Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Billy's Letter

Just after PUSH 7 came out in September 2013, I got a message from Steve Sacre, who appeared in issues 2 & 3. It wasn’t a new submission as I first thought. It simply said, ‘I have mailed you something, some words from my brother. Don’t know if you will think it appropriate to use, but felt it might be and had to send.’

No email came. A few days later a letter arrived. I don’t get many hard copy mails through my letterbox with my name and address in spidery handwriting. Inside a brief explanation of what was enclosed. ‘My brother Billy has been an alcoholic nearly all of his life. He has written an open letter to the family. I have enclosed it here but regardless of whether you use or not, it must be returned. But I thought of how it might work in PUSH. Hope all is well, Steve x’

The hardcopy was 4 pages of desperate brutally honest block capital letters. Not written on a computer but a typewriter. The irony that I always insist that PUSH must always be in block capitals was lost on me. I read and reread a harrowing but often touching and even humorous in places, account of a man totally opening up to his family about his life of living in a bottle. Most of the time I felt uncomfortable simply because I was reading something that was meant for his family, not my eyes and mind. But the most uncomfortable of all, was me realising that I would have to go back to Steve and explain my first ever rejection. The writing was too honest, too brutal, even for my little mag.

I honestly felt out of my depth.

Then just when I thought the next time I would handle Billy’s ‘letter’ would be when I folded it into an envelope, I found myself typing it out into lower casing. Then removing all elements of direct family related matter. All of a sudden his title ‘Introducing Myself’ had lost the brutality of earlier, and instead of reaching out to just family, Billy was now talking to me and as I then realised, very soon, to all of us.

He made no excuses. He didn’t seek sympathy. He wasn’t crying any tears. He was simply telling the truth. Something only a few ever do.

Billy ended up opening Issue 8 and the feedback I got from readers who related to his experience was one of the most positive feelings I have had doing this. He connected with other people’s lives. Whether his family understood him or not, the fact was, others did.

I wanted to open the anthology with ‘Introducing Myself’ and for most of the editing that was the plan. But East London Press, at the final hour, rethought this and I agreed that while it had impact opening issue 8 – the recovery issue and still one of my favourite issues – perhaps we should go with my original approach, a London opening, which was as has turned out, the correct decision.

But Billy still had his stage within the anthology. He had the largest font too!

I had intended to write and thank everyone here who had contributed on all levels to a brilliant year for PUSH and to plug the forthcoming issue. But then I got this message from Steve on Monday evening: ‘Hey Joe, after many a fight Billy slipped away peacefully this afternoon. He was so thrilled to be in the book’.

That evening I posted a small message of condolence and respect on the PUSH page on Facebook. Almost immediately, Siobhan Curley, who I have never met, replied with this: I was just reading his ‘Introducing Myself’ piece in the book a few minutes ago – a story I have heard too often. My heart was shouting to him ‘Fight on!’ I am so sad to hear this. R.I.P.’

Billy Bullshit was his nickname on the street. But Billy B.S. wrote for PUSH.

And I now know and appreciate how much he was so loved.

Billy Sacre – Rest in Peace

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

PUSH 14 submissions open...

Right, this is what is now happening. With the anthology out and putting so much focus, obviously, into promoting that handsome claret and blue wonder, my plan was for some long downtime and then open submissions for issue 14 mid January, make it something unlike any of the previous, and put it out in March as the second anniversary issue. The plans for the second anniversary issue were all ready to roll, well all ready to roll well into the new year.

But then I just thought, fuck it. All that plan can now be issue 15.

So that's why PUSH 14 is going to be out in January.

Submissions open now. Theme? I dunno. Top of my head. Ball of confusion. Those that know me will get that. And that ball is definitely not football related.

I have had some very good submissions sent already but most of them I would like to keep and use in 15. I will talk to those about this though so we are all happy.

Even if this is a throwback smaller issue, don't care. Needs to be an issue out next month.

Send your words of confusion to

Word doc please as my laptop is having a strop and wont let me cut and paste.

Think this might to be a limited edition small print run. 70 copies. Or even less. But we'll see what happens. What will happen is that it'll be that continued PUSH forward.

PUSH - the best of the first 10 issues - can be bought from East London Press.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

PUSH book launch party, the raffle, some photos

Saturday was of course the book launch and massive raffle in E17. Before then on the Friday, I had a meet in The Boleyn pub, next to West Ham's ground, for a feature about the mag and the anthology. I think it went well. But I was being interviewed by a massive Arsenal fan, so you never know how these things will get manipulated! Seriously, he is a very wise and honest gent. Was a pleasure to meet up and that's all I'm saying for now.

