Tuesday, 31 December 2013

PUSH best of 2013

Radio 5 live said today 2013 was the year of the only sold on the street literature sensation PUSH. Half of sales at West Ham home games. Who else sells literature at football? No fucker.


I was the caller. Dave from Romford.

But it was only because WE WERE ALL wanting to call in and state that.

This year I have been approached by many who wanted to ‘brand’ the mag and who could also help take the distribution to a realistic level.

I said to them every time the same two words.

PUSH sleeps around, snorts speed, is a pisshead, a loner, lover, doesn’t suffer fools at all gladly, might end it all tomorrow; all actions created mostly out of emotional moments but does have a kind heart and loves every writer and reader manically. Brand that.

Happy New Year.


Another number.

Hope, always on the horizon.


For now.

Only this.

Another number.


Out in 2 weeks.

Joe x

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Here it comes.

The end of the year and the world is on the brink. But some of us are too good to go under. We are going to make a paper plane out of words with a bright colour cardboard cover all for £2 and then head off into space in search of a new home that compliments our loathing of everyday and mainstream.

We want fun and the theme for the next issue is a simple one. 


You have time on your side.

The issue won’t be out until early January. A time when famously West Ham United Football Club come down with the Christmas decorations, the heralding of the start of a painful relegation battle. Well, that painful battle has been ongoing long before the festive season.

It’s apt then that this is going to be the optimism issue.

And as I sell a lot of this small mag in E13 on match days, PUSH NINE might be quite West Ham themed too.

But that’s all I am saying for now.

All you need to know. Is this. Optimism.

Submissions of poetry, fiction, reviews and interviews to the usual place – pushmag@email.com

No timewasters.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

PUSH 8 due out this week...

Seventy years later and they’re still waiting for the Fante family to come back because they admired him so much. They love John Fante, they love Dan Fante, they were hoping Dan would come back…and I thought, yeah...I don’t think so…

Everybody takes drugs. The guy from Wet Wet Wet was a smackhead…it didn’t make him Lou Reed...

The new issue, a bumper 56 pages, is heading to the printers and due out later this week and contains two more exclusive interviews. David Peace and Jenni Fagan sent the benchmark in Issue 7 and this month it’s been raised higher.

Rebel Inc founder and editor Kevin Williamson talks to Allan Wilson about Bella Caledonia, Neu! Reekie! Rebel Inc, football, arts and politics. I could elaborate more here, but refuse to. Only to say that the interview alone is worth the entrance fee, trust me.

And if that wasn’t enough to inspire you to raid the piggy bank for coppers and silver, Joseph Ridgwell corners Tony O’Neill and serves up an ace of spades. Burroughs, SCUM Manifesto and James Fogle is just me scratching the surface of their mighty indulgence.  

There’s superb fiction, poetry and artwork too. From 15 contributors including debuts from Abi Cornwall, Billy B.S., Johnny Crucial, Rude Girl and Ford Dagenham as well as Anette Roller, Allan Wilson, Michael Keenaghan, Joe England, Ian Cusack, Gwil James Thomas, Joseph Ridgwell, Clare Archibald, Raymond Gorman and Jose Arroyo.

This is possibly the last issue of the year and the largest in size and print run to date.

Due for release Thursday 14 November, PUSH number 8 will also be on sale 23 November in the morning on the South Bank, London Town and afternoon in E13 at West Ham v Chelsea.

£2 on the street
£3 paypal/cheque (includes p&p)

paypal – joe.england64@gmail.com

contact – PUSHmag@email.com

Thursday, 24 October 2013

PUSH number 8

Jimmy James and The Vagabonds once sang: Now is the time to set things right, now is the time to see the light

When all seems dead and buried and you just don’t give two fucks anymore, an unknowing calm brings you back from the abyss
Your drug and drink rehabilitation can only work if you want it to work

That middle of the night when you got towed off of the M11

A second wind or forever wild as the wind

Only you can decide...

