April 2004 Archives
Well hello there folks ;o) god it's been ages since i last posted an update on this! I've been off on maternity leave ya see..and can't get access to a proper computer...so im sending an email from my tv email to my wee Hodgers and he is gonna post it for me :o)
Well I have been a lady of leisure for 6 weeks now..it's lovely having all this time to play around with and chill and people are telling me to enjoy it while i can..but im getting really fed up now, have painted walls, cleared out cupboards,organised babies stuff (over and over again) and scrubbed the apartment spotless...im getting so bored waiting for baby to arrive...im not so sure whether id take so much time off work before the actual birth again!
But apart from all that baby and I have been keeping really well...pretty easy pregnancy it has been me thinks...and people can't believe im full term...they say i only look about 5 months gone..suits me fine :o) the smaller jnr is the easier the birth will be..hopefully :o/
Well today is my due date and for the past week or so i have been having regular twinges and mild contractions and I go and get myself all excited..and the they disapear again grrrrr! At this stage im saying BRING ON THE PAIN! and reminding baby to feel free to make a move anytime! I just can't wait to meet our little one..im so very excited and so are all my family. Paul keeps feeding me spicy foods as an aid to speed things on a bit...and im forever having baths and long walks.. and this aint workin...so i guess jnr will just join us when he/she is good n ready.
Well the next update will hopefully be to broadcast the good news...keep ur fingers n toes crossed for us...pray etc..anything that you think will help..catch ya soon, luv Nikki xox
I'm just back from a rather pleasant little jaunt to Kenya.
The main purpose of my visit was to buy guitar strings, as these are unavailable in Tanzania. I completed this on the second day of my travels. So I decided to go for a ramble to Lake Victoria. Various small and uncomfortable buses later, I arrived in Kisumu. I found a hotel on the lakeside and promptly set about relaxing. I read a pile of books, drank some tusker and had a jolly good time.
On one evening out, I got chatting to a bloke who had got a loan a government ministers car for a few days. It was a black merc with flags on the front and special plates. In a car like this you can go wherever you want, no one is going to stop you. Although, I was not convinced by the chap's driving, and I imagine that he will have to get the damaged fixed before the car is returned.
My return to Nairobi was also quite an experience on the overnight train. A twenty year old British rail number. I was initially a bit down upon seeing the no smoking signs everywhere, but these had never been taken off since the train had been in Britain. When I asked a guy who was working on the train if there was a certain place where you could smoke, he replied, "anywhere."
Anyway, here is a picture of Lake Victoria from Kisumu.
I understand that sometimes I can be as coarse as the next man, but more often than not I like to think of myself as a British Gentleman. However, it seemed that a couple of years ago, my reputation had grown and developed into something which was little to do with the real Bobby.
I was standing in a club in Wigan, which had been my regular club for about six months, waiting for my mate, Seymour Arkles (of the band, 'The Moon-pig Men'), when a girl walked up next to me at the bar. I had noticed her in 'The Flame' before. I clocked her and she clocked me. She ordered her drink from the bar and turned to me to talk. I thought she was going to ask if I wanted to drink or a dance. Instead, she turned and said, 'Sorry, that was me. I just farted.' I was appalled, if not a little amused. When I asked if she thought that was a line to lead me on, she said that it was. She had been told that I was fond of farting women, cheap jokes about bodily functions and other such coarse subjects. Needless to say, we danced for a little, but I wanted a woman to respect me for my intellect and mind. When she left my flat the next morning, I think she had a greater understanding. In fact, she asked if she could borrow some of my Ed McBain books.
I just want to put this to bed: I am fairly amused by the odd joke about bodily functions, but I am - by no means - turned on by them. I may be a little coarse every once in a blue moon, but that is not unlike the top-tier of men. Even royalty must laugh at a knob gag.
I was two years away from senior school (well, actually three after my lost year) and doing very well at St Innocence's of Skelmersdale. My report had been excellent and I was fairing well for a boy who had been entered into school a year ahead of schedule. I was also excelling at sports. I had been the district champion of back stroke and had come second in the county athletic hurdling competition. Things were looking up. Although I was started to shed my baby looks and the puberty stage Bobby was going to be a scary period. I knew I wasn't the best looking kid back then, but, looking back, I was pretty rough looking. That said, it was noticeable that the charm and the sense of humour were being gently honed.
When I reached year six, I was placed on the brown table with Michael Watts, Jenni-Anne Wilcox and Gretta Copperpot. I wasn't happy at first as my best pal, Rupert Lever was seated on the blue table with people thought to be the cleverest in the class. I was deeply jealous and for weeks didn't talk too any of the children on my table. That was until the meeting of the knees.
This was probably my first sexual experience. I don't mean this was the first time that I fumbled or anything like that, but more that I experienced a feeling that I would come to recognise as I became a man. It was Wednesday afternoon and we had been working on our projects over lunch. I was the only one working on my own in class as I was still harbouring a grudge for being placed on the brown table. W e had just sat down to listen to a BBC broadcast for schools when I felt it. It was the warmth of her leg next to mine. It was amazing: a sensation that I didn't experience again for a good couple of years - not until I was long into senior school anyway. It was like I had just discovered something that would save the world.
The leg touching went on for about ten minutes. And yet years later I can still remember what it felt like. I met Gretta in a supermarket just a couple of years ago and simply had to talk to her. I had heard that she had become a county champion long-distance runner, but hadn't met anyone who was going to steal her heart. I thought that there was no time like the present to have a go. After a couple of minutes trying to trigger her memory of me (the knee touching was obviously something that meant more to me than her), I told her all about what happened that day. She looked slightly uncomfortable, but warmed to me when I told her that I had admired her from afar for many years since and had even followed her running career (I was lying, but then I did lay the knee touching on a bit thick). We arranged to meet in the supermarket cafÈ for a Lattte or a 'soup of the day', but she didn't turn up. I checked that there wasn't two cafes and waited around for about an hour, but she didn't show. I just wanted to say thank you to the second girl I had ever a crush on. One day I'll meet her again.
When I was young and attending school, I was allowed to go to school earlier than many of my contemporaries in the Elm Lane Little'uns Nursery. I wouldn't say that I was naturally more gifted at that age, although it was often commented that I was going to be the Prime Minister one day. An aspiration that I still hold dear and one that I hope to achieve. At three years of age I think it is difficult for people to truly judge a child's ability, but I was proud that I was going to be the youngest in a class of intellectual equals.
