Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Beasley Street

Time for a bit of nostalgia from the late 70's when a friend at work told me that the Bard of Salford John Cooper Clark, was still performing. I have reproduced the the lyrics of my favourite JCC work Beasley street below since the text of the song at the JCC site is almost unreadable. I don't know if the image below is the actual Beasley street in Manchester, but it was the only one I could find.


Far from the crazy pavements
...the taste of silver spoons
A clinical arrangement
...on a dirty afternoon
Where the fecal germs of Mr Freud
...are rendered obsolete
The legal term is null and void
in the case of ... Beasley street

In the cheap seats where murder breeds
somebody is out of breath
Sleep is a luxury they don't need
... a sneak preview of death
Belladonna is your flower
Manslaughter is your meat
Spend a year in a couple of hours
on the edge of Beasley street

Where the action isn't
That's where it is
State your position
Vacancies exist
In an X-certificate exercise
Ex-servicemen excrete
Keith Joseph smiles and a baby dies
in a box on Beasley street

From the boarding houses and bedsits full of
...accidents and fleas
Somebody gets it
Where the missing persons freeze
wearing dead men's overcoats
You can't see their feet
A Riff joint shuts - opens up
right down on Beasley street

Cars collide, colours clash
Disaster movie stuff
For the man with the Fu Manchu moustache
revenge is not enough
There's a dead canery on a swivel seat
there's a rainbow on the road
Meanwhile on Beasley Street
silence is the code

Hot beneath the collar
...an inspector call
Where the perishing stink of squalor
...impregnates the walls
The rats have all got rickets
They spit through broken teeth
The name of the game is not cricket
Caught out on ...Beasley Street

The hipster and his hired hat
drive a borrowed car
yellow socks and a pink crevat
nothing la-di-dah
O-A-P
Mother-to-be
Watch the three-piece suite
When shitstopper drains
and crocodile skis
are seen on ...Beasley Street

The kingdom of the blind
...a one-eyed man is king
Beauty problems are redefined
...The doorbells do not ring
A light bulb bursts like a blister
the only form of heat
Where a fellow sells his sister
...down the river on Beasley Street

The boys are on the wagon
The girls are on the shelf
Their commom problem is
...that they're not someone else
The dirt blows out
The dust blows in
You can't keep it neat
It's a fully furnished dustbin
...sixteen Beasley Street

Vince the ageing savage
Betrays no kind of life
...but the smell of yesterday's cabbage
and the ghost of last year's wife
Through a constant haze
of deodorant sprays
He says ...retreat
Alsatians dog the dirty days
Down the middle of Beasley street

People turn to poison
Quick as lager turns to piss
Sweethearts are physically sick
Every time they kiss
It's a sociologist's paradise
Each day repeats
Uneasy, cheasy, greasy, queasy
...beastly, Beasley Street

Eyes dead as vicious fish
Look around for laughs
If I could have just one wish
I would be a photograph
On a permanent monday morning
Get lost or fall asleep
When the yellow cats are yawning
Around the back of Beasley Street


LYRICS © JOHN COOPER CLARKE

A lot of the old housing in Salford has probably gone now but these photos by Barry Blitz capture a feel of the old streetlife and its demolition.

22 comments:

Anthony said...

Thanks for the nostalgia. JCC almost slipped out of memory. I remember him as this skinny guy in a tight suit with amazing hair spitting/sneering out the "Beasley Street". Very impressive to an impressionable teen poet. Might have to check with my old neighbour if he still has the cassette.

Dick Jones' Poetry Archive said...

Not only performing yet but still a dead ringer for Dylan c. '66. A bold image to maintain in the late '70s amongst the safety-pinned & bondage-pantsed. Modish once again, of course.

Dick Jones' Patteran Pages
http://blogs.salon.com/0002065/

Anonymous said...

focking luvlee..

We used to shout this at the top of our lungs in the 1970's, crammed in orrible squats in saff lunnon..

its barista, by the way..
nice site you got here.

Anonymous said...

