Monday, 27 January 2014

One Day

One day I wish it could be just like it never was,
One day I wish that I just didn’t care
No emotion no connection
No feelings of guilt
No burning no yearning
No missing feelings, no restless sleepings.

One day I wish that I could just wipe the slate clean
and start from the beginning
No memories, no time gone by,
No past friendships, no complexities of the mind
No love, no hate, no wasted years
No thoughts, no pain, no fallen tears.
Just to unmesh, start afresh
One day I wish that I could just be me


Be free, no-one owns a part of me
I can just up and fly away
and start a brand new day
dispel my memory of you
my life as me so overdue

I don’t want this game no more
I’ve shed my blood please no more gore,
Please please please I beg you now,
Please please please no more pain
I can’t go on I surrender
I give up I lay down and die
Take the trophy pat yourself on the back
I’ve dug my trench, now I’m down just throw more dirt on me
I’m buried now its all gone dark,
plant a rose bush or just a carpark
Gone gone gone, I’m not coming back,

Turn out the light and fade to white.

  India April 98

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Great Skinhead Reunion , Brighton, England

The Great Skinhead Reunion, Brighton is produced by Symond Lawes (Concrete jungle Productions). Started in 2011, had become an annual event on Brighton Seafront, Skinheads and ex Skinheads, Ska fans and friends from all over the world gather the first weekend of every June to celebrate the Skinhead Subculture. Main venue is The Voks bar, on Madeira Drive Brighton, Website for full details.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


This is the story of tranformation between youth and manhood
A time when a young man must set sail on a voyage into the world.
To gain feathers, become a brave.
To adorn armour in his quest for knowledge and respect.
This is the story of us, the council estate kids.
The nameless thousands without a voice,
Where there are no rules, only experience to gain.
Scorned by many, understood by few,
But as time goes by we will always be there
Only the faces will change.

symond Lawes 1992

Saturday, 19 March 2011

From Concrete Jungle Festival to X-ray Spex live at the Roundhouse

 Dress rehearsal one week before the gig
 3000 people came
 poly and saxby live on the roundhouse stage
 flash on sax
 the crowd loving poly
 all ages for an icon

