Julie Burchill Julie Burchill

Chrissie Hynde writes like an angel on angel dust

Julie Burchill admires Hynde’s candid memoir, but is thankful that, as a teenager, she didn’t hang around with her for long

‘The day I found out that Suzi Quatro wasn’t a dyke was the worst day of my life!’ a teenage Joan Jett once complained to a teenage me — and, substituting Chrissie H for Suzi Q, I knew well how she felt. Here I am popping up on page 150:

Little teenagers out in the sticks like Julie Burchill lapped up my half-baked philosophical drivel and prepared their own versions of nonsensical tirades for the day when they too could make a ‘career’ out of it. I even sold the darling little Julie my typewriter for £15 when my time was over, like passing the baton of ‘how to fuck off the nation and get paid for it’. She insisted on giving me £17.

I did, however, draw the line at learning the bass guitar, as she suggested, and being recruited into one of the half-baked bands she was always banging on about forming, especially when I learnt that my stage name was to be Kicks Tart — if I’d gone along with her, I might well be dead now rather than enjoying a robust old age. Hynde has survived where those around her have fallen and in the process turned into something of an English eccentric, though I always thought of her as the quintessential American woman — ‘They are a third sex,’ says the Baroness in Mary McCarthy’s novel The Group — and of her music as what might have happened if John Wayne had got down from his horse, plucked up his courage and joined the Shangri-Las.

This is a brilliant read, with no messing about from the very first page:

I couldn’t have told this when my parents were alive, I would have had to leave out the bad language and tell a lot of lies about what I’d been doing all that time I was gone.

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