Nice one matey, but the photo isn't Beasley Street. Beasley Street doesn't exist. Not in Salford anyway. Mostl ikely guess is that its Murray Street, Lower Broughton, where he used to live.

Jimmy Doyle said...

Not so, anonymous. See http://www.manchester.gov.uk/libraries/lsuimage/streetview/beasley.htm

Anonymous said...

For those who know of the right wing right to life christian politician Fred nile from Sydney. He lived in Beasley St Ryde.

JCC is where the Hip Hop artists need to look for inspiration. the spoken word was never done as well, not since Noel Coward anyway.

Anonymous said...

Greetings everyone.

I would like to know some of the terms in the poem.

in the first line - FAR FROM CRAZY PAVEMENTS.

What is a "Crazy pavement"?

In the forth stanza, 7th line - A RIFF JOINT SHUTS - OPENS UP.

What is a "Riff Joint"

In the fifth stanza, sixth line - THERE'S A RAINBOW IN THE ROAD.

What is a 'Rainbow'?

In the seventh stanza there are a number of terms I do not understand.

I will do the whole thing and then pick it appart.

The Hipster and his hired hat
Drive a borrowed car
Yellow socks and a pink crevat
Nothing la-di-da
O-A-P
Mother-to-be
Watch the three-piece suite
When shitstopper drains
And crocoodile skis
Are seen on...Beasley Street

I don't know what the reference to "Yellow socks and a pink crevat mean. I will make a guess. The Hipster is not wearing any socks and no shirt under a jacket.
On a mature unhealthy male the ankles are usually bloodless and there fore the skin is a pail yellow, and the chest due to exposure to the sun is a readish color. But that is just a guess. Can anyone enlighten me on this.

O-A-P could mean OLD TIME PENSIONER or ONE ACT PLAY, but again that is just a guess. Can anyone help me here.

Mother-to-be
Watch the three-piece suite

What is this all about?

What is a shitstopper drain?

Nineth stanza, last line - ...SIXTEEN BEASLEY STREET

It is odd that he would give an exact address. I saw in prior postings that there is not "Beasley Street. But the fact that he would put in such a detail strikes me that there was a real address. Maybe something int the news back in the 80's when the poem came out had some story about a dreadful act done in a house with that address.

I could ask more but I don't want to overload the cart. Alot of you must be from Britian and maybe you can answer some of my numerous questions.

Thank you for your time.

Michael Bishop

bishop@gol.com

Bishop said...

Greetings everyone.

I would like to know some of the terms in the poem.

in the first line - FAR FROM CRAZY PAVEMENTS.

What is a "Crazy pavement"?

In the forth stanza, 7th line - A RIFF JOINT SHUTS - OPENS UP.

What is a "Riff Joint"

In the fifth stanza, sixth line - THERE'S A RAINBOW IN THE ROAD.

What is a 'Rainbow'?

In the seventh stanza there are a number of terms I do not understand.

I will do the whole thing and then pick it appart.

The Hipster and his hired hat
Drive a borrowed car
Yellow socks and a pink crevat
Nothing la-di-da
O-A-P
Mother-to-be
Watch the three-piece suite
When shitstopper drains
And crocoodile skis
Are seen on...Beasley Street

I don't know what the reference to "Yellow socks and a pink crevat mean. I will make a guess. The Hipster is not wearing any socks and no shirt under a jacket.
On a mature unhealthy male the ankles are usually bloodless and there fore the skin is a pail yellow, and the chest due to exposure to the sun is a readish color. But that is just a guess. Can anyone enlighten me on this.

O-A-P could mean OLD TIME PENSIONER or ONE ACT PLAY, but again that is just a guess. Can anyone help me here.

Mother-to-be
Watch the three-piece suite

What is this all about?

What is a shitstopper drain?

Nineth stanza, last line - ...SIXTEEN BEASLEY STREET

It is odd that he would give an exact address. I saw in prior postings that there is not "Beasley Street. But the fact that he would put in such a detail strikes me that there was a real address. Maybe something int the news back in the 80's when the poem came out had some story about a dreadful act done in a house with that address.

