The first time I came across punk was on a school trip to (I think) Madame Tussaud's. At the end of the museum there was a ride that took us through the history of pop music. It must have showed Elvis and the Beatles, but the only ones I remember were an animatronic waxwork Madonna doing ‘Like a Virgin’ and Sid Vicious doing ‘My Way’. I can’t remember the Vicious waxwork, but the video for ‘My Way’ shocked me. I didn’t know whether he really had shot audience members at the end of the song or if it was just an act. The ride moved on to the next pop milestone, but I couldn’t pay attention. I asked my Dad as he drove me home what punk was. He said it was a group of people who hated everything.
Years later I got into 90s American pop punk and delved into punk history. I read the Sniffin Glue anthology and Please Kill Me, and watched The Filth and the Fury. I remember Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming
was one of the books that sat uselessly on the table in my A Level
Media Studies class. Dropping out of A Levels was probably a big part of
what drew me to the era and the music, but the Casualties-style reenactors you’d see at gigs served as a warning of the perils of nostalgia.
major aspect of documentaries and histories was the Jubilee. It always
had to be emphasized how different it was back then, how seriously
people took the monarchy. One part of Filth and the Fury details
Lydon’s attack by royalists, who knifed him in the knee with a machete.
The bunting and the street parties all seemed like bizarre period
details that aging punks laughed about when they reminisced and tried to
emphasize that people really did feel so strongly about the Queen, as
if no one today would believe them.
an obvious point to make and I know lots of people are making it. But
there is something wrong with the fact that 35 years after ‘God Save the
Queen’, despite all the upheavals between then and now, the one thing
to stay constant is the pageantry and adoration of royalty.
not that I’m surprised they’re still here — nothing short of a
revolution would get rid of them. No, it’s that I am staggered by the
deference and fawning over these unbearable cretins. In an age where we
apparently can’t afford education, healthcare or wages, what we can
afford is a nuclear warhead and parties for the fucking Royal family.
I’ll leave you with the words of punk hip gunslinger and easy target Tony Parsons:
old punk until the day I die, I still loathe much about a system that
elevates mediocre non-entities like Cameron and Clegg to the highest
office. But – like the overwhelming majority of our people – I have
nothing but respect, admiration and love for the Queen. She is of course
more of a true punk than Johnny Rotten will ever be. Her Majesty has
followed her destiny, done what she was born to do – surely the very
heart of the punk ethos. [...] The Queen does not represent a life of
privilege for a few pampered toffs. The Queen embodies the best of us.”
2012: annus horribilis.