Saturday, 18 August 2007

The means justifies the end

Well, that's the end of the gigs set up for the Neurotics to say goodbye, and therefore it is the end of the blog. I am very pleased that I managed to keep it up whilst being so busy especially as before I started it, I was afraid that I would run out of things to say. That fear was unfounded and as such the concept has burst out from the blog format. The 1963 timeline I am going to compile into a book and will continue writing it offline until I feel I have a completed story. At that point I will try to find a publisher.

Consider what you have read so far to be a taster, and if you ever see it on a bookshelf or available on Amazon please buy it, you will make me very happy if you do.

For those of you who have followed what I have been writing day after day, thank you for your perseverance, it was for you that I made sure there was something to read each time you checked the blog out.

Steve Drewett
Sat 18th August 2007

Friday, 17 August 2007

The end justifies the means.

August 12th 2007 6.00pm

Afterwards in the dressing room everyone is feeling very pleased with themselves and Simon whips out a bottle and some plastic cups to make a toast to the end of the band.
Back in the mists of time after he had auditioned for the Neurotics and we told him he had got the job, we toasted the acquisition of our new drummer with a bottle of Pomaigne!
Now at the end of our career we say goodbye to the band with a bottle of Cava.

We certainly know how to push the boat out.

But this was not about grand gestures, we know what the band has meant to us and it is not measured in the contents of a bottle of alcohol.

From this point on, people approach me back stage, I attend the festival the following day and they approached me on several occasions there and I even got stopped at a motorway service station by people who want to tell me how much they enjoyed the set and if it is really true that it is the end.
They make me laugh, they approach and say “Sorry to bother you but…” No one is ever bothering me if they are telling me how much they have enjoyed the Neurotics.
They would be bothering me if they were coming over to tell me how shit they thought we were but fortunately they don't.

The strange thing about this years gig is that everyone thought the hour we were on stage flew and it seemed like half the time. It certainly felt like that to me and the rest of the band, but we were performing so I suppose it would seem like that to us. However I kept bumping into people who immediately said the same, our crew felt the same way too. Last year we played the same length of set and no-one said it seemed short. It may be because we never got to play ‘Kick Out The Tories’ but that was because some of the other numbers we did were longer than what we performed in 2006.

There was a Quantum singularity on that stage I swear and time was warping for us all.

Just like last year, Clare, Rosa and myself decide to stay on for the Sunday and we spend the day hanging out in the Pirate bar (Yo Ho Ho, let’s go! There I go again, any excuse!) and catching the odd band, like the Adicts, who finished off the festival.

We also managed a visit to the top of Blackpool Tower. Whilst at the top I gazed back at the Winter Gardens hundreds of feet below and could still see hundreds of punks outside, they looked like smoker ants swarming around their hill crying ‘God Save The Queen’ whilst doing a curious dance as they followed intricate trails of larger.

I sauntered around to the other side of the tower to look out at a ruby red sunset. I knew we would be leaving soon and I, like all who have made this annual trek to punk heaven had a heavy heart, I knew I would leave part of me here, forcing me to think of it at totally unpredictable moments.
But unlike some British towns which try to seduce you into thinking you could live there for ever if you had the money, Blackpool is more honest, it treats you as transient and asks you for what ever you have got.

For the people who live and earn their living there it is probably a totally different town. But we will never know that, because we are going home, where ever that may be.

Squinting through the sunset I gazed out to sea and wondered what was out there. Isle of man first, then Ireland and then America. Hmmm.
I then realised that I still had to finish my blog and that it was probably going to go on for a while before concluding.
I thought hard about how I was going to end it. I imaged myself at home at my computer tapping out the final lines and I imaged it would end something like, this...


