My first childhood memory was my mum and step dad getting married when I was four years old. I don’t have any memories of my “real” dad before this time. All I knew was that he wasn’t around and I had a new dad. This was supposed to be great, my family was now complete and I had a dad!
Fast forward ten years and my mum and step dad were getting a divorce. From what I understand of parents getting divorced I should have been upset about this. I mean sure I was devastated for my mum and my sisters but I really wasn’t upset that he was gone. You see me and step daddy never had any form of close relationship. He was always working or when he wasn’t working he was at the pub drinking away the money he had made. We never bonded over things that most father and sons bond over such as football or playing with Lego or even going to the hairdressers. Just recently I made my first visit to an actual hair dresser in twenty years. I always was put down for being shy and quiet and gosh forbid I ever get upset about something, that definitely wasn’t allowed. I’m no psychologist but I imagine putting down a kid for being a bit shy and quiet will only make them shyer and quieter? That is what happened with me. By the time I was fourteen I had absolutely no confidence. My social group basically consisted of the same three friends I had had since primary school a couple of others.
I absolutely hated secondary school, because of my shyness I struggled to get involved in lessons. I could do the work (for the most part) but I really couldn’t interact with the class. I used to hate when a teacher would make me speak in front of the class. Not because I didn’t know the answer but because kids can be horrible. You see my voice seemed to take a lot longer to break than most other lads I knew. Whenever I spoke up in class there would always be some idiot who thought it would be funny to make fun of my high pitched voice. This drove me into my shell even more. I like many other kids was a victim of bullying. Most lads would go to their dads for support in this matter but I couldn’t, he either wasn’t there or just told me not to be a little girl. I remember one time where I did try and speak to him and he suggested that I go and put on one of my sisters dresses. This was probably the lowest point in my life. I’m tearing up writing about it.
So when he walked out on my mum it turned out to be one of the best days of my life. For sure it was difficult; my mum really struggled to cope with things and all three sisters really had a hard time. Some really really dark times happened in the Clark household, things that I’ve never told anyone and probably never will. Shy little Colin was now the man of the house and really had to step up and be the man of the house. Only problem was Colin had never had a proper male role model to look up to.
This was around the time I first discovered punk rock music. Besides my best friends Craig, David and Anthony this was the only thing that kept me sane and gave me an escape from all the rubbish that was going on in my life. This was when I first discovered it was okay not to be the same as everyone else, it wasn’t a bad thing that my voice was different to other people or I had different views on things. I began to stand up for myself more and have a lot more confidence with people, I wasn’t scared of everyone. I don’t think I knew it at the time but music of punk rock was becoming my father figure.
I gather most fathers shape what kind of man their sons eventually become. They teach them about the right and wrong way to treat people, they give them support and advice on careers, cars and girls and generally give them proper values to live their lives by. The majority of my values come from the lessons learnt from short two and a half minute songs, the people who play them and the people who listen to them. I’ve learnt about how it’s fantastic to be different from the crowd. To quote the King Blues I learnt to “take pride in being whoever the fuck you want to be.” I now spend my life going to gigs and meeting some amazing people. Sure they look completely different to what is deemed “cool” or “normal” but they are some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I’ve learnt I can live my life in my own way and that I don’t have to do listen to what other people think I should do. If I don’t want to drink alcohol and I want to grow a beard I can do that. If people don’t understand then it doesn’t matter, that’s not my problem. I’ve learnt about how important friendship and community is. Now at 28 I am blessed to have an amazing and quite large group of friends. Without all these people I wouldn’t be who I am today, old friends and new. I’ve learnt you don’t have to do what people tell you to do, if you don’t like something say something. Don’t just roll other. In all honesty I’ve talked myself into trouble lots of times because I’ve not agreed with something. I wouldn’t change that though, I’m proud to be able to stand up and speak out if I’m not happy with something. Though I do sometimes regret how I word things. Telling a manager she’s “ramming you up the bum” is not constructive.
Punk rock music has shaped me into the man I have become, a man who I don’t mind saying I’m quite proud of and a man I really hope that my friends, my sisters and most importantly my mum can be proud of. Punk rock has been my figure when there was nobody else to do it. It’s a massive cheese cliché but punk rock music probably saved my life and changed it for the better forever.
Now listening to: The King Blues - The Schemers, The Scroungers,And The Rats