In my class that year were some wonderful characters with amazing futures. Who would have known back then that Joanie Finklestein would have had five children by the time that she was 23, been divorced three times (once because of me) and won the lottery. It wasn't a big win, but it was the first £10 win on a 'lucky dip' from the corner shop in Bidston. Frankie Brown was a polite young boy with an obsession for cowboys. Who would have known that he would later go on to become the first gay cowboy stripper gram in Mold, North Wales. Similarly, who would have thought that Sean Tillotson would do five years inside for the attempted abduction of a Russian Dancing Bear, or that Derek Cummings would nearly drown when he was 14 trying to be the first person to write some graffiti in the six metre deep end of the pool at Huyton Leisure Centre. By all accounts he had finished his work and was admiring it as a black brick from the diving school hit him on the head. He still managed to write, "If you can read this your drowning", and to my knowledge it is still there today.
The school, St. Innocence's of Skelmersdale, was not big. In fact it was one of the smallest schools in the county and was ran by a wonderful headmaster who was one of the prides of the local education authority, a Mr Thornton. He was a proud man and proud of the school that he had created, even more proud of his Year One teacher all the way from France. Her name was Miss Fontienne.
Miss Fontienne was amazing. She must have only graduated from college when she started teaching us, but her English was perfect with a fantastic French twist to her pronunciation. The dads loved her. I know my dad did. I certainly know that Uncle Phil (he was not a blood relative, but he and his wife insisted on us calling them Uncle Phil and Aunty Pippa) because a restraining order was served on him. He wasn't that happy, but was proud to be the first man to be issued with one in the North West of England. I was only young, so I didn't lust after her back then. My instinct for a good woman was obviously being sharpened and I could sense that s he was special. Very special. Even now, I find myself feeling uplifted at the very thought of her. I have seen her recently and she still looks amazing. She doesn't teach children anymore, but she studies new age therapies and places warm stones on people for about £70 an hour. Good work if you can find it.
I remember the morning I first tied my laces on my own and my parents pretty much carried me to school on their shoulders. I was feeling fairly satisfied with myself and looked forward to Miss Fontienne reading to us in the morning. I stared into her deep blue eyes for the whole hour of the story. It was something about animals and poor building laws in unpredictable weather conditions. The morning break was due and we were allowed to run off some energy in the yard. Terrence McDonald had been given orange juice that morning and was explosive. He was allowed to run all around the yard screaming for about an hour. Watching him from the classroom, running around the yard on his own, was one of the weirdest things I ever saw up to then. That and Lucy Penman's bits that she showed me and Harry Stephenson before PE in the June of that year.
There was a queue to have your laces tied by Miss Fontienne. I remember thinking, do I go up to her and show her how I tied my laces and watch her face beam with admiration or do I do what Scot Ethanshaw did and undo my shoes (he was cool and had Velcro shoes). I decided to undo my shoes and stand in the queue. It was mostly boys: perhaps even then the boys from Skem all knew what a good woman was. When it was my turn, she beamed, tapped her hand on her pale yellow skirt that covered her toned thigh. I gladly placed my left foot up and she tied my laces with a song that she sang to herself. She tapped her leg again and I popped up my right foot. Her sweet face went from one singing a song in French to one that looked like she had just bitten into a lemon. I looked at my shoe and I could see the mess. Terrence McDonald's dog had had something that unsettled it and I had ran through the unsettlement that morning. My dad had forced to scrape my shoes on the grass verge, but once Scot Ethanshaw started laughing at me I ignored my dads advice and, I guess, got used to the smell.
I saw another side to Miss Fontienne that morning. As she dragged me to Mr Thornton's office, I saw a Gallic temper that would be more familiar on the Six Nations Rugby pitch. She hardly smiled at me for the entire time I was under her stewardship. It wasn't like I didn't understand. I had, after-all, just walked dog muck over her new skirt. She was the first woman I think I had a crush on. Perhaps that was the mould setting experience that has had an affect on every crush and love I have had since. Either way, I will always remember Miss Fontienne.
My mouth was open and the pillow seemed to be glued to my cheek. The slight perfume of some sort of conditioner was unfamiliar and the light seemed strange for what I presumed was late in the morning. I must have slept on my side with my left arm underneath me because my shoulder was aching. I tried to manoeuvre my arm while keeping my eyes clamped shut, but I had lost all the feeling, power and use of it. Peeling my face from the pillow I turned onto my back to free the arm, but I couldn't turn fully. When I opened my eyes to see what was in my way I didn't recognise the bed sheets, the wall-paper, the built-in wardrobes nor the woman who was naked next to me.
I had started the previous night celebrating my first programme on Skem FM. It was a huge success with lots of people phoning in (even though it wasn't a phone in) which I was assured was a good sign: "at least people are listening". I had left the station in a euphoric state and headed straight for "The Plough". When I got there I could see that the regulars were already a couple of drinks ahead of me. Mickey "The Robot" Rutter and Tony "Bogey" Harding called me over to their table for a game of bar room cricket. This game is known to some as 'Tit-cricket', ordinarily a game that I would never have played, and comes with simple rules: a man goes out to bat and his aim is touch a ladies shoulder for a run, a bum for a four and a breast for a six. A slap across the face and you're out. As the only woman in the bar was Charlotte "Lotta" Bull it became obvious that we needed to find another crease to play on.
The Robot, Bogey and me left the bar and headed for the hot-bed of lady lovelies in Skem. 'The Broken Arrow' was the kind of place that attracted the ladies in packs. Whether it was the dim lighting, the open spaces or the discounts on shorts no-one ever knew. Either way, we didn't care. I was one drink from a bad night when Bogey approached our table with a tray of drinks and a score card for the opening games innings. I drew the short straw and started my innings.
The Robot was a man who, during the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties, had become accomplished at the disco dance based on the movement of a robot. It was slightly jerky and rusty now, but back in the fortnight when it was the dance move of all dance moves he was Newton on the Willows answer to a Disco Fred Astaire. Bogey on the other hand couldn't, wouldn't and will never dance. Tony Harding, ever since he was about fifteen years old, had an uncanny likeness to the great actor Humphrey Bogart. From the age of about eighteen he was doing stand-in work on adverts and even starred in a new theatre production called, "The Wax Works Revenge". In the review of the play in the Liverpool Echo, it suggested that Tony did the best impersonation of a wax work trying to act they had ever seen. Needless to say that this didn't stop our Bogey from trying to break into the acting scene in the North West. This evening, on the end of a warm early summers day, he was happily unemployed and glad to be rubber necked by female movie fans who wanted a bit of the old black magic sharing a drink with them. If Bogey's balls had dropped fully, he may have convinced them that he was in some way close to being a man, but he had a very boyish tone to his voice which seemed to amuse most females.
