Toyah: doilies not asylum-seekers

Observations on Nimby

Nobody demands meaningful political engagement from ageing punks. Clearly, you can't expect much in the way of joined-up thinking from a movement whose core weapons against the state were atonality and self-mutilation. So, Toyah Wilcox can get away with a sentence like this, for instance: "We broke down so many attitudes and made life easier for gays, women, all classes." Yes, she can get away with it: even though appearing in a film by Derek Jarman does not count as "making life easier for gays"; even though all punks were in fact raging misogynists; and even though it is logistically impossible to make things better for all classes without exploiting some outside agency like, say, the developing world - which may indeed be the net result of the past 30 years, and may even be, in some minuscule way, the result of the hippie and punk pincer movement elevating the individual and legitimising self-interest. But that is nothing to be bloody proud of.

What she can't get away with, however, is leading the campaign in the charming village of Throckmorton against the creation of an asylum centre there. Punk may not have stood for much, but, at the very least, it stood against a gruesome, curtain-twitching Englishness that would choose a full set of matching doilies over the safety of another human being, as long as there was breath in its body politic.

"I'm not some terrible racist Nimby. This is about protecting our environment. I've known the area all my life, my parents live there, my house is five miles away," she explains, leaving one to wonder what exactly she thinks terrible racist Nimbys are fighting for, if not the environment, their area, their house. She continues: "We're an old island, with an old empire - culturally, we have an island mentality. It's awful to be made to feel guilty. The French don't." The meaning of all this is pretty unfathomable - what has the empire got to do with anything? What exactly is an island mentality? How come the French have one, when they're not an island? Who says they don't feel guilty?

In illustration of her expertise on the matter of asylum-seekers, she points out that it's two miles to the local shop, and she "can hardly see them pulling on their wellies to stride across the fields". Perhaps that's because they are probably missing a limb, thanks to the regimes from which they have so recently escaped. Or are they just plain lazy, because they're not from round here? Do they lack the British phlegm to walk two miles? Is that it?

This would be vile nonsense coming from anyone, but coming from a self-styled radical, it's a vile betrayal.

If there were any fairness in the record industry, we should be able to return her records and get our money back, on the basis that they were flogged under false pretences.

Practically speaking, of course, very few people own her records. The rest of us, well, we know where she lives . . .

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