It’s a new generation of electric white boy blues – 30th August 1994

I’m shattered, we’ve been at Reading Music Festival for the last four days. Tenting down in the dust and dirt, eating half cooked veggie burgers in a sea of tin cans and plastic food containers as a thousand people walk by you in the blink of an eye, on their way to getting pissed at eight in the morning or coming down off the previous night’s high.

Crusty scroungers push a pram full of puppies in search of free amber nectar or tar of any sort. A hundred young girls queued for the seven or eight toilets, from six in the morning, daring each other to go in the one second from the end. People slept where they fell and some fell in the bushes where people pissed. Some never slept and others slept through while their favourite band was playing.

In the arena was a comedy tent, the Melody Maker tent and the main stage and you’d be lucky if you could get anywhere near any of them. Well, we did get to see Sebadoh’s guitar breaking set which was about the most exciting thing all weekend. In fact time did seem to drag at certain points but we were kind of happy that we had nothing to do except drink and relax, and occasionally running across to the record fair to the nice clean toilets.

First thing to do when camping with 50,000 other people must find a decent toilet which other people don’t know about. Most people had to pay a pound to go in the record fair but we just slipped in each time claiming to work there. Of course, we had plenty of friends in there, Simon, Rich, Baz, Gaz, Mark, John and his wife; we even got roped in to do Simon’s stall for part of Saturday morning.

Anyway, on the campsite we came up with Rob, Rich, PJ and Warren, who none of us knew and didn’t hang around that much. On Sunday, joined by Chrissy, Sharon, Selena, John, Tina and Rob who out drank us as we slept through their insane partying; I wish we could’ve stayed awake on that last night but we’d just had enough by then.

We eventually left on Monday morning after a very nice man helped us get the car started. A beautiful bath and an hours sleep saw us into the evening but we exhausted of all energies and just kind of lazed on into bed, Broni reading me love poems as I drifted off once again into unconsciousness.

And then today is still slow as we clean up the house in preparation for David and Louise coming down soon and then Kerry’s return tomorrow. Things are starting to seem much bigger now as we have only four weeks to go before I leave – it’s scary. Yeah, it’s scary, kind of huge.

I was sat in PJ’s campervan drunk and stoned and it hit. These guys here, I’m going to miss them. Not so easy to just ring up and gossip, and I’ll miss out on the tiny stories, the little things that help you understand what people are like, the details, you know the bits between the lines. When you communicate over a great distance you feel like you just want to mention the really important things, big things, but I’ll be wishing to hear the other things too.

Some cats are fat cats, what we gonna do? – 29th August 1994

Short Story

The fat evil cat ate the little timid mouse, except for the tail, said “yum yum.” The cat was too fat and on proceeding to walk, fell over – dead. Mrs Smith-Jones (interesting name) buried her poor pussy in a quiet patch under the apple tree. But unfortunately she got her foot stuck in the hole she had dug. There she grows now. Blossoming in beauty. The children climb her branches to collect the best apples in the orchard. But Farmer Giles (interesting name) often shoots them out of the trees for target practice. The moral of this story is don’t eat mice.

On Steve – 25th August 1994

The pub is vibrant, people are smiling and dancing. It’s New Year’s Eve 1992. I don’t recall the circumstances that took us there, where the place is or what happened there. Our circle of friends were gathering to welcome in the new year in style. Myself, Fatty and Paul Simmons, we were the outsiders travelling up from Dorset to join the Hampshire crew of Rich, Rob, Steve, Chrissie, John, Selina, Dave and Holty. Our connection was music, whether performing, promoting, or watching.

Tonight, however was a celebration of friendship. While everyone was rolling around drunkenly, at about 11 o’clock Steve and I agreed it was time to leave. We wanted to get away from the gaggle, have a quiet space in which to exchange ideas. We just said to each other let’s go back to the house and talk. We both knew what we meant. It was a poetic moment, we both wanted to thrash out ideas and ideals and open each other up in a way that I’ve never found with anyone else, lay ourselves bare, vulnerable, emotions visible.

So we walked back through the empty dark streets, each house and home having their own little private celebrations for the new year. We got to Holty’s house where everyone would be coming back to after the pub shut, we walked in to the living room, I sat on the sofa lounging back slightly drunk. Steve sat crossed legged on the floor, a fine upright muscular figure, I can see his silhouette now. He took out some hash and rolled up a fine joint of skunk weed as we set off on our journey into each others souls.

While not invasive or offensive, we voyeur each others thoughts. We find truth and beauty in what each of us has to say and our relationship develops into something special. He tells me how he used to look up to me when he saw me years ago at gigs and I say I can’t believe it, not understanding that I might affect people in that way. I don’t even remember him from then and even when we toured Europe together with our respective bands I didn’t get much chance to make friends, though I was probably too wrapped up in myself to have noticed anyone else.

