Many of my posts are the wreckage of a collision of two trains of thought. Some are a little more tangled than others.
On this occasion it was reading the obituary in The Economist of Sydney Wignall – adventurer, spy and rebel with a sense of humour (despite some terrible adversity) – and a post from @FlipChartRick about the God Save the Queen moment (in the Pistols sense) of BrewDog.
In the case of the latter, a short Twitter debate considered whether self-destruction was actually a defining component of punk. The camp was split. My position was that it was – but then other than for the tragic case of the drug-addled, iconic but talentless Sid Vicious, I couldn’t think of any other cases of self-destruction from the genre worthy of a mention. So many of the rebels of the late 70’s are still gigging, rather sad parodies of their former-rebellious selves from the days when music was urgent, energised, and politicised like never before (and not since).
In a former life, I witnessed rock and roll self-destruction under my own roof from extended family members addicted to heroin. I can tell you that – despite the fairytales that arise from the vulnerability of tortured genius – it’s about as horrific a condition as can be witnessed in a person. No surprise then that I am not a fan of self-destruction – but also can’t find a lot of respect for the self-parody epitomised by those dragging an idea on well beyond its time.
Back to Sydney Wignall – a genuine punk. Never satisfied, never still, never defeated in a series of questionable quests – irrepressible, cheeky, disrespectful, and contemptuous. He didn’t have spiky hair and spit, but he did it his way. While the punk rockers who gave us life and purpose as teenagers are still gigging, still singing about smashing it up to Thatcher’s children, the real punks like Wignall are crashing through another crazy project, cocking a snook to authority.
The punk rockers of their day were self-preserving part-timers by comparison. They didn’t self-destruct, they slipped into middle age looking to make a living from what they knew best – understandable. In many respects, as their followers we are their heirs. We tweet and blog our provocations, we challenge established thinking, expose guff wherever it mushrooms, and campaign for a different perspective. Blogs are the fanzines of our time. But we respect each other, we pay our taxes, bemoan poor etiquette on the tube, and quietly pity self-destruction.
So BrewDog can have its God Save the Queen moment, and we either have, or will, too. That little bit of rebellion will always be in us. As the song below goes……
They play their records very loud
And pogo in the bedroom
In front of the mirror
But only when their mums gone out
The real rebels are out there doing it their way, with no time to blog about it. As Sartre said in Nausea “one has to choose, to live or to tell.”
We are the part-time punks. Great, isn’t it?