3 PUNKS – AN EXTRACT
A bare stage. A bar with some stools stage left. Some drinks scattered about. A screen to back with images of Punks etc. Spotlight no 1 on JOHN LYDON. Spotlight no.2 on SHANE MACGOWAN. Spotlight no. 3 on JOE STRUMMER. All three acknowledge the audience. Hold the spotlights for a few moments, then they all step forward and sing a verse each from 3 songs. John sings ANARCHY UK, Shane sings IF I SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE, Joe sings LONDON CALLING. All are dressed in the punk styles of their generation; Lydon wears an I HATE PINK FLOYD tee-shirt; Joe carries a guitar. It has a label which reads – THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS ; Shane has a pint and a fag in his hands.
JOHN: I consider myself working class. And we, the working class, we’re lazy good-for-nothing bastards. We never accept responsibility for our lives – that’s why we’ll always be downtrodden. We seem to enjoy it in a perverse sort of way; we like being told what to do, led like sheep to the slaughterhouse, as it were.
JOE: I was born John Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, in 1952. My father worked for the Foreign Office, with the result I had a life moving around different places when I was young; Cairo, Mexico City, West Germany, before we finally settled in the UK. My parents were still posted abroad though so at the age of eight I was packed off to boarding school, along with my elder brother David. That was our home for the next nine years, seeing our parents just once or twice a year. I suppose that’s why I became so fucked up.
SHANE: I grew up in Puckaun. Back of beyond Tipperary. On a farm. My mother’s people. My uncle Jim used to sleep in the haystacks, ya know? He’d get pissed off about how overcrowded it was because there were about fourteen people living in the house. You’d be playing in the haystacks and you’d suddenly realise Jim was asleep in the hay, under the tarpaulins. It was either that or sleep in the same bed as uncle John – and uncle John used to fight in his sleep. ‘Fock yez, I’ll fockin kill yez, ye conts’. So uncle Jim got so sick of it he would sleep in the haystacks, and in the end he never slept in a bed again.
JOHN: I loathe the British Public School system with a passion. How can anybody have the right to a better education just because their parents have money? I find that vile. They talk with this sense of superiority , the upper classes, and they have it. They have all the right connections once they leave school, and they parasite off the population as their friends help them along. You never see that with the working classes.
JOE: Our school’s initiation rite involved a choice of being beaten up or lying in a bath of used toilet paper. I got beaten up! I guess it toughened me up, taught me to be independent, but there was always this sense of abandonment; having to pretend your parents didn’t exist. There was this ‘Lord Of The Flies’ feel to the all-male dorm and bullying was rife; it was a really brutal school and they filled you with crap.
JOHN: Because with the working classes, if you have any kind of success your friends, your neighbours, will turn round and hate you instantly. “You’re not working class anymore!”
That used to worry me when I was younger, but I couldn’t give a toss now. I regard myself as working class and that’s all that counts. It was similar if you managed to read a book – and actually understand it! Then you were a snob, a poof, or a sissy. Labels, that’s all they were. Meaningless fucking labels.
SHANE: (to Lydon) I remember the first time I saw you. You had long hair and wore a bovver hat. You were quite fat.
JOHN: Fuck off you seldom fed culchie.
JOE: That’s a Brendan Behan line.
JOHN: And you can fuck off too, Strummer.
SHANE: The next time you had blue hair. I’ll say this; it took some bottle to wear blue hair in Finsbury Park in those days. Chee…chee.
JOHN: If you don’t accept me as I am then don’t accept me at all, that’s always been my motto. I was practically unlovable most of my early life. I wouldn’t even let my parents go near me. From a very early age it was – “get off! Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!”
SHANE: I bet you fondled yourself.
JOE: Well, isn’t this cosy. Three old punkers livin’ it up.
SHANE: More like the three stooges, fuckin’ it up. Chee…chee.
JOHN: Wait a minute! What are you doing here, Strummer? What’s he doin’ here? He’s fuckin’ dead. (He looks around) Where is this place?
SHANE: Yeah, Joe, what are you doing here?
JOE: I thought you believed in re-incarnation, Shane.
SHANE: Yeah, I do. But you can’t come back as yourself, can you? A dog, maybe. Or a chicken. Chee…chee.
JOE: Maybe it’s all a dream.
JOHN: The question is – whose dream?
JOE sings a few lines from Bruce Springsteen’s THE RIVER and glides away
Now those memories come back to haunt me,
They haunt me like a curse.
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true,
Or is it something worse?
JOHN: Yeah, I fondled myself. But I never screamed as a youngster. That shocked my mother when she first heard the Sex Pistols. I had always been so quiet. She’d never seen that side of me. She probably thought she had raised a lunatic.
SHANE: And you proved her right. Chee…chee.
JOHN: Yeah. Had I not had my family I would have turned into a psychopath or something. Looking at how other people behaved I was definitely weird. I always had this sense of detachment…isolation… even when I was part of the Pistols this continued. I was never part of the group in any meaningful way. I came and sang my songs and then went home alone. I was never invited to any parties or get-togethers; I never felt really belonged.