For any kid attending a British comprehensive school between 1971 and 1977, Richard Allen’s Skinhead books were required reading.
‘Richard Allen’ was actually a pseudonym used by Canadian-born UK writer James Moffat (1922 – 1993), who wrote at least 290 novels in several genres under at least 45 aliases, including Etienne Aubin, Roy Ferrier, JJ Moore and Trudi Maxwell.
Moffat began his literary career in Los Angeles speed-writing Westerns, detective novels and science fiction. At one time he was knocking out half a dozen novels a week.
After he moved to England, the books in his ‘Richard Allen’ series focused on youth subcultures of the late 1960s and 1970s – such as skinheads, hippies and bikers – but the books didn’t expose the lifestyle of youth to shocked and titillated adults; they were aimed at the kiddywinks themselves.
New English Libray specialised in publishing books concentrating solely on sex and violence, printing thousands of novels throughout the seventies. It became the spiritual home for James Moffat as Richard Allen, and if you had a smidgeon of cool, it was the NEL’s Skinhead wot provided your sex ‘n’ violence education.
Introducing super-thug cockney Joe Hawkins. If this bastard ever appeared in EastEnders, he would rape, kill or maim three-quarters of the cast before Ethel’s dog could say “strewf!”.
Skinhead has sold over a million copies since it was originally published, and virtually every teenager in 1970s Britain – whether they grew up in Harrogate or Hackney – read the book.
Hawkins consolidated the skinhead image as a London phenomenon and established very quickly that Mr Allen was not one of your wishy-washy liberal types.
Joe’s dad, docker Roy Hawkins, continues to vote Labour despite the ‘fact’ that “the long period of Tory rule had been the best in living memory”.
This crap, however, is unadulterated nicey-nicey compared to the filth that follows:
“He leant against the bar between two coloured men. The stink of the blacks made him sick . . . ‘Spades’ or ‘Wogs’ didn’t count. They were impositions on the face of a London that would always be white, Cockney, true-British . . .”
Joe isn’t too keen on flower power either.
“. . . the hippies . . . Those bastards! The bleedin’ Welfare State took care of them – grants if they were students, handouts from Social Security to pay fines for demonstrating and pot-taking.”
Joe beats up a youth club and has sex with a fourteen-year-old girl in front of her mother. Why? Because “his was a senseless world of violence for the sake of violence . . .”
Sadly Joe comes a cropper with the law, but all is not lost:
“Oh, the stupid bastards – didn’t they ever learn! Didn’t they know that his crime being publicised would make him the king of skinheads . . .”
“With a little help from their Moscow friends, the Love Generation learns to hate.”
Appalled at the hippy mob’s treatment of Plod’s poor old Dobbin, a Sgt Barrington remarks: “I’d like to use a cigarette end on those bastards myself!”
“Enough of that talk, Sergeant!” barks Inspector Trust.
Allen gets his usual National Front rant across in defence of apartheid and attacking the unions, the Race Relations Act, ‘coloured’ immigration and the EEC (which will let “a million Italians swarm after British jobs”).
A bunch of teenage super-scabs expose the Russian spy behind the generation gap, reducing all the hippy arguments to pulp with their cold incisive logic:
“But what about Mai Lai? If those GI’s murdered because they’d been taking pot then . . . the sooner we have global control of drugs with stiffer than stiff penalties . . . the better.”
This one was not a smash hit in the playground, man.
Part two of the Joe Hawkins saga, and in the foreword, Mr Allen insists that he doesn’t attempt to glorify Hawkins.
In Suedehead, Joe decides to better himself in prison. He learns book-keeping and after his release lies his way onto a stockbroking firm, gets a rich girlfriend, and supplements his wages with queer-bashing.
When Joe gets out of the nick he discovers that skinheads have disappeared, and so becomes a suedehead – sort of very violent mods who go around causing havoc at Chelsea matches with sharpened umbrellas.
“He thought the orange socks did something for his outfit . . . But the hidden glory was his underwear. God, if those sexy birds could only see his mauve jockey shorts and dyed emerald green vest”.
The book ends with Joe attacking an African speaker at Speaker’s Corner and getting four years.
“What would be the vogue when he stepped from those gates again? Would there be a new fad designed to capture his imagination?”
Does the Pope shit in the woods?
