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)