The second issue of Dirty Bristow magazine features a piece I wrote entitled Lennon’s Guide to the Mythical Fauna of the English Midlands. It’s my attempt at presenting an overview of those Birmingham-based mythological beasts that have so often been ignored by local historians, cryptozoologists and the presenters of Midlands Today.
Here, for instance, is “Boss” Tin:
During the 1970s, Birmingham’s motor industry was thrown into disarray by the sudden influx of new car workers who never took a sick day, agreed to double shifts without grumbling and rarely mixed with colleagues in the staff canteen. They were the first wave of assembly-line “robots”, and their arrival gave rise to industrial unrest, crippling strike action and – as is so often the case – elaborate urban myths about mechanical mobsters.
The most famous of these so-called MoBots was known only as “Boss” Tin. Short, stocky and pathologically violent, he was notorious throughout the city for his unbridled ambition, ruthless opportunism and expensive taste in tin-foil Hawaiian shirts. From his modest beginnings as a small-time re-bootlegger, he single-handedly built a vast empire of nightclubs, speakeasies and counterfeit Tandy stores. These were often financed by the proceeds of protection rackets that targeted the city’s beleaguered community of drinks dispensers, pinball machines and Casio digital watches.
“Boss” Tin’s reign of terror finally came to an oil-soaked end in 1982 following a botched attempt at kidnapping seven welding robots from the Mini Metro assembly line at Longbridge. After leaving an adult theatre in the early hours of the morning with Tin-Pan Alison, a tawdry strip-teasmade, he was ambushed by the militant mechanized union leader “Red Robo” and his treacherous Underboss, Al Machino (AKA “Carface”). They shut him down in cold blood on Birmingham’s Victoria Square by forcibly removing his batteries and holding a magnet to his tape spools.
A statue depicting a crude metal figure now marks the spot where he died.
The article features a veritable menagerie of similar beasts, critters and shaggy dog stories, each painstakingly illustrated by my old pal Nigel Lowrey. The sketch above, incidentally, was something that originally accompanied an unsolicited script submission to the comic 2000ad which, sadly, never made it past Tharg’s slush pile. I’m all for recycling, me.
Dirty Bristow issue 2 is available from here.