustive, exhausting and smartly digressive look at two years in Pearce’s life-in-music. Early Eighties post-punk soon spirals off and out to fifties Soho, Music Hall, bossa nova, Greek neo kyma,  MFP records, Tim Buckley, torch songs and much, much more. Indeed, there is so much here that an accompanying soundtrack album would have to be a box set. And what a belter it would be, too!

A Moment Worth Waiting For is the first in a recently completed trilogy and is essential reading for British men of an uncertain age, such as myself, and anyone with an interest in British pop culture.

 

Out Now ! Cold London Blues by Paul D. Brazill

CLB---3d-stack_d400COLD LONDON BLUES is currently available to buy in the UK , the US and all around the world.

The blurb:

‘A killer priest is on the rampage across London and an egotistical Hollywood action movie star is out for revenge when is his precious comic book collection is stolen.Meanwhile, gangster Marty Cook’s dreams of going legit swiftly turn pear shaped when one of his bouncers accidentally kills one of his salsa club’s regular customers.Razor sharp wisecracks, gaudy characters and even gaudier situations abound in Cold London Blues, a violent and pitch-black Brit Grit comedy of errors.’

Published by Caffeine Nights Publishing.

You can get COLD LONDON BLUES from Amazon.com,   Amazon.co.uk,Waterstones , Blackwell‘s, Foyles, and lots of other places.