What sort of person thinks it’s acceptable to be flippant about suicide? This ultimate act of self-harm blights families up and down the country and is no respecter of class, gender, religious or cultural background or age. Unless you're a psychopath, suicide is no more a subject to be mocked than cot death or genocide.
Ian Richard Peregrine Liddell-Grainger
During the recent Westminster debate on the Brexit Bill the SNP Leader in the Commons, Ian Blackford, asked the Speaker, John Bercow, what options were available for the devolved administrations. Tory MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, Ian Richard Peregrine Liddell-Grainger, called out: ‘Suicide.’
This casual use of such an emotive term is an insult to people dying in appalling circumstances and is symptomatic of how far society still has to go to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. Liddell-Grainger’s gibe, albeit within the context of an off-the-cuff remark during a heated debate, is all the more crass when you consider this. England’s scenic West Country, location of his constituency, is disproportionately affected by suicides. Between 2014 and 2016 there were 15 suicides for every 100,000 people living in Taunton Deane in Somerset - one of the highest rates in England, and way higher than the national average. Across England 14,277 people took their own lives over the same three year period - around 10 for every 100,000 people in the country. (Somerset Live)
You suspect Liddell-Grainger made a cack-handed attempt to belittle those MPs speaking for Scotland’s embattled Parliament rather than intentionally denigrating mental illness. In fact, he was quick to backtrack by insisting, as a former Territorial Army major, he would never stigmatise anyone with mental health conditions (according to Commodore Andrew Cameron, chief executive of the veteran support charity Combat Stress, one-fifth of all Forces veterans were likely to need help for some form of mental illness and that it could take more than a decade before symptoms presented themselves.)
If Liddell-Grainger had simply blurted out his remark in the fiery atmosphere of a Commons exchange, perhaps some form of apology would be in order. Instead he is now claiming he was misquoted, having actually said ‘political suicide.’ But listening back to the recording (see link below) it’s clear he said nothing of the kind. The two-syllable word ‘suicide’ is audible, and you can tell by the reactions of those on the opposition benches this is all that was said. If Liddell-Grainger claims he used seven syllables he is now compounding his monstrous behaviour by lying through his teeth about it.
SomersetLive website - with video of actual incident
I previously blogged about TV ‘entertainer’ Jeremy Clarkson and his abhorrent remarks about ‘Johnny Suicides’ being such a nuisance for delaying train journeys. You can only expect someone in his position to have a sense of empathy inversely proportional to his ego. Sitting on a personal fortune of £30 million for presenting TV shows about metal objects that go fast undoubtedly places all the real-life dramas faced by the rest of the populace in some sort of weirdly remote perspective.
Whether either public figure pleads their remarks were clearly made in the context of banter and not intended to actually belittle suicide, was either example remotely funny? No. In joking about something that is the biggest killer of male under-45s in the UK they simply perpetuate the stigmatisation, adding to the sense of isolation and worthlessness felt by people in genuine distress. The often inexplicable despair that brings someone to this brink and then propels them beyond afflicts families every day, including my own very recently. On top of the living nightmare of the aftermath of the act, we do not deserve our pain to be heightened by the loved ones we have lost being laughed about.
Neil was discharged from psychiatric hospital just after Christmas but remains on anti-psychotic medication. Nursing a hangover, he is making his way to his doctor's for a check-up.
Strolling by the Union Canal, I cross the aqueduct above the railway. To my right the line heads towards Gorgie. Following the direction of the tracks for a few hundred yards I make out the pipes traversing the steep embankment. The railway was our favourite playground as kids. We delighted in crossing those pipes like demented tight-rope walkers. Stabbing our middle fingers at health and safety. Not to mention the Grim Reaper himself. From this vantage point I appreciate the drop from rusting metal pipe to sleepers is more than 30 feet. The notion gives me a queasy feeling. My hangover exacerbates a sense of shock delayed by several decades.
To my left a moorhen cleaves the canal’s murky waters. Against the sunlight, the water fowl appears to be swimming into flames. I smile at further reckless indifference to danger. But the light also bores into my pounding head. Last night Drew and I ended up in L’Attache until 3 a.m.
