1979: the year Babylon was burning with anxiety and the croptop revival exploded. No longer confined to small pockets of ex-punks, the skinhead style once again became a nationwide working class youth fashion, if not yet a ‘way of life’. This time around, it was helped along by 2 Tone and a street-smart second wave of punk bands.
Myths abound about those olden days: second generation skins, so they say, were a bunch of glue-sniffers kitted out in army surplus and skintight jeans. But looking at pictures taken in 1979, you’ll mainly see Harringtons, crombies and straight leg Levi’s – at the time usually orange tab and zipped – plus the odd bit of ska revival ‘period clothing’. The kids’ taste in reggae rarely extended beyond Specials, they say. But did you know that skins like East London’s Tim Wells were bang into the heaviest dub 12-inches they could find?
Another detail missing from most accounts: some skinheads would turn into werewolves and roam the streets of London at night. Now Tim Wells has turned his recollections into a novel: “The full moon rises, a skinhead’s sideburns grow”, explains the blurb, and further: “Moonstomp is the written in blood story of a teenage skinhead who’s also a werewolf”.
Says John King, author of The Football Factory, Skinheads and Human Punk,
“Howling back to the days when we used to pass the skinhead and Hell’s Angels books around school, and watched Hammer Horror films at home on our black-and-white televisions, Tim Wells has written a fiendish tale of a skinhead werewolf rampaging through London in 1979. Being a sharp-dressed lad (still), the clothes and music are spot on. Snap up a copy before it bites your hand off”.
Creases Like Knives exclusively publishes the first chapter. If you like what you read, go to Tim’s crowdfunding page and help to get the whole thing out. Your good name will be printed in every edition of this seminal account of werewolf skinheadism.
“I want all you skinheads to get up on your feet. Put your braces together and your boots on your feet and give me some of that oooooold moonstomping…” the record kicked in. Sprocket stuck through the hole of the rotating yellow Treasure Isle label the disc span on Joe’s Dansette. Reflected onto the deep black of the vinyl, up on it’s left hand side was the moon as it shone it’s light through the bedroom window.
It was a Friday night and Joe Bovshover was back from work, he’d wolfed down the shepherd’s pie at the caff, had a behind the ears and under the balls bath, and was heading out: brogues shined, knife edge crease to the sta-prest, braces over Brutus, and wedge in his bin. ‘Andsome. He was a full of life 17 year old and looking to gain a lot more experience before Monday rolled around again.
It was gigs of a weekend; a couple of pints, a smile from a sort, and music, didn’t always matter what, but loud music. Music that’d make you pound away the workaday week on the dance floor. It was better than the tele’. His dad reckoned the breweries paid the BBC and ITV to screen crap of a weekend to make sure the pubs were overflowing.
Walking down the steps of the Hope and Anchor was like leaving your 9 to 5 self behind. The Mithraeum over in Walbrook had served this function back in Roman times. Through the throng of the bar: the leather jackets, the girls with the spiked hair, and the skinheads like himself, down to the band.
The stage was tiny and to your left as you entered. It took a minute of two for your eyes to adjust to the gloom, and for your ears to pitch to the loudness. People were chattering, ordering drinks and flirting. A song was playing, a real humdinger: ‘Mucky Pup’… a punk record from local Essex Road boys, Puncture. Yep, there were a lot of mucky pups here alright, and like the tension in the fast paced punk rock all looking for a release. The band hadn’t started yet, people were settling in and getting drunk.
Then a riffle of drums, some to-ing and fro-ing on stage and all eyes turned. Some snaps of the snare, and notes from the bass and they were off. The front of the crowd started jumping straight away. There was a lot of teenage boredom to let loose there. Teenage boredom and speed. Joe wasn’t one for the crush, not with decent shmatta on at least, so hung back and finished his pint.
The band were good. Fast, tight, and with a dynamic singer with a captivating pair of eyes. The more they played the deeper he was pulled into them. She was wrapped in a crazy dress that was more of a robe and her head was framed in lace with long pigtails hanging either side. The more she committed to the music, the faster the pigtails whipped around her head. She held the stage. Her dancing was angular and she used all the small amount of stage space to magnify the pulse of the music with her prescience.
Those eyes, though. Lene Lovich had ethereal eyes. Eyes akin to Le Fanu’s In A Glass Darkly laid open on a supper table. With the beer running through him, not enough that he needed a piss but enough that he was feeling his swagger, with the stomp of the music and the pull of those eyes he elbowed his way through the densely packed crowd to the scrum at the front. He started jumping, losing himself and becoming part of the mob. They’d reached boiling point and were ready to roll out of the saucepan of Friday night. The next song started with a high pitched wail, the keyboards hummed and the pressure built to a steady beat. From the opening low throb of the keyboard he knew the song. It was his favourite of the band’s: ‘Birdsong’. Lene Lovich prowled the front of the stage, sweat streaming from the enraptured crush and then as she struck a pose, arms akimbo they were up and on the minute stage and in with the band.
It was joyous, ecstatic, Dionysian even. They’d been longing for this release all week. Keeping it clenched inside them from teachers, bosses, and dole queue clerks all week. Now it was finally their turn. Joe was up on the stage, jumping in time to the pulse of the music with the rest of them. He was next to Lene Lovich, who was still singing, and dancing herself. Close up she was even more fascinating. Her eyes said so much, only Joe couldn’t work out what the language was, he just knew what they were saying. She was doing a dance in front of him, bobbing up and down. He was facing her, drawn in, and moved to wrap his arms around her and plant a kiss. She was having none though; her eyes flashed and she took a bite of his cheek. The sheer shock of it sent him reeling back as she swirled away into the throng as people cleared the stage for the next song.
In a daze Joe stood to the side and dabbed his cheek. The sweat from his brow was running into the cut making it sting. There was blood, not much but blood all the same. Red, krovvy, claret.
He wasn’t too pleased, but he’d had far worse of a Friday night. It was nowhere near as bad a pasting as the Gooners might administer. Fuck it, he rubbed his cheek and moved back to the bar. At least he’d have a story.
As he handed over money in exchange for a lager top, that cockney nod to sophistication, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror behind the bar. On his cheek, on the left hand side of his face the bite resembled a red downturned mouth, just above and to the left of his bigger downturned mouth. The sight caught him as funny, it didn’t hurt much, the adrenalin was still pumping, but the sweat running into it made the wound sing, but there was enjoyment to that song too. He thought of the bite and he thought back to those eyes.