rat trap in 1978
i always thought it was 1979 but looking back on the world wide web it was October 1978. i was a stuttering, skinny kid with a shock of orange hair and i was a punk. i was the only kid in halifax, west yorkishire – no in fact i was the only kid in yorkshire who understood punk. in my small little world i spent every waking hour listening to x ray spex, sex pistols, the clash, xtc, the beatles, queen and simon & garfunkel. you see. i meant it man. the problem was i couldn’t get to gigs….either bands didn’t come to halifax, i was too young or i just didn’t know about them. it was a confusing time for me. in reality i was a kid who’d found their future through rock n roll…little did i realise that 35 years later id be scraping a living from it.
i dont really remember being a fan of the boomtown rats. i guess the fact they weren’t on the soundtrack to grease or saturday night fever meant they were punks too…one of them wore pajamas all day long which i always thought was a bit silly to be fair – even as a 13 year old. anyway i had a ticket for the boomtown rats who were to be playing at the civic theatre in town. the civic theatre was a large, dark imposing victorian theatre….very common around northern towns back them..in fact most of ’em survive to this day….they are now beautiful relics of a better time. back then they were cold, old and depressing.
i dont remember why i bought a ticket. why did my mum let me buy one and go on my own..? yes i was going on my own. this was a big deal for me. i was being treated like an adult for once and i was going to my first ever gig. gigs were what i read about every week in the NME or Sounds (sounds had more punks in but NME was cooler – i bought both)…the gig was where the magic happened, where it all made sense. i would be in the same room with a bunch of ‘plastic fans’ – everyone was plastic apart from me. i understood. i was of course wrong and a complete child but hey thats life…apart from the locals would be the boomtown rats…i would be as close as i’d ever been before…i was going to be closer to the source than ever….and boy was i excited…
i got to the theatre early and there was a massive queue all round the building. i joined the line with my sweaty hand holing onto the ticket. almost there. almost there. i didnt talk to anyone as i was alone and young…most people were a lot older than me and in groups of 2 or 3…none of my mates parents would let them come. punks were bad news in the press and on TV….there i was all smug and ready to be taken to the land of punk.
i was snapped out of my daydream by a tap on the shoulder. i looked up and there was a skinhead looking down at me. no hair, crombie, doc boots…the lot. i wasnt bothered – there were loads of skins around and had been for years. i just couldn’t work out how he knew me or why he wanted me.
‘you got a ticket kid?’
‘yes’ i proudly replied and fumbled in my pocket to take it out and show him. ‘here it is’, as i wafted it in front of him. i felt part of a gang and very proud of myself and very happy.
the skinheads hand came out of his deep pocket and grabbed the ticket out of my hand. i stood motionless and in shock as his other hand, which was now clinched hit me in the face. i fell to the floor and felt two kicks in my stomach. i started to cry and the skinhead walked away. The queue had started to move now and i was left on the floor crying like a 13 year old boy who’s just been beaten up and had all his dreams shattered would cry. not one person asked how i was. i got up and walked to the bus stop. got home and cried on my mums shoulder.
i never saw the boomtown rats live and i hated them from that day.