INCREDIBLY busy time at the moment. Last weekend I made a very happy return to the Rebellion Festival, the annual celebration of punk in all its forms which takes place at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
Rebellion takes over the entire complex, including the legendary Opera House with its statue of Morecambe and Wise, and once again I had the chance to perform in that iconic building, an absolute honour.
After doing my gigs I naturally became a punter, taking in the wide varieties of styles — and ages — that punk has to offer in 2017, from fellow first-generation survivors like Angelic Upstarts, Ruts DC, The Vibrators, TV Smith and The Mekons to the new breed, of whom there are plenty.
My favourites this year were the excellent Bar Stool Preachers and Wonk Unit but there are loads of young bands around and those two are just the tip of the iceberg.
Our subculture may be 40 years old but it is very much alive and kicking.
On Monday, I drove 300 miles and swapped Mohicans for Morris dancers at Sidmouth Folk Week. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more different — every pub appeared to have an extreme accordion infestation.
But despite neither myself nor fiery young singer-songwriter Grace Petrie having even the hint of one between us, we enjoyed a fantastically well-received gig together. Grace should play Rebellion, there’s no doubt of that. She’s a punk in all but dress sense.
Yesterday I was at Goldsmith’s College Stretch Bar in London for a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, where a combination of angry locals and anti-fascists from all over the country smashed the National Front, then at its zenith, off the streets.
I was there, aged 19, and remember running round a corner right into the middle of a crowd of Fronters, my first encounter with the organised far right. It wasn’t the last.
Tomorrow I’m at Farmer Phil’s Festival near Shrewsbury and then straight up to Edinburgh for another series of gigs for PBH’s Free Fringe, the simple yet brilliant idea which has transformed the Festival and tempted me back after a gap of 20 years. Performers get venues for free, punters pay what they want. It works.
I’m at La Belle Angele at 6.15pm on August 15 and then Bannerman’s Bar at 4.15pm from August 16-25.
But, if I’m honest, right now most of my thoughts are centred around today, when Brighton play Man City in our first ever game in the Premier League. I spent Wednesday filming a performance of a poem (right) for the pre-match TV buildup and commissioned a banner for proud display in our North Stand on Saturday. It celebrates our amazing achievement and honours the four members of our dedicated campaign team who didn’t make this glorious day.
Sure, playing Man City with a team who cost less than one of their full-backs can seem a bit daunting.
But compared to being second-bottom of the whole Football League and needing a draw at Hereford to avoid relegation to the Conference, knowing that whatever happens you’ll be playing your “home” games 70 miles away in a different county the following season is, putting it politely, a mere bagatelle.
That’s where we were 20 years ago, as this poem explains. Wish us luck, folks. Most pundits predict that we will finish bottom. We’ll see. Whatever happens, we have a story to tell.