The Killswitch – Punks – from the early days to the cyber age

In London in the 1970s violence was more likely than it is in 2023, but the music was better.
So, You know, swings & roundabouts

Extract from :- THE KILLSWITCH by Ian Parson

‘Most punks were unemployed. They stayed in bed as long as possible to save money. Once they surfaced from their pits they’d head to the local meeting point. Usually a record store or somewhere you could lounge about.

How else were they going to find out what was happening? There was no Instagram. Immersing yourself into a subculture like punk required commitment. Ideas and information were shared face to face. To hear the latest news, find out what was new you needed to get out there. To see and be seen.

The 70s and 80s was a time the youth turned their backs on ‘expectation’ and against all the odds rearranged a small part of the world into something they preferred.

Naturally the older generation went bat shit crazy.

It was war. Geriatrics were not giving up their deeply ingrained bias and bigotry without a fight. And those too old to fight would moan and whinge and whine every single step of the way.

If there was to be a more tolerant world, getting there was going to be tough. The older generation held all the aces.

But punks had youth on their side. And there was squats and dole money. Cash in hand jobs and little back street pubs. An alternative lifestyle wasn’t an easy choice but it was possible. Surviving on the periphery of civilised society was still viable if you committed’

Amy Winehouse will always be a Camden legend. The music helps, but her punk attitude means she will never really die.

Further extract from –THE KILLSWITCH by Ian Parson

‘At school Jonny hated team games especially sport. Fart jokes and toilet humour didn’t amuse him in the slightest. He considered his peers childish. He never really fitted in.

Then one day he got his first computer and a whole new world presented itself.

He took to it like a duck to water. Rushing home from class every day to discover what else the machine was capable of. It was as though he’d been waiting his whole life for this. He wasn’t a complete human being until he was plugged in.

He was like Peter Parker, mild mannered and invisible by day. But at night he did things that would have amazed them at school, teachers and children alike. And he made his first friends.

Admittedly his tribe were the digital misfits, the outcasts, the cyber punks. But no matter, they shared a passion. Something Jonny could throw himself into wholeheartedly, completely and utterly.

These kids were the future of the human race but at the time nobody took them seriously.

Technicians were forced to acknowledge their existance occasionally. But they weren’t professionals, there was no need for concern. They were regarded as flies in the ointment.

It was inconceivable they should be treated with respect. Besides the world wide web was brand new. It was a learning curve for everybody. The mighty would prevail eventually. Then the flies would get squatted as they always do.

So in the early days, when it really mattered Jonny and his friends were more or less ignored.

Meanwhile they egged each other on to commit web-based mischief on ever grander scales.

They spent their evenings breaking into secure networks, the more official the better. They liked leaving a ‘flag’ before sneaking back out via a ‘wormhole’.

At first it was purely bravado. Just kids breaking into places to earn respect from their peers. It was no different to leaving a tag on a city wall. Juvenile behaviour as old as time adapted for the computer age.

Jonny excelled in wormholes and was leaving trapdoors before it was cool. A secret point of entry, unknown to all except him. A way back in should he ever wish to return in the future. He was dedicated to being the best he could possibly be, like a psychopath.

By the time experts realised they needed these people on side it was too late.

They’d hacked into Universities, the Formula One system, Coutts Bank and a vast number of off-shore tax havens’

Union Street, Plymouth
‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to hide’ Bollox to that, stop watching me, I don’t like it!
Ian Parson, writer, Camden Town August '23
Ian Parson has been going to Camden since the 1980s. It’s always changing, but enough stays the same to keep it fresh.

All books by Ian Parson are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, WH Smith, Foyles etc

And on Kindle & Audible

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