 poly styrene

symond poly and barry backstage xray spex
a job well done

what was I thinking, the day I decided to get involved with punk rock. my youth was way behind me, long gone were the days when I thought we were going to change the world. call it a mid life crisis, or just plain madness., but I would like to think it was more the desire to preserve and celebrate a time in British culture and music.
I had been away, become a father, worked for many years as a television actor, seen the world, discovered foreign cultures and philosophy. I didn't need a pair of doc martins to define myself.
Whether it was because I had often played skinhead roles on television shows, the bond I had with my friends, the memories of punks queuing up outside the town hall when I was a kid to see our local band the Xtraverts. The Clash at Brixton, Madness in Hammersmith Odeon, The fact Gavin Watson had made a living from photographs of my friends and me, or the TV documentaries I took part in on the subject. whatever it was, inside me was a belief which I discovered in my teenage years, which had kept me safe throughout my life. that said whoever you are, from where ever you come, you can get up there and do it. Punk Rock was a lot more than fashion and clothes, records and rock stars. It was a belief system, shared and loved by thousands.
After my time working with the Mean Fiddler came to an end, I was at a lose end. throughout my time doing large festivals, such as Leeds and Glastonbury, working behind the scenes, I had witnessed hundreds of bands come and go. The large American corporate labels selling the new generations, their version of Punk Rock, never booking the real thing. I often felt it such a shame that the kids of today or the Bands of real Punk had never had the chance of such exposure to each other, so when I bumped into an old friend, who was guitarist in the biggest band on the punk underground, Cock Sparrer, I agreed to work with him to produce a punk festival. I had experience with production, he was well in with the scene and all the bands, so the agreement was that I would sort the venue out, he would book the acts.
Straight from signing the contract with the venue and paying the deposit of £10.000 I was in too deep, and alarm bells started ringing. Bands contacted me to ask who I was and why was I advertising that they were playing at my show. I was just going on what my booker was informing me, but apparently it had been discussions in bar rooms, and not official agreements made. "Oh well that’s how its done in Punk" He told me.
Things were quickly ironed out with most bands, but a few had to drop out because of other commitments. The tickets went on sale through a punk website, at first all was OK, but after months of promotion it became apparent that tickets weren't selling at anywhere near the amount we needed to break even. I then noticed even headline acts hadn’t put on websites etc. that they were even playing. I didn’t have the money or time to go to every small gig in Europe to give out flyers, I was hoping the punk scene would rally behind a great new event. but what I got was the polar opposite.
When I asked a headline band from Scotland called the Exploited, if we could renegotiate their fee, which was four times higher than their usual gig fee, they refused and threatened the website selling tickets, which then panicked and returned everyone's money that had ordered tickets. The money I had taken directly had all gone to pay the monthly deposits ordered by the venue, which was non refundable. Rumours became loud about cancellation, other punk promoters sent texts out to tell people it was cancelled. Political extremists started to spread personal insults and commit purgery about me. Even one disgruntled ex Punk singer Jimmy Percey, who incidentally was the singer of a song which changed my life called the kids are united, put on his website that the event was some sort of Nazi rally, because his previous band had decided to play without him.
Then the next head-liner started causing trouble because the logo used mentioned a band he was once a member of, again one of my all time favourite acts from coventry, and ex members of the Coventry Ska band accused us of trying to cash in on the name or give people false hope that it was in fact the original act playing, which was completely untrue, but he also had to pull off of the event.
The stress levels were effecting my personal life beyond belief. I had invested my life savings. I naively thought that the scene would get behind a great new event. 60 bands were booked. but sales we lower than band members. with no sleep for three months my mental health was suffering, I had no energy left to fight an internet war, I had no idea about what bands had been involved with in the last 30 years politically, had no idea about how many loyal fans they had, I took the word of people I thought knew. a very bad business decision. as the stress became higher and higher, I cut away from people, found myself lost in the internet world of make believe, just looking for positives. it cost me the relationship with the girl I loved.
Two weeks before the event the website/ production manager demanded full payment then ran away, refusing to work any more
My girlfriend and helper abandoned ship and left the country. taking what she thought should be her wages, but was in fact ticket money to be paid to bands. but worst of all my emotions.
An hour away from the show, I knew I was financially ruined, my crew had left, the money gone, I preyed for a walk up which never came. but I had found some friends who had come in to at least help on the day, my kids ran the merchandise stall with my sister, some real angels helped to make the show go on. In terms of entertainment it was highly successful. many people told me later that it was the best punk show they had ever attended, but emotionally. financially and mentally I was broken.
One guest came that day, who was to turn the whole tide, and if there is a god on Earth it was her. Poly Styrene is her stage name. to me she is Marianne.
She offered me the hand of friendship, showed me a way forward, gave me support and mental help, the courage to go on.
She also offered to perform an X-Ray Spex show with me. With my last bit of energy, I agreed and booked the Roundhouse in London, for a show the next year. I was finished financially, so what did I have to lose, it was not like Concrete Jungle festival,
this was a standard venue, with a band which were icons of my youth. one of my all time favourite acts, and true punk rock, in attitude and action.
The Roundhouse holds 3000 people, and by new years day we had sold enough tickets to break even, but there was a lot of work to be done, find musicians, work on the set, organise all the promotions, the radio, press.
Poly suffers with serious mental health issues, which had to be considered everyday. until she actually got on the stage we never knew if it would go ahead. we had the usual people trying to sabotage the event, but we also had an army of loyal fans that made X-Ray Spex live at the Roundhouse the best day of my life.