I advanced through the growing throng scoring runs left, right and centre. I spotted a girl I recognised near the lads and thought about going for a six. I was on 33 not out as I approached Shona Boyle. I had drunkenly sucked Shona's two front teeth out of her face some months back. She had lost her teeth when she tried to walk through the wrong side of a patio door. They were replaced by a dentist in St Helens who was straight out of dental school which meant they were fitted loosely. To be honest, I thought I had swallowed my tongue when I retched, and felt some mild relief when I coughed up her two front teeth. Our intimate liaison in the on-board toilet of the National Express Coach ended pretty soon after that. Seeing her again, I felt that I could confidently fetch a six off a deft touch of her breast. I approached from behind and nipped her expansive bosom. She span around like an industrial spinning top, I winked and smiled as she connected her right fist with the underside of my infamous glass jaw. I was 33 all out and left completely unconscious.
Lying in the strange bed with a woman's back facing me, I wondered what had happened after I tried for my first and only six of the game. I leaned up on my right arm and my left arm fell limply behind me. I dropped to my back, pulled my left arm across me and again leaned up on my right arm, my left arm hanging down from my shoulder like a heavy rope. I could feel pins and needles setting in from the bicep down as my bed-mate started to wake. All I could think was that Shona had felt sorry for lifting me off my feet with a hook that Cassius Clay would have been proud of. My bed-mate stirred and opened her eyes. First there was a tired blink, then there was an opening which was followed by a realisation and then a wide eyed look of shock. "Oh shit", my mystery woman exclaimed.
"Where am I?" she asked me semiconsciously. It was just about now that I realised that my tongue was covered in a post-long night fur that should usually be accompanied by a stench of breath. I decided it was best not to talk, so I grunted and shrugged my shoulders. My left arm looked uncomfortable but was slowly coming back to life. "Is this your place?" she asked sarcastically. I fell onto my back and looked the other way before I spoke, "I thought it was your place. Do you think I would have a border around my room that was of sparrows eating worms embedded in what look like rotten berries?" She looked at me. And then shook her head. She looked at me again. Rubbed her eyes and then looked again. She then started to smile. I must say that it was about now that I began to feel good about myself. She seemed happy with our situation, perhaps, I thought, I am a significant notch on her bed-board. I tried to put my hands behind my head, but only my right arm would do as I asked. "How's your arm?" she asked. I was stunned. Was it that obvious? I explained that I must have been lying on it awkwardly. At which point she began to laugh out loud. "You don't remember a thing do you?", she giggled.
We lay there, completely naked next to each other. She giggled for a while and then turned to me and offered me a stick of minty gum. It tasted fresh and allowed me to talk confidently with out worrying about my breath. "What's so funny?" I said as I tested the water about just how intimate we had been the night before. Still on my back I placed my hand on the top of her naked thigh, I searched the inside of her thigh and the light mound of her slim belly. There was no reaction. I remember thinking to my self that we have had a really good night. "It's just that you remember nothing at all", she said. "I remember getting lamped by Shona", I said, "But, to be honest, that's about it." She told me that it would be rude if I couldn't remember her name while I was massaging her belly just above the rude-line. She continued to tell me that she was standing next to Shona when I went for my six. She sneered at the immaturity of it all. Apparently, she and Shona both connected at the same time. "So, did you swing for me as well or did I just fall for you afterwards?" I asked as I dropped my hand below the rude-line. She smiled, poked her finger into my side - which lifted my arm - and then she pulled something from her side and thrust it towards my arm. I felt a sharp shark in my right arm, I saw a flash of light and then a dull pain as I lost all control of my right arm. I lay on my back, both arms completely lifeless and slightly bemused. She threw back the covers to reveal a slightly aroused 'Little Bobby', jumped across me and sat on my stomach. She looked fantastic and had a look of complete and utter mischief in her face.
"My name is Belinda Muckett", she declared seductively, "And last night we enjoyed a most amazing night. Well, if you can't remember, then that's fine by me. After you came round from the knock out, you and me danced all night. Your hands were everywhere - just like now - and I had to teach you a lesson. I zapped you before we went to bed and you lost control of your left arm. So pissed, you looked confused that you couldn't get undressed. It was hilarious."
"Did we - you know?" I asked.
Laughing, "No. Oh, no. I was having so much fun." She looked at my left arm and zapped it again with what I recognised as a cattle prod.
"Blood and nails woman!" I exclaimed in pain, "You could kill me."
"No. You're still here and the battery is going", she whispered into my ear, "I'm afraid I'll have to go now."
"Where are we?" I asked.
"Apparently, this is your mate Robot's ex-wife's house. You robbed the keys from Robot last night."
"You kidding... she's psychotic and she hates me... I am not mad enough to do that", I explained.
"Mad enough to spend a night with a woman who had been zapping you with a cattle prod".
Belinda then stepped off me and I watched her beautiful body collect her clothes from around the room. She explained to me that Robot's ex was on holiday and that she was due back some time later in the week. The mild relief I experienced then was dampened by the fact I couldn't use either of my arms. I struggled to a sitting position and tried to put on my pants using my feet, a gyrating action and the generous pressure of gravity. Just as I managed to rub my pants on, Belinda, now dressed and looking fresh, came across the room and brandished the cattle prod. Laughing she despatched a further charge into both my arms and then removed my pants. Leaving me naked, alone and pretty cold in the middle of the bed. She bid me a fond farewell, blew me a kiss and opened the bedroom window.
The morning wasn't warm and the room cooled even further. I struggled for about an hour just to pull the duvet across me with my feet. I lay in that bed for about seven hours until I had moderate use of my arms. I just about made it into Skem FM for the second show of my debut week (I was given a talking to for late fades on records as my arms were still weak). I never spoke or wrote about this day until now. Although, Belinda spread the word and every time I walked into 'The Broken Arrow" I was greeted by a chorus of 'Moos'. I may have laughed it off, but my arms twinged with the memories.
Insects are great.
The large beetle, pictured above, was being taken around the school by some primary school kids. Much the displeasure of a number of other students. I thought it was funny.
When I have found myself lost for words in the midst of a conversation that I have taken down a suicidal cul de sac with a loose word/phrase or two, I find it better to mutter the phrase 'That"ll be the door' and make a quick exit. That way you"re able to excuse yourself from the conversation and the room so you can chastise yourself in private and out of ear-shot. A warning to those who aren"t too clever: don"t use this phrase if you"re trying to exist a conversation on a mountain side or on a beach.