So on to Saturday and the launch. And I've got to thank everyone who turned up, bought the book, bought raffle tickets, had a good time. And it was a good time. Dickson Telfer flew down from Falkirk and ended up the main act. I have met and engaged with many of the contributors, and Dickson is up there with the best. He is fucking brilliant. Everyone was on the night, but he scored a cool brace at the end. And you should all go out right now and buy his new book Refrigerator Cake.

So on to the party. Here are photos taken by Paul Talling who is with a couple of mine bunged in.

DJ on the night was Mark Raison aka Monkey Picks. Cool as fuck as usual.

I did the first reading. 'Arriving' that was in issue one. But I was all over the place with my delivery and make no excuses. But was pleased to be told after went down well!

Joseph Ridgwell was up next and he'd had as much to drink as me. Seen hear reading 'Keep Rocking 1990' that was in issue ten. His old man, an amazing guy, sorted out the venue free of charge. Thanks Dougie from all of us.

Michael Keenaghan reading 'Bent' that featured in issue one. We had major problems with the mic  during his reading but Michael didn't let that phase him.

The mic was now a redundant associate so Raymond Gorman read 'The Ballad of Gerry McGowan' that was in issue six right into our faces, and it worked a treat.

Dickson Telfer. A PUSH legend. Reading 'Ella 21:18' that was in issue nine. A wonderful man, writer and performer. End of.

Raffle! Raffle! Mob rule sang that. You all did. There were a lot of prizes related to the mag. Raymond Gorman signed this superb EP and love this photo, Where's her hand going! Tangerine Press main man Michael Curran and Adele Morris in shot, behind Adele is Ben Williams author of 'Stranger' that was in issue ten and in the anthology. Came down for launch and glad he did.

John King kindly brought some books down to raffle. This one. 'There Ain't No Justice' by James Curtis, is published by John and Martin Knight's publishing house London Books.

Next up a packet of Crawfords Crackers. We don't do cheapness.

Okay we do do cheapness. Deano wins again. Long story!

I should have never put this into the raffle, but the West Ham connection etc. My brother bleeding well won this. Best moment of the night. He gave it straight away to his son, and future West Ham legend Frederick. Born and bred in East London.

Watching Raymond.

Steve Finbow and Raymond Gorman.

Harriet Bleasby who done the book design and proper on the lash. 

Michael Keenaghan has been in the mag since day one and another legend. On far right is the man who runs Hand Job. Jim Gibson. A great lit zine and he is fine company. 

My two very good mates Steve and Craig, seen here either side of Harriet's fella George - all of them got lucky in the raffle! 

Paul Talling who has kindly allowed me to use his work on the covers of many of the first 13 issues, and took photos and made great company on the night. Cheers mate.

Craig giving jealous glance to Dickson Telfer with John King in shot. Get over yourself Craig haha!

Ridgwell on the decks. Leave it to the Monkey main man mate.

The party is over. Dickson, John & Raymond. 

This book is good too !

I mean it man...

Even though this fella is holding PUSH 1-13 boxset raffle top glory, him and Deano apparently shared a split and meant Deano was strolling out the door with another PUSH 1st prize, this time a handsome tupperware boxset glory under his arm. Seriously, Deano is either very lucky or a gangster...

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

PUSH Book Party

Saturday is the launch party of the book and as the poster explains, it is taking place in the Private Members Bar at Orford House Social Club in Walthamstow from 7pm until late. All welcome.

From what I have heard, it definitely sounds like it will be a good turn out. There will be an opportunity to buy the book, we have a very cool London DJ on the decks and there is also the much talked about PUSH raffle #3. But this one is a bit special. Among many prizes related to the mag is the ultimate first prize. All 13 issues of PUSH - the immaculate collection out of my immaculate collection. I may regret one day parting with these small wonders, but I am in a generous mood right now and the horse has bolted so no turning back.

On Saturday night the PUSH box set could be yours; I have shelled out £6 on the box to house the immaculate collection yesterday too.

But failure in the raffle isn't the end of the world. As I said, there's good music and booze and of course there's the star of the show - the book. Also many of the contributors will be in attendance and one, two, maybe more of those who have been interviewed in PUSH will be there. Hope to see you there too.