Tuesday, 31 December 2013
One night I was just leaving my Ma's house heading over to Mountainview and my mate Morelli's to listen to what new musical gems he recorded from John peel's radio show when I walked into a British Army foot patrol. It was not even remotely unusual for this to happen in any working class catholic area anywhere in Northern Ireland.You could be stopped two or three times in one night. These were the times we lived in.Yet there probably not many terrorist suspects who wore red tarten bondage trousers,a Marlena Dietirich Blue Angel tee shirt,DM boots,huge overcoat and a scarf and orange spikey hair. As I said, these were the times. As usual I was asked who I was,where I was coming from and where I was going,then unusually the soldier who had stopped me asked me to take my coat off so he could search me. It was absolutely freezing with frost glistening on the pavements and the steam of our breath visible in front of our faces so I thought this was not necessary and even a bit demeaning. I felt he was asking me to do this just because he could. So I said no. Now usually I was so mousey I would be as compliant as it is possible to be.Maybe it was because I had just left the warmth and laughter of my ma's house,our own Happy House, and had barely reached the end of the street where I lived that I felt so emboldened. Whatever it was that pushed the button I just said no. Before I knew what was happening the rest of the foot patrol had gathered round me and were discussing the next thing to do which was to radio for a police landrover. Some kids gathered to watch what was going on. Even the moon seemed to looking down with a frosty interest. When an RUC van pulled noisely up and the doors banged open an officer explained to me that I could allow the soldier to carry out his stop and search or they could take me back to the Old Park Police Station and search me PROPERLY. I totally caved at this, terrified of what a PROPER search might entail. So I took off my coat and allowed this soldier to pat me down, with my arms out stetched, there on that frosty pavement, shivering in my blue angel tee shirt, like some camp scarecrow. Stop and searches were a most common event and they were mostly just a bit of a nuisance which you went along with but which have been known to escalate into all sorts of things, from a feeble protest such as mine to a full scale riot. Just another sign of our troubled times. Back then I tried to catch the moment in a comic strip and I see Siouxsie Sioux managed to find her way into one of my sketches. Why not, back then there were many pictures of her pasted to my ceiling and taped to my attic bedroom walls, in my Gothic Bordello between the roof beams. Happy house, Christine, Spellbound. Siouxsie was my Venus In Furs. Not some Narnian Witch whose kingdom could only be entered through the back of a haunted wardrobe. Siouxsie was a real world sorceress whose kingdom was the late night streets of the city inhabited by the fringe citizens who made all things nocturnal their own. The Queen of The Bromley Contingent, punk pioneers (Some of whom were present at the Infamous Bill Grunday Today interview which sort of propelled cultural awareness of the Punk Seditionaries to a national level.OH,THE FILTH AND THE FURY!)and the toast of the New Elizabethan age, did'nt half sound grand, well to me in my trench in Belfast, it sounded like the court of King Louie, (only the french aristocratic king not so much the singing monkey with coconut boobs.) I did think Siouxsie was a stunning vision. Her looks so flawlessly achieved it had to be the real thing which at my age back then seemed so very important. You had to own it. And yet ,truthfully, such talk is a load of wiffle waffle, I doubt that Siouxsie would consider herself the queen of anything, not part of any fashionable movement or chic street thing, just a striking being who would not be shaped by the world she grew up in but determined to shape herself as she chose.So many people speak of the glamor borne from the streets as akin to the feathery plumes of a peacock, a bird I had no time for. A bird I find almost vulgar, a bird that sycophantically guarded the homes of aristocrats from the unwelcome attention of the filthy filthy poor, a shrieking showoff not unlike an xfactor winner yodeling pointlessly for the indifferent masses. Some people stood in the gutter with a Wildean view of the stars but some knew how to drag the stars down to our level and wear them in their hair.
That was the Ju-Ju of Siouxsie Sioux.