The Cut

A tour through the towpaths with Liz Berry


Come wi’ me, bab, wum to Tipton-on-Cut, starts Liz Berry’s poem – a call, from a knowing voice, to investigate one of the most significant sites of the region. The cut, it’s everywhere and nowhere – perfect territory for Berry, who leads us, through her poems, into these haunting sites and to experiences of transformation or epiphany – often preceded by passing through something mucky, animalistic, feral.

In the main, the cut is probably seen as a place of leisure and pleasure – dog walking, fishing, boat trips, family bike rides, but it shares this sense of wholesome enjoyment and domesticity with its sense of history and heritage.  We get this in Berry’s “Tipton-on-Cut” where Telford’s fabled waterways with their mix of old pubs, the church, parklands also hold the crumbling altar of BDF Steelworks. It’s evident in “Goodnight Irene”; over the canal bridge, the Baptist Chapel / still brave on the cut […] past the marlpit, the warehouses, / the Indian shop, the streets left to squatters, their pebble-dashed terraces emptied by time.  

Another clash is between the wild, untamed, natural with the constructed, manufactured, manmade. The canal networks were forged with drills, digging, labour and engineering, but what was also created was habitat, eco-systems and, curiously, those odd places where the wild and the natural tangle with the industrial. When we think of the landmarks of the canals we think of grasses, water birds, wild flowers, but also old glassworks, ruined steelworks, industrial estates, locks and gatehouses. We think of housing estates and parks, but also woodlands, and also railway tracks and motorway junctions. Canals are places of graffiti and litter and places of conservation and natural beauty. Liz Berry’s poetry works with these clashes too. In her poem, “Gosty Hill” the space is shared between the natural – Iris, Rose of Sharon and Vixen, Mole, Adder – and the manufactured – Ocker Hill, Engine Arm, Withymoor Pit. Berry fuses the organic and manmade too, in “Black Delph Bride” the cut becomes a being: Black Delph, Black Delph, my girl she floats,  / her bridgesmaids: eels and voles and stoats.

So, we get the clash and often fusion of green space and grey space, rural and urban, manmade and natural, tame and wild, safe and unsafe, passive and active. In Berry’s hands, the cut is a strange thing, constantly shedding its skin, constantly building, demolishing and rebuilding.  She writes of the unnamable, slippery, in-between, spaces for transformation. Take the old tribal cliche of a young child being sent out from the village into the wild to prove their self, to earn their place, to become adult. They leave the tribe and complete a task, returning as adult. But, in that moment they are between states, no longer child, not quite adult. The subject needs that odd, off-kilter time-space to transcend their role. This is the very roots of narrative – transformation, transition, revolution. They are places away from the safe, structured world and its systems and rules. They hold the possibility of subversive, transgressive, rebellious activity.

This is why we see so much transformation and rites of passage in Berry’s poems. It’s no accident that “Gosty Hill”, with its mix of green and grey, is the site where I baptised mah wench as well as where I’ll be waitin at Delph Run with brick in me ond. The same can be said of “Tipton-on-Cut” where, after being led passed the drinkers, the workers, the sites and sounds we end in bacchanalian reverie as we lie on ower baltied bellies on the towpath / to sup the moon, like the head of a pint, / from ower cut.

The cut can be seen, especially in Berry’s visions, as arenas of shape-shifting, coming into being, of transformation and the carnivalesque.




Two Extracts from two Anthony Cartwright Novels


We thought we’d do something a little different with this blog post and give our readers the opening sections of Cartwright’s first novel and his most recent novella. What we get here is literary time travel – one author, 13 years apart.


Extract from Afterglow, Tindal Street Press, 2004

The bag of flesh and blood was slippery in his gloved hands. Luke took the long plastic sack and held it aloft with his left hand and plunged the knife into it with his right. Half a pig – half frozen, ice crystals glistening in its pink marrow – tumbled onto the bench and splattered his overalls with blood and preservative. He took the side of meat at either end and turned it again and lifted it to the machine. It was like wrestling a giant bar of soap. He got the thing into position and plunged the blades down into the meat. There was a grinding sound and the familiar low thud of the cut flesh dropping out onto the conveyor belt. Down the line a dozen pairs of hands picked up the pork chops and arranged them in plastic cartons before placing them back on the belt. After he’d checked everything was clear of the machine he released the handles and stepped back to begin again.


