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Rant: what would Joe Strummer do?

Mark Footer


"Should I stay or should I go," wondered Joe Strummer, late singer of British band The Clash, on a single of that name released in 1982. He wasn't singing about pollution, but his is a question currently being asked by many Hong Kong parents who have the means to leave and are sick of breathing the city's foul air.

If Strummer were still with us and living in Hong Kong, perhaps with a little Joe or Joanne to consider, he may well have changed the line "It's always tease, tease, tease …" to "It's always wheeze, wheeze, wheeze …" but left as is "If I go there will be trouble …" (from the lasting effects of having inhaled the filth for an extended period) "… and if I stay it will be double".

But where would he go? "I'm so bored with the USA," sang Strummer on The Clash's first album, so that would probably be out. The third album was London Calling, though, and a Safe European Home (a track from 1978) would certainly offer a better quality of life. Strummer also "rocked the casbah", so perhaps the Middle East would be an option.

There again, the B-side to Should I Stay or Should I Go was the song Straight to Hell, so perhaps the fatalist in him would have moved the family to Beijing or Shanghai, two of the few places on Earth that have air that is more disgusting than our own.


To get a clearer picture of Hong Kong’s air pollution, read our feature: Bad air daze


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Rant: what would Joe Strummer do?

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