This is by way of a diversion from the meat of my PhD but in writing up my methodology I’ve become distracted by various bibliographic records of the alternative press in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s.

The era is well documented by guides of the time and there exists many reels of microfiche (in the British Library and elsewhere) containing copies of the publications.

Birmingham had many alternative publications (including the one-off ‘China Cat Sunflower’ from 1972) and with a little more time I might get round to listing them as there are bibliographic guides stretching into the mid-1990s.

‘Street Press’ (initially ‘Birmingham Street Press’) existed from February 1970 until 1973 and was notable for being distributed well beyond Birmingham according to John Noyce’s ‘The directory of British alternative periodicals, 1965-1974’ (1979). The entry for Street Press in Noyce’s guide is rather brief: “noted for its fine graphics […] a platform for new, radical, critical and beautiful ideas” (p291).

However, John Spiers earlier bibliographic guide (1974), despite being a little all over the place with dates, reprints the the publication’s “own autobiographical note.”

It makes for inspiring reading 45 years after it was written and is worth reproducing in full:

“If you believe implicitly in the politics of the established press, you won’t like what you see in the pages that follow. We have produced a critic’s paradise – a jungle of thoughts and feeling which don’t pretend to be objective. There is no fat wad of hypnotic advertising and we’re not geared to offer the kind of services that the national and local dailies bring to your home. What we want to do is set the seeds for the eventual growth of an alternative press… Birmingham more than other places lacks a happy spirit of its own. People are worn and choked by the machinery and effluent of an oppressive industrial routine. Can’t we kick it off? Make your own freedom if it is no longer given as a simple right. If this is a mad ranting, does it do any harm? We must be able to choose for ourselves, to create the way of life we need, and to find out how to remove the sickness which is both inside and outside our heads. LEARN TO PLAY AGAIN. The shape of an alternative society has not yet been drawn – only the germ of an extra idea exists. There are no golden rules, nor restrictive guidelines – think of your own experiments – search beyond your borders. Build, create, chase that dream.”

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