“Holly Street” Secrets

It’s Saturday 13th November 1993 at 5.30a.m.  I leave my house on a cold dark morning and get in my MK1 (1977) red Ford Fiesta with a big ‘HEAD’ leather sports bag full of records.  I am on my way to do my Saturday morning slot on Eruption 101.3 FM.  The management of the station told me to go to the tower blocks in Holly Street and keep my eyes out because there are two other stations that have studios in the same tower block; Pulse FM and a reggae station, they said. Holly Street was an estate in Hackney that I had never really been to before. I grew up on the Clapton Park Estate and felt much more at home there – even though they looked virtually the same, they felt very different to me.  Holly Street was a bit of a no-go area growing up; it was infamous for gangs and drugs through the late eighties / early nineties. So me and my mates kept out the way of it.


As I pull into the car park there are four huge tower blocks.  I pull into the first block, Lomas Court, get out the car and look up.  It is deadly quiet at this time of the morning, except for the faint sound of hardcore jungle music echoing between the blocks.  I nervously get my sports bag out and make my way into the ground floor of Lomas Court.

The sun is just coming up but all the corridor lights in the tower block are off and it’s very dark.  I go to the first lift, press the button; nothing happens – not a sound or a light so I figured this lift aint working.  I walk across to the other side of the block to try the other lift.  That too is out of order.  “Fuck what floor is the studio?” I think to myself.  I pull out a bit of paper from my pocket that says ‘9A Lomas’ on it.  Then I realise I’ve gotta walk up nine flights of stairs with my heavy bag full of records.  The stairwells of Holly Street blocks were all a kind of pissy yellow in colour and in smell; they proper stunk!

As I enter the stairwell and clamber up to the first floor there is a tramp lying on the floor half asleep and he smells of piss.  Carefully stepping over him I carry on up the stairs.  As I go up I hear the loud banging and clanging noises like metal doors being slammed from above.  I hear someone else enter the stairwell, it sounds like they’re coming down as I’m going up.  I carry on up the stairs and I can hear the footsteps getting louder and louder as the other person is descending.  Then as I turn the corner, standing in front of me is a guy with another large sports bag over his shoulder, wearing an MA1 jacket that says ‘Pulse FM’ on the front.  I too am wearing the same style jacket but mine says ‘Eruption 101.3’.  We stop, stare at each other for a split second and the guy says to me “Morning mate, have a good show”.  “Safe!” I say back “watch out for the tramp sleeping at the bottom!”

I eventually get to the ‘9th floor’ and feel half dead from carrying the tunes.  I walk out onto the landing, all the flats are derelict; they all have big metal doors on them and the place feels like a prison.  I walk through the corridor and see one of the doors in the corner has a big ‘A’ painted on it in red.  I walk up to the door and there’s two wires poking out from the bottom.  I touch the two wires together to ring the bell.  I then hear the internal door open in the flat and the music gets louder.

The metal door flings open “Allo Andy” Mac Attack says.  “Morning Matt” I reply, walk in and lock up the metal door behind me.  The flat is disgusting.  The walls are black and it smells like shit.  ”Cor it stinks in here Matt” I say.  “Yeah you get used to it after a while” he says laughing, “Someone smashed the toilet up to pull some rig-wires out the shit pipe – that’s why it stinks and everyone’s been pissing in the bath”.

“Two more tunes Andy” Matt shouts out and he goes into the kitchen where the studio is.

I’m in the front room and I look over at the window and see a big camera tripod stand and on the top of it is a massive copper-type horn facing out of the living room window.  I walk over to it and see it’s pointing straight towards another group of five tower blocks, which is the Clapton Park Estate where our transmitter site is.  The windows are thick with dirt but Hackney looks beautiful as the sun is rising over all the tower blocks.  I put my hand in front of the horn, the music goes off in the kitchen and it’s replaced by a loud hissy white noise sound.

“Oi!” Mac Attack shouts from the kitchen “I’m trying to have a scratch!” I walk into the kitchen and the decks are set up on the worktops.  The mixer is in the middle on top of an old battered tape deck over the sink and the taps are all taped up.  I stand in awe watching Mac Attack scratching it up.  “What a wicked DJ” I think to myself as he is battering the fuck out of the switches on the MRT60 mixer.

In memory of Matthew Lamb (AKA Mac Attack) 27.5.1974 – 11.4.2015

One Reply to “Holly Street Secrets”

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