The Stink Foreword
This is the short foreword from The Stink by C.C. Hogan and is just to give you a little taster!
I am not going to spend my whole life trying to say yeah, we should have done that or no it was the other way round or whatever, that was the way we did it. Basically, what happened, happened and the simple fact that most people are too stupid to believe it, or weren’t there or just couldn’t be bothered is not something I am going to go round sniping about thirty something years later.
This story is about truth. It is about the truth that people get from having done something and seen something. It is that weird sort of truth that you don’t have to justify with some long winded pile of academic rubbish, but the truth you get from looking into the eyes of the idiot that did it and realizing, yeah man, that is the truth. Of course, that may just be a pile of horse whatever, but that is your problem, not mine. You don’t get to be my age without having been younger first, and if when you are a miserable old git you don’t remember or get what being young was (either now or back when you ran the gauntlet) then you must have been the saddest kid I could imagine; you either have good reason not to remember or you are too pompous. This is for people who either ARE young, or still laugh when they remember being thinner … er, younger.
Now, the Seventies was not just a time, it was a place; a planet, if you like, that just happens to share enough with the 21st Century to make a sort of sense. But there was some notable things missing for the ordinary kid. To start with we were still called kids! There was none of this “young adult” stuff, or “the country’s future” or any pretence at being anything correct or flattering. We were kids and we stank all the way up to our twenty-first birthday; pretty proud of it too. What happened after twenty one gets a bit blurry, to be honest, so we will forget that for this tale.
Mobile phones were the things rich people had in their Jags, and no one with the right mind would want one. Computers were huge things your dad used at work, maybe, or someone somewhere at your dad’s work used one, and Clive Sinclair had a calculator out, as did Casio, but I still had a slide rule. Walkmans didn’t come out till the end of the decade, so you either carried a large cassette deck which ate batteries for breakfast, or you whistled to yourself. I think people talked more then. The idea of being “connected” sounded remarkably like being nailed to something; you might want to think about that when you next get desperate about not being on Facebook. We wanted Freedom and that meant running around with no one else knowing what you were up to, not being wired up to the entire damned world!
Some things are pretty similar now to then. Platform shoes seem to be back in some places, I notice, as do sort of flared trousers. I bet sparkly Spandex is around somewhere and most dance music seems to have four on the floor the same as disco. Hate it now, hated it back then, by the way, so you can make a guess as to which way the music is going in the story. Back then we made friends, we made gangs, we fell out, we dated and everything else exactly the same as now, just without the connected bit. But this is a different planet, a parallel universe we are talking about, remember? It is similar, but not the same. The seventies revolved at a different speed. They had different ambitions, the colours were a different hue, sort of paler, there was a different mountain to climb and the girls were seriously different; I mean, aliens man!
Some people who have decided to make a living by being a cultural historian seem to have forgotten what it was really like. For instance, most teenagers didn’t like punk, which was why there were 10 times as many discos as there were punk venues (and why Disco is still here today, and punk had died within 2 years). Most people who DID like punk, didn’t dress like punks. Neither did they spit at every one and want to see the end of the Monarchy. There was loads of live music that wasn’t punk. I managed to go and see a couple of different rock bands every week without thinking about it, and none of them were punk bands. Yes, there were riots, and the dustmen always seemed on strike, but the vast majority of the population only saw “civil unrest” on their televisions, not outside their door, and got on with their lives quite happily with the rubbish picked up as normal.
There were some things that were pretty awful. Racism was one. This was the time the National Front got going properly in this country. I remember working a temporary job for a company in Brick Lane in London towards the end of the seventies and being asked by the people there if I wanted to go Paki-Bashing that night. I didn’t return to the job the next day. But mostly I saw racism confined to middle aged and older people who were still wedded to the nastiness you got in some working man’s clubs or the crap shows on TV like the Black and White Minstrel Show or Love Thy Neighbour. Most of my generation hated that stuff. We would be the kids that got into New Wave Comedy in the eighties, and we didn’t care where our friends came from as long as they were cool and not racist, of course.
But all in all, the seventies were sunny, they were crazy, and they were ours. Hendrix had happened, Vietnam had finished at last, Punk was still thinking about it and we were about to have one of the hottest summers on record. Things were about to get strange. Trust me.
To get full appreciation of this carefully crafted diatribe, please read this in a “Norff Lonnon” Accent. This will require you to be lazy about your TH sounds, not to bovver with consonants in the middle of words if they slow things down and to sound constantly surprised or mildly fed up about everything; your choice. And if your name is Smith, it is spelt with two effs, not one. Oh, and answer a question with a question. Example:
Parent: “Why did you trash the car?”
Car Trasher: “Why do I get blamed for everything?”