Anyone who was around in the pre punk days prior to 76-80 will be able relate to memories like mine of
childhood Christmas's past where amongst all the Chopper bikes and Sparky  annuals there were potential
gifts like Action men in full nazi/SS and Russian uniforms, which looked great and were common place, but
these days would be deemed politically incorrect because of all the history that goes with the images. He
would have no chance of wearing the uniforms on a toy shop window display now. Or what about the Johnny
7 machine gun, remember that? It was the ultimate killing machine that had everything, rockets, knives, hand
grenades, you name it every kid wanted one! There was enough firepower to obliterate mankind. No-one
batted an eyelid, there was no outcry, they were only toys. Back then everything was a lot less complicated
compared to everyone's hectic lifestyle today. Yeah the 70's were both bleak and brilliant, but my generation
look back on that time with great affection. And thinking about that era can sometimes be a calming influence
and great escape from the high blood pressure and stress induced stroke, that's gonna kill us all sooner
rather than later. We watched unmissable glamrock editions of the soon to be put out of it's misery.

"Top of the pops", which is currently heading for the TV equivalent of death row. Where our glam pop heroes
put on even more glitter, tinsel and make up than usual, surrounded by twinkling tree lights, fake snow and
sexy dancers in fake fur lined hot pants and low cut tops. Do you remember sitting in front of the TV speaker
holding the Mic of your little flat portable tape machine recording and telling everyone to shut up until the
song was over? I'm a pushover for all this Christmas schmaltz. I love all the build up but by Boxing day I'm
ready to take down the decorations. When punk broke, my mates and me were all young teenagers. Back
then you looked forward to reading your double X-mas issues of the NME,

Sounds, Melody Maker and Record Mirror with all the best LP's/singles/bands
lists for that year. It came illustrated with pics of your favourite punks looking
like twats in Santa suits, but it was all good festive fun. After finishing reading
the music papers you looked like you had just surfaced from the murky depths
of a coal mine, due to the vast amounts of ink that had transferred from the
papers onto your hands, face and every other surface around you.

By nightfall and It was time to spike up your born blonde bleached hair or
whatever colour you dyed it that week (in the punk era it was unusual to find
anyone with matching collar and cuffs!!) You put on your best bondage gear
and blue suede buckled creepers and prepared for the x-mas overload. It
was time to take a bus or taxi into the town, pass through the security
barriers into Belfast city centre and hit the Harp or the Pound, hopefully
without being hit by the 'spider men' on the way to your destination. In
1978/79/80 some of us were lying our way into the Harp bar for a few
yuletide underage pints as we were still under 18. In fact thinking about it I
don't think I ever had a legal drink in the place. Strippers in the afternoon and punk rock mayhem at night,
magic moments. The holiday spirit and any other available would be in full flow  as one of Belfast's finest tore
the place up and we drank and messed around oblivious to the hangover we were constructing, that would
inevitably be the drinks revenge next day. After the previous nights hi jinx you were out of action unable to
get out of bed, so you listened to a tape of the recently deceased John Peels Festive 50 on a radio cassette
player with a built in microphone this time...and quietly suffered. We were only kids after all, a couple of pints
and we were hammered. Soup drinkers the lot of us! In those days you would usually be home before
midnight, taxi's permitting, as the bars all closed around 11.00 pm. So it was possible to have your punk  
christmas/new years knees up with all your punky mates and still be home in plenty of time to attend midnight
mass if that was your thing, dressed in all your punk rock finery, but still join in with the family celebrations
albeit sometimes with a head start in the drinks department on everyone else.

