Tag Archives: skinhead

Asian Girl

Breaking The Silence is a book of writing by Asian women put out by Centerprise in 1984. In it various women, identified only by their first name, wrote of their experiences. The work is in English as well as a handwritten in their mother tongue. There’s writing in Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu.

When You Don’t Feel Like A Foreigner

It is never easy being a foreigner in a country; it is even more difficult when you don’t feel like a foreigner.

I am an Asian girl, originally from India, though I was born here in England 18 years ago. I live in relative comfort in an exceptionally nice area of town, with all the amenities and many of the luxuries at my disposal. I enjoy my life here and would find it difficult to imagine living in another country.

I think people in all spheres of life are bound to experience prejudice at one time or another, be it for their race, colour or creed but perhaps we are subject to prejudice in all these areas. I have found that there are two main types of prejudice, the kind that is expressed in loud explicit and often violent tones, and the other a more subtle though no less expressive type. The former I do not experience directly very often and as yet never in its violent form. It is intimidating to have to walk past a group of young ‘skinheads’ and suffer being called names such as ‘smelly paki’ or ‘chocolate drop’ or have to cross the road to avoid a group of older ‘skinheads’. I believe these human beings who look and sound as they do are as much a pest to English people as they are to us Asians.

The second form of prejudice is the type I encounter with my good friends. My best friends are all English and white. Phrases like ‘I don’t think of you as being an Indian, I mean you don’t smell of curry or speak with an Indian accent’. Often they astonish me in their naivety of thinking that all Indian are like that. Another interesting example of prejudice amongst friends is a conversation I had with a boy I was going out with at the time. He simply adored me and I him but he could not accept my being superior to him in any way. We were discussing our ‘O’ level results and although he did not do as well as me he insisted that had he worked harder or even worked at all he would have done better than me. I thought at first that this was because I was a girl, but from later conversations I realised that it was because I was an Indian girl.

Parental care, to all appearances , is much more protective and thus restrictive in Indian homes than English ones. From my own experience I find it extremely annoying especially since my friends are not treated in the same way. My parents insist on knowing where I am when I do out, though not necessarily who I am with, what time I will be home and how I am getting home. Whereas my friends are allowed to walk home after a party, although they must tell their parents at what time they’ll be home. Personally I find this an overprotective part of my parents’ nature, but of course, having spoken to many other Indian girls in my college this constitutes complete freedom in comparison to them. Naturally since most of us are influenced to a high degree by the views of our parents, maybe many of my own ideas are simply extensions of those of my parents and often my own ideas are in conflict with my friends.
Marriage of course is a major topic of conversation for girls of my age, since hopefully, within the next few years we all hope to be married. My friends find my marriage arrangements interesting because they are never sure whether or not a marriage is to be arranged for me. My views on this subject have changed over the years. Until a few years ago I felt arranged marriages to be very unromantic and I couldn’t understand how couples could be content with this arrangement. I then began speaking to girls who considered an arranged marriage to be acceptable, in some cases even desirable, Having increased in years and experience my views have been somewhat tempered. I now believe that, from reading recent statistics, ‘love’ marriages are not more successful than arranged marriages; however, I feel that I should have a complete choice in the man to whom I am to spend the rest of my life with, the chance to make up my own mind about the person I could be happy with, the freedom to decide my future be it right or the wrong choice.

Religion is a subject which many of us have no choice about. If one is born into Hindu, Muslim or Christian households, one is compelled to live by rules and traditions dictated by that religion. Personally I do not believe that religion is in any way a wonderful thing. Blind faith in anything is short-sighted but following traditions when they are not your true beliefs is perhaps worse.

I am an Indian girl in England and the conflicts this causes are sometimes quite frightening but I would rather live in England with all the faults than anywhere else.



80s Skinheads

Backs Against the Wall zine, number 5, 1989 looks back at skinhead through the turbulent 80s. The zine’s editor, Dudley, was at the forefront of ‘sussed’ skinhead.