for the year running up to the event, we booked the venue, put our money where our mouth was, poly was constantly worrying about her mortgage payments, she had a little house in st leonards by her mother, any money she had made years before had been taken from her by bad management and sharks. we were in the same boat, it was us against the world. but the word spread, the love which was attracted to poly from across the world was unbelievable, with no big business, no big corporate promotion we did it. people said it wasnt punk rock, because we put the show in a big venue, but the roundhouse is a charity which helps deprived kids, poly and me decided its the only place we could possibly hold it, she didnt like the drinking festivals which most punk gigs were, neither of us liked the corporate events. we wanted to do the show for the real fans, from all walks of life, all ages groups and backgrounds.

the night before the gig my friend fiona was cutting the logo out to stick on a drum kit on her lounge carpet, for the kit we had got from ebay, the drummer didnt have his own kit. pete heywood had his circle of plyboard from his old band pink fraud, to be used for the stage projection.

on the day we didnt have any catering or food for the band, but no one complained, poly got on the stage and took the house down. halway through the gig my son asked me to go upstairs. we looked over the balcony, the place was full from wall to wall, back to front, people of all ages, from many different countries, the atmosphere was beyond words. my son said to me ' Dad did you do this' the pride i felt at that moment will live with me forever.

later i stood on the side of the stage with my  nephew alfie, watching the crowd going crazy, poly was alive and so young, her natural charisma shining like a star, my nephew asked me why was a crying. i said well. 'its the happiest day of my life'
Thank you Poly, Saxby, Flash, Paul, Pete Heywood, Oonagh. Luke
My son Jack, Sally, Alfie and Steve Reeve

daryl, ian, daz and guss
And everyone that bought a ticket or helped out with promotion and spreading the word

