Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Kiss of Life - Remembering Robert Dellar

Kiss of Life - Remembering Robert Dellar.
Ce Acatl Publishing. 188pp

Robert Dellar was an author, an activist, a publisher of zines, a campaigner on mental health issues, a gig promoter, one of the founders of Mad Pride and for a lot of people a beacon of hope and friendship in a shitty world that made little [if any] sense. He was probably lots of others things too and judging from some of the eulogies and reminiscences in Kiss of Life I’m guessing all of them were positives. His passing in December 2016 has had an obviously profound effect on those around him and those who knew him. His absence still keenly felt. 

I didn't know him personally and it's only now after reading this short but highly readable and affectionate book that I realise he touched mine too; he used to send me the Southwark Mental Health News zine/magazine that he put together. Which arrived at semi regular intervals along with the odd [literally] Mad Pride related release.

Kiss of Life has been put together by Lawrence Burton who I came across via his ‘An Englishman in Texas’ blog who was once in a London band called UNIT and who appears to be on the radar of the Ceramic Hobs who I’ve just reviewed and who now lives not that far from Phillip Best who put said Ceramic Hobs album together. Small world.

Dellar's books include the autobiography ‘Splitting in Two - Mad Pride and Punk Rock Oblivion’ and a collaborative novel ‘Seaton Point’ as set in the tower block of the same name [‘An inner-city tale of magic, mayhem and gratuitous sex scenes’] that I will have to get my hands on some time. Kiss of Life also includes three short stories of Dellar’s my favourite being the one about the bloke who gets a new motorized disability scooter and decides to go for spin in it along some of London’s busiest thoroughfares. Then there’s the one about the constantly eating, drinking, pill popping, virgin shagging Elvis Parsley and the toff turned crusty who gets his comeuppance from his own faithful ‘razor-fanged pitbull werewolf’.

The tributes and reminiscences are written with a great tenderness and give you some idea of the lengths Dellar would go to help people. They come from old school friends, those who hadn’t seen him in decades, those who tried to cadge twenty quid off him and those who were there at his funeral. Like Ted Curtis whose eulogy is produced here and whose contribution is amongst the rawest and most open.

All proceeds from this book go towards the funding of the Mental Health Resistance Network, the group that grew out of Mad Pride and who help raise awareness of the failings of mental health care in the UK.

Ce Acatl

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