A documentary about The Slits is under way, and this morning I did an interview for it with a gentleman named Bill. He has found a remarkable number of people to speak to: Tessa, Viv and Palmolive, Dr No, Steve Beresford, Gina, and farther afield, Budgie in Berlin.
Strange to be in the office at work, with a shiny nose (dammit, why didn't I bring the ancient face powder that I sometimes wear on stage?); things got remarkably philosophical for a Friday morning in a greige office with the occasional accompaniment of distant drumming students who had to be muted for the occasion.
If you do interviews like this, you explain things to yourself in the process. Or maybe not if you do hundreds of the bloody things and you learn to repeat your angle in many variations of the same theme.
This morning's self revelation was the idea of being born noisy, with arms and legs flailing free, and the purpose of one's upbringing as a girl being to subdue the movement of the arms and legs, scrunch you up, put a hand over that noisy mouth, and pack you into a box to put on a shelf until a husband comes along.
This is what it felt like to me to be brought up in the 1970s. And then along came punk and The Slits who flung their arms and legs around and shouted at the tops of their voices. What a liberation! I hate to say this but punk was much more liberating than women's liberation for my generation. It was amazing to be able to SHOUT at last, fling your arms around, be a noisy tomboy and Not Care.
Just before I left Geordieland for the Deep South, which I knew to be full of what I called 'innitawfuls', a Geordie man who I didn't even know except by sight came up to me and told me I'd become all shouty and American. So apart from the fact that McMum was American anyway, I suppose I must have been about ready for punk when it happened. Yes, I was.
During the filming I worried about my facial shine, and I worried about saying incriminating things or plastic things that could be stretched to mean something I didn't believe in. I am still smarting from being misrepresented at a talk that I did a few weeks ago, where what I said didn't fit in with what the organisers expected me to say so they made it look as though I'd been really stupid, or as one woman said, 'naive'.
But Bill seemed like a decent guy and we talked a lot about what other people he'd spoken to had said, in particular about the nasty violence that lived under the punk umbrella. Thank God the music was so brilliant; yes there was some ear-bleeding noise but there were some brilliant songs amongst all that noise, and most of all it was a world of fabulous ideas and experimentation.