Monday, 27 December 2010

a rainy night in soho

extracts from the forth coming book i am writing
Late night cafe, for a hot mug of tea, or a Spanish omelet. A place to escape the cold night air, or to wait for the morning trains to start. A few drunk clubbers, some musicians sitting for an after work coffee. Late night whores on a break. Old school gangsters wearing the immaculate fitted suites of a bye gone era, after spending too many years behind bars, cooped up in wormwood scrubs. Undercover vice squad with yellow fingers, from too long sitting on stake outs smoking players number 10. The proprietor watching over his flock of misfits.
On the wall are pictures of beautiful Spanish hillside villages, the sunsets over the Mediterranean, white painted buildings and tango dancers, all slightly faded and worn, a tea urn sitting on the edge of the surface, with a steady flow of steam escaping from the top rim.
Family photos of children in Sunday best clothing, posing with their mother and father, proudly hanging on the wall behind the service area. Jack wondered what brought this guy to London, the city of thieves. Maybe he had got on a boat to seek excitement of the most magical city on earth, His own business feeding the English people Spanish food. Sending regular letters home about the great business in London, hoping one day for his Spanish sweetheart to join him, or to one day return a rich man to the village he had come from.
Furniture from 1960´s square melamine tables with wooden chairs. A yellow glow from too much cigarette smoke and cooking fat, creating a warm homely atmosphere, the transistor radio playing wonderful world by Louis Armstrong.
A politeness and courtesy to the night owls of Soho. Two young skinheads feel welcomed as they take a seat, resting the tired feet from the constant walk around the streets of the west end.
Two overdressed and over made up girls stand, the smell of perfume hanging over them mixed with cigarette smoke. One wearing tight leather dress and leopard skin coat. The other in a bright red micro mini skirt short enough, it almost reveals her panties. Her boob tube squeezing the breath out of her chest, pushing her ample breasts to bursting point. Bright red lipstick and almost red blusher on her face.
¨see you later Luca, back to work¨ one says as she blows the proprietor a kiss walking out of the late night omelet café.
¨stay safe darling¨ replies the Spanish guy behind the counter
Jack and Gavin sit by the window sipping mugs of tea. Jack watching the Mercedes outside with the Arabic looking guy behind the wheel.
¨mind if we sit here?¨ a strong female northern Irish accent asks.
Yes sure you can¨ jack says, looking up to see two pretty punk girls standing smiling at him and Gavin. Jack offering a big smile to the girls as they take their seats.
¨god I could murder a cup of tea¨, one of the girls remarks as she looks at the menu written on the wall.
¨I think you have to go ask at the counter, Jack says, I’ll come with you, I need a refill, thinking it a good excuse to talk to the girl.
The proprietor , a thick set man in his mid 50´s with jet black hair and dark brown eyes, a few too many hairs sprouting from his nose and ears, wearing a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, an apron not hiding his petruding stomach very well, a tea towel laying over his shoulder.
¨how can I help you kids¨, he asks the couple as he places some clean plates on the shelf.
¨two cups of tea, please Mr.¨, the young punk girl asks
Holding the silver aluminium teapot under the water boiler, he pulls the handle and a high pitch hiss comes as the boiling water squirts into the open pot. Swirling it around in circles, he pours the thick brown tea,
¨And what about you son?¨ he says to jack without looking at him, preferring to concentrate on the boiling water.
¨I´ll have two teas as well please¨, he says placing his two cups on the surface.
Rejoining Gavin and the other girl, who had already struck up a conversation, the two friends placed the tea cups on the table and sat down opposite each other.
Where you two from¨? Gavin asks, my mum is from Ireland.
¨really, where from, asks the girl, we are from Belfast¨
Port Louth, by the prison¨ Gavin replies.
¨Wild place that, all the families from both sides go and live there, to be near the old man in jail, the girl says with a laugh, having their own private war¨.
Gavin continues ¨my mum hates it in Ireland, she has been here since she was about 18, got out as fast as she could, my uncles also moved to England, so we don’t really have any family there at all nowadays, I have never been there, but my uncle was a champion hurling player.´ Billy Dargan .
¨Oh that’s grand, I hope to move away from Ireland too, maybe we will stay in London, we just got here today, so we don’t know yet. London scares me.¨
Ha-ha jack laughed, you are scared of London, and you got the IRA blowing the fuck out of your town?
¨Oh it’s not as bad as that, don’t believe all the news reports, if you don’t get involved with it, they leave you alone¨.´ The IRA blew up the police station down my street once, but that’s about it¨. London is full of muggers.
¨Yes I guess so, Jack said, my brother was in the army over there, but he was stationed down in south Armagh, a place called Crossmaglen¨
¨Oh yes that’s called bandit country, they have shite going on across the border down there.¨
¨I´m Mary by the way, and this is Bridget, nice to meet you´.
¨My brother is a Belfast skinhead, but he´s over here now, living in Kilburn, do you know him, he´s called Mickey Doyle¨.