My recollections are distilled into muddy snapshots. Chatting-up numerous women, each of whom eventually saw through my superficial charm and melted into the background. Roaring conversations with Drew about the music of our youth being more passionate than the crap spilling from jukeboxes, while knowing full-well this is an argument destined to be repeated by subsequent generations ad infinitum. Some annoyingly effusive folk band. A scuffle involving a guy wearing an Ireland rugby top and two pricks who kept calling him a ‘fenian’, a disturbance Drew and I got involved in. Me explaining the Irish rugby colours represent all of Ireland, Dublin to Belfast, Baile Áth Cliath to the Shankill Road. A point Drew underscored by chinning one of the Protestant supremacists. Myself on sky blue helmet mode again later, separating Drew from another drunken prick who elbowed his way in front of two shivering young lassies at the Rutland taxi rank. Losing him outside Dario’s. Finally seeing some nurse from Orkney to the Florence Nightingale Home by the Infirmary. The phone number scrawled in eyeliner on my Marlboro packet was indecipherable this morning.
I march up the path by the Meggetland bridge which served as a boundary during childhood forays into enemy territory. Not as in actual gangland but the fantasy world my mates and I created. We were soldiers pitted against everyone from the Nazis and Japanese we imagined from Commando comics to redcoats or Daleks. That we were allowed do embark on these missions at such a vast distance from home seems incredible now, although our parents had no reason to suspect we’d ventured any further than Harrison Park for a kickabout.
Further up Colinton Road I lurch into the surgery. The waiting room is unfeasibly noisy. Seizing a National Geographic, as I study magnificent photographs of the marine wildlife flourishing around World War Two wrecks around Midway, I notice how the images quiver. In my peripheral vision, toddlers seem to be vandalising the box of toys as opposed to playing with anything. My eyes focus on the goldfish floating hypnotically among the lemonade-like bubbles of their aquarium.
When Dr Pattison pokes his head round the door to call me I murmur ‘thank fuck’ rather more loudly than is appropriate.
‘So. Time for your Lithium check again, Neil?’
‘Good, good. So how is everything in general? Keeping well?’
‘I’m fine’, I say, taking my seat. Rolling my right sleeve up. The doctor jabs in the needle. Draws blood into the syringe.
‘My word’, he says, his voice blending shock with humour.
I watch the liquid filling the Perspex container. Dr Pattison initially seemed amused. Now he fixes me with a stare over the bows of his spectacle rims. ‘Neil. You shouldn’t be mixing excessive doses of alcohol with your Lithium. That’s asking for trouble. Again.’
My blood sample looks identical to the pernod and blackcurrants I was necking a few hours ago.
It's the New Thing
I've played in bands, on and off, since the late 1970s, but am still in touch with the vocalist of the first, 4 Minute Warning. It was he who texted in the middle of my latest band's practice to break the sad news of the death of Mark E Smith.
I got into The Fall in 1978 when their 2nd single 'It's The New Thing' came out on Step Forward, the label run by Mark Perry of ATV and Sniffin' Glue fame. Three years later, in March 1981, I saw The Fall for the first time, at Edinburgh's seminal punk venue Clouds, supported by two local bands also championed by John Peel, The Prats and Visitors. It was a particularly fertile period for the Manchester band, touring on the back of 'Grotesque After The Gramme' and showcasing the forthcoming 'Slates' E.P.
Smith leaves a massive legacy. 32 studio albums. 32 live albums. 40 compilations. But the defining aspect of The Fall was that the music was driven by Smith's idiosyncratic lyrics. His caustic writing lay at the heart of The Fall. He could be contradictory, telling one journalist he preferred Bernard Manning's stand-up misogyny to anything that might be framed as 'topical' or 'alternative'; although you suspect that, as with many of his alcohol-laced outpourings, he was merely delighting in winding-up the type of imagination-free, pretentious wannabes he lambasted as 'pseuds.' There was also the fierce integrity that ensured that while The Fall never savoured much in the way of mainstream success (not as if they ever courted it anyway) they retained hugely loyal fans. They may have started by appealing to the leather-jacketed punk rockers who would pogo and spit at most bands preceded with 'The' in the late 1970s, but Smith didn't so much shy away from being pigeon-holed as punk or post-punk as pour utter scorn on the very idea his band could be categorised alongside Siouxsie and The Banshees or Adam and The Ants or any number of The Fall's contemporaries who ended up as Top of the Pops regulars.
