Me yesterday

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Me today

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It’s the Blackpool Punk Festival.

Rebellion Festival Blackpool 2018

Interesting, exciting and intriguing four day event with a great atmosphere. I hang out but I don’t go to the ‘festival’. It attracts a lot of Europeans, including Dutch and German punks. They are all sweet and lovely and polite. A lot of local punks don’t go to the festival, they just hang out by St. John’s Church or around the Winter Gardens. People want to bond or socialise or relate with like minded people. I had a chance to see P.I.L who are headlining on Sunday but I turned it down. Why would I want to see John Lydon in the flesh? He would only disappoint me. I have no interest in seeing my ‘heroes’, I would feel that it would be a let down in some way. I had a chance to see Theatre Of Hate tonight, but I have C.D’s and videos of them.  Plus I’ve seen Kirk Brandon before. I don’t really get the ‘live’ thing. I just don’t get it. If I could have a decent, lively, intelligent conversation with these people instead, then I’d prefer that. What I’m concerned about though, is the young punks who are so drunk (by 9 p.m) that they can’t walk straight and are dropping their money and hairspray and lighters….and I’m wondering how they are going to get through the night.  And I worry about them. I suppose I’m getting old and mothery.

There was one guy tonight and his mohican was very flaccid. He staggered over to the glass window of a shop (one of those behind me in the picture) He used it as a mirror and put hairspray on and kept dropping it. He was very drunk. He looked over at me once or twice and I wish I’d have just gone over and helped him put his hair up and sent him on his way. I really regret that because he was all alone and seemed a bit vulnerable. I hate it when I wish I’d helped people and didn’t because I dithered or procrastinated or was too slow.

Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow.

Quote Of The Week

‘You have to believe in yourself even when others don’t, or you won’t achieve anything.’

Billy Idol Dancing With Myself

The James Dean Of Punk – Kirk Brandon

Tonight, I went to see Kirk Brandon in concert with Sam Sansbury (cello) AKoustik Live 2017 at Thornton Little Theatre. Kirk Brandon was lead singer and songwriter with eighties band Spear Of Destiny and Theatre Of Hate and, later, toured with the super group, Dead Men Walking, a group always in transit, always evolving, and has in the past included Glen Matlock from the Sex Pistols and Mike Peters from The Alarm, among others.

I got it in my head the other day, that Kirk Brandon is the James Dean of Punk. That’s just my opinion. I can’t call him the Godfather of Punk because that’s Iggy Pop and I can’t call him the Father of punk, because apparently that’s John Lydon. Some people say Malcom McClaren is the Father of punk, but if they do, they are seriously deluded. Actually, I have no idea who the Father of punk is.

I approached Kirk Brandon after the concert and presented him with the first page of a new blank book, announcing him as the James Dean of Punk and he laughed hard and said “Really?” and I said ‘Seriously.’ He signed his signature under the declaration and then I left without saying goodbye or thank you, or in fact, without saying anything, or even looking at him, which I regret, simply because it was rude.  In comparison, he was very sweet and friendly and open. I find it difficult to talk to strangers, but I can exchange papers with them. Those environments when the singer or band hangs backstage with the fans are stressful, false, uncomfortable and unnatural. I suppose it’s just the nature of the beast.

Kirk Brandon is always up for signing autographs, is not precious in the least and doesn’t mind if people take hundreds of photo’s/videos during the gigs. He is also a very talented singer/songwriter into the bargain and is now, literally in my book, the James Dean Of Punk Rock.

kirk brandon james dean

Wall To Wall Punks

Last Thursday started the long weekend of the Rebellion Punk Festival in Blackpool.

It was four days of the best and worst of punk rock music and all it entailed, mohican haircuts, rainbow and (these days) pastel hair colours, studs, tartan, bondage trousers, leather jackets, firm hold hairspray (actually, hairspray is a misnomer, soap, sugar and water and lemon curd are the only things that will make that mohican stand up straight and for a decent time. Maybe glue for the more hard core. Regardless, they all contribute to the The Viagra of the Hair World).