¨No can’t say I do know him, there’s a lot of skinheads in London´, but might have met him at some time or other,¨ Jack replied.
So what brought you to London, you just visiting your brother and shopping¨?
Well , something like that. Bridget here thinks she is in the family way, so we had to come over here, you know how it is being catholic in Ireland, she is going to the family planning clinic tomorrow, her ex boyfriend doesn’t want to know, he´s a waste of space, the feckin ejit¨.
¨Oh well I am sure you will be ok in London, there´s more Irish here than in Ireland.
Is that a fact, I was a bit worried we might get a hard time here, because of all the political shite.
¨No, like you say, don’t believe the media, our estate has loads of Irish, I don’t think the average Englishman blames all Irish for a few fucking scumbags, Gavin said, when my mum came over in the 50´s there was a bit of ignorance to the Irish, they used to have signs up in lodging houses, saying no dogs or Irish, but that’s ancient history.
So what brought your brother here, work¨? Asked jack.
Ha-ha, our brother, she said with a big smile. Biggest fool of them all, wherever there is trouble , our brother won’t be far away, he decided one night to steal a car, to get home from the pub, him and a few ejit mates of his.
The next day we get a visit from the ´Boys´, they tell our brother he has one hour to leave Ireland, turns out the car belonged to them. Luckily for him our Dar knows a few people, so managed to sweet talk them into agreeing not to take my brothers knees, if he left, and my father paid for the repairs to the car.
Silly fool, he parks the car a few streets away, thinking no one would notice, the local skinheads, in their big boots and no brains. You can´t blow your nose in my street without all the neighbours knowing how many tissues you use¨. ´
´so of course the Provo’s were round the house before breakfast, knocking me Ole Fella out of bed in his Y fronts
Hahahaha, so he moved to safe London, full of muggers, hahahaha, Jack said with sarcasm.
Yes, something like that, she said, he has to send me father money every week. He got a solid leathering from me Dars belt, to send him on his way. ¨she said, as all the four new friends laughed together.
A man came into the café, immaculately dressed in a sharp 3 button Italian suite, with a full length Crombie style overcoat draped over his shoulders, a pair of smooth’s, so shiny you could see your face in them.
¨hey Peter! The man behind the counter called out, in a very pronounced Spanish English accent, a huge smile across his face and an outstretched hand. The two guys hug, and the proprietor kisses the man on the cheek.
¨how’s the lovely clean air of free London my friend,
¨just great Luca, but the air is not so clean these days, with all these cars about¨.
¨what you want my friend? anything you like on the house, my home is your home¨ he continues
With that, the two old friends went into conversation about old times, dropping the volume levels gradually to a quiet talk.
Jack watched them as they spoke, imaging the stories those two guys could tell. Men from a different era, The jazz clubs of Soho, the swinging 60´s of the Mods . And The London underworld. Judging by Peters clothing, the way he held himself, with confidence, and the fact he wore a deep scar down the side of his face. Not a Chelsea smile, but a sign of an old street fight and a cut throat razor.
¨jack stop staring, Gavin’s voice broke through jacks thoughts¨.
¨Ur ur yes, shit, jack stuttered realizing he had been eyeballing someone who could take it seriously the wrong way, and returned his attention back to the girls.
¨so how’s the punk scene in Ireland¨ jack asked Bridget.
¨Yes pretty good, I like the English bands more. I love Sousxie and the Banshees, X-ray Spex¨ she said.
Yes they are good bands answered jack, but I love Stiff Little fingers and the Undertones¨.
¨Yes they are good an all, but all the best music, comes from London, you have so much here, most of the Belfast punks have turned skinhead now, they all love madness and the specials¨.
The conversation carried on about the punk and skinhead scenes in London and Ireland. As peter the sharp dressed guy crossed the room towards three other older guys of similar age who were sitting in the corner. As he passed the young skinheads table he smiled.
¨Tut tut, what’s this town coming too, he said, bloody skinheads

Sunday, 26 December 2010


I couldn’t sleep I’d wake and cry,
You couldn’t sleep because I lied.
But do you really want to know the truth ,
The day I gave away my youth

They told us to stand upon the sand.
There’s no-one there only the dead,
The planes had all flown over head.

“Stand and be proud” said Mr Bush,
This today our final push.
We’ve been trained for this my highland boys,
We played like soldiers with our toys.
There’s no-one there, just sand and stone,
 But its me this time , that goes alone.

Horay we charged, on our way to Bagdad,
The people they cheer, we will all be glad.
There’s no-one there, only the dead,
The planes had all flown over head.

So we ran, oh what a crack,
On our backs, 200lb packs.
There’s no-one there only the dead,
The planes had all flown over head.
I couldn’t sleep. I’d wake and cry,

You couldn’t sleep because I lied.
Over the hole in no mans land,
My rifle held within my hands.
But who was that Mr Bush?
The boy I met on the final push.

A frightened child, with a wide eyed stare.
No prisoners they said, til we make the line,
No prisoners they said, there is no time.
There’s no-one there, only the dead,
The planes had all flown over head.

That day I killed a mother’s child,
My darling mothers Bastard child.

Symond Lawes

 Feb 2005