Extract from The Cut, Peirene Now! No.2 Peirene Press 2017


The young woman runs burning along the side of the marketplace down, the High Street, away from the fountain. Away from the Fountain and the cool, litter-strewn water. She is tall, long-legged. Her hair is ablaze and flames spit from the unravelling scarf towards the motley crowd of people who give chase. Someone is screaming, but it is not the woman. She breathes fire. There is the slap of cheap sandals on the pavement behind her.

‘Stop her,’ someone shouts. ‘Just fucking stop her’.

A man runs at the edge of the crowd, a camera on his shoulder, filming, does not stop the running woman. The procession ripples across shop windows and puddles from the earlier rain.

Then she falls, arms and legs and flames, and the men and women and kids crowd around her, with their heads bowed, their arms across their faces against the smell of burning hair, burning flesh. The scarf melts into the young woman’s face. The people roll her on the ground, with some sense of what to do. What to do if a woman comes running through the market on a Friday afternoon in the middle of England with her head on fire.


Editor’s Comments

Anthony Cartwright uses the rich and deep-rooted social structures and culture of working class Dudley to explore wider political issues and social concerns. His fictional adaptations of Dudley and its inhabitants become the microcosm for questions of class, race, alienation. He explores these issues by depicting cultures and characters that are in transition, in flux, that are borderless. The action in his novels trace lives and cultures that need to re-establish their sense of place, class and history. In this exploration, Cartwright delivers storyworlds full of uncanny and abject experiences, specifically in the way he treats descriptions of Dudley and in the challenges facing its inhabitants. Place in his work is much more than a backdrop to the action, it is almost a being itself that imbues those that inhabit it with its energies. Characters find themselves in a post-industrial landscape, where the hallmarks of the past are both a pleasant reminder and a constant source of bitterness at its loss – an inseparable bond with the characters, a bond that is full of longing and full of threat, something that is repulsive and attractive in equal measure, and most of all, something that is constant but cannot be grasped at. What Cartwright conveys in his work is the region in its post-industrial state. A state where communities struggle with the breakdown of their way of life. This is what the reader faces – the unpicking of the fabric of safe, communal life and from that, the inevitable release of the repressed.

Peartree Lane Industrial Estate


Carl the Cockroach. 

By Mike Aston. 


“…Yeah, Curl, he’s officially a retard. We’ve got paperwork to prove it and everything.” Carl lights his cigarette, and tilts the packet toward me, enquiring with raised eyebrows. 

“Heath?” I take one, and light it. “He’s two. How the fuck can they tell that early?” We lean against the wall next to the works entrance, looking out at the collection of affordable cars tucked neatly into little marked out boxes on the carpark. 

“Three. And he can’t even talk yet.” 

“He might just be a bit slow. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him.” 

“Nah, mate, It’s not just the talking. I got a bollocking from the bird that runs the nursery…” 

“The one with…?” 

“… the great tits, yeah. He’s been biting the other kids. The parents have been… Has that drain cover been nicked as well?” Most of the drain covers on the trading estate had been taken, presumably to be melted down for scrap by Gypsies. Dangerous Brian had blown his front tyre when he’d driven over an exposed drain a couple of years ago, and had declared war on “The robbing Pikey bastards”. He had spent the following three nights sleeping in his car, with a cricket bat on the passenger seat, just daring a gypsy to pull up on his carpark, looking to thieve any more of his drain covers. In fairness, Dangerous had actually calmed down a lot since they took out a chunk of his brain, along with the tumour that had taken residence there. Dangerous drifted through the remaining six months of his working life in a permanent state of inebriation; alternating between recycling his favourite fishing anecdotes, and reminiscing on his Sunday league days.  

“Pikeys, man. They’ll lift anything.” I flick the freshly blackened match across the carpark, it drops straight into the exposed drain. “Get in! Maybe he just doesn’t like other kids.” 

“He don’t know they’re there, until they’ve got a toy he wants.” Carl runs a hand over the receding grey stubble barely covering his head. “Oh yeah, remember I told you that he’d fucked the T.V?” 

“Driving toy tractors across the screen. You might have mentioned it once or twice.” 

“We had to buy a new one, so I say to Shell, I’m putting this cunt on the wall where he can’t reach it.” 


“So we get this telly; 55 inch, it’s beautiful, Curl. I put it up, right, and we’re sitting there and everything’s fucking sweet, watching the Villa, like, then Bang! This fucking tractor comes flying across, right into the screen.”  

“Ouch. Can’t you just take the tractors away?” 