Attacked by a drunk
'Totale's Turns,' The Fall's 1980 live album, was so far removed from conventional live rock n' roll it was hilarious. According to Smith's sleeve notes, it was partly recorded before an '80% disco mating audience.' Two tracks were taped at home while 'said home was being attacked by a drunk.' Smith was also at his acerbic best, antagonising the punk fashionistas in the crowd: "Are you doing what you did two years ago? Yeah!?! Well don't make a career out of it." But he seemed to reserve his main gripes for the rest of his band, and by the last song, 'No Xmas For John Quays', he is berating them for perceived slackness: "Will you lot fucking get it together instead of showing off!"
Never destined to become a stadium-filling band like the U2s or Coldplays of this world, The Fall were nevertheless a huge 'cult' band with a diverse fan base and a habit of cropping up in places you'd least expect them to. They soundtracked the BBCi football results ('Theme from Sparta F.C.') They provided the sinister backdrop to the serial killer's murky lair in 'Silence of the Lambs' ('Hip Priest.') Their ragged anthems made an unlikely but apt soundtrack for Scottish choreographer Michael Clark's ballet 'I Am Curious, Orange.'
I saw John the ex-fox, sleeping in some outside bogs
The immediate post-punk era in Edinburgh spawned an outburst of creativity, with musicians exploring new horizons, record labels springing up and clubs like J Js (above Valentino's in East Fountainbridge) celebrating the innovative soundscapes. We'd go there on Thursday nights and listen to everything from Pete Shelley to Heaven 17, Blue Rondo A La Turk to Bauhaus, Fire Engines to The Higsons. You could take your own singles along, and on one occasion I handed the DJ a batch of 45s including The Fall's latest, 'Lie Dream of a Casino Soul.' When the rattling drum intro crashed across the club's PA, the floor cleared, leaving myself and a mate dancing shambolically to this paean to Northern Soul, against a backdrop of bemused New Romantics.
"Craig. Give the lad a beer."
I saw The Fall a number of times in Edinburgh and Glasgow over the years. One particular highlight was in 1985 at Coasters, the latest incarnation of what had been Clouds, just after 'This Nation's Saving Grace' had come out. At one point I spied Smith dodging into the cloakroom that was doubling as the changing room on the night. Nervously I knocked on the door. The man himself opened it and eyed me suspiciously. "I've got some stuff I've written to show you," I blustered, digging out some typewriter-written short stories I'd jammed into my pockets earlier 'just in case.' (These were sub-James Kelman efforts; although one, 'Legless in Gatsby's,' about my getting barred from a long-gone Edinburgh nightspot, did get published in my local newspaper, Gorgie Dalry Gazette.) Compared to anything this Mancunian wordsmith could produce I'm sure Smith crumpled them into the nearest bin after skimming the first few paragraphs of Scottish dialect. But I did arrest his attention. He looked over his shoulder and snapped to his guitarist: "Hey, Craig. Give the lad a beer." I was duly handed a tin of Carlsberg Special from Mark E Smith. I arsed it before the end of the night, but it was eventually given pride of place on a shelf in my bedroom, like some sporting trophy, until my Mum mistook it for one of my Dad's empties and chucked it out.
Customary adjustments of amp settings
My last Fall gig was in Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms in the early 2000s. They were as fabulously unpredictable as ever, or at least Smith was. The rest of the band churned out all their new riffs with professional tightness. But Smith appeared from stage-left long after the others had kick-started proceedings, his gait unsteady as he proceeded to perform his customary adjustments of guitar amp settings before repositioning elements of the drum kit. Eventually the drummer got so pissed off with this that he kicked his kit apart before storming off stage. As gigs went, it was chaotic and mesmerising in equal measures.