I could ask more but I don't want to overload the cart. Alot of you must be from Britian and maybe you can answer some of my numerous questions.

Thank you for your time.

Michael Bishop

bishop@gol.com

Anonymous said...

WHAT ARE CROCODILE SKIS ??

Anonymous said...

WHAT ARE CROCODILE SKIS ??

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Anonymous said...

Apologies to all concerned if JCC's term in the poem have been addressed. I give you my tuppenceworth:

"Crazy pavement" or 'crazy paving' is broken stone or precast concrete paving slabs laid to approximate edges but an even surface and jointed with cement mortar - a bit like mosaic perhaps. Quite commonly used as paths in gardens. [Presumably cheaper to come by than new slabs (think "quarter pound of broken biscuits, please!")]

I'd have to gues at "riff joint"; if he's not referring to smoking hash then he might have been talking about a guitar workshop(?); possibly cheap self-produced garage band music venue(??)

The 'rainbow in the road' is doubtless the light spectrum effect produced on a wet road by diesel fuel spillage.

No idea about a 'hired hat', but yellow socks were supposedly an indication of homosexuality. Given this, the pink cravat speaks for itself.

"la-di-da" = an affectation.

OAP = Old age pensioner

Mother-to-be = pregnant woman; probably teenage, given the tone of the poem

Three-piece suite = sofa and two upholstered armchairs.

Typo. Should be "When shit stops the drains" = sewage system incapable of taking away the quantity of shit (literal and figuratively) from Beasley Street. Constant stench too.

"Crocodile skis?"?? Got me on that one! Tha't how I got to this site - looking for the answer to that one. How about feet slipping and sliding on the brown semi-caked-but-soft-within shit which is prevalent because the drains are so full of it?

JonathanWilde9@msn.com

It's alright ma im only bleedin said...

hired hat: my guess is probably along the lines of "the hat you wear" or your persona/character. Hired hat probably means false character or facade undertaken in public.

Anonymous said...

coming to this late i know but;
no typo "shit-stopper drains" ie drain-pipe trousers so tight at the ankles that 'nothing' could escape from them
"crocodile skis" are shoes made of croc skin or croc-skin 'effect' - very long at the toe, like...erm, skis...

graham N said...

The 'hired hat' is a paid body guard methinks. The thought of an old age pregnant mum is pretty fucked up, but it kinda works.

'mind the 3 piece' harks back to when mass produced furniture became available on hire purchase, ie be careful not to damage the furniture

dunno 'ripp joint' shut
any ideas, love the Priestly reference, Get it?

Dave said...

Mother-to-be
Watch the three-piece suite
When shitstopper drains
and crocodile skis
are seen on ...Beasley Street


Shitstopper drains are tight trousers. Drainpipe trousers were straight black slacks in the 1960s and were revived in the 70s particularly by mod/ska/Northern Soul fans.

Given the context I'd take a guess that crocodile skis were Lacoste shell suits or ski jackets. The symbol for Lacoste is a crocodile.

So in the context it means that vulnerable people such as the elderly and pregnant women stay indoors when two rival gangs clash.

Anonymous said...

I think the woman is watching her own furniture being removed by some skip tracers.

Anonymous said...

Way back I bought the record 'Poetry Olympics" for this poem read by its author. Loved it so much but I remember a line differently. "the rats have all got rickets,they spit through broken teeth. A blood stain is your ticket, one way down Beasley street"

that stuck with me as did "Sleep is a luxury they don't need; a sneak preview of death"

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEur8-LbduI

BBD said...

Dave has it mostly right.

'Shit-stopper drains' (drainpipe jeans) and 'crocodile skis' (Lacoste ski jackets) were choice Casuals wear around the time Beasley Street was written.

The advice is for the vulnerable (women young and old) to studiously mind their own business and see nothing (watch the three piece suite) when the soccer hooligans were about.