I bought the Pistols Spunk bootleg from Ace Records on Lower Goat Lane, Norwich in 1977, the very best of any of the punk or later indie record shops in the city. (The other bootleg I remember getting from Colin, following one of those necessarily surreptitious conversations with his regular customers, was Elvis Costello’s fiery Live at the El Mocambo.) There was something great about buying a bootleg then—illegal, rare to find and hear, music for private ears, inner circle. Spunk, a 12″ 33¹/³ RPM album vinyl record, people, had a completely blank white cardboard sleeve.
After all the late Pistols nonsense and madness—the pretty crappy gig in Cromer 24 December 77, the break-up in the US, the Ronnie Biggs fiasco, the Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen living then dying nightmare, Every Mistake Imaginable—I took my disappointment out on the bootleg cover. Using stencil letters and a tin of blackboard paint this was my response. I’d say no-one read it bar me. I was an intense teenage believer in subcultural authority and significance. Decades later, it does look pretty punk, you could say, maybe, a visual, textual and emotional transmission of the times. I feel it’s like a surprise, sudden, time-shifting glimpse into my own juvenile mind. This may I guess only matter much to a man who’s now a lot nearer 60 than 16.