...failing that, send in something completely unrelated…

Submissions now open for poetry and short fiction

But will close Friday 1 November

Send now to pushmag@email.com

PUSH – poetry, fiction, reviews and interviews, a cheaply made 44 page monthly publication established in March that has so far featured 28 writers.

Sold on the street in London Town at football, gigs and as this is the modern world, sometimes via Paypal

Sunday, 6 October 2013

PUSH 7 out this week


As the heading proclaims, the latest issue goes to the printers this week. And it is a real screamer. Issue 7 launches a new feature. PUSH regulars interview established writers. And this month we make a true show of intent. PUSH has two Granta Best of British Novelists, David Peace and Jenni Fagan, answering our loaded questions. These exclusive, contrasting interviews will be a hard act to follow in the next issue.

Also this month, in what is the revolution themed issue, there is great new fiction from popular regulars Michael Keenaghan Black & Tans, Ian Cusack A Quiet One, Allan Wilson Terrorist, while Carlton Burns, Joseph Ridgwell and Gwil James Thomas provide the revolutionary backdrop.

PUSH is at its best in publishing previously unheard voices and Clare Archibald's Foot-binding is a superb debut. Having had her poetry published in Issue 3 & 4, Munich's Anette Roller returns with her first offering of fiction with The Attempt. 

The earlier editions have been sold on the street at gigs and football matches and while copies will be available on Saturday ahead of The Everlasting Yeah's gig at The Roundhouse, Camden, it will not be making a show at West Ham v Man City the following week. I need a break from selling at football. I also think it is having an impact on team matchday focus. Word from Big Sam is that the likes of Nolan, Noble and Jarvis are more interested on a Saturday in getting hold of a copy of the latest issue than playing a game of football. Even after the brilliant 3-0 away win v Spurs today, Big Sam's text just now was 'let them contact you direct'. 

Therefore instead of the usual 120 print run, there will only be 80 copies of PUSH 7. That's right. This is a limited run of 80. So if you have never got hold of a copy before, this is as good a time as you will get to join the small cult of PUSH. Now real proper sales-speak. To pre-order via paypal for only £2.80 go and check out this easy link joe.england64@gmail.com

Thursday, 3 October 2013

PUSH – a bibliography ahead of next weeks issue

  March 2013
  44 pages, 120 copies (Sold Out)
  Theme: The Man Has His Hand Up Your Arse
  Price: £1.50
Sold by post and on the street at Aldershot v Wimbledon, Chelsea v West Ham and West Ham v West Brom
Carton Burns ‘Pipe’, Joe England ‘Arriving’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘For The Boys On The Riverbank’, Raymond Gorman ‘Manic Pop Haikus #1’,  Jeff North ‘The Prison Pomes’, Ian Scanlon ‘The Numbers’, The Joseph Ridgwell Review ‘The Unspeakable Writings Of Terry Southern’, Michael Keenaghan ‘Bent’, Dirty Boozy Bastard ‘Blue Lion', Ian Scanlon ‘Maybe Friends Then’, Joe England ‘Doomed Love’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘For All The Dead Heiresses’, Raymond Gorman ‘Manic Pop Haikus #2’.

