Here's a column I wrote for the legendary REAL OVERDOSE zine years ago, I'll readily admit the writing isn't great, but hopefully I've improved a bit in recent years!
Do you remember getting a good bollocking at school for something that just weren't guilty of? What was worse was when you were accused of something that you may well have done, but it was judged totally out of hand. Now when I was at school I was very much the way I am now, which just didn't fit in with the whole academic way of things. When you are an adult you should question everything and not assume that the way of 'the man' is the correct way. We see a problem before us and attempt to make a change to the systems and routines that run our lives to avoid the problem, or if the problem has already happened we think about how we can change things to avoid the problem happening again. So why when I attempted to explain this at school did the teachers assume I was a cheeky fucker and pack me off to the headmasters office? In fact one games teacher took such offence that while I was queuing for my GCSE geography exam he took me to one side and informed me that if he ever saw me outside school he would 'kick my head in'. Charming! Somehow this scrawny dumbass (me) made a meaty games teacher threatened to the extent that the only way he felt he could level the playing field was by threatening me with violence! The bizarre part of this tale is that I hadn't actually attended a single games lesson in about two years thanks to a great sick note from my mum that had those immortal words 'till further notice'. I will say to their credit there were some teachers that didn't take offence to me and seemed to actually enjoy the challenge! If I saw these teachers now (some 10 years later) I would gladly buy them a pint! Still to this day I don't understand how at school we seemed to think teachers weren't human? Was it because it was easier for the school to stay in control this way or just the fault of our own prejudice? It's easier to hate 'them' than pick out individuals after all. Now I'm painting a picture of myself here as your typical young teen that knows it all, and that was far from the point. I have always admitted that I know very little about the world, in fact I got into IT because at my interview the first thing I told my potential employer is that I knew fuck all about IT! So why the hell am I rattling on about school when I left a decade ago? When we were at school we held a group mentality and sometimes we could use that now to get results (remember humming in class?). Here in Ipswich the Borough Council has just announced that they are going to reassess the way that entertainment, music and arts are handled in the town. This is the best news I think the scene (sic) has ever had so what were people's initial reactions to the news? Most of the feedback on the www.IpswichGigs.co.uk focused on how local arts caters only performance art, ballet and artsy fartsy theatre. Now although this is true I wanted to find out why. Then it struck me, the one thing that opera societies, amateur dramatics groups and performance artists have is unity. They are able to present themselves as a unified front to the local council and community. The first thing that most people forget about local government is that is has to serve it's people, the second thing is that the councillors that make the decisions on behalf aren't fucking mind readers! So don't go bitching if your local council doesn't support local music, there is a three step plan to getting yourself heard.
1 - Ring up the council and find out which councillor can help you represent your interests.
2 - Try and get a meeting with said councillor so they can put a human face on your needs. If this isn't possible then complain, they are bound by the democratic process to hear you. If you have no joy at all go straight to step three, which is for backing up step two anyway.
3 - Get as many people as you can to write letters or send emails to the above councillor to back up your point. Each individual letter is worth about 10,000 signatures on a petition because it shows that you have a genuine interest rather than a passion for signing anything anyone shoves under your nose. If you don't hear anything then don't be afraid to chase these people up, they are your servants after all (however busy they are). One important thing to remember when you set out on this quest is to be polite. About 80% of local government councillors are retired do gooders that might not think it is worth their while to get involved with a bunch of drunken dole bludging vandals that just want somewhere new to take drugs. Now we know this isn't a deception of you and your buddies (maybe) but the chances are they will expect the stereotype of punk and if that's what they find in you then your task will be so much harder! I have a bit of a background in the way that Local Government works, so if you have any questions get in touch and I'll see if I can help.
Junk Culture news
Since the last issue of Real Od we sadly had to say goodbye to our guitarist of nine years Graham. This was for reasons too shitty to go into. He was replaced by a bloke called Lee who was one of the best guitarists I have ever seen or played with, but at Christmas he also had to quit for reasons that couldn't be fought against. We have a bunch of dates booked (www.JunkCulture.net for more info) so the fabulous Kate previously of VIOLENT PLAYGROUND has stepped in to help us out. After that who knows, all we know is that we are all too fucking stupid, stubborn and spiteful to quit now! Cheers to everyone that's helped us out over the last year, it's been the best ever!
p.s Just for the record, I did indeed leave school with no GCSEs