Richard Allen — Top Gear Skin

Hmm. This one didn’t really work for me. “Roy Baird is the next Joe Hawkins,” says the introduction. Except he isn’t (or rather wasn’t). For one thing he’s a good few years older than Hawkins was, and he’s also (gasp!) an American. We know this because he listens to baseball on the radio.

It doesn’t really read like a skinhead story, not even one within the confines of what Richard Allen knew of skinhead culture. It reads more like a story that has had “skinheadism” (to use one of Richard Allen’s phrases) injected into it. Not that I would ever accuse Richard Allen of cashing in on a youth cult, of course.

So you get people fumbling with braces and lacing up their boots every now and again. You also get the standard Richard Allen type skinhead behaviour – beating people up in the street, beating people up in the pub, beating people up at a football match, etc – but these too seem like they are bolted on for no particular reason other than to turn it into a skinhead book.

So you’ll get two hippies walk into a pub full of skinheads, for example. At which point the story is put on pause while they get beaten up. Then when the hippies have been dispatched the story picks up again from where it left off, as if nothing had happened.

The real story follows Roy Baird and his gang of English “skinheads” as they steal cars to order for a paedophile garage owner. They do this so that Baird can raise enough money to build and race a stock car in the local derby. Which he does, of course. As well as outrunning the police on the roads when he is chased by them.

I just couldn’t help thinking, “So what?” when I read this. Maybe because I’ve never had any interest in cars (stock or otherwise). But more likely because the skinhead characters just didn’t ring true for me. Or maybe it’s just me being anti-skinhead again? :)

Also the cover sports two of the fucking hairiest skinheads I’ve ever seen.




About Marcus Blakeston

Ex-shouting poet, ex-fanzine writer, ex-angry young man (now growing old disgracefully). Living in sunny Yorkshire with his wife, children and motorcycle, Marcus still has a healthy distrust of all forms of authority.
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