Later I got bored with being in my room and went downstairs for a change of scenery. I placed myself down in my usual place, on a pouffe in-between my parents to watch the TV with the coffee table in front of me. I leafed through the magazines with little interest and yawned at the programmes they were had on as they held little facination for me. Eventually, at some point my dad would make a sarcastic remark to my mum or he would criticise the cup of tea she had just made him ,anything at all really and off they would go sniping at one another until it was a full scale blazing row, accusation and retort back and forth over my head till mind was ringing with ricocheting bullets of distorted facts that made up the rationale of his idiotic logic.

Trouble is they were a double act. Although my mother was never the driving force behind these acts of demoralisation she was the straight man in this duet of misery. Just like it is impossible for a tennis player to play without an opponent, my parents arguments also relied on each other to play out this game of spite. However where the tennis player needs to anticipate the next move of their opponent; they knew the combinations of outcomes so much that there were no surprises left in this tournament of the tormented. It was a well worn formulae and I too knew it inside out, you just needed to replace certain key elements for the rowing to start from and then it was predictable from then on. However this ball of confusion never touched the ground, it just got hit back and forth with great accuracy with me in the middle. The looser would be the one who finally burst into tears. That would be my mum mostly but it also included both my sisters and myself. You couldn’t beat him, this was his raison d'ĂȘtre and he would have infinite reservoirs of energy to wear you down and grind you into the dust. He was the ultimate long distance arguer. The weirdest thing was I don’t remember him swearing, at least when I was there, that means instead of this being a rage of passion, it was cold and controlled, maximum spite, minimum swearing, ‘to stop the boy picking up bad language’. This was akin to the police interrogation methods in the Seventies of beating confessions out of defendants through a pillow so their faces wouldn’t look bruised in the courtroom the following day. And if the battlefield should fall silent for any space of time, the television would elbow it’s way back into our consciousness filling our heads with now more meaningless words because they had lost all context and therefore had no value at all to our existence , if they ever had.
If there happened to be something on the television that interested me I would try to concentrate on it through a crackling and hissing rage within me and I’d try for all my worth to cut out the white noise of infantile strife. I never managed it though, I didn’t have the self control. If I could have cut half the noise out it might have been somewhere near tolerable but the TV, like my parents could never be switched off.

Unable to bear it any longer I would take myself off to my room and lose myself once again in comics and toys. Later in my life, when my sisters left home, I got their big room which was situated directly above the living room. When I'd had enough of their auguring and came upstairs I could still hear their muffled bloodletting rising up through the floor. Headphones had just appeared in England at this point and I knew why they had been invented. I’d put them on to my head and they wouldn’t come off until it was time to go to bed. Later it would be an amplified guitar that would keep this hateful noise at bay and provide an umbilical cord to reason and sanity.

For now, the comics and toys would simply have to do.

Finally as the weekend came to a close and Harlow prepared to move a further week away from being a ‘New Town’ my mother would kiss my slumbering cheek and with a sigh, shuffle off, to once again sleep with the enemy.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Looking out at you!

August 12th 2007 5.30pm

‘When The Oil Runs Out’ follows, dedicated to terrorists, Bush and Blair with the audience screaming out the chorus. I’m now relaxed for the first time in days and I’m really enjoying myself, as is the whole band which is showing in how well they are playing.This is a better executed set than last year and I am well pleased to improve onour performance in 2006 which we all thought would be difficult to do.

I introduce the next song by saying that it is really dispiriting to have so little choice politically these days and recognising that many in our audience have probably given up voting, I point out that apathy does not disturb our politicians, they get in anyway on a smaller share of the vote and carry on doing what ever they want to do. Activism is what scares them so getting involved in grass roots politics is the way to go. Then if there are enough of us doing that, we will arrive at the same destination anyway.

We then play ‘Get Up and Fight’ to further hammer home the point. It’s another number we haven’t performed for years but gets it’s third airing this tour.
I’m really enjoying playing this song, it’s like I have rediscovered it and live tonight it is a revelation! It just soars and takes the audience with it.
The band are so tight that when we end a number the last note rockets to the back of the huge ballroom over everyone’s heads and bounces back to us seconds later like an echo sounding, giving me a mental picture of the audience beyond the stage lights in the same way a bat uses sound to ‘see’.