This was a song that I penned in the store room of JC Harpers on the High Street in Port Sunlight. They were a gentlemen"s clothes store that stocked threads and silks from all over the world catering for shapes large to small. I had just been dumped by a Eva Honz, a shop-floor worker from the local bakery, after just one night of dating...
(To a Deep Blues tune)
You looked good to eat
And I was keen to dance
You suggested cinemas
And took my chance
We rolled up to the screen
Carrying popcorn and coke
A kernel went down the wrong way
And, hell, I started to choke
Baby, you"re a hard hard lady
Give a man a break
Mmm mmm mmm
Baby, you"re a hard hard lady
Give a man a break
Mmm mmm mmm
I popped the bottom of the corn
And loosened my fly
I was comfortably in control
I felt fine and you"d find out why...
You were dipping your hand
I was wriggling in my seat
You eyes opened wide baby
In the popcorn you found some meat.
Baby, you"re a hard hard lady
Give a man a break
Mmm mmm mmm
Baby, you"re a hard hard lady
Give a man a break
Mmm mmm mmm
Well you just wouldn"t let go
I thought I"d like it, but I was wrong
I could see hate behind your eyes
And now I"m singing you this song
It was when you started to twist
And you started to squeeze
I could see some blood
As I fell onto my knees
Baby, you"re a hard hard lady
Give a man a break
Mmm mmm mmm
Baby, you"re a hard hard lady
Give a man a break
Mmm mmm mmm
It's not often that you meet some-one who you have nothing in common with, nothing to connect you both and certainly nothing that you can talk about. However, when I was trapped in a lift in "The Houston Hotel" I was with a young woman who was the opposite of me that it scared me.
They say opposites attract, but I could tell as soon as I pulled the metal grilled door across and pushed my thumb into the 4th floor button that I repulsed her. Perhaps it was my accent (I had been muttering to myself). Perhaps it was my deodorant (I had been dancing like a loon at my cousins wedding). Perhaps it was my inability to stand still (I must have scored for a dozen pints and ridden the valve for seven songs). Perhaps it was the way that I leered at a bit of skirt in the lift (I didn't mean to, but I was hot off Wilson Picket and felt like The Big o'). Perhaps it was the wedding cake smeared across my chops. I don't what it could have been that could have put her off, but it was obvious I wasn't her kind.
As we passed the second floor from the basement dance floor and party I figured she was with the wedding party, but that she played for the other team. I couldn't remember her from the service. I sat with a good seat through the meal and still couldn't figure out who it was. As we glanced the second floor and the light spilled into the lift we were given the sight of young cousin Trevor with his trousers around ankles urinating into the lift. As the lift hurtled past at a pace that Appollo IV would have been proud, he soaked the whole left side of me. Before I could get a harsh word out, I heard him yell, saw a flash from below and then the lift went black and we both stood in darkness.
I am sure that shorting the lift was never Trevor's intention, but he would be reminded years after of his escapade. How the whole hotel lost all it's power for a period long enough for the groom to confuse a bridesmaid for the bride in the dark and for the lights to reveal the shortest marriage in the families history.
As I stood in the darkness I heard a wimper from the corner of the lift. I thought that the only manly thing to do was to reach out and comfort the young lady. Reassure that everything would be OK. Tell her that it would be a matter minutes before we were rescued. I put my hand out in the dark, looking for a shoulder. At first I thought that she had very soft shoulders. Before I had remembered that she was very toned and fit looking I was squealing like a horse with it's knackers in a clip. She had twisted my arm and thrust me against the wall. My nose had slid into the buttons of the 6th floor and down to basement just as her foot went into the back of my knee and I fell quickly to the floor. She grabbed my belt and undid my buckle. I foolishly muttered, "All you had to say was I..." and she turned me onto my belly, wrapped my elbow in the belt and then grabbed my feet. She tied my laces together and then put her knee into the middle of my back. As I buckled backwards into the pain I tried to yell, but found an apple thrust into my mouth.
As the lights in the lift came out, I found myself strangely attracted to the honey. As I looked up from her feet I could her longs legs and wondered why I hadn't done things differently. As she lifted her foot to push my head back to the floor I read the make of her heels, "Sue". I wondered what her name was, and baptised her Sue as I noticed just how dirty the carpet in the lift was. The lift moved to the fourth floor. Sue pulled the doors back and stepped out. She leaned in and pressed the basement button, closed the sliding grill doors behind her. As I started my descent she simply said, "Good night Soldier".
It took weeks to get people to believe that I had been robbed. The smell of Trevor's urine that stained my shirt was good enough to convince some people at the time. Most people simply noted that I had no money to be robbed and had begged for people to buy me drinks all night.
I stopped drinking after that night. Not for long, but long enough to respect the drink. I now only drink when in good company and with rooms with soft walls.
As a manger of a popular beat combo there are some things that you expect to experience. They range from band line-up reshuffles and arguments about song credits to trashing of B&B rooms and Little Chef all day breakfasts at 1am in the night. I was never really prepared for what happened in Blackpool back in the early days of my talent management career.
I had only been working the circuit for about four months. I had taken a local band, "Arthur Lead-foot and the Barrel Makers", from obscurity and back again when I met up with Clive 'Mad Dog' Chivers. He was the lead singer of the ultra folk band, "The Corn Men of Coopers Hill". I wasn't a fan of their music, but Clive told me that a pirate station that was anchored in Lake Windermere had had their single, "I'll sow my seed in any furrow", on heavy rotation. The disc-jockey that had the 'drive-time' slot (I always wondered about a drive-time slot for the car-full thorough fares of Bowness and Kendal), a mean spinner by the name of Giles Humble, went as far to say that their unique sound was something that could become a musical landmark. On hearing this I bit the bullet and dropped Arthur Lead-foot and took on the Corn Men.
I like to think that I followed in the footsteps of some of the most famous music managers of all time like Colonel Parker and Brian Epstein. I created my own office, started a fanclub for the band, arranged gigs right across the north of England and thought big: I promised the band that, like The Beatles, we would conquer America.
Ultra folk was a difficult genre of music to sell to some of the club managers of the north of England, particularly those in cities like Manchester and Liverpool. It reached a point were I simply told them lies. When they heard the band and told me that they didn't sound punk or rock'n'roll or prog-rock at all, I simply informed them that they were going through an experimental period. It worked 80 % of the time, but even for folk hardliners this band were a bit extreme. That said, I still managed to get the band gigs in many of the top clubs. One memorable gig was in the British Legion club in Rochdale. We were invited back five times in a row and there would have been a sixth time had there not been the arson attack. Mad Dog's uncle ran the club, but it was not the family connection that got us the gig. It was the sound.
