An Evening of Anarchy?

Paris June Days Uprising illustration

“What a brilliant combination of speakers! Was it your idea?”

How lovely to be asked such a question. The questioners were right; it was a brilliant combination. Was it my idea? Well, no. We put the programme together as a committee and ideas bounce around. We do love trying new things. One day they won’t work; it is though worth the risk.

So, anarchy; or do I mean risking trying new things?

John Robb was there at the start of Punk Rock in 1976. As he said, all they were doing was making their own music in their own way and not trying to follow what had gone before or mimic contemporary music makers. Some quotes from what he said will give a flavour:

“The number one thing about punk rock, was empowerment”

“It was a crash course in art, without going to an art college”  ‬

‪ ‬“My version of punk is DIY and empowerment – I’m not telling you that’s what punk is, I’m saying that’s my experience of Punk”

“It was a generation of total contrarians…”

Dr Marc Mulholland admitted to me that John would be a hard act to follow. I doubt that anyone in the audience noticed as he took us on a vivid journey through the life of this man, Emmanuel Barthélemy, whom he described as ” a divisive figure, he’s a marmite figure and divides people in life and in death.”

He had found Barthélemy in the notes to Francis Wheen’s biography of Karl Marx. His research though was aided, or perhaps made possible, by the fact that Barthélemy had been subject to no less than four trials during his short life. It was a journey through the French revolutions, finding its way also to 19th century London.

I found the book riveting; no less the talk.