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In The Gutter
By Val Hennessy
Quartet Diversions
Autumn 1978
ISBN 07043 32302

A school boys pocket money didn't go quite far in the late 70's,
so you'll not be surprised when I tell you that I didn't buy this
book at the time. In fact I'd never even seen a copy in the flesh
(so to speak) until very recently. Ever since I got connected to
cyber world a number of years ago I've spent/wasted a lot of
time on and off trying to track down a decent copy to add to my
ever expanding collection of punk rock slop without any success.

That situation prevailed until only last week when I finally secured a second hand

(possibly pilfered from a 'Birmingham' library many years ago as part of the
stamp sticker is still attached) copy of my own, hooray!
'In the Gutter' was first published in 1978 and like the mythical hens teeth,
there's not many about in the 21st century. I've seen a top end mint pristine copy
advertised online for sale at a whopping £395.00. Needless to say I didn't pay
that serious amount of cash as my copy is well read and a bit tatty if the truth be
known, plus it has a few pages missing but those historical pics of rebellious
youth inside the cover make any minor cosmetic imperfections like that
insignificant to me.

The limited text centers around a Birmingham centric current affairs TV show

debate on the new(ish) emerging 'punk rock cult' hosted by the books author 'Val Hennessy', who was apparently a well known tabloid  journalist and
TV personality back then. Though I'd never heard of her until now and I definitely don't remember seeing her on local UTV.

The book actually came about by accident while 'Val' and her staff  were researching another project on the dress and accessorising of indigenous
tribes and people from around the globe. I haven't a clue what they were looking at but they came up with the frankly silly premise of a comparison in
the pictures they were studying of these ancient civilisations and the confrontational dress code sported by the first wave of punk rockers who were
dominating the 'Fleet street 'daily red tops' and broadsheets day by day.

To be honest even back in '78 you were never going to get an understanding of what makes punk rock tick from the prose printed in this book. The
over excited pontificating of
'Mark Perry' is here in all its glory as is the very irritating ramblings of his then sidekick 'Danny Baker' both of whose
contributions seem naive in the extreme in 2010. Plus there's the cast of unsavoury real or quite possibly fictional cartoon Brummy mystery punk
unknowns with silly cliched adopted monikers and dirty nasty habits to match that look to me like an attempt by the writer to poke fun at her subject,
Vick Vomit & Wank Stain anyone!?

But its the as always priceless evocative year zero punk participants photos printed on these battle scarred but vital pages that tell the real story here.
Some of the pics you'll know very well and then there's the others that probably haven't seen the light of day in any other publication or documentary
since 1978.

Just tolerate the text as it definitely plays second fiddle to the photos, they make this book worthwhile
and even 'Val Hennessy' agrees within the pages that the pictures speak for themselves and personally speaking I love stuff like this.
The photographs as always reveal more than a million words can express about a time and a place long long ago which no longer exists, but is very
fondly remembered by the now elder statesmen and women of the blank generation.
'In the Gutter' though far from perfect would be a great addition to any punks collection, providing you can find
a copy?

futuristic use of black eyeliner
The kids just wanna dance in their dads vests
Margaret looking more like a 21st century model agency headshot
Dark 'n' moody 'n' angry
More punks in doorways and at gigs
Youth's looked so different from today!
Widely used tongue shot
very early shot of the then unknown Toyah
Another widely used punk couple shot the geezer looks like hes an extra from a vampire movie