Horizon is oblivious – 19th August 1994

Hey, hey, hey, back to the old typewriter to save ma poor wrist, which is, as a matter of fact, feeling much better, thank you very much. Now’s a Friday, another week rushes by. It’s great to be at home, even if this house doesn’t feel much like home, at least it’s not at work right? And it’s a shame the poor Broni has to leave me each morning to go to her work but I get up at the same time too and organise myself.

Broni did try and leave me lists of things to do but I’m proving to her that I am a domesticated little bunny anyway and even presented her with a delicious curry meal last night that I slaved over in the kitchen (not true really, I just picked some recipe and cooked ’em, this cooking business is a piece of piss if you’ve got all the ingredients – that’s the hardest thing to organise I reckon and I remember zip from doing Home Economics at school).

We got into our heads we were going to get on a train and travel around Scandinavia until Wednesday when Broni got home from work early and we dashed into town to find out info when it dawned on us quite how expensive it was going to be and how little time we had to organise (time and organisation – keywords in my life right now). So we walked across the street into a travel agent and booked us a ticket to Rhodes – just like that, no messing about here. No time, no organisation!

We both talked to Rob for ages that night as prom music blasted out from the TV – Cool! I typed up my column for the STE Bulletin next day which was my first use of a normal typewriter in a zillion years, can’t beat computers. Hopefully, it will stir a few people up. You know, sometimes I write down some stuff and just run along thought processes and end up with some really enlightened stuff, stuff I wouldn’t normally think of. I wonder how I can run that process without having to write it down. It would be a definite advantage to be able to analyse the situation immediately but my mind’s always in such a blur of speed (not the drug) that thoughts get lost before they’re even thunk! Broni calls me impulsive, which is probably nicer than what some people would call it!

If ugliness is all you see you can just tear out your eyes – 16th August 1994

Five days is often too long a period of time to recall some events and with the blur of the weekend that passed, anything beyond is lost without a struggle, ‘cept I remember Broni had the Friday off work and we went into town. I remember the bookshop and that’s it! Lettuce and coriander also trigger those memory cells. Aha – recall we got stoned in the evening and a bottle of sparkling wine! Needless to say, we fell asleep after that!

On Saturday we found ourselves back in Southampton with the intention of sorting through poems with Rob but we got diverted by music and cooking for the bands playing tonight’s gig. Time flies by with some way cool conversation concerning certain columns for the next S.T.E. gig bulletin (and Rob’s cool one for the current bulletin).

Me and Broni go via Selinas to drop off our gear then give her a lift to the gig. Lots of people, lots of noise, standard gig by the S.T.E. standards, unfortunately no bands really shine out except maybe Thirst who now sound much fuller with Phil moving over to second guitar and Crispin coming in on bass. More practice and confidence and they’ll be cool for sure.

Sooner or later (and me much drunker) we head back to Selina’s with support band Travis Cut in tow and things start to liven up and develop into a mini raging party with various people dancing round the dining room table to Rocket from the Crypt. The last time I see a clock, it’s about 2am, I’m sure I crawl up onto a bed in the middle of a conversation and curl into the fetal position only five minutes later but find out next day it was nearer 4 o’clock.

Awake at nine we find Rob crashed at the top of the stairs, no blanket, no nothing – mad boy! Rich at the bottom of the stairs claiming victory over sleep with a 6 o’clock touchdown after chatting to Selena through the last couple of hours. Johnny on the floor, who I take pity on by farting in his sleeping bag, much to Rich’s amusement and poor Johnny got relegated to the floor cause I wussed out on his bed, Broni joining me soon after apparently – I was out for the count!

Time doesn’t stand still for us anyway and before you can say Canned Heat we’re on the road again, this time too Welham Green, a tiny pretty village near St Albans, to meet another of Broni’s cousins, Purdy, her boyfriend, the strong silent softy Duncan, along with Piers and Isobel. We are zombied to some extent and the day takes on a very relaxing shape with a salad and quiche in the quiet garden while next door’s racing pigeons practice circle manoeuvers overhead and little ones running around keeping us entertained.

