Black Lion 2 - Phase 2 - Building on success (1969)

Link to Black Lion 1

After our jubilation at selling off every copy of the first issue it was time to get to work on No. 2 after the Christmas holiday. However, despite Chris's plea for more editors, who only had to fulfil three simple conditions, i.e. to have read Issue 1, to be hard working and to be fairly intelligent, none had been forthcoming.

A reasonable amount of new material was drummed up following Chris's exhortations in the first issue (" not be shy, have a go"), although Chris, Mr. Johnson and another conspirator, Dave Cummins, were ultimately responsible for half of the contents.

The sixth form dance, which had for some reason been the target of recent ridicule, figured prominently among the contributions. An anonymous two-page piece presumed to have been written by Mr. Johnson entitled "Have you been Psycho-Seduced?" was a penetrating study of the problems of adolescence and the exploitation of teenagers by the music industry. By extension, the psycho-seducers were deemed to have been at work at the dance; walking along the beach the following day, Mr. Johnson "saw some young boys (i.e. who had been at the dance) pottering among the flotsam and jetsam at the water's edge, alive." The dance was also mocked by Chris in his two-part "Dillon: The Facts".

As no contributions had been received for the "Opinion" column, a collaborator of mine and I ventured to ask a few "pertinent questions", namely who the individuals were who organised the dance on 20th December 1968, how many tickets were sold and how much money was taken, whether the organisers had published a balance sheet ("it might be too late, but the psycho-seducers amongst us must be brought, literally, to book") and whether they had to pay for the hire of the hall. Signing under the pseudonym "Vigilante" I submitted that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance (a recurring Black Lion theme pinched from somewhere or other) and that the profits from the dance should be used for the benefit of the school.

All this really came about though because this girl Marianne that I was mad on who worked in Rumbelows in West Street didn't want to go to the dance with me and said she was already going with someone else!  

Along with this subjects such as religion or anti-religion ("The Whole Truth"), the meaning of progress, "phoney bourgeois capitalism", the futility of war and for the first time environmentalism (Dave Cummins: "For trees were not designed to fit into an age where concrete makes the streets") were covered. No. 2 hit the streets around March and, like its predecessor, rapidly sold out.

The editor problem had not yet however been solved. Chris wrote, again in his by now typical patronising tone, in the editorial: "We are however slightly annoyed that NONE of YOU morons has volunteered to become an ASSISTANT EDITOR and we need TWO." When boys were not being called morons, they were often referred to as cretins, though we felt this might be going a bit too far for the editorial page ....

But by the time planning was to start on no. 3 in early summer, a full Editorial Board had amazingly been recruited seemingly from nowhere, consisting of Chris, Tim Burchett, Nick Manley (amusingly mis-spelt "Manly"), William Mahy and myself, together with the ubiquitous Mr. A.R. Johnson. We hardly knew anything about Nick and Will apart from the fact that they were in one of the lower forms, but they proved to be very helpful.

The editorial included a renewed plea for contributions: "ANYONE may contribute but they have to be GOOD. If you feel you can do as well, if not better, then HAVE A GO." It concluded with the remark: "APATHY DAY has been cancelled owing to lack of interest."

Again we didn't have too much material to work with, but some of it was of undisputed high quality, as witnessed by Ian Kenway's exposé of the hopelessness and futility of war (in fact anti-war poems were very much in evidence in no. 3).

Together with this was more light-hearted stuff such as an (almost illegible) reply to Mr. Johnson's piece in no. 2 on adolescence and the sixth form dance, likening him to one of the psycho-seducers whom he had so roundly condemned, Mary Nekklis's Problem Corner, and a Black Lion Bumper Competition on the last page (first prize: one bumper) in which one was supposed to reply to a nonsensical question and write, in "no less than words": "I think the Black Lion is dynamic because...". (We actually received some replies.)   To underline the seriousness of what we were doing, Chris insisted that the Board held frequent meetings, which were not always attended by everyone and often consisted of nothing more than a 20-minute session over a cup of lukewarm tea about our financial situation, an expert discussion of the latest contributions and whether or not to include them (we usually did, due to lack of material). But a major change was on the way .....

Link to Part III