Ian Duquemin: Reject – Book Review
Reject- Ian Duquemin (Lulu)
Free to read online here
Hardback copy available here
A true punk story. The first time I heard the first Clash album, all those years ago, everything about it said we’re angry and this is why, and this is us, and this is you – and I was hooked. Reading this book feels a lot like that.
From the first couple of pages of the foreword, you know this is going to be a journey of rage, intensity and raw emotion. A true story of what it was like to grow up in a small closed community in the 60s and 70s, to ride the first wave of punk, and to use it as your ticket out.
For what Ian describes as ‘a whole life on such a small amount of paper’, there is one hell of a lot going on in this book. It builds through early years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his father, punctuated by further neglect and mistreatment from the local ‘caring’ professions, interspersed with support and encouragement from foster parents, and individual teachers and youth workers. It’s brutal stuff, but never tiring to read.
With such an acutely personal and painful introduction, by the time we get to punk you can’t help but find yourself reliving the exhilaration of discovering a music that mattered, a style that could be yours, some feeling of identity and freedom, from a time before any of this was in any way mainstream, normal, accepted or acceptable. Run-ins with bikers at parties, and police in the high street, getting records ordered from sympathetic record shops, getting banned from everywhere else, clothes, style, spirit, punks, skins, teds, rebels. Why aren’t there more books like this?
London may have been ‘burning with boredom now’, but at least you had that. You live in smalltown England and you have a station, or the coach, or you can hitch. But grow up on an island like Guernsey and you have 90 miles of English Channel to get across first. So when you manage to get away you make sure you enjoy it to the full … no surprise then, that the period after moving away to Leeds is full of anecdotes, the Exploited and Killing Joke invading the house and sleeping on the floor, going to clubs with Marc Almond and a pre-Sisters Andrew Eldritch, and much else besides.
But perhaps the most emotive part of the book is the return – the sudden realization that you need to go back ‘home’, how everything looks the same, but scratch the surface and so much has changed, how dyed hair, designer ripped jeans and multiple piercings are all now commonplace… how we all change, grow up, move on.
A moving and thought-provoking book on many levels.
All words by Nicky Gee.