Just one review today because I want to make sure I tell the author about it and spread the word, and I don’t want it all mixed up with another book. This is not a review copy, however: I did buy the book myself, with money AND a random Birchfield Harriers pen I gave Attila when his pen conked out half way through signing my copy.
I have retained fond memories of the gig I attended with my (still) good friend Sarah at university in the (ahem) 90s. When we realised his tour would be passing through the Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, it was a no-brainer. Such a good gig. He hadn’t changed! But of course he must have – we realised to our slight horror that we are now WAY older than he was when he stood in front of us about 3 miles and a lifetime away! If you get the chance to see him, go. He’s done so many gigs that he’s super-professional, and is such a good DIY punk ranting poet and singer that every song and every word is personal and his rapport with the audience amazing. But let’s review the book – with some photos of then and now …
Attila the Stockbroker – “Arguments Yard”
(21 April 2016 – bought from the author)
Attila is a real proper DIY poet and musician – he’s been self-publishing his books and music for years, booking all his own gigs, doing everything himself. He put this book out with Cherry Red so he could get the distribution, but he’s been independent of the music business and mainstream media for years. Of course, as a self-employed person who’s done all her own marketing and found all her own customers, I found a lot to relate to in this, and I found the details of how things changed from noting down phone numbers and producing flyers to harnessing the powers of the Web and modern technology fascinating.
But that’s not the whole story, of course. It’s an autobiography, and takes a fairly standard format, apart from some concurrent chapters at the end which deal with his beloved football club, and the loss of his mother to Alzheimer’s (a particularly moving chapter, of course, simply consisting of a poem, which brought many stiff upper lips and blinking away of things in the eye during his performance). There are lots of great and often hilarious details of gigs gone wrong, gigs gone right, trips and performances. Lots of old friends make an appearance: Billy Bragg, Pill Jupitus, John Otway, The Men They Couldn’t Hang (hooray – wish I’d worn my Tshirt to the show, now, although I did wear my “this is what a feminist looks like” one instead).
Attila says slightly belligerently early on that we’re to expect to find this written as he speaks, and so it was – but I found it extremely well written and very well edited, too, so no problems there – in fact fewer than in many other books I read! There were some great photos, too, to go with the stories and personalities.
Although Attila (who was, in fact, a stockbroker[‘s clerk] for a brief period of time) is a self-confessed shouty man with bad table manners, and there are some yucky bits, it’s essentially a kind, decent, community spirited and benign book, the work of a man who cares about his family and his fellow men, can admit his mistakes and can change his mind. However, he’s not a cuddly figure of the woolly Left by any means – he has a strong call to action: leave the hand-knitted muesli and copies of the Guardian and get out and do something is the message, and he’s still giving no shrift to Thatcher and supporting the legacy of the miners.
Sorry, went a bit political there. But this is a political book – as well as a blinking good read.
You can buy the book direct from the Attila the Stockbroker website, and as he says there, at all of his gigs, from the Cherry Red, Waterstones and Guardian websites and many branches of Waterstones and independent bookshops.