After work I treated myself to a wander along the South Bank and I dropped in to the Hayward Gallery to see this exhibition of punk art.
It seemed strange to see bits of my life on display in a museum and there were a few middle-aged guys taking a similar trip down memory lane.
I was actually struck first by the music being played; somehow I have managed to convince myself that apart from the 'good' bands (Buzzcocks, Pistols, Slits, Ruts, Raincoats, Damned, Adverts, Mo-Dettes) everyone else was rubbish. Not true! Something about the thudding basslines woke up my inner punk; there was something about that sound that was actually nothing to do with music, but more to do with making time and space our own: the world belonged to other people who were aliens with mullets, crimplene clothing, prawn cocktails and brown-on-brown patterned wallpaper, listening to mush and fluff. Punk music was like an abrasive blast that cleaned out your ears and all the cack you'd been fed by everyone up till then... all the stuff they said to comfort themselves while simultaneously shutting you out.
In the exhibition, lots of the feeling was there: the cheapness of the paper, the attempts by McLaren and Westwood to garner more of the credit than was due to them; work by Gee Vaucher that lived alongside Jamie Reid's better-known images; cheap cassettes that shunned commerciality. The Desperate Bicycles vinyl single that exhorted people to do it themselves- it can be cheap!
There was the single by Brighton's Louder Animal Group, aficionados of Scritti Politti and featuring Nick Dwyer, fresh from leaving Joby and the Hooligans (featuring yours truly on bass), and now a gardener supported by Stomp! royalites (yes, he was a founder member: told you punk was full of imaginative people!).
And there was a copy of PIN (the 'n' should be backwards) the fanzine produced by my Dutch friend Terri who also played a semi acoustic bass and who got in touch with me earlier this year (she is a rockabilly now). And there was a copy of Rapid Eye Movement, published by Nicks' brother Simon with.. ahem.. an interview with the Chefs in it.
A sea of boys in school uniforms flowed in with spiral-bound notebooks and pencils to try to capture the moment in 2012. No way, boys! The whole time was too weird and it's continually surprising how important it seems to have been; at the time it seemed like trying to stay alive when the whole tide of everything was crashing in the other direction.
This is a nice little exhibition, small and perfectly formed with a little of that air of bafflement about it.