“He’d just find something else to wang about. It’s bad, kid. I don’t know if I can deal with it. I’m telling you, if he can’t function in society by the time he’s eighteen, I’m taking him over the cut and drowning him.” He flicks his own cigarette. A wind kicks up while it’s in mid-flight, sending the butt on a curved path, and bringing it to rest on the spot where Bernie had run over the cleaning lady two years before. 

I loved Bernie Mansell, I had never worked with anyone like him. He was a highly skilled machinist, but at the same time he was terrible at his job because he always had better things to do in his head. Bernie’s exploits were absolutely legendary, like the time he made a drunken pass at his own mother-in-law… on his wedding day; or the time he turned up to a very formal dinner for the company M.D’s retirement, dressed as Spongebob Squarepants. No? How about the time he drilled through his own penis while putting up shelves? Some of the lads called him “Mongol”, which I didn’t really like; not from any particular sense of moral superiority, but because Bernie’s daydreaming was a consequence of wanting more from his life than drilling holes in bolts for a living. He had refused to become just another drone. Just like I did… Do… Just like I do. Bernie had the last laugh though, he met a very wealthy woman from California on Second Life, and had since married her and moved to Santa Barbara, where he now spends his days pottering around with various, insane Bernie-style projects; my favourite being his proposed Pukka Pie shop on the Las Vegas strip. Because a hot Balti pie is just what you want when the mercury is tickling ninety. 

“A bit harsh, maybe?” I avoid eye contact, blowing smoke straight up into the air. Spend enough time with Carl, and you’ll learn that he lacks even the most basic social filters. It pops into his brain, it comes out of his mouth. “I’m telling you, he’s just a bit slow. How many autistic kids do you remember going to school with, can you even think of one?” 

“Nah, Curl, but they didn’t know…” 

“Bullshit. So suddenly they’re all over the fucking place? We’ve got six kids between us on this shift…” Carl has his two lads, my two, and Scotch eggs has two boys. Both of them are autistic; but then that’s typical Scotch, always has to go one better, the ginger prick. “…Are you telling me that half of the population is autistic? It’s bollocks, kid.” 

“Easy to say when you don’t have to spend the rest of your life looking after the retard.” Carl takes another cigarette from the packet. I look at my own which is only half smoked. “Oh, shit! Did I tell you what he did the other day?” Carl’s face brightens. It always did when he had a story to tell, and Carl the Cockroach told some of the best. I smile anticipating the inevitable. “Ewan wouldn’t let him have the racing wheel to play Mario-Cart, right, so Heathy went up into Ewan’s room, and pissed all over his Skylanders.” 

“Oh my God!” I try to keep a straight face, but I’m soon laughing and Carl joins me with great enthusiasm. “That’s amazing.” 

“The missus didn’t think so. We didn’t find out until we were putting them to bed so they’d been soaking in piss for quite a bit. She scrubbed them, but they still stink. Heathy don’t give a fuck, mate.” I smile every time Carl mentions his wife. He once told me she’d had a dirty dream about me, so naturally I mention it every chance I get. I open my mouth to do so… 

“What are you doing out here?” Roland the Rat-boy’s head appears through the open work’s entrance. “Get back inside, your shift doesn’t end for another ten minutes.” Rat-boy had been allocated the name within five minutes of his first day. His front teeth were far too long, and rested on his lower lip, resulting in a permanent double indentation. He hid away his shifty little eyes; eyes that never missed anything he could use against you, behind the thick lenses of his blue framed glasses, which hooked over the very large ears that jutted out from either side of his very round, but flat-topped head. Aesthetically he was the perfect hybrid of human and shaved rat. Yes, he’d been given the name within minutes of entering the shop floor, but what we didn’t know was that he would spend the following ten years earning it. When you make your living in a pokey little shit-hole of a factory in Dudley, you do whatever you can to breach that boredom barrier and get yourself through the day. This might be by staging tests of masculinity with the other lads; like who can push the forklift truck the furthest with the break on; or finding out who can build the most effective projectile-firing-weapon using only items that are around their machine; or the limb numbing dead-arm contests, where you take it in turns to punch each other in the arm until one of you gives in and has to buy lunch for the rest of the week. This is how we made our working lives bearable, but these were also the things those verminous little eyes would see. And everything those eyes saw, Dangerous Brian would know about.  