The audience erupts and I am so relieved that we played that so well because I wanted this number to shine and it did.

We follow this with ‘You Must Be Mad’ yet another we haven’t played for years. The choice of what to play is always a hard one, you leave some favourites out to play others and the audience misses the ones you didn’t play. If we played the same set as last year, people would complain that it was exactly the same. Play a varied set and there are still numbers that have to be left out much to the disappointment of somebody. So we just have to go with our own feelings.

This number also has a new lease of life shown in the excitement the band generates with it by playing it so well.

Finally we come to our last number, the grand finale of ‘Living With Unemployment’ and towards the end the audience sing along with great gusto, so I allow the dub section to go on a little longer than usual because they are singing so loudly.

At this point, little do I know but we are running out of time, I had agreed with the stage manager to have a cue flashed up to us to let us know when there was only ten minutes left to go of our time on stage. However instead of flashing it up to me, he showed it to Simon who had no way of communicating it to me being so far back on the stage and not being within shouting distance. Living With Unemployment finishes in a blaze of glory and we go off with the fans screaming for more.

We had planned to do ‘Kick Out The Tories’ as an encore but we had run out of time and the stage manager wouldn’t allow it.

And so on our final gig, we left the stage with the audience wanting more but not getting it.

But then again they would always want more.

The question is, do I? At the moment I am not feeling emotional at this being the last gig, I am feeling a quiet satisfaction that we had played a good gig.

I just thought, “that wasn’t bad!”


So I gazed out of my bedroom window watching people and the occasional car go by. Across the road I can see the square Billy lives in and Graham lives a little further up the street. If Graham were to call on Billy I would see them both from here, but I don’t, they must be confined to their homes too. A green double decker 804 bus stops a little way up the road and picks some passengers up, it’s a Sunday so there aren’t many. The only thing to do on a boring Sunday is go to church, go to the pub or both, I wasn’t interested in either of those pastimes, I just wanted to play with my friends. The bus passes slowly by, the top deck almost level with my window, bored passengers like mobile jurors gaze back at me, taking in a snapshot of my silent misery, I still feel like I’m in the dock. The feeling passes with the bus and I look around to see if I can spot my friends.

I did have friends at this time, they were my gang, I didn’t mean to have a gang but all the kids would couldn’t make it into the proper gangs, the rejects, ended up with me, and I was leader due to being the oldest.
But I was crap at it because this is not what I wanted. I wanted to be in a proper gang, I didn’t want to lead, I wanted to be lead, I wanted to belong and I needed a father figure in the shape of an older boy to seek praise from.
Not that my gang were a bad bunch, they were good friends and we did have a seriously great time together but I just didn’t feel that grown up with them.

At one point I see one of them, Steven Taylor spot me in the window and he mouths, “are you coming out”? I mouth back “I can’t, I’m not allowed out”. He shrugged with as much sympathy as he could muster and then headed off to the “Hills”. His freedom seems to further agitate me and my lack of it. I dragged some toy cars and a few action figures on to the window sill and use the outside world as a backdrop to an imaginary one, where I had as much freedom as I required and I was in control.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

One is the loneliest number since you've gone away

August 12th 2007 5.55pm

Back in the dressing room Simon says to me, “the audience has all gone”
I said, “I know but there’s nothing we can do about it so we may as well just go and play our hearts out, after all that’s what we are here for”.
“Let’s go”, I add and we begin our short walk to face an empty hall.

The traditional opening number ‘Wake Up’ has been dropped on this occasion and we start with an elongated drum intro for The Mess. I walk up to the mike and introduce ourselves and we are off. The nerves, the anxiety are all gone. They don’t exist on the stage, they only exist in the anticipation of going on stage.

