Richard Cabut - Looking For A Kiss
‘Looking For A Kiss’ is a lovely looking book, faultlessly executed by PC Press who were responsible for the wonderfully illustrated Test Department book ‘Total State Machine’ (which would actually make a fine addition to anyone’s book shelf). Author Richard Cabut has form though, as creator of original Punk fanzine ‘Kick’, bassist in positive punk band Brigandage, and as a regular contributor to the NME under the pseudonym Richard North, where he coined the term ‘positive punk’ to describe the third wave of punk bands (post post-punk if you like, or even pre-Goth). That mix of front line, in-the-trenches experience, combined with his journalistic flair brings the same authenticity to this as former Sounds journalist and Goth Queen Cathi Unsworth (who wrote the introduction for this) did with her recent book ‘Season of the Witch’.
I could make lazy comparisons to the styles of other authors to offer you a reference point to hang on to, but books are a personal and individual experience and everyone reacts differently to them. All I will say is that ‘Looking For A Kiss’ resonated especially with me, as the chaotic domestic normality described here was not dissimilar to the situation myself and most of my friends found ourselves in, existing as we were in what can best be described as a parallel existence to that of ‘normal’ society at around the same time this book is set. That level of freedom is sadly no longer possible, so Richard Cabut’s deeply insightful and delightfully evocative writing style, drawn from his personal experience, is like peeping through a magic door into a recent past that we will never see repeated. That is underpinned by the illustrations, which feature Richard and possibly Brigandage bandmate Michelle Archer, on which main protagonists Robert and Marlene are very likely based, and simply ooze gritty, cheeky, charm and rebellion.
The book itself chronicles the struggles of introspective punk explorer Robert and his frenetic “energy on toast” and Sex Pistols quoting partner Marlene to find themselves and make sense of their lives whilst together riding a giddy merry-go-round of drugs, sex, magic and clairvoyance, personal anarchy and a good deal of chaos, all played out to a soundtrack of post-punk music. Their decline into personal and relationship confusion and breakdown is inexorable and inevitable but told with hope, humour and an eye for detail, liberally spinked with cultural references, and culminating in a heartfelt plea to “Put some romance in your life. Another dream satisfied”. There is also a diary format postscript describing an exhausting schedule that (presumably) was Richard North’s at the time, and a generously extensive set of appendixes and bibliographies to round it off and provide you with a route map to further explore the underworld you have just travelled through.
It is also well worth mentioning here Richard’s other recent publication, the excellent ‘Disorderly Magic & Other Disturbances’. Described in the book’s blurb as “a pop meditation on speed, delirium and distance..”, of which it most assuredly is, this would make the ideal companion to ‘Looking For A Kiss’.
‘Looking For A Kiss’ is available now from good independent bookshops or PC Press
‘Disorderly Magic & Other Disturbances’ is available from those same good indie bookshops or www.farwestpress.com