Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Will I get away with it?

The dream sound check moment ended when ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ realised they hadn’t done a number to check the level of Swill’s acoustic guitar, he wasn’t present at this point so it needed to be done for him. Instead of them stepping off the stage for us to occupy the moment we walked in, we did have to wait while the headliners did one last number.
Fine, not too much of a problem but I stood there mourning the loss of the 'Dream Sound check moment', even if we took the stage in a couple of minutes, we had lost it, it wouldn’t be the same.

I shouldn’t have worried, things were about to get a lot worse.

We eventurally climbed on stage and prepared to run through a couple of numbers to get our levels set, when Chris, our sound engineer came over and gave us the bad news, in an understated way.

“The PA amp has blown, so you can take five minutes as nothing is going to happen for a while. It just burnt out, can’t you smell that burning smell?”.

Yeah we could, but take five minutes? I don’t think the venue is going to get a replacement amp at 7.00pm on a Saturday night in five minutes.
Anyway we drifted downstairs to get something to eat whilst loads of scenarios ran through my head with ever increasing disaster ratings.

The amp turns up late so…

  1. We don’t get a sound check but we get to play and we can’t hear a thing on stage.
  2. We don’t get a sound check, we don’t get to play till really late so we can only do half a set and we can’t hear a thing.
  3. The amp turns up so late that we don’t get to play at all.

This is depressing for two reasons…

  1. We don’t get to play very often and this is one of last gigs so if anything happens to it, we lose a gig and will not be able to replace it.
  2. There are people who have travelled a long way for the concert (Paris, Southhampton and Wales to mention a few) and I cannot bear the thought of them being let down.

Totally out of character for me though, I decide not to let it get me down and I become, witty and charming with everyone I’m chatting to (although they may have judged my behaviour as merely odd). This keeps their spirits up and mine too so the evening doesn’t flag.

Apparently there is a service that is available at a price, to venues in London called ‘Dial an amp’ or something like that, which is an emergency service for venues who have amps blow up at the last minute just like ours.

All they do deliver one in the end, however it is only half the power of the one that has blown.

This is depressing for three reasons…

  1. We won’t be able to hear a thing on stage.
  2. The audience will have a less of an enjoyable experience as the sound quality will be ropey, and
  3. This is just unfair!

We deliberately chose The Spitz to do a final London appearence because of the quality of the venue and PA. This is a prestigious gig and now we are reduced to playing with a PA which would have pissed us off in the Eighties had it been some Wednesday night punk night toilet in Reading let alone here.

But there is nothing to be done than to just get on with it. Now I feel sorry for the ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ because they spent time on a sound check that was pretty much a waste of time. They got to experience the good sound only to have it snatched away from them at the last moment. They are not pleased.

In reality, because we are a three piece (a four piece for the two numbers with Paul) we are a simpler sound for an under powered PA to cope with, plus The Neurotics are dab hands at coping with shit PA’s. We have a degree in it.

In the end, it all worked out fine. We played a brilliant set and the audience loved every minute of it. The way I saw it, there was absolutely nothing I could do to improve the PA but if we could deliver a good performance, we would ensure that the maximum pleasure could be obtained regardless of the difficulties.

I explained to the audience the technical problems we had experienced and asked them if they could hear us ok, to which we got a resounding thumbs up so I stopped worrying and played my heart out, I also got to talk to the people from Paris and they had enjoyed themselves too.

After we finished Clare and I watched ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ and enjoyed them immensely, we drunk to really late and then caught a taxi to our bed for the night in Hackney.

It was two in the morning and we knew Rosa will wake us in only a couple of hours.

I really must get some sleep sometime soon.


I moped about in hiding in the bushes for quite some time watching people passing by not knowing I was watching them. I looked into the back gardens of the houses that were the start of the Little Pychons estate and watched children playing out the back before bed time arrived. I wished I lived there instead of where I did.

But all this wishing was getting me nowhere, I too had to be home before bedtime. If I could stop today becoming tomorrow I would have done it because there wasn’t just the going home I dreaded but as the sun set on this Newtown day it would surely rise to bring more dread. Was I going to prison? Will I be taken from my home to be left to rot in a dungeon? I just felt someone was going to come after me, but I didn’t know who.

But I felt It would happen tomorrow.

Back at the house I knocked on the front door and when it opened I entered with my tail between my legs and my head hung low. I was told to go into the living room.
What followed was my father bellowing at me, my Mother interjecting whenever she could get a word in edgeways and we just went round and round in circles with me saying little more than I had already said and telling it all to my lap.
A great big blanket of disappointment hung in the room and it was all of my own making, I had let my mum down, that’s what hurt the most.

It was all my fault, in reality it was, no matter what I said about Billy. Make no mistake I knew I had done wrong.

Trouble was, knowing that made it impossible to ask for help.

And I was going to need it.

I was sent to bed early and without any tea. I lay in my little box room listening to muffled sounds of my dad arguing with my mum, although after a while things simmered down this was now a house of condemnation and when ever I heard a knife drop or a door shut a little louder than it should do I felt it was in anger and frustration at what I had done to besmirch the family name.
Every now and then someone would come up the stairs and I hoped that they would come into the room and say “How are doing? It’s all right don’t worry we forgive you” but they would just go into the toilet and then head back down stairs again. I could hear my sisters still enjoying the freedom of the rest of the house and that hurt too.
This I imaged, was what it was like being in prison, being confined to a small room with the world being angry with you and I knew I couldn’t bear to be like this for very long. I’d had enough now, I didn’t want to go to prison. I wanted this to stop.

After dusk had filled the little room, my mum came up with a drink and said goodnight, she kissed me and stroked my hair, it felt good, but it wasn’t right, it was a jumble of emotions she gave out with her caress.

She left and then I lay awake listening to the Tommy Cooper comedy show on TV drifting up through the floor and up the stairs, it was telling, there was no real laughter coming from my parents. In my room there was just cruel, cruel canned laughter and my sobbing mixing together as a concentrated soup of misery.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Now, it was sink or swim time for me. My choice!

We were so hyped up over the success of the gig earlier in the evening that we celebrated big time when we got back to Simon’s and lost all track of time. When finally, fatigue got the better of me and Clare and we decided to go to bed it was 3.30am. We woke early at around 8.30 because there were children in the house and they were excited about beginning a new day.
I realised then that I had made a mistake about going to bed so late. I was exhausted and we had another gig to do, we are not used to having one gig after another these days, normally it’s a single gig on a single weekend so we over did it last night considering what we still had to do.

Don left early to go back to London, and after a morning of chatting and drinking coffee, Clare and I packed the car and headed for London. Chris, our sound engineer and Paul Howard made their way to London on the train and Simon drove up later.

Clare and I intended to get to my sisters house in Hackney and then have a nap for awhile but that never happened. We made the mistake of going through Central London on a Saturday when the roads were at their busiest (not a wise move, shows you we were not thinking straight) and then we got lost in the City. I think we passed every tourist attraction in Central London that day and by the time we found the right roads to get us to Hackney there was no time for a nap. We pulled the equipment out of the car, called a cab, loaded the equipment into the taxi and then made off for the Spitz.
I had spent the entire afternoon sitting in a car and had no chance to have a snooze.

I was now beginning to worry that the band would all be too tired to pull this gig off and then I would blame myself for not getting some decent sleep the night before.

