Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Badges! Protest!

I  took advantage of the lull in the rain the other afternoon to pop round to my local Tecso enormo-store (yes, a new compound word) to get some provisions in for the week ahead. While I was browsing and trying to remember why I came in the first place (shower gel *tick*, radishes *tick*, rice *tick* ...) I suddenly decided I was pleased I was the age I am. I'm 55 and that means I'm in my sixth decade of life, and I marvel at the changes I've seen and wonder what changes are still to come.

Not all is rosy, of course. With age come health problems and changes that I doubt anyone is prepared for but that's part of growing. I suppose I'm an adult but I still don't think I've grown up - there's still some way to go before I'll accept that insult. My politics haven't mellowed as often seems to be the case as we age and my frustration with the right wing only increases. You see, I remember the '70s when everyone had a cause. Even the right-wing, obvs, except their cause was always 'me'.

I proudly wore my 'Save the Whale' badge in the late '70s and early '80s until I lost it. The '70s and '80s were a great period for badges, badges of all sorts and I still have some of mine, original badges I wouldn't dream of wearing today in case they fell off and were lost. I wore an original X-Ray Spex badge from 1978 when I went to see Poly Styrene at the Roundhouse in 2011 but not since. Today, I wear a Poly Styrene signature badge on all my jackets and coats. Some things never change.

I am currently also wearing my 'Punk Cabaret is Freedom' badge since Amanda Palmer is in the country for a month. That badge wins free hugs from Amanda if you meet her in the street or the theatre lobby and that's not something to miss. I got the biggest hug from Amanda a few years ago for wearing that badge and meeting her after an Alan Cummings show at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand so I'll not take the risk of not wearing it. O no.

I wore it last night to see Amanda play at the Union Chapel and I'll wear it tomorrow at her book signing session. You never know, I might get another hug.

Thinking back also made me remember the 'Protect and Survive' campaign. That was when the Cold War came into our houses with leaflets posted to every home in the UK and adverts on telly about what to do in the event of a nuclear strike. Today they would probably be laughable but it was dead serious back then. I never quite understood the ideas behind it though. If there's going to be a nuclear holocaust then I'm not sure I want to survive it. Why would I want to go through those hardships and die a slow, painful death? A moment of obliteration seems preferable. A definite case of, 'Bye world, nice knowing you...'.

I vaguely recall 'Protest and Survive' badges from the time but can't see anything online. Change one letter and change the whole meaning. Am I making that up or is there a gap in internet and wiki history?

I don't see many badges worn these days, no proclamation of what we believe in or support. I've blogged before about seeing young people in Joy Division, The Ramones or The Clash tee shirts, bands that disappeared before they were born, and wondered whether they know what they're wearing or maybe they just think it's a good design? I'll probably never ask any of them but it's good to see the images are still current.

Mind you, *some* people still have badges. Amanda is selling badges at her merch table on her current tour so, naturally, I had to have some. They're a new design and I really like the ampersand paint-brush slash AFP design. 'Ampersand' is one of my favourite songs from 'Who Killed...?' and it's a bit more arty than simple the letters AFP. I have a small 'AFP' badge that I wore until I was asked three times in a day what it meant - I got offended looks when I said it stood for Amanda Fucking Palmer. O dear. Well, you shouldn't have asked in the first place.

One of my favourite badge references is in the liner notes to Kim Wilde's 'Snapshots' record in which she states, 'I wear my Pop Star badge with pride'. Kim clearly understands badges. And she is a Pop Star.

Now that Buffy Sainte-Marie finally has some merch to sell at gigs (tee shirts with her looking righteous) she needs a badge line in '#IdleNoMore', 'No No No to War' and 'Cho Cho Fire!'. Let's get some politics back into badges and spread the message.

What do you think?

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