HEADING HOME, LOSING MY RELIGION AND THE MAD MONGOLIAN SEASIDE EXPERIENCE
“Now we hang ourselves on Darwin’s rope”
“Survival Of The Shittest” by The Pocket Gods
It was gig time and off to old Londinium we went. Nige, Bert and Kathy Ann went in the van full of our equipment and I got a lift off mad Bart who fancied a rock n roll trip to England. I just wished he had learnt to drive before we set off. My God that was one scary journey.
We went via Brussels where we stayed overnight at his girlfriend’s flat. We were stupid and lazy and couldn’t be bothered to unload his car with all my stuff in the boot and anyway as this was one of the poshest parts of Brussels we’d thought it would be safe. Bart woke me up in the early hours of the morning looking really worried and saying he had some really bad news. He took me to the window and said his car had been broken into. He had heard it and ran outside but it was too late a gang of youths had taken almost everything in the car. I couldn’t believe it I was gutted and just laughed in a final act of desperation – that was all my worldly goods all my frickin clothes, books, CDs, personal stuff all gone. I didn’t have much in terms of worldly possessions as my parents had seen to that by chucking out any old stuff from my childhood including school photos – they were nice like that. I remember coming home from university in the holidays and found that they had let my room to students and had chucked all my stuff out.
What was the point in going on? If there was a God why was he such a cunt to me? If I was supposed to be special why keep me down in the gutter. I was suicidal for a bit but then clung to the slight hope that the gig in London might just be the big one that gets us on the track to the bigtime. Pipe dreams that’s all they were as I realise now. I was just like those sad drunks in that Eugene O’Brien play – “The Iceman Cometh”. I was a sad skinny drunk clinging on to the desperate hope of salvation – like all those minions who do the National Lottery every week.
We picked ourselves up and headed to Oostende where the ferry was sailing from and we had time to see his friend Inga whom we met in the woods. He told me she fancied me so I thought that’s scary but nice. Anyway we ended up going to a Social Club where Inga was trying to raise the dead spirits of the Mongolian Shamen in a seaside town in Northern Belgium. We all stood round in a circle chanting some Mongolian bollox and disappointingly we didn’t raise any Shamen but I did let rip a few brown clouds in nervous anticipation of meeting dead Mongolian dudes. Seriously this sort of thing would only happen in Belgium.
There was no romance in the air and we headed back to blighty via a rusty old ferry. We got back to St Albans, my old stomping ground, and stayed with Bill. Kathy and crew had already arrived and were staying at Mac’s house in a bit more luxury than me and Bart at Bill’s flat. Kathy Ann thought that Mac must be gay when seeing how tidy and clean his house was, but I think like all the other blokes around he had the hots for her. Anyway, I knew he wasn’t gay as I’d seen his prized porn collection! We played a warm up gig that night at the Horn in St Albans which went really well and people commented on how tight we sounded so I guess those months of rehearsing like mad had paid off.
RED ALERT SNACKS ARE LOW RED ALERT SNACKS ARE LOW
OVER THE BORDERLINE, THE END AND REBUILD
“I want to live in the land of giants.”
“The Land Of The Giants” by The Pocket Gods
We arrived at the world famous Borderline venue the next morning to load up our gear and find a frickin’ parking space which is easier said than done in the West End of London. It was quite awe inspiring walking in there and reading all the posters of the famous dudes who had played there; Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Sisters of Mercy and also Oasis who filmed their video here for Cigarettes & Alcohol.
The gig went really well and we played out of our skins and looked the part of hungry wannabe rock stars. The man from Telstar records was there at the back and I could see dodgy manager Kev chatting to him whilst we were playing our set. What were they talking about? It must be good or he wouldn’t say anything. He seems to be enjoying it I think. Wow maybe this is it. I was having a massive adrenalin rush the kind you only get when playing rock n roll and is better than any artificial drug I’ve ever taken and I guess it’s enhanced a bit by my manic depression which gives me massive waves of energy sometimes…but the downside is the lows are lower than the low countries.
We came off stage and congratulated each other and then we all felt a mixture of excited anticipation and a bit sad as common sense was kicking in a bit and was telling us that this was probably the last time we would all play together unless we got signed up here and now.
Manager Kev came rushing backstage, well a little corridor were Oasis hung out in their vid snorting coke off a bunch of tarts, and shouted at us; “WE’VE DONE IT WE’VE FUCKING DONE IT. WE’RE SIGNED. HE WANTS US”. Wow we thought that’s cool and then we started asking for a bit more detail. Kevin just said the same thing over and over again;
“WE’VE DONE IT WE’VE FUCKING DONE IT. WE’RE SIGNED. HE WANTS US.”
The only thing he did say was that he had to call him tomorrow to discuss the details. Tomorrow came and both me and Nige tried to call him at wok but he wasn’t returning our calls. We smelt a rat a big fat KEV RAT and we both felt utterly stupid in that we had asked him back to be our manager as we knew he was dodgy.
Anyway, I decided to wait no more and I called the guy from Telstar Records myself. He told me that although he liked the band he just wanted to sign up the drummer for a new all girl band he was putting together – I later found out they were called The Bush The Tree And Me. I felt gutted and betrayed and bad that I’d wasted 4 months of everyone’s time on this stupid idea of making it. We hadn’t made it, and it was my entire fault. We told Kathy Ann about what the Telstar man had said, but she declined their offer as she was happy in Belgium with her girl and her dog called Muff. Nigel and Bert went back to Antwerp to pursue their own new musical projects – The Low Countries and Zaam, respectively.
I was homeless, had no money, no clothes, no job, and no things at all as they’d all been stolen by teenage Belgium crack whores. I couldn’t go home to my parents as all that waited for me there was a horny old man of a father and a fucking bitch of a mom. I did think about killing myself – maybe a tube train as I was still in London – or under a bus – but I just couldn’t be arsed and had no motivation even to end it all.
In the end my good friend Al from Tower Records said I could stay with him and his parents in Willesden until I got myself sorted. These kind people saved my life and showed me humanity and what it was like to be part of a normal caring loving family. They fed me and lent me some money to get some clothes and I used the time to get my head together and work out what to do next. I would have jams with Al’s dad Benny who would get his harmonica out and start playing old Irish folk songs. We’d also share a few tins of Harp lager together. Therese, Al’s mum, fattened me up with her lovely Irish hospitality and home cooking.
Those roast dinners on a Sunday were the stuff of legend. I did get my shit together and got my old job back at Tower Records and Al’s folks lent me some money for a deposit on a place to rent which Wil, another friend from Tower had kindly let to me. Since then they have been my surrogate parents and I’d try and pop down and see them on a Sunday from time to time to soak up their pure goodness that they radiated. Unlike all my family apart from Jade my niece, they came to my wedding and were very proud to see me married and happy that I’d got my life sorted.
It was a sad day when Benny died last year. I had to go to the funeral in Willesden though it was the snowiest day of the year… there were no buses and the trains were disrupted but I just had to be there and pay my last respects and also be there for Therese and Al.. I had to set off really early and paid for taxis but I just made it on time. Therese came up to me crying saying; “You’ve lost your Daddy. You’ve lost your Daddy.” I paid my last respects to the great man whom I dearly miss. I drank a few pints of the black stuff in his honour (even though he was more of a Harp man) at the wake in his nephew’s pub The Sir Robert Peel in Queens Park. I was just so glad that Claire and Shimmies and I had made it to Al and Gil’s wedding earlier in the year where we got chance to see him for the last time.