In 1977 there was still a year to go until the full blown industrial strife of 1978/79, yet to many young people the blazing hot summer of 1976 was already a far-flung memory. Employment was getting ever harder to come by, and even then there were no guarantees of ongoing work. A promised golden future of high-rise housing had instead created an intimidating urban landscape.
As in previous decades, the youth of 1977 embraced anti-establishment heroes, but the well-tailored rebellion of the 1950s ‘Teddy Boys’ and the bohemian peace and love of the 1960s had given way to an unfulfilled nihilism, waving its abrasiveness proudly. To the concern of many parents, teenage bedroom walls were suddenly plastered with the less-than-friendly visages of John Lydon (best known as Johnny Rotten), Joe Strummer of The Clash and Star Wars’ Darth Vader (a villain more popular with youngsters than the heroes that he fought).
Punks and ‘drop outs’
The early followers of Lydon and his bandmates were far from the caricatured punk image we see on tourist postcards now; they appeared to terrify the bulk of the populace with both their appearance and antisocial actions. In Central London these youths were seen to give a negative representation to tourists.
The statue of Eros and the area around Piccadilly Circus Underground Station had long been an assembly point for young people (the file at The National Archives about vagrancy at Eros goes back to 1969 and is titled ‘Hippies and others’). But in the late seventies this location appeared to become a re-energised hive of activity. The file about the policing of the area around Eros can be found in MEPO 31/43. Continue reading »