  April 2013
  44 pages, 120 copies (Sold Out)
  Theme: London
  Price: £1.50
Sold by post and on the street at West Ham v Manchester United
Joseph Ridgwell ‘Gone To The Dogs’, Bobby Dean Ward ‘Where’s Grandada?’, Steve Sacre ‘Hardnut/Fire/Brother’, Joe England ‘Mapledune’, u.v.ray ‘Tearing Down the Monuments’, Michael Keenaghan ‘Snitch’,  Ian Cusack ‘Pigeons/Easterside Nocturne’, Raymond Gorman, ‘Cobalt Blue’, Dirty Boozy Bastard ‘Fernando’s Hideaway’, Joe England ‘Long Shadow’, Raymond Gorman ‘Climate Blind’, Ian Scanlon ‘Elephant’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘Dirty Old River/Ode To Vera Cruz/Fuckers’.
  May 2013
  Theme: Not London, Ann Quin
  44 Pages, 120 copies (Sold Out)
  Price: £1.50
Sold by post and on the street at launch at The Grafton, Kentish Town,
The Fall at The Grand, Clapham and West Ham v Reading
Carlton Burns ‘Mother’, Jennifer Dunn ‘Last Rites’, Michael Keenaghan ‘Ghosts’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘Jack Sheppard’s Last Stand’, Joe England ‘Train In Vain’, Anette Roller ‘ Earthquake You Gently’, Raymond Gorman ‘ Beethoven’s Birthday’,  Joseph Ridgwell ‘Heroism Of The Longneck’, Andrew Taylor ‘Twig Bucket’, Bekkie Collins Budd ‘ Late Shop Of Lost Things’, Andrew Taylor ‘Elizabeth On The Sofa’, Anette Roller ‘Familiar Strangers’, Mikael Covey ‘Something Happened’, Ian Cusack ‘D Overton/Horseplay’, Dirty Boozy Bastard ‘Work, Writing, Women’. Steve Sacre ‘Bullets’.

  June 2013
  Theme: Comedown
  44 Pages, 100 copies (Sold Out)
  Price: £1.50
Sold by post and on the street at The Skints, Sub 89 Club, Reading and Paul Talling’s Derelict London Walk, Poplar
Simon Dent ‘Woolwich’, Steve Mcgillivray ‘Comedown’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘Annie’, Joe England ‘Low Pain Threshold’, Ian Cusack ‘The Sporting Life’, Allan Wilson ‘Eyes’, Gwil James Thomas ‘The Salmon Man In The Crowd’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘Henry Lawson’, Anette Roller ‘Milky Way’, Ian Scanlon ‘Peripheral’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘The Sawmill’, Michael Keenaghan ‘Snitch’, Andrew Taylor ‘Prefab’, Ian Cusack ‘Alma Mater’,  Joe England ‘Drinking In The Daylight’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘To Fade Away’.

  July 2013
  Theme: Music
  44 pages, 120 copies (Sold Out)
  Price: £1.50
Sold by post and on the street at West Ham v Cardiff
Joseph Ridgwell ‘Blind Beggar Blues’, Michael Keenaghan ‘Grafter’, Bobby Dean Ward ‘East End Babylon’, Joe England ‘Summer Loving’, Gwil James Thomas ‘Sparse Light’, Ian Scanlon ‘Nihilism’, Ian Cusack ‘Hobgoblin’, Raymond Gorman ‘TV Eye’, Andy Wishart ‘Frank Blood’ Joseph Ridgwell ‘Weapon Of Choice’, Steve Mcgillivray ‘Tube Station’. 

  August/September 2013
  Theme: Football
  44 pages, 120 copies (still a few copies available)
  Price: £1.50
Sold by post and on the street at West Ham v Stoke City
Ian Cusack ‘Follow, Follow’, Joe England ‘Cup Final Day’, Joseph Ridgwell ‘In Memoriam’, Michael Keenaghan ‘Relegation’, Daniel McCahon ‘The One We’ll Never Know’, Kevin Williamson ‘Evidently Edinburgh’, Raymond Gorman ‘The Ballad Of Gerry McGowan’, Ian Scanlon ‘Bad Idea’, Grounsell Stannington ‘White Hart, White Heat’, Ridgwell Junior ‘The Ace Face’, Allan Wilson ‘Tits’.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The Magnificent 25 (the writers in PUSH 1-6)

