The Angriest Man Alive
– Book excerpts
From the chapter Punk As Fuck
We spent the last few hours before the show swilling strong lager and listening to punk records as if we could absorb the music through some kind of inebriated osmosis. A few hours later we emerged from the warmth of our mildewed womb to trek across the frozen town to The Asylum – our guitars slung across our shoulders like hunters’ rifles as we shuffled past the station.
The raw cold was burning my throat by the time we crested the hill and The Asylum loomed out of the dark. A monolithic beast of a building, the venue was an early 20th century church converted into a purple and black nightclub. Rob knocked on the huge, iron-studded double-doors, the sound loud and brittle in the frozen air.
A small door set within the double-doors swung open and we pushed our way in, eager to get out of the cold. The kind of black paint they use in clubs has a peculiar smell when it covers large areas. It’s the smell of metal and punk clubs the world over and angry teenagers’ bedrooms. It smelled like home. Rob’s brother, Steve, and his band were already at the bar. We had a few hours in which to soundcheck before the club opened and we were due onstage.
The club’s manager was a slim Australian with hair so blond he looked as though he’d just come from Bondi Beach, not Brighton. For some reason he took a liking to us. “I have to go out for an hour before we open. You guys help yourselves to drinks.”
Steve overheard and shot a worried glance our way. He knew us better than the manager. The bottles behind the neon-backlit bar glowed iridescent like the lure of a deep-sea monster tempting its unwary prey. As soon as the manager left, Rob and I attacked the bar with a vengeance, pouring pints of beer and downing shots of gin, whisky, vodka and rum, drinking until we puked before drinking some more. I was asleep under a table when Steve kicked me. “Wake up you little shit, you’re due onstage in five.”
From the chapter The Kids From The Cemetery
As remote as my chances of being reunited with my lover in the afterlife might be, I still believed them considerably higher than ever finding peace in this world. I walked to the edge of the roof in a trance. When pain reverses the polarities of rational survival it fills your head like a dark cloud, blocking other exits until all that exists is the magnetic pull of oblivion.
I stood on the edge of the roof and looked down. Cold wind stabbed at my eyes, bringing tears as I watched a train, tiny as a child’s toy, pull into the station hundreds of feet below me. I remembered the broken model train-set my father bought at a car boot sale, the one he ritually promised to fix until I grew too old to be bothered. I hadn’t seen my parents for years. A rush of guilt and adrenalin made me wobble and almost fall.
White light wiped my vision and, from out of it, I saw a herd of horses galloping down on me, a white wall of muscle like an unstoppable avalanche. I knew the horses meant judgement – and I wasn’t ready to be judged yet. I snapped out of it, staring at the twinkling constellation of city lights stretching out below me. Suddenly aware I didn’t like heights, I stepped back from the edge.
From the chapter Auf Weidersehen, Punk
Some time later Dieter stood up and glared angrily at the fridge. “That fridge is the cause of this – and it stinks like a fucking hippie too!”
With that he wrenched it out of the wall and lurched into the yard. I struggled to my feet. Despite being younger I had way more experience with acid than Dieter. I followed him into the yard as he hoisted the fridge above his head, a monstrous feat of strength that made me think he should have Karloff-style bolts sticking out of his neck.
Even as I shouted the words the devil in me wanted him to do it. I’m not a bad person, I just hate an anticlimax. Dieter hurled the fridge over the wall into the nursery playground and we heard a bang like a hammer on an anvil that sent a sonic bullet ricocheting off the terraced houses. I was gripped by panic. What if kids were playing behind that wall?
I pulled myself up to peer over. The playground was empty. The fridge had exploded across the asphalt, splattering a climbing frame with out-of-date salad cream. Ketchup had sprayed over the hopscotch squares, the acid in my brain turning it to blood as horrific scenes of dead children flashed across my brain. Then I saw a row of kids staring from their classroom window. An apple with a bite out of it rolled from the fridge and against the wall below them. A little girl started to laugh. I still don’t know where the apple came from, I never once saw anyone in that house eat fruit.
From the chapter Fulci Is Dog
There’s a secret universe of celluloid insanity waiting for a pilgrim with an open mind. Movies you should watch at 2am when you’re high as hell and the demons won’t let you sleep. Fuck art with its carefully considered and crafted undertones, give me a grindhouse movie any day, an exploitation fever-dream with the volume cranked up to ten. Take the film we watched that day – the Indonesian classic Lady Terminator. It’s a chimera of a story, taking the chrome killer cyborg from Terminator and weaving it with the Indonesian myth of Nyai Roro Kidul – an ancient sex goddess who seduces men until a serpent that lives in her vagina devours their penises.
Can’t you see? With movies like this we brush against the great dream that underlies everything, the place where myths are born. Ten thousand years from now people will worship a goddess who is half machine, half cock-eater and no-one will remember she was birthed from a grindhouse movie.
From the chapter Die Teacher, Die!
His archaic mannerisms and exsanguinated complexion brought to mind a world-weary vampire. We both knew he was asking me if we should score and fuck our recoveries. It was clever and I appreciated it. It was a way of splitting the guilt fifty-fifty. I could tell myself I only did it because he suggested it, while he could hide behind me having the final word, making it my karmic burden to carry. We were dancing the psycho-waltz all junkies in recovery dance, each swirl of twisted reason taking them closer to the black hole of relapse. I felt a thrill of power. Dave was placing both our fates in my hands. I thought of my film and my promise to myself. Nothing was going to make me break it.
From the chapter Mongoloid Porn
Already winded from a solid punch to the gut, I was drowning. As terror surged through me I fought for my life, but they had restrained me expertly and all I was doing was burning precious oxygen faster.
Someone grabbed my flailing legs and yanked down my jeans. The world shrank to the submarine soundscape of gongs and distant chanting, the magnetic echo of radar pings bouncing from the rusting hulks in Davy Jones’ locker. Searing pain broke the trance as something started to burn the soft exposed skin behind my knee. Beneath the water I screamed, liquid stampeding down my lungs as my muffled agony dissolved in a roar of bubbles. All other thoughts were gone except the need to breathe.
Drowning isn’t peaceful, there’s no fade to black or Zen replays of your life. You feel like your lungs are going to burst as things inside pop, rupture and haemorrhage. You become a living organism reduced to its most basic essential, the need to suck down the life-giving gas you’re addicted to from birth scream to death rattle.
I was yanked out of the water and dropped on the ground. My back arched as I vomited water in a fountain that went straight back down my windpipe, causing me to choke once more. I flopped around on the flooded floor like a netted fish, trying to purge my lungs of fluid. For the first time in my life I was finding out what it’s like to be tortured. Not metaphorically tortured by drug cravings, depression or existentialist angst. Just real, old-fashioned torture like the Gestapo used to do.