I don’t recall the reasons that he looked up to me and they are not so important now anyway. But right then, right when he told me, the roles reversed and I started to look up to him. I loved his bright enthusiasm, the relentless energy, on later occasions at his house we’d talk everyone, to sleep, then sit up til 4am when I would protest that I needed rest but he said no, we must carry on talking. Sleep is the enemy, a favourite saying from Kerouac.

At midnight, we welcomed in the new year, I’d rifled Holty’s varied collection of CDs and played Madonna, Half Man Half Biscuit and Mud, me trying to convince Steve they were ahead of their time and probably one of the very first punk bands, it all seemed to make perfect sense at the time – hey, I was a little drunk and stoned!

A while later the rest of the circus came back from the pub in very high spirits, a party erupted around us and we gladly joined in. Paul was the first to puke (I’m not sure if anyone else did, and Rob eventually fell asleep under the chair of the three peice suite before everyone dumped him in the cupboard under the stairs (or did he go there of his own accord, I forget now?)), his socks left to turn to ice in the freezer (or were they Rich’s?).

One clear memory is Steve reprimanding me for being out of order when I must of said something insulting about someone, I was a very sarcastic son of a bitch back then and thanks to him I changed my ways slowly over the next year or so. I began to respect him even more.

His few letters to me reflected our conversations and I once wrote a six page letter of thoughts and ideas at his request, it was regarding an article he sent me from a newspaper. He was amazed at the huge amount of points I’d raised that he said he would never have thought of, from then we would make demands of each other, more and more, we had to know each other’s ideas and then bounce them around. We were grasping at life, getting a hold on it, looking for meaning, looking for happiness. Steve found it too a lot of the time and slowly I did as well, trying to emulate his outlook and zest for adventure. He loved and married Chrissie, took on the role of father to Chrissy’s daughter Amanda, and then to their daughter Rebecca. He was a real role model for me, changing over the years from a wild youth always in trouble to the most gentle, caring man who loved life to the full. And you know, that sounds just like me.

Steve is giving us a quick conducted tour of the bedroom. He’s keen to show off his pride and joy, daughter Rebecca, sleeping softly wrapped in blankets in the cot. Her 3 month old tiny lungs take short shallow restful breaths.

While Steve is pointing the camera at tiny Rebecca’s face, his hand comes into view and he points his 24 year old finger at her and then sticks his 24 year old thumb up. Proud father, lucky child.

The tour is a glimpse into a private life, not really a show for friends but the capture of a moment trapped in sound and vision for that old age memory loss time, a reminder of beautiful things that affect life profoundly.

Continuing on our tour, lots of short dialogues (excerpt ends)

See, nobody loves me, not like I do – 24th August 1994

3 shorts

Clean the baby heads, oil the machine. Drowning in a sea of sick ain’t my idea of a party. They just wanna party on your face and when the morning comes they’ll say goodbye, for another year. And that’s it. Bye.

I could really use some company now. The company of a cigarette. Goddamn stuff’s killing me and I’m pretending it’s the only thing that keeps me alive. Where’s the lighter?

The dream entailed myself and a friend on a night out and soon my friend disappeared into the mists of the night. Disappeared with someone else, some other character with more charm than myself. More interesting. More fun to be with.

My friends pretend to be my friends because they pity me. But now that pity doesn’t count. I can stand on my own two feet tonight and I don’t need my friends pitying me anymore. I pity them for the selfish, arrogant, pretentious bastards that they are.

Tonight, I’m gonna party.

The twentieth century foxes slut around in their topless leather skirts. Parading their wares along the grotty streets of each town’s ghetto. The shit and the rain slides along the gutter and down into the bottomless pit. Customer’s come and go.

Business booms when the misery descends on the town in the shape of grey clouds. They hang above everybody’s head. As visible as the money in their pockets. Effective relief from the trappings of modern society. It’s difficult to imagine these people belong to the same human race as myself. I need some relief.

Society’s glue bag smothers – 23rd August 1994

The alarm goes off every three minutes, this morning we listen to it for an hour. Broni eventually getting out after a quick roll around and as she spreads the curtains open I simultaneously hide my head under the pillow to block out the light and go back in search of the Sandman. I play in my dreams for a half-hour or so til I stir to the smell of coffee, I sit up in bed and watch Broni get dressed. Soon she’s whirlwinded off for her last day before a week off and I sip my coffee and read another chapter of Burroughs. I don’t have half a clue as to what’s going on in the book but it’s strangely addictive. Each paragraph or sentence provides vivid imagery for the mind to play with and the story kind of develops in a series of snapshots. Unusual.