Joseph Ridgwell

Carlton Burns

Jeff North

Raymond Gorman

Ian Scanlon

Michael Keenaghan

Dirty Boozy Bastard

Bobby Dean Ward

Steve Sacre

u.v. ray

Ian Cusack

Jennifer Dunn

Anette Roller

Andrew Taylor

Mikael Covey

Bekki Collins Budd

Simon Dent

Steve Mcgillivray

Allan Wilson

Gwil James Thomas

Andy Wishart

Daniel McCohan

Kevin Williamson

Grounsell Stannington
Joe England

Thursday, 19 September 2013


The time has come for an uprising of words

The revolution will not be televised but written down

Kick down the wall

Build a funeral pyre and burn all of your previous issues*

They no longer belong

PUSH 7 is year zero

Send submissions of poetry, reviews and short fiction to


* If you no longer require previously purchased/thieved editions then give to your friends or back to me as much sought after. However, should you feel that the revolution does need a PUSH burning then please at least video in the style of KLF setting fire to one million pounds and then show the world...

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Football Special

Come & Write a Haiku If You Think You’re Hard Enough...

The new issue of PUSH is a perfectly assembled team of writers who, in pre-season training, have shown that they have the potential to beat all 5 previous issues and anyone else who wants to know. There is not a weak link in the side. A mixture of experienced heads and raw young talent. The starting eleven is so strong I haven’t even selected any substitutes.

Ian Cusack’s sectarian story set in the North East is a fine opener, Raymond Gorman recounts the tragic true life story of the man who had to spend his life in hiding when he could have kept Gary Lineker on the bench at Leicester City, a football away day without any football from Ian Scanlon, a dirty secret behind tinted windows from Grounsell Stannington that would surely have Real Madrid doubting buying Gareth Bale, a young footballer makes a bad decision in a new short story from Michael Keenaghan, Joseph Ridgwell buries the ball into the net with a lament to a lost friend, Joe England’s brotherly cup final is spiked with poison, Allan Wilson returns from injury with a tale to make you itch, Danny McCahon’s debut is a mod story of lost love, plus there’s our new signing, Rebel Inc counter culture literary legend, Kevin Williamson.  

PUSH 6 is available in both home kit colours (sky blue) and away (tangerine).

Sold on the street for £1.50. On sale at West Ham/Stoke City Saturday 31 August. (Before: The Lord Stanley in Plaistow from 12.30pm then from 2pm at the gates. After: The Vic in Plaistow).

Sold via Paypal for £2.50 (includes p&p). Link: joe.england64@gmail.com

Sunday, 11 August 2013


Those who already have a copy of the latest issue know that submissions have been open for a couple of weeks. That is why half of the playing staff have now been signed up. And I am talking about quality signings that will deliver on the pitch and make your next £1.50 match ticket a continued steal.

Our scouts are now on their holidays so this is your chance to impress.

It’s a football themed issue. But don’t bother with pale imitations of John King (unless there is a new tale and way for it to be told) and definitely no sorry replications of the Brimson brothers grim.

Short fiction and poems about all aspects of experiences of going to/playing/suffering football is what this edition is looking for.

For many wise people going to football has always been a way of life, a social connection with flesh and blood and soul, everything the internet is the opposite.

Football is about loyalty and belonging, but more important than that, for the majority it is a weekly education in dealing with the perils of life; of failure, loss and broken dreams.

As the ball has just gone out of play I should also mention this.

The next issue isn’t limited to just football. Anyone who has read previous editions knows that if the writing is right then it will make it onto the teamsheet.

So if you are in front of goal right now with the ball about to arrive at your feet, then boot it hard into the top right hand corner of the net at pushmag@email.com

PUSH 6 will be out in September for the Everton game.

25 copies of PUSH 5 will be available before and after West Ham v Cardiff this Saturday for only £1.50

Back Issues

Issues 1 and 2 are SOLD OUT.

But there are a few copies of Issues 3 & 4 and the current issue is also still available to order.

Via Paypal £2.50 per issue.

Paypal link is joe.england64@gmail.com

However, if money is tight then good news. There is a PUSH special deal on this week.

For just £3 you can have a very limited Paypal two Issue deal. 

And even better than that superb offer, for just £4 you can have a 3 issue Paypal deal.

All Includes p&p.

But get in quick as only got five copies left of issue 3 and ten copies of Issue 4.

