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Graffiti and a drill bit, In Pictures: Imagine waking tomorrow and all music has disappeared

Runcorn Bridge gets a daubing

Published on July 2nd 2013.


Graffiti and a drill bit, In Pictures: Imagine waking tomorrow and all music has disappeared

FROM 100 by Bill Drummond.


January and February 1968 were dark months, but March, April and May were even darker. I was 14 going on 15. Reinhardt Alders had come around to mine with the jar of chloroform that he had nicked from the biology laboratory at school a week or so ago. I hadn’t tried it yet but Pete, Donald and Gary all had, and said that it was good. None of us had even come close to trying real drugs yet. Real drugs were exotic. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones took real drugs not ordinary kids like us who lived on the estates in Corby.

In my bedroom Reinhardt removed the lid of the jam jar he had the chloroform in, poured some of the liquid onto his hanky and then some onto mine. Reinhardt explained that I should now lie down on my bed with the hanky over my face and he would do the same lying on the floor. Soon the walls started to throb and after a while time seemed to slow down. This was good.

The next thing that I can remember was being in the back of an ambulance with the blue lights flashing. By the time we were in the Accident & Emergency at Kettering General I was coming around proper, and was soon discharged. They kept Reinhardt in over night.

Next morning in school assembly, words were spoken. Mr. Bradley, the headmaster, explained how two boys (un- named) in the fourth form, had seriously endangered their lives by inhaling a substance stolen from the biology lab. One of the boys was still in hospital. I expected the school to come down heavy on us, but no action was taken.

A few days later I was sitting in the maths class, Miss Bevin the deputy head, was our maths teacher. I was not listening. Instead I was using a drill bit that I kept in my pocket, to drill a hole through the top of the desk. I hated Miss Bevin and she hated me. I never did any work in her lessons even though I both liked and was good at maths.

Later in the day I was called to Miss Bevin’s office, she asked me to empty my pockets and put the contents on her desk. This I did, the contents included my knife, a snotty hanky, some fishhooks, and my drill bit. She asked me if I had been responsible for the hole that had been drilled in the desk where I had been sitting that morning during her maths lesson. I said yes. She told me that I did not deserve to be at this school and that she was going to punish me as severely as she could. I expected the chloroform incident to be mentioned but it wasn’t, it was as if it had never happened.

Mr. Tuffin was called in, I liked Mr. Tuffin, he was our metalwork teacher and had also been our maths teacher the year before. Miss Bevin asked him if this drill bit on her table might have been stolen from the metalwork shop. He said it could have been as there were ones that size missing. I had not stolen the drill bit, it was mine, bought with my own money. I liked drill bits, I liked drilling, still do.

That evening there was a knock at our door. It was Mr. Tuffin and my form master. They asked my parents for permission to search my bedroom. They were interested to see if I had a stash of all the other tools that had been going missing from the metalwork shop. I had numerous tools in my bedroom; chisels, hammers, saws and drills. I liked tools; I liked banging and sawing, still do. But none of these tools had been stolen from the metalwork shop and Mr. Tuffin knew it.

The next morning I was called back into Miss Bevin’s study, and accused by her of stealing not only a drill bit but also numerous other tools from the metalwork shop. This was not the first time I had been accused of doing things that I had not done, nor the last. I was put on detention for the rest of the term.

Some evenings later I was watching the news on TV. French students were rioting in the streets of Paris. They were upturning cars and setting fire to them. They were pulling up the cobblestones from the boulevard and hurling them at the massed ranks of gendarmes. I had no idea what they were rioting about, but it looked good to me. There was something else that they were doing that really caught my imagination – they were getting pots of paint and large brushes and daubing words and slogans on walls and shop windows. I knew sod all French, but this looked like a very great thing to be doing.

In bed that night I hatched a plan. Our school had a central block, four stories high. On the north side of the block were four large rectangles of brickwork, one above the other. So the plan was, I would get a big pot of white paint and paintbrush and on each of these rectangles of brickwork I would paint a huge letter. Once I had got all four letters done, they would make a word and this word would be seen, not only by all the school kids and the teachers coming in the next morning, but everybody driving up Gainsborough Road out of Corby, heading towards Great Oakley and Kettering. I mean this would be hundreds of people, maybe thousands. And they would all see what I had written and nobody would know it was me. The four letters that I planned to paint, starting from the top floor were, F, U, C and a K.

By the next night, I had the paint and the brush and under the cover of darkness I went up to the school. Remember this is decades before CCTV. But what I had not taken into account in my detailed planning was how I was going to do this painting right down the outside of a four storey building. This chronic lack of foresight on my part did not quash my ardour.

Instead I went down to the school next door (across the playing fields), Pope John the 23rd. Here I was able to clamber up onto a first floor roof, via a fire escape ladder. Here I was hidden from the road and I got to work. Instead of the letters that I originally planned to daub down the side of my school, I painted the slogan MISS BEVIN IS A CUNT. This felt good. Very good indeed. It did not matter to me that what I painted, could not be seen by all the kids or teachers on their way to school, the next morning or by anybody driving up Gainsborough Road.

That night I lay in bed, with a big smile on my face. The dark months were over. A job well done!

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