'I've always believed the punk attitude to be the only one with any real integrity and I've always found the causing of embarrassment to be the best way of affecting change. So,I'm committed to punk till the day death comes looking for a bloody nose'
The quote above is from a friend of mine, Sarah aka The Pink Punk Poet or PPP. As I have mentioned before I am bone idle when it comes to reading, so something has to really resonate with me to hold my attention. If punk in the early days gave my emotions a voice, then Sarah manages to capture so eloquently that ideology today. Identity is the crisis can't you see? I don't think we are quite at crisis point, but I am sure that Sarah will not mind me clearing up any confusion to the reader by pointing out that back in the day she was a he....yes a proper he with a beard riding with the Hells Angels.
LORRAINE: So Sarah, what WERE you doing in the days preceding punk and what affect did its outbreak have on your life and thinking? Were you already writing poetry?
SARAH: Hi Lolly before punk huh? The short answer is I was arsing ‘round waiting for the Tsunami to break. As for the long answer...I left school in ‘73...sent home with...”and don’t come back ‘til your Dad’s been”. Easy one to deal with that...I didn’t tell him...he never went...so neither did I. I hung loose at the local paper shop reading my way through their porn novel collection.I was bright enough to go to university...but other than art I’d learned nothing much I was interested in at school...and all I’d got from home was a high tolerance of pain and a bad attitude problem.
I was a face in my local skinhead scene...fitted in there easy but lost my respect for the top boys when they changed their names to things like ‘Bert’ and 'Sid’ . Hard is as hard does...it don't come from names.
I wandered round England a while, at risk and out of place in dirt cheap hostels for pervy old men. Jobs were easy got and just as easy ended...till I signed up for an apprenticeship wiring nuclear subs. I came third top of fifteen hundred applicants but left before getting the ‘job for life’ paperwork. The foreman had me down as trouble from the start. I had him down as too tightly wound...we clashed. The day I left...the grumpy little fucker followed me way up the road bubbling loud and long about how much he hated me...too bitter to notice let alone understand the deep sense of satisfaction I was getting from knowing I had power of hex on him. As for the poison he was tasting that was all his own doing.
I respect plenty of people but it’s never deserved when it’s either expected or demanded. Talking of which...’77...hot summer, I had a Triumph on the road and had swapped working for the man...for getting paid to get pissed and smoke the finest opium soaked South African bush fixing motorbikes. Thatcher was doing just as she pleased and preaching selfish is good. It was queens jubilee year, strings of cheap second hand car lot plastic flags lined the streets. I didn’t get it, why the fuck would anyone wanna celebrate a thousand years or more of her selfish privilege built as it was on smash and snatch? and then the Sex Pistols came floating down the Thames.
Nothing like a slap in the face for grabbing attention is there? Now the world knew what integrity looked and sounded like.Two things happened soon after, one I started hanging out with the Hells Angels and two I joined up as roadie for a punk group.
I remember one time at a Ruts concert we had the president of the Amsterdam
chapter with us there was a fight, not that unusual at a punk gig, luckily
it didn’t escalate, you’d have read about it if it had seeing as how the president
tended to settle things with grenades.
You asked about poetry...nah I never did write any before about 2004. I’ve no
idea why I started other than as a means of expressing myself which in my case
means being bare b ones rude and you know how folks are with things like plain and true, they don’t like it.
Most folks ain’t looking for the truth, preferring an impression of looking that way they get to make and keep friends while keeping the shafting of their pet goat nice and private or whatever else they’re up to, me I don’t care so long as everybody's happy, it’s the hypocrisy I won’t tolerate. I did a garden party a while back for [amongst others] some folks from the office of the deputy prime minister, course they was fretting I was gonna junk the script and start spitting anarchy and I like that, I like the unease you can sense when folks don’t quite trust you. Fear...fear of shining the mirror back in they faces that’s what it was. Aint nothing destroys the complacent and snide worse than having to face themselves.
LORRAINE: You addressed the issue of gender as one of identity and
almost defiance, but on a deeper psychological, personal level, what prompted you to change gender? Was it a sudden revelation or a slower thought process?
SARAH: I'd taken big risks in my thirties, made a lot of money. It paid off and I was living well and having a gas. I could've continued doing what I was doing. I had my own business with five or six employees, a bit of land and an old farmhouse I'd bought at auction off some one called Timothy, Jocelyn Maxwell-Day [sounds like a Beatles record don't it]. Anyway people came for parties and never went home. The place was full of weird people. I liked it, always something going on.
