In 1988, I became a big fan of punk music — The Damned, The Sex Pistols, The Dead Kennedys, UK Subs, etc. All of these groups had, alas, already passed their prime, or disbanded, and I’d never been to any of their gigs. I lived in a small village in England that didn’t have any kind of musical venue — or in fact, a single shop. But one thing I was able to do to demonstrate my Punk Pride was, during a trip into town, buy a pair of Dr Martens boots.
Eight holes. Yellow stitching. Hot in summer. Slightly menacing!
Oh, how I loved those boots… for about eighteen months. Here’s what was cool about those boots. One, nobody else had a pair. I was the only punk in the village. Or maybe there were other punks, but they didn’t show it. Two, donning the Doc Martens was a non-conformist act! An act that could only be performed on Friday nights and weekends, because, of course, the school dress code prohibited such clonkers. Three, I had more courage when I wore my boots. Like the time I was playing indoor soccer at the Ashton-under-Hill Youth Club, and became over zealous with competitive spirit, and kicked the hand of Stewart Lemon, dislocating his finger. What a moment! Me, dislocating someone’s finger! Lemon, the affable, tall athlete that he was, blamed the boots more than he blamed me.
Then, in 1989, I moved to Canada, and newcomer’s nerves claimed my Doc Martens. To my amazement, I was allowed to wear the boots to school, but everyone at school openly mocked them. Punk was even more out in 1989 than it had been in 1988. So I sold my boots to a skateboarder called David Ko, the only kid who had enough attitude to wear them.
Fast forward to 1992, and I became a big fan of industrial music — Skinny Puppy, Ministry, and Hilt. It was time to buy another pair of Doc Martens. This time, I went one step better, and on a trip to Germany, I bought some earrings in the shape of skulls and wore them proudly. Man, I was the real deal — in my mind!
Fast forward to now, and I’ve just purchased my third pair of Doc Martens. These ones are just a little more low key. Four-hole, black stitching, instead of yellow — but nevertheless, excellent for walking to and from work. I still feel like a bit of a non-conformist, because nowadays, most men in Montreal’s downtown core are swearing sleek, close-fitting sneakers, or dress shoes. They’re not wearing clunkers like this.
But I can be trusted with clunkers — that’s what I tell myself. My days of kicking kids in the hand are over. I still love punk, though, and I still love to bug out to this fantastic video of comedian Alexei Sayle singing an ode to Doc Marten’s boots on the 1980’s hit British comedy, The Young Ones, released during the true heyday of punk — 1983.