I feel like Alan Minter

I feel like Alan Minter. It’s bit of graffiti that has always made me think. It is scrawled in white spray paint on some corrugated iron sheeting, somewhere around Falconwood on the Charing Cross to Dartford line.

I still don’t know what it means. Did the author FEEL like Alan Minter or did they just feel like Alan Minter. I probably will never know. Usually graffiti is just a set of tags, names of who was here. Sometimes a witty statement, sometimes a surreal one, trying too hard.

It’s a line I’ve travelled on many times, far too many for my liking. In the good old days, before health and safety went mad, trains were made up of the old post-war carriages, painted blue. The ones where you could open the door anytime you liked. I miss the days when commuters could open the doors whist the train was still pulling into Charing Cross and hop off before it had stopped. Either we were more sensible back then or collateral damage was acceptable, knowing that if those that willingly sacrificed themselves grew up, they’d just do something muppety in the future.

Hundreds of doors opening in unison. Commuters disgorging in their thousands. The train emptied before it even came to a halt. It also meant that, if on leaving work you couldn’t face another day in the office, you could jump from the train to certain death at anytime on your way home. I never saw anyone do this. I guess everyone was too sensible. I did however, on several occasions see businessmen, suited and booted, urinate out of the window as the train hurtled between stations. I assumed they had got tanked up after work and instead of getting off before their stop to find a toilet, they preferred to take this drastic action so as not to have to hang around for the next train.

This usually happened on the late night run. And I can understand why. If it was the last one, your only other option if you got off was the night bus. A long wait followed by an hour or so trip home. The seats on the night bus were made from highly durable plastic so they could be hosed down to remove the urine and faeces from the night before. Usually the back seat was occupied by the obligatory pissed couple having a shag amid this cesspool. A fun trip home. I’d rather walk.

Usually I only got the last train home after visiting the Marquee club in Tottenham Court Road. Walking down to Charing Cross, shouting loudly to friends in a vain attempt to communicate. Our hearing destroyed by the speaker system and the over enthusiastic band that was playing that night.

On getting home, as a teenager sleep was not on the cards. First up on the tele was Tour of Duty, a highly dubious Vietnam War soap opera, much akin to the A Team. Each week would see Sarge, somehow stranded behind enemy lines. Sometimes it was a helicopter crash, others an ambush, others a malfunctioning teleportation machine. Each week he’d make it out alive after taking out numerous gooks. Like Star Trek, you knew who was going to die. They weren’t identified by their red shirts, but rather by very clean combat fatigues and an inability to do as Sarge ordered.

If that didn’t put you to sleep next up was, Hit man and Her. A televised club night hosted by Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan. Bad production values, bad programme. If you’d sat through Tour of Duty this probably wouldn’t be your bag. If sleep still didn’t beckon after this shambles, all that was left was hours of Job Finder. Ceefax, endlessly displaying the same six crappy jobs.

It’s interesting to see how these influences have permeated through my life. Some of my favourites photographers are the photojournalists who covered the Vietnam war, Larry Burrows, Don McCullin, Henri Huet, Kent Potter. I still have little or no interest in dance music, Pete Waterman or Michaela Strachan, and really don’t give a toss about my crappy job.

And as for buses covered in human faeces. That’s not really my thing.

But do I feel like Alan Minter? I really can’t tell, and probably will never know.


  1. Lyric from a song by The Fall called "Fit and Working Again":

    I feel like Alan Minter
    I just ate eight sheets of blotting paper
    And I tripped out on the Alka Seltzer

  2. I don't know if you still run this blog but I might be able to enlighten you. Did you know that this same graffiti was written in huge letters across a bridge on the Northbound M1 around Leighton Buzzard? I also wondered what the hell it meant. It was there for years. Talking to a boxing enthusiast friend of mine he suggested it was written soon after Alan fought Marvin Hagler and got ten bells punched out of him. Does this help?

  3. That has solved one of the many mysteries in my life. Thanks.


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