As we approached the venue I started ringing the band to see if they had arrived yet. Don was five minutes away, I checked Simon, he had met up with Paul and Chris and they too were in a taxi and were also only five minutes away. Ok, I didn’t find out if the main band ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ had finished their sound check and the PA guy was waiting for us to turn up but I did find out that we were all close to arriving.

There was a wonderful moment were everything seemed to come together like magic. A dream moment that had never happened to me in all the years I have been playing music.

The dream moment was when I finally got my equipment in to the venue and stopped to relax for a moment. All of a sudden Don arrived, Simon Chris and Paul walked in behind him and ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ who were sound checking at the time said ‘yeah that sounds fine, we’re done’. Never had I played a gig where everyone turned up at the same time and just at the moment we were to start our sound check, immaculate timing meaning no hanging around patiently waiting of the headlining band to finish, no bored band members wandering off and then can’t be found when the time comes to set up on stage.

Little did we know that this moment was as fragile as a soap bubble on a breeze. It hung for a moment as we savoured it and then just popped!

Then it turned into a nightmare.


None of this was my fault, it was only because of Billy, I was in Bush Fair at all, it was all because of Billy I did his stupid dare and jumped into that cab with his matches and his fireworks.

I was always meant to take the rap, Billy done his worse work through the actions of others, I was being manipulated.

This was really all to do with Billy.

It wasn’t much more of a leap of imagination to come to the confession that was needed to end this.

I jerked up my head.

“I was there” I said, “but it wasn’t me, it was Billy who set light to the lorry”.

Another lie…

The strings loosened and my head fell limply back into my lap.

I had cracked, and from that point on I jabbered out a tale woe that was almost true but subtly moved the blame on to others.

Then, the inevitable!

The main policeman now standing over me asks “Now, tell me exactly where does this boy live?

I didn’t need to move my lips, my mum replied for me.

“He actually only lives only a stones throw away, in the square across the road in Spinning Wheel Mead, last house in the corner on the right.”.

As they left my home I pulled the net curtain back in the living room to watch their backs disappear into the sunset. They paused to let a 804 double decker bus pass by and then continued across the road. It reminded me of a thousand cowboy films where a Sheriff and his Deputy pause to let a stage coach by and then continue to cross the dusty main track through the town. They would be heading for the saloon and a showdown with some unhinged killer.
My policemen were not seeking out an adult protagonist, they were going for a mere boy.

Billy the Kid.

Before I could be grounded I ran into the hall, opened the front door, ran down the path, turned right and carried on running.

Now I was in real trouble and I was running for the ‘Hills’.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Tired and emotional!

We were so hyped up over the success of the gig earlier in the evening that we celebrated big time when we got back to Simon’s and lost all track of time. When finally, fatigue got the better of me and Clare and we decided to go to bed it was 3.30am. We woke early at around 8.30 because there were children in the house and they were excited about beginning a new day.
I realised then that I had made a mistake about going to bed so late. I was exhausted and we had another gig to do, we are not used to having one gig after another these days, normally it’s a single gig on a single weekend so we over did it last night considering what we still had to do.

Don left early to go back to London, and after a morning of chatting and drinking coffee, Clare and I packed the car and headed for London. Chris, our sound engineer and Paul Howard made their way to London on the train and Simon drove up later.

Clare and I intended to get to my sisters house in Hackney and then have a nap for awhile but that never happened. We made the mistake of going through Central London on a Saturday when the roads were at their busiest (not a wise move, shows you we were not thinking straight) and then we got lost in the City. I think we passed every tourist attraction in Central London that day and by the time we found the right roads to get us to Hackney there was no time for a nap. We pulled the equipment out of the car, called a cab, loaded the equipment into the taxi and then made off for the Spitz.
I had spent the entire afternoon sitting in a car and had no chance to have a snooze.

I was now beginning to worry that the band would all be too tired to pull this gig off and then I would blame myself for not getting some decent sleep the night before.

As we approached the venue I started ringing the band to see if they had arrived yet. Don was five minutes away, I checked Simon, he had met up with Paul and Chris and they too were in a taxi and were also only five minutes away. Ok, I didn’t find out if the main band ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ had finished their sound check and were waiting for us but I did find out that we were all close to arriving.

There was a wonderful moment were everything seem to come together like magic. A dream moment that had never happened to me in all the years I have been playing music.

The dream moment was when I finally got my equipment in to the venue and stopped to relax for a moment. All of a sudden Don arrived, Simon Chris and Paul walked in behind him and ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’ who were sound checking at the time said ‘yeah that sounds fine, we’re done’. Never had I played a gig where everyone turned up at the same time and just at the moment we were to start our sound check, immaculate timing meaning no hanging around patiently waiting of the headlining band to finish, no bored band members wandering off and then can’t be found when the time comes to set up on stage.

Little did we know that this moment was as fragile as a soap bubble on a breeze.
It hung for a moment as we savoured it and then just popped!

Then it turned into a nightmare.


Now Billy was bigger than me in height and build with brown hair and eyes that was a radar for weaknesses. He was born to be a bully and when he grew up, he eventually joined the Army to train to be a better one. Where as the rest of the little girls and boys at Pear Tree Mead school were marvelling at what the world of Junior school had to offer them, Billy had learnt all he needed, the power that you can have over people by just being insensitive and threatening. Like all bullies, he was a coward but he understood that if he and a friend or two menaced the rest of us then he would be left alone to do exactly as he pleased.
I, however, took a different path.

Unable to sustain any level of premeditated nastiness, I had only one choice left, to try to befriend the bully in the hope that it would exclude me from the sort of attention people feared from him.
I was starting from a very low vantage point, I was close to ginger (I’m not ginger, I’m fair, I used to cry which is uncannily like what Cartman from ‘South Park’ used to say, “I’m not fat, I’m just big boned!”)

However my protests fell on deaf ears because I had a sort of disability.

I had freckles!

Adored by parents, sisters, teachers and female shoppers alike, they were cute on a girls face, but not on mine, they were despised by most of the boys in my school so I got called ‘freckle face’.
Again and again and again.

The crime was so heinous that I would often be sent to ‘Coventry’ because of it. The image of a large city full of freckled people horrified me so much that it was years into my adulthood that I could summons enough courage to set foot in that city of the damned.
When I heard that it was carpet bombed by the Nazis in the Second World War I drew the conclusion that Adolf Hilter hated people with freckles easily as much as the Jews. I wondered whether Jews suffered with freckles too because if they did that was really bad luck and not very fair on them at all.
I knew that freckles were nothing to do with being naughty, I had them long before I had a chance to sin. But to this day no-one has ever justified their presence,

There are explanations on the original use of spleens, tonsils, body hair and other vestigial parts of the body but not freckles. They were like spots for the fair of face. It would have felt so much better if I had an explanation for them and why they covered so much of me.

I imagined, they were left over from a time when cave men were so into art that they were for ever coming out of their caves with specks of paint on their faces. As they didn’t have mirrors in those days they didn’t notice these speck so they just stayed there and coloured the skin. Being very defensive, when ever one of them pointed out the paint spots with a sort of grunt and a pointy stabby finger, the other would think he was saying
“Watch out there’s a sabre toothed tiger about to jump you from behind” to which the paint speckled man would just duck. The other guy not having the language to say ”You misunderstand me, what I meant was…” just could not get the concept across. So in the end they would both give up in frustration. They weren’t very good at colour at this point either as they had had only just invented brown, but it had become very poplar at the time. My partner Clare likes brown, see that goes to show, it all goes round in cycles.

