Boff Whalley tells the story behind his Facebook profile picture: “When I was at grammar school in Burnley I was obsessed by music. For me it was an era when Bowie and Bolan gave way to a world of weird and wonderful rock music, from Zappa and the Bonzos and then headlong into the shuddering shock of punk, with all its fantastic possibilities.
“I loved music. I listened to it, lived and breathed it, but couldn’t play an instrument.
“My music teacher at school was a camp old Oxbridge luvvie who smoked cigarettes out of the window during class and spent whole lessons forcing us to listen to his gramophone recordings of classical pieces. At the end of my year as a 15 year-old he marked my report sheet: second to bottom of the class, 14th out of 15, and added the comment: ‘A flippant and careless attitude. Low assesment in term.’
“I grew to love that sentence. Twenty-five years after it was written I published an autobiography and decided that I wanted that sentence on the front cover. It summed up what I felt about how I was taught music. Casey, as the photographer who took the picture for the front cover of the book, wrote the sentence on my bare chest in red lipstick. She has beautiful writing!
“Then just this last year I took a photo of my 5 year-old son Johnny in our camper van. Me and him were on a road trip to Scarborough and we were playing games and being silly. He was flexing his muscles and being a superhero. When I saw the photograph, I could see him in me, me in him, and I quickly saw those words on his chest instead of mine. ‘Flippant and careless’ – that had become my short-hand for being disinterested, turned-off, bored. But sometimes it’s the boredom that kick-starts the change, that makes things happen – as it did with punk rock in 1976. So I transferred Casey’s red lipstick words onto my son’s skinny white chest, using Photoshop. They fit perfectly.
“As an avatar it says everything I feel like saying, ever, for eternity. It’s staying.
“Then again, with such a flippant and careless attitude, I might change it next week for a selfie, or a picture of a kitten.”