However you look on it, going on holiday just isn’t very Punk Rock, and as pre-teens in the 1970s, the only holidays you went on were with your parents – so double not very punk rock. Most people were too poor to go anywhere exciting, so a week at Butlins, a camping trip, or a cheap B&B by the sea seemed to be the norm. The whole idea of holidays seemed like an anathema to punk; holidays were lazy, indulgent, expensive and a waste of time. Why spend a whole week trailing sulkily behind your parents when you could be at home learning the guitar or writing a fanzine?
I don’t think I can remember going on holiday at all after about 1976, until sometime in the mid eighties that is…
One morning in the late summer of 1986, I had answered the communal house phone to find that it was my Dad on the other end, and due to some sudden emergency, he’d had to change his holiday plans at the last minute. He was now offering me the chance to stay in a cottage in Devon he’d rented for the week, “It’s all paid for” he kept saying, along with “someone might as well use it” and “It’s all paid for”, again. I did wonder exactly how many members of the immediate family, people at work, right through to vague acquaintances he must have been through to have eventually phoned me, I don’t think I was ever first on the list. From his point of view I’m sure it didn’t really look like my sort of thing, so I thanked him, and promised to call him straight back once I’d spoken to any potential travelling companions, and had made a decision either way. By the time the phone call had ended, curiosity had beckoned the neighbouring bedsit’s occupant, a girl called Wendy, out into the hallway, and once I’d blurted out all the pertinent points of “Dad, Devon, holiday, can’t go, cottage, week, all paid for” and my face had done a sort of Elvis raised lip thing, Wendy just said “Great! Let’s call Joanne and Julianne – find 10p and I’ll just give them a ring. When do we leave?”… and so that’s how we ended up, a couple of days later on a roundabout somewhere outside Exeter, heading for the seaside town of Exmouth.
Julianne was our first real rock and roll friend; she’d already released an actual record, she’d done proper gigs and had previously been the bass player in Gene Loves Jezebel. Julianne was now in a new band called All About Eve, who were not yet famous, but had released a single and been reviewed in Melody Maker.
Julianne possessed not only an exceptional voice, but the kind of fast paced wit that, between us, would inevitably lead to tears and trouble breathing. She told us that her landlord had recently refused to remove or replace her worn-out patterned carpet as requested because she wanted to paint the floorboards black, so undeterred from her original plan, she simply painted the carpet black instead. Punk girl.
We spent about 5 days doing holiday stuff; we went to the beach, where we sat on the sand in our black clothing, we walked around the town looking like slightly gothy orphans, (Wendy and Julianne pictured above next to the War Memorial,) we went to all the charity shops, and then we spent the evenings in the holiday cottage drinking cider, laughing at the TV, and our own silly jokes. That week in Exmouth was probably the last non-band themed, but still dole-funded excursion that any of us would take for years.
By 1989 All About Eve were headlining Glastonbury and were proper actual popstars, meanwhile me and Wendy, had somehow scored our own Single of the Week in Melody Maker, recorded a John Peel Session and were about to sign with One Little Indian records.
I don’t know if one thing leads to another, but maybe we all just needed a little holiday.