cMay 1973, the Coventry Evening Telegraph ran an article on the RU18 Pub squad. I was 22 so it didn't affect me
personally. Obviously it was there job to eradicate underaged drinking, but many of the victims went to pubs for the music. Most were not ''criminals' in other ways (as the article admits), just young people needing something alternative to the usual youth club. It would often result in family problems for some and others hung outside the pubs, prey to drug dealers. 15 year olds getting hooked on Heroin alarmed us. We felt strongly that the authorities should be doing something more positive, providing, maybe, alcahol free venues for music for example, in the city centre. It was a forelorn hope I felt a protest ought to be made. I also thought the Telegraph's On the Scene supplement could play a role in that by engaging in some discussion between young people and the authorities in its pages rather than blindly acentuating the negative. Small hope but I initiated a petition, tramping around the Dive and the Golden Cross and the Lanch etc trying to get signatures. I got about 500 but on the way stimulated a lot of discussion. Many thought we should do our own magazine and not rely on the established press. Bo (John Bargeant) went one better - he offered to help with it and facilitate. He also offered to promote me as a singer songwriter. I sent the signatures in with a very quirky letter (as was my won't) which nevertheless got the editors attention (which was the object). In between time we produced the first issue of Hobo (intended to come out monthly initially). The result is a couple of posts below with the resultant article.
The Petition called for
- A section in the On the Scene supplement covering the local music and poetry scene (The problems / achievements / plans and happenings of the local talent.
- For a communication section where ideas and problems can be exchanged by young people and the authorities and others.
Here is the letter that accompanied the Petition to the Coventry Evening Telegraph -
Dear Sir and Siresses,
I'd like to put my point of view in a position where it may prick some people's imaginations.
The petition is calling for a little if not larger or at least regular spot in your paper's On the Scene, that's devoted to the local music scene. A large amount is devoted to sport, and I know you have to make such a venture as comprehensive as you can, and I know that you also devote a fair amount of it to a music section. this is, however, usually coverage of the music scene out in the wide world, which again si an impotant item for your readership, and occasionallt a section is dedicated to a few of the many struggling, talented, up and coming, under exposed musicans of Coventry and surounds.I'm not putting your paper down, it's just that i, along with hoards of others I know, think, being the official Coventry Paper, it would be nice if it could give support to the talent of this city a little by devoting a space to the activities and struggles and problems and achievements of the city's grups,poets, singers and artists. You see, I feel tht through such articles, more local activity could be inspired. Ideas could be more widely dispersed, boredom and its offspring violence may even be reduced. If musicians could discuss their problems such as the lack of practice facilities, which I know for certain to be a large problem in the city, they would be exposed and somebody may have suggestions of to combat them. Write ups about a group or artist may help him / them to secure work, or if someone complains of a lack of venues to play or a lack of places for young people to go, someone reading it may be inspired to help. Art institutions like the Coventry Arts Umbrella may be able to be helped to help artists through such a column. The scope is boundless. Being a songwrite and poet myself, I've been in a position to observe some of the hassels. This is not just a flash in the pan, but something that's been building up for some years in me and something that a lot of people are feeling.
Another aspect which really 'blew our cool' wass your article on RU18 pub squad - evicting and busting underage drinkers - which is fair enough if they break the law, but the fact that the police seem to be proud of busting these young people, who in a lot of cases, are not otherwise criminally inclined, seems to us pretty sick and to our observation, create more social problems by kicking young people out of the pubs. Unfotunately pubs are the only meeting places if they reject, s many young people do, the tradition youth club scenario. Consequently they might hang around town, bored, get into drugs, aggro etc. When young people do make their own entertainmetn, other hassels arise. Some friends and I took our guitars one night near a Coventry pub where people were lurking around board, and we played, not for money or anything, and people joined in singing, clapping, dancing, not near any houses, and no one was fighting, just people enjoying themselves, creating music until two policemen decided that if we continued, they would bust us for a breach of the peace. Maybe if the authorities stopped persecuting and tried to find out what young want. If they talked to young people, found out their ideas, problems, or you had a section for this to inspire a bit of communication between authorities and young people, the old and young, then it may not work any miricles but it may ease a few problems, inspire a few people, breakdown a few barriers in this uncommunal community.
I have a fund of examples I could use but Ive gone on long enough. i acknowledge there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work in this field and I realise that the world is not all bad, but this is designed to try and help those who are trying to help those sort of problems and gain the support and ideas of others. These are jsut some ideas of how yu could improve the supplement to the benefit of a lot of people of all ages. This all may seem like a load of bull manure, but sometimes manure helps things to grow better. If this letter can produce one droplet of rain on the desert, then it was worth the labour of writing it. I'd be intersted to know what you think of all this if you could manage a reply.
Trev Teasdel May 1973 (500 signatures accompanied this letter)