If you are looking for another po-faced history of 1970s UK punk, this isn’t for you. It’s a humorous fictionalised version of that time, the central premise being that the main character, a nobody from Milton Keynes, is present at just about every major event in early punk history you could think of.
From John Lydon’s audition miming along to Alice Cooper, through the Grundy interview, all the way up to the events at the Winterland Ballroom, he is present at them all, as well as playing an integral part in the history of The Damned, The Clash and Buzzcocks. I half expected him to be hiding under the bed when Nancy Spungen was killed, then end up sharing a cell with Sid, but that wasn’t to be.
It clocks in at about 160,000 words, and seems to be ebook only at the moment, but the chapters are short and punchy, so it would be ideal for reading on a mobile phone in short bursts. This was what I planned to do when I first picked it up, so I could read it alongside other things at the same time, but the writing sucked me in and I ended up reading it by itself from beginning to end.
There’s a lot of humour in this book – in fact it reads like a Ripping Yarns version of England’s Dreaming, and I couldn’t help reading it in an Eric Olthwaite voice despite most of it taking place in London. There’s lots of truly awful groan-out-loud puns, which the writer makes no apologies about, but the best jokes are the “hidden” ones for people who know their history.
I particularly liked when Chris Sievey told the main character he knew he would be famous one day, but didn’t want to get a big head when it happened. Another highlight was Mark Perry looking thoughtful while watching The Ramones play Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue. There are lots of these, and lots more almost certainly flew over my head. Half the fun will be finding them for yourself, so I won’t reveal any more.
It won’t be to everyone’s taste, no book ever is, but I really enjoyed it. One point though, the opening chapter doesn’t really do the book justice. So if you are the type of person who doesn’t trust reviews from random people on the internet (a good attitude to have), and prefer to read a sample so you can make up your own mind, skip ahead to the second chapter instead. That will give you a much better idea of what you are letting yourself in for.