The Tale of the Third City

Untitled Document

Running the Gauntlet

By the end of August 1977 you could say.... the fuse had well and truly been lit.... Well, as far as the east of the city was concerned, it was. In areas such as Orangefield, Knock, Belmont and, of course, Dundonald, were it all basically began. Punk was slowly starting to show growth and was, by then, clearly visible on the suburban streets of East Belfast. Whereas before we would have seen the occasional header popping up from time to time. The sight of more and more kids sporting shorter hair and wearing straight leg trousers instead of the usual parallels (Baggie Trousers) with almost all displaying some kind of D.I.Y badge or two, of their favourite new Punk band pinned to lapel of their school blazer.

Now remember, by then, just like mainland Britain. The entire population of Belfast - Northern Ireland had more or less heard about the Sex Pistols, in this the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year. Most, if not all had at least heard of their rendition of the National Anthem. Those who had actually heard and liked it, rushed out, bought it and, of course, fell in love with it. Whereas those who didn’t, well I guess they didn’t really get the true meaning behind the song!

By then the Pistols, among other well-known bands to be, had already appeared on Top of the Pops and, of course. The National press were now writing freely about this, not so new, phenomenon. Basically what had started off as a hate campaign, was now turning out to be a very popular subject to write about. Although, I must stress, it still came with that same sense of hatred being detected between each and every line that was written. Oh; and one other thing, it was no longer limited to just London. Oh no; the whole of England was now in on the act, which sort of explains all the confusion regarding this period. Confusion which lead, now I am only guessing, to the likes of Sean O’Neil and Guy Trelford stating on the front cover of their own book ‘Makes you want to Spit’ book. It clearly says 'An Alternative Ulster 1977 – 1982' and then, of course, there’s Joe Donnelly’s remark in that same book “1977 - Year Zero” the summer of hate?

Now the summer of hate I will agree with but year zero, what on earth was he on about? OK, I will agree, by the time the end of autumn had come around. Or really I should say, just after that first visit of the Clash. Yeah by then, it had become blatantly obvious to all those who weren’t concerned before. That this thing they were calling Punk Rock across the water, had truly arrived here in Ulster. There's no getting away from that but to say, just because the people of West, North and the rest of Soth Belfast we now aware of Punk. Certainly doesn't mean the 20th October 1977 was the beginning, because let me tell you. Yes the word was out on the streets but believe me; it had been alive and kicking for some time! So I will repeat; by then it was slowly starting to show growth but there was still some way to go before it would be seen as acceptable.

Regarding the Summer of hate, well I don’t know whether or not it was those Daily Tabloids who had changed their tactic or whether it was just me taking a greater interest on what they had to say. Either way. Stories such as, Johnny Rotten getting his face slashed in a knife attack on the 21st June 77, along with others, had all arrived to these shores and if memory serves me. It was almost immediately, which indicates it was the national press that brought these story to us and not the usual MNE; and when I say we. I sadly include, just about every fucking spide’s, hoods, call them what you fucking like. It was us who had to face the fuckers on a daily basis. So Yes I can relate to the summer of hate, I fucking lived through it but year zero, Joe, are you having a laugh?

I guess this is the bit were I get to say, if you think it was bad in England, well let me tell ye, you’s all had it fucking easy

Yes - there may well have been some similarities, in that our English cousins would have also been at risk, and yes. They too would have felt threatened by those English thugs claiming to be Loyal, devoted to the Crown and the Queen of England but I can tell you right here and now. The threat that we were faced with, during those early stages of punk, are easily multiplied at least tenfold. Partly down to the kind of hatred that is usually generated by those who dared to be different and the kind seen by those fuelled by ignorance and confusion. If you add that to the fact, we had the Paramilitaries to contend with, well you might just understand the reality as to what we were actually up against.

To start off with, we had two entirely different sides to contend with. We had the Republicans and we had the Loyalist, altogether that was about eight different paramilitary groups. Now obviously the Republicans, being Anti - British, wouldn’t have been overly concerned. In fact they probably would have seen the funny side of “God Save the Queen”. Although they would have recognised it in a similar light as the Loyalist, in the sense, they too would have seen the concept behind it as anti-Monarchy. The difference being, the Loyalist really got upset about it because they really did, and still do, love their Queen.

Then of course there was the issue of the Union ‘fleg’ being defaced. Ripped up and put back together with safety pins, and as for the one through the Queens nose. Trust me; that didn’t go down to well on protestant side of the tracks.

I am not joking you; when ever the Paramilitaries come into the equation, things normally do get a bit messy and with the arrival of Punk Rock to these shores that’s exactly what happened. Not only did the Loyalists paramilitary see the Punk movement as being anti-establishment as they did on the mainland. To them, to be a Punk, be you Protestant or be you Catholic, meant you were anti-loyalist, anti-Protestant, in short. You were either a Republican or you were at least sympathetic to the Nationalist cause in their eyes, and there was little old me who had just left the UVF band for Christ sake.

These extracts have been taken from first dratf chapters, even though they are displayed on this site they may not necessarily appear in the book, but I can assure you without any doubt whatsoever, they most certainly are part and parcel of the "Trilogy Story"! So if you buy the Book, you like it and want to read the Chapters that are not included, they will be available from this site! Remember its 40 years of memories and 5 years of research!

I would also like point out, that we are in search of photos of the era, so if you can help please send copies of whatever you have to, don't forget to leave your details so we can credit you. Thanks