Life

Radio review: Punk and the Sex Pistols

Nuala McCann

Punk, the Pistols and the Provinces Radio 4

It's hard not to get teary eyed and sentimental when Mark Hodkinson takes you on a gentle dander down the lanes of Yorkshire and interviews misty-eyed punks about the days of rebellion and the modern horror of swapping safety pins for the bus pass.

Spit all you like. Punk is officially pension age now. It's 40 years old since the Clash gave that siren cry: “Come out of the cupboards you boys and girls” in London Calling.

On country lanes, Hodkinson treated us to the gentle baa of lambs and the memories of the day the Sex Pistols burst into town.

It was beautiful and whimsical and almost yearning for the glory days of two fingers in the air.

Even on country roads, rebellion doesn't lie down and bleat.

Pistols drummer Paul Cook admitted they'd never been further than Hampstead before that gig in Northallerton.

Steve Williams and DJ Brian Simpson were there.

They'd had the Searchers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders. Think smooth, creamy milk chocolate smooch... and then there were the Pistols.

Imagine crunching on a good old vinegary gherkin in your vanilla ice cream. Imagine the Pistols exploding onto the stage after a lifetime of schmaltz.

Simpson said he announced the band three times from the stage and no-one appeared.

“They were asleep. I had to ask someone to kick em on the legs to get them up on the stage.”

And when they burst into life, people just started to leave – they hadn't heard anything like it, he said. But two weeks later, he opened a music paper and there they were, staring back up at him.

“I opened the newspaper and thought ‘I've seen those people',” said Brian. “We were at the sharp end of punk rock.”

Peter Jackson got into punk when he was 13.

“Hair every colour, stud, tartan, bondage,” he did it all, he said.

Now he is a little older. Oh but, his soul is punk.

“I've literally just taken me Stiff Little Fingers tee shirt off,” he told Hodkinson.

It was about getting away from that stuff that the older ones were listening to ... like the Eagles he said, rolling his eyes. Funny how you see the eye roll, even on radio.

Hodkinson even took us to the venue of a famous Christmas Day charity concert for children when the Pistols arrived and an enormous cake was ripped apart and chucked about – a true bun fight.

Huh. You wouldn't expect anything less.

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