A Clockwork Orange was one of the few books they forced me to read at school that I actually read all the way through. I don’t know if it was on the official syllabus, or if it was just an enthusiastic teacher trying to get us interested in books that weren’t written by Richard Allen.
There wasn’t any questions on it in the exam, that was all about To Kill a fucking Mockingbird and some bollocks about an inspector calling. Needless to say, I failed English Literature. Totally failed, as in “unclassified”. If there had been questions on tolchocking gloopy lewdies things would have been completely different.
Maybe I would have gone to university and become some fucking professor of bollocks instead of going to work down the pit. Thatcher (Bog blast her) didn’t hate professors of bollocks, and didn’t kill off the entire professing industry out of spite.
But I digress. Back to A Clockwork Orange.
The first time I read it, it reminded me a lot of Richard Allen’s Suedehead. Scallies dressed in poncey clothes with sharpened umbrellas going around beating people up for no particular reason. I realise now that it was Richard Allen that was copying Anthony Burgess, and not the other way around, but that was my initial reaction to it.
The slang used in A Clockwork Orange didn’t put me off, it was really no different to the “cor blimey guvnor strike a match me old teapot” London bollocks used in Suedehead. If anything it was easier to understand from the context it was used in. When I picked up a later version after leaving school it had a dictionary at the back, which struck me as pointless.
I was too young to see the film version when that came out. My uncle went to see it, and he used to drone on and on (and on and on and on) about what an evil film it was, and how it was the product of a depraved mind. Why the fuck he went to see it, or what he was expecting it to be about, I have no fucking idea. He blamed that film for everything from football hooliganism to the power cuts. All of which made me desperate to see it.
But I wasn’t allowed to, even when I was old enough, because I lived in the wrong country. Apparently some cunt killed another cunt and his cunt of a solicitor blamed it all on the film. Even though the cunt in question said in court that he hadn’t even seen the fucking film, he just heard about it from some other fucking cunt.
The only way to see the film if you lived in England in the 70s and early 80s was to go on a day trip to France, where a cinema showed it once a week. Which I couldn’t afford, and I didn’t have a passport anyway.
Then, in the mid-80s video recorders became more affordable, and a lot of market traders started selling bootleg copies of A Clockwork Orange on VHS tape. I picked one up for £15, even though I didn’t have a video player at the time. I had to take it round to a mate’s house to watch it. Quality was pretty rough, but reasonable enough.
So I’d finally got to see it, 15 years after my uncle did. To this day I still don’t know what all the fuss was about. It’s okay, but not as good as the book. And nowhere near the total depravity that my uncle painted it as all those years ago.
I did prefer the ending of the film though. I always hated the way the book ended, I thought it was a cop-out. This idea that people just grow out of their youth cult one day and give it all up to settle down and make babies is just a load of fucking arse. There’s no reason at all why you can’t have babies and still retain your own identity.