(photo by Pat Pope, full text) MANIC STREET PREACHERS ASTORIA, LONDON
SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them
a week ago and here I am.
(They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore
they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.)
OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock
a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is
loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And
it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the
King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll
build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond
(“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West”
turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment
The four founding
points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets
used to loneliness. Three: if tr…
OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …
This was my dream. And it was so vivid it really happened.
I hired a van. The expense was a concern but I needed the capacity. First the long drive north to Middlesborough. I knew he'd be at home, visiting relatives. Made sure my HeadBag was packed. Blindfolds and ballgags. Rope. Some starved, stroppy badgers. Maxi-pack of chloroform-seeped bogroll from Costco. Masking tape. As I eased onto the M1 I told myself again the story of how it was developed from the need for waterproof ammunition casings in WWII. I had to, I was bored, and it's a long schlep up to 'boro. Idly, after securing a mortgage for a bacon roll at Tibshelf, I had an argument with my other personality about whether Middlesborough was in North Yorkshire, County Durham or Teeside.
Nothing got resolved. A plain-clothes officer pulled me off in the hardshoulder near Malton and issued stern words about punching myself while driving. No hilarity did ensue. I needed to focus. This was a serious business. By noo…