You cannot have multiple copies of current issue in this deal.
Thank You

Each print run is strictly 120 copies. And sales have been beyond all expectation. Thank you to every writer who has featured so far and those submissions that although didn't make an edition were still gratefully received. But a seriously big THANK YOU goes out to everyone who has been buying the fanzine since its conception in March. PUSH loves you all.

Sunday, 30 June 2013


‘Music is the best,’ Joe’s Garage, Frank Zappa

After the comedown issue the comeback issue.

Music is the theme. That is the focus for the new song you are about to write.

At club PUSH my doormen will let through the usual suspects ahead of you unless you deliver.

What’s wanted is brave new words that spike like the tongue of a young Kirk Brandon, touch sensibilities gently like Beth Orton and a considered nod to the booze, bruise and burn world of Jimmy Donley.

Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know, it doesn’t have to be serious.

Roll out the barrel, bring me sunshine. Or a blanket cloud of grey.
Submissions of poetry and short fiction to pushmag@email.com

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


With every high follows comedown.

My energy levels doing this are fading.

One more month to live or die.

Beyond caring.

Yeah it's that dark - PUSH 4 the comedown issue.

Submissions:  pushmag@email.com

Sunday, 21 April 2013


Three to me is two.

1. Julian Dicks used to wear the number 3 shirt and he also helped promote Issue One.

2. Ann Quin’s second novel.

Ann Quin’s first novel Berg provided the inspiration for the coalition government cover for Issue One and I hope she will help inspire contributions for PUSH 3.

All the boys dominated coverage so far will still get consideration but will be placed second in the queue.

Time to change the record.

The female of the species is deadlier than the male.

Send submissions to pushmag@email.com

Sunday, 24 March 2013


So where are the rebels?

They were all featured in Issue 1:

Michael Keenaghan, Joseph Ridgwell, Ian Scanlon, Raymond Gorman, Carlton Burns, Dirty Boozy Bastard, Joe England, Jeff North.

Issue 2 is now open to new submissions.

Send to pushmag@email.com

There are still a few copies left of Issue 1.

£1.50 + p&p.

Friday, 1 March 2013

New Literary Fanzine

          The landscape is grim.

          The man has his hand up your arse.

          You cannot escape.

          PUSH is a new literary fanzine.       

          It does not have a website.

          You have to hold it in your hands.

          There will be no cartoons, no adverts, just writing.

          It will feature published writers/unpublished writers.

          Each page will burn the retina.

          But you will refuse to share your copy.
            It will be sold by post and also available at:  
          Football matches, gigs and outside public toilets.

          It will feature fiction, poetry and reviews.

          It will cost no more than £2.


          PUSH needs YOU.


          YOU need PUSH.


