SHAM 69 – STOP YOUR GABBING

Jimmy Pusey

Jimmy Pursey talks to Smash Hits

Jimmy Pursey has a word for it. Actually he’s got a great many words to say about everything, most of them unprintable, but the particular word I mean is “Diddle-o”.

You won’t find it in a dictionary. Instead, the good book will probably come up with something like, “Confused: thrown into disorder, mixed up.” That’s diddle-o.

If you ever stop to think about anything at all seriously then you’re almost bound to go diddle-o from time to time. And although he didn’t admit it in his interview with Danny Baker in last issue’s Smash Hits, it seems obvious to me that John Lydon is as diddle-o as any of us.

So let’s all unite for once in our diddle-o-ness and try to sort something out. Like, for instance, why is it that two of the most prominent characters to emerge out of the punk movement can’t seem to agree about anything and invariably attack one another in print?

And why it is that Jimmy ‘If The Kids Are United’ Sham has his most loyal following amongst lunkhead lurchers who hate, as in HATE, nearly everybody except themselves.

The only thing a certain section of Sham fans seem to want to unite is their boot with somebody else’s head. It’s that kind of moronic stupidity that starts Jim’s head reeling.

“The more you believe in something,” Pursey says, “the more chance there is of you either going nuts or killing yourself. Because you think you can change something and the odds are you can’t. Not quickly, anyway. Half the time, the opposite happens.

“That time I took all those drugs, I was chasing myself, running round in circles thinking WHY WON’T PEOPLE LISTEN!!! I was going diddle-o. I couldn’t stand it any more. I was so close to death that time, I said to myself, never, ever again will I go through that.

“Also, what a lot of people don’t understand, I was having a bad time in myself. I’ve never actually spoken about this before but my insides ain’t all that good. That’s why I’m so skinny. I’ve been cut up,” he explained, baring a scarred belly for inspection.

“Me whatsit burst and blew me guts apart,” he continued. “I’ve got a load of ulcers in there and I still get terrible pains sometimes. But the kids don’t see that side of you, they just see a cardboard cut-out, not a human being.

“But anyway, that was another aggravation on top of all the berks who don’t listen to a word you’re saying. That’s why I’ve tried to step back and be a bit calmer.

“Most people walk out of rock ‘n’ roll either skint, pilled up to the eyeballs or nutty as a fruitcake. I want to walk out with a few bob in me pocket, sane, and still a human being. That’s the most important thing.”

Jimmy Pursey

There are several people around who will tell you that Jimmy Pursey has never been sane in his life and is still running around in circles going diddle-o, among them, it would seem, the aforementioned John Lydon.

The week before I interviewed Jimmy Pursey, John and his new cronies had publicly sneered at him in an interview in NME, then of course in last issue’s Smash Hits interview he had another go, saying, “Groups like Sham 69 are so well liked because they just fulfil their ‘rebel’ role . . . that’s no threat.”

Jimmy had already answered that particular remark before it was ever made.

“You know why they’re mouthing off about me, doncha? he grinned. “they’re as jealous as fuck, that’s why. Because I did the ultimate. I came across with what punk was supposed to be about and they didn’t. Punk is a positive force, not a threat? I don’t want to be a threat to anybody. Why should I be a threat? We’ve all got too many people threatening us every day of the week already.

“Punk is about cutting down barriers, not threatening people. I wanna bring the kids together. I have only ever said ‘kids UNITE’.

“Let’s bring the disco kids with the Zeppelin kids with the skinheads with the Hell’s Angels . . . let’s all get together. That’s punk.

“But if you listen to that shit (Lydon), he’ll say he’s a punk rocker one day, then next thing he’s saying it’s a load of shit, rock ‘n’ roll’s dead, disco music is best. Now what is ‘e trying to cause? Eh? Is he trying to set one lot of kids against another? He’s all full of shit.”

Now let’s stop and consider for a minute. On the one hand we have Jimmy Pursey, Esq. Jimmy’s got a lot of mouth (the few quotes here are just a tiny part of a non-stop, two hour rap) and, by his own admission, nearly every time he opens it he makes an idiot of himself.

That’s because he’s honest and, like most of us, he’s no genius and he’s naive about a lot of things. But then, as another gent recently observed, it’s better to be mugs than smug. Probably.

Jimmy has also got a lot of bottle, a lot of heart and he’s absolutely sincere in his determination to carry on the punk ethic, which he sees as basic, spontaneous rock ‘n’ roll by “the kids”, for “the kids”.

Unfortunately, nearly every time he presses button A, up pops reaction B. When he can’t understand why, it hurts.

Now on the other hand we have John Lydon, Esq. According to Danny Baker, John – or rather, Public Image as a whole – have “brains, humour and integrity.” Fine. Except that when you read what John has to say for himself he comes across as a cynic with no great intellectual capacity than the average wally, and his track record to date suggests nothing more than an undying commitment to himself.

He was in The Sex Pistols for laughs: he thinks that rock ‘n’ roll has been dead for years; he has more or less disassociated himself from anything to do with punk; and he’s now in a group that makes obscure music for itself and self alone.

Perversely, there’s a lot to be said for that attitude as well. The more you play something for laughs, the less likely you are to go round the twist; the more you disassociate yourself from causes, the less likely you are to find yourself being hailed as some kind of guru; the more selfish you are, whether musically or any other way, the less likely you are to be trapped by convention.

But take it too far and you might as well give up pretending that you’re part of the human race.

Verdict? It wouldn’t do either of them any harm to stop bitching and learn something from one another.

I’ll leave it to your imagination what John might learn from Jimmy. As for Jimmy learning something from John, well, despite what he said about stepping back and being a bit calmer, Mr P has still got a very heavy schedule ahead of him – involving his JP Production work with numerous protege groups, his newly formed alliance with Paul Cook and Steve Jones, and his intense desire to see some changes made.

Perhaps too intense. Ease up, Jimmy. One thing at a time and don’t expect miracles. Folk don’t take too kindly to being preached at. They tend to either ignore what you say or go and do the exact opposite. It’s enough to send you diddle-o

Smash Hits, August 1979

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