Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Richard Branson in Vague

I don't throw bombs, I watch films
– Tom Vague

Sir Richard Branson on the cover of Vague No. 21 (1989) wearing a balaclava (is he a rapist or a robber? I guess the metaphor is the same either way). The cover was designed by Sex Pistols-designer and Branson-hater Jamie Reid, still an anarchist after all these years: as well as protesting against the Criminal Justice Bill and the Poll Tax, more recently he was seen at the St Paul's Occupy.

Though Vague magazine includes staples of 1970s DIY punk (or post punk) fanzines, by the 1980s it was a glossy-looking counter culture publication, and the first fanzine to be perfect bound. And it didn't just feature music, going off as it often did into other tangents, including cyber-punk, politics, situationism and psychogeography.

Its creator, Tom Vague, originally a Wiltshire man, (born in Mere, I think, and went to art college in Salisbury. Vague describing a 'punk rock scene' in Salisbury is quite hard to believe… though it was the 1970s), is nowadays a prominent chronicler of Notting Hill (though rich and dull now, it's worth remembering this was the scene of the race riots in 1958 and, up until the 1980s, had a significant alternative and counter culture scene) and has been writing for over thirty years, producing fanzines, pamphlets and CDs.

The inside front cover of the magazine reproduces a leaflet handed out in a new Virgin Megastore in Glasgow (remember this was 1989):

'Hi, mugs!
Put all your money in a pokey bag and give it to me at the NEW
Virgin Hip Super Market

Hello suckers! Us wonderful people at Virgin have arrived in Glasgow! We call ourselves Virgin because we like to attract customers that are young and gullible (if they had any fucking sense they'd rip us off!). Who was it sang 'Do you think it's funny, turning rebellion into money?' Funny? We're laughing all the way to the bank!! And don't forget our new Virgin credit scheme… Be hip and impress your friends in easy monthly repayments!! Bring your giros, small change, your granny's pension book… We'll take it all!! Bring your rebellion and we'll sell it back to you!! ... Must go now… the Russians have got some kind of rebellion in Poland, and they want me to come over and package it and make it harmless…
See ya
Richard Branson'

Vague magazine was usually for sale at Virgin Megastores, yet issue twenty one mysteriously went missing.

In more recent newsRichard Branson has bought Northern Rock for a bargain price, half, in fact, of what British taxpayers have paid out for the ailing bank since 2007. Richard Branson has announced he'll be opening a new luxury game reserve in Kenya. Richard Branson has invited Kate Winslett over for Christmas at his Necker Island, to thank her for saving his 90-year-old mother from a terrifying inferno when the guesthouse caught fire after lightning struck.

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