Who loves ya, baby?
I dunno what it's like now, but my dad spent some time in a place called Gipton in Leeds and said it was pretty grim. Apparently a pupil from one of the local schools was accused of grave robbing.
My experiences of the town itsel were mainly away days. You’d leave Notts pretty tense (all those days were, but different times), down on the train, I mean it’s only about an hour away but another country. No-one says “oop” which progresses almost as far as Peterborough. Danelaw remnants probably. The violence was staggering in the truest sense. Add mid winter gloom, hard drinking, not pretty outcomes compounded by Forest’s Executive Crew going full yeti. You invade a town like that and the people there aren’t going to have any of it. Not saying Luton is/was Nazi, but there was a definite presence among fanzine sellers that’s hard to omit. For parity, the BNP and National Front had hq bases in Ilkeston, a morass of horrors, between Derby and Notts, so the problem definitely wasn’t Bedfordshire centric.I only lived there between '89-'94, and went back up a few times between '96 - 2001 to see friends, a girl, a dying dad, etc. So I might not be the best person to ask. But as Neil Transpontine hasn't turned up (he was busy learning Gaelic folk songs, last time I checked Facebook), guess I'll have to be the Lutonian ambassador.
Let's put the boot into this dump! Except
1) Luton's not the shittest place in the UK. It's not even in the top 10 shittest places. Southampton, Portsmouth, Aberdeen, West Croydon and Uxbridge all make Luton look like Vegas.
2) It might have had brutalist architecture, bleak industrial estates, crumbling 70s infrastructure, post-apocalyptic parks and factories/office blocks so grimey the windows looked painted over with lard - but go past all that on the X31 on a dark winter morning, listening to Joy Division or Cabaret Voltaire, and it's perfect. Anyway, this is fucking Dissensus - thought you all loved that sort of stuff?
3) Luton Carnival was good - all the reggae and ragga you could shake a stick at. And without the pathetic sight of Tories drinking out of coconuts, or posh homeowners trying to flog you lukewarm Red Stripe at £6 a can.
4) Most of the people are brilliant. Sure, you WON'T see that side if you go in saying "your town's a complete shithole" - you think that's news to anyone in Luton? Plus the insider 'Luton sucks' jokes were way funnier. WashYourHands, you'd be surprised how many pubs you'd have enjoyed if you'd walked in wearing the hoops; there's a massive London Irish overspill there and every second pub was full of CR SMITH and FAI tops. Eddie's Bar was an institution, as was The Cock (essential underage drinker venue) and The Painters.
5) Don't get me wrong, there could be a heavy vibe some nights and thing could kick off at the drop of a hat, but if you want the REAL Bedfordshire 'heart of darkness', head for Dunstable (which was BNP central), Stopsley (city of the living dead) or Houghton Regis (get shot in the head by a pregnant 14-year old with a crossbow if you touch the jukebox).
6) Diana Dors owned a pub in Luton called The Wabbit. "Crap town" my arse.
7) Luton Sixth Form College was ace - great facilities, tremendous dedicated staff, and my happiest learning experience. Tommy Robinson has claimed that he couldn't go there as a teenager, or he'd have been killed by Asians. How odd - I went there for two years without any aggro, and so did a number of extremely skinny, shy, svelt Suede fans - none of whom had any bother. Brave crusader, huh. My history teacher was a Jewish hippy who once shut me and the class SWP clown up by casually mentioning, "Oh, the Angry Brigade...my friend was their defence lawyer...so anyway, the Yalta Conference...". She also gave me her personal copy of Rod Kedward's brilliant "Fascism in Western Europe, 1900-1945" at the end of the course, along with the sage advice: "Try and read some fun things too!"
8) If you think the plastic pitch was weird, how about the fact that Kenilworth Rd banned away fans altogether after the infamous Millwall match? (I hadn't moved there when that happened but a friend went when he was 9, and he assured me it was bad). That whole debacle was a 'last straw' incident that also led to a big push to introduce ID cards at matches.
Result being - reduced atmosphere - less revenues - less advertising - club suffered. They had to ditch the pitch because players were fucking their legs up on tackles - but, IIRC, wasn't there another club in the '80s that installed astroturf?
The MIGs and BOLTs were hardly angels, but the idea they were nazis/racists is ridiculous. Anyway, if there was ever a team for the Temple ov Psychick Youth to follow...
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Sounds like the plot of a Monte Hellman film or something.Funny story about Luton? I was in the Gower on holiday round this time and on the way out somewhere we found a broken down car in a lay-by. Stopped to help and it was 6 heavily spangled lads who’d piled into an estate, taken dozens of E’s with the single intention of “going as far west as possible into the sunset“. They’d followed the sun til the fuel ran out. Very TOPY.