I cannot believe it is now 40 years since the “Summer of Punk Rock.’’ Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. Johnny Rotten and The Sex Pistols: “God Save The Queen, she ain’t no human bean.”
To hear some people talk Punk was a social movement; a revolution. The ideology of punk, and all that. Bollocks!. It was just kids doing what kids across the ages have always done (and still do today): finding new ways to piss off their parents.
My nephew Harry was a punk. Actually, he was a punk in the older sense of the word as well. He was a bone idle layabout. He drifted out of school aged fifteen with no qualifications and by 1977 he was eighteen years old and had never been able to keep down a job for more than a minute. Not even at the Wimpy Burger Bar. It’s hard to believe but we didn’t have McDonalds back then. To save my sister’s sanity, Harry stayed with me in my council flat in Edmonton (north London) for most of that summer. He thought he was the real deal; Mohican haircut, safety pin in his nose, bondage trousers. For all I knew he and his mates spent their time gobbing at strangers in the high street.
I warned him if he didn’t get himself out of bed and find a job he’d feel the blunt end of my hairbrush. He sneered of course.
Late one evening I got back to the flat after a gruellingly hot day labouring on a building site to the unmistakable aroma of evostik drifting from the living room. Glue sniffing! That was the final straw. There’s a saying that when you find rat in your room you don’t have a discussion with it, you put the boot in. Same with glue sniffing. No discussion. Within seconds I was rifling through the drawer of the sideboard for the hairbrush.
It was no contest.
Harry was only skin and bones and with all my labouring I had muscles on my muscles. I grabbed him by the wrist and hauled him to his feet. He gave no resistance. He was probably a bit zonked out. I called him all the names under the sun as I plonked myself down on the settee and set about undoing his clunky leather belt. The bondage trousers were surprisingly easy to force down, even though they were skin tight. I had to smile to myself then; he was wearing boxer shorts from Marks and Spencer. Not very punk-ish – his mother must have bought them for him.
In one smooth continuous tug, I had him face-down across my knees. That woke him up. He hollered blue murder and I hadn’t even touched him yet. He wriggled this way and the other, but I gripped him tightly around the waist. Let him wave his arms about and kick his legs; he was going nowhere. Not until I had pounded his creamy-white arse black and blue.
It was a pretty standard hairbrush. The bristle end was oval shaped and maybe four inches long. In those days brushes were made of solid wood, not like the lightweight plastic things they sell you today. My brush was perfect for doing your hair but in homes up and down similar ones were also being used to keep recalcitrant youngsters in order.
I remember my abject fear when I first smelt the glue. This was no longer a game. Harry could dress up as much as he wanted and who really cared that he had a ridiculous haircut? But glue-sniffing! That was poison. The newspapers were full of stories about kids dying by overdosing. That was not going to happen to my Harry. So eighteen-years-old or not I set about spanking his bare bum. I spanked him harder than I had ever done before or since. I lifted the brush as high as my arm would take it and brought it crashing down in the centre of his left cheek with terrific force. A dark-pink oval mark appeared. Within seconds I had tattooed every square inch of his bum, right from the top where it joins the back, over what mounds he had (did I say he was a weedy lad?) and into the underside of his cheeks. He hollered fit to bring the house down. It was a small flat with thin walls and I have no doubt old Mrs. Baker next door would have heard every yell. I did not care. What would she say anyhow? She and people like her walked the streets in fear of punks and their arch enemies the Teddy Boys. Mrs. Baker would probably urge me on in my endeavour.
Satisfied that his buttocks were toasted, I walloped the brush across the backs of Harry’s thighs. He tried to kick but his tight bondage trousers restricted him. It was like he was tied at the ankles. I took a deep breath and hammered the heavy wooden brush with all the force I could muster again and again and again all across his pert cheeks. Never again, I vowed, would he put his nose anywhere close to a can of glue.
His cream bum turned from pink to crimson through to the colour of a Hirondelle wine. He had stopped yelling now, but only because he was too busy coughing and spluttering. He was choked with tears and snot flowed over his mouth.
At last I let him free. He lay on the floor at my feet juddering like a beached dolphin. I let him be. Eventually, he staggered to his feet and pulled up his underwear. He couldn’t quite get the tight bondage trousers above his knees so waddling like a penguin he stumbled to his bedroom.
I locked him in his room for a week. The summer turned to autumn and then it was Christmas. When I saw him at a family party, he had permed his hair, wore glitter under his eyes and had ruby-red lips. He wore a garment that to me suspiciously looked like a dress. So did his boyfriend.
Picture credit: C of Sweden
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second