And here we got our first wedding gift – a beautiful blown glass bowl that we can only guess the expense of – amazing subtle colours that sparkle in the sunlight. And then, after Piers and Isobel depart, we walk off our lunch across fields, woods and streams, sun glorious in its life-bringing, the fields open up and reveal the earth and its true freedom (imprisoned and abused by man for most of us). Life couldn’t be simpler and lost I was in the beauty of it all.

And now as I write and in my dreams last night, one phrase repeats round and round my head, “If ugliness is all you see you can just tear out your eyes” (Flag of Democracy).

We get home after a 2 1/2 hour drive and slip-slide in the warm soothing waters of our bath before dozing off into dreamworld. Our minds reliving each second of each day to try and catch a memory and keep it and hold it forever (save writing it down), lost in the blur mostly. Write your book of dreams, friends.

Kept in line with truncheons, rifle butts and truncheons – sometime in April 1994

Shorthaired Johnny was being as obnoxious as ever, talking dicks and innuendo, Mr Entendre. Stomping around in bovver boots and his white T-shirt freshly laundered tucked into his jeans, new tattoos still scabby and iridescent. His big grin splits his head in half like the smiley planet from Moonshadow, and always attached to one hand or the other a can of lager (sometimes substituted for Guinness, sometimes tequila).

His eyes wide in a mad amphetamine haze, brain desperately taking in information like a wide angle lens but concentration is still good, unlike wife Selena whose strange tangents I cant keep up with, and mouth in fast forward, all else too drunk to get their words in edgeways, so while pondering her last statement she’s off again on the next story (which, we all laugh, all start ‘one time, when I was drunk’). She’s in black I think, hair wild, rocky horror and while we slam tequila she fills her glass with it and pours in some wine for good measure and sips slowly between stories, my guess that one drink lasting all night.

Her friend Lisa, the spitting image, drunkenly believes everything she’s being told and confused sitting out the side for awhile. We’re round the dining room table within reach of the fridge for more beers, and the kitchen is right there too for food and coffees, Rich, sober Rich, sipping caffeine at the start of his straightedge kick, despite his sobriety he’s laughing and playing too, laughing at himself as he says ‘well at least you guys have got an excuse (for acting like we are) you’re drunk!’ This straight edge suits him but somehow seems out of place amongst this rabble of drunkenness.

Broni, sober till midnight, is ever smiling and laughing at the merriment, she sits next to Selena, so like the rest of us Selena is talking to, we don’t get words in. I sit there too with Broni, hardly saying anything, stoned as we are and getting immediately drunk with these slammers and beers now strewn across the table.

At the other end sit three guys out of the band that played in town that night, willing and capable comrades in this action. I know not their names but let me describe instead.

One is blonde and rough, hair stuck straight up in air, black denim dressed, drunk and with a broad Scottish accent, I have no idea what he’s saying but it’s fun watching him stumble round the room, confusing Lisa, but I see later they are talking more properly.

Another Scottish fellow has short cropped hair, an altogether more sensible looking man in jeans and T-shirt (probably), except that here we double-take, he lowers his head shaved into the crop is a question mark, which explains is great if anyone asks you a question you’re not sure how to answer, just lowering skull for the quizzer to make their own mind up, these amused our drunken minds immensely.

Last is an American guy who reminds me of American guys, only in looks not in actions, I talk with him some but now it’s gone to hangover land.

Finally Rob is flitting around the table making conversations with anyone and everyone, he sits and listens patiently and then talks directly back with earnest, occasionally lifting his finger to gently push his glasses back at the bridge of his nose, sliding down as they would in the heat of this madhouse. Rob has to be commended as we find out in the morning he was up talking with Selena, who is totally faced and he’s drunk at the start and sober by the end, he goes to sleep about 15 minutes before we wake him up again, willingly making us coffees.

