Punk rock changed my life.
I'd always known I was different. When I was little, my mother would dress me up in pretty pink dresses and put ribbons in my hair, when all I wanted to do was to wear jeans and climb trees with the boys. When I started school, I tried to fit in, I really did. I listened to what everyone else listened to, and wore what everyone else wore, but still I was the Loner, the Loser, the Geek, the Freak. I was the weird, quiet girl in the corner, with no friends and no real interest in anything that everyone else was interested in. And damn it, I was frustrated. I could do nothing and say nothing and there was this well of frustration within me that was building up and building up so much that I felt as though that I would burst.
And then I heard it. Three chords, a catchy bassline and a captivating drumbeat, and singer drawling jadedly over the top. So lazy, so simple, yet so effective.
Bite my lip and close my eyes/Take me away to paradise/I'm so damn bored I'm going blind/And I smell like shit
This was it, this was how I felt, this was a release. Here I was, stuck in middle-class hell, at a middle-class school where I was expected to get good grades and a job in a pokey little office until I met a nice man who I would marry and have two point four children with, and then become a bored little housewife who drives a Volvo and reads the Daily Mail and fantasises about having an affair with the milkman because life is dull, dull, dull!
This trio of musicians, this band who were unknown to me, managed to reach out and touch me with their simple music and simple lyrics that somehow managed to capture my bored state of mind. I began tapping my foot, then nodding my head, and by the end of the song I was bouncing around the room, committing the name of this band to memory, determined to find more about this new, exciting genre of music.
I was fifteen years old, and punk rock changed my life.
Not that it was real punk rock, of course, this was mainstream stuff, easily accessible, but to me it was like manna from Heaven. It provided a springboard. Later in life, I would dive into the world of hardcore and depravity, alcohol and moshpits, blood, sweat and tears. And I loved every fucking moment of it!
Not that I knew it as I bounced around the room to this pop-punk trio. I still remember the astonishment at having 'discovered' a band, only to find out that they had been going for fifteen or more years and had nine or ten albums to their name. I still remember the first time that I hurled myself headfirst into a moshpit, at my first ever gig, getting battered and bruised and getting grounded for a month afterwards but basking in that glow of finally finding my place in the world. I still remember the first punk CD I ever bought, and the smile from the guy behind the counter at the store that said, 'Welcome to a whole new world, kid.'
And it was a whole new world. Hidden away from the disapproving stares of the majority of people in Suburbia, I discovered this entire new race that I wasn't even aware had existed before now. And I fell in love with that race, that sound, and all that went with it.
Even now, as I sit in my cell, I recount those first, heady moments of discovery, and a smile lights up my face. Regardless of the fact that I have been stripped of my freedom, I can still smile. Those memories are one thing they can never take away from me.
Punk rock changed my life. And if I had the chance to go back and live it all differently? If I had known that, a mere decade on from that first blissful moment, I would be condemned to this miniscule parody of a room and face weeks of questions and monitoring and visits to a psychologist, culminating in a trial that could probably rob me of my freedom for life?
I wouldn't change a fucking thing!