Russell Brand Neo-Situationist Revolutionary

I’ve long been of the opinion that had Lenny Bruce found his way to Paris and mated with a drunken Guy Debord then the resulting child reared in front of a flickering screen irraditing the infant’s brain with images of ‘Ripping Yarns’ and ‘Pete and Dud’ followed by ‘Black Adder’ and ‘Filthy, Rich and Catflap’ for dessert with Radio 4 on in the background and books on the English Radical Tradition lying around open on the floor – then that child would be Russell Brand the comedian. To prove my point have a look at this footage of him leading the audience from one of his shows onto Hastings Pier.

Chris from Dollyhead Books (who was at the Hastings gig) saw the video and has come up with the precedent that Russell mentions in the clip. Here’s what Chris said in his email:

“As far as the precedent for Russell’s walkabout after the gig (as he mentions on the YouTube clip)… I refer you to Andy Kaufman’s April 1979 Carnegie Hall “milk and cookies” show. The performance is most famous for Kaufman ending the show by actually taking the entire audience, in 35 buses, out for milk and cookies. He invited anyone interested to meet him on the Staten Island Ferry the next morning, where the show continued. I seem to recall somewhere that Steve Martin also used to end his shows like this in the 1970’s (it might have been mentioned in the John Belushi biog ‘Wired’)”

Thanks Chris.


Leytonstone Fest Film Night

The film night was a great success. The thrill I felt seeing the Black Tower flickering on the screen in the upstairs room of the Heathcote then looking over my shoulder at the same E11 roofline, the room packed the audience enthralled. The Q&A with Ian Bourn and John Smith lasted over half and hour and could have gone on longer if we all hadn’t been in bad need of a pint (at some point I’ll transcribe the recording and post it here). What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? seemed to really strike a chord and it was satisfying to test my thesis that you can draw a line through from Black Tower, Lenny’s Documentary, Keiller to Mervyn Day. It was interesting to discuss this with Ian and John. I even managed to find an audience for my propaganda film about Marsh Lane Fields in an effort to drum up some support to save this corner of the Lammas Lands before it’s too late.

It was great to meet some of the readers of this blog – John Heron and Inspector Juve and members of the L&LHS (sorry John for missing your call on Tuesday – I’m not sure what happened there). It looks like we may have the momentum to build this into a regular event and form a Leytonstone Film Club, if anybody is interested please get in touch
Thanks to John, Ian and the Mervyn Day team (Paul, Andrew, Bob, Pete), and big thanks to Philip Wray of Leytonstone Festival – a gent.

Film Night Celebrating Leytonstone and the Lower Lea Valley – Sunday 8th July

I’m organising a film night this Sunday for the Leytonstone Festival. I had the idea not long after I moved here when I became aware of the great film references connected to the area. Wouldn’t be great to show some John Smith, Paul Kelly/St Etienne and Ian Bourn in a pub in Leytonstone, I thought. Well this Sunday it’s going to happen and what’s even better, the film-makers themselves will be in attendance to do a Q&A afterwards.
It’s this Sunday 8th July at The Heathcote Arms, 344 Grove Green Road, Leytonstone E11, 8pm till late (the bar at the Heathcote closes at midnight), and it’s an incredible bargain at £2.
I think I’ve written about all these films before on the blog and I wrote an article on this theme for Rising East, but the programme includes:


The Black Tower: John Smith (1985-7, 24mins). In The Black Tower we enter the world of a man haunted by a tower in Langthorne Road which, he believes, is following him around Leytonstone.

Blight (1994-96): John Smith captures the dying days of Colville Road, with a soundtrack of residents’ reminiscences composed by fellow Leytonstonian Jocelyn Pook.


Black, White & Green – the way of pie (2003): Ian Bourn
In this world of marble tables, etched glass and tiles the humble London dish of pie, mashed potato and thick green liquor acts as a catalyst for excursions into memory, fantasy or to places best forgotten. Filmed in the pie and mash shop at Harrow Green, Leytonstone.
Black White & Green is a meditation on the pie and mash aesthetic – an exploration of the terrain and a revelation of what wriggles just below the surface.

What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2006): Paul Kelly & Saint Etienne. Mervyn Day’ is set in the Lower Lea Valley on the day after the announcement that London would host the 2012 Olympics. Kelly has described the film as being like an obituary to the birthplace of the 20th Century. The film follows a paper boy doing his rounds who allows his sense of curiosity lead him on a journey through the ruination of an area that gave the world plastic and petrol.