In the folklore of punks golden age and contrary to popular belief, the
played their last British dates (after cancelling a headlining show at the
London Rainbow scheduled for Boxing day) at Ivanhoes in Huddersfield on
Christmas day 1977, which was a benefit for striking firefighters. The band
played a Christmas day matinée in the afternoon acting the bad Santa's with good
hearts for the strikers families, supplying party food and handing out presents to
the kids and then an adult show in the evening. In keeping with tradition John
Lydon debuted Public Image Limited on Christmas day the following year in '78 at
the Rainbow theatre in London. And in later years for the next punk generation
there was the Christmas on Earth festivals
(remember it well - PDC) etc .Thin Lizzy
and the Sex Pistols joined up in '79 as t
he Greedies which was a shortened
version of their full name
the Greedy Bastards for a Christmas classic 45
'A Merry Jingle' which carried on the great tradition of glam  x-mas pop singles.
Although this one doesn't turn up often on those 'Now That's What I call'
compilations. Though you do get Shane McGowan (ex-
Nips) and the
classic 'Fairy tale Of New York' which is one of the greatest
Christmas songs ever. I remember watching the Greedies perform on
Top Of The Pops when it was essential viewing, where the Lizzy boys
Lynott, Downey and Gorham professional as ever did a straight mime
while ex-Pistols Cook and Jones messed about not giving a toss. It was
great TV with the worst miming since Marc Bolan. In Dec. '78
returned home for a couple of Christmas gigs with tranny Glam/Punk
Raped in tow, after a failed attempt to make it big in London. With
thanks to allegedly broken promises from McLaren and Rhodes and the
unwanted attention of the SPG. They were playing two gigs, one in the
afternoon in the Pound and another in the evening at the Harp. Though
I must confess I don't have any memory of the second one as I was out
of the game. Me and a mate called Davy who was a guitar player in a
show band split from work a few hours early and made our way to the
Pound for afternoon show, it was his first punk gig. On the way I had to
get a Christmas present for my younger sister, so I bought this cuddly
toy donkey and brought it with me and I put it on a stool under the table
in front of the stage, were we were sitting. Needless to say it was a
great gig, a band I'd never heard of then or since called Empire kicked it
off, followed by an  excellent set by Rudi looking every inch a top punk
outfit after their London experience. And then came Raped in their satin and tat and boxer boots, rough as
hell but very good. A few months later they changed their name to the
Cuddley Toys! Do ya think the late
Sean Purcell or Faebhean Kwest see the plush donkey? We may never know!? I'm claiming responsibility for
the inspiration anyway. By the way it is a true story and not a porkie.

Currently rejuvenated as a born again
New York Doll 'David Johansen' acted in the late 80's big budget
movie adaption of 'A Christmas Carol' as the time travelling cigar chomping noo yawk yellow cab driving
ghost of Christmas past, with the used to be funny Bill Murray in 'Scrooged'. Check it out the next time its on
TV which should be in the next couple of  weeks, hours or minutes, coz D.J. does a good job! And right up to
the present day punk connections with Christmas continue. A couple of weeks ago a news story was
broadcast about the Damned being asked to turn on the
Christmas lights in Cambridge, and they got banned for not
being appropriate role models which is a hilarious story. It
certainly brought a smile to mine and many other ex-punks
faces. Fuck they were getting the Damned and we got Liberty X
here in Belfast, which is the worst? There ain't no sanity clause.
Bet your feeling that warm glow of nostalgia after reading my
reminisces aren't you, so why don't you settle down with a box
of mini buds or whatever your poison is, and put on your old
crackly copy of '
The Yobs (AKA - The Boys) 'Rude And Crude'
Christmas album and think about your own happy days. Or you
could get yourself along to the Empire Belfast if your in town for
$hame Academy Christmas bash on the 23rd December
2004. They'll be supported by a reformed latter day line up of
my old band
the Producers, the Ex Producers and you can
pogo away your mid life crisis with the rest of us sad geriatrics
and pretend it's the late 70's again for a couple of hours. I know
I've forgotten a million other things here, but these are just some
of my own personal observations and recollections that have stuck with me, everyone has their own stories.
Merry Christmas and a punky new year to everyone!
And remember a dog/punk is for life not just for Christmas.

Joe Donnelly - Belfast  1/12/04.
David Johansen & Bill Murray in Scrooged! 1988 (Joe Donnelly)
What Are Yule Looking At? Punks At Christmas.
(A personal collection of memories)
Sex Pistols X-Mas Day 1977 (DC Collection)
NME December 24th Edition (DC Collection)
The Yobs - 'Rude And Crude' album (Joe Donnelly)
Joe Donnelly was a member of
Belfast's The Producers punk outfit,
back in the late 70's Northern Ireland
punk scene. He's currently still going
to gigs, still into punk and contributing
articles on punk and it's influence on
many web sites including Punk
Rocker and we're more than happy to
get his gig reviews, comments and
views on what's happening on the
streets of Belfast these days.
Here's one example...
PIL live at xmas '78