Can I Be Honest?

In September 1978 I got a lift up to Aberdeen with my pal Kenny to see Siouxsie and the Banshees play at the Capitol Theatre as part of their “Join Hands” promotional tour. The Banshees had just released “Hong Kong Garden” and had been played regularly by John Peel following a session earlier in the year. If the prospect of Siouxsie Sioux belting out “Helter Skelter” wasn’t enough, there was a support band called The Cure who had released a single too, “Killing an Arab”.

Punk enjoyed controversy, subversion and edgy gags involving a surprising amount of obscure references. “Killing an Arab” was based on a book by Albert Camus (L’Étranger). However, your teachers and parents didn’t know this and therefore threw their hands up in horror.

That September night The Cure came on and did their thing including a new piece called “Big Boys Don’t Cry”. They were putting the material together for their first album which would follow early in 1979. They were quite good.

Then the stage was shifted around, new amps rolled, a drum kit set up, mikes tested and for half an hour, nothing happened. After 45 minutes Siouxsie appeared and announced that, following an altercation at a record signing on Union Street that afternoon, the Banshees were no more. However, she would put on a show with Robert Smith, the Cure’s guitarist. So she did, and it was fantastic.

The icing on the cake was that as the show had technically been cancelled, we all got our money back on the way out — a popular decision with an Aberdonian audience.

Fast forward (with record scratch sound effect) to 26th April 1984, and I was at Art School. My girlfriend snagged two tickets to The Cure’s “Top World Tour” at the Edinburgh Playhouse. They were promoting “The Caterpillar”. My problem with their set was that it was crap and that show was the first, and so far only, gig that I’ve left well before the end.

Well, this summer, who should be playing Glastonbury but The Cure, 41 years after my first live encounter. To give this some perspective, imagine in 1978 that I had gone to see a band that had first formed in 1937 and had spent £200 for the privilege of doing so in a wet field full of middle class (and frankly middle-aged) people singing along to the “Lambeth Walk” and waiting for George Formby to come on (ooh mother, turned out nice again).

Dear reader, I voiced and wrote this opinion with friends and on Facebook. It was not a popular opinion. I got blocked by (now former) friends on Facebook. Still, I suppose it does mean that you can still earn a living in your sixties belting out stuff you wrote the previous century. And we used to take the piss out of Vera Lynn…

I was on holiday earlier this month, and idle thumbs led me to comment on Twitter that our local Dear Leader’s broken record comments on Scotch independence are, er, counterproductive to business and indeed a quiet life in general. Twitter melted, with one foil hat wearer going so far as to screenshot previous blog entries of mine and let me know that he was going to report me to my Scottish customers and then what would I do?*

Earlier this very week in response to a BBC piece about a young lady taking a sailing boat to a UN climate conference I voiced some opinions on LinkedIn including: How is she getting back? Why couldn’t she Skype like everyone else? Also, why do we have this thing about “savants”? The comments went mental; it was the biggest response I’ve had to anything since I told an Australian recruitment guru that he was running a cult.

Groucho Marks is credited with saying, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”.

I could shut up about The Cure, Paolo Nutini (oh god – I had to stand through 45 minutes of him in the pissing rain waiting for Eminem to come on) or Helena Bonham Carter (that’s just an irrational dislike, I’m sure she’s lovely), and tell everyone that everything is sweetness, light and contented bunnies. I’d keep my friends and be happier.

But where’s the fun in that.

Likewise, at work, I could wear a nice blue suit, pointy brown shoes, smile a lot and tell you exactly what you want to hear.

But where’s the value in that?

*I had another beer and told him to fuck off

Posted on: 16th August 2019 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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