Tony Allen will be talking about his new book 'A Summer in the Park - A Journal of Speakers'Corner' this Thursday 23rd September 6pm at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton. It's free and the radical bookshop will be open and the
café will be serving tea, coffee and biscuits. The bar will be open at
8pm for Cowley Club members and their guests.
Here's one review of his book.
Tony Allen's account of the "take-no-prisoners gladiatorial
confrontation" that is Speakers' Corner. "I park my ladder on the
junction of the walkway under the plane trees and shout at people to go
away and leave me alone. A crowd gathers."I have been arguing with Tony
Allen for over thirty years. In other words, I know the author of A
Summer in the Park, and I'm aware that some unscrupulous writers have
reviewed their own work under a pseudonym, or coerced distant relatives
to script eulogies to their published offerings. Neither, I stress, is
the case with this review.
Generally speaking to know Tony is to argue with him. He has raised
cantankerousness to a fine art, and turned it into a profession. In
blatant opposition to the dress code of 1970's bohemia, Allen donned a
diner jacket and launched himself on a crusade; to take radical
politics into working men's clubs. He invented the term Alternative Comedy, and
has shaped much of its terrain. To sharpen his wit Allen pursued a
parallel career at Speakers Corner, a small tarmaced space, in the
centre of London. Once the site of public hangings, it continues to
offer a weekly ritual of public discussion, banter and humiliation, for
performers and audiences alike.
From his milk-crate anarchist platform Allen regularly berated global
capitalism, and denounced the folly of work. In 1999 he wholeheartedly
revised a stock theme 'the end of the world is nigh', and predicted
the collapse of Western civilization, undermined by the millennium bug. In
December of that year he fled to the hills to wait Armageddon, only to
return shamefaced some months latter.
During his country repose Allen continued to harass the authorities.
Learning of an Arts Council proposal; to offer grants to 1,000 artists,
to do their own public thing, he submitted an application: to promote
the art of heckling at Speaker's Corner. Much to his surprise, the
bureaucrats accepted his challenge.
'A Summer in the Park' is Allen's account of his career as a government sponsored Advocate Heckler; available from midday each Sunday, to teach the techniques of banter to newcomers, and heckleon behalf of shyer members of the public. It is an hilarious account of the techniques and vulnerabilities of the art of performance, and a
manifesto for Allen's anarchic Utopia, in which tolerance and opposition
are freely intertwined with the exploration of ideas. Assuming that
Allen is incorrect in his revised prediction: that the world will now
end in 2025, a Summer in the Park, will offer future generations a
wonderful insight into Londoners' concerns at the cusp of the
millennium. For the rest of us it's a fucking good giggle.
* Another book talk the following Thursday (30th September) 6-8pm at the Cowley Club
Mick from No Sweat, will be talking about the work of the direct action
campaign against sweatshop labour and about their recently published
comic. The comic is loosely based on real events that took place in a
Mexican garment factory in 2001, when hundreds of sweatshop workers
took on their bosses, the police, a truly rotten judiciary and big
corporations including Nike. Despite this impressive force ranged
against them, they won. With your help, other workers can take on the
corporations and local bosses and win again. Come and find out how. To
check out the comic www.nosweat