Went to see a talk about The Clash, clothes and culture last night at the Cochrane Theatre, just by Central St Martins. It was chaired by the excellent Paul Gorman, author of The Look, with a panel of Alex Michon and Krystyna Kolowska (the two Clash seamstresses who designed and made their clothes from the White Riot tour onwards) and Sebastian (he didn’t have a surname but designed and printed their T-shirts). There were a bunch of models inclusing Alex’s mate Majid who showed some of the clothes so it was a pretty interesting talk with an audience that was half twenty-something fashion students and haggered 40-somethings who were on the White Riot tour. About halfway through the alloted time Paul Gorman invited the Clash’s manager Bernie Rhodes up onto the stage. The first warning sign should have been that he wasn’t in the auditorium and someone was dispatched to find him. Then you could hear him before he appeared on stage (radio mics), then he proceeded to pace the stage dropping bombs and bon mots that was only hindered by his inability to focus on one story at a time and the occassional stumble on stage. Some of it was good (the story about how the first time he met Kevin Rowland “I couldn’t listen to anything he was saying ’cause he was wearing these fucking awful trousers – at least he wasn’t wearing a dress”), but most of it sadly incoherent. He roamed the stage doling out his “punk philosophy” and how Malcolm McLaren had been a Rhodes copyist, he’d been the one who put Lydon into the Pistols and kept trying to take his jacket off but as the radio mic was clipped to it he’d have to put the jacket back on until one of the models helped him out. You wondered when someone would step in and stop him – Paul Gorman tried to get him to answer some audience questions but Rhodes used this to launch into a critique of the UK (“This country is so fucked.”) – what ended it all abruptly was Rhodes use of the N-word (do we say “the N-word” nowadays or do we say “nigger” in reported speech?): “You want to sort out crime in London, then you need to sort out all the niggers in Peckham.” The booming disembodied voice of the head of college over the PA system: “I think that’s enough”, the house lights come up in a hurry and a very loud clip of the Clash projected on the screen above the stage blasts away as people shuffle out to the free bar.