Anyway there was no good explanation I could feebly bleat on about and therefore I was the brunt of everyone’s jokes.

I was easy pickings for Billy and his faithful sidekick Graham. Could it really be true that they liked me hanging around with them because I made them feel big? How small were they if they if they used me to measure themselves? We all moved to a new town for the green green grass and the wide open spaces and yet our horizons were still shockingly low.

Avoiding the look of displeasure on my parents face by continually staring at my lap gave me vital moments to concentrate on my plight.

Then I had a sudden realisation.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

A looming disaster?

The journey down to Brighton was problem free and the weather was pretty good too, a result we thought.
However, it clouded over and as we made our way to the Prince Albert pub where the gig was taking place it began to rain heavily. This made my mood change from relaxed and happy (very unusual for me before a gig) to anxious and quiet.
We loaded the gear on to the stage and started setting it all up and it was at this point that Don said “There’s no bass amp”. Those words made me freeze, we were the only band on that night, the other performers were solo and wouldn’t have a bass amp with them. We travel light whenever we can and rely sometimes on using other peoples equipment. Originally there was meant to be another band on and we thought we could use their equipment. In the end they couldn’t do it but before we could discuss the implications of that, a rather big argument flared up between a couple of people in our party with the end result that we nearly pulled out of the gig altogether.
Some time past with the gig in limbo and then eventually we agreed to do it.
Because of this disruption we hadn’t thought the whole of the logistics through and now we realised that we should have ensured that a bass amp was brought with us.
There then ensued some frantic calling to see if we could get someone who lived nearby to lend us an amp.
By now I was depressed, this was embarrassing and was really unprofessional, it wasn’t like us to forget something like this but we had, and it hit me hard, it was almost unforgivable. I was then on a emotional rollercoaster ride for a while as one person after another was rung who would definitely have an amp only to discover a minute or two later that for one reason or another they didn’t.

In the end we decided to DI the bass (that stands for Direct Input) which means instead of pluging the bass into the amp relying on a microphone in front of the bass cab to push the sound of the guitar out through the main speakers, the bass would be fed straight into the PA. It works fine but the sound is a lot different, much cleaner and less punky and we would not hear so much of it onstage which meant the performance would sound shit to us whilst not sounding too bad for the audience.

Despite the gig being sold out, I was so fed up that I felt I was in the completely wrong mood to play the gig and I didn’t know if the audience would get pissed off at our performance if I were to be affected by this frame of mind.
It is so weird to walk on stage in that mood and then to feel something completely different a couple of minutes afterwards, we played our opening number ‘Wake Up’ really well, the audience went wild, and we then played a blinder. It was fantastic, completely different to the way I thought it would go.

We were cock a hoop afterwards and retired back to Simon’s place to celebrate, and celebrate we did.

A little too hard!


I looked at my nose to see if it had grown, Pinoccio’s nose had grown when ever he lied; his goal was to become a real boy. I was a real boy, or at least that was what I had been led to believe, but I felt I was beginning to lose that as my alibi’s became more wooden.

Where were you at this time then, the other policemen enquired?
I was over the ‘Hill’s all afternoon, I quietly replied.

The ‘Hills’ were a load of dumped earth near Pear Tree Mead swings left over from the construction of the Little Pychons housing Estate. It had become overgrown with thick grass and was a playground for us. We used to play fighting here, mimicking punches and kicking like actors and stunt doubles do when making a film. Because the grass was so thick we could propel ourselves into the air from the top after taking an imaginary punch and land with a thud on to the ground below with out any hurt or injury. We loved it, it was the only fighting we were any good at. When ever any of the big boys turned up we would quickly disappear for fear of getting real punches and kicks.
When ever we went over there to play and we could see in the distance that they were free of any other kids we’d cry “Run for the Hills” as we tore off.

But that afternoon I wasn’t there, I had run past them on the way home but I wasn’t there.

I looked at my nose to see if it had grown.

“You were seen in Bush Fair this afternoon and there were two other boys with you too. Could you tell us the names of these boys?” The first policemen asked

I don’t know any other boys, I continued to lie.

I checked my nose again

We have a witness, a neighbour who says they saw you with two other boys in the car park opposite the doctors at the time the lorry was set alight.

Well, I did go down to Bush Fair for a while but I didn’t go near any lorry.

I could swear my nose was getting longer.

Are you ok Steve? my mum enquired.

Err, yeah, why?

Well, you’re eyes keep going funny, I thought you were going to faint.

No, no, I’m fine, I reply somewhat unconvincingly.

My eyes uncrossed and returned to my lap as I mumbled, “I just want to be a real boy”

Friday, 27 July 2007

Preparing for the best/worst!

Good morning,
Err, nothing much to report as yet as all I have done is wake up and have a shower, my nerves have started up but the sun is shining and as that is such a rare thing these days I am grateful for it. Because I am nervous I am irritated with the final preparations before we leave, I just want everything to jump into a bag like in the 'Sorcerers Apprentice'. On the other hand I don't want my guitars to grow legs and go marching out the door either. I'll have to settle with doing it myself and go easy on the frustration.

God dammit! I 've just remembered something I still need to do.

I gotta go, I'll report back as soon as I can. Brighton awaits!


My mum walked forward to answer the door and for a moment I hoped the shadows were a couple of army firing range targets propped up against the door.
She open it a crack and peered out.

Mrs Drewett? Someone said,

“Yes, that’s me” she replied.

“Hello madam, we’re Police Officers, we need to talk to you about your son Steven, is he in?”

Yeah, err, yes he is, would you like to come in?

“Thank you”.

And with that and a polite offer of a cup of tea which was declined, the Police were brought into our home for the first time.

This was still a small town then and everyone used the buses. Someone who lives in my street had walked to Bush Fair shopping centre to pay their rent and had then decided to pay the four pence required to take the bus to the Town Centre to do some serious shopping. Whilst waiting for a bus to arrive they had seen me arguing with two other boys and then witnessed me jumping into the lorry after which smoke poured out of it, the windows blew out and finally it burnt to the ground.
When the Police arrived they were more than willing to tell them who one of the boys was and when he lived.

I was summoned into the living room, its shape a long narrow oblong with a fire place in the middle of one wall around which my parents sat like bookends. Opposite and not far away was the television. This made it very difficult to hold a court hearing with everyone in close proximity. I sat on a sofa to my right of them, facing my mum but a long way from my dad who was sitting glaring but silent.

Most disconcerting.

He may have tempered his normal boorish bluster because he had once been a policeman himself. Despite being handed to him another excuse to vent his anger he may have found this situation very interesting. I was once told that during the Blitz in London he was once put in charge of an unexploded bomb, keeping people away until the bomb disposal squad arrived. He must have been there a while; they were probably very busy people at this time. Now this little boy with a short fuse was blowing up lorries. Dejected, staring into my lap I had nothing else to do than become aware that my fingers still stunk of sulphur and I began to imagine that my hair smelt of smoke, It didn’t, It was just guilt pouring out of my follicles. It was obvious that saying I was nowhere near Bush Fair and I don’t know anything about it was not going to work.

A Policeman had been given a chair to pull up to the right of my mum almost opposite me whilst the other perched on the sofa next to me again to my right.

