I can’t even remember Ellis’ surname, it might have been Roberts. He lived in Engedi, on the road to Rhosneigr, Anglesey and he was the first ‘rural punk’ I knew. My teen stomping ground was wider than most around our village as two of my mates passed their test early and had cars, we could go to Ty Croes and venture into the teen Shangri-La of Rhosneigr which had a better youth club than my village Gwalchmai, dances, loads of pubs, an ‘offy’ and fit ‘dames’.
Ellis looked about 20 odd when 15 and if he did go to school it was probably to pick up a debt or ‘see someone’ Education for him seemed a ‘nuisance’. He had no problem getting served anywhere. He seemed to flit between any social grouping, young or old and from various villages/towns, he was just ‘’Ellis’’, not part of the crowd but always in it.
Ellis was initially a Soul Boy but soon got into punk and went that one step beyond and formed a ‘band’. He ‘may well’ have worked in the ‘Bali Hi’ chip shop as sung about by The Beganifs! He probably got sacked that summer. Ellis was a big guy, ungamely with very bad teeth, obvious Punk Rocker thinking about it.
Ellis came round my house one evening intent on listening to the few punk records I had, Pistols, X-Ray Spex, The Adverts and Chelsea I think. I had an open mind and though a Northern Soulie liked early Punk and had a few 45’s. After getting the vibe and fired up he asked me to make him a bin liner t-shirt for his first gig as I was starting art college in Chester. I obliged and apparently Ellis sported these on the youth club gig, it was mid-week and I missed it. A lot of teens flobbed at him. Cannot for the life of me recall the name of his ‘combo’ but they did get a few gigs, at places like The Cefn Dref, The Maelog Hotel, The Bay Hotel, Rhosneigr Golf Club, maybe The Sandymount Club, god knows, rumour was they made it as far as Holyhead, probably akin to Reading those days haha.
On one visit to my house after spinning a few sounds my Mum knocked on the door and said ‘’Tea is ready boys’’ Ellis looked bemused as if it was Xmas, I don’t think he was familiar with the concept. To say he was ‘rough and ready’ was an understatement and I doubt he, like most of us, spent ages getting his jeans turn-ups millimeter correct or polishing his brogues for a night out.
Ellis was one of those teenagers who forever seemed to wander the ‘back roads’ always ‘going somewhere’. This was the age of ‘thumbing’ your way to where the action was. As I mostly had lifts was quite impressed Ellis got anywhere he wanted to go. When I tried it a car full of lads would slow down, I’d run to the car..and yep..it sped off (pull two fingers time). Ellis did have a bike but knew so many people he’d always be lucky.
‘Ellis’ also unwittingly got me into Art College in Chester due to my sketch of him in profile. (See the picture with this blog) It’s about the only thing I drew that did not look like giant drugged-up creatures sitting on massive toadstools in strange lands. I was told I had a good fertile imagination.
Ellis was a hard bloke, but strangely never seemed to bother with ‘hassle’/’bother’ or ‘agro’ in the main, preferring to prop up the bar. If he ever appeared ‘bloodied’ it more than likely was because he’d made a move on someone else’s ‘dame’.
Teen adventures still seem vivid in later life, for the most part are mundane activities and involve a lot of ‘hanging around’, our brains are not digital recorders, we embellish and exaggerate how great our youth was, I meet more interesting talented people now on a weekly basis than I ever did then. It was mainly cold, damp, winter nights of boredom, all pretty pointless, like just being ‘out’ for ‘outs sakes’. But soon you ‘clicked’ and everyone was ‘going with’ someone, just because everyone did and not that you thought you’d found your eternal soul-mate or you had a clue how to treat someone in a ‘proper relationship’. But ‘adventures’ we had and many still put a smile on my face.
Two of these ‘adventures’ I can recall involved Ellis:
One comical episode comes to mind. My mate (with the car) was courting a girl in Rhosneigr and they usually called it a day down Beach Road at midnight. One evening through chance we were all by the clock watching the two-ing and fro-ing of said car, that night the car windows were not in their usual steamed up state. It was obvious they had had a ‘teen domestic’. Eventually my mate swerved round the clock and ranted ‘’I’m going now if anyone wants a lift’’ Ellis jumped in the front seat though two hours early it was bitter and we’d drunk all the booze we could afford mid-week. Shortly after the usual banter in the car died down and my mate realized all the driving about had left the petrol gauge in the red. ‘’Shit we’re on empty’’ he said. He worked out if he just used the gears and not brakes we might make our village on vapours alone, with of course no stops. He informed Ellis ‘’I’ll slow down at Engedi but I’m not stopping or we won’t get home ourselves’’ ‘’Your joking right?’ asked Ellis, my mate wasn’t. The car slowed down to about 20MPH at the long village of Engedi then Ellis opened the door and rolled out! My mate calmly reached over to close the passenger door, I looked out the back window and saw Ellis rolling along the tarmac hurling abuse. ‘’Fuckin’ hard bastard, Ellis’’ I said. ‘’Yeah’’ my mate replied and we made it back home, the car spluttering to a halt. I later asked my mate if he really was gonna stop? ‘’No’’ he replied.
The second, and with hindsight, not so funny episode, involving Ellis was his ‘exploits’ on Rhosneigr Beach/Sand dunes. We had arrived one night cruising ‘the square and clock tower’ area and word on the street was there was a right commotion down on the beach. It turned out Ellis’ squeeze (that week) one Zoe ‘Bacon’ had had her sixteenth birthday party, got wasted and Ellis had umm well had his way with her. Said ‘squeeze’ wakes up, screams rape and Ellis drags her off down the beach. Before anyone phones CSI Rhosneigr most of it was hearsay, and maybe teen bravado on Ellis’ part, she might have just been spooked by his tombstone teeth! But the rumour held and her parents now had phoned the local police station and a search was underway around the area for their beloved daughter. How Ellis had succeeded in pulling this hottie was also a mystery as she lived in one of the posh houses with solar panels on the roof before the term ‘renewable energy’ had been invented, her folks were minted. We split up to nosey around and there seemed a genuine commotion down on the beach. By chance I stumbled into Ellis and noticed a girl out cold, her keks round her ankles and her modesty covered in..SAND!
‘’If we all throw sand on her no one will know it was me’’ he ranted, presumably the sand would disguise his fingerprints? To this day I can’t work that one out. Another lad passed and did actually throw sand on Zoe, by which time torches could be seen scanning the dunes and concerned parents/copper closed in. I legged it to a pub and never knew any more other than Ellis went ‘missing’ from the scene for a while. I think his gig was cancelled that night in the village hall youth club.
Punk soon became fashion and in my village we had ‘’Vaughn The Punk’’ who had the mohican and tartan bondage trousers for years along with Stephen Legge who was somewhere between a Punk and a Scooterist, both really nice guys, not horrors at all, they had moved to Holyhead to live with ‘Spikey’ a reknowned drummer from Holyhead, rest is a blur.
But ‘Ellis’ was definitely the first to front anything remotely like a band.
As life moved on I saw Ellis less and less, he appeared with a couple of kids, then with a different wife or two and gradually our realities parted. He might live 5 miles away, or 500 I’ve no idea. I’m damned even to remember the band’s name.
If his recordings exist they are either on a cassette of the Rhosneigr gigs he made with the group or if they did make it to the recording studio above the Post Office, (Ofn) are in Gorwel Owens’ archive. He was the first rural punk I knew.
Ellis in fairness was something I was yet to become, ‘His Own Man’ and today I see that.