A Tale of Two Birminghams

Birmingham Hotel, 8pm, October 7th, 2006:

Marching Orders
Slick 46
Standard Union [SA]

Slick 46 play “working class punk”; Marching Orders hate dirty, lousy, stinking “traitors” and Standard Union reckon “Our slogan is ‘Unionism Not Racism’.”

‘NOEL MARTIN’S FINAL STRUGGLE : Neo-Nazi Victim Battling to the Death’
Roman Heflik in Birmingham
Spigel Online
September 29, 2006

Noel Martin plans to take his own life in less than a year. Just over 10 years ago, a neo-Nazi attack left him paralyzed from the neck down. He plans to fight right-wing extremists to the very end.

Noel Martin has only 297 days left. But time, he says, is also limited for the neo-Nazis who ruined his life.

Noel Martin has already chosen July 23, 2007 to be the day he dies. On that evening, his pulse will gradually slow down until it stops completely. He has decided to die as a result of a lethal blend of drugs — administered in Switzerland by Dignitas, an organization that offers its clients medically assisted suicide…

The attack occurred on June 16, 1996 in Mahlow, a town in the former East German state of Brandenburg where the dark-skinned, Jamaican-born Briton was employed as a construction worker. A stone crashed through the windshield of his car and Martin’s car veered off the road. He remembers seeing a tree careening towards him and jerking the steering wheel…

Two young Germans, Sandro R. and Mario P., had thrown a lump of concrete at Martin’s car. They were 17 and 24 years old at the time and their motive was “explicit xenophobia,” as a court later determined. They were sentenced to five and eight years in prison. Noel Martin never got an apology, but by now he doesn’t care any more. “It would be a waste of time. God will take care of them,” he says, “life will take care of them.” Both of his attackers are now free. But Martin is still imprisoned — in his own body.

The attack left Noel Martin paralyzed from the neck down. “I am not a part of life,” he says, 10 years and three months later, “I just exist.” At home in Birmingham, he leans his heavy head against the headrest of his giant wheelchair. He fixes his weary eyes on his interviewer. “Everything has to be figured out by your head. It’s torture, mental torture,” he sighs. Martin will never be able to move his arms or legs again and he’ll never be able to feel what his fingertips touch. He’ll never have sex again, never go to the toilet by himself. Nor will he ever feel his own heartbeat…

Right-wing extremists, for their part, see it as a provocation that he is still alive. One of their Internet forums features a post by a neo-Nazi urging Martin to burn himself alive on a market square, noting that this would save money. The author of the post adds that he would be “happy to donate the gasoline.” What does Martin think about the neo-Nazis? “Foolish people who know nothing about life. They love white skin, but they lie down in the sun to get a tan.” He says to let them talk — after all, there is such a thing as freedom of speech. “I wasn’t afraid of them then, and I’m not afraid of them now,” he says.

Black people still aren’t safe in Brandenburg today, 10 years after the attack on Noel Martin. “The government should make sure everyone can go wherever they want and be safe,” he says. Martin knows how far-reaching the problem is. The first time he heard the word “nigger” was decades ago, back home, in the British industrial town of Birmingham…

The right-wing extremists may well celebrate his death as a late triumph, but Noel Martin takes a very different view. “I have some bad news for those people,” Martin says. He raises his head and his voice as if he were preparing to give a speech: “Of the 6 billion people in the world, 5 billion are people of color. Sooner or later they’ll all mix.” He grins. “Who knows? Maybe the children of these Nazis will marry a black man or a black woman one day?”

He likes the idea. The [neo-]Nazis are running out of time — with or without Noel Martin.

STAGE BOTTLES : Real Skinhead

    Oi! You stupid bastards just wake up
    And think about
    Where your culture comes from
    Oi! It’s not just having fights
    Dancing and drinking
    Dressing up and owning many records

    Oi! It’s fighting back
    So you should feel
    Like a suburban rebel
    Oi! Social difference is the reason
    Employees are still exploited

    Real Skinhead

    Oi! Fred Perry was a Jew and Levi, too
    Black music
    The movement source
    Oi! Is kicking out the stupid racists
    So let the kids be united
    Oi! Don’t influence the younger ones
    By telling much
    Without saying anything
    Oi! Skinhead’s not a stupid culture
    Your’re not allowed
    To switch your brain off

    Real Skinhead

    Oi! You’re singing songs about a teenage warning
    About not showing the white flag
    Oi! Don’t talk about a way of life
    Though for you
    There’s no deeper meaning
    Oi! Is feeling pride
    But just posing
    Is no reason to be proud
    Oi! So skinhead is a different thing
    Your infiltration will be stopped

