At fifteen I was a punk. I don’t have the spiky hair anymore (don’t have any in fact) but I still like to think I have a little bit of the ethos. My son is fifteen and into much the same type of alternative music, although his relates more to the various genres of heavy metal. It is only now, however, I have spotted a contradiction in our choices, for although I reveled in being different, I also wanted to be part of a group who looked and felt the same.
What we all have in common, whatever identity we feel we have, is the need to belong to something. It may only be with four other boys playing Warhammer in Games Workshop on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or as in Hannah Lowe’s poem Dance Class, being with ‘the best girls posed like poodles at a show‘. But it is often not that easy to fit in, you may not be good at the game; you may be ‘a scandal in that class, big-footed/giant in lycra‘. (more…)
There aren’t many advantages to being fifty (or thereabouts), but one of them is to have been around when Punk broke the windows of mainstream music. Tony Walsh’s (Longfella) poem The Last Gang in Town?, is more than a piece of nostalgia though with its lines from Clash songs (who’ll fight the law, who’ll rock the casbah); it is a call to arms for the bands out there today, to find their voice in political action in the same way as The Clash and many other bands did at that time. The late 1970s was in many ways a different country, as Tony’s other poem Englishman/Irishman demonstrates very well (‘I would often tell Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman jokes/to my Irish father‘). As he explains, this was ‘written about my own childhood and the experience of being half-Irish in the troubled and racist 1970s – a situation with parallels to that faced by Muslims today. Also about male working-class emotional inarticulacy in the days before Trisha!‘ (more…)