Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Punk was the best thing in the world and the worst thing in the world at the same time.
It was totally exciting, completely absorbing, started the second you woke up and was with you in your dreams too.

It was about making plans and really doing what you said, and feeling that you were worth something and that you could affect your world, like suddenly being given a screwdriver to lever off the top of a can of paint you hadn't been able to open before, so you could paint everything a new colour.
It was about volume- lots of new friends and acquaintances all talking at once, a University of Life if ever there was one.
No Future meant lots of Now: everything in technicolour, senses heightened, fizzy blood going round your veins, running, shouting, taking part.

But it was also about violence and darkness; the police were our enemies and if something went wrong it was tried in a punk court with a punk punishment.
Girls had their faces kicked in; people slit their wrists in public. Some people stole from the rich to give to the poor: themselves. There was rivalry between bands that became vicious at times. You felt vulnerable at the same time as being empowered.
My most vulnerable moment was almost funny in a horrible way: standing at the top of the stairs in a pair of old men's pyjamas as a knife-wielding drug-addled Geordie called Padger whacked the downstairs door of a girl who lived there, and who was sheltering his girlfriend within, with a clawhammer. He wanted to beat her up yet again.

What a thing to live through!
I couldn't talk about it for years and eventually had little bits of information prised out of me by curious students as they noticed that I was studying for the PHD.
Gradually, the good parts of it came to the forefront and the violence, some of which I experienced myself, stopped strangling the memories I had of the mad joy of playing in a band for the first time, something I never in a million years expected to do.
It's impossible to explain what it was really like unless you lived it, which is why it's so fantastic interviewing people again, and especially people who are not used to giving interviews.
They get a sort of curious and shocked expression as they start to remember the extraordinary lifestyle they used to lead, (often accidentally) offending the public just by existing.

I would never want to go through it again, but I am glad to have been through it nevertheless.


foolish girl said...

Hi Helen
Are you aware of this blog
he has a lot of sessions and may have the Chefs one if you don't have any copies.

Anonymous said...

I'm just a bit too old to have got the whole punk thing ..... I'm stuck in the 60s for my favourite music!!