Gobbing

I’ve just seen Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s video WAP – Wet Ass Pussy – and I’m outraged.

Would that hip-hop song with pornographic undercurrents have been allowed in my day? As I watched it in disbelief, it made me ponder: did we behave with such godless disdain for the parameters established by decency in my youth? Coincidentally, I had been reminiscing with a close friend the night before about “the good old days” in the Emerald Isle and I had been recounting some of my experiences as a young buck in Dublin, Ireland´s capital city. 

In Dublin city centre today, right at the end of Grafton Street, in front of St Stephen’s Green, there is a mundane, rather kitsch looking building called the St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, a mainstay of the city´s consumer culture. 

However, in times of yore and long before the modern era of conspicuous consumption, this prime plot of land in an ideal location was occupied by a rather run-down forum known as “The Dandelion Market” and it was here that I attended my first gigs as a curious teenager in the Dublin of the late 70s / early 1980s.

Ah yes, those were the days – afternoon gigs in The Dandelion Market for a mere 50p admission – the groups which played these eye-opening shows were in general obscure Punk/New Wave type bands but among these was one which rose from obscurity to great heights in the world of music – U2. 

Another band which made an impression on me in those days was “the Outcasts”, a Northern Irish band which had released an album called “Self Conscious over You” which I felt driven to rediscover on You Tube as I write this. 

However, returning to the scandalous behaviour of today’s morally decadent youth, I was reminded of a fashion which was in vogue when I was going to these wondrous concerts on a Saturday afternoon in Dublin’s city centre and it is something one doesn’t hear a lot about today but at the time it was affectionately referred to as “Gobbing”.                                                                                                                 

“Globules of Mucus”

One particular Saturday which has stuck in my mind as a particularly lucid example of the zeal shown by Dublin audiences at that time (a motley crew of Punks, Mods, Misfits and if I remember correctly a skinhead gang called the Black Catholics. The latter´s main pastime was disrupting gigs and making a general nuisance of themselves in the name of “real punks”. Anyway, on the summer’s day in question, there was a concert by a band called “Berlin” and a fine group of lads they were too, all dressed in black, spiked hair – the works. At first, the concert was quite enjoyable with the audience pogoing (a dance which involved jumping up and down as if on a “pogo” stick – haven’t seen many of them lately), shouting and singing etc. and –following the latest trend of the time- “gobbing” at the band (in case the term is unfamiliar to anyone, it refers to expectorating saliva and/or globules of mucus, in this case, in the direction of or directly at the band members). 

At this particular Berlin gig I am not sure if it coincided with an outbreak of bronchitis in the city at the time, if the audience was particularly impressed with the band’s performance or if people were just in a rather mean mood that day. I say that because the poor misfortunate lead singer was suddenly pounded on all sides by a continuous barrage of gobs, some of which seemed to come from audience members with sophisticated marksmanship that could only have been a result of intense practice and mastery. 

Anyway, I can’t remember if (and this actually happened on a number of different occasions for various reasons, namely: equipment breakdown, fighting, band argument etc.) the concert was stopped or whether it just ended early as it simply became impossible for the poor singer to continue. 

Maybe Dublin Corporation’s “Biohazard team” moved in or something but one of Rock and Roll’s most glamorous images that has always stayed with me is of that poor young singer covered in Dublin’s finest sputum.

Gobbing seems to have gone out of fashion nowadays and in some ways I suppose this is understandable but it was a damn sight more fun than waving a lighter about during a ballad. 

A song I wrote – “Punk’s not dead” – was inspired by this period of my life – In fact (I fear) I haven’t changed much since those days – I still love the songs and I will always treasure the memories of those times.

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