I shared a bedroom with my sister until I was 11 years old when we moved to a bigger council flat, and if you’ve ever been in that situation you’ll know what a liberating treat it is to finally get your own room. My new bedroom wasn’t much, it was very small (what used to be called the “box room”) and had this really ugly, orange-flowered wallpaper, but it was all mine, my own space to do what I wanted — Lee’s Room as the little sign said on the door.
One way I marked it out as my territory (and covered up that hideous wallpaper) was by putting pictures on the walls, usually with Blu-Tack which, their claims to the contrary, always left a dirty mark on the wall. Over the years I stuck up lots of small pictures of pop groups and singers torn out of the pages of Disco 45, Record Mirror, Smash Hits and the NME which formed a rapidly changing gallery of my musical tastes, but there were plenty of big posters too which charted other changes.
The first big poster I remember sticking up was one of Bruce Lee like the photo above which I put in pride of place over the top of my bed. A psychologist might say that I was making a symbolic, subconscious declaration that this was a boys room but it was really because like everyone else in 1973 I was totally caught up in the Kung Fu craze that swept the planet when Bruce Lee died and Enter The Dragon was released. The funny thing is I hadn’t seen Enter The Dragon or any other Bruce Lee films because they were all X-certificate, so I had to get my martial arts fix from other sources like the Kung Fu TV series or the Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu comic book. The only time I remember seeing Bruce Lee in action himself was when World of Sport showed a clip of him fighting Chuck Norris in Way of The Dragon. It wasn’t much but we talked about it — and acted it out – in the playground at school for weeks afterward.
Not being able to see any actual Bruce Lee movies didn’t stop me wanting to be him. I used to wish I had Spiderman’s powers so I could beat the crap out of the bullies at school and Lee was like a real-life superhero to me, so I would also fantasize about being a lethal martial arts fighting machine and taking care of whatever pig-headed twat was giving me bother at school that week with a few swift Kung Fu kicks to the head while shouting “Hayyyaa!” in proper Bruce style. Sadly I was destined to remain a bit of a weed, when I started learning Judo at school a few years later I broke my arm and never got past white belt.
I did finally get to see Enter The Dragon and most of Lee’s other films in my late teens at a dingy little cinema in Chinatown (appropriately enough.) Sadly I thought they were bloody awful, they have some kitsch appeal but they really aren’t very good films at all. I’m sure my 11-year-old self would have loved them though.
Bet you thought I was going to post “Kung Fu Fighting” didn’t you?
Download: Kung Fu – Curtis Mayfield (mp3)
More posters in Part 2 when I grow up a bit and put some women on the walls.