I’m disappointed this morning that the sun isn’t shining and as I write, now afternoon, it’s only just starting to peek through the clouds. With plenty to do, I ride on up to the post office, over the small park that is surrounded by busy roads, to be honest, this park offers no peace from the bustle and taking a picnic there would be ludicrous.

Next, down to the bank to deposit more money and I dodge in and out of the traffic, jumping on and off the pavement to avoid parked cars, needless to say, I make it down into town as quick as any of the cars.

The slight drizzle obscures my sight through my glasses but it’s neither cold nor really that wet. Back across Poole Park, now empty of tourists, the place looks tragic, reliant on sunshine for business, England’s tragedy (or maybe saving grace).

Back home Broni rings to tell me that our tickets are ready for collection at the travel agent. Back in town. Without complaint I, this time, just walk back through the park. A few more people now as the rain moves on, but no one out on the boats yet. I imagine rolling out into the middle of water and just floating, free. Read a book, read it aloud so the sky can hear.

On Sunday when Broni, Rob and myself came through the park we saw in the distance some kites in the sky, except one didn’t have the normal kite shape and from where we were stood it looked to me like someone had ripped a hole in the sky and the more I looked at it the more real it seemed. I was expecting time travellers to fall through the rip and bring us news of the future, but shit, it probably wouldn’t be great news would it? Or maybe they would tell us of a new life, a separate existence where things are good in people did coexist happily. I guess that theory is just a bit harder to imagine. See how poisoned our minds are by today’s bullshit. I can see it and I hope everyone else can but I think I probably credit people with too much intelligence. Still, the people I have time for are those that can see it (should I make time for the others?).

So I picked up the tickets and read a few magazines and pondered whether it was worth buying a huge box of chocolates, opting not to in the end when realising what other things you can buy for the same price. Our groceries for a week cost less than the box, but hell they also cost less than a bottle of good wine!

Back across the park, now warmer and brighter and therefore busier. I rode over the other side of the lake yesterday looking for good shots with the video and beautiful though the park is, from that angle the park is dwarfed by the high-rise blocks of the hospital and the nursing home and a million other buildings towering over the trees. Of course, on that side where most of the people gather you’re looking the other way, over the railway line and out into the harbour. And today as I walk over I suck back and choke on leaded octane sputtering out from some tourists car. Can’t someone come up with a better way to travel? And then try to sell it to the English public, hah! And back home the trains still roll by.

Hope is such a desperate emotion to cling to. But I wonder if there is any hope for the future. Not for my future, I have clear ideas about my future. For the future of the world? How long before God puts an end to the insanity rife in mankind? Armageddon is promised by most religions – can you say you will survive the cleansing?

Are you good at heart? Do you believe in yourself? Why do I ask?

Two men kidnap a 15-year-old female German student, drive her at knifepoint to an industrial estate where they both rape her, knife to the throat. You know the story, we’ve all heard it. It makes me hate. It makes me hate being a man, male, macho. I want to reject my sex. I want to cut the dicks of every one of those scumfuck rapists and molesters, tear out their burning eyes and wrench out their perverted thoughts, suck out their chemical imbalance, and I don’t want to see them in jail – I want them dead.

I want women to rule the world, no woman thinks with a dick. It seems like no hope for the future, will the rapists, the robbers, the killers, the connivers rule the world? I think they already do, the rule of fear, born in the 20th century. Armageddon seems appropriate.

What strength we need now, to show our children a better way. We all think we know best and sometimes you should listen to that advice your enemy might be giving you. They may have a point. What strength then to shoulder criticism. What insight to point our way towards the light. We can do it. We know we can, we’ve been programmed to forget how. Mickey Mouse told you to forget, Coca-Cola too. Now is the time to remember.

The Hope Conspiracy

If hope was a bottled tonic
It would be made illegal
“Got any hope, mate?”
Someone would be making a tidy sum
Selling it on street corners
To consumers ready to buy
In need of that fix to get high
And soon people would be stealing
Off each other, smashing piggy banks
For every last cent
Just to get some hope
Killing each other in the queue
Lining up for another fix of hope
Hope – sinister
Hope – deadly
Hope – death

My time held dreams were full of you – 22nd August 1994

For some reason, on Friday we felt in celebratory mood and blew the expense. I tailed it down to the bottle shop and picked us up a bottle of Seaview sparkling wine and a bottle of Wolf Blass Chardonnay, a beautiful tasting dry white wine, oak and butterscotch flavour with no bite at all and anyone who says wine has got to have a bite should try this stuff.

We ate and drank and because of our usual rush we polished off the Seaview before 7 o’clock so ran up to the shop and picked up a couple of videos to watch, content we were on a pleasant night in. So we proceeded to finish off the Wolf Blass during the first movie which I don’t recall its name or even what it was about but in my dim memory, I do remember it being good, entertainment-wise.

