Sunday, 29 March 2015
Yesterday I was invited over to Leyton Orient v Port Vale (free ticket on the go) to watch the game, sell PUSH 15 in the supporters club before and after and to undertake a filmed inteview on the terraces at half time then to conclude back in the supporters club after the game.
The man I was to meet was from Open Pen Magazine. His name: Sean Preston. Retired pro-wrestler. The mag: undoubtedly the most important London literary magazine around right now. Even with the echoes of Barry Hearn winding me up, I overcame; his dirty whispers dripping in my ear couldn't make me turn down the kind offer. Especially as it was put to me that I could sell the latest issue at the game.
East London. Football. Selling on the street. PUSH. All one big family. And so I stepped foot onto the streets of E10.
And to be honest, I very soon appreciated that there were not many about at just before 1pm like you'd get around the pubs tucked away from the Boleyn Ground on matchday. I hit the supporters club and got served with ease. So some things worked a treat, Then seriously, I again questioned my wisdom in bringing along 30 mags + 3 books to sell. Thoughts that had populated my mind from tube station to supporters club.
What changed the moment was the recognition of the grief mindset of the Orient fan. Gloom. No expectation. Enjoy a few pints before cold reality bites into skin, mind and heart. We're going down, I was constantly told. Sean was running late. Girlfriend ill. Been throwing up all night. Hugh Cornwell then sung Something Better Change gently in my ear. An ear that would soon become an Orient Ear. I had a Road to Damascus epiphany. Yeah your season has been one of disappointment but we are all here drinking alcohol and enjoying each others company. Everything, especially the passion of football, must be sometimes taken into context of larger issues. Like this current one. As in none of us are on a plane right now being forced into madness and death at 400mph by a lone ranger, some hurting pilot, who according to the red tops, was haunted by gay demons. No. In the supporters club as I saw it, we were here for the football and the drinking culture, that is as important about the day to me as meeting friends and then watching a game of 2 halves. And I had a bag load of quality mags to shift. Time to rise and shine. So I stepped outside into the pint knocking over wind and began selling.
I have to state something important here. First time I sold PUSH over West Ham I got this amazing buzz. Well not only did I return to a former glory yesterday but the Orient fans, brace yourself West Ham, were on another level of interest and purchase. I didn't have to sell. As in it being hard work. I have learnt from doing this that I have to select 'targets' rather than being in everyone's face. My new sales approach is not only less stressful but you also engage with the kind of folk you actually want to engage with. Yes I will sell PUSH at Millwall one day (that comment will have lost me 40 mates) but the mag isn't just associated anymore to West Ham. Since John King's interview and continued association, Chelsea writers, fanzine editors and supporters, have bought and continue to buy PUSH. And do you know what? I like it. Anyway I was soon back inside the supporters club and still selling.
I sold and told all big time - Orient would win. I was, as previously stated, buzzing and I decided to offload some buzz into the gateway of football fortune. 2-1 I kept saying. And the mag is bleeding good. Yeah, fair enough, but if we win we'll buy after. If not, get to fuck mate etc.
I was confident. But they were in the relegation zone. Was I breeding hope into a long lost cause, would my optimism get found out, am I still the dogs bollocks? I was thinking all this as kick off loomed. Moods were falling. Sales were good, but many had said, as said above. how if we win, like you keep harking on about, if we win, then I'll buy a mag off of you after.
Beware of stray outlook I was definitely thinking as I entered the ground.
Now I am not a football mastermind. Okay, some say I am and well then yeah, they are entitled to their opinion. But the game at a monetary gain level goes way beyond tactics, management, ability. It is all about dealing with pressure and having the confidence to deal with the pressure. Even more when luck has jumped ship and still sending not very polite text messages. Without confidence when all is not well means you are not only fucked but unless some fortune comes your way, you will remain fucked.
Welcome to Leyton Orient stressing against Port Vale.
First 40 minutes, no player wanted to be passed the ball, the giver couldn't pass anyway. I am going to be brutal about that opening 40 minutes Leyton Orient. An appalling show; but for sure, confidence was late turning up for the game. Port Vale scored, that was an amazement in itself as they were equally as poor, but in a late frenzy, the Os had a shot going in the top left hand corner tipped over the bar and minutes later hit the post.
In danger of losing regular readers here: 2nd half summery.
Did first part of interview at half time, then had what I called to bloke next to me, the longest piss I have ever had on record, don't document this act but now do, then went back in ground and the facts are the facts, Leyton Orient showed up and battered Port Vale second half. 1-0 down at half time, but even 7-1 would have flattered Port Vale. Final Score Leyton Orient 3 Port Vale 1.
Back to club. Concluded interview. Sean Preston is a lovely man. As is Wayne, his old man. Though the latter was purely exchanges during the game of words, nods and guarded eye contact. I am a chief steward of guarded eye contact. You really have got to get to know me before I'll let you into my clubhouse. Joking.