          Send submissions for Issue One to pushmag@email.com


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Moore Than A Legend

It had been a manic day. His door was always open and this allowed the sounds of the bays to rush in. The guys whizzing around, beeping horns, driving the trucks too fast round corners, going out onto the shop floor without the necessary hygiene regulated hats because they thought they were above those on the shop floor – which they were sat perched on forked-trucks – the laughing, shouting, swearing, moaning, arguing, the bad singing along to Radio One – Tommy hated dance music, especially daytime dance music – and the tedious and embarrassing impersonations and renditions of such themes as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Only Fools and Horses, that they all felt the urge to participate in when the day really had got to them that much. But they were now all either up the social for a quick pint and a game of pool or on their merry way home and good riddance to the lot of them. As Tommy sat in his office, he could just about make out the shapes of the maintenance crew assigned to carry out the work on what the directors had recently called ‘a monumental face lift’ to the entire interior of the shop floor, canteen and store bays. The men were ready to bin their plastic tea and coffee cups and prepare to give the lower bay a new lick of paint; a hideous combination of yellow and lime. The ‘face lift’ was an alleged knee-jerk reaction by the directors to a flippant comment passed during the recent visit of a potential German client, whereby the place was said to have the architecture and decor of a 1950s Soviet jam factory. Tommy thought that it was a good call. The fact is that the main shop floor and lower bays had been built and completed during at the start of the seventies when the site was occupied by the once legendary but now defunct Samson Shoes Ltd and very little had really changed to this day other than the inclusion of extra racking in the High Bay and the slight development of the canteen and social club last January. Tommy was flicking through various extracts from a book that he’d got from his brother Garry for his birthday many years ago: Moore Than A Legend. It was Tommy’s favourite book. It contained extracts and comments from everyone who knew the West Ham United and England captain Bobby Moore and held his memory close to their hearts. From Pele to George Best, from Michael Caine to Franz Beckenbauer as well as comments from those who now tried their best to emulate him, like Rio Ferdinand. His brother Stevie then went and had also got him the same book for him the following Christmas. Typical Stevie, head in the clouds. He couldn’t change it as Stevie said he’d got it on ebay. Still, it did mean that Tommy could now have a copy at home and one he could read whenever he had time to kill at work. It was a moving book and Bobby was one of Tommy’s great heroes, on par with Rod Stewart, and the layout and style of the book allowed him to dip in and out of various accounts of the great man at his own leisure. Tommy was reading a Bobby Moore tribute from the famous TV chat host Michael Parkinson that had caught his attention. There was a recount of a charity football match in 1970 that actually had Bobby Moore and Rod Stewart playing in the same side. A side that also included Parkinson himself and a four-eyed balding Elton John. During the early stages of the game, Elton John lost his glasses having been fouled by whom Parkinson referred to as a ‘lunatic’ and the same player also then went and stamped on the pair of glasses, snapping the frame in the process. Rod Stewart went spare and without a second thought went steaming in, only for Bobby to come running over, restoring order, telling his team mate something along the lines of how ‘he ain’t worth it’. A matter of minutes later and the same man who had broken Elton John’s glasses was now lying motionless and face down in the mud and he had to be carried off with no one actually seeing what happened. At the time of the incident only a don’t-look-at-me Bobby Moore was in attendance at that part of the pitch. Tommy liked that story and was amazed in all the times he’d picked up the book how he had never come across it before. He was gazing into space, smiling, picturing the total magic, the image of Rod Stewart being restrained by Bobby Moore, when there was a knock on his door. He was expecting it to be Larry Land, head of Maintenance, just letting him know that the lads would be in the bays doing their overtime for the next three or so hours. Probably also want to go on again about the fifty quid he took out of the fruit machine in the social last Saturday lunchtime. No one could escape him. Going on about poxy fifty quid like he had scooped the National Lottery on his own. But it wasn’t Larry. It was a tall, frail, nervous looking lad of about twenty. ‘Erm, are you Tommy Gunn?’ As it turned out, over the next half an hour or so Tommy thought that Trevor Cape was all right. A complete surprise in all honesty, because you’d never have guessed that this impressionable lad was the son of that hopeless overrated bore. But by the time Trevor Cape had coolly completed the maths test, Tommy would agree to himself that if it hadn’t been for the fact that he’d long made up his mind, then he might even have given the job to his boss’s son. He had been suitably impressed. On the way home he thought to himself, now that there was some distance between the interview and clear rational thinking, the reality here was that there was no way the jury that oversaw the well being of Tommy Gunn would ever have allowed him to have chosen Trevor Cape; even if he wasn’t going to give the position to John Porter or Ben Shaw. Filling the vacancy with another Cape would have been tantamount to treason in the respected world. Every right minded person he knew would have rightly disowned him; once he’d been tarred and feathered of course. Nice lad, but nepotism is a cunts game and the matter was now closed. At least he had given Trevor Cape the courtesy of an interview at such short notice.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

