Mark E. Smith, "Hark the hoaly lunatic"

New Musical Express, December 21-28, 1985, p. 15

[Text carefully checked against the original NME printing: capitalization, spelling, punctuation, etc. are sic.--SC]

Seven bleak long winters (or something like that) after death of Roman Totale XVIII, Fall chronicler and star of their 45 sleeves, MARK E. SMITH resurrects the wit, wisdom and general bitchiness of the lost legend with The Smith Guide To This Nation, Saving Graces of '85 (Or Not).


Do not fail to miss the view-perspective of Hoalingen Station that the recently extended Publex offers. Your host thereof is Stingdorf Carthwaite, 34, who will happily point out all the amusing quirks of the now obsolete industry that lies beneath your balcony in the bottom of Raddingron Valley. Sti, a retired mobile-Op, also doubles as MC (squared) - his Apple DX9 backing him up tremendously during his renditions of ZZT, Band-Aid & Videogame tunes of the '80s.
                                                                                                                  (publ. 1998)


Once, from here, the inhabitants of Hoalingen (pop. 105) could board an Empire train to anywhere in the old Brit-Tour Empire. But now only the blue and white buttressed hexagons remain to remind us of the days when Hoalingen, Lancs, was the indispensable hub of an autocracy stretching from the shores of the Baltic to the irreverent ice-bulks of Moose-Annuk.

Taking the plus-two ramp up into the station, an obnoxious Christian family board the Hoalingen-Valley-Hoalingen Return Transport. Their child is uncontrollably evil. The conductor is one of those who try to be philanthropic but is 'just not up to it'. Knee bent, he indulges the child unnecessarily. A tip is discussed.

As the bustrans-train navigates corners, he struggles with the horrid bundle. He talks to it as if it were: a budgie. The sunlight dapples on the heads of the other passengers, leaf shadows portrayed briefly on their spazframes.

Approaching Hoalingen town outskirts, scenery changes, Carthwaite now mentally ushering passengers into the Publex. The couple are now talking to the conductor incessantly. This stuff soon wears off, I think.

The family prepare to disembark. This is an unstately affair, as is the Tip incident - the mother opens purse but discovers she only has NTWB Credits in large amounts. She places one in conductors' hand, but noticing it to be far too much, withdraws it.

All goodbyes having been said at last, the conductor turns around to the remaining passengers, who pretend they weren't watching, and notices them for the first time. To distract his discomfort he puts a cassette on. Unfortunately it is up-beat synthesiser music which, distorted thru' the unserviced Jap desk, sounds like a mocking gaggle of duck-klaxon imitators.

One passenger chokes on a suppressed laugh, and I notice the smiling reflection of a middle-aged woman in the front left pane.



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THE FOLLOWING are recently discovered writings of a 'Staret' or 'Hoaly Lunatic' from the 1980s.


A) Summer 85, Manchester: "BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED". It had been a good day, the park air had a cream soda breeze. A goat, striped, followed us with humorous eyes past the mini-Zoo. On getting in, the painter and decorator at my house, a Dublin friend (paint-dot on one eyelid) related how he'd smashed the Ugliest Man In Worlds' face into the pool table and got three balls in at the same time.

"Well done" I said, knowing well what UMIW could be like. Thinking on this, and the anti-Townshend benefit I was considering, I took down my Whistle Test Calender/Dartboard and decided: Stylish Drinkers are declining daily.

"...We could learn from the Scots: Reading, Northampton, Essex, SE and SW England with its POKEY maen pavements, if any, designed for average dwarf circa 1540; with billeted US Soldiers, retch-inducing Courage bitter, a plethora of antique shops and real ale cafes; all sights meant to conjure envy in those from 'depressed' areas.

"But the people responsible for this, as those who designed Hulme Est., and the murderers who designed Britain's motorways, thinking nor many commoners would own cars, should be shot for treason. No doubt instead they are heading Inquiry Commissions into football violence - or they are in BOURNEMOUTH." (end of quote)


B) Also we have, from the diary of Field-Marshall Dashiell Wynan, 13 years later: "Aug. 26, Mon: The Lord help us if we have that war Nostradamus forecast for next year - rumours are it has been verified by the main Proph-Computer at some US University. Our land forces will be made up of vegans who disagree with guns, who refuse narcotics when a limb comes off, and give their food to the enemy. The officers seem mainly interested in their middle-man /entrpreneur stance and perpetuation of same. I am currently on leave to gather myself together."


C) Last section relative to this period. BRITISH MUSIC - A REAPPRAIS, by Prof. Bruce I. Shepton.

BY the late 80's, little could be done to salvage the English-based music system: a bleak future lay ahead subsistent mainly on recycled Dylanisms, courtesy of gentlemen whose main point was: "Because of my handsomeness, you never took me seriously as an intellectual - for that you and audience suffer!"

Known also as "Redfordia", many British singer-figures went along with and in some cases perpetrated this schoolyard kickback. English girl teenagers loyally propped up this moody ruin, until they outgrew it, and later got wise to it. Inter-country bickering and art-state-of-analysis eventually destroyed the more refined echelons of rock thought. For instance this quote from a letter by one of the protagonists. '85:

"...Surely the most offensive use of Irish cliche was KR's redick gypo-paddy look, which earned the DMRs enormous amounts of vaudeville money to squander on their new Books Bros. image, one US people commonly recognise as upper m/class, m/aged garb. I won't knock that - have always supported pop-singer-as-lunatic syndrome, if only for laughs. But being drug up in an Irish-Jewish area, Paddy's opened up my life to humour, disregard for media and ridicule of all pretention. Rowland's mystical conception of Eire sounds more like Prussia circa 1870 to these ears."


BACK NOW to the present. Here is the latest from Brit-Tour's poet laureatess, Zabadak Goolze:

The '80s Depression And Me

Them folk were real daft
But the real populis
Was stepped in Panache:
They glittered at disco in
Tatty's and cheap perfume
Thur clothes were made of rayon, and it
Med yer thighs sweaty and pimply
Us ladies spoke up close with vodka
Vomit breath:
No artistic merit they said to us.
(Z. Goolzee c. 2009)


But the biggest defeat is when your big shot memory falls flat, when it hits you that maybe all writing is over, or a habit took up by fear-geared failures, then that all writers, lyricists and groups may be just working towards what many have just thrown away (eg the Watergate-inspired journalistic craze in American colleges, imitating Thompson into literal infinity).

The circle can only dilute as it turns, surely. It's then that only the fact that your hand or mouth, like letters you never meant to send, can destroy you, makes continuing attractive.



"I SIT here, smarty, with my 1500 bloody deutchmarks for ten days on the trot. Work some B-streamed idiot will pinch bare-faced, then say I've sold out, oblivious to what he's nicked, too bone idle with guitar or salary to know he's even doing it.

"The Wineways Store was intensely lit and staffed by what looked like Lithuanian dwarves. I didn't realise it at the time, but I had a huge ink stain that ran like mascara down my right cheek, meeting the side of lip, giving the impression I'd been scoffing dirt. Otherwise I was dead presentable, pants pumps, etc. They treated me real funny, so on getting home I destroyed any references to central Euros, the Pope, my attempts at Yiddish, all empty cans and so on in case their meaning be misconstrued. Things had changed hereabouts since they'd elected the ex-folk singer. It was a still night."



THE YOUTH, dim-witted and half-remembering something, paused briefly by the Copeland monument to Large-Scale Small Enterprise in Piccadilly, Manchester. A torn folded handbill blew towards him.