I was there myself, for as long as I could hold out, with a smidgen of blue hair, just to observe and take in the ambience, draped with enough chains and studs to weigh me down to the nearest pub or free live event.

I was never one to go around in a ‘pack’ of punks and could never understand why such an movement, geared to individualism and uniqueness, went around in tribal groups, like a bunch of sheep, all dressed the same, in identical leather jackets. I never had a friend who dressed like me, to help breed the hypocrisy of the uniform and the pack mentality. You’re either an individual or you’re not. You either go it alone or you don’t. As a lone punk, you become a paradox and a truth. As a teenage female punk walking down the street, alone, I would get heaps more abuse than say, a gang of gelled up juveniles with blonde mohawks doing the same thing. No friends to back you up you see, to snarl for you, as it were. The lone sheep is always going to be subject to violence and attack, whether they are a punk, or a hippie, or a metal head, or someone who is dressed in polyester jersey and unfashionable flares, or maybe even just a nice cardie.

Nothing changes. Last weekend, I hung out, around the punk festival, but not at the punk festival, with people who think punk is a) what Clint Eastwood would deem a criminal element b) a snotty nosed whipper-snapper, who needs to get some military training ASAP or c) a piece of wood gone rotten at one end.

To explain, I was, for at least one of those days, with mum and dad. Mum looks upon the whole spectacle quaintly and serenely, enjoys the vibrant tresses, ripped fishnets, Doc Martens and dangerous looking wristbands, says punk people make her happy. When dad heard he was going to be around when the event was in progress, he groaned in resignation, ‘Oh no, I’m 73, I’m too old for this. It’ll be wall to wall punks.’ I like that expression, ‘wall to wall punks’. And that’s what he said when I met and embraced him at the train station, in his suit, tie pin and cufflinks. He said to me, ‘It’s wall to wall punks and I think I’m the only person within three hundred yards wearing a tie.’

‘Now that’s punk.’ I said.

I never went around in a group of punks, a ‘group’ meaning more than one, but like the Greta Garbo of the Johnny Rotten world, I felt isolated at times, alienated. As we congregated, in the square by The Cedar Tavern pub, I thought, we may share the same conical stud belt and crazy colour pigments in our hair, but that’s where the similarity ends. I liked to watch them, as one may like to watch herds of multi coloured wildebeest thundering across the Serengeti that is the Winter Gardens. But I’m a wildebeest too, who has been separated from the herd. I thought I might appreciate, admire these music fans and even get some tips for future dressing, I thought I would enjoy the whole thing from a distance. I thought, punk never died, it just got more pastel.

But then, I changed my mind, the weekend happened…four days…and it was like the best holiday ever. I never got near the Winter Gardens and the actual festival, but it didn’t matter. There was another festival, going on, on the outside, and, on the inside of my mind.

It was all a lesson in social communication. I felt like I belonged. I thought, if I can feel authentic once, I can feel authentic again. I know I can be authentic. Next year, I might actually get a ticket, be a bit rebellious.

I would be happy if I could be punk every day, to dress punk every day and to somehow live it, perhaps with like-minded people. Theatre. Punk. Writing. Music. If I could just incorporate these four things into my life, every day of my life, for the rest of my life, I think I would be happy.

I think everyone has three or four things that will make them happy, if they were pumped in, at the right measure, balanced, varied, those three or four things, interests, hobbies, loves, passions. We all have them. I don’t think it’s just one thing any more. I used to think it was. For me, it was writing, but then, I had the punk passion and the acting passion and I realised it’s usually a combination of a few things and that combination is like a flower arrangement.
It’s the flower arrangement in the vase of the window sill of your life. And then, once we’ve sorted out that part of our lives, we might find the space, energy and incentive to actually do what we were meant to do.