Every day would get thrilliner and thrilliner – 5th May 1994

sidenote: Remember this mad bad blues band?

It’s all a blur of frenzied activity but here’s the gist. Stocktake over and it’s a glorious sunny day. I get drunk and talk to lady next door while Broni is off talking jumpers and work with Rosemary (getting good possible offers of work). I’m asleep drunk, tired and sun-scorched. Broni returns and we, with John, opt for Indian fool and blues music but we flake it early on and it’s back to dreamtime.

Next glorious sunny day and it’s down to Bournemouth and the record fair to see our friends Barry and Gary, being their usual fun selves. Happy and laughing we came out richer in pocket and in heart. Checked out the beach half searching for cynical Rich in his sandwich board. Back home to our sunny backyard before mad motorway dash once again to watch grown men run around with a football for 90 minutes. This being Steve’s memorial football match. Me, I’m grumpy but enjoyed talking to Chrissy and Karl Barry. Soon home again via mothers and back into bed.

Early morning rise and straight to the beach for early morning coffee (I actually pack for parcels of records before we leave – up very early today). In search of decent food, we spend a fortune at Safeways and proceed to drink away the day in the backyard, with brief excursions into football and kite flying with John and Sarah and Morbaina (this cool Zimbabwean dude). On into the night and we barbecue with our new roommate Simon and we drink and drink. Phew!

Up at five next morning to get Broni on the bus to London and then into work – I’m really pissed off and run off a series of poems before I start to feel very ill and decide to come home. I talked to Broni and tell her I miss her (very much). Hightail highway again, this time to go see Rollins Band in Portsmouth with all the crew. Tony buying beer and Selena not drinking?! Dig play and impress, Rollin’s music doesn’t impress but his presence is awesome. Not totally overawed though!

On return to Eastleigh, me and Rob fight sleep and talk about life and its people till three or so. Rich and Rob go off to work and I read magazines and play records to my aching heart’s content.

Broni rings and seems happy and I hope to see her later in London. I go off to Chrissy’s and try to keep Amanda busy – she is in a particular spoiled brat mood – dear girl. Rebecca is a beauty though! Ah! Chrissy feeds me and I must dash off to collect Rob for another roadbuster to mighty city to see old pals Victims Family. I talked my goddamn head off in the fat London traffic while Rob directs. Soon there inside gig we sell poetry to eager punters and watch Victims Family plough through their last set of their tour. I talked to Ralph for a while, he says they hope to get to Australia someday. I also meet that old dude Rob from Corby and chat before we exit during Grotus’ set.

On the streets, everyone’s celebrating Arsenal’s European victory and I ring Broni at Piers’ and organise a quick visit. Down the road, we enter this huge house and into Piers’ cool yuppie type flat, adorned with great obscure works of art. Broni is a bit self-conscious but that’s okay – soon on again then and coffeed up we drive any old ways out of town. Twice awake and half asleep. A great conversation on the way home reminds me of talking to Steve again! I dash straight to Poole after dropping Rob and back to beautiful bed! Soon awoken by beautiful Broni’s early morning call and knowledge that she returns tonight.

You’re my only friend, and you don’t even like me – sometime in April 1994

I don’t like no-one, well except for you

A wild and willing 16-year-old, somehow I got into town and searched out like-minded comrades in teenage delinquency, knowing they would be gathering at Capones, a hotel room situated atop a dirty multi-storey car park in the centre, up from the church where you’d find green-haired youths sitting on gravestones with their bottles of Merrydown. Like joining any cult I knew no one but was accepted immediately as a member because I had already made the choice, they recognised the signs, the ripped clothes, the safety pins and messed up hair, so they joined me as much as I joined them.

So I talked to someone who had patches on their sleeves of names that I recognised and made friends. I told of my knowledge of American bands of this hardcore genre and this guy suggested I meet his friend and so started at long close friendship, that very night him being recruited to play bass guitar in the band Shock To The System and me later joining them when they changed their name to Atrox (shock); all through this friendship that started in that dim hall.

Young and rebellious we rejected the ways of our parents (ha!) and strove for a better world (in our ignorant teenage minds). Through dramas and drugs we were close in outlook and preferences, taking trips down to Bournemouth in the evenings of our early twenties to look back and wonder where this new new generation was going wrong. (I later realised it was us who were going wrong but that’s a longer story).

Proud and cynical we thrived off each other’s dark outlooks, revelling in the glory of life’s disaster. Myself the more adventurous of the pair I took initiatives when needed and we helped each other through several bands and a couple of publications. To look back now and see the tiny streams of change is easy, though I didn’t recognise them as such then, they soon turned into rivers which would not be turned back and this year would be the crucial year in our separation as friends.

The emotional heartache I went through was tough but I realised that by trying to remain friends was like paddling the canoe against the tide, no matter how hard I tried to make it up the river I was always pushed back, and what kind of friendship is that, when all effort is countered? I turned the canoe around and found myself in the vast oceans of love and warmth that others offered me. Myself as Mr Cynical was no more.

pic: screenshot from this video taken in January 1984 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNll6PtC9qM – where I bounce around in front of the band Confessions of Sin, proudly showing off my hand-made Better Youth Organisation t-shirt. I thought I was really something – I was really something else.

Cult Maniax, Screaming Dead, Butcher, Self Abuse – Capones, Bournemouth – 26th November 1983

The Cult Maniax bass player was so drunk he had to play slumped in his chair, often also with his girlfriend on his lap. A dedication to alcohol, that was a key part of the UK punk scene at the time.

I found Butcher a little bit one-dimensional after a while but loved Self Abuse. Shock To The System were my favourites though. They just had something a little special that separated them from the rest. I was soon to make friends with them.