the story so far

Hosted by Gavin Martin in The Three Blind Mice.

Suzanne Moore on Black Sabbath
 

James Brown on Joe Strummer and various others
 

Filthy English author Pete Silverton on searching for Dirty Pop and
 

Co host Gavin Martin on Ulster Punk 77

James Brown on Joe Strummer and others, Pete Silverton on searching for Dirty Pop and Gavin Martin on Ulster Punk 77

5 WRITING ABOUT YOURSELF IN THE CULTURE

December 8th 2009

excerpt from Ulster Punk 77 by Gavin Martin:

"Summer 1977. Schools Out. The sun splits the sky. And the sword of destiny lands at my feet. Its there - glistening in the sun - when I awake on the top of the bathing boxes one morning at Ballyholme beach. I and some friends have slept out in the warm night. Now we can greet the happy arrival of the Royal Yacht Britannia in the bay, a pleasant little seaside spot in Bangor, Co Down Northern Ireland just down the loch from Belfast. Because, fresh from her Jubillee celebrations the Queen, Prince Phil and other emissaries of her fascist regime have decided this is the place to start their victory lap by boat.
  
We rise to the ocassion as the crowds gather with their binoculars. In graphic detail we outline crude variations of imagined congress and misbehaviour on the deck of the royal yacht. We are merely toying with the sword that came crashing down just before the stinking school gates closed for end of term and The Sex Pistols alternative anthem No Future God Save The Queen b/w Did You Know Wrong smashed into the charts. An affront to all the pinched Protestant loyalist community round these parts held dear the record insured I received a quick beating - and a ban on the song being played ever again - when, in my evangelical idiocy, I brought it to accompany a one man pogo exhibititon at the local Police Run, Blue Lamp disco. So the sword got knocked out of my hands.



So what ? When my Aunt, my lovely but brainwashed Aunt, had come to stay with us she was shocked to see what was now decorating my bedroom wall. Aunt Emily lived in a poor (outdoor  



toilets) but hardline area of Belfast (Coolbeg Street. Is it still there?), murals of King Billy and the UVF on the gable walls, painted kerbstones, flegs hung all year round. And there she was in tears at breakfast time. "I can't beleive what you've done to our Queen," she said. She was referring to the Jamie Reid Sex Pistols safety pin poster of the Queen that had pride of place above my divan (there were no pictures of neighbourhood Godess Carol Browne that size, y'see). I didnt like to see Aunty cry. But still I felt vindicated - this sword could cut deep.

A few weeks later my dad was bent double with laughter in the kitchen. I had announced - with due reverence and solemnity- that that very night The Sex Pistols debut Top Of The Pops performance was going to take place. It was essential that the TV was reserved for me at the alloted hour. This is momentous I tell him, the most important band in the world at the minute, possibly in the entire history of rock, performing 'Pretty Vacant', the third single in their unholy opening trinity of excellence. "Johnny Rotten," I confidently announce, "is a brilliant lyricist!" "Johnny Rotten??/Johnnny Rotten?," my dad is on the verge of a breakdown so helplessly has the laughter now over taken him. "Johnny Rotten," he says, barely able to get the words out for chuckling, " Johnny Rotten's bloody stinking." Mmmm I couldnt see it at the time but my dad got it - the comedy aspect of the Pistols much more clearly than I did at the time. So maybe it was a rubber sword. With a bendy blade. What the fuck? I picked it up anyway.



Punk rock... I did not want to be called a punk and I loved music that was too powerful to be boxed in by any category. I knew punks were persons that got fucked up the ass in American prisons. Punk was not what I wanted to be called, at all. Punk, as I understood it, as I had read , was ANTI tribal, it was about self expression. I was into a lot of music, a lot of it contained on my £12 portable push button cassette recorder. Recorded off the radio, ambient household sounds in the background or off the record player. There was The Buzzcocks, pere Ubu Chuck Berry and Junior Walker, there was James Brown and Steely Dan and Eddie and The Hot Rods so I did not want to be simply a punk. But it was like this, if pushed I would rise to the ocassion I would allign myself with the creed that others designated for me. The sword was there after all. Why not pick it up?"

 GAVIN MARTIN, ULSTER PUNK 77