As a boy I was never that bothered about the punk music. I didn't pass through a rebellious phase with music and happily stuck with The Sweet, Showaddywaddy and Gary Glitter. However I can remember lads at school bringing in certain punk LPs to look cool. One was The Clash by....er...The Clash. The front cover showed the band looking tough while standing on a stairwell in a place that may have been in another country - London (I didn’t visit it till I was in my thirties.)
I never thought that one day I’d visit the sprawling Camden Market where the photograph was taken but on a recent coach tour we stopped there for a couple of hours. I strolled around countless food stalls cooking stuff in deep steaming vats. An Oriental woman pointed to me and said, “You want to try this?” while offering a stick with a bit of dead animal on it.
"I'm afraid I'm a vegetarian," I said.
"You are afraid of vegetables?" she asked with a wrinkled brow.
"I'm a vegetarian - no meat.”
A pause, “You are a vegetable?”
“Yes, I’m a vegetable.” I walked away.
Bored of the tat for sale I walked up to Hampstead to pass the time and then returned to the market to find the place where The Clash's album cover was taken. It's just few metres within the Stables Market entrance. Here I am on the steps where the photograph was taken in 1976. At the time the steps were near to “Rehearsals Rehearsals” which was in part of a rundown railway goods yard.
Suddenly I wasn’t sure I had the right location as the band members on the cover weren't actually stood on steps. Knowing the coach was picking us up soon I frantically went onto the internet to check stuff. This was the right place though - in the photo the lads are standing on a trolley ramp but this has been replaced by the steps. I moved a barrier at the bottom of the steps and went up. A young man sporting a trendy beard was descending and said it was private. Using my phone I showed him a photograph of the album cover and said a famous album by The Clash was shot here. “No...never heard of them,” he said. He should have done as they've become a cult classic punk group over the decades. The album was recorded in three weeks and released in April 1977. It cost £4,000 to produce which has been recouped after millions of copies were sold.