The number really rocks, it is great to play on a large stage with an excellent PA and we begin by just enjoying that sound and space. As we play the first number, faces begin appearing below us at the front of the stage and they are singing every word, it’s a little embarrassing as they are remembering them a little better than myself at this stage. The set is designed to have Mindless Violence start directly after the end of The Mess and that happens with great efficiency only allowing a couple of seconds of applause to elbow it’s way in before we are off again.

We are playing really well, I am delighted by the way I feel too, I have managed to get a little more sleep before this gig than I did last year and our appearance is a little earlier in the evening too so I am feeling none of the fatigue I was experiencing the last time I performed on this stage. As I introduced ‘Licensing Hours’ I could see that we had an audience stretching a few rows back and once the number had finished the applause was warm and full.

We then performed ‘No Respect’ for the first time at Blackpool and it was obvious that it had been anticipated last time and disappointed many by its absence. This time though its inclusion delighted the audience and the response was fantastic.
Now it was time to bring Colin Dredd on for his guest appearance. Whilst I introduce him and Don Adams is taking off his bass and handing it to him, I notice that our audience had grown considerably, we now have a more than respectable crowd in this huge Empress Ballroom and I am feeling soooo good.

As Colin readies himself I announce that this is our final gig and that it is only fitting to bring on the man that was part of the Neurotics for so long. The response was a great cry of anguish from the crowd, a huge “NOOOOOOOOO”. This was news they didn’t want to hear. This appearance in the Empress Ballroom at the Rebellion Festival 2007 was meant to be billed as our final gig but Darren the main organiser didn’t want us to split and hoped it would not be our last so he didn’t make a point of billing it as such. Because of this it came as a complete shock to our fans.
We do Blitzkreig Bop and Hypocrite with Colin, last year this point in the set felt like a dip, this time the news that this is goodbye helps to build the atmosphere and it now makes perfect sense.

After Hypocrite, Colin leaves to great applause and I look out at the size of our crowd and here they all are. We have been worried about the earlier billing we have been given and the effect of the smoking ban but apparently the attendance at the festival was 20% down on last year. The smoking ban had changed the behaviour of the audience with a mass exodus every time a band finishes. This results in the beginning of everyone’s set having decimated numbers but the fans come swarming in as soon as the nicotine intake has been satisfied.

Our audience numbers are now very satisfying indeed, sure, they are down on 2006 but then so is everyone’s on this Saturday. Ari Up and the Slits who come on after us have only half the audience they had last time. I feel good because last year it felt hat we had hijacked 999’s audience by default, this time we know they are all here because they want to be, because they are dying to see the Newtown Neurotics.


After the police left having told my father that the boys stories had confirmed that it was I that set light to the lorry, I was given a withering dressing down that left me feeling wretched. I was told that the only thing that prevented me from going to prison was my age and that I had had a close call. The threat of going to gaol had been lifted but my gloom hadn’t.
I was confined to the house and when ever any of my friends called they were turned away with the news that I could not come out because I had been a bad boy. Billy and Graham did not call for me.
Any opportunity to revive my sins in conversation was taken up by my dad. For example, my mum would say, “Oh isn’t it a lovely day out” to which my Dad would say “yeah and if he’d hadn’t set light to a lorry he’d be out there with his friends at this moment.

I knew now that as the seconds ticked by I was getting closer to the whole thing blowing over but with every mention of that act of arson he reset the clock back to the beginning.
The atmosphere was so thick downstairs you could cut it with a wooden spoon. It was only punctuated by various sisters coming and going but not staying. No, escape was the main pre-occupation for the children of this house, to do anything but remain anywhere near arguing parents. This is a common pre-occupation of children in any household but with us there was a grim determination that set us aside from others.

