Hello. I'm John Barker. I was born in London and I still live here. My prison memoir, Bending the Bars was published in 2002.
Over the years, in between other projects I've spent time working on the novel Futures which is set in 1987. The manuscript has undergone several revisions and have already been published to enthusiastic reviews in French (Grasset) and German (DuMont). The striking similarities with the present financial crisis have prompted me to try and get it published in English. Working in collaboration with PM Press, I'm now raising money to publish Futures in a range of formats.
My writing has also appeared both online and in print, in places like, Mute Magazine, 3ammagazine, Adbusters, Edinburgh Review and Variant. For the last two years I have been collaborating on the political art project Not Dressed for Conquering: Loomshuttles Warpaths with Ines Doujak.
Carol aka Simone, is a small-time cocaine dealer and single mother. Phil and Jack, friends since school days are financial analysts, one speculates in dollars, the other with gold - and both use cocaine. Gordon Murray and his brothers Derek and Keith have evolved into 'successful' business men and are at the top of the cocaine supply chain.
Phil and Jack have a fantasy of developing a cocaine Futures market. A hurricane and simultaneous stock market crash in October 1987 bring the worlds of Carol, Phil, Jack and the criminal Murray family colliding and not all ends well.
WHERE WILL THE FUNDS GO?
Your backing does two things: it helps create a different publishing and distribution model for producing well written, radical fiction books like Futures and it gets the book into the hands of people - you - who want to read it. PM Press don't have the resources of a big publisher: which means that the constraints are in different places and it'll take some creativity and, importantly, your support in making Futures a success.
So specifically, your backing pays for skilled and experienced people to do the following work:
- final proofreading
- design of cover and internal pages
- obtaining ISBN numbers
- printed in the USA on recycled paper by the Employee Owners of Thomson-Shore in Dexter, Michigan
- creating and formatting e-Book versions
- distribution in the USA and UK
COLLABORATION WITH PM PRESS
PM Press love this book, but publishing books in the age of Amazon is a difficult business. More than difficult, it is becoming a race to the bottom. Which means that small, independent publishers like PM Press need your support to get radical, well-written books published and promoted. We want to make sure that everyone who works on this book gets paid a decent wage - from the author, designers, copy-editors, printers, distributors and promoters.
In the 19th century books were produced on a subscriber model - fast forward a few hundred years and by pledging £20 or more you not only support an excellent publishing project, you also get a signed copy of the book (plus e-book) delivered to your door and in the process we create and produce quality radical books together.
MORE ABOUT BENDING THE BARS AND THE ANGRY BRIGADE
“You canʼt reform proﬁt capitalism and inhumanity. Just kick it till it breaks.”—Angry Brigade, communiqué 1970
Between 1970 and 1972, the Angry Brigade used guns and bombs in a series of symbolic attacks against property. A series of communiqués accompanied the actions, explaining the choice of targets and the Angry Brigade philosophy: autonomous organisation and attacks on property alongside other forms of militant working class action. Targets included the embassies of repressive regimes, police stations and army barracks, boutiques and factories, government departments and the homes of Cabinet ministers, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. After other bombings, arrests took place followed by the longest conspiracy trial in the history of the British legal system. At the conclusion of the trial of the Stoke Newington Eight (this refers to the eight people eventually tried for conspiracy and weapons possession) twenty-three-year-old John Barker received a ten-year sentence for his role in the Angry Brigade. Deemed a Category A prisoner – A Danger to the State, Barker was locked up and rotated through several British prisons. After completion of seven years of this sentence (1971-1978), Barker was released. Bending the Bars is a collection of autobiographical stories covering those seven years inside.
Bending the Bars is available from Active Distribution
'Prison books often offer readers moral platitudes....likewise books by and about political prisoners are sometimes deliberately designed to build a hierarchical cult around wronged martyrs....John Barker's book is different since he uses a class rather than a moral perspective.' - Stuart Home, MUTE Magazine
The Angry Brigade: A History of Britain's First Urban Guerilla Group is available from PM Press
This documentary, produced by Gordon Carr for the BBC (and first shown in January 1973, shortly after the trial), covers the roots of the Angry Brigade in the revolutionary ferment of the 1960s, and follows their campaign and the police investigation to its culmination in the “Stoke Newington 8” conspiracy trial at the Old Bailey. Produced after extensive research—among both the libertarian opposition and the police—it remains the essential study of Britain's first urban guerilla group.
SNEAK PEEKS FROM FUTURES
"We're looking for the public's help on this one Gordon, to combat this evil," Curtis said.