In the last four – five years in Britain there has been a fundamental shift in the evolution of the Skinhead phenomenon. There have always been skinheads, since the revival in 1977, that have been predominantly interested in dressing to much the original way of ’69 – ’72, and listening to a lot more to 1968 – ’73 reggae (tagged together to be known as skinhead reggae) than punk/oi.
In the early 80s these skinheads were, let’s say, ‘content’ to live their own lives while the racist punks who call themselves skinheads fooled the media, and therefore the public, that a stiff right arm was essential to being a skinhead, of course to people in the know this was more of a fairy-tale than someone suggesting that Engand had a good football team.
The main focus of the inevitable split that was coming was Hard As Nails zine and Skrewdriver. Skrewdriver were and are the big motivators of the underground (very underground) nazi movement that the racist punk ‘skinheads’ flocked to, more interested in racist politics, banal music and paramilitary uniforms than the years old natural idea of skinhead as lovers of slick dress, football and melodic beat music as in early ska, reggae, two tone, soul, and some punk and oi.
Hard As Nails took the views that a large number of skinheads held, and became the vocal point for the premise of 1969 style and music updated to the 80s through the then emerging new ska bands. As it was the first zine inside the skinhead scene that openly questioned the nazis right to use the name of skinhead when it was plainly obvious that they were not skinheads, HaN came in for the expected moronic criticisms that they were splitting the skinhead scene and were commies anyway. The logic being that anyone who is not a nazi must ne a commie, it takes more than one brain cell to see through this pathetic attitude, unfortunatly nazis brain cells do not often exceed the singular. As for splitting the scene, it is repulsive to most normal thinking people (and skins) to associate in any way with nazis.
Since then Skrewdriver have continued to sink lower and lower into out and out stormtroopers and even further away from an accepted skinhead way. While Hard As Nails is long gone, other zines have taken up its message, Spy Kids, Backs Against The wall, Street Feeling, Rough & Tough, Traditional Lemonheads and perhaps the best Zoot. Ska bands have sprung up in abundance and most encouragingly from all corners of the world, Britain, USA, Germany, Italy etc. Ska gigs have in the last six months become the norm rather than the exception, including the highly successful series of ska festivals held in London, which look set to continue, for the rest of the year at least.
There are regualr do’s and events up and down Britain playing non-stop 6Ts ska, soul and skinhead reggae. The talk of who’s got the best gear, Bens/Brutus/crombie etc is as of much interest as the latest record release or how your football team did on saturday.
The numbers of these true skinheads in Britain is growing every day, enough to make the optimistic feel that 1989 is gonna be our year again, first 1969, then 1979, it’s gotta be ain’t it.
From California to aris, London to Munich, Cardiff to Savona, Glasgow to Dublin, Manchester to Tokyo, it’s the sound of NOW, fuck the goose-step, DO THE MOONSTOMP.


This passage is from Roger Mills 1978 Centerprise book A Comprehensive Education. It covers 1965 to 1975 and his time at Effingham Road School, which he left in 1971. He was part of Hackney Writers’ Workshop and Basement Writers in Stepney.


Almost overnight it seemed teenagers everywhere were going bald. Kids who for the past three years had been chastized for their long flowing locks were turning up to school with their hair so closely cropped that you could see their skulls. They were chatized for this as well.
They had a completely new style of clothes too. Heavy brown boots, sometimes steel toed, sta-press trousers and Jeans with turn ups. Their shirts were button-collared Ben Shermans with braces, regulation red, and maybe a Cromby jacket. It was an ugly fashion, the perfect camouflage for the brick streets they lived in. It was a style so frighteningly close to army uniform that it made you wonder if the people were right who said all kids really wanted was a spell in the army.
The skinheads were attacking on all fronts.

Breaktime. Friday. Under the stairs.
The dirt stained coffee machine rumbled, belched and threw out a splash of coffee. had the cup been released from it’s hatch it would have been Keyhole Kate’s. ‘Blow this,’ said Kate under his breath but undaunted tried again and was rewarded wth a cup of black coffee, half full.
A mob of skinheads had been watching the performance and clapped politely. ‘Thank Gawd for that,’ said their leader. ‘I bin getting awful thirsty over ‘ere.’ All the boys leaned away and walked sowly up to Kate.
‘Be a good kid and give us yer drink will yer?’ he said. ‘I’m gasping.’
‘Why shoud I?’ said Kate. ‘I paid for it, didn’t I?’
”Cause I wan’ it, that’s why you should give it to me. The other reason being that if you don’t I shall punch your ‘ead in.’
Another boy in the group moved impatiently about on his feet. ‘Come on Dave, don’t let’s stay ‘ere, you dunno who’ll come down the stairs.’
‘Shut up Rick,’ said the leader. ‘I’ll give you some bovver an’ all if you don’t.’ He did not look away from Kate’s face, just kept ‘screwing’ him.
Keyhole Kate, braver than he had a right to be, raised the cup to his lips and took a sip. Th skinhead’s face erupted, teeth bared, cheeks bloated like a toad and forehead coming down like a landslide. A fist was held up to Kate’s face and almost immediately turned into a solid index finger. Very slowly he pointed the plump finger at his own head. It was a moon shaped object wth a fat piggy face behind it. His rusty hair was barely visible, like lonely tufts of grass on a muddy football pitch
‘You see this?’ he said grabbing Kate’s shirt with the other hand, ‘you see this, it means something y’know. It means somehting.’
There was a real anger in the skinhead. Real violence. It was all so logical, the Long Arm Law. This boy was a skinhead, skinheads are tough and therefore Kate must surrender hs cup. Kate, shaking now, handed it over and the skinhead drunk it down in one before he let go of Kate.
”Ere come on. Leave ‘im alone Dave. He is in a year above us after all. Let’s go for a smoke behind the bikesheds.’ The boys half pulled, half followed the affronted skinhead to the bikesheds.
Kate wiped the sweat from his forehead and adjusted his shirt front. Surely the most patient of them all, he decided on just one more try at getting a cup of coffee. A coin appeared in his hand and he fed it into the machine. The machine gulped, laughed, mumbled and once again threw the cupless coffee into its full swill dish.

Roger Mills

Teenage Warning

Teenage Warning

sweet, and sticky.
Three floors up
no nearer to G-d
but perhaps
closer to heaven.
The off season,
short sleeves,
long discomix days
with version.
Looking out the
at a rusting
Ford Anglia
she laughed.
It was going nowhere,
neither were we.
In nothing
but a black t-shirt,
she laughed.
Across her chest
white letters
bold in a circle:
Who killed Liddle
Angelic Upstarts.

Tim Wells