Don Letts: 'It's never too late to be a punk'

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The Independent Culture

It feels like punk never happened!" Don Letts is spluttering over his breakfast, and not because of an annoying headline. The cultural revolutionary is up in arms over the closure of rural post offices. Or, more accurately, he is up in arms that the rest of the country is not in arms over the closure of post offices, or schools or other public services.

"I don't get it," he rails. "I was taught about this great nation that didn't take shit and conquered half the world. All the things that fuelled punk in the late 1970s, all those socio-economic and political ingredients are there, but everyone is watching Big Brother. There should be some kind of backlash and it just isn't happening."

The documentary-maker, DJ, former member of Big Audio Dynamite and old mate of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, doesn't do apathy. He has made a film to highlights the efforts of young bands that are still carrying the flame of Joe Strummer, thanks to backing from the charity Strummerville, set up in memory of the punk visionary and supported by friends including Damien Hirst and Billy Bragg. Bands such as The Riff Raff and Nimmo & the Gauntletts have benefited from Strummerville's network of live events and rehearsal spaces. The otherwise exasperated Letts found himself "really encouraged by the project".

It's never too late to be a punk, he says. "Get an idea and get on with it. And I'm not talking about guitars and safety pins and Mohawks. I think we need more punk-rock teachers."

Don Letts's film 'Strummerville' will be on Sky Arts 1 on 22 August at 10pm