Now that is code for you. Now I was a member of the public, what I call an MPP, a mug of preposterous proportions. I asked him if he thought I could help while I livened up his drink and felt a sudden impulse to drag him down the gym for a work-out all scotched up. He's as sharp as a rat, Graham is, but he's overweight and not very healthy which does no one any good. I mean who wants the cardiac arrest of a guy you're paying grands to: of a guy who can ridicule the suggestion that Gordon Murray has got anything to do with anything from behind a plastic cup of scotch: of a guy who can convince any junior zealot that Gordon Murray isn't worth a moment of anyone's attention, which is what counts when manpower shortage is the name of the game. I mean who wants it? Keith maybe. Wouldn't mind Curtis stiff and purple at the bottom of the wall bars because that Five stretch did embitter him. Think of your wife and kids I keep telling him. Two he's got, Keith, a boy and a girl. Plus I drop hints to Graham, I even thrust a BMA report under his nose one time but it didn't do any good. It's like the cunt actually likes having a belly.
"That's up to you of course Gordon," he said.
And I wondered. I have to say that at that moment in time I did wonder about Graham's long-term viability. It wasn't just the health question but knowing that Her Majesty's Customs and Excise Branch have recently received a large injection of capital and Graham doesn't cut much ice with them.
I looked at his shifty eyes across the table and decided that a long-term investment couldn't be dumped, not just like that. If there's one thing my nearly ex-Investment Advisor's emphasised it's to keep your nerve with an investment you really fancy. Besides which I could expect some short-term gains from Curtis at a time when Mickey White was giving me the hump like he was. Mouthy bastard. Robs this and fences that and with enough bevies inside him calls me a no-good cunt in The Ripened Hop.
So I started to tell him how it was, being a club owner. One of my first investments in fact. At one stage I had my doubts but the last two or three years it's come up trumps.
His eyes were greedy out of his pudgy cheeks.
"With a Club up West one can't help but pick up a few bits and pieces," I said.
"It's exactly the bits and pieces that can help up make the whole picture, like a jigsaw," he said filling his pipe. It may be good for the image but I wanted to say, You don't have to come that pipe shit here Graham, have a Dunhill. I checked myself, at the end of the day you've got to go by the rules. If there were no rules where the fuck would we be.
PHIL AND JACK
"You know what Phil?"
"No rhetorical questions Jack, you know the rules."
It was true, they'd made that rule as fifteen-year-olds in a shared dorm. Only Phil could be a mite fanatical.
"All right then, a statement. Mr Jack Sharp, well-known city analyst, has it in mind to open a Cocaine Futures Market."
Phil's head stayed close to the mirror. "Tricky. American policy hard to gauge. Statistics messy," he said.
"Agreed but if you joined up, I was thinking of a modernist floor, plenty of mirrors, if you joined what position would you take?"
"It's the old story isn't it, our game, market forces overlaid by intermittent political action. Take the Americans for example, they're making a more sustained effort than usual. Aircraft gunships they've had in Bolivia."
"Can't see how they can push it, not with the collapse of the Tin price which they had a big hand in. I mean what are they going to do with all those Tin miners out on their ear, bump them all off before they reach the Coca fields?"
"True, but they have an uncanny knack for getting stuck in their own rhetoric. I mean now you've got the whole of the White House trooping off to piss for the analysts and if they're prepared to look ridiculous, they must be serious," Phil said. He hunched closer to the mirror, snorted his line, and came up again. "So why is this, we ask ourselves. Worry about the rifeness of crack amongst young executives?"
"The crack is fierce," Jack said. He laughed loudly and bent for his own line.
"So they say. Supposed to be like free-basing. I've tried that a few times. Very nice but heavy on the pocket and a bit rough on the working week."
Jack asked if this wasn't a marginal issue. Surely there weren't that many executives at it.
"Marginal, what's marginal in this day and age. Another consideration is their attitude to all that Miami money."
"What do you mean, Miami money? Might just as well say New York or London, all the same stuff."
"Disagree. World of difference between massive wealth accruing to some gold-chained Colombian and a WASP in Defence Contracts."
"So they get it laundered, all comes out in the wash." "Tricky business these days, laundering. Follow money catchee monkey. That's the law enforcement slogan of the month. Otherwise I'd be tempted myself. On the other hand while they're making such a fuss about it, how much dosh are we really talking about? Say in comparison to the Federal budget deficit. I spend half my time wondering if they really worry about that deficit and it's the fact the Japs are financing it."
"Not a lot. Still full marks to the Japs, I was on to that Hirohito commemorative gold coin like a shot. Did my precious metal a power of good for a while."
"Hirohito? I thought he was some old fascist, Bridge Over the River Kwai."
