Peter, who wrote about punk in 1977 for Harpers and Queen and some of these pieces are in his book Style Wars, gave a picture of punk as middle class kids posturing as a form of art. Even worse his version of punk was that the first wave was the only wave and that soon these kids found another fad, which was New Romanticism, which allowed them to dress up and be pretty.
I gave the continuing story, that 1977 and the emergence of bands such as The Lurkers, 999 and The Ants was when punk really began to mean something; how 1978 was the year of the Ant and the beginning of mass punk squatting; then the galvanisation of Crass and the evolution of anarcho punk through the eighties.
If I hadn’t been there it would have been the Peter York vision that was propounded, as Toby and the Haunch of Venison MC – Mark ? – were from that side of society and comfortable with that revisionist history. Indeed, toward the end the three of them eagerly supported the proposition put to the panel that Thatcher was a punk rocker as she supported the entrepreneur and the ‘little guy’!
If this site/blog hadn’t existed I would have instigated it at that moment.
Made me realise why Puppy is more important than R&T, because what we did at the time – and are doing now – is to show in a positive manner that punk didn’t neatly ‘die’ when New Romantics came along. And no matter how people like Toby Mott show the wider picture – vis a vis the fascist/RAR stuff and materials up to and including Crass covers – punk is still too easily compartmentalized and stored away in Sex Pistol shaped boxes.
The discussion was filmed and it is hoped to have it available on either Youtube or Vimeo in the near future.
At the end a smartly dressed lady came over and introduced herself. It turned out she’d been to gigs at St John’s Church on Pentonville Road at the beginnings of anarcho. Which just goes to show something, she was of the Mayfair set and pally with the Tobys and the Peters yet she knew exactly where I was coming from and congratulated me on saying what I did. She too felt that this part of punk history was unfairly swept under the carpet. Goes to show something, but what I still can’t express.
The story continues. Houseman’s bookshop have been given an evening at the ICA on October 21st and have asked me to do a bit of a talk there about punk and all that. Penguin should be there too. The acclaimed writer Stewart Home will also be on the stage, whether at the same time it’s hard to say. But it should be good.
As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...
- Name: Alistair Livingston