I took myself up to the quiet of my room and gazed out of my window at the road that passed our house. We lived at the start of a terrace of ten houses. Our door number was number 1, I was impressed with that, there can’t be many people in this world that live in the very first house of an estate. We were elite, comprised of families that live at house number 1.
Because of that number I was convinced that our house was the very first one to be built in Harlow and at one time all roads led to our little abode. I cannot recall to this day ever visiting another house in Harlow that was numbered 1.
I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m just saying that in the normal day to day of one’s life, you don’t often find yourself knocking on the door of Number 1, unless you were in the Drewett family or the police.

The most amazing reinforcement of the specialness of this number was the estate I was gazing at through my window on the other side of the road to us. Spinning Wheel Mead, didn’t have a number 1, the estate started at number 2, what’s the chances of that happening eh?
The word from the street was that in the scramble to build this pioneer town (yeah I know, Welwyn Garden City was the very first) Number 1 Spinning Wheel Mead was designated to be a pub and therefore needed a different set of blueprints for its construction. They built the estate and waited for further instructions for the public house. They never came, for what reason no-one ever found out. Instead the space was turned a square and a large peice of grass.

In my darkest days of low self esteem, I used to look at our door number and think to myself that it was an omen that one day I would be the best, I would be number 1. These days I think it was trying to tell me to look after number 1.

I don’t know, what’s in a number eh?

If I asked that same question to a mathematician, they would say a whole universe can lie in a number, I’m sure they are right, but I don’t really want to know.

The universe I know is as much as I can handle.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Memories and Un-memories!

12th August 2007 1.30pm

I am enjoying being back in Blackpool and at the Rebellion Festival.

Whilst last year was pretty much a process of acclimatisation, this year, everything is more familiar and it is more enjoyable for it. I really didn’t expect to be back here and now I am, it makes me realise how much I got into it last year.
We went over to the venue at lunch time and had a couple of beers in the Pirate bar, it’s actually called the Spanish bar but it is designed like a pirate galleon so I prefer ‘The Pirate Bar’, it also plays non-stop Ramones tracks (at least through the duration of this punk festival) so whenever we set out to have a drink in there I cry “Yo Ho Ho, Lets Go!”, but I guess you have to be there for the full effect.
We spend some time there just watching the punks and skins coming and going and soaking up the atmosphere, I love it! Next thing I know, we’ve got to return to the Hotel to get ready for the gig.
Because we are playing a couple of hours earlier than last year there is less time to hang around waiting to take the stage and the hours have just flown.

Once we get back, I realise that I should have something to eat before it gets too late. I am now becoming really nervous as the evening draws nearer. I have no appetite but must eat something as I'll only feel like drinking beer after the gig, it will take me ages before I will feel hungry again. We go off in search of a chip shop but could only find a sandwich shop that sold chips. I had a plate of them, they were fresh and hot but tasted like pulped paper, my throat had trouble with them because it was dry through nerves and therefore I had no saliva.

It was a joyless meal and then we returned to our hotel to get ready.

Finally, when we had made all our preparations and were ready to take the gear to the venue, I felt like I was going to pass out, it was a panic attack and I did my best to ignore it and carry on like it hadn’t happened. Clare knows the change in me though, for her it is obvious even if others don’t pick it up, she knows I am feeling deeply uncomfortable and that I will not be easy to be with until the gig is done, and if it doesn’t go well I will continue to be difficult to around for some time after.

We are asked to be backstage two full hours before we take the stage, no-one really knows why and the band think it is excessive, after all we are not trying to take a flight to somewhere sunnier and drier. I take the attitude that if I am going to be nervous I would rather be so backstage where I can see what is going on, than in a pub outside the venue just imagining the worst. The band finally turn up an hour before the performance, a time agreed with me to be the latest they should appear.

Just before they do, I am at my worse and feel like collapsing for the second (and last) time, once everyone turns up it fades and as we make ready to take the stage, I am too busy to think of it.

Once again, like last year, 999 are on before us and once they had finished and vacated the stage I took my guitars over to my side of the performance area.

Last year I looked up and no-one had moved, we had a packed house to play to, this year I look up and everyone has gone, as soon as 999 had finished they disappeared, the hall is empty!!!!


