I can’t remember when exactly it was that I decided my life’s mission would be to follow my nose and see where it led me, but – weighing up the evidence of the past decades and the scrapes and adventures it’s got me into – I think it was the right call. I spent last night at a wrestling event in a small Black Country town, being thoroughly entertained, and helping launch the autobiography of one Scrubber Daly, wrestling legend from the glory days of ITV’s World of Sport, who’s still getting in the ring forty years on.
The book’s a great read, and I’ve spent the past eighteen months working on it with Scrubber, but I find the series of coincidences and serendipities which led to its publication every bit as interesting. You see, in December 2018 someone put a flyer for a wrestling event under the windscreen of my car (1). The pandemonialists are always up for new experiences (there might be a poem or two in them, after all) and decided to go along (2). We loved it (3). Out of that would come the HLF-funded project ‘One Ring to Bind Them’, (4) and that was only made possible because the lead wrestler had read the free newspaper which accompanied a previous project ‘Punk in Walsall’ while he was having a pint or two in his favourite boozer (5) and felt he could trust me – wrestlers are notoriously wary of outsiders doing hatchet jobs on them and their sport.
Meanwhile, poet Emma Purshouse’s success with the Black Country episode of ‘Tongue and Talk’ on Radio 4 – it was chosen as Pick of the Week – gave us an opening to pitch ‘One Ring to Bind Them’ to the production company as a 30-minute documentary (6). This also gave me the opportunity to get to know the wrestlers better (7), and out of that grew the idea of telling Scrubber’s story (8). And how did I get into working with folk on writing their memoirs? By being a stage manager (9), and working punk all-dayers for a friend who’d given one of my poetry books to Steve Ignorant of Crass (10) who loved it and asked me to help him write his life story The Rest is Propaganda (11). I’d never done anything like that, or even thought of doing it, but in the spirit of following my nose I said yes (12). Which is where we came in.
Anyway, the book’s great, you can get a copy here, and Scrubber’s a diamond with some great tales to tell.
Just don’t get in the ring with him, OK?