Tom Vater

Tom Vater

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Laura Snook, high priestess of Cambodian punk rock and ace magazine editor – RIP

Laura Snook, Cambodia’s high priestess of punk, ace magazine editor, and a fantastic, sensitive and kind woman and all round Rocknroll lady.

What a huge loss.

I wrote the following text for her remembrance concert in Phnom Penh in March.

Laura,

I’d like to quote from a novel by John D MacDonald:

I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have a chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now, I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted.

Laura,

They never managed to adjust you!

Friend, colleague, star journalist, princess of punk, rocknroll royalty, why the fuck did you have to leave us now?

You were just getting started, ageing disgracefully, no longer young and out of control, but like most of us, older and simmering. You survived your early conditioning without becoming reasonable, you took every chance to piss convention into the wind. Every time we hung out, one of us was crazy and the other one insane. And now you’re not here.

Bikes, music, jeans, eyeliner, knives and knuckledusters, big fucking leather boots, bikes, bikes and more motorbikes, crisis and victory, victory and defeat and madness, dressed in black, dressed in green, dressed in red, yellow and blue but mostly in black and with a clown face stuck on, doing 180 mph while folding the rizlas with that smile and that roar. Big boots and a bookshelf of literary outcasts and misfits from Hunter S to Hunter S and back, and dodgy guitars and cracked motorcycle helmets. Laura, you were the full package, the woman who lived the dreams, and the nightmares, that most of us shrink back from, you walked that extra mile for friendship and far out spontaneity.

Sometimes in life, there are moments when we are flying without a license, untethered, like ruinous angels. Those are the best moments. Nothing even remotely comes close and I pity those who don’t have them.

Sitting on the back of your Phantom, roaring through Phnom Penh’s festering traffic, passing glue sniffing kids and impostors in uniform robbing the poor, you gunning the engine like a machine gun, me with a pug nose guitar in my lap sitting behind you, was a good moment for us.

Every time you ground to halt at a red light, I turned up and played the intro to I Wanna Be Your Dog. Stylish nonsense to the rubber-necking Khmer, but I suspect people would have thought us crazy in London or New York too. A moment later the Psychotic Reactions, your seminal punk troupe, hit the stage at Sharky’s and destroyed the world for half an hour.

That half hour is gone now, never to be recaptured because you checked out. Amongst all the fakers and shits, the posers and aspiring dirt bags I have met along the way, you were a rare crazy diamond, a pure one.  It’s only RocknRoll, we used to tell each other. Saying it alone is not so much fun.

So how do we go on, Laura, without you?

Lemmy offers us some solace:

One day one day, we will go for the sun,
Together we’ll fly, on the eternal run,

Wasted forever, on speed bikes and booze,
Yeah tramp and the brothers, say we’re all born to lose.

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