You’re my only friend, and you don’t even like me – sometime in April 1994

I don’t like no-one, well except for you

A wild and willing 16-year-old, somehow I got into town and searched out like-minded comrades in teenage delinquency, knowing they would be gathering at Capones, a hotel room situated atop a dirty multi-storey car park in the centre, up from the church where you’d find green-haired youths sitting on gravestones with their bottles of Merrydown. Like joining any cult I knew no one but was accepted immediately as a member because I had already made the choice, they recognised the signs, the ripped clothes, the safety pins and messed up hair, so they joined me as much as I joined them.

So I talked to someone who had patches on their sleeves of names that I recognised and made friends. I told of my knowledge of American bands of this hardcore genre and this guy suggested I meet his friend and so started at long close friendship, that very night him being recruited to play bass guitar in the band Shock To The System and me later joining them when they changed their name to Atrox (shock); all through this friendship that started in that dim hall.

Young and rebellious we rejected the ways of our parents (ha!) and strove for a better world (in our ignorant teenage minds). Through dramas and drugs we were close in outlook and preferences, taking trips down to Bournemouth in the evenings of our early twenties to look back and wonder where this new new generation was going wrong. (I later realised it was us who were going wrong but that’s a longer story).

Proud and cynical we thrived off each other’s dark outlooks, revelling in the glory of life’s disaster. Myself the more adventurous of the pair I took initiatives when needed and we helped each other through several bands and a couple of publications. To look back now and see the tiny streams of change is easy, though I didn’t recognise them as such then, they soon turned into rivers which would not be turned back and this year would be the crucial year in our separation as friends.

The emotional heartache I went through was tough but I realised that by trying to remain friends was like paddling the canoe against the tide, no matter how hard I tried to make it up the river I was always pushed back, and what kind of friendship is that, when all effort is countered? I turned the canoe around and found myself in the vast oceans of love and warmth that others offered me. Myself as Mr Cynical was no more.

pic: screenshot from this video taken in January 1984 – – where I bounce around in front of the band Confessions of Sin, proudly showing off my hand-made Better Youth Organisation t-shirt. I thought I was really something – I was really something else.

*STE Bulletin 23 – 2nd February 1994

Mr Cynical, miserable old git, eh? There’s been a lot of talk in the bulletins recently, about friends, especially since one of our greatest friends, Steve Burgess, passed away. I too have been thinking about friends. Friends, by nature, are friendly. They reassure you and respect you. They can also point out your faults without holding a grudge, or without putting you down, so as you still feel good about yourself. They don’t hold you responsible for their own problems and they are willing to accept change.

Steve Burgess was sometimes disheartened by the punk scene, due to its lack of acceptance of change or new ideas, i.e. closed-mindedness. What do us old-time punks do? The ones who were there years ago? Do we disassociate ourselves from what is happening now and reminisce about the glory days, or do we put in our efforts and make those glory days again (and again)? I think those wishing for the old days are closed-minded and unable to accept change. I also think that is their right but what I’m afraid of is the poison that can be spread. It is easy to criticise our scene – it is easy to criticise anything. It is also hard to ignore unconstructive criticism. Doubts start to nag, “Is it worth it? Why do we bother?” Let’s reject those ideas – they are not for our scene. One of Steve’s favourite sayings was “It’s all punk rock, innit?” meaning that whatever we did, whatever we do – it’s still punk rock. We are not trapped by the term but released from it. Can you accept change? Can you be my friend?

Watcha gonna do? – 21st January 1994

Another eventful week finds me writing this Saturday a.m. at work.  Let’s start with Thursday’s encounter with Fatty.  He phoned up in the evening moaning about going to the Brickie’s to meet cos it was too far and it was pissing down (it wasn’t raining at all) so I had to make the effort and go to Grasshoppers near him

We chatted til closing time (Bronwyn went out for a meal with Rosemary – wish I’d gone in hindsight!) and we got on quite well.  I was being very positive and deliberately avoided putting him down.  He, however, didn’t.  He said my letter was rubbish cos it was all from a book and ‘you don’t need books to tell you how to be’.

I took in everything he said and really just let him get on with it.  I wasn’t going to argue or point out any of his faults.  He said I’m a different person every time I get a girlfriend and that I treat him badly.  He also said he knows me better and that I’m not a positive person but just get like this when I meet a girl.

I now realise he doesn’t know me at all and am very upset by what he has said.  I don’t feel like being friendly with him at all. He’s using emotional blackmail and paranoia to try and get what he wants.  He wants me to be like him I think – like we may have been years ago.  I’m afraid I’ve changed and do not want to be like that ever again. I’m going places and determined not to let anyone get me down.

I told him we intended going ice skating with Chrissy and Amanda on Saturday and he said ‘Fuckin’ hell, you’ll be going bowling next!’  More fuel for Mr Cynical!

Our meeting left me feeling angry and scared.  He makes me doubt myself and puts me in a bad mood.  Do I need that?  I don’t think so.

On Friday me and my baby crashed round at Kerry’s.  We watched TV and got a little drunk.  It was a pleasant evening and we were glad to be out of the house.

Saturday we went to meet Chrissy and loads of others at Tower Park.  We didn’t find them so went to eat pizza.  We did see Rut there though!

