I had a minor epiphany last night. One of those moments when a whole set of memories suddenly recombine in a new pattern on receipt of a salient fact. Revealing to me, unless age is playing tricks with my recollection, my connection to the lovely Courtney Love to be closer than I thought.
When I was a young teenager 1979/80, I used to hang out at the Dandelion Market off St Stephens Green. on the edges of the Dublin Punk scene. A lost english boy in a foreign city – it was pretty cool. I’d just finished school and back to the old country to work the summer with my absent (but very much loved) father. My Aunt Evelyn had a new beau, an American guy, an author, who was living in a rented mansion on the south bank of the River Boyne about 40 miles north of Dublin. I only met him the once – my dad, my aunt and I drove out to visit his house, I was 15, he gave me a signed copy of a book he had written about the Grateful Dead ( I had no idea who they were at the time) and he took us for dinner at a restaurant in Drogheda from where later I got food poisoning from the fish. He seemed Ok, Evelyn just seemed amused by him.
Anyway , years later, long after Kurt Cobain had died and Courtney Love had become a household name, I was reading some rubbish in the paper about some spat between her and her father and suddenly realised that his name, Hank Harrison was the same as the author friend of my Aunts. A quick look at Amazon confirmed the relationship. What a great story I thought, and indeed for the many years since it’s probably been a mainstay anecdote in my late night pub conversations – the night Coutney Loves’ Dad gave me food poisoning. I even bored my kids with it when they started getting into Hole and Nirvana. For some reason, Hank and Courtney, I’d always thought that they were estranged.
Courtney has been in the news the last couple of days, and I have to be honest, I’ve always quite fancied her. I think it’s alright to say that about a celebrity, Hilary certainly had an (unbelievable to me) crush on Tom Cruise. If her name pops up on the front page news I tend to click. Thinking last night that there was a disproportinate number of Irish news feeds devoted to her I googled Courtney Love Ireland and discovered this -
Ireland: Where Courtney traveled with her biological father. They didn’t get along, but she stayed and immersed herself in local punk culture until her visa expired in July 1982.
.. and I suddenly realised that she’d have been hanging out as an american Punk girl 16/17 years old in the same places as me in those long lethargic teenage summer holidays. The Dandelion Market was the only place to be if you were a Dublin Punk. U2s first gigs ( a whole other story ), the Black Catholics, the Flowers of Romance punk clothes shop run by someone related to the BoomTown Rats, and the record shop whose name escapes me. The record shop though was the centre of the Dublin Punk scene. It took weeks of turning up every day and just standing around before anyone even spoke to you, in my case a slightly older lad called Dermott McDermott befriended and showed me the ropes. Never less than 5 people outside, sometimes up to 40 spilling off the pavement and into the road. Some older punks looked to London ( about 3 years later I would bump into Dermott again on the Kings Road looking very strung out) for inspiration, I thought the scene at the Dandelion Market was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. But it was strictly tobacco and the occasional swig of a can of lager for us youngsters. Licensing laws were pretty draconian in Ireland at that time because of a disco fire in the recent past where hundreds of underage drinkers had died, we couldn’t go to gigs in pubs and clubs, hence the Market gigs and hanging around outside the record shop.
In my memory’s eye I can still see a stunningly beautiful sphinx like blonde punk chick draped around some supercool punk face, who seemed years older than me (less than a year in fact) whose exotic mystery deepened whenever she opened her sexy american mouth. I probably only saw her a couple of times, but I quite like the new idea that for a little while I hung out in the same gang as Courtney Love.