RAY GOSLING: Foreword to “Jeff Nuttall: A Celebration”; Arc Publications, 2004
Jeff Nuttall was a lovely, lovely absolutely lovely absolutely man. He was great fun, great balls of belly laughter and without any side to him. And he spent a life open, adding his imagination to creation. He was raucous and rumbustious and willing to grasp at life’s goodnesses and nature's bounty to make a full poem of life in a Falstaffian tradition. Never lucky lucky man down with depression like Falstaff at Falstaff's end. Jeff was up and for it to the very end.
He was with me all my life, Jeffrey. Evening of Bob Cobbing and all that sound breaking concrete poetry. In the French pub Dan Farson Colin MacInnes. He became a chapter after 1968 one would turn to in BOMB CULTURE because only he almost only he got it right. He came into my life from St. Albans (he was a provincial) - must have been living there. Always he was the man from St. Albans. Maybe that's in my imagination. Imagination's so important William Blake to Jeffrey Nuttall. He did a magazine like edit it I think MY OWN MAG, and I was a trooper in the Peggy Duff brigade of C.N.D. - "write" Jeffrey wrote me and I did. Later, later - oh I was glad I never was on a committee with Jeffrey, we'd be teaching together I mean in the same building in Bradford at the School of Art at the time Yorkshire Ripper killed the barmaid as worked in the Manville Anns pub we drank in at lunchtime - dark days. We survived with dignity and at night - you have to - carried on. Some black club - black as in Caribbean - up Manningham Lane way like a shebeen two in the morning spliff filled air and Jeffrey with one of the daughters as they say in Jamaica, and me with a Salford boyfriend when "my boy" starts dancing snog dancing on the floor with Jeffrey's lady. Well we had to part that. Two in the morning. Cabs flying. Falling asleep. And the work was done you know. Pieces written. Films made. Audience enlightened. Parts played. Music performed: cornet con brio. Nuttall's at Madame Jo Jo's and there he was live at revue with verve bang next to Paul Raymond's strip joint. Another era and the telly was on in someone else's house EMMERDALE in colour colour telly and me with half nay only a quarter of an eye watching some rustic bumpkin - an Archer at Emmerdale --- with a florid face and half an arm was it up an horse, arse of a cow, poo-ong doing well at the grunting. "My God!" I cried aloud. My hosts: "Are you alright Ray?" Yes no point telling them: be bragging. It was Jeffrey I know that man. "You went quite white for a moment Ray." Yes.
I got on a train one morning and slumped across a table and there's Jeffrey wearing spectacles - pure chance - good God. "I'm Professor," he exclaimed, on enquiry - "Professor of Liverpool." Oh - I must have laughed for ten miles. "Dear boy don't", said Jeffrey and then I realise where I was at the end of Chat Moss. "I have to go Jeffrey: step orf at Warrington: me." And he chuckled into a different higher key. I went. But I can imagine Jeff chuckling - he'd have gone from bass to falsetto right into the tunnel at Lime Street: "stepping off at Warrington." We were babes. There's a line - oh Frank Randle had his best biographer with Jeffrey - made for each other. But there's a line I love best out of a scrapbook Jeff co-authored and got published of those heady days that made our world what it is - COMMON FACTORS: VULGAR FACTIONS with Rodick Carmichael. It's a couplet of conversation Jeff overheard in some Woollen District town. Police have caught unfortunate shoplifter and are coaxing him into the van. "Come on: lets go." shoplifter looks druggily around and up to the heavens and the police repeat more stiffly "Lets go." "Where to?" shoplifter cries "to San Francisco?" .
Oh I shall miss Jeff Nuttall. I write as one does Alan Ginsberg and Adrian Henri - yes but oh so strong were those times - that feeling in man we released for liberty but that's passed on stronger than all the Tony Blairs and suits of the world that tries to force people to focus thankfully today. The spirit of singing the blues like a Bessie Smith, drawing, teaching, writing, performing from the soul and heart through the shit they try to force feed us. You did well Jeff Nuttall, no side, no greed, no being nuts about fame, no focus that blinkered a love for all present, and respect for the past - you were a LEGEND OF OUR TIME, IN SOME WAYS, DARK TIME, BUT YOUR LAUGHTER, YOUR SOUL, YOUR MIND, YOUR ANARCHIC GOODNESS AN INSPIRATION'LL SEE US THROUGH TO OUR ENDS and I daresay and I hope the next generation's too.
Thank you Jeff Nuttall.