Stranded 70 Miles from Home

Punk rock saves the day

Joseph Yossarian

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Close-up photo of black denim stained with spattered bleach.
Bleach-spattered black jeans (my own photo)

As a young man, I became quite enamoured with the punk rock scene. The raw energy of the music, combined with the outrageous fashions certainly epitomised the title of the genre new wave. I loved the music, but I lacked the chutzpah to wear the clothes. Or so I thought.

One Saturday afternoon, my friend Rob and I were listening to a selection of punk singles on an old Dansette record player in my bedroom. Inspired by the get-ups of people depicted on the covers of those singles, we decided it was time to walk the walk. We set about dressing up as punks in preparation for a jaunt around local bars that evening.

The DIY Ethos of Punk

We didn’t have any punk-specific clothing, like bondage trousers or even a Clash t-shirt; our own attempt at emulating our heroes would be a makeshift one. But things got off to a promising start when I retrieved two of my dad’s old suit jackets from the attic. With the addition of a few badges in the lapels, and several lengths of chain held in place by safety pins, we had as good a punk uniform as could be bought on the King’s Road.

We daubed slogans onto white shirts with indelible marker pens (I went with Sten guns in Shankhouse), and to finish off our accessories included cheap plastic sunglasses, a loosened tie for Rob, and I finished off my look with a stylish studded dog collar around the throat. We laughed at each other, but behind the laughter lay genuine excitement at the project, offset by a level of trepidation.

Because it was all well and good larking about in a bedroom with a can of beer, but taking our new look into the bars of Blyth would be a leap into the unknown. We had no idea what kind of reception we’d get from the rather more decorous regulars in the lounge of the Red House, the pub we’d be visiting to await our bus into the town centre. If no-one laughed, that would be a bonus.

Our plan was simple: brazen it out, but say we’re going to a fancy-dress party if things got messy. We needn’t have worried. Apart from the odd glance, no-one paid any attention to us other than kids who were interested in following suit. I got quite a buzz from dressing in a way that was so different from everyone else, and our night went off…

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Joseph Yossarian

Freelance writer and blogger from the north-east coast of England, specialising in true crime, childhood memories and whatever takes my fancy.