“And yours doesn’t start for another ten minutes, so wind your neck in, Ratty.” My cigarette is reunited with the match in the drain. Two for two. I’ve been doing this for too long. Carl’s leaves his fingers, and flies in Ratty’s general direction. It strikes the doorway just above his head, raining hot ash onto him. 

“Yeah, fuck off, Rat-boy. You ain’t my supervisor, you big eared prick.” Carl the Cockroach presents Roland the Rat-boy with a couple of fingers. Ratty’s face burns red, then disappears back into the factory. “Fucking nob-jockey. Day I leave here, I’m gonna put his teeth right for him… Shit, that the time? I’ve gotta punch out, the missus is picking me up this morning.” 

“Give her my love.” I laugh. 

“Thin fucking ice, Curly Watts.” Carl runs through the factory entrance, and I follow at a more leisurely pace.  

I enter the locker-room, and am immediately slammed by the thick atmosphere of stale, sweaty ball-sack that has bookmarked the beginning and end of every one of my working days for the last fourteen years. Kebabs is in there, beautifully named because he does nothing but pretend to look busy, walking round-and-around the factory very slowly all day, like a pillar of kebab meat rotating in the chippy. He’s peeling the lycra cycling suit from his hairy mid-fifties body. The suit is soaked through with sweat.  

“Morning, Curl. Have a good one last night?” Kebabs places the offending item of clothing on the radiator to dry.  

“Same old shit, mate.” I hover by the door to the shop floor, to enable a quick getaway once we’ve concluded our morning routine. “Going to the game this weekend?” I quickly realise that I’ve just commenced what could be a protracted conversation. I wince slightly, and privately berate myself as Kebabs takes me meticulously through his plans for Saturday. I feel the hairs in my nose begin to burn, as the cycling suit cooks nicely on the radiator. Kebabs, wearing only a pair of black socks, and grey briefs with dark pools forming in the undercarriage, stands with his foot perched on one of the benches in the centre of the room. His briefs had long since twisted into a thong during his ride to work, and he doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to correct them. 

“Thank fuck that one’s over.” Carl pushes his card into the slot in the top of the machine. It beeps. 

“I’ve got to get off nights, man.” I do the same. It beeps again. 

“You’d miss the money too much, kid.” 

“You mean my missus would. Fancy a pint this afternoon?” We exit the building and step out onto the carpark. 

“Can do. I’ll meet you in The Cross at about half-two.” Carl the Cockroach looks across the carpark, and sees his wife, Michelle, and the boys. One of the rear doors opens, and Heath drops out. He charges across the carpark to his dad. “Heeyyy, Little Heathy!”   Carl darts forward the last few yards and scoops him up, making jokey choking sounds as Heath clings to his daddy’s neck for all he’s worth. I look over to Michelle. She waves at me, so I reciprocate with a wink, and grab my crotch. Her face goes red. She tries to hide in her phone. She is unsuccessful. “Oi! You wanna fuck off, mate.” Carl calls over his shoulder, laughing as he joins the rest of his family in his own affordable car. 


Editor’s Comments

In this part horrid – part hilarious short story Michael Aston provides an intimate portrayal of life in a factory. This results in a story that is full of laughter and joy, and full of exhaustion and bitterness. What springs forth in this piece is an often over-looked, working-class, masculine realm – a culture and community of bravado, banter and unfiltered expression, but within that is a brotherhood that is able to laugh at itself, regardless of the weight of the topic at hand. What Aston does brilliantly in this piece is express the kind of socio-political rhetorical experiment that male working-class cultures take part in – where the seemingly offensive or politically incorrect fuses with humour and good intentions, allowing them to tackle issues of race, disability and gender politics in a way, and with a lens, that is rarely given the intellectual scope it deserves.  Yes, they may be silly. Yes, they may say things we don’t want to hear. They also raise questions about life that many other commentators don’t think to ask.