“Now Steven, (Only my dad calls me Steven, this is horrible) do you know anything about a lorry being set light to in Bush Fair this afternoon?”

I was taken aback, he’s talking to me already, I expected them to give my parents a synopsis before turning to me but now they were learning this first hand, as it unfolded.
I didn’t know what to say, I couldn’t bear the thought of the words needed to admit it, forming in my mind, the air vibrating around my vocal chords and the resonance of my mouth adding weight to the admission. It seemed such hard work, it seemed such a hill to climb, it was the very last thing I ever wanted to say in my life.

“Steven, answer the Policeman!” my dad barked, it made me jump and momentarily I was forced to look at his angry face, I returned to staring at my lap.

There was a long pause and then I mumbled something very quietly.

Can you speak up? The Policeman asked. “And look up when you are speaking” added my Dad.

I jerked up my head and after another long pause managed to finally speak.

“I was nowhere near Bush Fair, I don’t know any
thing about it.”

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Station to Station

Well, we are off to Brighton tomorrow to play the first gig of our trio of dates starting off at the Prince Albert just near Brighton Station.
I am already beginning to get nervous as usual but then whole reunion thing that was meant to be for 2005 only is now in it’s third year and I’m feeling settled with the potential of the band. Also, now that we have decided to call it a day after these dates I don’t have to worry about when it should end.
It has been very enjoyable and when it is like that it’s hard to say “enough is enough".
I’m going to spend the first part of this evening putting new strings on my guitars and playing them in whilst cooing to them about how much I love them and hope that my efforts spur them on to play some blistering rock ‘n’ roll on Friday night.
Unfortunately we won’t have time to savour the delights of Brighton the following day as then we are then off to the bright lights and wet streets of old London Town where we will be playing the Spitz club, which is bizarrely right next door to Liverpool Street station.
I hadn’t made that connection until this moment, how about that? We should do an entire tour of venues right next to stations and then we could travel on the train to all of them.

Anyway, if you’re going to be there tomorrow, I’ll see you there.

If not, I’ll see you here, and you can read all about it.


Murder was no longer on my mind when I decided it would be an idea to play to take my mind off of the events of the day. However, now it changed to rescuing people at the last minute, putting out fires and rushing people to hospital where they came out a little later having completely recovered.

I was trying to win favour with the Gods, Lorraine my oldest sister told me there was only one true god. I was uncomfortable with this because I needed another to turn to if I fell out of favour with the first, I’ve always been unconformable with monopolies. As the years rolled by I became relieved when I learned that the Asian Indians had found almost a full set and a load started popping up all over South America and then eventually, all over. That seem very sensible, because if you were here from another country and you couldn’t speak much English it would be good to be able to pray to one that knew what you were going on about. If you are asking a very powerful deity to do something for people and it mis-understood, anything could happen, that’s why I thought so many earthquakes and floods were happening. They were just misunderstandings, so the more gods the better.

Finally, the thrill of saving people didn’t last as long as the thrill of killing them, perhaps God often feels the same, I don’t know. So I decide to mooch on downstairs for a while, I descended with a series of thuds as the burden I was carrying was betrayed by the heaviness of my feet.. At the bottom of the stairs I turned right into the ‘middle room’ as it was known. This little narrow utility area had a door at its entrance and another at the other end that opened inwards to reveal the kitchen. These doors were very rarely shut which then gave free passage to the warmest room in the house. A door at the other end of the kitchen lead out to the garden and if you stood with your back to it, you were looking straight through the middle room and straight at the front door with it’s three rectangular mottled panes of glass.
As I turned the corner and headed for the kitchen three loud staccato cracks like a Walther PPK pistol being fired straight at my back, one shot to the head to disable motor functions, one into the back of my neck which instantly shattered my voice box so I couldn’t cry out and one to the heart to cease blood circulation, it was a classic neutralisation . I stumbled and as I did so I looked at my mum, she was looking over my head, she said, “I wonder who that is?”

I turned slowly round and there fuzzily silhouetted through the three panes was the ominous shadow of two large men, motionless and waiting.

Blood drained out of my face but fortunately stayed within my body.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Do you know the true cost of this?

I am worried about this town.

At the time we first got the news that Essex County Council were going to stop the Square from being a live venue, the Head of the Youth Service in Harlow stated that the Square wasn’t closing as such, it was just closing the bar, which effectively closed it as a venue.
I and many others pointed out at the time that as large chunks of the Town Centre is to be levelled by developers for a new Shopping district and all this was to happen almost to the steps of the Square itself, that the real reason the venue was being closed was because they knew the lease was going to be pulled early.

This is what seems to be happening, the Youth Service will have to re-locate and everything they told us in the public meeting in the Civic Centre was a bunch of lies.

This nationally renowned venue will be levelled for shops and no replacement set to appear for years if ever. This was a cultural catalyst in the Eighties for Harlow bands and has continued to be a safe environment for young people to socially network and watch great live music up until it’s closure.

Now there is nothing.

We lose our only venue and yet the Odeon Cinema building stands empty. Anywhere else some entrepreneur would have opened that up and turned it into a music venue

Meanwhile, the Playhouse is always vulnerable to budget cuts, undermined by councillors too feeble to argue the case for its closure yet retched enough to talk of cutting it, which if they do, will mean it will only be able to put on shows of ever declining quality. Eventually everyone will agree that it isn’t worth the life support system and cut the final funding. Sound harsh? Remember it was closed before and stood empty for a year.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if we had far too many theatres and music venues in Harlow and a venue and theatre folded. But we only had one of each and now there is just the Playhouse.

Welcome to the Brave new world of modern Harlow, you will be mindless consumers even if you don’t want be. For the people that control your lives in this town know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.


It may also be uncomfortable for you to know that I was always contemplating murder but I was, is that so unusual for someone my age?

My imagination was full of killing and maiming by gun and explosions day in day out, and no-one stood a chance. Weapons technology far in advance of my opponents would be turned onto these hapless victims and so, for example, my Native American Indians toys had to endure strike after strike by the screaming banshee of the German Stukka Dive bomber.

I had grasped, so early on, the real truth of the American Dream that weapons superiority made even genocide a breeze. They didn’t win over the Native American with ideas or the promise of a fundamental democracy that was the right of human kind, no, they just shot and cannoned them all. They didn’t need a Stukka Dive Bomber, but if they had had one, they would have used it.

You know they would.

Modern warfare for the rich nations of the world had reduced killing to an abstract, where tracking and slaughtering large numbers of people was like playing a video game and evoked feelings no more disturbing than playing with a toy. George Bush Junior and his pals recognised that only the press and public was left to have the potential to understand the pain of the slaughtered innocents.
So, he imbedded the journalists with his troops and fed them Mcfacts and logistics and turned the illegal invasion of Iraq into an abstract by saying it was a War on Terror. Now there were enemies everywhere and if the coalition of the willing killed them in scores, then they must be guilty.

We were left to feel nothing but a love for our toys.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

I love the sound of breaking glass.

I am delighted to say my ears seem to be returning to normal, I walked home today in the sunshine and I could clearly hear the birds singing, the wind blowing in the trees, the water tricking through the Asda trolleys lying sideways in the stream and my feet crunching on freshly broken glass. I also heard, before I even saw it, the Kentucky Fried Chicken box skipping gaily past on a sudden gust from behind me. It continued off down the road and disappeared in the distance as it raced to beat me home.