Thanks to all the Orient twitter world I had people like this man tapping my shoulder and saying 'Are you Joe England, still got any copies of PUSH left?' In another emotional state of mind, I would have been reduced to humble tears. It was a great moment. Captured on phone cam by Sean Preston.
Finally. The Os won as I told one and all, and they run an amazing fanzine of talented writers called OrientEar and I could go on and on but plate spinning here - also cooking Sunday food - but last few photos sum up the day.
Loved everyone I met yesterday. Mean that, not beer talk.
Anyway. First up. Me. Leyton Orient season ticker holder for a day.
Monday, 23 March 2015
The Walthamstow and Derry book launches were a good night out for all those who attended. Twickenham had so much to live up to and without question, succeeded. I set up the stall when I got there. Raffle prizes on the left (and this was a very early raffle set up) PUSH book and latest issue on the right.
Anyway. Notes on the evening. Thanks to Paula and Chris, PUSH was given a superb location for the third part of the book tour. Since the John King interview in issue 12, there has been a number of Chelsea writers and fans who have shown interest in the mag. None more than Dave Johnstone, editor and founder of the Chelsea fanzine cfcuk. He has not only been very supportive of PUSH - he regularly plugs the mag within his own publication - but he has also become a good friend to know. Wise on football and life and completely unselfish; he put me up for the night, with the kind of hospitality that you'd truly want daily! Nice one mate.
Well there was certainly a Chelsea turn out. Many writers too. Some you may know of, John King (The Football Factory, The Prison House), Martin Knight (Hoolifan, Common People), plus the likes of a new breed, Walter Otton and Mark Worrall. I have to thank here, John King, Walter and Dave Johnstone for donating to the raffle. I cannot thank you all enough. Also in attendance was Graham Bush, who plays bass for Madness. He was to have a night that must have been on par with any of his gigs with Madness as you'll soon find out.
It was a good turn out and I did an intro, talked about the running order of events and then the readings began. Sadly we were short of representatives on the night, so I read the opening to the book; 'Gone To The Dogs' by Joseph Ridgwell and 'Where's Grandada?' by Bobby Dean Ward. Word to the wise. Always move mountains to get the writers in to read their work and not your good self when tanked up on booze. But hey, the punters said I did well. Fortunately I had Michael Keenaghan waiting in the wings and he delivered a very smart reading of his story, 'Grafter.'
We then got stuck into the raffle. I had 14 books for sale and offered a £10 deal; book, issue 15 + strip of raffle tickets. The £10 deal sold out within ten minutes. And then there was the scramble for tickets and remaining copies of issue 15. You could appreciate the demand. Issue 15 is very good and I had provided some real gems as prizes; a limited double DVD + poster of This Is England (not my bio documentary, as that comes out in 2016!), When Saturday Comes football fanzine 1990 edition, rare vinyl, books and the odd mint condition retro Subbuteo team. As I said, I don't offer jumble sale items in my raffles. We are talking collectors item quality. Everyone, like all previous launches, bought into the moment. It was all a frenzy. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't buzzing. The main prizes ultimately up for grabs was a full sticker football album from 1971, then the big ones; 2 Subbuteo teams - 1970 Chelsea FA Cup winning team plus a West Ham side made up of 2 Ian's. 5 x Ian Bishop and 5 x Ian Pearce + Ludo in goal. The 2 winners would then enter into the first ever literary penalty shoot out, with the winner walking away with the PUSH trophy.
Now it all got heated when certain prizes didn't go to more than one pair of hands. There's no sharing in a raffle. John King bought possibly £20 worth of tickets and although he won twice, they were both his books donated. But his bitterness was professionally concealed. The big winners on the night was our very own Michael Keenaghan and also - sorry can't remember your name - the happy man who walked away with the sticker book, This Is England and John King's The Prison House 1st edition. But he works in films and said next raffle I had a chance to cherry pick the many film scripts he has in his collection. His winnings, were not, because of that agreement, fixed. The raffle is as honest as I am...
Here he is at the end of the night.
Then it came down to the final. Graham Bush who plays bass for Madness on their tours when their main man can't be bothered, went and won the Chelsea 1970 team while some other fella, I don't remember his name and you'll soon understand why, won the West Ham team. Well, it was late into the night when the teams emerged and the penalty shoot out was about to conclude the evening.
John King was the ref but only seemed interested in talking to and lining up the Chelsea players. I am not saying outright he was biased, but what he was saying to the Chelsea players and Graham Bush about their opposites wasn't that sporting. And in case you are thinking a previous PUSH launch had crowd trouble and this one was being held behind closed doors, the crowd were behind the camera. Soon the shoot out started. Chelsea blasted their first two wide as did West Ham.