The band had long had a troubled history. From the very beginning of the band, the creative heart had been Mad Dog and Mike "Bad Trunk." Illchester. They had grown up together on farms that were only five miles apart. It was this creative pair who had created the ultra folk sound, but it was the recognition and the kudos of the one who's singular idea it was that drove a wedge between them. Although there was tension, they never let their misdirected anger get in the way of the creative vision of the band. The other band members were Steve "The Horse" Handon (percussion) and Milton "The Cutter" Harris (spoons, washboard and accordion). These guys were equally loyal to both the creators: they were slaves to the sound and they just wanted to have a moment in the sun and their names written into folk-lore.
Mad Dog (named on account of a crossbreed who lost it's marbles in a harvesting accident and went a shade of loopy on his father's farm) and Bad Trunk (named on account of a fierce fight he had with a wild oak near Preston which left the trunk of the tree with a delicate imprint of Mike's head) were never roomed together on tour. However, this gig in Blackpool meant that they either had to share the caravan or share the tent with me, The Horse and The Cutter. They knew it was better to stay clear of The Cutter the night before a gig, particularly if nerves took a hold of his guts.
The caravan was stationed just north of Blackpool, in Fleetwood, in a small crop of caravans that looked out over the Irish Sea. We had arrived in my van at about tea-time and decided to eat first and then organise the tent. After a four hour dinner that consisted of a heated argument with the landlord over the ploughman's lunch, a dodgy pint of cider and getting lost on the way back in the pitch black of the night, we managed to make it back as a band. Plus two groupies that Bad Trunk had picked up.
The tent was erected with out the help of Mad Dog or Bad Trunk as one was entertaining the groupies and the other was sulking. We three slightly merry men got the tent up and we were sleeping within the hour. I was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of The Cutter turning onto his stomach. I decided that it was best to cut loose of the tent while I still had control of all my senses. As I slipped into the van I noticed the silhouettes in the small caravan window. The windless night played no tricks on my vision and I clearly saw what looked like two women pretending to ride a horse. I smiled to myself and thought, "Lucky bastard" as I closed the door of the van behind me.
It could not have been more than three hours later when the sun started to break and, although my neck had stiffened, I tried to look over at the caravan. I guessed that because my neck was tight I couldn't look all the way around so I couldn't see the caravan at first glance. I slipped into a slumber again, only to be woken by The Cutter with the morning sun blinding me through the side window. I had slept in an odd position in the passenger seat of the van so it was more comfortable for me to lean my chin on my shoulder. As my left leg was dead I had to drag that behind me as I got out of the car. Looking across at the place where the caravan had been I could see nothing except for a pair of skimpy pink knickers, a Thermos flask and tread marks that lead down the field. As I slammed the door in shock I heard a 'yelp' from the back of the van. Mad Dog put his face to the window and winced in the sunlight, "Where'd the caravan go? The bastard was sowing his seed all night."
I limped and dragged my leg along the tread marks and was followed by The Cutter and, later, by Mad Dog. The tread marks led to the edge of a small cliff, not more than ten feet in height, and then disappeared. The tide was out and there were no marks in the sands below. The caravan must have come loose with Bad Trunks exertions and rolled into the sea. That was the only explanation that I could think of. The police were later convinced of the same thing. No foul play was suggested and an accident was recorded for the movement of the caravan (although the cheap bastard owner of the caravan charged me for the whole bloody thing, even though I pointed out that two breeze blocks did not constitute a brake). There was no body so no murder or death could be recorded. The coast guard was told to look out for a floating caravan, but nothing came up. Bad Trunk and his groupies had disappeared. Back in the fifties James Dean had died at the wheel of his car, and Buddy Holly died in a plane going through a storm... even Elvis passing from this life on the toilet was significant enough to remember. Who would remember this in the Music Hall of Fame? Some die-hard fans think, to this day, that peoples from another planet robbed us of a talent. I have my own ideas, but I'll keep them to myself - for a while any way. Needless to say, the band broke up that morning and I needed a new band. It wasn't hard to find one: I walked a long the Blackpool Promenade and discovered "Hang'em High" - Preston's first alternative country and western quintet.
I like to think of myself as some sort of free spirit or at least a wandering soul always on the look out for adventure. I remember when "India Jones and the Lost Ark" was first released, I contacted my solicitor and asked them to make sure that this story was not based on any of the adventures that I had had in Mexico, India, Mongolia and Finchley. There were glaring similarities between the dusty Ford character and the rough and ready Beamer that was familiar to the public, and authorities alike, in these far foreign lands. I hasten to add that the letter we received back from Spielberg and his cohorts was short and to the point: and that is, legally, how much more I can on the subject.
I never used to organise my travel arrangements, I would simply jump on board a boat in Liverpool, Southampton or Amsterdam and head where-ever they took me. The fact that I once jumped on board a boat that took me to Birkenhead, a mere stones throw of a journey across the Mersey, did not deny me one of the greatest adventures that I have ever had. However, I am considering writing a hardback novel about it, "From Birkenhead to Bidston - an indecent adventure", so I shall not bore you with the details here.
In these past years I have grown accustomed to using an independent travel agent called Moss Moss and Son in Childwall, Liverpool. It may be a bit of a trek from my current home, but it is always worth the journey. Moss Moss, who himself admits that he was such a handsome baby that they named him twice, is a fantastic man. Although slightly full of himself (he is hardly handsome these days, in fact, his name - Moss Moss - is due to the births registrar being slightly deaf and his dad having to repeat the surname) he is at least honest enough to admit that some companies charge the world for a meal that you wouldn't accept in a motorway cafÈ and a seat that is smaller than a bench seat in a flash sports car. He gets you the deals with his array of contacts all over the world. They all have names like Tone the Turk, Ivan the Iranian, Phylis the Philipino or Frank the Argentine. They can get first class on any carrier as well as the cheapest economy seat (or in some cases floor space) with any one willing to accept a payment of sorts.
Jumping off the bus outside the shop I always get this enormous sense of excitement as I look at the window. Above the large glass frontage, are the words 'Moss Moss and So's' (the 'N' has been missing for years) in a bold non-serif font that gives the company an air of trust and respectability. The large three dimensional letters were a yellow once, but, like a leaf in autumn, they are slowly going golden and brown. This doesn't look bad, but more like one of those collectable books that you find in the library: it makes them look well worn, well used, well kept and, more importantly, well preserved.
