For many years I bought up zines whenever I saw them in my local independent record shops (hey, remember that concept?). I loved them, but to my mind at the time they seemed to portray a world I would never be able to either fully understand or be a part of; I read (and squinted at, for the print was shite) pages and pages of in-jokes, personal digs at folk I’d never met and sneering reviews of local bands who appeared to have done nothing to earn such derision apart from not being part of the zine-creator’s tiny circle of friends. And for a long time I thought that this closed-door attitude entirely and fairly represented punk rock.
Then I found Real Overdose, well more to the point I found Wolfie Retard, an affable fellow who played bass in an Ipswich band called LoveJunk. Wolfie’s zine was called Real Overdose and while it contained a fair amount of daft stuff that I didn’t at once identify with, it never portrayed punk rock as something that I had to be invited to enjoy.
Real Overdose was the kid in class who you’d be happy to sit next to during a lesson, and who was cheerfully chat about whatever you fancied without at any point telling you that you were wrong because you didn’t wear proper punk-rock shoes, or had the wrong haircut.
Before Real Overdose I thought punk was about leather jackets, adventurous hair and questionable personal hygiene. After Real Overdose I realised that even though I didn’t like The Exploited, and wore long-sleeve tee-shirts devoid of any sort of skull-motif, that I probably was quite punk rock. I realised that punk isn’t a thing that can be defined in any way; there’s no checklist that one has to complete to achieve the status of being ‘punk’.
Looking back I wonder if the problem wasn’t the way punk was portrayed to me; it was more likely the case I coloured my opinions with my own externally-imposed prejudice. No idea where my preconceptions came from though, most likely the NME and The Word.
But this isn’t just another rambling damp-eyed thought-piece where some grey-haired duffer mumbles into his pint of mild about an undying allegiance to an alleged scene, nah, not at all. When I was given the brief by the honourable editor of yon Lights Go Out zine I was asked to explain why I find the word ‘Poo’ (and all associated toilet-humour) so amusing, and I think the reason I’ll always stifle a titter when I hear a fellow beast of the earth guff ‘n’ trump is that (much like punk-rock) bog-humour is a leveller. If we choose to unclench the buttocks that society tries so hard to keep sealed shut (with an unending list of things we should fear) and let out a little Tommy Squeaker I’m sure we’d all feel better. Much like the ability to pick up an instrument, hit it, and then form a band, the ability to express ourselves through our bowels is something we all share and can glory in without external permission.
Originally published in Lights Go Out zine issue 27.