When I was 17 I had black spiky hair - sometimes it was orange, blonde, with a blue streak - but mostly it was black. I used to wear a motley of clothes, mostly from charity shops. My favourite was a pair of skin-tight, drainpipe, turquoise, satiny trousers with a leopard-spot pattern which I had spray-painted on with car paint. Every time they ripped I put in a zip or a multicoloured patch. How I loved those trousers. One day though, I couldn't find them. Years later my mum told me she had thrown them away because she couldn't stand the sight of them.
I loved my life back then. Though I was at school still, most nights I went with a friend to go to one of the London clubs and watch a band - usually with free tickets. Being part of the punk scene was fun, it gave a feeling of belonging - of membership in an exclusive club, and despite the occasional violence, there was a good sense of cameraderie.
At one point I had a boyfriend called Rockabilly Steve. He was cool, and knew it. He kept a machete on top of a cupboard in his room and had a belt with a huge Triumph Motorcycles sign on it. He used to speak to me about ghosts and evil spirits. I was scared, but tried not to show it. Older than me, with great charisma, he'd wait for me outside my school gate and I was so proud.
His ex-girlfriend (whom, I later found was actually still going out with him) was a lardy but scary punkette called Dee. She was best mates with another very scary punk called Tampax, who used to wear a used tampon in her ear (nice!). They spotted me one night in a club in Soho. Tampax kept bitching at me and Dee threatened to beat me up. Sigh, those were the days.
For some reason, I just remembered all of that as I was walking home from taking my son to school and was struck by the contrast. How much has changed.