Squatting ver. 93

by Jan Shaw

Squatting.... Where to start?

At the beginning I guess. OK, whilst at school – Lawnswood High School in Leeds – when I was, probably 14 or 15 (1979 or 1980) I was going through some issues like anarchy, punk, unrequited love, death and similar related stuff. Education, at this time, appeared irrelevant to actual life yet it was where I had to go and be a part of. Even if I seriously did not want to be there. At 14 I think I went more than I didn't but even then it was troublesome, like when me and tub (my mate Toby) went to assembly at the start of the day, the previous night we'd dyed our hair peacock blue or turquoise. I thought it looked really cool, yet some deputy head snatched us both & we were redirected to the library for that assembly. It was the start of many similar occasions. Tub and I enjoyed our forced incarceration due to us locating some issues of punch magazine I recall. There were times that followed spent in deputy headmaster's offices when I was talked at about how the school had a reputation to uphold & I, being a pupil of said establishment, should somehow innately understand that I was an instrument of such upholdinness and how my hair colour was a disestablishing of such an honour that was bestowed upon me – without my realising it or complicit agreement of such. Where was this agreement or contract? Huh? All I can recall is staring over the top of Mr Dunnings head, as he was a short arsed git, through the window, as he was trying to relate his authoritarianism to my anti authoritarianism – due to my hair colour. He spoke about wanting to have dayglo coloured socks, I wanted to be somewhere else, that was his rebellion, I wanted to see Wendy. We were at an impasse, I spent more time in the library.

Oh I got suspended too. Once or twice around here n there. Occasionally I kinda knew I was gonna run afoul of the 'law' (teacher-cops) so I circumnavigated their malicious involvement in my happy life as I did not need their negativity bringing me down, man. So I chose to not attend school as I was, most obviously, too cool for school, true!

In the few times when I did attend & actually go to lessons my favourite was art. First with my first form tutor Mr Glover??? And next Mrs Clawson, who was alright – I wasn't very good at art there but I liked the freedom, creativity, imagination it inspired within me. OK, I wasn't brilliant at it but for some brief occasions I had a dalliance with goodness or had a whiff of an excellent idea which I tried hard to conjure from those dark recesses of my creative mind to the blank page but often, I suppose, the effort or the reality was I wasn't good enough or my skills were lacking somewhat in producing imagined masterpiece. Still, I had a few good goes and I enjoyed it.

All very interesting no doubt but where's the squatting, huh? Well, bear with for a bit longer – getting to it soon. So there I was, sometimes, in art club, at school and during breaks or lunchtime they used to let you in to catch-up on stuff or keep out of trouble. It was during one such lunch break when I noticed a picture on the wall. A really intricate and stunning pencil portrait of Johnny Rotten and I was incredibly impressed. In asking the teach Mrs Clawson she replied it was??? Andrew Smith (can't actually recall his name right now lol). I was awestruck with the picture & made it my mission to meet this incredible artist whom obviously loved punk as much as me! So I became a sleuth asking pertinent questions to all and sundry in my quest. I learnt he was in the final year, he had a nickname of Biggles, and he was very elusive especially as he often didn't show up to school. He already was an inspiring character to me. Even more so when I did actually get to meet him as believe it or not he truly did look the spitting image of Johnny Rotten! Wow! I was in total love with the man! Purely platonic – I just found him inspiring, funny, he had a brilliant outlook on life, I just wanted to be with him all the time.

Although I couldn't spend all the time with him due to annoying stuff like lessons and such. We often met up at lunch break in the artroom, as mentioned before he was an awesome artist. During our conversations he explained that he lived in Leeds city centre (I loved the city centre) in a skyscraper, well Leeds equivalent to one, I think it was an insurance companies – his parents were caretakers and lived in the top floor. Sometimes I'd go & visit, some days he was in other times he wasn't. One time he showed me a suit he was making....a suit?!!! It was a bright red full tartan suit, trousers, jacket and possibly a waistcoat. Impressed? Too bloody right I was. Then one time he said that he never did homework from school as he thought it a waste of time... Hero status climbed atmospheric then, he said his parents backed his decision also.

Why was he not always at the insurance building when I called for him? I asked one time, 'calling for him' meant walking down an alley way, often where motorbikes parked off the main headrow street of Leeds. And on the side entrance to the tower block there was a buzzer, which is what I'd press & wait for reply. So where did he go to? He was often living in his house with his girlfriend Sandy and housemate Dolby. And his house was called 'Entropy Cottage' and it was a squat! Wowzers status became stratospheric!!! It was an end terraced house right opposite the iconic Leeds university buildings clock tower, just round the corner was a radical anarcha feminist bookshop! It was, to be brutally frank & honest & fair, a young anarcho punk rockers wet dream of a utopian existence! I was incredulously unbelievably amazingly awesomely awestruck by the absolute awesomeness of Biggles and his most amazing life. I was hooked, he was my heroin.

I did actually write a song/poem that featured most of what I've written previously, if & when I find it I will post it (post it lol lol, like this is Facebook or summat) rewind.......I will include the poem within this text. Aha, I have just got access to a computer (currently writing this on a Kindle fire) so I can do it now. All I have to do is work out different fonts and stuff (using a free word processing programme WPS) as I'm not using Microsoft word...which is what I'm used to. Back in a mo.....

[To be continued]

Jan Shaw has been interested in occultism since teenage, now very middle age.

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