And some tunes blasting out through all the madness, in the other room (into the hall and there) John is shouting out with his loudest three in the morning voice ‘kept in line with truncheons, rifle butts and truncheons, this is state control, this is state control’, no one else deigning to join in, but back in the kitchen we raise ourselves out to chair stupor to jive to the sounds of the Rocket from the Crypt, those guys know how to drink therefore they know how to make music for drunkers.

And it’s here and then, in this wreckage, I realise what great friends I have around me, from my beautiful sweetheart, gentle soul-searching Rob, sober Rich, whether you’re in trouble or just in need of a beer. My loss, and Broni’s too, will be great when we have to say goodbye to them as we leave for sunnier climes, but you can guess that on that last night is going to be one hell of a party!

*Shutdown, Thirst!, Flaming Katie – Joiners, Southampton, Hampshire, UK – 16th April 1994

Rich Levine: This was an emotional night. Steve’s memorial gig (there was also another remembrance gig around the same time at our old school Alderman Quilley in Eastleigh) saw his old band THIRST! continue with Philip Beevers from CHICKEN-BONE CHOKED joining. If we didn’t love the SHUTDOWN guys (Neil Cox, Christian Burton) already then them coming from Worcs to play this benefit gig for pretty much nothing cemented that feeling. FLAMING KATIE (Russell Pataki) played too & it was a night of both tears but also togetherness in friendship when this very close-knit scene came out to show their love and commemorate. Prior to his passing, Steve had planned to put out a poetry zine. In the aftermath, Rob & Shaun put this out as a tribute to Steve under the name ‘40,000 Reasons For Living’ (the title came from a line in the R.E.M. song ‘Texarkana’ which was played at Steve’s funeral) & the cover of the zine used the burning house photo that was on the sleeve of fIREHOSE’s ‘Ragin’ Full On’ LP. The same photo was used as the backdrop for this gig flyer.

*STE Bulletin 23 – 2nd February 1994

Mr Cynical, miserable old git, eh? There’s been a lot of talk in the bulletins recently, about friends, especially since one of our greatest friends, Steve Burgess, passed away. I too have been thinking about friends. Friends, by nature, are friendly. They reassure you and respect you. They can also point out your faults without holding a grudge, or without putting you down, so as you still feel good about yourself. They don’t hold you responsible for their own problems and they are willing to accept change.

Steve Burgess was sometimes disheartened by the punk scene, due to its lack of acceptance of change or new ideas, i.e. closed-mindedness. What do us old-time punks do? The ones who were there years ago? Do we disassociate ourselves from what is happening now and reminisce about the glory days, or do we put in our efforts and make those glory days again (and again)? I think those wishing for the old days are closed-minded and unable to accept change. I also think that is their right but what I’m afraid of is the poison that can be spread. It is easy to criticise our scene – it is easy to criticise anything. It is also hard to ignore unconstructive criticism. Doubts start to nag, “Is it worth it? Why do we bother?” Let’s reject those ideas – they are not for our scene. One of Steve’s favourite sayings was “It’s all punk rock, innit?” meaning that whatever we did, whatever we do – it’s still punk rock. We are not trapped by the term but released from it. Can you accept change? Can you be my friend?

*Chicken-Bone Choked, Older Than Dirt – Joiners, Southampton, Hampshire, UK – 18th December 1993

Rich Levine: “THIRST! were due to play but had to pull out late on as Steve was ill……Initially, it was thought that Steve’s illness meant THIRST! couldn’t play the gig was pleurisy. Tragically & suddenly on the morning of December 28 1993, Steve died from a heart attack resulting from an undetected congenital condition. He was 24 years & left behind his wife Chrissy & daughters Amanda & Bex who was only 3 months old. Steve’s death left a big hole in the local scene.”