The Fall's final performance was at Glasgow's Queen Margaret Union on November 4 2017. Smith's last song was 'Stout Man.'
The Fall, as featured in the music press, 1978-1982
Finally, a montage of my own cuttings of The Fall culled from Sounds and NME at the peak of my obsession with Mark E Smith's band 1978-1982.
Edinburgh's own Shirley Manson, international rock legend, rose to prominence with Garbage (via Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish, the former of whom were once supported by my own band Little Big Dig at the capital's Hoochie Coochie Club circa 1984.) Here she gives a demonstration of the nuanced swearing that so frequently appears within the typical Scottish person's vocabulary.
Much as I agree with Shirley's points, one key aspect of the subject is that context is everything and swearies are just as commonly used as a positive. Being referred to as a 'guid cunt' in Edinburgh generates considerably greater kudos than simply a 'guid lad/lass.'
Shirley's assertion that the ultimate put down is "fuck right off" is certainly valid; however I would argue the C word will always be infinitely more offensive when wielded venomously. For proof, look no further than this scene from the brilliant English film director Shane Meadows 'Dead Man's Shoes' (2004). In a small Midlands town, a gang of smalltime drug dealers have been responsible for the remorseless abuse of a mentally impaired teenager, Anthony (Toby Kebbell.) His older brother Richard (Paddy Considine) returns from serving in the Parachute Regiment and begins enacting a terrible revenge. Gang member Herbie (Stuart Wolfenden), openly dealing in a social club, comes across Richard. Somehow "fuck right off" just wouldn't have cut it. Richard channels every ounce of malice in his being into three syllables to warn Herbie of the brutal vigilante violence he is about to unleash. The film's excoriating storyline is augmented by strong performances from Considine and Gary Stretch as gang leader Sonny.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager 1 space probe. In four decades its lonely journey has reached some momentous milestones. On November 20 1980 it passed Saturn's largest moon, Titan, discovering liquid lakes. On February 14 1990 it took a 'family portrait' of the planets in our Solar System from its furthest reaches. On August 25 2012 it truly entered Star Trek territory, boldly going into interstellar space. It is expected to continue functioning until 2025 when its instruments will finally shut down.
As well as photographing the components of the Solar System, the probe contains the so-called 'Golden Record', a snapshot of life on earth portrayed by different sounds: including whale song, the cries of hyenas and chimpanzees, and a cross-section of music from Bach to Chuck Berry. Images of the third rock from the sun and human activity were also added. All of this is intended to give an impression of the probe's distant home world in the event of extraterrestrial lifeforms coming across it at some point in the far-off future. Or sooner.
It does paint quite a picture, the thought of some alien vessel coming across a mysterious object drifting across the unfathomable reaches of space, long after earth itself has disappeared - either through the sun's expansion millions of years hence, or after being incinerated as a result of the weird-haired leaders of North Korea and the USA dick-swinging during the early 21st century.
I like to imagine some Cape Canaveral technician thought about the inevitability of human actions rather than science obliterating our planet. Moments before blast-off he or she might well have swapped the Golden Record's original contents for something far more in keeping with humankind's traditional belligerence towards outsiders. Alien travellers would discover evidence of some mysterious long-lost civilisation epitomised by an Albertos Y Los Trios Paranoias B-side: 'Fuck You.'
1976 was the year of the first 'punk' singles in Britain, with Stiff unleashing The Damned's 'New Rose' on 26th October, four weeks before the Sex Pistols more incendiary 'Anarchy in the UK' on the EMI label. By 1977 the rest of the first wave of British punk bands had caught up, and this year will see the 40th anniversary of a slew of superb (and many not so superb) single and album releases.
The Clash released their eponymous debut album on this day in 1977. Recorded over three weekend sessions at a cost of £4,000, its 14 tracks hurtle by at a breakneck running time of 35 minutes 18 seconds, from '48 Hours' lasting barely 90 seconds, to their anthem 'Garageland', clocking in at just over three minutes. The only exception to the breathtaking short, sharp shocks is their cover of the Junior Murvin/Lee Perry reggae classic 'Police and Thieves', a six minute masterpiece. The majority of the tracks epitomise the early punk ethic of avoiding overblown rock trappings. Musicianship is kept to a minimum and if Mick Jones does unleash a killer solo, it's the sheer brevity of execution that counts.
