Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fan of Upstarts

Earnest and concerned readers have pointed out to me that John Whittingdale, who believes "inevitably the BBC must do less in some areas", is without equal when it comes to Tory MPs who like to pogo.

Look away now if micro-blogging offends you.

John remembers going to see the Angelic Upstarts at the Lyceum with Matthew Parris in the late 70s. He thinks it was when Matthew was Mrs Thatcher's correspondence secretary and John was working in the Conservative Research department. Matthew's memory is hazy - he believes 999 were on the bill.

The only Lyceum gig I can find for the Upstarts was 3rd June 1979 - a month after Mrs Thatcher's election victory. John, 19, had indeed been in the Conservative Research department for the campaign and would return to University after the summer to complete an economics degree. Matthew, 29 if the date is right, had been elected as Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire.

It was a Sunday night. The pair obviously eschewed the BBC's entertainment offering that night - Whitsun Songs of Praise and That's Life on BBC1, Crime and Punishment on BBC2, Sam Costa's Glamourous Nights on Radio 2 and a Justin Hayward Star Special on Radio 1. No catch-up service available.

South Shields punksters the Upstarts were initially only played on John Peel. Their first single was about Liddle Towers, who died after a spell in the cells of Gateshead Police. The b-side was called Police Oppression - which is why I think Matthew is confused.

Some tried to categorize them as part of the "Oi" branch of working-class punk; they attracted a small-right skinhead wing following, but did their best to discourage them. They were anti-racist and angry in pretty equal measure about both the Tories and Labour.

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