We Are Glass

This is not a book review. But a paragraph of immediate thoughts from a window ledge about a new book I have just read by a literary menace. My appreciation of Birmingham has always been a visit for football. I have been witness to more than a few violently disturbing experiences at games in that city; notably Birmingham City away rather than Villa, West Brom or Walsall. But if I was expecting any relief from grief then there was no escape here. 17 dark stories shed little light. But to sidestep the darkness would mean that you miss the careful considered poetry of u v ray. And that is the books hold. A book of fiction that's laced with poetic love and poetic bitterness fighting in the gutter come closing time but ultimately rises from the whiskey glass and the mundane of everyday to want to blow a gunshot into the fuckface of indifference. All in the name of love. To illustrate this, 'The Rag and Bone Man' has Joe facing a bone right in his face. Joe, considering his sorry life, had perhaps every right to turn savage in such a confrontation of man v man (but not perhaps how you might envisage). The fact he doesn't sums up the books shadow of humanity perfectly. Reading We Are Glass might make you think that this is a writer imploding. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Stealing From The Pig

The first time I ever tasted and enjoyed alcohol was when I was thirteen. It was the coming up to the first summer since Long John had packed his bags for Ipswich and a sort of mate of mine at the time, Terry Avis, nicked a couple of bottles of Barking Frog from Thresher’s. Barking Frog was a tequila and citrus fruit drink that came in a purple bottle with a happy green frog on the front. The drink was an instant hit as I became transformed from a shy idiot into a laughing idiot; it seriously was a drink that made me laugh uncontrollably, a fit of giggles, once the magic of the drink was in me. It was no wonder that I fell instantly in love with Barking Frog. Terry Avis clearly didn’t seem to get the same sensation of light-headedness that I enjoyed after drinking that first crisp cold bottle. When I fell apart in a happy fit he said my laughter was that of a girl. Well if I was a girl, then what was Terry? That question soon got an answer.
          CCTV in the shop had clearly identified Terry – I was outside by the front door, keeping watch – and it transpired that someone within the local nick knew who he was. Which was of no surprise really as his family were well known as a gang of petty villains. But Terry Avis certainly did not operate within any gentleman code of villainy. Once his collar had been felt, he folded. He collapsed instantly and grassed; an act that signposted the immediate end of our short friendship. He said I had put him up to it. That I was the brains behind the job, he was merely a victim being bullied into crime. The evening of the day of our crime, I had a visit from the police; or the Dickheads of Dock Green as Long John used to always call them – such dumb words for such a coward. No one but him and his dinosaur associates would know who Dixon of Dock Green was anyway; incidentally I have recently seen the film The Blue Lamp on TV so I do actually know all about the origins of the original Dixon. Evening all and all that. When the boys in blue came calling, Mum was out round her sisters – for some reason I told them she played Bingo – and I was taken down the station and cautioned. I swear to you on my life I said ‘Evening all’ to the desk sergeant; I assumed he was a desk sergeant like in TV land. You must also appreciate how much confidence the Barking Frog had installed in me.
          ‘Evening all,’ I said.
          No reply. I then showed them the bottom lip. Me making out that I was out of my depth, humble. What I did know was the facts. I was young looking for even for my age – most mums in our road said I still looked about ten which I quite rightly took offence to; I had a chip on my shoulder back then, that I looked so young. Which all equates to madness. And in all the madness of being dragged down the station these coppers at least treated me like an adult. I mean, they performed throughout on a level playing field. Much in the same way Long John preferred to behave when dealing with me as an individual. Because of my experience with Long John, they had made me feel right at home, what with their approach to conducting adult conversation with a younger soul. I was sworn at, told I had it all coming on top unless I co-operated and how I should be aware that a night in the cells came with no breakfast only bruises. Bring it on, I thought. Because I thoroughly enjoyed being spoken to like I was an adult. I really did.         
          ‘Haven’t you got anything to say?’ some old ginger cat said to me, leaning on the table, stooping down, his stinking fag-ash breath inches away from my face, him trying to be all intimating.