I say, my hearing has returned to normal but what I mean by that is the only thing that not right about my hearing is the usual tinnitus I suffer from which I only really notice if I think about it, like right now, or when things are really quiet.

I forgot what day it was today, and thought it was Wednesday, one look at my blog would have put me straight but that would have been bizarre, needing a blog to keep track of my life.

Tickets are selling really well for the Brighton gig and are hopefully for the Spitz gig in London too. I’ve been getting emails from people travelling some distance to attend the gigs including from Paris. You know it is weird to not playing very often and then when we do, we play two days in a row, I am going to be completely knackered by Sunday and I’ve got to try to keep this blog thing going through it.

I can’t stand all the preparation and organising that is needed for these things though but you can be sure that when I am on stage, finally ready to play, I am all there for you.

I matters to me that if you have turned out to see us, that effort should be rewarded by a fine performance by the band if humanly possible.

Then we all go home happy.


My imagination was always full of explosions, every toy car, boat or plane of mine had been blown up countless times by evil villains, I ran a whole department of secret agents from my room and they were always returning having nearly lost their lives with their car or boat or plane completely wrecked. By the time I was old enough to see a James Bond film I could completely empathise with M.
One agent, just called 7 (these weren’t double ‘o’s, they didn’t have a licence to kill, they were a clandestine unit run in parallel with MI5’s, they were technically illegal so they didn’t need a licence for anything.), was a promising young man who we originally issued with a Robin Reliant, it was a really crap car even then but it was brand new. He managed to retrieve a consignment of Nazi gold by swerving it under fire, into on coming traffic on the road just outside the Gothenburg tunnel in Switzerland. He jumped out at the last minute and the baddies crashed into it and all died. But not 7, he survived and was favoured by our organisation, each time he completed a mission successfully and his car was a write off, we would issue him with a slightly better make and model of vehicle. He eventually became the proud owner of a brand new Austin Martin DB4 just like James Bond’s. They were made for one another.

Unfortunately the following day he broke his neck under my shoe when I had too many toys out on the floor.

I wasn’t allowed to acknowledge his death, to the rest of the world, he didn’t exist.

The life I lead is hard. Too hard.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Tinnitus and the Sounds of the Suburbs

My ear seems a little better today, I say a little better because they are both ringing now which is at least consistent and not making me feel lopsided. I’ll have to take earplugs to the gig on Friday, I have never used them before on stage but If my ears are sensitive at the moment I don’t want to do any permanent damage to them. Now I’m wishing the wax would come back.

Never satisfied me.

Bizarre thought though, the last thing one of my ears ever being able to hear was one of my songs played too loudly, it would be like a gunsmith being shot by one of the guns he designed or walking into your own bear trap or being run over by your own car because you left the handbrake off. As we get closer to a run of gigs like this I am forever worried that something will happen to one of the band to prevent us from completing our commitments. As I have said before we don’t play very often so that would be very hard on us and our audience especially as these are to be the very final gigs.


I hammered on the front door and waited impatiently for what seemed to be for ever for the door to open. I can’t remember who opened it, I just remember a pair of legs as I passed them mumbling “going to my room to play” and ran upstairs to seek sanctuary in my little box room.

I was living in this house with my mum and dad and my two older sisters Lorraine and Sandra. Being the youngest in the house I had the smallest room which I shared with various bits of discarded kitchen furniture and suitcases which never made it into the loft. You took your life into your own hands getting into our loft, it entailed hanging from the ceiling over a steep stairwell to get anything in there. No, dumping it in my room was the easiest option.

I don’t remember being angry about it but then again I was always angry, we all were, we were angry with each other, always, so the crap in my room didn’t really figure. There was just room for my few toys, my bed and my dreams but there wasn’t enough room for all that and this nightmare. I fell heavily on to the bed with the pressure of events bearing down on me. I put my head under the pillow and hid.

No matter how I tried I could not get what I had just down out of my head, it was replayed time and time again, each time getting exaggerated to the point were it got to burning Rome proportions. I tossed and turned keeping the sound of intermittent sobbing to myself.

What if my parents found out? I’m really for it! Should I tell them? Noooooo! How can I go down stairs and say. Mum, Dad? I’ve just burnt a lorry down to the ground. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, but I didn’t know of anyone who had burnt a lorry down to the ground. This was new territory for me and I felt that it wasn’t a thing you voluntarily admitted to, you got caught doing it fine, but you’d never just say I’ve just set light to a lorry. That was absurd.

I was in agony and I couldn’t lie on my bed anymore, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

As I expected, I'm coping with the unexpected

Aahhh my ear, I’m really worried about my left ear. We had our final rehearsals today and once we had finished setting up I realised I hadn’t brought any ear protectors. I don’t usually need them as my ears are normally full of wax to some degree. However I had my ears syringed last week and since then I have had the best hearing I can remember having for ages. They were therefore vulnerable and the only thing I could find to put in them to protect them was some toilet paper.

The boys turned up with Paul Howard who was here to rehearse for his guest appearance with us at the gig on Friday night in Brighton, unfortunately he was feeling ill yet was still detrmined to try his best. Struggling to fore fill his commitments but not well enough to be entirely with it, he kept forgetting the words and the band were a bit ploddy because I kept starting the songs off too slowly, so it wasn’t too good to begin with.

One of the problems was that Paul had to be away early so we set out to practise the songs we were doing with him first of all. The band hadn’t warmed up so we were not at our best and when Paul left I think we were all feeling a bit frustrated with ourselves. The last number of that session with him, his voice was the loudest thing through the PA and midway through the song it managed to penetrate the toilet paper I had in my left ear and actually hurt my ear drum about three times during one number.

After he had gone the band started to warm up and the rest of the rehearsal went really well.
When it was all over and we were packing up, I took the toilet paper out of my right ear and all the sounds of the room flooded in, then I took the paper out of my left ear and nothing really changed apart from my ear ringing.
I hope I haven’t damaged it, it’s really making me anxious. Even one good night’s sleep is not going to tell me if it’s recovered as when I’ve had ringing ears before it’s taken a day or two.

I feel like I’ve still got paper in it when I haven’t. Usually I’m used to both my ears ringing but because it’s only one this time if feels really strange, it is sort of unbalancing me sound wise.

Fingers crossed It’s all right!


Fucking hell!

“I thought you said it was an abandoned wreck”

“Well, it is really old, no-one used it anymore, it’s been there for weeks and had been left there unlocked.

Why then are there two men running towards it.

Fucking hell Billy shouted.

The two racing figures stopped suddenly when the heat was no longer bearable on their faces and just stood there with their mouths open.

I said “I think we better get out of here before they see us”


At that moment there was a huge BANG! A explosion that blew out the windows showering the men with broken glass. The people waiting at the bus top instinctively ducked and held their arms up over their faces.
Although with the car park wall and a road in-between them and the lorry I don’t think any debris reached them.

“Fucking hell” we all said in unison, run I shouted.

We tore off out of the car park, I ran with all my might. My breathing was accelerated, I was gasping for air but is sounded like quick fire sobbing.
I could feel my stature decreasing as I ran down the slope between the Doctors surgery and Patie and Pakins which led to the entrance of the underpass. As I entered I hoped the ground would swallow me up but instead the passage to the other side just amplified my distress and chillingly threw it back ten fold.
By the time I exited the other side I felt as small as an ant with the foot print of my conscience bearing down, threatening to crush me.

