Monday, August 04, 2003

“Punx Not Dead”

Fake punks. What the hell’s that all about then? Avril Lavigne, repeat after me: “I am not punk. I am a corporate whore invented by some shit in a suit trying to add a bit of white-skinned teenage rebellion into bland popular music.” Or if that’s too long for you, just try “I’m shite. Sorry.”

I really wanted to be a punk. A genuine tartan-trousered, safety-pinned, mohican-styled punk with a name like Peter Puke. Or Alistair Unpleasant at the very least. However, it was 1976, and I was only ten. I watched a horrified-looking Frank Bough reporting on the goings on down the King’s Road with rapt interest from our comfortable middle-class living room, and I put the idea to my mum. She said no. Actually, she said more than no, and that was the end of that. Even when the Pistols finally appeared on Top of the Pops doing Pretty Vacant, the answer was still no.

In 1980, I finally threw my lot in with the New Romantics. OK, I got a load of Ultravox and a long coat and hung around looking moody, but strictly no make-up. By now, everybody and their dog was “punk” - yet we all knew deep down that the Boomtown Rats were about as punk as my granny. My sister, God bless her, went to University, and by the end of the first term was using a catering-sized tin of hairspray a week to keep her quiff from sagging. Two words: The Cramps. And that from the young lady whose first ever gig had been … Gerry Rafferty.

So, that’s the root of my argument. I wasn’t allowed to be a punk, and I’ll be damned if some prissy little cardboard here-today-gone-tomorrow pop icon is going to be one either. Change your name to Avril Arsewipe and I might just started believing you.

And while we’re on the subject, I remember my great aunt Doris staying with us around the mid eighties. Let’s be charitable and say that she was from another era. Thursday evening came round, and as was the family tradition, we sat round the television for Top of the Pops while Doris sat in the most comfortable chair with a stony face. I must say that the producers did us proud this evening with a parade of heavy metallists and, if my memory serves, The Exploited, screaming out punk’s death throes. It was only when Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark came on doing some twee number that I’m not embarrassed enough to admit that I own, that she finally cracked.

“He’s got his shirt tails hanging out. I fought in three World Wars fpr the likes of him.”

That led to a prolonged lecture on what, exactly, was wrong with British television, society, and the whole bally world today. Apparently was something to do with “darkies”. Oh dear - the old world had collided with the new with a sickening crash. Words were said ("You daft old cow"), and Doris was never asked to stay again. The next day she returned to Eastbourne with her tail between her legs.

Like punk never happened.

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