Sunday, 16 April 2017

'Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche' - The Documentary

A crowdfunding campaign has launched to make a documentary about the life of Poly Styrene. To be clear where my allegiance lies, this blog is named after one of Poly's songs from 1977, 'Plastic Bag'. Poly was never a cliche but the title, 'I Am A Cliche' comes from a song that was the 'B' side of her first single with X-Ray Spex, the classic 'Oh Bondage, Up Yours'. The documentary is being made with Poly's daughter, Celeste Bell, at the the helm so we can trust it to be an accurate view of Poly. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it.

My first X-Ray Spex record was on a punk compilation album, a 10" sampler vinyl record that also included Penetration and Linton Kwei Johnson ('Guillotine'). Following that I got their first single, 'Oh Bondage. Up Yours!' backed with 'I Am A Cliche'. I wish I'd seen them back in the day but I didn't. But I could enjoy their records and I did. All the singles and the amazing 'Germ Free Adolescents' album. I went so far as to hunt out the day-glo socks they wore on the record sleeve and wore them until they wore out. I still have and treasure two X-Ray Spex badges from 1978. Some things are important.

The years passed and 'Germ Free Adolescents' was released on CD and I bought it. It was then re-released as an expanded 'record+greatest hits+' and I got it. I still have my original vinyl version and, although the edges of the sleeve are worn, that's from love not misuse. The internet allowed me to buy other records from Poly Styrene, including her album 'Flower Aeroplane' direct from her house in St Leonards that she described as 'mantra with muscle'. 

Out of the blue a gig was announced at the Roundhouse in 2008 and I was there, finally seeing Poly on stage. I was due to go into hospital for an operation the next day but that wasn't going to stop me turning day-glo for the night.

And then in 2010 the news of a new album due for release in 2011 sadly followed by news that Poly had cancer. She died a few weeks after the album was released in 2011, still doing interviews to spread her messages. That was so sad, but it was also lovely to see the outpouring of grief on social media from a huge range of people - her passing was noticed.

I attended the first Polyfest gig in Putney, London, in 2013 to commemorate her passing and met Celeste Bell after she sang 'Warrior In Woolworths'. I subsequently bought the record of the performances that evening. And now a documentary and a book about Poly, and an opportunity to support it. And I have. My name will be in the credits of the documentary and that's a great honour. If you want to support it then please click here:

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