I made us a smoke while Broni talked to David on the phone, how she managed to be coherent she has no idea! She was very drunk and was also sick soon after getting off the phone, but she convinced me she was okay and we had a smoke and sat down to watch the next film, which I do remember was Jacob’s Ladder. Unfortunately, we had to cut short as Broni sicked up all the lovely food we’d eaten into her clean white dress!

I put her to bed and watched some more of the movie but was worried some that my little girl might stop breathing in her sleep, smoking paranoia, so jumped in bed beside her and put my hand on her chest so’s I could feel her breathing. In my paranoia, I lay awake for an hour or so, my mind racing at the size of my situation, and the immense task ahead in the following 12 weeks or so. These thoughts hit me at odd moments, surprisingly not too often, I don’t seem to be too worried at all. In fact, I think it will be when I get there things might take on a different outlook. Like for the first three or four months, things will still be new and vital and fresh but then your normal humdrum existence routine might take over and it’s then I’ll start thinking about home and my friends (while I’m here I’ve been calling Oz home!) Anyway, too fucking late by then, hey!?

Saturday day time slips us by with us just buying some shorts to wear in Rhodes. Fuck, I can’t believe we’re going there. I couldn’t have foreseen such great adventure a couple of years ago that’s for sure. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever been on a holiday of this sort (to Rhodes). I’ve only ever been out of this country for about a week before, back in 1989 I think it was when the band went on tour into Holland and Belgium. Still that’s the madness of the age, reckon?

Gradually people started turning up at the house for our planned Indian meal out, so it was, all the record fair crew turned up, Simon, Rich, Baz, Gaz, Mark, Roger and Adelaide and soon after Rob too. Excellent – everyone as expected, it really fills me that these people, who some I don’t really know that well, make the effort to come and see me before I leave, I should say ‘we’ and ‘us’ there because they come to see Broni too. In fact I must apologise to her now if she may feel left out of this diary in my writings, we’re really a unit and where I may write ‘I’ and ‘me’, you can be fairly certain I mean ‘us’ and ‘we’. Do you feel how bloody brilliant she makes me feel, do you recognise that feeling? No amount of petty squabbles dim my love for her.

Well, Gaz and particularly Baz were on rocking hot form tonight and had us choking on our food while we ate, with their jokes and comedy routines. Every little thing you said was turned into a joke of some sort, we laughed til our sides were aching. And time passed us so quickly again that we only had time for one drink in the pub before we had to make our way back and we all crammed into the front room and continued with the jokes and coffees until the early hours, listening to Django Reinhardt much to Baz’s dismay! Very relaxing and therapeutic.

All the guys had gone except Rob who woke us up with breakfast and then fed, we walked down through the park to watch people lazying away their Sunday’s walking dogs, flying kites and taking in the sun. There’s been some powerboat racing around the harbour and also out on the sea over to the Isle of Wight. We fed up again in the Jolly Sailor, ambling slowly back to the park where we endangered ourselves with more fun by hiring out a row boat and rode ourselves into the night. No, not really. We rowed over to the other side to catch the cygnets and then back around everywhere, like Rob says, covering every inch of water.

Sunday is a fun day on our agenda, me and Broni feel like we’re on permanent holiday. Rob leaves us to go and practice with Fatty. They’re writing some songs together which sound good from what Rob’s told me. I’ve also told Rob not to get involved in any gossip Fatty might indulge in, didn’t explain that very well but the idea is that Rob doesn’t get emotionally involved in any bullshit between me and Fatty. I told Rob that it’s not my problem, which I truly believe, and as far as I’m concerned if he wanted to be friends now that’s no problem with me but apparently Fatty still has some bee in his bonnet that I can’t be forgiven for and some of the things I have heard are plain ridiculous. If I told you it all you’d think it was real school playground stuff. All I need to say is that the guy’s not very forgiving (for whatever it is I’ve done cos I still don’t know!)

Me and Broni laxed out the rest of the night, oh, actually we went up to the movies and saw The Mask which was great entertainment, with excellent animation and reasonable story too.

Ah, Monday morning, just me and Django and my imagination, life’s soooooo good!

No time – 21st August 1994

I’ve got no time for the cynical
They’re destined for sad lonely deaths
With only their neighbour attending their funerals
Out of politeness

I’ve got no time for the bitter
Resentment is a longer word for regret
When forgiveness is so far away
Things are sometimes better left unsaid

I’ve got no time for the close-minded
Their emotional fascism and the fact
That I could never be right
Or allowed to be wrong

I’ve got no time for the stubborn
I’m not joining them at their wall
My head already hurts enough now
But things are never that bad

I have time for all the rest
To fill my heart, to feed my soul
To conquer those set to divide us
From our goal.