“Split up” Billy cried.

Split up? I not trying to be in a gang at this moment I’m just heading straight to my home. I jumped off the path on to the grassy hill and started to make my way towards the back of the Pear Tree Mead estate.
My partners in grime scattered off somewhere, I don’t know where, I didn’t care, I was glad to be on my own now.

At this moment I realised that I needed to calm down, I couldn’t enter the house like this so I ran into the nearest bushes and sat down. I was exhausted and although I was beginning to catch my breath I was far from recovering.Away from my gang, quietly, so no-one could hear I cried my heart out.

The need to get safely home returned after a while, I cuffed the tears off of my eyes and onto my sleeve and started to run the last stretch to my street.
As I emerged from the bushes an ear splitting siren rang out from Southern Way, the road on the far side of the field that let to Bush Fair. A double decker bus further delayed from picking up it’s impatient passengers had driven up on to the grass verge to let two fire engines pass.

Two fire engines! As if by magic children from every estate suddenly appeared and ran towards Bush Fair to see the spectacle of a fire being put out.

There was one child running the opposite way.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Catch a Fire!

Hands up who believes that the government was lying when they said there was no cash for peerages being handed out?
Ok, hands up those who think they are telling the truth?
Only one, ok Mr Rammell, being Harlow’s MP we know where you stand, anything that Blair said was god’s honest truth to you, when your constituents were convinced otherwise.

This government long ago lost the moral high ground, the moment Blair lied about the reasons for Invading Iraq, the moment he went against the majority opinion of the country and sanctioned a war without even involving his cabinet, was the moment we stopped believing them full stop.

We are also going backwards regarding the drugs war, they are now talking about re-classifying cannabis to a class C drug because it is damaging some people’s mental health. At the same time, whilst alcohol does more damage to people in this country, their approach to that is different, they make it easier to get it by allowing pubs to open as long as they wish.
Now I am happy with this liberalisation of the licensing laws but I fail to see how locking people up for wanting to relax and get a little stoned is going to help them or us. We are back to criminalising people who happen to make cannabis their drug of choice and once they have had a spell in one of our overcrowded Victorian rat infested prisons and have lost their job, they become a bigger danger to themselves and society when they get out.

Remember the 'War On Terror'? They don’t call it that anymore because it is a meaningless phrase for a meaningless war. However this wasn’t the first meaningless war, the first one was the 'War On Drugs', one that the United States (and to a smaller degree ourselves) have put billions of dollars and destabilised several countries, and murdered many in it’s epic struggle only to find it had little or no effect what so ever. The invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11 liberated the farmers of that country from the ban on opium production the Taliban had enforced and the fields are blooming with billions of poppies again. Where is all this fresh opium heading for? You guessed it, the USA and Britain and that’s why our (British) soldiers are supposed to be over there, to destroy the poppy economy. They're not helping to replace that income for the Afghans with anything else though so it’s likely to have little effect.

Too little, too late!

I think we should be consistent with our approach to drugs, we should legalise the lot, cut out criminal underworld and armed drug gangs, tax them and feed that income, not to helping to fund illegal invasions of other countries but to pay for drug education and properly funded national clinics to help those who could simply not take notice of the warnings.

To believe that our society is not already drenched in drugs is like believing that Guantanamo Bay is a humane interrogation centre. We should grab the means for production and start to take control before it is too late.

Oh, and the Neurotics have got their final rehearsal tomorrow before the first gig in Brighton at the Prince Albert on Friday 27th July.

I thought I’d mention that.


We ran, we really ran.

oh man the buzz, I was so tingling with excitement, relief and bravdo that I was giggling like the very girl I was accused of earlier.
But it didn’t matter now, I was a hero, I was in, I’m in the gang, they’ve never done anything like this.

We didn’t run far, we couldn’t, because we were transfixed.

We ran a little way further into the car park, ducked behind a car and then popped our heads back up to view the lorry.

It seemed so quiet now, either that or I couldn’t hear a thing over my thumping heart. We looked at a thin spiral of smoke winding it’s way out of the open door, it stopped.

It started again, a car passed by on the main road, I absent mindedly noted that it wasn’t a bus, we returned to silence and then BANG.
A split second later, a second Bang. I punched the air, this was as good as it gets, I did it, I am not a sissy I’m daring, I am courageous, I AM IN THE GANG! I am a GIANT!

I looked excitedly at my co-conspirators, they were caught up in it too. I could see by their excited faces that they were dead impressed. Look at them, look how small they seem now. How could I have felt intimidated by these fools, I’m never going to let that happen again, I promised myself.

As, in that frozen moment I savoured my triumph on their faces, the corners of their mouths dropped, dragging their eyebrows with them. They suddenly looked sick, their faces had turned a bright sickly orange.

The penny didn’t so much drop for me, but spun giddily in an hypnotic spiral into the collection of a lost cause.

I turned around to see, and my vision tunnelled into this huge flickering dancing orange like I had a ViewMaster strapped to my face and I was looking at the surface of the sun. I raised my hands as if to click onto another image but just cupped them over my brow to cut out some light.

Fucking hell!

Friday, 20 July 2007

I'm always burnin' on a short fuse.

I was in a meeting at work today with every manager above me in my chain of command reviewing our website (Harlow Council’s). We were picking through recommendations made by a government agency for Local Government website compliance.

The conversation turned to biting one’s fingernails and I was challenged to show everyone what my nail’s were like (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!).

I proudly showed my neatly trimmed nails and declared, "I play guitar so mine always need to be short."

It occurred to me that I must be the only Neurotic that does not bite their nails!

The head of my department is fairly new and it was interesting that when I brought my Les Paul in to work having collected it from Tones music shop after a service, he showed great interest in it and I think he stifled a drool. Anyway, he asked me if I had a band and I educated him on The Neurotics and what we did in the Eighties and that we had reformed for a while.

He admitted that he had completed missed punk as he was living in South Africa during the Seventies and Eighties.He then asked me if he could borrow one of our CD’s and I agreed to bring one in for him.

A week passed and he finally said to me, “ by the way, I really enjoyed that CD you lent me Steve.”
“I’m amazed, you were so….angry!”

“Yeah” we were", we still are!

“hhhmmm” he said, “can I buy a copy of this?”

“Why of- course”, I beamed!

And do you know, he did!

I’ve spent most of my life confronting my bosses, this was a welcome change.

Almost all of the people in the building I work in know about my alter ego, my secret identity, and perhaps my political beliefs. It is Harlow after all.

I think, they think, I am a responsible man and would never have done anything too stupid in my past.


I opened up the door of the brown Bedford open back truck, I put one foot on to the footplate and my free hand on to the leather passenger seat and sprung two or there times on one leg until I judged that I could make it up with one last push.

I made it, the cab smelt of oldness, of leather, tobacco, petrol and a thousand curses. The passenger seat worn out by getting in and out a million times, this was the home of exaggeration where there was only one truth and it was shared between the driver and his mate.

As I scrambled in I was faintly aware of the bus stop with it’s neat queue of hopeful passengers visible through the driver side window, they looked like they were a sketch done in pastels hung on the side of the cab.

The protective sheath around the base of the gear stick had long since crumbled away and I was staring through the gaps around it to the floor of the car park and the broken glass that lay scattered around it.