Walsall to Wolverhampton on the 529 Bus


top deck

By Steve Pottinger


from way up here, you can see it all


the terrible beauty

of pensioners staring through windows

schoolkids slouching towards the classroom

not wanting to go


you see

flashing lights at the level crossing

diesel running back to base, light loco

arctics moving stuff from there to here

inching in the nose-to-tail-to-nose


you see

the dumpy ballet of fork-lifts

the loading and unloading

men in the new flat cap of the company hi-vis

grafting and grousing and joking


you see

backyard mechanics in corrugated yards

smeared in oil and grease

the nodded corsayfairer

the sheen of puddles and of handshakes


you see

the lads on bikes

who have nothing to their names

yet pull perfect effortless wheelies

the length of their street day after day after day


you see

Johnny striding down the towpath

can of Special on the go

two more in his coat pocket

just to take the edge off, you know?


and in between the high-rise

where the sun glints through

you can sometimes see hope

if you squint real hard


and let your gaze slip out of focus



Steve Pottinger, one of the best known faces behind the MIC stands of the region’s poetry circuit, brings us this tour from the town of Saddlers to the lair of Wolves, via the 529 and verse. Our guide, not cool boy at the back of the bus, more world-weary commuter in contemplation, offers simple observations that accumulate in their ‘terrible beauty’ – as if the ‘nose-to-tail-to-nose’ of the traffic and of mundane routines mirror some of the socio-economic inertia of this post-industrial area. Worry not, as Steve’s narrator reminds us, hope is only a matter of squinting in the right way. Find out more about Pottinger here.


Round Oak

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Round Oak Steelworks

by Wendy Crickard


I went out to look at the stars

as a girl, head back circling,

mouth open drinking the ages.

The night-pool spilled silence.

Light, bright tip-fingered reached

A thousand, thousand , thousand years

for that moment,

for that girl,

that I was.


As a wisp, as a gauze, as smoke drawn

as a scarf round shoulders

veiling the deep and the known.

As the light,

as the flare,

as the furnace opened,

as the sky burned,  

as the night ceased.


I went out to look at the stars

as a woman, head back circling

mouth open tasting the clouds.

In the haze of a time

where light never sets,

where bob howlers don’t fly,

where bats don’t wheel,

between the trees

which are gone.


Editor’s Comments
Hauntings are about opposites, cycles, contradictions and in-betweens – they are, as Derrida so nicely put it, that which is both present and not present. In this haunting poem Wendy Crickard provides a vision of clashes, the industrial and the post-industrial,  rural and urban, of innocence and of experience. youth and maturity, earth and air. These clashes result in an unnerving, off-kilter investigation of one of the region’s most important landmarks and businesses, weaving into it the uncanny experience of returning to a place associated with childhood, as a grownup, and finding it altered, either by time or by perception.

Form and content are perfect dancing partners in this poem as Wendy wields her mighty weapon of lyricism in the piece too. The refrains and repetitions in terms of language, sound and image provide a beautiful and melancholic musicality to this poem as well as adding to the hauntological theme.


Wendy Crickard is a Stourbridge based poet who grew up in the Lye. She regularly performs her work in her hometown and in Dudley – recently winning The Caffe Grande Poetry Slam.




Kerry Hadley-Pryce

An extract from The Black Country, Published by Salt 2015


He says he walked past the bus station, through the subway and then up into the town he felt sure hadn’t fundamentally changed in hundreds of years. Yes, there were cars and single mothers with buggies and a shopping area with a fountain, but Harry talks about it like this – and we have to agree – he says if you stripped away all that ‘metropolitan glaze’, underneath was the grime of industry and a certain attitude of self-preservation and something like despair. That’s what he says. To him, it leached out from every paving slab, every bit of tatty flapping bunting, and wheedled its way into the flat vowels and creeping intonation. At once a dead and alive place. And all its glass-making, chain-making, chain-smoking inhabitants look basically the same to Harry on that day. All of them old before their time with perilous expressions, thinning hair and lardy, fleshy midriffs. These were Harry’s thoughts as he walked through his home town that Saturday, past the bargain clearance shop, the building society, the tiny jeweller’s; past the pub with the almost inevitable all male clientele spilling out onto the narrow pavement, holding pint glasses of cloudy flat beer, and talking in surprisingly high-pitched voices with thin own-rolled cigarettes glued to their lips; past the ugly dog-walking, pot-bellied women with headscarves and no teeth; past the youth of the town, mental kids with asymmetrical eyes and crew cuts and nits; past the girls, crowds of them – what is the collective noun for this type? Posse? – posses of girls with dyed hair, too much mascara, and piercing clearly visible in parts of their bodies not meant for public display, whose command of English would only ever remain as enclosed, as limited as the area would allow. Harry admits he slowed to look at them. And one of them, a girl who looked about fourteen going on forty, seemed to spring out from the crowd, stopping Harry in his tracks. This part, according to Harry, is important because as a reflex, he held up his arms, palms outwards, and skipped back. The girl, having been shoved by a heftier friend, first giggled, then feigning sudden disgust at the thought of being thrust into the open arms of a complete stranger (and more particularly, probably a stranger who look like Harry) said, ‘Ewwww,’ and squirmed away, to the light of her pals. According to Harry, as he walked on shaking his head, he heard the girl shout ‘Perv!’ or something like it. And right at that moment, just as Harry was receiving the full brunt of adolescent rebuke, Maddie appeared. Actually she emerged from one of the many charity shops, but to Harry she just seem to appear in front of him, like an angel.


