Memoirs of a Blue Snorkel Coated Punk Rocker part 2

As I left you last time me & Steve were cowering outside Wakefield Unity Hall amongst a crowd of intimidating mohicans, punks and skinheads (or at least they seemed intimidating at the time).

It dawns on me that I haven't introduced you to Steve as yet. Steve Moran is my oldest friend but only in the sense that he's the friend that I've known longest (I've got lots of friends who are older than Steve - that should keep me in his good books). I've known him since junior school although for the life of me I can't remember how we met. Anyway Steve is a actually a year younger than me - which is pretty much irrelevant now but when you're 15 it seems like a big gap. Only it wasn't because Steve was much more street wise than me. It probably comes from been the youngest in the family. Having older brothers and sisters probably does that to you (I wouldn't know as I'm the oldest in my family).

Having older brothers and sisters also meant that Steve was very clued up on music. He was already a punk when I first spoke to him about my musical allegiances. We already had subbuteo and an interest in cricket in common so this was yet another bond between us.

'Action' shot from a Subbuteo game 

Steve's house was a haven of peace in comparison to my crowded busy house. Most of his brothers and sisters had left home by this point. So it was great to go round and listen to his records (and those of his older siblings), admire his subbuteo stadium (down in the cellar) or take out his cricket gear for an impromptu game on the playing fields behind his house.

Looking back Steve was the older brother that I never had (even though he was younger!) and me together with his cousin Andy were the younger brothers he had never had. Steve always had an old head on young shoulders. Anyway enough about Steve already we'll come back to him later lets talk about me some more.

So last time I explained how I became a punk rocker but also pointed out that this was just a bit of a fad. I decided that all this punk stuff was a bit extreme for me and that I was more of a 'new wave' sort of person. In fact my favourite bands were the Boomtown Rats, the Police and Blondie. At this time my musical experience was based on what I heard on the radio together with Top of the Pops. I didn't have a record collection as such. Although I had already bought my first single ('When' by Showwaddywaddy) and also in conjunction with my dad I was part owner of the album 'Abba Arrival' (basically at 10p a week pocket money it would have taken me a long time to save up for the album so my dad took pity on me and went halves).

Anyway as was the way of most children of the seventies and eighties the next musical innovation, for me, was the cassette player. My mum and dad got me one for Christmas one year. Then even more exciting a new friend at school, Ian Middleton, did me a cassette! This was a recording of Blondie's 'Parallel Lines' plus assorted tracks by the likes of Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, The Clash and er Fleetwood Mac. Anyway playing this tape became a nightly ritual. This was the time when I'd first started finding girls strangely attractive rather than just a nusiance. So as my hormones started flicking in and I went from one unrequited crush to another this music became my soundtrack. Even now when I hear a track from 'Parallel Lines' I can feel that pang of misery/estacsy about my inability to get on the radar of Clare Fitzmaurice or Joanne Johnson or whoever it was that month.

A typical late seventies tape recorder

Punk rock was still out there though. Unlike me Andy Harris hadn't backslid and was still a punk. His favourite band was the Clash. Thanks to Christmas presents he'd quickly built up an excellent collection of albums and he did me a sampler full of The Clash, the Damned, the Angelic Upstarts and er Adam and the Ants. This stuff sounded great and with Steve also into punk and even Johnny Hemsley now a punk rocker I was soon back in the fold. Thanks to a paper round I was even able to buy a couple of albums albeit other people's cast offs. Harris sold me 'Nobody's Heroes' by Stiff Little Fingers. Stiff Little Fingers were the happening band on account of the fact they'd just played Wakefield Unity Hall and some kids from our year had been. In fact Johnny & Muller were regular gig goers going to see all the bands who played Wakefield and already they'd seen the Damned, Uk Subs, Gang of Four, Squeeze and others. This was yet another new development and once again I was playing catch up. I'd just started getting albums and now there were gigs as well!

Stiff Little Fingers

Time for a confession now. At the age of fourteen I never really went out on my own after dark. In some ways I was quite independent having been used to going to school on my own from a relatively early age (probably about seven or eight). I'd always gone off and done my own thing from that age - trips to the shops or the library. However that was during the day. Going out at night was something different. Even now I worry about the unknown. I'm usually fine once I've done something but my rather vivid imagination allows me to imagine the worse. My fear of the dark was a combination of all the ghost stories I used to read and the rather more prosaic threat of 'bigger boys' a problem which caused issues during the day let alone at night. As you can imagine I wasn't the toughest character and had a few run-ins with the local Ossett Comp kids (I went to the Catholic Comprehensive in Wakefield).

So the idea of going off at night and mixing with all sorts of wild punk rockers and such like just seemed like madness to me. So in my head a line was drawn in the sand. I was into punk and I would even buy the records but gigs no way!

To be continued