Niall McGUirk on Trev HAGL‘s autobiography Having A Laugh & Having A Say – Not Another Bloody Punk Rock Autobiography So this is the ultimate in DIY. Self written (no ghosts writing this), self published and self distributed. Of course this is not a record from a band, or a fanzine of which trev has written many. It’s a 132 page A5 book.
I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with autobiography. You have to write about yourself and feel that your life is important enough for people to want to read about it. It’s not like putting something into your diary and forgetting about it. This is all about thinking your tales are interesting enough for people to want to read. And then rewriting them with whatever glasses you may have on after the tides of time pass. Thankfully in Trev’s case they are.
So what has his life entailed? Fanzines, records, music, gigs and lots of beer. Some politics, some attempts at shocking people (isn’t punk rock about pushing the boundaries?) and everyday life in between.
If I hadn’t read this book I would not have been reminded of Hilda Murrell, or of the UDM and how they tried to break the miners strike, or Bile Ducts and how their primary objective was to cause objectionsm, or that Trev has a son.
Writing a review, much like writing a book, is a very subjective affair and Trev isn’t afraid to proffer opinion. UK hardcore zine Fracture comes under a lot of stick, and as someone who contributed to that organ and read every issue cover to cover I had forgotten letters that were aimed at Trev’s words. Then again, I do have memories of writing to Trev when he was editor of HAGL, but eventually the mail petered out. Maybe I had read the letters page accusing him of dodgy politics. Maybe we all took things a bit too seriously back then.
He sings the praises of German Oi band (or is it streetpunk?) Oxymoron and at the end it becomes less autobigrpahical and more fanzine like. Trev offers his opinions on books to read and his views on the current state of British politics. At this stage it becomes more like and extended collection of columns for the likes of Fracture and less a tale of a punk rock troubador.
Still, I feel better having read this. It is a good insight into the mind of a punk activist and advocate for change. Maybe I don’t agree with all his words and thoughts but the modus operandi of operating outside the mainstream and viewing culture as a vehicle for change is the bond that keeps us together.