Friday, April 12, 2013

Odd Ones Out

I have been working on my paper for the Limerick conference today- editing it down to a half-hour talk.
I keep thinking that I have finished researching punk but then new things appear on the horizon and beg to be investigated.
I think back to those times, and the way that we as young people struggled to understand each other. Different social classes of people were all jumbled up together, an intense 'university of life' for people who in more affluent times might have been oblivious to the ways others lived.
Unemployment put most young people into the same boat; to imagine it today you'd have to mix the young urban rioters and gang members up with the University and College students. You can't imagine that now, but that's what it was like.
I had a mixed race boyfriend and my best friend was Persian, but a racist skinhead and a professional 'queer-basher' used the same pub, as well as various burglars, hotel workers, shop workers, addicts, musicians and students. There were a lot of direct arguments and fights, but I actually think things began to get sorted out in a lot of ways.
It is a good thing to face people and challenge them directly rather than just reading about what they say and who they are in a newspaper, or watching a TV report.
They were mad times but I think a lot of people who experienced that odd era in history feel that it included them in a huge cultural gang that they still feel they belong to in some sense today.
It was something you had to survive- intense and sometimes violent, with some sort of disruption always lurking under the surface and quite shocking to me, a village girl, to find that the Police hated us just because of a name.
Odd to think that it's now going to become illegal to attack people who choose to look different!

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