I’ve never written a ‘review of the year’ blog before, I haven’t seen the point in the past. However 2015 has hopefully been a ‘watershed’ year for me. I kind of see the last year as being 15 months long though and starting with the road I put myself on from October 2014. The best way I can sum up this period is by looking at it in the following way; 2015 was the year I truly applied what I’ve learnt from punk rock to cycling.
1. Quitting your job and going on tour.
The ‘STE’ who were a collective of people who put on punk gigs in Southampton used to use the phrase (and this may be a misquote):
“put on a gig, start a band, write a fanzine. If we can do it anyone can”
This ethos has definitely stuck with me and so upon reading about and watching films of others going on tour by bicycle it was a fairly simple and logical step for me to think, I can do that. I’ve never managed to go on ‘tour’ in a band, but I’ve traveled across a lot of Europe now on a bike and I’m not about to stop any time soon.
2. Writing a fanzine.
I’ve been ‘writing’ since I was a teenager and putting out fanzines irregularly for the last 12 years. Writing about my cycle tours was a natural extension of this and encompasses the blog you’re reading . However I’m really happy that in 2015 I re-jigged the blog into paper fanzine form. It’s also the first time I’ve ever sold out of all copies of a fanzine I’ve had printed!
3. Starting a band.
It’s hard to be in a band and transient but I’m still using skills I learnt doing it. I’ve been in 8 bands over the years and it’s been a great outlet for a lot of my frustrations with life. It’s also given me the confidence to stand up in front of people and talk about my opinions and views on a given subject. I find doing it incredibly draining but also rewarding. So when I had the opportunity to be involved in the inaugural Cycle touring festival as a speaker my history of shouting above a calamitous wail of guitars I hope stood me in good stead. It was a great weekend and I’m looking forward to next year.
The skills gained from being in a band have also been used in one instance to promote the book project I am involved in, when myself and Alan did a reading in Southampton recently. Without necessarily wanting to be Henry Rollins I would like to do more talks/spoken word stuff.
4. Do it yourself.
Punk for me has always been wound up in the ‘DIY’ ethos. The sentiment of just doing things yourself rather than asking permission and abdicating responsibility to a third (often commercial) party. This extends into my cycle touring where I’m quite happy to be self funding, self organising and as self sufficient as possible. I’m stretching this a bit perhaps next year by receiving a grant for one trip but it’s not a huge amount. I don’t see myself being inundated with grants and sponsorship any time soon so it’s not really a problem. If I was though, would I take the money/gear? I’m setting myself up for a fall but the honest answer is possibly not. A DIY self financed punk band can (to a large degree) do and say what they wish. I don’t want to be beholden to someone else and restricted from airing an unpopular or anti-establishment view because I am reliant on funding/support from a third party.
5. Squat the lot.
Again punk for me has always been connected to and a melting pot for left wing politics and often very radical left wing thought. This will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly. I haven’t had a landlord for over a year and it has given me an immense amount of freedom over what I do with my life. I have had to pay for accommodation on occasion but I have tried to limit that. Wildcamping has filled the gap for the most part and the pretentious part of me could say that is an action of (albeit briefly) taking back land which should belong to all in common from those who own it. Naturally as I am just one person this is an action of limited impact on a large scale and varies from country to country but as it reduces the cost of shelter on a personal level it is still a victory in my book.
Here’s to the future!
*I might come back to this ‘idea’ at some point next year.