There was always a rivalry between The Clash and the Sex Pistols but by the time this album ended up in the shops the latter had already sacked bassist Glen Matlock and replaced him with Sid Vicious, a punk icon who couldn't actually play bass. The spraypainted writing was on the wall. Despite that classic quartet ('Anarchy in the UK,' 'God Save the Queen,' 'Pretty Vacant' and 'Holidays in the Sun') that are among the most mesmerising rock n'roll 45s ever, their meteoric rise was already heading for a crash and burn. For The Clash, however, their best years still lay very much ahead.
When The Clash was released I was 14 and mostly listening to heavy metal. I relied on John Peel, Old Grey Whistle Test or Top of the Pops to catch up with rock bands, 'old wave' or 'new wave,' and although I'd seen The Stranglers, The Jam and The Adverts racing through their singles on the latter, as well as footage of the Pistols playing 'Pretty Vacant,' The Clash steadfastly boycotted TOTP. Eventually an older cousin leant me a cassette of The Clash album. I was hooked from Terry Chimes' staccato drum intro to 'Janie Jones' right through to the explosive chorus of "We're a garage band!"
The Clash were so important because they never towed any line. Aside from disowning miming on TOTP, as the whole punk scene moved on they refused to rely on endlessly rehashing past glories as so many of their contemporaries went on to do (and some are still doing!) They continually reinvented themselves, experimenting with a dizzying array of musical styles, while keeping their core message intact. Of course there were contradictions aplenty, their first B-side pillorying stadium bands ("No Rolling Stones") while five years later they would open for The Who at New York's Shea Stadium. But when they sang "I don't wanna hear about what the rich are doing" it seemed heartfelt. This was underscored by the fact Mick Jones crafted most of these songs while living with his grandmother in her 18th floor council high rise in West London.
'Janie Jones,' track number one, happens to be Martin Scorcese's favourite British rock n' roll song. 'I'm So Bored With the USA', although starting life as a sardonic love song entitled 'I'm So Bored With You,' quickly became politicised, against a climate of the US meddling in South American politics. (Forty years on it's only the geographical location that has altered.) 'Garageland', the climactic track, was a response to a snooty NME journalist whose less-than-complimentary live review suggested "The Clash are the kind of garage band who should be returned to the garage immediately, preferably with the engine running, which would undoubtedly be more of a loss to their friends and families than to either rock or roll." Joe Strummer opened with the line: "Back in the garage with my bullshit detector/carbon monoxide making sure it's effective."
Musically, my own path crossed with The Clash on one occasion. I played in a band called The Axidents who once supported another old school punk band, 999, at Edinburgh's Citrus Club. 999's drummer, Pablo LaBrittain, a former schoolfriend of Joe Strummer, was the first drummer for The Clash way back in 1976, prior to Terry Chimes taking over. A tenuous link, but having shared a stage with a onetime member of The Clash is kudos enough for me!
Not many albums still sound exhilarating 40 years on. Recently I listened to a bit of Deep Purple, one of those bands I was into just before the likes of The Clash and the Pistols swept through my teenage musical tastes in glorious hurricanes of anger and melody. Compared to The Clash, Machine Head just sounded dull - tired, cliched, devoid of originality and full of extended, showboating solos. But even after four decades The Clash album remains essential listening.
When you crank up the volume really high, the late, great Joe Strummer's inimitable vocals haul you back to a time when, in all your naivety, you thought this music could change the world ... and having spiky hair, Doctor Martens and a load of gaudy badges weighing down the lapels of your school blazer made you the bees fucking knees!
From the darkest recesses of some of the horror world’s most chilling minds, Kevin J. Kennedy brings back together some of the authors that brought you Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, alongside several new authors, from upcoming indie stars to Amazon top sellers.