But ten years is enough to get used to something. I get my energy from challenge and you don't find much it in predictable.
One night an ex came by back from Oz, she’s a real big part of the running of
that country, her career was what done for us years before. By the time she got
broody she was tight for time, said I was top of a list of one, came to get me.
I said sure what the fuck!.
The missus had been playing games. Some folks get their esteem from seeing what they can bend she was one of them if'n you yield they loses respect so you
has to stay feisty and reckon on 'em coming round in the end. At the time we were living together apart.
So...me n the girl from oz are in bed and set on leaving the country in the
morning and you knows what comes next, the missus comes home and cuts up
[as they do]. She's like...how could you? Well you did first. We're over you
said, "yeah but in my house". "It's my house...I'm leaving in the morning then it
can be your house". "What about the mortgage? I'll sign it over".
Now there ain't a lot in life that folks find more attractive than someone else
wanting them for ever and the fact it ain't with them sets a bit of a challenge too. Missus of ten years breaks down at this point, "I can't live without you" well you was doing a pretty good job yesterday.
There was some pretty serious emotion flowing out of that girl right then and
that kind of honesty is a real turn on, so we made love on the kitchen table...Girl from OZ still waiting upstairs in ma bed. I didn't believe any of it as it happens...and when she cut short the loving I knew for sure. See .if it was true she shoulda gone with it. The fact she couldn't showed she couldn't handle it she'd never handle it. Someday [soon probably] things'd fall back to exactly where they was before.It was my call. So I make my decision and walk away from everything, women, house, business, everything. It was pure.
You know my opinion on uncertainty Lolly. It scares people, most people I
reckon but its opportunity for change is all. I can't leave it there there's more.
Six months later I had a new girlfriend apparently she'd been to the house I just hadn't noticed, easy done there were so many coming and going. We were feeling reckless and lucky and she was pregnant.
We started getting postcards from ten year girl...last night I dreamed of you in a peacock chair in the sky...she was in India smoking weed...and it wasn't talk I'd ever heard from her before so I chose to dismiss it as meaning nothing special. Preggers girlfriend had her hackles up though, she understood all right.
When girlfriend is around six months pregnant ten year girl, back from India
turns up on the doorstep gets down on one knee [it was a leap year] and proposes. Ten years it ends with she don't wanna know, less than a year apart
and she proposes. I stuck with the kid and her ma. Except SHE thinks I shoulda
gone off with ten year girl, says she woulda done.We're real close now, couldn't be any closer and not be together. That’s good for both of us. Litluns good about it too. But you want to know why I changed? I was bored, bored and skint and I couldn't take no more o' that crazy feckin love life o' mine.
I swopped everything I knew for everything I didn't. I weren't submissive.
Hadn't been to bed with no dude before. Hadn't been to bed with no girl like
this before. I didn't know if I could do [ahem] certain things. I didn't figure
I needed to know. Figured I'd just work things out as I went along and stop
anytime I didn't like or couldn't handle.
I've been thinking of changing back lately but only because it's been so feckin easy. And because easy makes changing back seem the greater challenge [I won't though].
It's scary and weird and all sorts of things I don't understand but all of it's
a gas. And I reckon there's enough learning in it to see me through you know.
SARAH: Hey this is from my myspace profile it's a bit of a rant but better than
scrambling up something similar only not so good.
If I look girl but talk bloke better than bloke then some feel they've lost their sense of who they are. See, differences in the sex extremes are not merely if even physical they are just as much behavioural, and they are traditional. And they're often fiercely protected. Pass freely back and forth across the borders and you undermine the very foundations upon which they rely, the absolutes that allow them to act casual and ignorant and expect to get away with it as a matter of routine.
I was at a meeting with the housing minister at number 7
You find Government and Council employees are particularly nervous about saying something or doing something that might be seen as offensive or un pc they know the rules but they don't exactly know how to apply 'em. Generally they has to go ask someone and why would they know? So then they has to have a meeting cos them kind of things is decided as they goes along and it helps if they has a tranny along for the insight.
So, I used to work with Government and Councils about homelessness along with running an art therapy workshop in a homeless hostel but I've shifted of late
into sort of a professional tranny.
And then there's the poetry of course.
I get up on stage looking all girly and..."presidents with their cocks out getting blown by their squeezes...slobbering slurping secretaries with stains on their LBD's...you have to love your countries, you have to love your democracies, not cos they looks pretty [cos they don't] but because we're free to please" Soon as I opens me gob they knows I'm out of dude but I aint looking to hide in female. I'm not ashamed. It don't spoil what I'm doing, pretty sure it adds something you know.