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
This entry was posted in Anti-fascism, Collingwood, History, Music. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Tale of Two Birminghams

  1. we R right says:

    [The author of this deleted comment does not like black people, apparently…]

  2. Wee Jin Suk says:

    Hey @!

    you seem to define yourself these days online by what you are not. Okay you are definitely not a fash. You cant wait for bonehead cells to implode on themselves and end up dead, in jail or in the army like they did in the 80s. Thats fine its an important campaign, but what about the local music/punk scene and the global politics and culture you support??
    In a sense you are glorifying your enemy with the amount of attention you give them, a lot of what you report on would be off the media radar (like ISD concert, I had no idea it was his anniversary until you brought it up) because Nazism is a spent 20th century force, Jews and North Atlantic whites now work together to control the rest of the world with force so the really powerful extreme right are capitalist neocons, much more difficult opponents than a bunch of retro chic bootboys drinking beer.
    Is anarchy still relevant?? Is anarchy by definition a lack of relevance between two surfaces and the third force that would occur between them if they became relevant?

  3. @ndy says:

    Hi Wee.

    1) “What about the local music/punk scene and the global politics and culture you support?”

    What about ’em? The local punk scene — or reactionary segments thereof — is intimately involved with The Birmingham, and provide it their full support. Further, The Birmy is located smack-bang in the middle of Collingwood/Fitzroy — a part of the city that is diverse ethnically and culturally, and has been associated with Melbourne’s alternative art, literature, music, politics and theatre since at least the 1970s. Indeed, prior to the emergence of student bohemia in the 1960s/70s, and the yuppie invasion that followed closely on its heels (80s/90s), Fitzroy and Collingwood were (and are) home to many migrant communities. They also have long histories as proudly working class suburbs, including strong communities with more commitment to working class solidarity than the scabs who play and drink at The Birmy could ever hope to even pretend having (even if they can — sometimes — mouth the words).

    As for “global politics”… Well, B&H are a foreign import from the UK, part of an international network which has a presence in many countries: Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Flanders (Belgium), France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, USA… and more besides, probably. In other words, even though there is a local focus — B&H Australia, The Birmingham Hotel and Collingwood — there is a global / international dimension too.

    In essence, comrades overseas tackle those mobs, whereas I’m much better placed to monitor things over here.

    (Ditto the Hammerskins.)

    2) I don’t “glorify” B&H; I mock them. In fact, I seriously doubt anyone could read what I’ve written and conclude that I wish to “glorify” the

    stupid

    boneheaded

    neo-Nazi

    fools

    that constitute B&H and the Southern Cross Hammerskins.

    And if I report on things that are “off the radar”… well, that’s a good thing. Part of my reason for drawing attention to the annual Ian Stuart is Dead (ISD) Celebration is precisely in order to place it ON the radar. But if the next B&H gig IS public — it won’t be, they’re too paranoid — then I’ll happily direct (some of) my energies elsewhere…

    3) Yes, Nazism is spent; probably has been since Hitler decided to invade Russia. (D’oh!) Fascism, on the other hand, is alive and well, especially in its heartland of Europe.

    4) “Jews and North Atlantic whites now work together to control the rest of the world with force so the really powerful extreme right are capitalist neocons, much more difficult opponents than a bunch of retro chic bootboys drinking beer.”

    They do? Huh. I never knew.

    (I profoundly disagree.)

    As far as I can tell, it may be that the neo-con project may be unraveling: things just ain’t working out in Iraq! (Or Afghanistan, for that matter.) And who makes the more difficult opponent depends on the context. ‘Retro chic boot boys’ — as you call them — spend more time drinking in Melbourne pubs with their ‘non-political’ mates than, say, Paul Wolfowitz does.

    And if you enjoy drinking in pubs — especially rock ‘n’ roll venues — without being molested by boneheads, that’s a problem.

    5) “Is anarchy still relevant?”

    Yes. More than ever.

    “Is anarchy by definition a lack of relevance between two surfaces and the third force that would occur between them if they became relevant?”

    No. And it never has been.

    Cheers,

    @ndy.

  4. Boof Head says:

    Come on Andrew you red maggot, admit to everyone that the image you posted with your pathetic article was not from The Birmingham Hotel AT ALL!

    You dont want to look like the twat you are or anything I guess.

  5. @ndy says:

    Ben,

    It’s a little known but nevertheless true fact that, in anticipation of yr remarks above, in 1982 Chumbawamba recorded (as ‘Skin Disease’) a song for inclusion on the ‘Back On The Streets’ EP.

    Here are the lyrics:

    I’m thick (Repeat)

    http://www.geocities.com/q-25.geo/sdback.html

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.