Ella Gryf-Lowczowska checks out Jonny Fluffypunk’s story about being the first punk in the village and the only trainspotter in eyeliner.
A lo-fi, stand-up, spoken word performance by nerdy-trainspotter-turned-punk-experimentalist Jonny Fluffypunk, How I Came to Be Where I Never Was is a deliciously crude autobiographical representation of events that surrounded one teenage boy’s satanic baptism to the cult of punk.
Jonny Fluffypunk will bring you nostalgia for a time and a place in which you probably never were: suburban Kinleigh, 1984.
Whether you’re an old-school vinyl enthusiast who wouldn’t hesitate to give your right arm for Miles Davies’ Kind of Blue, or someone who’s exposure to vinyl goes no further than that Arctic Monkeys record you always lusted to buy from Urban Outfitters, Jonny Fluffypunk will bring you nostalgia for a time and a place in which you probably never were: suburban Kinleigh, 1984.
At eight o’clock on Wednesday Bristolians and students, old and young, turned their iPhones to aeroplane mode and seated themselves on the aged wooden benches that enclose the small stage of The Wardrobe Theatre (recently dubbed ‘the nucleus of Bristol’s fringe scene’). Waiting in the lonely glare of the stage light is a humble cluster of stage props: one shabby chair; a plastic duffle bag with trainspotter’s numbers scrawled in tipex onto the threadbare side; a punk-sticker-embellished ukulele and, of course, a record player.
hotchpotch feeling of amusement towards this comically relatable portrayal of adolescence
Unannounced, Jonny Fluffypunk strolls onto the stage, suspends the punk anthem (Sound of the Suburbs) that has been playing on vinyl, and starts ridiculing a 1970s Weetabix advert, which features cartoon skinheads. Mutual lust for an expression of counter-culture emanates through the dark red walls of the intimate venue.
— Made in Bristol TV (@madeinbristoltv) 25 September 2017
The performance infuses eloquent poetry with crude neo-cockney humour (think East London Amy Schumer) and a measure of sarcastic self-deprecation, which Fluffypunk sporadically accompanies with strikingly melancholic chords from the beat-up ukulele that he tosses around the stage. The result is a hotchpotch feeling of amusement towards this comically relatable portrayal of adolescence – probably every one of us has been infatuated by some snotty, pre-pubescent playground heartthrob akin to Alison Giles, the ‘greasy, big calved, bleedingly attractive’ unrequited love of Fluffypunk’s teenage years.
— Burning Eye Books (@BurningEyeBooks) 22 September 2017
Fluffypunk was not a worldly teenager; he was a child of the M40 corridor, raised by Heinz beans, trainspotting and Youth Club. So depressingly unconnected was Jonny Fluffypunk from the new-wave music that was penetrating central London’s basements and street-corners via pirate radio, that his chance encounter with a working-class youth, who played John Peel’s station whilst they rode the overnight from Watford to Glasgow, left him a different person, ‘outside the Carlisle station I bit into my first kebab – I was in the world of men’.
Fluffypunk’s performance exposes the reality of personability, and the personability of reality.
But behind the frank jokes and the DIY performance, How I Came to Be Where I Never Was is a moralising work. Watching Fluffypunk flashback on little forgotten moments is the only means by which we could ever share in his personal history because, having grown up in a pre-Lapsarian world without iPhones, 15-year-old Fluffypunk wasn’t on Instagram or Facebook, so nothing was recorded. He concludes that he wants to remember his life through his records because records are beautiful until they get old and scratched and wind up an unlistenable mess – just like humans.
Aside from entertaining, Fluffypunk’s performance exposes the reality of personability, and the personability of reality. So, if you’ve ever had a teenage crush or been spellbound by the magic of a beat-up vinyl, you would be crazy to miss this performance.
What did you think of Fluffypunk’s performance? Let us know in the comments below or on social media