Whether you like Easter or not, you’ll certainly have a different view of it after you read the stories contained within these pages. Grab an Easter egg, dim the lights, get cosy and get ready for some chilling tales by some of the horror world’s finest.
Available from Amazon from 1 April.
C.S.Anderson – He Has Risen
Christopher Motz - Magic Awaits
Veronica Smith - It’s Not All About Bunnies and Chocolates
Peter Oliver Wonder - Easter Gunny
Mark Cassell - The Rebirth
Andrew Lennon - Trying To Write A Horror Story
Mark Lukens - Mia's Easter Basket
Lex Jones - SonnesHill
JC Michael - Lord of The Dance
Steven Stacy - Echoes of The Bunny-Man
Weston Kincade & David Chrisley - An Easter Prayer
Christina Bergling - Hatch
James Matthew Byers - Killer Jelly Beans from Outer Space (poem)
Jeff Menapace - Paying It Forward
Jeff Strand - Rotten Eggs
Lisa Vasquez - Bunny and Clyde
Mark Fleming - Sulphur
Suzanne Fox - Last Supper
Briana Robertson - Baby Blues
Latashia Figueroa - Easter Eggs
Amy Cross - Lamb to Slaughter
Kevin J. Kennedy - A Town Called Easter
100 years ago today the SS Mendi, a troopship transporting hundreds of Allied soldiers to the First World War in France, sank in thick fog off the Isle of Wight after being struck by a larger cargo vessel, the SS Darro. The disaster claimed the lives of 30 crew and 616 South Africans, all but nine of them black troops (the reason the catastrophe is sometimes referred to as the 'Black Titanic.') The majority of the passengers were from the South African Native Labour Corps; labourers from the sun-baked African hinterland who had been drafted to dig trenches in the mud of the Western Front. Prior to embarking on their 34-day voyage from Cape Town to England most of the South Africans had never even seen the sea, let alone learned to swim.
After tearing a deep gash in the Mendi's hull the cargo vessel remained in the vicinity for four hours, but left it to the Royal Naval support vessel HMS Brisk to try and assist. Meanwhile the troopship was sinking fast; men tumbled into the English Channel, while others were trapped below deck. Those left huddling on the deck, watching their fate rising inexorably, were comforted by their interpreter, a former preacher, Isaac Wauchope Dyobha. He supposedly cried out:
"Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to do ... you are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers, Swazis, Pondos, Basotho ...so let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa."
Other stories persisted that the South Africans performed a 'death dance' as the ship went down.
At the enquiry at the Board of Trade that summer, the Captain of the Darro, Henry Stump, was blamed for sailing so recklessly in poor visibility. His shipping licence was suspended for a year, although there was widespread outrage at such a lenient outcome for someone whose poor seamanship had led to hundreds of deaths. The official report was then classified for the next 50 years. Historians have also pondered if Stump would have been so quick to abandon hundreds of drowning men had they been British soldiers rather than natives.
The disaster will be commemorated today at various locations in Britain and South Africa. Royal Navy divers will place the South African flag and a wreath on the wreck of the Mendi, which sits upright on the seabed, 100 feet below the English Channel.
Around 21,000 black South Africans served in France between 1916 and 1918. They were not allowed to take up arms and mainly used as labourers, stevedores, cooks and other vital non-combatant roles.
On 19 February 1942 US President Franklin D Roosevelt authorised Executive Order 9066, instigating the forced internment of Japanese Americans in camps. Prompted by Japan's unprovoked attack on the US Fleet moored at Pearl Harbor, upwards of 120,000 civilians were uprooted from their homes and sent to prison camps. On the island state of Hawaii, around one-third of the population were affected. The order was extended to those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese; orphaned infants with 'one drop of Japanese blood' could be rounded up for transport.
These camps were overcrowded. According to an official report, inmates were housed in "tarpaper-covered barracks of simple frame construction, without plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind." The US Census Bureau assisted Order 9066 by divulging confidential information on ethnicity.