The window below is cleaned three times a week and has had the same display in it for years. A three foot long model of a jumbo jet that is balanced at a precarious angle on it's stand looks like it is about to rise and fly straight out of the right hand side of the window. It's once bleached white surface and livery now yellowed and faded. A black, hand drawn, line beneath the nose of the jet gives it the look of a very happy plane, although the plastic sticky tape that holds the left engine on to the wing never inspires even the most experienced of travellers. Next to the plane stands a group of men who are standing in a line like they are about to face a free-kick from some fearsome footballer. If it wasn't for their blazers, bold coloured wife beater vests, khaki shorts down to their knees and smiles that look like grimaces you could have mistaken them for footballers. According to Moss Moss, all these men are locals to Barbados who always look after his favoured clients. They weren't there when I went, but I suppose they have to holiday too. On the far left of the window stands an example of how some would say air-hostesses should look. There was once a complaint about the low cut tops that these particular members of the Swedish cabin crew were wearing. On closer inspection, you can see that their blouses have been added, by carefully cut paper, at a later date (if you catch the right time of day, you'll be able to see through the thin paper and witness three of the only topless cabin crew ever to flown from London to Malta via Sweden). Beneath these cut outs and models is a home made beach created with builders quality sand and fading deep blue crepe paper. The dust moves, just as sand would I guess, in the eddies of heat that a window of that size can create no matter what the weather. A solid wooden divider stands behind the cut-outs that comes only to waist height. You can see right into the shop if you look hard enough, but this is made difficult by two halogen floodlights that shine out of the window like two suns from an alien planet. I once asked Moss Moss why he had two suns in the window and he simply said it was two for one and that the joiner had fitted both in the front when he wanted then to put out in the back yard. Apparently, the joiner didn't work in the rain so installed them inside. In winter they act like mini-heaters and in summer like grills for any meats or sausages.
Moss Moss would always greet you with wide open arms and a smile straight from the salesman's handbook. His cream shirts always rolled up to the elbow on the sleeves to give the impression of hard work (he even has water in a spray can to give added drops of perspiration to his forehead and darken the material under his arms) and the tail of his shirt slightly hanging out. His trousers he wears loose, while his shoes are always immaculately polished. I like that in a shop man, something my dad always drummed into me. He wasn't tall, but he looked powerful and he was able to cradle two phones on either side of his neck while his hands would either type away into his "discount' calculator or write down flight numbers with the Parker pen he got with another insurance policy.
He would sit behind his huge grey and metal desk where you wanted to go and then he would lean back in one of those comfortable recliners, press his fingers together above his chest and pretend to think of the cheapest way he could get you there. Once you knew him, he would let you know that certain pass words would get you certain discounts. "I'll get you a girl for tonight" was always used when you wanted at least 25% knocked off the normal price of the airfare. He once told me that the passwords for getting free accommodation for a fortnight in Brazil were "I'll let you sleep with both my sisters", but I couldn't do it (I don't have two sisters). He would phone people all around the world by dialling three digits repeatedly into the phone. I often wondered if he actually spoke to anyone, but the tickets/vouchers/keys to a car would always turn up when arranged. I felt guilty doubting him sometimes, but when he always asked for cash and didn't give you receipts ("on my word" he would always say). Whatever some people thought, he always got you where you wanted to be.
I haven't been to Moss Moss and Sons in a while now. I can organise trips away through my management or over the internet. I sometimes feel lonely and as if I am taking some huge risk sending my credit card details over the web, but - looking back - it is better than handing a brown paper bag of untraceable tenners to Moss Moss through the special drawer in his desk. As you left the shop he would always shout, "Happy Holidays! If I am not here when you get back it is only because I got so jealous that I followed you out there!" A good man.
I was tired from an excessive weekend in Manchester and was looking a little dishevelled. With nothing but my hold-all, I was dropped off by a friend at the railway station on which I had spent many a long afternoon waiting for the inter-city train to the North. It was on the very same platform that I stood on that evening that Paul Simon wrote 'Homeward Bound'.
Wigan North Western is not an old traditional station in the old-fashioned kind of way, but, instead, it is a modern vision of the modest station that has about as much character as a plinth of cement. That said, this station is absolutely glorious in the summer. The open platforms capture the sun from all directions and the height allows a light breeze to cool you off. Although it is on the fringe of the town, you can still hear a little bit of hubbub, mainly fire engines and the screeching tyres of looney in a built-up car with a stereo turned up so high that their ears bleed. Everything seems to go slow on the platform during these heated months, in fact, it seems to go slow no matter what the time of year it is.
It was far from summer the night I had my show down. Although it was dry, the wind was whipping through the open station with a remorseless fervour. The wind was trying to fool us all. It would die down, then slice across us as we stood waiting for our trains. Time did indeed seem to stand still here, even when you watched the modern clock: the numbers seemed to fall into place much more slowly than you would expect. A woman - her name was Linda and she had a very pretty mouth - made the point that it was a deliberate ploy by the train companies to fool us into thinking that they were on time.
My train was an hour late so I decided to go to the toilet as peeing in that wind would not only splash my shoes, but would actually splash shoes on platforms three, four and five. I lumbered down the stairs with my head tucked into my coat's collar. As I descended the stairs to the ticket office and the toilets I noticed someone watching me. His eyes were narrow, his gait was stiff and his feet were turned at something close to a quarter three. His feet pulled my attention. I didn't mean to stare, but it made me wonder just how his knee joints must have been very loose. I let it go, but found myself walking to the toilet in a Charlie Chaplain-esque way.
As I was shaking off in the toilet the medium sized dynamite of a man with strange feet threw himself into the toilet. His eyes scanned the room for others, his hand pushed the door shut as he shuffled in like a penguin with short steps. I casually put myself away. Threw myself to the right side and went to wash my hands. The man with penguin feet just stood and stared at me. I was letting the warm water run through my hands when the man came along side me and started washing his hands too. It was threatening. His left foot toe was rubbing my heel. I was worried if this was a threat, or worse - a come on. I didn't play either of those game, so I went to the hand-dryer. In a low drawl he said, "You don't remember me Beamer".
Back upstairs, the platform was empty. The wind was rattling through the drinks machine and the platform signs, that hung from the small roof, were squeaking with an eerie regularity. I stood and thought about what he had said in the toilet. I couldn't place him. I couldn't even reply. I never forget feet like that and I still couldn't place him. I stood just two yards from the edge of the platform with my face into the wind, enjoying the exhilaration of the gusts. I felt a toe glide past my heel. He was too close. I had left the toilet with out saying anything to him and he was coming back to get my response. The squeaking platform signs were a soundtrack to the face off of two strangers who had apparently crossed paths before.
