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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Sid Vicious reads the Daily Mail

Dacre: two seats to right of Vicious (Pic: Bob Gruen)

Well, not exactly, but Paul Dacre is obviously checking out Sid's reading matter during this train journey in January 1978, doubtless getting all worked up about why a Sex Pistol is skipping over the VERY IMPORTANT editorial and going straight to the comic strip.

No, no, just joking. This freaky photo pops up in the current New Statesman, in a longish Peter Wilby piece about Dacre's never-ending editorship of the Daily Mail. Peculiarly, it doesn't mention why this unlikely coupling takes place. It's a Bob Gruen pic from the doomed US tour, this apparently being a shot onboard an airport bus in Baton Rouge (though according to Jon Savage's England's Dreaming it's from Atlanta!). Is Dacre there to cover the filth and the fury States-side, or is it just a weird coincidence? Wilby doesn't refer to it (it only merits a photo caption in his piece) and Savage doesn't even mention Dacre being in the photo (perhaps because when Savage's book was published in 1991 Dacre was yet to become the Mail's editor and latter-day hate figure of the liberal left).

Actually, as Wilby's profile of Dacre reminds us, Dacre was only an up-and-coming newspaper man back in early '78, apparently working then for the Daily Express and not the mighty Mail. Vicious is the famous one.

In the photo Vicious is 20 years old. Dacre, who looks like his disapproving dad, is himself only 29. With Lydon about to walk out of the Sex Pistols, Dacre might have landed himself a little job. Instead of fronting Middle England's inky conscience, he could have switched careers and gone on to bellow out the Pistols' lyrics during their planned tour of Sweden. Oh Paul, what a missed opportunity ...  

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