I can’t recall when he died exactly, I can’t remember his birthday, I can’t remember a kind word he may have once said to me.

But what I do know is that I hated him, really hated him. My sisters hated him, my mother hated him but she was loyal to him to the end. Now we all have trouble remembering him and when we do, it is for all the wrong reasons.
Sometimes I look at my daughter and think, “What horrible things would I have to do for this five year old girl to erase me from her memory”.

If that was to happen it would be a tragedy, and yet it has happened, not to me but to him. How tragic is it when the sum of a man’s life is collective amnesia and loathing from his offspring.
Now all these years later, I feel sorry for him, I do. I cannot continue hating him, I cannot continue forgetting him and simutaniously, unconsciously hating him. For in the end it consumes you in it’s subtle and yet damaging ways.

How does this damage manifest itself?

It’s in your relationships with other people, in an unkind word, sarcasm, insensitivity and lack of patience.

When I was a boy, I spent what seemed like forever asking, pleading and whining for a bike and when I finally got one it was an ancient second hand boneshaker. That was all we could afford but because it was old, it needed quite a bit of maintenance. I couldn’t do it on my own so I relied on my dad to help me and in the end I learnt to dread asking him.

It was always so stressful.

As we would work to undo a nut or replace a brake block, everything I did was wrong and the more I got wrong the harder it was for me to get things right. He would start off talking to me in an irritated tone, then it would move to exasperation and then he would end up barking at me. Why are you touching that? Did I tell you to touch that? Can’t you follow simple instructions? It’s quite obvious what you need to do here! Where is your common sense? Can’t you do anything without breaking it. Here, don’t be such a chump give it to me I’ll do it, he would say and then snatch the tool from my hand.

As much as I have done to forget him, he is still here, inside me waiting, lurking and at times he reappears like a ghost.

For instance, my partner Clare sometimes struggles to do something on our PC, she’s not too IT literate but she does try and is improving all the time. There have been occasions when I have been tired and cannot face looking at a computer screen any longer and she has sought my help. When I have discovered what she has been doing wrong I offer advice which she sometimes mis-understands. Later when she is in trouble again I come over and I’d say something like...

Why are you clicking on that? Did I tell you to click on that, can’t you follow simple instructions? It’s quite obvious what you need to do here, where’s your common sense. Can’t you do anything on this PC without breaking it? Here, give it to me I’ll do it. As I snatch the mouse from her hand, I realise I have been barking at her and a chill runs down my spine. That’s when I get the feeling that he is in the room with me, almost standing next to me.

Almost, but he’s not, he’s in me,

I am him.

I am not going let him get to my partner or my daughter, but I cannot reach out to stop him.
The only thing I can do is change myself and I’m going to do that with forgiveness.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

I can feel the growing alarm!

I’m back in Blackpool Central library a year to the day when the Neurotics appeared at the Wasted Festival in 2006. Renamed the Rebellion Festival, the band are back in town to perform again and I am here using the free Internet access of the library to try to keep my blog of it all, up to date.
I must say I failed yesterday, I did try to write something using the Internet access of my mobile but unfortunately after going to the trouble of writing a piece, the form refused to submit, I think it is something to do with the cut down version of Internet Explorer not liking forms, I don’t know.
Anyway, what I was trying to relate was, I had spent a drug filled night trying to get a decent night’s sleep. I had taken 'Ibruprophen' to reduce some pain in my side, 'Milk of Magnesia' to ward of some indigestion I was experiencing, two spoonfuls of cough mixture to fight a tickly cough that was threatening to keep me awake and then on top of all that I awoke to a panic attack realising that I had committed myself and my fiends to stand once again on the imposing stage of the huge Empress Ballroom in the Blackpool Winter Gardens. It was such a great experience last year that when we were asked if we would like to do it again, I wanted to jump at the chance. Simon wasn’t so sure, reasoning that we couldn’t possibly beat what we had experienced in 2006. I had to do a lot of persuading to get him to change his mind. I am now worried that he may be proved right and it will be a disappointment, we have such high expectations of this gig that it is bound to disappoint. I was now lying in bed suffering from stage fright and the gig is still over a day away.
I knew that I was going to have trouble getting back off to sleep in this state of high anxiety so added a couple of Nytol herbal sleeping tablets to the mix sloshing around in my blood.