I looked at him a little longer and then the penny dropped. It was Mickey 'The Flipper' Thinklewaite, one of the greatest push penny players this side of the Penines. I had broken his unbeaten run of 231 games with a show of flair and determination. I hadn't seen his feet that night, but the memories started flooding back. He had been flanked that night by three to five of his favourite ladies. They toured with him where ever he pushed. They were The Flipper Fluffers and loved the glory and celebrity that came with a great of the game like Mickey. The game was hard and I managed to come back from a five slide deficit to defeat the greatest pusher the game had ever seen. My reign as king of the game was short (only seven games, I didn't train and I was hardly professional when it came to the diet and physical aspects of it), but I enjoyed it as long as it had lasted.
As I shoved the winning penny, I looked up at The Fluffers and they all stepped away from Mickey. Not only did the ladies move away from him, but as they stepped away, the celebrity status slipped away, the glamour lost its sheen and the glory was quickly dimming. That night I enjoyed the company of all the Fluffers: from the bar to the bed and beyond. It was a magic night where I discovered things about myself that I never thought were in me. As I tried to remember that night, I looked into the eyes of the man who now stood opposite me. You could see the flames of hate in his eyes. "Flipper", I said, "I can't believe that I didn't place the face. How's the push? You still got what it takes?" He seemed to seethe. Then he let out a growl which I translated as, "Beamer, you ruined me. I haven't won a game since that night. I haven't spoken to the Fluffers for years. I did see them the other year, but they turned and walked in the other direction. I can't even get my seat at the bar in 'The Stone and Goliath'. I blame you for all this."
His breath was heavy with meths and his eyes still glowed with hate and the fire of retribution. I shrugged - I had beaten him fair and square - and turned to the board to see that my train was going to be a further forty minutes late. As I turned, 'The Flipper' had whipped a tressle table out from under his coat and had thrown a penny on the shiny, laminated top. "Let's slide - I want my dignity back. I want my life back". I told him that I didn't want to play, but he insisted. Or rather he threatened. He pulled the penny under his finger, crouched like a tiger over the table and let his eyes pick the spot. As he pulled back the trigger finger and went to let loose, the wind blasted across the platform and lifted the table from the ground. It smacked into the face of Flipper with a force that Cassius Clay would have been proud of. He grabbed the outside of the table to stop it jabbing him further, but this seemed to turn the two into a human kite or glider. It looked like a plane flying backwards: the table as the wings and his feet like propellers. He seemed to lift and swoop like a swallow chasing flies over a summer meadow. He took a dive at the pair of tracks, but lifted and landed face down on platform three. The table dragged him a full fifteen yards across the platform: his knuckles leaving a trail of blood and flesh from the edge to the door of the station tea bar. Thankfully, only those downwind heard the scream. All I could hear was the sound my train coming in. He turned to look at me. I tried to think of something clever, witty or memorable, but all I could shout back was something so low that I now regret it, "Yeah, push off". Why can I never think of anything decent to say. About an hour later I had a head full of ideas, but it's always too late.
I never heard of or saw 'Flipper' again. No loss there though.
I have always been informed that if you wanted to get in life you had to have shoes that were so polished that you could see the world in the reflection. I ignored my fathers advice for years. Mainly due to the long hours that I spent out in the back shed polishing every pair of shoes that the family (and extended family) owned. Every Thursday, there would be a family visit of sorts: perhaps just my uncle one week, perhaps the entire West Yorkshire chapter of the Beamers. And every Thursday I was told to shine shoes.
You can get away with just lightly dusting some shoes - well, those that only see polish and never see use - but the majority of the time you have to start from scratch. It perhaps because of these four hours spent with three different colours of shoe wax, six different types of brushes and four different types of polishing cloths that I disregarded my fathers advice as merely an excuse to send his middle son into some sort of slavery.
I remember when I was 14 and 4 months, fed up with the paper-round and milk-round money, that I decided to approach some more respected businesses for some sort of gainful employment. Everybody from Cohen's The Solicitors to Hawks the Bespoke Paper makers turned me down flat on sight, with out hearing a word I had to say. I was plotting some sort of mild revenge on all these people who had decided to rain on my hopes and dreams of more money in my pocket.
It was not until I reached Mr Farringbone's Taxidermists that I understood the reason for my dismal results. Mr Farringbone looked me over casually, in his left hand he held my handwritten curriculum vitae and his right hand he held 'Moses The Magic Stoat' (once of the famous touring circus, 'Al Fonto's Fearless Farm of Fun'). He dropped the CV to his side and let out a sigh of exasperation. "Can I be honest with you son?" he asked me, "Now you're exactly what I am looking for. Obviously a little young, but you're eager and you have shown a lot of nerve and initiative by coming in here, but do you think anyone would hire you with shoes like that?" I felt so stupid. I had ignored my father for all these years and he was right all along. I looked down at my pigeon kickers and wondered how I had ever been so stupid. I had no answer for Mr Farringbone, feeling powerless I just slumped in the nearest chair.
Mr Farringbone looked down at me, he obviously could see that I was crest-fallen, and said that should I ever feel like polishing my shoes I could have a job. I eyed him with suspicion and told him to promise. "I'll shake on it", he said while holding out his hand. I had seen in the cinema earlier that week that real men - like cowboys - would spit in their hand to make a deal or to seal a decision. I pulled it from right at the back of my gut and despatched it on my palm. He looked me in the eye with a certain amount of disgust. "For the first polish", I weakly said and shook his right hand with a clumsy left hand. Then instantly dropping to my knees to try and dislodge the inhuman phlegm from the palm of my hand with the heel of my shoe. I knew that I would look ultra keen by cleaning them there in front of him for a while. After a minute of wrestling my palm with my heel I upped and headed home for the first major session of shoe cleaning for the month.
I worked in Farringbones for a good number of my youthful years. All thanks to my shiney shoes. From that point onwards I understood that a man is made by the degree of shine and depth of reflection in a mans shoe. If your shoe can refract light then you are close to having the near perfect polish. If you think that you could push your hand through the blackness and reach nothing then you are even closer to perfection.
Few people understand that shining shoes is a complete science all to it's own. There are methods and materials that some professionals use that you would never dream of using in untrained hands on a precious leather upper. I have travelled the world and witnessed some skilled men make light of heavy work by using techniques that the tradesmen are keen to keep secret and as a member of the brotherhood of shiners I must deny you knowledge too. However, one thing that any shoe shiner, and the greatest shiner of them all - my father - will tell you is that the world with it's obstacles and your enemies will accept you more readily if you can show a shine in your shoe.
