Thursday, 28 January 2010


TFE's writing prompts are always so fruitful. I would say that the poems I've written to his prompts have been some of the best I've done in the last 6 months. Also he's such a good nudger...I think I've been wanting to write the poem below for ages, for example, but I only got round to it this week thanks to his latest idea.

This week TFE has Nuala NĂ­ ChonchĂșir and her book 'Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car' at his blog (she was here last Friday or so, remember) and so he's asked us all to try and write something to the 'red car' theme. It's not something I would have thought of doing myself (cars have been a real problem to me in the last 10 years) but OK...he says 'do' I do. (Though it was only after writing the poem that I reread TFE's post and realised that the task was "have the words 'red car' in it"...mine only has 'red' and not 'car' but I can't change it now...and anyway what's a little rule-bending between friends?).

Luckily I had a red car once...back in the mid 1990s (back in the days when I drove regularly and with pleasure). Here's a tiny picture of one just like it (and yes, mine was that dirty too):

It was a Volvo 340, quite middle-of-the-road and staid and that was weird because this was during one of the very non-staid phases of my adult life (much clubbing, much madness, very little sleep). My DJ partner and I (for visuals of us back then see here and nip down a bit) used to turn up at the trendiest places in this very untrendy car and god knows what other people thought of us for it. I suppose in retrospect it was some kind of anti-fashion statement but I didn't really think about it at the time. It was just a car. It was cheap. We were never stopped by the police in it (though the fashion police...well...).

Anyway, here's the poem. There are several references in it that you won't get if you weren't around that particular clubscene at the time (Vague at the Leeds Warehouse) and really I suppose there are some references that only Daisy & Havoc will understand (that was me and her). It was a funny old time – wild and so many ways. The club was run by eejits with overblown senses of their own importance of course...but then what nightclub isn't? You can't have everything.

This poem's for Georgia.

Here come the girls (DJ memory mix)

It's the coolest club in town
And we arrive hot
And safe
Cushioned in red volvo
OAP sofas for seats

We slam the old boot down
Stride past the panting queue
And drop those metal boxes
To the cobbles with attitude

RF 2010


p.s. I would have posted a pic of my old record box at the top (covered in stickers and all that of course) but I can't find it to photograph. I think it may be buried in the garage somewhere (apt I suppose).


Liz said...

Love the 'oompf'feel of the last line...jam-packed...can envision make-shift seats...had that too! ; )

Rachel Fox said...

Maybe that's a bit misleading...they weren't make-shift seats. We just used to joke they were sofas because they were so comfy. We did a lot of miles in that car...down to London clubs (and back in the same night sometimes)...all over the place.


Rachel Fox said...

Glad you like the's a very distinctive sound (chucking a full record box down onto the hard ground). I can remember it very clearly (possibly much more than some of the records...).

swiss said...

ah, the old days! i too had a volvo and i used to get all manner of stick for it.

i like these trips down memory lane tho. the record box thing just says insouciance to me every time!

Rachel Fox said...

A volvo! We have a lot in common, then don't we, Swiss?

Your record box must be better read though because, as you see, mine just says 'bang'.

I worked in a record shop called Record Box too.

Memory lane is getting longer, isn't it...


Eryl said...

It's interesting that in being shoved out of your usual zone you feel you are writing your best stuff. Interesting, too, that a poem can be made out of something so unpoetic as a red car.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I don't know if it's my best ever or anything but it's certainly my best of late. Were you around for TFE's Monday poem tasks last year Eryl (Sept/Oct 09)?

As for red cars and the poetic...I believe quite strongly that everything is subject matter for poetry (or it can be). It's only once you put it in a poem that it's poetic really...isn't it? There's no reason a car is any less poetic than, say, a floral display, is there?


The Weaver of Grass said...

Like it Rachel. I had missed this TFE challenge, shall now go and read about it.

Jim Murdoch said...

There’s nothing wrong with this poem. It’s pretty good actually. But I’m finding it hard to connect with. This is a completely alien world to me, one I have no doubt I would have loved if I could have got over my own self-consciousness and let my hair down. I made a point of jumping to the poem and then reading the article. To my mind it’s not fair to the poem to read the background to it first. It can make it seem like a much better piece than it is. You’re right. There are people who will read this and know exactly what you’re on about. Just not me. I have never been to a club in my life and so few discos I wouldn’t even need to take my shoes and sock off to count them.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Weaver...get that car out of the garage!

And Jim...I have done a lot of letting-down the fact I think I've barely had my hair up! I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And it's never too late.


undeleted said...

