Andy Collins captured by Martin Parr: ‘I left that chippy and never gave it a second thought’

I still listen to punk and heavy metal. I just don’t dress like a punk any more

I didn’t think it was particularly weird, a man standing behind the hatch in the chippy, asking if he could take my picture. Looking the way I did, I was used to random people talking to me. I was 18, and had just come out of care.

I was living nearby in a house where you went to get on your feet. It was like a B&B paid for by the care home – no staff, no support, you did your own shopping. After a few months, you just left. At the very least, you’d think you’d have to sign something, but I never did. While I was there, I was doing a youth training scheme at Age Concern.

I had just shaved off my mohican. It was every colour you could think of. I was a skinhead for a month or so, but grew it back. I wore DMs, and made my jacket by pressing studs into a motorbike jacket and doing my own artwork on the back. It was incredibly heavy; the Old Bill often told me it was an offensive weapon, just to pull me for something. Idiots.

I was always up to no good. I got into fights, did some glue-sniffing. But I never did anything serious like burglaries or worse. I was always well-mannered, and helped old ladies on the bus, which surprised people. I was put into care because I hated school, got bored and bunked off; I left without any qualifications. I liked punk because no one else did. And I liked the music, the protest in it.

That’s my girlfriend outside, on the right. We moved to Margate just after this picture was taken. I didn’t get on with my stepdad in Manchester, and though I never beat him up, I gave him a dig. My uncle lived in Margate, so he said: “Why don’t you come down here, get away from it all?” My girlfriend and I had a son together, but I don’t see either of them now.

I still listen to punk and heavy metal, mostly Scandinavian bands like Wolfbrigade and Entombed. The old punk bands are still singing about the same things they were in the 70s. I still have the same attitude, and buy the vinyl; I just don’t dress like a punk any more. My mohican came off for good in 1991, when the rave scene was really getting going.

My daughter saw this picture earlier this year, in Dazed magazine. She sent it to me on WhatsApp and said: “This is you, isn’t it?” I was amazed; I’d left that chippy and never given it a second thought. I couldn’t find the issue so I found Martin Parr on Facebook and emailed him. I’d never heard of him, but I could see he was quite a big deal. He sent me a print and wrote on the back: “Grow old gracefully.”

I’m very proud of my youth, and chuffed at where I am now. I’m a qualified HGV driver, my daughter is a graduate, I own an expensive motorbike, car and house. It’s a big two fingers up to everyone who had written me off, who said I would never get anywhere.

• Are you in a notable photograph? Email

  • This article was amended on 13 September 2016 to include the date the photograph was taken.


Hannah Booth

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
'The day Martin Parr came, we had to stop on the moors for a huge flock of sheep to pass'
Joanne Lacy of the mobile library service picks up books on a verge in Powys, 1993

Rosie Ifould

30, Jun, 2017 @3:00 PM

Article image
Jo Cownie, photographed by Martin Parr, Somerset, 1988
‘You can’t see my face properly, which was a relief. But it takes you aback, seeing yourself like that, lifesize or more’

Hannah Booth

06, Nov, 2015 @4:00 PM

Article image
‘It was described as a riot’: the Clash at the Rainbow, London, 1977
Eddie Duggan on a legendary punk gig

Martha Hayes

09, Dec, 2016 @4:00 PM

Article image
Jordan poses at Vivienne Westwood’s SEX shop: ‘I’m not sure why I lifted my top, but it felt right’
Pamela Rooke, aka Jordan, recalls a photoshoot at the iconic London shop, 1976

Colin Drury

10, Nov, 2017 @3:30 PM

Article image
‘I was the second DJ on air’: the launch of Radio 1, 50 years on
Keith Skues recalls the launch at BBC Broadcasting House, September 1967

Colin Drury

25, Aug, 2017 @1:00 PM

Article image
That's me in the picture: Ian Galt, swimmer in Martin Parr's image of Gourock lido

Each week, we reveal the story behind an iconic image

Laura Barnett

27, Sep, 2014 @5:00 AM

Article image
‘I never envisaged what lay ahead’: the first issue of Rolling Stone
Jann Wenner, co-founder and editor, recalls significant moments on the magazine

Colin Drury

27, Oct, 2017 @1:00 PM

Article image
‘It was an extraordinary speech’: the day I met Martin Luther King
Nick Nicholson meets the civil rights leader at Newcastle University, November 1967

Hannah Booth

17, Nov, 2017 @1:59 PM

Article image
'During the gig, David Bowie told the crowd he was retiring. People were crying'
Malcolm Green greets David Bowie as he arrives at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, 3 July 1973

Hannah Booth

27, May, 2016 @3:00 PM

Article image
‘The club was a place to be optimistic, to be goofy’: New York’s Club 57
Ann Magnuson and other Club 57 regulars in the early 80s

Interview: Matt Barker

22, Dec, 2017 @1:59 PM