Attila reviews ’16

Attila the Stockbroker writes in his Morning Star column:

After the French gigs on Wednesday and Thursday I came back to Cambridge yesterday for a trades council gig with a very brave and talented woman.

I first met Janine Booth in 1983 when, aged 16, she interviewed me for her fanzine Blaze the evening after Brighton had beaten Sheffield Wednesday to reach the FA Cup final for the first and only time in our history.

She turned into a fine performance poet who joined our ranting ranks in the mid-’80s and then went off to work on the London Underground, become an RMT activist and have three lovely sons with her partner, fellow RMT militant John Leach.

A couple of years ago she started writing and performing again and she is now one of the finest, sharpest and most sought-after performance poets on the circuit.

Words are flowing out of her like a socialist waterfall and she has just published her third book of poetry in two years.

Her latest, The Age of Discontent is a review of 2016 in verse. It was finished before Fartmouth Trump “won” the US election, but it’s certainly a “That Was The Year That Was” up until then.

My favourites are the self-explanatory Zero Hours, The Eleventh Commandment — don’t cross a picket line — Crazed Loner, about the way mainstream media chose to define murdered Jo Cox’s assassin and, on a much lighter note, Bodily Fluids Interception Team — the amusingly-named poor sods who have the task of cleaning the London Underground during the recently started all-night services.

Janine was due to be touring all over the country in support of her new book but a few weeks ago was diagnosed with breast cancer and has just had an operation.

Despite this, she was on stage alongside Grace Petrie and myself in Cambridge last night. Bravo. But of course all the cancelled gigs mean no chance for people to get the book — poets like us sell most of our work at live gigs or online rather than in the shops.

It comes with a CD of her performing all the poems live and you can get both, plus her other two excellent books of poetry and publications about autism in the workplace, the disastrous PFI Underground debacle and the Poplar council rising from Xmas present suggestions par excellence.

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