Then Chelsea went all German and clinically buried the ball 3 times without any movement in the West Ham goal. West Ham's response was 3 very disappointing attempts. A room full of Chelsea celebrated while the night collapsed on my head. Be careful what you plan. Graham won the trophy and seemed more than happy as he headed home.
A few stayed past midnight while I tried to recover from another West Ham defeat. But this one of my own creation. Still I had my good friend Dave Johnstone to hang out with: he done ok in the raffle too. He won the snide DVD of The Football Factory and PUSH 12.
While Michael Keenaghan and John King considered how it could have all gone the other way if I had been West Ham on the night.
Next stop for PUSH on Tour: TBC.
Sunday, 15 March 2015
The next stop is not a surprising one for me. West London. Even though PUSH has its origins in East London this third stop on the book tour is as exciting as the last two. East London Press put the book out and East London since the age of 7 is where I have watched my football. Mostly with a long shake of the head, but that is the West Ham way. Hereford Utd in the FA Cup, Dowies winner for Stockport, Bond Scheme, Icelandic bank collapsing. But also Billy Bonds lifting cup (twice) Zamora winner in 2005 and Carlton Cole & Vaz Te goals in 2012.
Not all doom and gloom. So. Anyway. Walthamstow book launch was a great night but has to be said, Derry in January was a bit special. But now West London. John King wrote the intro to the book and since his interview in issue 12 there has been a Chelsea connection.
cfcuk - without question, the best fanzine still hitting the mark - has been a great support and the editor has become a man I respect.
Now, get this. Stating the obvious to those that have been here since day one. But PUSH isn't part of some happening litzine revolution. Its roots are in football culture. Always has been. Would never have grown if not.
PUSH doesn't fly flags for other 'litzines' that are sold online - though does love deeply the likes of Jim Gibson's Hand Job - read and take that as you like! But PUSH does support street selling mags and has more in common with cfcuk and sold on match day football fanzines than any literary zines. It does.
And as for don't get me talking about the raffle. Raffle knockers, stand back. This isn't a gimmick. Come along Thursday and find out what I am talking about. I am giving away treasure. You want gimmicks? Then sign up for the newsletter. PUSH Jumble Sales coming up soon.
For now. Issue 15 also on sale now and on the night.
Sunday, 8 March 2015
PUSH has made it to a second anniversary. The first year I was surprised it lasted. Not now. The ever growing interest, sheer volumes and quality of submissions, plus the fact it is slowly but surely breaking into the media, well the future looks good. The book - best of the first 10 issues - has been out since December last year and continues to sell well. No wonder East London Press want to put out another anthology later this year. Has there ever been 2 anthologies of a mag let alone within one year?
So onto issue 15. In this issue there is no contributors info page. It may return but for now, it has been retired.
This is the first time the majority of the contributors have stuck to the theme. It really has a bit of a violent edge to it. Not for the faint hearted. But there are respites of calming, chinks of light in the choking fog. As you turn each page you'll be checking over your shoulder that you are not about to get ambushed. You will sleep with the landing light on all night for a few weeks too once you have indulged 15.
In this issue there are some familiar names and those who are starting to make themselves known. Tim Wells, Ford Dagenham, Michael Keenaghan, Raymond Gorman. Ian Cusack, Jon Tait, Dean Lilleyman, Michael Hayes, Kevin Williamson and Joseph Ridgwell.
There are six new faces. Nick Mott, Tom McColl, Jenni Doherty, Craig Gibson, Siobhan Curley and Jamie Hall. The latter is the same Jamie who has sold a few copies of PUSH on matchdays and has been knocking on my door to have something published. He makes a cool debut and at just 16 years old, is the youngest contributor to date.
There is also a very good and exclusive interview with Kosmo Vinyl. Now New York based, he is a West Ham man through and through and he has had an important cultured life; and KV continues to do so. A few times there are comments about the interviews in PUSH that go along the lines of, 'worth the money alone'. Well this definitely applies to Kosmo. We talk about his life, Ian Dury, The Clash, his art and West Ham. My kind of interview.
Details will appear on the website soon but you can pre-order via Paypal here: firstname.lastname@example.org
PUSH 15 will set you back as follows:
On the street: £2
UK post: £3.50 (includes p&p)
Rest of the World post: £7 (includes p&p)
Now I am not sure I will be selling at next West Ham home game v Sunderland. TBC. But Jamie might have some copies on him after the game.
I will however still be selling PUSH at football in East London before and after the following games:
Saturday 14 March. Clapton FC v Basildon United. The Old Spotted Dog Ground. E7
Saturday 28 March. Leyton Orient v Port Vale. Brisbane Road. E10.
Finally, if you haven't got a copy of the book, then sort your life out. Here's a review from The Skinny magazine to help make you do the right thing. http://www.theskinny.co.uk/books/book-reviews/push-best-of-first-10-issues
Buy from the publishers at this link: http://eastlondonpress.bigcartel.com/product/push-the-best-of-1-10