What I said back then:
There has to be a punk moment, and this is it. I could have picked almost anything from this time, but there’s a story attached to this. We didn’t really do punk properly in Aberdeen. We were a bit too far out of the loop. I mean, we had the expected furore when the Sex Pistols were banned from playing in Aberdeen, but I’m not even sure there was a serious suggestion that they were coming. There were Clash and Damned albums in the Year Area, and the odd safety pin – in lapels, mind, not in faces. We did enjoy the supposed anarchy and rebellion, but I think we were a bit half-hearted about it really. And we got it all several weeks after the fact, too – the latest new band were established chart artists by the time we actually got to hear any of the music – everything moved so fast in 1977 – and I think that a little of the thrill was absorbed by that. And I can make no real claims to being a punk in any meaningful way; I liked the music I heard, but I didn’t own any of it.
The only way I could hear it, other than the occasional radio play, was good old fashioned seven inch singles. In later years, there was a record player in the Year Area – I wonder whose it was? We queued up to put on our singles during lunchbreak particularly, and some of my fond memories are of almost entirely forgotten singles – Flying Lizards, Lemon Kittens, Spizz Energi, Regents (anyone remember “Seventeen“?) The other place where records might be played was in the dressing room of the Drama Theatre – there was a lot of free time between Highers and the end of term, and we were trying to put on a couple of plays to the accompaniment of various loud pieces of music, including, from somewhere, the Buzzcocks single ‘What Do I Get?’ Now, not particularly controversial (not compared to ‘Orgasm Addict‘, anyway), it wasn’t even particularly new – someone presumably had brought it in in a job lot of things to listen to. The other side, however, was charmingly, and challengingly entitled ‘Oh Shit‘. No-one dared put it on (hey, we weren’t that rebellious) until one day, yours truly, bored or forgetful, or something, flipped it over and the room emptied. There was a first year drama class going on in the theatre, and apparently they could hear it all perfectly… I think it was my only act of teenage rebellion, and I can’t even be certain that I meant it. Pass the pipe and slippers….
What I think now:
Well, I glossed over a couple of things, I’m not sure why. ‘In Reverse Order’ for one; if my remaining braincells were all still in the right order, I could tell a tale or two of Aberdeen’s punk fanzine – I was a stalwart contributor to both issues, although I don’t now have a copy of either, and nor, I suspect, does anyone else. I was delighted to briefly reacquaint myself with Michael Hance some years back on the strength of our shared experiences with ‘IRO’, but it otherwise has faded into obscurity, which I think is where it belongs.
(Note to self: there’s probably a couple of thousand words in it, but I’d probably be the only one interested in reading it…)
The other Buzzcocks related thing is one of my favourite short stories by anyone in any genre. It’s by Patrick Marber, better known for his plays, and does the whole Buzzcocks / being a teenager thing way better than I did. It’s called ‘Peter Shelley’, and it’s in a collection called ‘Speaking with the Angel’, which I recommend purchasing, since the proceeds go to a very worthwhile cause, and it has a whole bunch of other great short stories in it. In fact, I’m a little bit depressed that the first link is out there. Let’s hope hundreds of you visit it from this link and get it taken down…
Well, not a lot, really. I’m aware that Buzzcocks are still going (or were the last time I looked), but I’m not particularly inspired to go and look them up. Maybe I should…