Soap The Stamps, Jump The Tube

By Gail Thibert

Nineteen years old with freshly dyed blue hair, punk rocker Gail places an advert in a music paper for ‘likeminded friends and weirdos’. Soap the Stamps, Jump the Tube follows her autobiographical journey through the 80s underground music and squatting scene in London

Music | Women
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Publication date: May 2018

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It’s 1983. Convent-educated teenager Gail dyes her hair blue and escapes suburban boredom in Surrey to live a more exciting life among the colourful punks and squatters of London.

Leaving behind the twitching net curtains and disapproving looks of beige Morden (A.K.A. Bore-don), Gail places a music paper advert to seek out likeminded ‘friends and weirdos,’ and so her adventure begins.

Along the way, Gail meets the good, the bad and the just plain crazy while riding the crest of the anarcho and post-punk wave of music which defined the early 80s underground.

Invited to join punk band the Lost Cherrees as keyboard player, Gail points out that she can’t play any instruments. When the band laugh and reassure her that they can’t play either, she takes the plunge. For two years, the band tours dive venues and releases cult records, and Gail combines the lifestyle of a punk musician with holding down jobs ranging from Camden Market stallholder, to sandwich making and cycle couriering.

Living in squats around the capital, Gail mixes with drug dealers and drunken casualties, at times living life dangerously close to the edge. Encounters with various lunatic personalities leave her nerves frazzled, and a horrific rape at a party leaves her scarred for life, yet she deals with it by campaigning for justice for rape victims.

As Thatcher’s 80s march on, boyfriends and marriage proposals come and go. Mike introduces Gail to motorbikes and before long she is zooming around on an old GT500 which she acquires through ‘cosmic ordering.’

She meets Bill the witch and learns the art of psychic protection and how to read tarot cards, which she finds she has a natural skill for. A new career as a psychic beckons, but although older and wiser, Gail finds she still has a knack for encountering the freaky and surreal.

Soap the Stamps is a true and sometimes harrowing story about a girl finding her way in a London that no longer exists.

Remembered with a sense of humour, Gail’s storytelling has an authenticity that that only an autobiography can provide and a memory for detail that will have you smiling and laughing.

Including snippets from Gail’s diaries you will recognize many musicians and personalities from the underground scene from that period and letters and fan mail that she lovingly kept all these years.

(And the title? A reference to ‘sticking it to authority’ and saving money by travelling on the London Underground without a ticket, and rubbing soap over stamps so the postmark can be removed and the stamps reused. Both popular punk pastimes!)

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