There is occasion when you experience less of the usual express visit and more of a prolonged stay that is seldom organised or prepared for. These ill-prepared moments can often leave you staring into walls and making shapes, faces and words in the pattern of the cork board or artexing (I am not religious, but I could swear that in the toilet in my flat in Warrington there is an image of Christ in the cork-board walling that was just beneath the bamboo rimmed mirror). Irritatingly, in public places, this lack of material to hold the attention leads to the seemingly male dominated sport of picking the nose and flicking it onto the wall or door of the toilet cubicle door.
When engaged in the "movements"/"motions", I have often found myself being completely bereft of reading material while executing a prolonged piping. This has lead to reading the labels on the back of every cleansing product and beauty aid on all the reachable shelves. And there are only so many "directions for use" that you can read before you either lose the will to live or the feelings in your legs.
I would always recommend that you keep a publication or two in the toilet. Preferably something that requires little attention, but has significant interest. An example would be a book of lists that could be read in no certain order and could occupy the mind for minutes or hours. Obviously, I am not an advocate of sharing such materials with flat mates or family members. I believe in a singular publication being used by the same person on each visit.
Although this is hardly the worlds most earth shattering advice or the most erudite of philosophy, I think you'll find that you feel a lot more satisfied and a little more intellectually challenged when you leave the arena dedicated to this particular solo sport.
The philosophy of revenge is something that is seldom sweet and based in bitterness, but can fire you with a quick shot of satisfaction that is about as worthless as a dodgy note. That said, when someone ate Boris Wye's lunch on board 'The Clevedon Rose' - a canal boat on the Leeds-Liverpool - there was hell to pay and we all enjoyed the vicious retribution.
It turned out that Mike Plainer, a nasty little shit of a security guard, had given Boris's steak and pickle butties to his illiterate dog, Hamlet. It didn't take long for Boris to work out who had taken his lunch as Mike was keen to crow about it. That night as Hamlet was given a bran and wheat supper with a little bit of laxative, Boris entered 'The Lord Byron' and headed to the snug where we all sat. Mike was in the bar, his three striped shirt and clip on tie looking a couple of sizes too small. He laughed with his pack and ordered more drink. His bald head greased with sweat.
Keen not to be noticed, Boris crept into the toilet with Mike's hat. He had been talked out of leaving a pipe in the hat and instead opted for something with a little more staying power. He had borrowed some permanent dye from one of the factories on the canal and had mixed it with some Vaseline. Using a wooden spoon he smeared the inside of the hat with the mixture, careful not to discolour his own fingers. He crept back to the bar and left the hat back. No one noticed as there was visibly nothing different: Mike's hat was always full of grease.
That evening, Mike pulled his cap tight over his head and went to get Hamlet who was wimpering like a child. The wolf dragged him all the way home: Mike working up a sweat, continually wiping his brow and running his hand over his head. The dye now sinking into his scalp, his forehead, his hands, the back of his neck, the middle of sweating, pores open back, down the crack of his arse, between the cleavage of his manbreasts, around the sunken belly button and along the elasticated mid-drift of his pants.
When he awoke he looked like a fat berry. Purple is the colour of revenge.
I have never understood why men find a damp towel hanging in a kitchen such an obvious weapon of choice. Even the image of a wrist twisting the fabric into a hellish whip of venom and menace fires me with fear and dread.
It's long since Marcus O'Sullivan whipped a chunk of my buttocks from it's familiar position on my rear, but the scar remains and still causes me pain on particularly cold evenings. He regretted it of course: ones fingers trapped in a heated oven door and then battered with a wooden spoon is obvious and genuine retribution. However, Marcus is not - and never will be - the only man to make such an effort with a passive damp cloth.
My philosophy on this is simple: the cloth is for dishes not for twisting, flicking and inflicting pain. Mess with the dish dryer and ruin the karma of the kitchen.
Where I grew up, all I can remember is a grey sky that seemed to go on for days upon months upon years. I only ever read stories of the sun in the books about Gods and Monsters, and even then some Greek bloke had flown too close to it and fell out of the sky (why use wax when you've got Bostick?). Given that, I never felt the glow of the sun on my skin. My great Aunt Vera was the first in the area of have a sun-lap, but I was never allowed to stand in front of it, but it was my job to hold it for hours at a time for a packet of sweets and a penny for my trouble.
I used to dream of the sun, but never saw it. I therefore grew up a boy with little knowledge of whether I would be anything or little knowledge of what I could see in truer light. I think that that made me the man I am today. Back then I had nothing to break my heart. I seemed not to want for something that I could never get. I didn't think that I wanted to fly like the Greek because he had tried too hard and had fallen from the sky. Having fallen from Uncle Garth's backyard wall near the railway I understood what it was to fall from the sky and I didn't want it.
I remember it being my tenth birthday and I was taken to Liverpool to meet my Dad's family and see the famous Anfield. I didn't care for football and never have, but my Dad made it sound like an adventure. When we arrived in to the town, we headed down to the docks to meet my Uncles and waited under the Liver Buildings. It was then that I saw the sun. it broke through the maddening, angry black cloud that seems too hang only over the shore side towns. It broke through and hit me sending a thrill of warmth. I closed my eyes and lost myself in the bright blindness. That same day my dad bought me my first atlas and I saw places around the world that I wanted to find the sun in.
When the sun didn't shine from the sky, I opened up that Atlas and let the sun from the pages warm my face and fill my head full of dreams. It never brightened outside my house, but within the light was so bright that you had to cover your eyes. People have always said that I have had a sunny disposition and that is why. Always an optimist... whether some-ones pissing on my chips or it's raining on my parade I'll look for something bright in it. Even if it is the slow warm and quietly ungratifying sense of revenge.
While on a bus across the great city of Glasgow, on the way to a gig of a band I was manager of at the time, I witnessed one of the finest lines I am ever to have heard.
The bus was packed with the working men leaving early for their suppers and mothers escorting their children home after their sporting endeavours. There were few seats left as we approached a stop outside what seemed to be a club called "Cleopatras". What stepped on the bus was no Queen of the Egyptians. Two females jumped on the bus with builds that could have fought in a welter weight fight. They pulled three small children on board with them, argued with the driver and then headed for the rear of the bus where three seats were left vacant.
As they squashed into the seats and continued their adult conversation the smallest of the children let out an obscenity that not even I can repeat here. As the bus reeled with the shock, one of the women - presumably the mother - grabbed the young by the sleeves of his jumper and growled into his face, 'Ho! Wee baws. I"ll cut ye" free of yer manhood if I hear any more of that.'
I was so tickled by the quote that later that evening I tried to use it myself when the owner of the club tried to refuse me payment for the band. Needless to say, it left me convinced that such phrases uttered by a woman has far more impact and affect.