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
Sunday, 15 October 2017
I'm just reading through the manuscript before sendiing it for final edits prior to publication. Michael Muldoon helped me edit and rephrase it where needed and it's all reading very very well.
Here's a snippet from my days in the Lost Cherrees...
Whilst I identified strongly with the animal rights beliefs, I felt like some punk musicians were trying to score ‘punk points’ against each other. There was a hierarchy of snobbery in which vegans looked down on vegetarians who in turn looked down on meat eaters. People would check the labels on each other’s groceries and food products in order to catch each other out, instead of encouraging each other. It was becoming suffocating and the very people who claimed to be into freedom of speech and equality became judgmental and overbearing. I didn’t understand how this helped the cause that we all believed in.
But besides this churlish anarchic one-upmanship, I have many fond memories of other bands. Having to arrive early at venues to set-up the gear and sound-check left us with plenty of time to get to know the other bands and have a laugh before the punters arrived. I once swapped trousers with Mitch, the bass player from Hagar the Womb – a band we sometimes gigged and giggled with. I gained a pair of baggy, metallic blue trousers, pleated at the waist with tapered legs that fitted like a dream. I don’t think a pair of more eighties’ trousers could possibly exist. In return, Mitch got to wear a pair of stylish Noddy-print trousers, hand-made by yours truly. A fair swap, if I do say so myself.
There was one pre-gig confabulation in which a bunch of us were confessing to venial sins such as thefts. To shatter any preconceptions people often had about punks (usually based solely on our appearance and bad publicity garnered by the likes of the Sex Pistols) most of us were either totally innocent of any such heinous crimes or had nicked nothing more impressive than a few penny chews from the local sweet shop when we were kids.
Then one bloke piped up that he had once stolen a KERRANG! We all fell silent. A KERRANG! What the fuck was that? No one knew. And no one wanted to own up to not knowing either, but we guessed it was something major. I (for some reason known only to myself) imagined it was a piece of heavy machinery, like a JCB or a tractor or something. We all eyed this bloke with newfound respect, elevating him to celebrity status when we would discuss his bravery and gall for years to come. “Wow! That’s major!” someone actually said. Years later, of course, I discovered that KERRANG! was a heavy metal music magazine that probably cost about 70p at the time.
Another memorable gig (well it would have been if I had actually been there) was on our home turf in an assembly hall not far from where we regularly rehearsed. Conflict was headlining and the venue was packed. After we’d finished our set the police had raided the venue and a riot had broken out. Luckily, Steev and I had sloped off early as we’d seen the other bands play countless times. We had noticed police cars parked down every side street as we walked towards the station, which was unusual for a quiet suburb, but we’d just assumed it was a stakeout. I’m not sure why we thought this, it’s not like we lived in The Bronx. So anyway, there we were, safely back at Steev’s enjoying a nice cup of tea, whilst just a few streets away the infamous Surbiton Riot was taking place, or at least that’s what the media called it the next day.
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