I attempted to order the things I had in my hand in such a way that I could succeed in doing what I had promised to do.

I was so scared that my hands were shaking, I intended to jump in and then jump out quickly but time was sslloowwiinngg dowwnn ssoo mmuucchh. More haste, less speed popped into my head, it was something I had learnt from my parents, I had no idea what it meant but it felt good to remember it and it was if they were giving me guidance, like they were supporting what I was doing.

I know, it was stupid.

I pulled the glove compartment door down, these were the days they really expected you to put gloves in them. All this space had in it was the detritus from countless dirty finger nails as they searched for items that never seem to be there. Also oil, there were traces of old oil everywhere, as though they had to constantly coax the engine to do its job, to get them successfully to hell and back.

None of this made an immediate impression; this was a slow exposure, a picture that would be so definite in later years, such high definition that it felt I had made it all up.

I threw two Brocks bangers into the small space pushing aside some pages from the Harlow Gazette which had once been rapped around a greasy spanner or two and positioned the fuses so they pointed accusingly back at me.
I picked up the matches, took one out of the box and struck!

The head snapped off and skittered off on to the floor, "bloody Polish matches" I cursed imitating my father. I pulled out another and struck.

It was already spent, I never could fathom why, when people idly struck matches they would place them back in the box. It made no sense and it made me mad, especially now.

Third time lucky, I stuck, it lit, I received an instant hit of sulphur up my nose that made my head jerk back and delivered the promise of burned fingers if I didn’t get rid of it soon.

Recovering some composure I lit the two fuses, dropped the match, pushed open the door of the cab and jumped down to where Graham and Billy were staring wildly at me whilst their bodies were already pointing in the opposite direction.

Run! I shouted!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Girls are sugar and spice and all things nice and guitars are wood and wires!

The lyrics of my songs play a strange game with me, they go in and out of focus at different times. Sometimes they are just threads of rhyme and reason that are interwoven with the music to make a whole. Other times they stand out in stark contrast to the music and I get a new insight, just like a fan might, and I think, “Did I write that?”
Elements like that are surprising and pleasing when writing and performing songs and I sometimes say to myself, "you’ll leave that all behind if you stop playing".

True, but I went through the nineties without playing and I survived.

True, but I was probably impoverished in some way because of it.

Taken once a day vitamin Cminor 7th is guaranteed to keep the blues away.

I caught myself looking longingly at a brand new Gibson Les Paul this very lunch time. I was in Tones music shop buying some strings for my current guitars.
Once I realised I was doing it I quickly looked away, feeling like a cheat, like I’d been admiring and longing for another woman. This analogy is not perfect I might add as I have three guitars but I do not have three women who share my bed. I must admit to using this metaphor regarding guitars before but it is a way to describe the closeness I feel to my instruments without appearing to be one string short of an Ernie Ball ‘Not Even Slinky’ set.

Guitars are very personal though and coveting another person’s only works if you love the model itself. Richard Holgarth, guitarist with Eddie and the Hot Rods recently invited me to admire a wall full of his Gibson SG guitars. I just stood there admiring the wall for taking the weight, not what he had in mind.

It was nonsense for me to fantasize buying a new Les Paul, not just because it cost £1,500 but also that I am trying to give up playing with the Neurotics, still old habits die hard and the lines of that famous guitar are very seductive.

When you think how much technology has changed over the years, whether it be computers, recording studios, the apparatus (apparatus that’s an old technology word) we play music on, the formats on which it is available, synthesizers and samples. It is comforting that we still want to make an ungodly racket with a piece of wood with wires strung on it.

Long may it be so.


I blinked first. Why should it be me that does it? I bleated unconvincingly.
Because it's your fucking turn you moron. I did the first dare and jumped into Patty and Parkins yard and I came out with a handful of wood and some rare Green Kryptonite.

( that was true, he did come out of their premises with a strange dark green plastic square that shed it's outer layer to expose a lighter green underneath and it ticked when you placed it up to your ear. I didn't like being near it, if it was green kryptonite I had so little power as it was that, I couldn't afford to have anything else taken away!)

and Graham climbed the roof of the service bays and ran right the way to the other end.

You ain't done nuffing!
I have, I've done loads of stuff, you know I have!

That was yesterday, this is today!

Oh you’re so useless we may as have a girl with us cissy boy, never mind I’ll do it…

There was a moment left to save this, I either do as they say or pay the consequences, it was quite simple. I just needed to find the courage.

In my mind to do it or not to do it was like a tug of war but the rope wasn’t moving

It was a waste of time, I’d pay the consequences anyway, they’d just be different consequences.

I let go of the rope.

Oh for heavens sake, give it to me. I said,

They dropped the stuff into my hands as they stumbled backwards.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Preparing to be good, preparing to be bad!

The rehearsals in Brighton have resulted in the revival of a little gem. After not being played for around 25 years we have resurrected ‘Get Up and Fight’ from our first album ‘Beggars Can Be Choosers’ and a mighty thing it is too.
It sounds fresher today than it did when we first recorded it and we are very excited to be playing it in the three gigs we have coming up soon.

Just to let you know, Colin Dredd will be making a guest appearance again at the Rebellion Festival gig on Sat 12th August but he will be away having his annual holiday at Womad before that date so will not be in attendance at the Brighton or London gigs. For those, we are having our good friend singer/songwriter Paul Howard pop up to sing a couple of Neurotics songs that my vocal cords cannot reach anymore.

Apart from the rehearsals at the weekend there was time to relax, it was Simon’s and my partner Clare’s birthday so we went out on Saturday night to Brighton. We had a fantastic Indian meal and unseen to us around the corner in the room was a woman who laughed hysterically for most of the evening and we never knew why. I fantasised that this is what happens when you go out with a professional comedian but the opposite is probably true, they are probably all depressives.

One of the lovely aspects of this social time together was that Don, who has only been playing with us for three years (when it was originally intended to be one gig, has fallen in love with the Neurotics and the songs and wanted me to know that, which then sparked off Simon to say similar things.

There is nothing like having a band this committed, this close, and this enamoured by the songs, I am really honoured and to me it is a thing of beauty.

Pity it will all come to an end soon, but then every thing does, without fail.


"Do it now or else, do it now or you’re a just a fucking johnny bag, just a fucking girl!"

I hate these people I thought, I hate these people so much and I hate myself for being with them. I was petrified, it wasn't just a fear of violence, it was a feeling of being ostracised, I needed to be loved so much at this time but I couldn't get enough, I couldn't even get to be liked, my last chance was to be accepted. Now I was loosing that, that's why I was scared, I was rooted to the spot, unable to walk away and unable to do their bidding, They were asking too much, but they always did. Oh how I hated them, did I tell you that? I did? Oh, I'm sorry, I tend to use repetition as emphasis, did I tell you that already? I didn't? Oh I have now. Yeah I hated them and the only reason I was here was because being one of their friends was far preferable to being one of their victims, but I seem to be on a never ending apprentiship of humiliation without getting the stinking diploma!

We were standing in the large car in Bush Fair that serviced both the shops and Keat’s House doctors surgery, over a small perimeter wall a stones throw from us was a bus stop where a queue of bored people waited patiently for a bus. They had nothing to do to pass the time but listen to a small group of kids arguing.

