Editor-At-Large: There's only one wild boy who worries me. And it's not Harry

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The Independent Online

Over the coming months we'll be inundated with cheap paperbacks as former punks (now nearing their fifties) cash in on that brief moment when anarchy was in the air, safety-pins were in your nose, a swastika was stencilled on your forearm and gobbing the fashionable form of greeting. But when is the official anniversary of this brief spurt of musical hyperactivity, which ended at the end of 1977?

It seems to have started in New York, at a club called CBGB in the winter and spring of 1975. Punk magazine was launched the next year, promoting bands like the Ramones. But things really took off in the UK on Valentine's day that year when the Sex Pistols played at Andrew Logan's Valentine's Ball. After about 10 minutes Johnny Rotten's microphone broke, a fight broke out and it ended in a punch-up.

At the time I was presenting a TV series for young people on Sunday lunchtimes, The London Weekend Show. I met and "interviewed" the Clash, the Pistols, the Buzzcocks, Poly Styrene and Siouxsie and the Banshees long before they were signed by record companies. It takes a lot to scare me - spiders, rats, eels, nights in the jungle and solitary walking aren't a problem. But Sid Vicious was something else.

I could just about cope with the Rotten's mad stare boring through my head, and I'd dodge the Mick Jones stream of phlegm, but standing anywhere near Sid brought me out in a cold sweat. He was totally, fearlessly, bonkers. A new memoir entitled Berlin, Bromley, written by Bertie Marshall (SAF Publishing) has brought it all back.

Weeks before the Pistols' infamous appearance, littered with profanities on the teatime Today show presented by Bill Grundy, Sid appeared on my series with a bunch of kids known as the Bromley Contingent, to talk about their hair. It ranged from jet-black and ultra-spiky (Sid), to a blue-denim mélange (Bertie), white locks on a black girl called Simone, and a cockatoo red and black-striped creation, the crowning glory of a young man called Simon.

Sid said nothing, just scowled and slumped in a chair, wearing a filthy shredded T-shirt with bondage jeans hanging off his emaciated hips and a padlock through the flies. The atmosphere was tense. Not because of any swearing, but because Mr Vicious wouldn't put his cigarette out, and didn't take kindly to an officious blazer-wearing floor manager called him "sonny".

Sid screamed: "This is a load of f*****g bollocks". When I told him to shut up, he leapt up, removing a red cotton tube he had hanging from his ear and hurled it at my head. "F**K OFF YOU C**T!" he said, as he was escorted off the premises. I ducked just in time to avoid a used tampon hitting me full in the face.

When people talk about Pete Doherty being in the same mould as the Pistols or the Clash, I just sneer, I'm afraid. These were talented musicians who inspired young people everywhere to create their own clothing by customising junk shop finds, form bands with strangers and learn to play afterwards - and in the process a revolutionary movement emerged reclaiming being youthful for the young.

Even today, 29 years after the Pistols got to No 1 during the Queen's Jubilee, the sound of punk still riles the uninitiated.

Harraj Mann found this out recently when he asked his cabbie to play "London Calling" from his iPod through the cab's stereo en route to Durham's Tees Valley airport. Two men in suits followed him on to the plane, asked his name and then hauled him off for questioning, so he missed his flight. Forget about apologies; there weren't any.

This so-called revolutionary has lived in Hartlepool for 22 of his 24 years. Unfortunately his parents are Asian, so it stands to reason he must be a trainee shoe bomber. It makes you want to weep, doesn't it?

Storm in a D-cup? Yes, but we're paying for it

Prince Harry's trip to the lap-dancing club is perfectly fine. As long as everyone's comfortable with the fact that you and I are paying for his royal protection officer to stare at three women's bare breasts and pubic bones at 3.30am, all in the name of national security. Of course, Harry is a normal, not very bright young man, who achieved his exam results in dubious circumstances, and then exhibited an appalling lapse of taste when he decided that dressing up as a Nazi was "fun". Getting drunk and going to strip clubs is predictable behaviour for oafs of his age.

But someone forgot to tell Harry that you can't have it both ways - with flunkeys attending to your every whim, police making sure you don't get pestered for speeding, and detectives keeping ordinary civilians well away from you - if you are a prince that masquerades as a barrow boy.

Harry's made it plain that he doesn't want to sign up for the formality, the rules, and sense of responsibility that go with being third in line to the throne. Then why doesn't he go out and get a normal job (working behind a bar would obviously be perfect), and just have fun? This is clearly what he wants, but no one within his immediate family seems willing to contemplate the major disaster shaping up.

The Royal Family seek our respect - and when they form a focus for the nation in times of disaster, it could be argued they have an important role to play. The Queen understands this and is imbued with a sense of dignity that's remarkable. Charles is petulant, Harry is just a joke. Cut him loose before anything else goes wrong.

Cave painting: So what if they went shopping in neolithic times?

Banksy is a guerrilla artist, elusive and hard to pin down. He manages to get his subversive, sardonic take on capitalism and materialism into the most extraordinary places - the Houdini of the art world. Recently, he infiltrated the notoriously snobby New York gallery scene and hung four of his works alongside existing shows.

It was days before anyone noticed. Then there was the brilliant stunt when he made a fake cave painting on a lump of rock depicting a little neolithic man pushing a supermarket trolley. He managed to sneak it into the British Museum, where it hung alongside the real Neolithic stuff for weeks.

The other day, it appears, Banksy left a customised telephone booth, complete with axe, in a Soho street to protest the removal of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's classic design from our streets. And was he the protester who gave Winston Churchill's statue a Mohican of real grass during the famous May Day demo? We shall never know.

Banksy rarely gives interviews and isn't photographed; he's not bothered with massive profits, selling inexpensive colour prints and T-shirts of his graffiti designs from a gallery off Carnaby Street.

When I emerged from the Australian jungle, and nearly three weeks incarceration with Paul Burrell, a friend presented me with Banksy's photo of a lonely baboon hitch-hiker squatting by a muddy jungle track holding a placard that read: "I'm a Celebrity, get me out of here." I still smile every time I see it.

Now pop star Christina Aguilera has risen in my book: she's reputed to have paid £25,000 for a Banksy painting showing Queen Victoria, who did not believe that lesbians existed, dressed in suspenders and sitting on the lap of a prostitute; I sincerely hope that this work is not lost to the nation and Ms Aguilera loans it to the National Portrait Gallery for the public to enjoy before it ends up on her drawing-room wall.

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