Skinhead Escapes (1972)
“In years to come,” Mr Allen tells us “, Joe Hawkins will probably be quoted as an example of this era we have named the Permissive Age”.
“She eyed his nakedness and grunted. ‘That’s terrific!’ she exclaimed. ‘It’ll fit,’ he said with a nonchalance she loathed.”
Mr Allen’s smooth bedroom patter is only matched by his eye for fashion:
“First, there was skinhead. Then came suedehead. Now it was boot boys . . . Squires, mohair trousers and a colourful pair of braces, he wore a Ben Sherman with round collar and a sheepskin coat. He felt right in the old groove standing next to Ginger in her check skirt down to her knees, her suede jacket with zip, her flat-heeled shoes with the crepe soles . . .”
This time, Joe offs a rozzer. Back to stir he goes, the naughty boy.
Skinhead Girls (1972)
Before launching into this “terrifying story of a bother girl”, Mr Allen takes the space to lecture his detractors.
“Teachers are out of touch with their pupils . . . far be it from me to instruct educationalists and others what book should, or should not, be placed on the selected examination lists . . .”
These delusions of grandeur would intensify.
“Joan Marshall was a skinhead girl at 15 with all the savagery and excitement that went with it”. “Her motto was ‘today is now. tomorrow is never'”.
Almost totally unreadable, this one.
Boot Boys (1972)
Allen’s finest moment, the blood ‘n’ bonking reaches epic proportions:
“Blood seeped from the man’s eye, from his ear. Groans like those of a pregnant cow about to abort filled his ears . . . Blood spurted. The fan slumped!”
“Pig stick the bastard, Tom, stretch him out bleeding, and you can fuck me!”
“Rolling in the aisles of degradation . . . the mob needed no verbal communication in order to manifest their base lusts. It was satanism at its worst – the worship of flesh . . .”
This is an awesome book.
“Smoothies,” pontificates Richard Allen, “should do much to heal the rift between various factions of the skinhead cult”.
The skinheads were a mob “bent on numerically superior aggro” but the smooth is “crawling from the slime advancement”.
Talk about talking down to your audience!
Dazzler Black is a “skinhead turned suede who’d forgotten how many paki’s he’d bashed, how many fuzz he’d kicked, how many girls he’d raped . . .”.
He became a smooth and his girlfriend, Joan Kerr, becomes a ‘sort’. This involves her wearing knitted stockings, pedal pushers, green clogs, Fair Isle sweaters and satin jackets.
I’d swear he’s actually inventing cults in this book.
Mr Allen concludes with a sympathetic and pornographic account of an attack on Ugandan Asians. Ugly.
Trouble For Skinhead (1973)
Or ‘What Skinhead Did On His Holidays’ . . .
He’s banged up in a cell with Basher and Danny the Rat. “I’ve never smashed a rozzer in me fucking life, mate,” Danny tells him.
Joe becomes an Arsenal fan after he sees on TV that West Ham has signed two black players. A black prisoner “laughs frenziedly”.
Joe has lots of torrid (strictly non-acid) flashbacks and then gets his teeth kicked in by his arch-enemy, Charlie McVey.
Teeny Bopper Idol (1973)
“The exploited kids were his passport to fame”. Donny Osmond clone Bobby Sharp is hyped into the charts by a team of pro-Lolitas who roam the country’s coffee bars conning the kids.
But Sharp is upstaged on a live TV show by ex-skinhead band Johnny Holland and The Jolly Green Men whose adventures continue in . . .
After their manager dissuades them from a bit of retrogressive racial violence, Johnny writes Aggro Addict, a tribute to skinheadery which makes the Top Ten.
Here Allen froths at the mouth.
If only Johnny Holland wasn’t so intent on selling out, he could use his Aggro Addict to whip up “a patriotic frenzy those who had opened the door to immigration could never know, a frenzy akin to self-destruction in a desire to right so many wrongs inflicted upon his fellow Englishmen . . .”
Enoch Powell is lauded, and The Jolly Green Men get to beat up lots of pop transvestites and gays.
Jews and lefties rate pretty low in Glam and the villain is a Jewish promoter who is forever trying to dent the career of Johnny Holland’s band.
Allen sounds desperate in the foreword – “How can anyone condemn the Skinhead books when, according to the letters received from countless thousand fans, the consensus is that they -and they alone – present skinheads, suedeheads, boot boys and . . . smooths as they really are?