President Jimmy Carter launched an investigation into the wartime internment in 1980, appointing a Commission to investigate whether or not the policy has been justified. The Commission issued a report entitled 'Personal Justice Denied,' which stated there had been very little evidence of loyalty to Imperial Japan among the hardworking Japanese Americans singled out as potential traitors. The Commission concluded that the driving factors behind the internment were "racial prejudice, war hysteria and the failure of political leadership."
Eight years later, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act which not only apologised for the policy on behalf of the US Government, it authorised reparations of $20,000 to each camp survivor and their heirs.
A figure of $1.6 billion was paid out to over 82,000 Japanese Americans who had been interned for no other reason than their ethnicity.
On the night of 5 February 1980 I was eagerly awaiting what was still called The Old Grey Whistle Test. This BBC programme celebrated the work of more serious-minded musicians than its lower brow sibling Top of the Pops that simply celebrated whatever music was shifting the most units that particular week.
Proudly alternative and eclectic, some would say occasionally treading a fine line this side of disappearing up its own backside, OGWT was a broad church that showcased metal, blues, prog, folk, electronica, jazz, funk, experimental sounds, reggae, and most importantly for me at the age of 17 - punk, post-punk and new wave. If TOTP was where you'd find a miming Roxy Music dancing away the heartache in lounge suits before bobbing teenagers grinning at themselves in the monitors, OGWT was where Bryan Ferry's band had introduced the world to the gaudy genius of their Eno-inspired glam rock/psychedelic pop masterpieces - most importantly: all the acts played live in the studio.
I found out that Public Image Limited would be making their first live UK television performance that night on OGWT. There were only three TV channels at the time and video recorders, far less catch-up TV, were still a thing of the future, so I had to impress on my parents the importance of my remaining glued to the screen unhindered.
I've no recollection of who else was on that Tuesday night 37 years ago but the moment Annie Nightingale introduced PiL - handing John Lydon the gatefold sleeve of the Second Edition album so he could skim the lyrics - I was mesmerised.
A few years before these guys had all been associated with the punk scene, Lydon with the Sex Pistols, Keith Levene with The Clash. But punk had quickly become dated, a bandwagon readily jumped on, open to being endlessly repeated. Lydon had always understood that an important aspect of punk had been looking to the future rather than wallowing in the past. Because the template of PiL's post-punk universe was fluid, there were no rules; which meant no expectations about song lengths or indulging more than three chords in a riff, and especially about whether or not the band should be wearing studded biker jackets.
In PiL's sonic landscape pop collided with krautrock with classical themes with dub reggae - the latter personified by Jah Wobble's emphatic bass - and the whole incendiary beauty was driven by Lydon's unique vocal delivery. As Wobble memorably remarked: "PiL only sound so radical, I suppose, because so many bands sound so ordinary."
Indeed, PiL sounded like absolutely no one else, which was a phenomenal achievement in a climate rampant with rehashed rock n' roll riffs and plagiarised melodies.
Despite its title, and while it certainly boasted catchy melodies courtesy of Levene's intricate arpeggio fretwork, there was a sinister undercurrent to Poptones: "I can't forget the impression you made. You left a hole in the back of my head." Their second song Careering was even more otherworldly, with Levene switching to a heavily-phlanged guitar sound and stabbing out random synth notes. A wall of noise, its lyrics were deliberately obscure but I'd read rumours in Sounds magazine that it was all to do with what was then the intractable sectarian nightmare in Northern Ireland: "The pride of history, the same as murder..."
When the band finished the camera cut to presenter Annie Nightingale who stated "That was the most powerful performance I've ever seen on Whistle Test ..." although Lydon later remarked its power had been more to do with their pre-recording refreshments, not all of which had been legal.
What I also loved about PiL that night was that their drummer Jim Walker had been wearing the same T-shirt I'd bought in Edinburgh's Bruce's record shop some months previously, featuring Lydon's face reproduced in lurid yellow, green and red images. If it still fitted me I'd wear that now because it'd be a reminder of a band I was passionate about (and who I still love) / unlike the fashion accessory Ramones T-shirts worn by so many Z-list celebs who probably think Cretin Hop refers to people tumbling out of Essex night clubs. I would, however, wholeheartedly endorse Annie Nightingale's sentiments.