Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of those quirky little programmes that Radio 4 does so well. Great Lives is one such programme, and I almost squealed with pleasure to find that today's subject was Joe Strummer, former frontman of The Clash. Phil Jupitus was discussing Strummer's life and influences, along with Chris Salewicz, Strummer's biographer. I hold a great respect for Matthew Parris, the interviewer, despite his toriness. He is a marvellous interviewer - respectful, knowledgeable and probing.
The programme was a delight. Parris suggested that punk was borne out of a rage at the prevailing zeitgeist, and in this respect had much in common with Thatcherism. I think this is a very dubious argument, by the way, but was tickled at the image he describes of trying to persuade Thatch to listen to The Clash and to court the punk vote. I suspect most punk rockers didn't vote. Anarchy was the thing then, and you don't pop in to vote tory on your way to your anarcho-syndicalist cell meeting. However, Chris Salewicz talked of the strange friendship that Strummer struck up with Boris Johnson a few years before his death. Sandinista was apparently Johnson's favourite album. He has always loved irony, I suspect, and surely that particular one wasn't lost on him? Apparently they would write to each other regularly, and Strummer would try and get his poetry published in The Spectator. Wouldn't you have loved to see that?
Strummer never lost his political passion. He didn't become a property developer in New York, or play the pseudo punk in the Australian jungle for cheap publicity and even cheaper laughs. He was a man of principle. And he wrote some top songs aswell.