Editor’s Comments

Kerry Hadley-Pryce has a talent for putting her readers on edge … on edge of what we cannot be sure of, but it has edges – the kinds one falls off. In this extract we’re placed in a very recognisable, modern setting – the local high street. Nothing, at first glance, seems out of place.  But, as we start to uncover the “metropolitan glaze” we see this part dead – part alive place, populated by half-beings with “perilous expressions”. This sense of dread and of feeling on edge is a trademark of this great local author. She expertly manifests this in the settings she uses – locations that are, on one hand, safe, everyday and knowable, and on the other, forged with some secret bubbling underneath. This unease is felt best when we consider Kerry’s narrative style – what this editor (Rob) calls the Hadley-Pryce Hear Say Style. As readers, we’re let in on the secret, but kept at bay too. We’ve been pre-warned of the conspiracy but need to earn our stripes as we pass through the pages.

Kerry Hadley-Pryce is a Black Country wench who studied for her MA at Manchester Writing School MMU, where she won the Michael Schmidt Prize. She’s currently researching her PhD at the University of Wolverhampton. Her novel, The Black Country, received enormous amounts of well deserved praise – leaving the literary world biting its nails for her next. Salt Publishing have recently confirmed her forthcoming novel, Gamble, will be hitting bookshelves in 2018.


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Molineux 1988

Michael Jarvie

For the overworked programme seller who pocketed my fifty pence piece, and the turnstile operator hunched inside his stall like a jockey without a mount, my North East accent immediately gave the game away and cast me as the Other. It was ever thus for the away fan. You inevitably felt like an interloper, condemned to creep in through the equivalent of the tradesman’s entrance.

But this journey from New Street to Wolverhampton wasn’t simply a physical one of a body in motion through time and space, it was also one embracing the phonetic and semantic structures of language itself – from Brummagem to Black Country in less than twenty minutes.

My own hesitant pronunciation veered from ‘Molly knew’ to ‘Molly know’ like a photon not sure whether it was meant to be a particle or a wave. The old girl, though, was in bad shape, however you pronounced her name. Two of her stands were no longer in use, and the rusting hulk seemed an apt symbol for the present state of this once great industrial heartland which had been given a good kicking of late by the untrammelled forces of the free market.

Despite the pervading sense of drabness and decay, the game was anything but dull. Swathed in the familiar old gold and black, like an angry wasp on Benzedrine, and with his hair almost cropped to the wood, that working-class scrapper from the Moat Farm Estate – Steve Bull – was at his brutal, bruising, belligerent best. Finesse was never his forte, but rather  raw, unstoppable power.

After the Wolves ran out 5-3 winners, with Bully adding yet another hat-trick to his tally for the season, I stayed behind and listened to the full time results over the tannoy. Perched on the terrace in front of me were two frail old men, leaning on their walking sticks, as if they were a couple of crane flies with missing limbs. Had I been so inclined, I might have seen them as symbolic as well.

Editor’s Comments

With one Walsall fan and one Lye Town fan on the editorial board of this blog, there was a lot of teeth sucking at this marvellous piece from Michael Jarvie. What we both agreed on is that a) Stevie Bull was absolute dynamite, and b) Jarvie’s writing is too. In this piece Jarvie waves the flag for the cultural importance of local football teams and local heroes, especially in times when their towns (Wolves, still a town then) got a bit of a kicking from economic policies in place at the time. Steve Bull’s pitch presence, despite the down at heel surroundings, links perfectly with the traditional working-class attitude of Black Country communities, despite their sometimes down and heel surroundings. Is it any wonder football is so often eulogised in poetic terms? What he also manages expertly is expressing the beautiful, playfulness of the region’s dialect, and the important, albeit slight, differences between us and Brum. I’ve (Rob) said this before about Jarvie, but it’s worth repeating, he’s a writer’s writer.

Michael Jarvie is the author of a collection of short stories, The Prison, and a recently published novel, Black Art. Find out more here –