By 1987 my career as a runner was truly
over on-hold and I was also out of Scouts as I had passed the 16 mark and was now into Venturer Scouts (there were lady-scouts now).
It was around this time that I had to decide on an image for my teenage years. Y’know, the sort of music, clothes and attitude you were going to have until you got money and could buy a car and impress the ladies (we’re talking about 1993 for the money so this image had to last the bones of 6 years – a lifetime when you’re 16).
I had a few options –
Go for something Ska-ish/Mod-ish? I had a fishtail parka and a Ben Sherman shirt (before they were re-invented) so this would have been easy. Only I didn’t really like either The Jam or Reggae. I did like The Who (a lot).
Go for the Heavy Metal look?
A mullet? check.
Bad skin? check.
Tone deaf? check.
I still don’t know why I didn’t become a rocker. I now love AC/DC and listen to it all the time. Basically, I just wasn ‘t that much of an angry teenager.
Another option was the Bros/Ben from Curiosity Killed the Cat/Bronski Beat look which was never on for someone like me – I just wasn’t that much into grooming.
So, back then, the only option was to embrace your inner hippie and go for the earthy look. the uniform was simple – a woolly jumper, a pair of denims, an ear ring and a pair of desert boots – with white socks. The look required little attention and it thrived on being anti-establishment.
The music was pretty cool as well with everything to choose from from Dylan, The Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Billy Bragg.
Two artists stand out for me, both were contemporary to the time.
First is Billy Bragg – why don’t we have people like this now?
The other were definitely not in the hippie camp.
They weren’t steeped in the Woodstock vibe, they weren’t full of crusty coolness.
What they were was the epitome of everything going on in my life. No computers, no girls, no future, no money, a Thatcherite future of succeeding by standing on other peoples heads. I had just read The Catcher in the rye so you can imagine my righteous state of mind – or to put it another way, I hadn’t started paying tax yet.
In other news, in 1987 I sat 2 O levels – English and Maths – just to stay sharp on the exams front.
I also inter railed to La Rochelle with the Venturer Scouts and fell in love with France. I could give a whole other blog post over to France but all I would say is that like Guinness, France was my first taste of adulthood and so I am still loyal to it.