Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche

Just a quick word for this very recommendable documentary about the lead singer of punk group X Ray Spex. 

Not something I knew much about but, told by her daughter Celeste Bell, this is an affectionate yet fascinated look at an era and a woman, Marianne was her real name, who was the only singer of colour in the punk world and who was clearly a poet and an artist.

It’s a film with a punk ethos, of doing it yourself, with a fanzine style, an eye for fashion, disguise, dress up and escape, as well as making a statement and a name for one’s self. Poly was a clearly a thinker, a radical but she was also lovely and her lyrics were smart, audacious. 

Celeste, also a lovely soul from the look of things here, is conflicted with many memories, not all of them fond of her mother’s mental state or brand of parenting, particularly leaving her on various occasion, including in death. But this look back, this rifle through the drawers and wardrobes opens up so many memories, personal and cultural, about Britain and London in the shit hole of the 70s, and it finds Poly Styrene burning bright at its centre. I, for one, am only properly appreciating her now.