"Cushioned in red volvo"

Love that line. That old thing was built like a tank wasn't it? I even remember the license - MAG 79 5V?

Of course it was mainly delivering magazines to Bradford in the middle of the night at that point.


Rachel Fox said...

I can't remember the registration! Not at all.

And I should point out they were very worthy alternative news and entertainments magazines - nothing dodgy!


Dominic Rivron said...

Love the way BANG fits in there.

Yours is not the only contibution to merely allude to a red car - swiss' did too. I wish I'd thought of so doing, of sort of hiding a "red car" in the poem.

Pure Fiction said...

I like this - the succinctness of it, the way it's so sparse and sharp, but it still manages to conjure up a feeling of a particular place and time.
Drove a mint green volvo 440 in the nineties meself - looking back at it now it seems strangely retrospectively cool.

hope said...

I can just envision the "attitude" that sound carried. :)

Karen said...

I love the attitude!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Memories, like the corners of my mind, misty watercolour memories of no shit takin Dj's in their incongrous paradoxical so uncool it's cool heated seated swedish shed.Liked it!

Totalfeckineejit said...

incongruous i mean ms proof reader :)

Rachel Fox said...

Dominic - working on your task too. It's proving a bit more like hard work!

PF - hello! Funnily enough Daisy got a mint green Volvo after both my red one and my driving went out of the window, as it were. And yes, we are always cooler in retro! Though Vague was a 'cool' club it was like any workplace in many ways - wars of the sexes, power struggles, fall-outs, bullshit fests...the 'attitude' in this poem is not quite what it seems (partluy).

Hope and Karen (see above).

TFE - if only we had not taken any shit. In fact we took quite a lot! But I'm sure we gave some too...


Rachel Fenton said...

I love the contrasting imagery in it - plus the many meanings of "hot" in the context of the volvo!

Was even better after I'd looked at the pics and gave it a second read! Go girl!

Rachel Fenton said...

Oh, and I like the volvo link to the title poem of Nuala's "Portrait...." collection...nice link.

Rachel Fox said...

It's an odd one this, Rachel. It is exactly what it appears...but it is quite a lot of other poems too. In fact for a smallish poem it's working very hard.

Kat Mortensen said...

Love the poem, Rachel. It is insouciant (that's the word that comes to mind).
I would show up at clubs in a huge boat of a thing - a midnight blue Impala from 1977! It carried a posse and people got out of my way.

You're so right! TFE's nudges are truly inspirational, aren't they?


Niamh B said...

ye'll have to reform for one last gig, great poem, captures the excitement and pride of the moment

Rachel Fox said...

It's easier to feel pride a distance. At the time I had very mixed feelings about the whole thing. DJing was a very macho thing a lot of the time - in fact the reason we started doing it was the local dance pirate radio station didn't have any female DJS to begin with and I thought that was...just wrong. I never really intended to play in clubs but we got some work and then we were caught up in know the sketch. Even though the club we worked at mainly had more female DJs than average we still had a lot of the same issues at work that women can come across anywhere. Plus we were only ever really on the edges of the in-crowd (thank god!) and that was a bit of an issue too.

Still, it had its fun moments. We had some good times.


Titus said...

Phew, got here at last. Computer seems to be in its death-throes, so back to the hated laptop. Feel a bit like the panting queue.
First boyfriend had a Volvo, looked very similar to your photo. Deeply embarassed travelling in it, but it was... safe and comfortable.

Loved the poem, but it's those final two lines that really do it for me. And love the title.

Funny these places TFE takes us, and I think the same about many of his prompts.
Me too for Dominic, but I fancy the technology might not allow at present. If it does, see you there! Alternatively, I'm just going outside and I may be some time!

Rachel Fox said...

I see...Essex girls expect better than a Volvo. Co Durham girls appreciate any wheels...much lower expectations! Well automobile-wise anyway.

Titus said...

Yeah, well, it wasn't white and it didn't have spoilers. Or a soft top.

Argent said...

I actually heard the BANG in that last bit! Clearly, I haven't lived, never been to a club or anything but would have loved to have the necessary "attitude". Great poem.

Rachel Fox said...

Never been to a Though there are many things I've never done...heroine, bungee jumping, sking, singing solo at the Albert Hall...yes, many, many things.

Shaun said...

"We were never the girl DJs known for our looks"

.....I think Daisy is gorgeous!!

Shaun - Manchester.

Rachel Fox said...

Well, I'll tell her and I'm sure she'll be very pleased!