"Rehabilitated, all water under the bridge."
"Is that right Jack, is that right. What I'm saying is that at the end of the day the American attitude is that a Colombian is a spic. Get us some water Jack, and why don't you stay the night. Don't know how you manage the travelling."
"Wouldn't mind. Will this shirt pass muster another day?"
"No problem. Water for pity's sake."
Jack went to the kitchen and filled a jug from an Evian bottle. It was the least he could do. He found a lacquered tray propped up on the kitchen unit, two tall glasses and a bowl into which he put ice cubes from the Freezer. Virtuous and efficient. What a pleasant feeling.
Phil was sprawled out in the dining area. The tray went heavy.
"Fancy a Benedictine to take off the edge?"
"Where's the edge?"
"Over the top," Phil roared. "Just like that Alan Lewis I mentioned. Once had a coup with a notch up in US Treasury Base Rate. Been living off it ever since but it's wearing a bit thin these days. Should have packed up eighteen months ago but he's an addict. Won't find me hanging on past my sell-by date."
"Old analysts never die."
"A bit on my own account maybe, just following my nose."
"If you've still got one left. Maybe you can get it insured."
"What? Oh, my nose. Don't worry about that Jack, I plan to keep it in good nick. For one thing I quite fancy being the quality arbiter when you get your coke floor set up."
"An assayer. Wonderful."
"The guys who check the quality of my precious metal. A Jewish mafia," Jack said. There appeared to be no sign of the promised Benedictine. He got up to look for the bottle.
"Hey Jack, you think there's Japanese Jews?" The prospect was staggering. Jack grabbed for the good-looking bottle in the Drinks cabinet.
CAROL aka SIMONE
At 6.42 the next evening Phil was surprised to bump into Simone in the doorway of The Bishop. She was leaving.
OK, rules were rules but this kind of inflexibility was too much. He thought instinctively of the unsustainably of Bretton Woods and the Fixed Exchange Rate system.
"Am I late? Bloody traffic. Surely you can give a bit of leeway."
"Arthur I'm in a terrible hurry, I'm not playing games. Can you give me a lift?”
The car stood out. It was gross. But she was already in it. They exchanged parcels as he pulled away.
"Just keep going straight."
"Not going to count the money? You trust me?"
"What's eating you Arthur?"
"Anyway I'm hardly going to be counting pound notes in a car like this, not here," Carol said and carried on pointing him towards the Harrow Road.
He waited till she asked him to pull up before dropping his bombshell.
"I wonder if you could get me a price on Ten and also Five kilos. I assume there will be a pro rata discount a little more substantial than fifty pounds."
Simone slowed right down. She closed the passenger door again and looked at him.
"If it's possible of course."
"Phone next week," she said.
"Have a good weekend."
Carol Curbishley walked away quickly. She'd been having kittens in the pub: to be stuck with two ounces for the weekend at the very least would have been all sorts of worry: to have started to break her rules could only end in disaster. She didn't turn left till she'd heard the Porsche roar away. Then she turned right and left again and stopped at Marie's. She walked up the steps to the front door and rang the bottom bell. Soul music sounded out of the ground floor. Marie opened the door. Carol slowed her down in the corridor.
"Sorry I'm late. Bloody Arthur. Is Sheila OK?"
"Course she is. They've had their tea. Arthur, you mean the posh one on the phone."
"Yes him," Carol said. She smiled, unexpected. Out of her shoulder bag she pulled some money. "He'll call early next week likely as not. Is fifty OK?"
In the front room the Soul was loud. Two girls were dancing a routine.
"Hang on mum, just watch this."
Carol smiled. They looked good, Lilly maybe better than her Sheila, stronger and more fluid. So? They looked good, both of them.
"You want a cup of tea," Marie said.
The music stopped. Carol clapped. Sheila ran across and gave her a kiss.
"You were marvellous."
"Not bad," Lilly said. She was stood at the tape deck ejecting a cassette.
"Only not bad," Sheila said.
"We've got to work on it. Look, I'll show you some pictures of real dancers. On TV a bearded man stood in front of a graph.
- Of the two deficits it is that on Balance of Trade which is showing no sign of improvement and is having the biggest impact on US policy makers -
Ten and Five kilos Arthur had said. Serious money. Which didn't mean he was being serious. Flash maybe because she'd shocked him, her leaving the pub. She had shocked him, shocked herself come to that.
"If you're at home here's your cup of tea."
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges are relatively low, as the book has already been written. What's more - it has already been published successfully in French and German. Also working with PM Press means that the project is being co-ordinated by a team of experienced folks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)