What Would Joe Do?

A short letter on the occasion of Keira’s 17th birthday.

Dear Keira

When I was a teenager, like you, I was fortunate to have many friends who were and in some cases still are, very important people. But when I was confused, angry, curious, the two people who I paid attention to, who guided me, were my Mum, and through his music, the late, great, Joe Strummer.

Mum taught me the power of curiosity, she encouraged me to be myself, and to question authority. The music of The Clash had that same questioning attitude. After Mum died back in 1984 I was left without her advice, so when I needed help I would often ask myself, ’What would Joe do?’ I’ve always enjoyed listening to his music and the messages and attitude of his songs. Whether they were performed with The Clash, The Mescaleros, as a solo artist or one of his other projects, Joe Strummer always had something to say.  

“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn’t have any inherent wisdom.”

“We’re anti-fascist, we’re anti-violence, we’re anti-racist, and we’re pro-creative. We’re against ignorance.”

When you were born, Mum kindly agreed to let you take the middle name of Joe, and you’ve worn it very well ever since. I’m pleased that among your hugely varied musical tastes, you have found room for him and his work. To your credit, you’ve always been friendly and kind, and you show a wisdom beyond your years. In the absence of Joe Strummer, there’s now another Joe to provide some inspiration to the question, ‘What would Joe do?’

Remember, the future is unwritten, so make it for yourself. Best wishes and lots of love for a very happy birthday, and an excellent year of being 17.

With love : Dad and Mum

Our letter to Keira is enclosed in this card. I spent ages drawing it and the harder I tried, the less like Joe Strummer it looked. Drawing is hard, and in this case the effort was appreciated. Do the work.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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