We didn’t really see them, they were not in our world.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Driving Missed Crazy

I have been putting olive oil in my ears to soften the wax and then placing cotton wool in my ears to keep it from running down my neck. I was the only one at our rehearsal on Saturday and Sunday that didn’t need ear plugs.

Yesterday I got my ears syringed two days early due to a cancellation for the ‘Practise Nurse’and the world of sound returned to me again in its crystal clear beauty. I can safely say the letter ‘S’ has been put back onto all the places it was meant to be.
My ears completely block up after every twelve months or so and I have to go through the same routine to get them clear each time. I found now that blocked ears begin to kick off my vertigo and I have been getting sick again, hopefully now they are clear I should start to feel better again.

I have a theory that they block so quickly because over the years they have been hammered by poor PA’s and bad rehearsal rooms and so they accelerated the production of wax to protect them. My hearing is still pretty good, so my system has been looking after me over the years.
My fingers are beginning to heal after our recent marathon rehearsals, my voice is returning and all my aching muscles are recovering after a couple of nights sleep.

It was our first time in this studio and in line with tradition it was an oven. We were having trouble concentrating and had to have more breaks than we intended just to prevent ourselves from passing out. In one such break we were informed that air conditioning was being installed a few days later.

For us that was unfortunate, it was bad timing, we missed it.

Earlier I was driving over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge in Dartford, listening to the Stone Roses first album playing from a dusty old cassette as we slowly made our way to Brighton. I was looking at the view when I decided that I’d better put my full concentration on the road. The traffic wasn’t moving very fast but you never know.
Later I found out that two crashes occurred either side of the bridge near enough to the same time we were crossing. In one accident a man died, in the other a man was injured when he lost control of his motorbike, his son who was riding pillion was killed.

You never know what is going to happen in front of you when you’re driving.

For us, we were fortunate, it was good timing, we missed it


My mother worked in the defence industry which was cool then as she had been one of the unsung heroes of workers building the radar systems that helped us beat the Nazis during the Second World War. Nothing grand mind you, she just did copper winding year in year out and kept food on our plates. Not so cool to be working in the defence industry now as it has little to do with defence, more to do with killing people in far off countries who are getting in the way of our dodgy foreign policies or making profits from supplying arms which will eventually get turned back upon us.

No, it was different then and Cossors, the American company that employed her decided to open a new factory in Harlow, Essex. They then asked their employees if they would like to work there with the incentive that they would have a brand new home in a brand new town and get help with the moving expenses.
My parents jumped at the chance. Having spent the war in London and finding it slow to get back on it’s feet in the years following it, this was the break that they needed. A fresh break and a new future.

It might have been something to do with an impending eviction too!

We became New Town Pioneers, and we had London, Hertfordshire and the rest of Essex outside our circled wagons.

I was five when I arrived in Harlow and I still remember my first impressions to this day.

It was like a gleaming Citadel beamed down in a ray of light from the sky.
The houses, the streets, shops, were so new, the concrete so clean and white that when the sun shone it was difficult to look at it.

I began to squint…

For the first time in my life I needed sunglasses and I wasn’t on holiday.

Yeah, a fresh break and a new future, anything was possible here…

Monday, 16 July 2007

I worked my fingers to the bone for you!

I opened my eyes slowly like I was dreading seeing something I didn’t like, but I was staring at nothing more than the wall of my bedroom. A fog of exhaustion was clouding my thought processes and it was confusing me. I never sleep this heavy, never. A second wave of panic momentarily gripped me as I pondered the possibility that I had been slipped a sleeping draft in a bar in Brighton led out side and then dragged into a backstreet and robbed. My back was killing me and my fingers felt like someone had stamped on them,

I flexed each digit.

Strange, they only hurt on one hand. I must have had one hand free. I reached out to a stale glass of water to pass a little liquid over my parched lips. My throat felt like I had fallen asleep with my mouth open. As I clasped the glass, pain shot down my finger tips which made my arm recoil without actually waking me to any degree. An automatic defensive action hardwired into every human being, it’s only at times like these you realise it’s there.
I have to get up, I have to try to get on, I have work to do and I’ve got to make it in today. I struggle to lift myself off of the bed and a pain shoots up my back, I drop back down. I shout “ah fuck” and am surprised that I sound like I’m listening to my own voice from inside my head.

Why is everything sounding woolly?

I don’t seem to be coming out of this sleep very quickly and blobs of eye shit are floating around my face and no amount of blinking seems to shift it. Hope it’s not blepharitis again I think but then return to worrying about my hearing. It’s so quiet around here, not quiet because things aren’t very loud, quiet because quiet things are deafening, like my breathing, gastric juices, creaking bones, and my thoughts, confused thoughts. Normally on a weekday I’d just ignore the siren call of the morning erection to go and put the kettle on, but this was no normal day, but I couldn’t remember why. Why is my hearing so strange.

I reached up to touch an ear for reassurance, stupid thing to do really, did I think I’d fallen asleep with a pair of unplugged headphones on? I don’t know what I thought but the action paid dividends, I put my fingers into my ears, used finger and opposable thumb and clasped something, it came away easily and silently, it’s removal made no difference to my hearing at all.

I placed the thumb and forefinger in front of my face and stared.

All I could see was like lumps of cotton wool floating in front of my eyes.

I blinked.

The lumps all jumped and changed positions but didn’t clear, I still cannot see. I blink again and again and yet again. Things clear a little so I can see my fingers but still cotton wool is getting in the way of seeing what I am holding.

I blink and blink and blink again.

No change, but this time I notice a feint yellow colour and it is on…

Cotton wool! It’s not my eyes now, I am holding cotton wool with a little bit of yellow on it. I decide to check my other ear and low and behold another piece looking just the same.
What the hell I cried,

but I didn’t .

Nothing came out, I still couldn’t hear but I could hear enough to know that I was having trouble speaking. It sounded like a shouted whisper and it wasn’t right, I’d been robbed of my voice.

Wait a minute, I have no voice, no hearing, I’m exhausted and my fingers hurt.
I’m beginning to wake now, and I quickly bring my finger tips right up to my eyes. I squint at them in the morning light and adjust my focus to account for the close proximity. I blink and I blink and blink again.

Well I’ll be damned, I whispered.

The fingers in front of me, only visible to their owner, was a little groove cutting through callouses running along the tip of every finger of my left hand.

Then I realised I’d been rehearsing punk rock for 12 hours the preceding two days, with both ears full of wax from the ear drums themselves to the open air. I had been putting olive oil in my ears and then cotton wool plugs to try and soften the wax.

Now like a weird version of the film 'Groundhog Day' I have woken up realisation that the Newtown Neurotics still exist. This should not be happening, the last thing I remember was that the Neurotics had called it a day immediately after playing the final chord on stage at the Wasted Festival in Blackpool 2006 and that they were in the past participle, they were dead and gone. The last thing I remember was standing on Blackpool beach gazing wistfully out to sea and thinking about America.

In all the years the band were together we never made it to the States. To be quite honest it wasn't a major priority for us so it didn't really disappoint us that we didn't. Things have changed over the years as we have gained more and more American fans, and it grieves me now that these people will never get to see the band live. As we moved towards our final gigs in England in 2006 we had signed a US deal for a two cd retrospective album and been asked if we would be prepared to tour the West Coast of the United States. Our plan was to play our final gig English gig at the Wasted festival and then do a short tour of the States to round off our careers.

It didn't happen,

life is not that neat,

I should have known,