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

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