          He had already threatened me with how both my parents were on their way down – a complete lie as Long John was at that point in time a permanent dirty old devil in Ipswich – and so I just smiled. And then, seeing I was genuinely thirsty, I said:
          ‘Listen mate, you wouldn’t happen to have some Barking Frog in your canteen fridge?’
          He had no idea what Barking Frog was, only that I was in for thieving alco-pops, but he sure looked like he wanted to swing a fist at me. Proper clump me one. But I was ready. This idiot weren’t Long John. I had taken my fair share of beatings. This creep didn’t scare me. To be perfectly honest, he looked upset, ready to burst into tears as I sat there smiling, unflinching. Not such a hard man are you? I thought to myself. I’ve never been afraid of the police from that moment on. Bunch of bully losers. However, I was still clever enough to worm my way out of trouble. My genuine sob story – beefed-up to complement the moment – of how I was trying to come to terms with my parent’s separation surprisingly seemed, considering their lie earlier, to work in my favour. I got a verbal clip around the ear and was told that this was a first and final warning.
          Mum arrived on the scene looking all lost for words. They went through the boring facts and how I was a lucky boy to only be getting a verbal warning. Outside though, mum was outraged. She didn’t hit me, she never hit me, but she sure as hell called me a name or two. Over-the-top I thought at the time. I mean, I really just couldn’t give a damn about getting into trouble. It’s not like I physically hurt anyone.  Looking back now, I do regret that I didn’t take her feelings into consideration by my actions. Mum was still dealing badly with Long John walking out. But back then I was only a young teenage boy. I really didn’t give two fucks. It’s a shame I never maintained that tough mentality into my older years. I sometimes wonder what has happened to Terry Avis these days. Who cares about that stinking grass? Yes, that’s right. Not me.
          A so called gentle and caring society was well pleased with the outcome – the warning appeared to do the job on me. I never drank another bottle of stolen Barking Frog again. But I was hooked and I sought alternative measures to get hold of another bottle of magical potion that was the Barking Frog.
          I skilfully removed nearly a fiver in assorted coins from the giant clay pig that sat by the fireplace. That sacred pig that had only one narrow slot of entry and exit had been sat fat and lazy with coins as long as I remember. No one stole from the pig. A belly full of copper and silver and maybe the odd gold nugget saved by Mum and Long John for a rainy day. Well Long John was history and Mum was at work and I was bored having been the only one as usual to have the bottle to bunk off school. I wouldn’t normally risk it, bunking off and going back home, but as it was pissing down on that particular day, I spent over an hour prizing out various coins from an upturned pig so I had all the justification I needed.
          Fortune also favoured me while I tiptoed nervously bang opposite Londis. No one was about except the exact sort of bloke who I knew would help me out. Stan the Dirty Old Man almost trod on my toes as he startled me. I gave him all of my change and told him to get me as many Barking Frogs as would allow. He smiled, poured the coins in to his Flasher’s Mac pocket and then returned moments later with just two bottles. I knew he had ripped me off but such is life. I downed two Barking Frog’s in the dry warm comfort of my bedroom while listening to a birthday CD, In It For The Money by Supergrass; my album track favourites to this day are: ‘Richard III’, ‘Late In The Day’, ‘It’s Not Me’, and ‘You Can See Me’. I don’t think I have ever been so happy as listening to that album by Supergrass that afternoon, a band that were hitting their peak, and me on my bed, grinning from ear to ear, purple Barking Frog in hand. 1997 was definitely a very good year. Certainly better than the year before and all the carnage caused when Long John finally ditched Mum for good.
          When Mum came back from work she went mental about me drinking; I had brushed my teeth six times back-to-back and resolutely denied all, but she had seen the empties. But even with all that scene and drama, it couldn’t take the shine off of what had been a blissful afternoon’s drinking. If anything was an outrage it was how Barking Frog got discontinued for good just before the year 1997 was counted out. That’s right, whoever manufactured such a wonderful drink had decided no more bottles of smiles. It was crazy. But that’s exactly what happened. It was gone. Dead. Finito. No more Frog. But I’d soon learn that booze is all just booze. It all got you there one way or another. I wouldn’t go thirsty for long.