I use the gents but only cos they makes a fuss which means they've assumed
I'm female, which means they've based that on my appearance. The law don't
measure it that way. As far as they're concerned you are whatever genitals you
got. The problem being they don't always show. Whoah there...no...I'm not calling for a law change to insist you wear your dick outside your troos [if you got one] yeek that'd be right untidy. It's just legally they might INSIST I use the gents, so even though I may be causing some unrest by doing so [looking like I do]...it's ma duty...
O'course you know that's a lie, me punk, me like [me getting off on] causing a
fuss, that's WHY I do it.
I don't make the rules. I might cause the fuss but it's not me MAKING the
fuss and the fuss is a farce anyway, people shouldn't be judged on the way
they look they just shouldn't.
So Lolly, I think I make a difference just for how I look and also for the
things I do. But whatever I do I've found mekin folks uncomfortable and
embarrassed is a pretty effective means of petitioning change.
I think of it as poking 'em with a sharp stick. They need it some folks else the
routine gets em lazy and complacent and they falls asleep on the job.
SARAH: Hard to choose but how about...
On The Buses...
Same old bus same old route
My will to lives dropping like a ripped parachute
Ugh...toilet brick anti-perspirants, curry farts and paraffin
The overpowering stench of magnolia-marinated women
Suffocating, mothball-minging trembly old ladies
Ankle bashing buggies of bawling babies
Big bummed mammas cramming in with armload's of shopping
Nosebagging French fries and stinking chicken
Discarding the packaging, adding to the stop-start tide
Of leg bones and greasy skin, snot rags, bubble-gum, bottles and tins
Hyper-active chalk-skidding-across-blackboard schoolchildren
OH FOR A SYRINGE FULL OF RITALIN!!!
Opposites sitting some couple who've been roller skating
Clingy...cloying...slouching...small talking in Russian
Ticket less bums fresh from scoring at the kebab shop in Peckham
Bumping into others been doing the same in Kennington
The brotherhood of the streets [the clan of smelly feet]
Alongside there's some woman engaged in
the most mind numbingly boring mobile conversation
It lasts the entire forty five minute journeys destination
Four three six...four three six...the four three six Mum
The four three six...the four three six...no not the twenty one
Why would I be on the twenty one? The four three six
The four...three...six to Paddington
My will to lives dropping ad nauseum
I dunno how much more o' this I can stick
I'm drowning in a crude oil behaviour slick
Feels like I got my head in a plastic bag and I'm starting to gag
My will to lives dropping like a chequered flag
Roll on Victoria...a stiff drink and a fag
Is it so unreasonable or intolerant of me to expect a degree
Of civilised company? I don't mind sharing...really...I'm a hippie
But there's a limit to the limit of everyone's amenability
Is it fair to expect me to sit in a fug of someone else's
Bio-assayed curry...or be crushed beneath a wall of high decibel verbosity...or be smothered by a pillow of Hai Kurare
Or to have to sit amongst the piles of filth and debris
Left by people too goddamn indifferent and lazy
To dispose of it responsibly...and ain't this precisely the problem
With the public transport policy?...the reason it is and always will be
SHIT... it's BECAUSE it's public. - Sarah Midnight 07.08.06
LORRAINE: Pssttt, have you any photos we can use of you at different stages of your life, or is it ok to just use ones from your albums?
SARAH: I'm short on photos, I know some really dramatic ones exist here and there in other people's collections. I had this thing about if you were taking photos you was more'n likely peripheral to whatever was happening. Like for instance I had this 'trick' I used to do at biker parties in the woods I would find a bush and a tree next to each other and get about thirty foot up the tree then dive head first into the bush. It wasn't what you'd call a graceful thing, more dangerous than anything. It's no wonder I broke my neck eh?
Anyway I couldn't have photographed that. I know photos exist because I saw some [years ago] but unless I were to write my memoirs and find a publisher willing to front some folding I couldn't really afford to go chasing up old friends, I've lost touch with and raiding their photo collections [shame that] You're welcome to help yourself to what little there is.
If that brief introduction to the workings of the PPP whet your appetite for some more literary honesty in the inimitable style of our Sarah, please check out her blogs and poems at www.myspace.com/pinkpunkpoet
Scared of an uncertain future? Nah, it's an opportunity! Come the revolution, Pink Punk Poet for prime minister I say.....well I sure don't want to be in the firing line! :-)