‘War of Attrition’ by Joolz

A spoken word short story by Bradford-based poet, artist and novelist Joolz (now better known as Joolz Denby), who in the early 1980s was part of the Ranting poetry scene – a term coined by her fellow Bradford poet, the late Steven Wells. ‘War of Attrition’ was released on record in 1983 as the B-side of a 3-track 12” single. With a musical accompaniment by Jah Wobble, it’s a first person, present tense story about two young women leaving a night club and waiting at a taxi rank, hoping to get home safely this time, having been attacked the week before. Singled out for having pink hair, they are verbally abused and harassed by three drunk men and only narrowly escape the violence that seems inevitable because “two taxis come at once. You pull me in. I sit there shaking…”  It’s a great story, and Joolz’s killer timing makes for a spoken word masterclass: the way she can turn in an instant from wistful deadpan or a moment of comedy to righteous anger and analysis. All propelled by Jah Wobble’s adrenalin-fuelled electro-funk bass. There’s been a revival of interest in that early ’80s Ranting scene in recent years, too, thanks chiefly to London live poetry scene stalwart Tim Wells’s excellent Stand Up and Spit project. But ‘War of Attrition’could have been written in the early hours of this morning.

First released on Abstract Records 12”, 1983. Collected on Joolz 1983–1985, Get Back Records, 2014. Watch it online here