Curriculum Vitae (Repetitum)
Following on from my success delivering the news to my local community, I took a break from the world of (very part-time) work to focus on… playing in my first bands. And learning to play the guitar. Much of which came at the expense of any interest in or motivation to study, or revise for ‘O’ Levels, and later ‘A’ Levels.
Living in a small rural market town, some of my friends, and my own younger brother, in fact, had Saturday jobs bush beating - literally (as far as I know) beating bushes to encourage game birds to fly to their sporting deaths. Let’s never forget that killing is a sport for our aristocracy and their hangers-on. Famously, at the time, the host of these shootings was “peppered in the buttocks” by our drunken home secretary Willie Whitelaw. You couldn’t get away with a name like that now.
My brother graduated from bush beating for toffs to hunt sabotage.
I did well enough in my ‘O’ Levels (one A, eight Bs, and a C), that my maths teacher told me I would “never amount to anything”. He wasn’t wrong.
My dad tried to motivate me after my mock ‘A’ Level results by leaving me a drunken handwritten note and caricature drawing of me with an arrow pointing to it (I mean, in those days what else could he have done?) saying: “THICK CUNT”.
Then he got me what felt like a punishing summer job at the duck processing plant where he was a line supervisor. Being the boss’s son was no fun when they put me on the killing floor. I became a vegetarian for nine years after that (although since returned to meat eating - that’s another story).
I messed up my ‘A’ Levels (three Es, and failed General Studies writing about the punk band Stiff Little Fingers). I was profoundly depressed, but had no one to talk to about it. Mainly because I had been brought up not to talk about or express any “bad” or “difficult” feelings. Random people used to come up to me and say “Cheer up, it may never happen”, but it in my internal world, it already had.
Music, and playing guitar in a band, was my only outlet, but we were young and totally delusional. We were a three-piece, but believed we were the next Fab Four. We played a successful debut gig in Cleethorpes at The Sub, but instead of building on that, we immediately packed our bags and gear into a van, and drove to London to live in a series of squats in Stepney, Poplar and Limehouse.
An older ex-school friend was part of an anarchist community based out of a bookshop, and helped us find, gain entry to, and occasionally get the water, gas and/or electricity working. In those good old days, you could easily “sign on” the dole and get enough to actually live on.
I read and heard a lot about the politics of anarchism, which I found very attractive to my idealism. That said, I couldn’t ever see how it would work in practice, in the real world. It would need a revolution, of course, but even then, it would need a revolution in people’s minds and thinking first.
Six months living in squats, a couple of lousy gigs and a demo tape later, we packed our bags and returned home.