The Tale of the Third City
The Filth and the Fury
Now I am not trying to suggest in any way that we were the only ones in Belfast who listened 'religiously' to the John Peel show, nor was it just us three of us reading the likes of NME, etc. Of course there were others out there, our problem was, we just didn’t know them, apart from Big Ron that is. The truth is, we were totally unaware that this sub cultural movement attracting our undivided attention had actually made its way across the Irish Sea, dare I say it but if we had known that at the time, well……… Things just might have turned out to be quite different. I guess that goes to show you just how naïve, and blinkered our lives were back then. I mean; how the hell we didn’t twig on much sooner is totally beyond me, especially when you see all the facts were laid out before us.
Such facts as; I lived just six doors away from Ronnie Matthews, I ran about with his younger brother Ken; meaning, I would have been in their house most days of the week. I knew Ronnie, I seen him almost every day but did that aide my progress in any way, no did it fuck. Then; there’s the fact that we all lived in the same area, roamed the same streets night after night, convinced; that we knew those streets pretty well, which basically turns out to be a complete and utter joke when you think about it.
To think; we actually believed that we were street wise, all clued up as to what was going on around us. Well, you would think at least in our own back yard but oh no, not us. What it really boils down to, is the fact that we didn’t know who was who or what was what ………. That’s right. The facts are as clear as day. We hadn’t a fucking clue that all this was actually happening right under our noses. In such places as the Glenmachan 'Stables' Hotel and let’s not forget the good old Girton Lodge. Which is bad considering, there were people younger than us in county Antrim claiming they had heard of these places, but can you really believe that for Christ sake?
I mean these two venues were less than two miles either side of where we lived, more or less on our own door step for fuck sake? Never mind the fact that something of great importance good actually have been happening up there. It’s the fact that we didn’t even know these places existed, but there again it wouldn’t have mattered if we did; No, because for one, we were far too young to have gained access and secondly, even if it had have been possible for us to get into those venues there was no way our parents would have agreed to us going, well….I know mine wouldn’t have that’s for sure.
You know…. It eludes me to think that we were that close but yet so far away. I mean; how the hell did we miss out not knowing big Ron and all his mates had been dabbling in this secret world and may I add, had been for quite some time, but in our defence, how were we to know? I mean; it’s not as if they were dressing up at every given opportunity or that they were dying their hair all sorts of weird and wonderful colours. To be fair; he - they didn’t really stand out from the crowd at first and even if they did, it still wouldn’t have mattered……
Like I said; back then, they didn’t talk to us. Christ listen to me; if that’s not underestimating the situation then I don’t know what is? The actual truth of the matter is, we would have been lucky if we even got the occasional grunt in passing.
At the time; all we knew was, he, they were playing in a band and that band was gigging locally. I told you how we used to stand outside YKOP on those cold winter nights, watching, listening as they rehearsed but when it came down to those actual gigs we didn’t get told about them. There was never any mention; of when, where or you’re on the guest list tonight lads. Believe me; we had to wait some time for that privilege to come along. In the meantime; we were left in limbo, getting excited but at the same time very unsure as to what we were actually meant to be getting excited about.
We would often wonder as to whom, if any, had been caught up in this same web as we but we never once put the two together. There again, I suppose the reason behind that; was because we were far too busy searching for what was already staring us straight in the face. Big Ron six doors away, Joss Cochrane, Alan Revel and Paul Stockman etc. etc. etc. All those Young Americans trawling the suburban street were we lived, I mean what else was needed for us to realize that Punk Rock was already here in Ulster.
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