Me and Broni talked for about an hour about Fatty. She’s really upset with him too.  Since Thursday I hadn’t been very nice to Broni cos I was unsure of myself.  After pizza, we went home and practically fell asleep! Later we headed on up to the Joiners and had a great time watching Haywire (Broni wants to play sax with them!), Chicken Bone Choked (brilliant set!) and Fabric.  Only saw two songs of Fabric – their guitarist was the spitting image of Rob!

Went on over to Chrissy’s where her, Terri, her mum and her brother Rob (?) were playing Yahtzee.  We joined in too and ended up playing that and Uno until two o’clock.  Woke up again about 8 o’clock and had a great day again looking after Amanda and Rebecca.  Rich, Rob, John, Selena and Dave came round in the evening.  I spent about an hour putting Rebecca to sleep after was sick on me.  I love those kids.  I felt rejuvenated with positive energy.  So much better than Fatty’s influence.  I’m going to try and keep our friendship distant for a while.

Monday night I went to sleep at about 9 o’clock!  Tuesday night Broni went to sleep at about 9 o’clock!  Weekend caught up with us.

On Wednesday we went to the Joiners to see S.M.A.S.H. with Rich, John and Dave.  John and Dave were well pissed – singing Ramones songs at the end.  S.M.A.S.H. were really good though did look a bit ‘contrived’ as Rich kept saying.  Dropped everyone home and me and Broni had a bit of a tiff – she was very tired.  She works far too hard and I keep telling her to take it easier at work.

I rang up the letting agent on Tuesday and went over and signed to start living where Fatty is now, as soon as he leaves.  I rung up and told Fatty – he was a bit pissy as he told me to wait until his contracts had been exchanged but I was thinking ‘fuck you, I’m taking control – I have to sort out where we’re going to live’.  Besides that, he seemed ok – though he didn’t have much good to say!

Thursday me and Broni probably had a fight – we’ve been very strained this week with me being upset by Fatty and her having a bit of P.M.T. and working too hard.  We get through though.

Friday was a funny old day.  I rang Chrissy from work and we had a long chat.  I tried to get her to tell me how she was feeling and although I think it upset her a bit she knows she’s going to have to go through it.  We talked about all sorts of stuff and I could tell her thoughts were elsewhere.  She is so nice – it’s hard to accept something so sad could happen to her.  We make a lot of effort for our friends cos we know they are worth it.

Got home – no Broni!  It got to about six and I was getting very worried.  I rang Kerry and Jo who hadn’t seen her.  Kerry’s dad had been taken to the hospital too.  I was really upset cos I know she would ring if she was going to be late.  All sorts of thoughts ran through my head.  I couldn’t handle being without my Broni-baby.

Anyway, she turned up at 6.15 or so and went next door to chat with Dani and Rich.  I was very relieved.

During the week I’d been working on a Mr Cynical and my own column – inspired by my meeting with Fatty.  He said to me he was really hurt by telling everyone Steve was my best friend and cut me down for it – even saying his funeral was the wrong place to say it!!!

This got me thinking about friends and how friends like to be treated and how I like them to treat me.  Steve and most of the Southampton crew are great friends and show me love, respect and interest.  I don’t get that from Fatty – ever!  It’s a case of where do I go from here.  The easiest thing to do is for us to drift apart but I feel like I want to tell him why I don’t like him but my anger would make it unconstructive.

I so much would like for him to be happy and enthusiastic and see a light at the end of the tunnel but like he says, he’s stubborn and loves moaning!  Maybe he’s upset cos a girlfriend can have a big influence on me, yet he can’t? (Although he does have an influence on me and it’s not one I like at all). He’s very insecure and unhappy with himself.  He thought the book I was reading from was a religious thing!  I guess to have faith in oneself would look like that to one with a soul so black.  He even thought my mum was being over the top when she said she had an ‘excellent’ Christmas – like I’d told her to be enthusiastic to Fatty in an effort to cheer him up.  He’s getting really paranoid!  I don’t want to waste any more of my time on him.  Steve’s death teaches me that time is short and ‘real’ friendship is very important.

Me and Broni went for a pub meal and caused great commotion cos we wanted vegetarian food – it was funny!  Popped round to Kerry’s – she was very drunk and not so much fun.  Met her new lodger, Simon, who seemed really nice.  Kerry’s friend Jen came over and she seemed drunk too – it was a horrible atmosphere then.

Broni’s told me a bit about Jen and she’s not very likeable.  Not a nice thing to say I know but…..  They reminded me of Emma’s mum and her lover.  They were fun but out of control.  I’d hate to see Kerry go that way.  I think Jen’s probably a bad influence in her life but her insecurity makes them friends.  How to tell Kerry to cut down on the booze?  She’s a bright girl and very intelligent – a shame to waste those good points.  We left quickly despite Jen’s protests – she reminded me of a wino!  Like Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous but with no sense of humour.  (Things go wrong for those expecting the worst – what goes around comes around).

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Watched a bit of TV when we got back but Pete’s letching at girls on TV really pissed us off.  Besides sometimes being a nice bloke he really is an asshole.  He goes on about how great it is to see gays on TV and freedom for homosexuals but puts down women left, right and centre.  And Kathryn, dear girl, let’s it go on.  I lack understanding (Thankfully).

Enough for now.  I still miss my friend, Steve.  Your death has transformed me (and others too!).  Look to the future!