Michael Nath paid tribute to Mark E Smith at an event at the Poetry Café. Covent Garden, London, ‘A Celebration of Mark E Smith and The Fall’ held on Monday 12th February, a few short weeks after Mark’s death. Here’s what Michael read on the night.
And a tow, row, row, row, row.
In memory of the Captain …
Who gave life to words like ‘Kentledge!’
Who used scat-sounds against Slaughter and the Dogs, for they ran out of lyrics in ‘Cranked up Really High’. The Captain never ran out … ‘Ba ba me-oo me-oo’.
Who blew his nose on stage. Oh to have kept the tissue, and sold morsels to sinners! The Nightingales supported, in Country and Western shirts. Sheffield, 29th October 1981.
30th April 1982. Retford. The Fall played the legendary ‘Backdrop’. By 2008, I’d confirmed this. The support group were from Iceland: Don’t forget the Cod War! (I’d feared my old man might be conscripted.) In the audience, punks and miners scrapped. It was hard, but it was merry.
In ‘Garden’, what got me was the gather-and-surge. Like, There’s always more, where that came from! You’ll not be left alone … 26 years on, it was the power-surge in ‘Slippy Floor’: that got me like Yeats, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, Part VI – where he raises demons.
7th Oct 1985, or was it 1597?, I saw the Cap and Brix on Princes Street, just above Waverley Station. He wore zipped boots, and looked like Allan (“Sniffer”) Clarke – Leeds Utd No.8. Mrs McRae confused ‘My New House’ with Shakin Stevens’ chart topper. At night we drank whisky and cloves.
Aug ’88. The Captain left Tollcross Supa-Store with a bag of mini-Marathons and a pack of Superkings. His overcoat was good and he bore a doctor’s bag. I didn’t say hello on this occasion either.
There are far lovelier songs than ‘Edinburgh Man’, the gist of which was only that whisky was served in ¼ gill measures in some pubs in Fountainbridge. So a large Scotch gave you 1/8 of a pint – in England only 1/12. 1/8 is a drink, 1/12 a kind of dampness in the glass. I will not list far lovelier songs.
The gigs at The Forum weren’t up to much. Nonetheless, I saw myself in them.
Nov ’98 at The Astoria. He tidied up after the group. They were young, and left their things all over the shop. My pal Nick Groom took this image away.
September 2014. I came upon Brix at a Route/Rough Trade event: Last time I saw you, you were rotating on a burger! She ‘laughed’.
Let us pause on the Captain’s total humour: the word for such humour is hilaritas. So I learned from the letters of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, hanged at Flossenbürg, April 9th 1945.
I’ve mentioned years and intervals and dates. So a genuine cult comprehends your time. You can measure yourself, without leftovers. A genuine cult also takes your time: think of Dragnet. Of course there was life before The Fall, but it was unredeemed – like the time of the virtuous Greeks.
‘Kentledge’ is a word for ballast, something Captains know to be vital.
Merrie England or Falstaff at the Bar
With Michael Nath and Nick Groom
Thursday 21 April 2016, 7:30pm Tap & Barrel, Pontefract This is a FREE EVENT but numbers are limited soemail us here to reserve a ticket.
In commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, Nick Groom and Michael Nath will discuss the cultural heritage of ‘Merrie England’ and how it affects us today, as well as Sir John Falstaff’s drinking habits. There will be clips from Orson Welles’ Falstaff film Chimes at Midnight, and BBC interviews with Welles. Michael and Nick will read from their books British Story: A Romance and The Seasons: A Celebration of the English Year, and will right gladly take questions from any sober members of the audience, as well as all those who have made too free with Sir John Strawberry.
Michael Nath was brought up in South Wales and Lincolnshire. He is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Westminster. His major teaching and research interests are in Creative Writing and Modernism, as well as in Shakespearean Drama. His latest novel, British Story, was a Morning Star book of the year. His first novel, La Rochelle, was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction.
Michael Nath and Nick Groom recorded in conversation at Ilkley Literature Festival 2015.
In an event entitled The Last of Britain, Nick reads from his book The Seasons: A Celebration of the English Year and Michael reads from his novel British Story, before engaging in a conversation about Britishness, character and cultural heritage. Followed by questions from the audience. The running time is 50:03.