Thursday, 6 December 2012

“Don’t throw hammers,” 1985

For decades, the only way to pass a hammer to somebody was to first secure a position in their workshop, and even then, it was considered impolite to hand over the tool at anything other than bent-arm’s length. But the so-called 1960s revolutionised attitudes, and suddenly gently passing a hammer looked as repressed and old-fashioned as wearing a bath-bowler or putting up an umbrella when you coughed.

But after a seemingly endless summer of groovy hammer-throwing, dark days were ahead, and first reports of deaths by flying hammers started to emerge from the club scene in 1970s New York. The messsage was hammered home in Britain when Ponda Tang, the flamboyant-groined bassist of Tingletip, passed fatally out during a showbiz mallet-tossing weekend in 1978. The post mortem revealed that his death was not due to excess alcohol or just enough drugs, but blows to the head from some sort of blunt object.

The party was over, and by the time of this NOI campaign, demands for safe-hammermanship had ushered in the more puritan age in which we now live and carefully pass each other hammers.

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