What would their value be if every ‘terrace terror’ spoke and acted like an undergraduate of a theological college?”
The heroine of Sorts, Terry Hurdy is depicted as a fundamentally decent skinhead girl who gets mixed up with some wrong ‘uns at a folk festival. She isn’t too keen on the “drug dependence that seemed to infiltrate through every strata of folk”.
Sorts is Allen the racist at his foulest.
“A Pakistani dancer in national costume came into sight. Terry scowled . . . Recently she’d forgotten what it was like to be the butt of every liberal do-gooder’s loathing for trying to keep Britain white . . . if only Enoch was Prime Minister, she thought”.
But Terry eventually returns to the straight and narrow and marries the policeman who had arrested her – a decent man who enjoys a good punch-up as much as the next man.
Top Gear Skin (1974)
A ‘top gear skin’ is a skinhead with long hair, apparently. Roy Baird has pretty much the same outlook on life as Joe Hawkins.
“Her buttocks packed a pair of Levi’s with all excitement a bloke could imagine”.
Top Gear Skin was the last book Allen would use as a blatant platform for his right-wing worldview. Once again, he makes explicit references to the ‘problem’ of the Ugandan Asians, mirroring, as did all of his pseudo-political rantings, the line being put out by the National Front.
Skinhead Farewell (1974)
Obviously, someone somewhere was telling Richard Allen to tone down the Nazisms.
He can’t resist one last little dig, though, as Joe Hawkins, freshly escaped, sets off to Australia to revenge himself on his arch-enemy, Charlie McVey:
“Thanks to mismanagement by Heath and Wilson, these people were leaving their homeland for a better life. A chance to cast off regulations, freezes and union-dominated dictates that had pulled Britain down from an Empire power to a third-rate Moscow pulled puppet”.
Oh yes, and Joe Hawkins dies in a plane crash somewhere over Indonesia. Hooray.
Terrace Terrors (1974)
Dragon Skins (1975)
Yes, skinheads are good blokes!
In Terrace Terrors, ex-skins wipe out the problem of football hooliganism by kicking the shit out of ‘terrace terrors’.
This is a good thing because, as Allen points out, the ‘terrace terrors’ aren’t as nice as the skinheads:
“These thugs are not exuberant youth running wild during the formative years. They’re savages. Animals. Mad dogs to be put down. Vicious, sadistic louts without an iota of common decency”.
See? Nothing like skinheads.
Dragon Skins cashes in on the Bruce Lee Kung Fu craze whilst trotting out the same old crap.
Knuckle Girls (1977)
This is the third book in which Allen attempts to write for his female readers.
This he does by cutting out the sex scenes.
After giving an unsolicited plug to David Soul’s music, Allen bungs his heroine in chokey.
“Ina’s knuckles bounced off . . . front teeth . . . It was going to be a hard time, for the other inmates”.
On the plus side, Leeds is destroyed in Chapter 5.
Punk Rock (1977)
“The punks were on the march, and the Teds were out to knobble them . . .”
Richard Allen just could not handle punk. It completely did his head in.
His hero, journalist Raymond Kerr, wears cheesecloth shirts and listens to David Soul.
Ray’s arch-enemy is Steve Pepper, a scumbag hack for music fanzine Spins who got his job through blackmail and who fills the pages of Spins with foul language and pictures of naked 15-year-olds with safety pins through their skin.
Continuing his ruthless exposé of the biz that he started in Teeny Bopper Idol, Allen reveals that punk is just another attempt to exploit the kids.
Allen ends the book with a massive Ted v Punks riot.
Sadly for old Dick, back in the real world, punk was the ‘fad’ that spawned Rock Against Racism, and the only street battle worthy of the name was the National Front getting kicked off the streets of Lewisham by a multi-racial crowd.
Joe Hawkins would have spun in his grave.
The reclusive Allen (Moffat) explained in his later years that he had killed off the character of Joe Hawkins in Skinhead Farewell because he was becoming too closely identified with the National Front, which wanted the author to portray Joe as a member of the organisation. “This was not on. Joe was a patriot, not a political idiot”.
Allen also said that he had wanted to write other skinhead novels but his publishers no longer wanted to be seen as “skinhead supporters”.