Fortunately it worked, so a reasonable amount of sleep was obtained.

The following morning we said goodbye to our friends and headed off to Blackpool.

Once again, after spending the evening sampling the delights of the acts playing on the Friday night at the Rebellion event, I was in our bed in the New President hotel on the Blackpool seafront trying to get some quality rest as the following day is the day of our big gig. A good night sleep is the holy grail for me this night. However it was not to be.

In the early hours of the morning the fire alarm went off in the Hotel, which pulled me out of my stupor, I lay there for several minutes in disbelief that this could be happening to me and that I never seem to get a good night’s sleep before a gig. I then thought we'd better get out of here, it did sound like a fire alarm but then again it didn’t, I couldn’t work it out.
I dragged myself out of bed and opened up our door.

Sure enough there was sounds of the hotel occupants ignoring the lift and thundering down the stairs in a controlled panic. I said to Clare, "oh Christ, we’d better get out of hereand quick!" I put my pants on and then thought whether I had enough time to put more clothes on. I then realised that I hadn’t and all I should do is to pick up our sleeping daughter without alarming her and carry her downstairs without loosing my step in my sleepy state and stand outside in the freezing cold in just my underpants.
I put my arms out to pick her up and the alarm stopped. Now completely confused I didn’t know if we should be coming or going. I got on the phone to reception and they confirmed that a fire alarm had gone off on the first floor (we are on the third) but it had been switched off as there wasn’t a fire.

Rosa hadn’t stirred at all during all this so I dropped back into bed with my heart still pumping in my chest and reached out for a couple of Nytol sleeping tablets, knocked them back with a slug of water and grumbled, “I just gotta get some sleep”

Fortunately it worked, so a reasonable amount of sleep was obtained.

Today is the day though, all we are waiting for now is Colin’s arrival, all the rest of the band are here, all booked in to the hotel successfully, all our passes for the weekend and guestlist places all correctly issued with no problem. This is great.

There are a lot of people who are trekking out to the outside of the Winter Gardens on a regular basis to have a cigarette throughout the day and evening. This is a miserable experience as you cannot take your drink outside, so you have to judge it so that when a band has just finished, so has your drink and then you race outside for a quick smoke and then race back in, to the bar, get a new drink and then on to
watch a band.

We shall find out tonight if that effects then number of casual audience that have not seen the band before and may fancy catching us.
Our maybe the addiction will win. We shall see and I will keep you informed.


I was too young to feel the wrench in any appreciable way despite having to change schools but I suppose I must have absorbed some of the angst like one can inhale second hand smoke without touching a cigarette.

It must have upset me to some extent, and what about happiness?

I look back and think, I must have laughed, I must have had happy moments, I must have been excited about something.

But I can’t remember hardly anything, it’s nearly all gone.

There is so little there that I have to employ the same methodology the astrophysicists use to discover Exoplanets, these are planets that are too far away to see their reflected light but have been discovered by the gravitational influence they have on their parent star. If the parent’s orbit wobbles it is being influenced by something nearby but unseen.
In this case it was me who was wobbling and sometimes swaying down through those early years and now I am trying to recall the influences that caused those wobbles. Unfortunately it always comes back to my father

I thought that it was happy memories that you retained and bad ones repressed, but for me it seems to be the other way around.

My sister Sandra says she couldn’t remember the first sixteen years of her life!

What are we if we are defined by events that we are no longer able to recall? How can we move forward and try to continue to enrich our lives when we don’t know which way we are facing or where we have come from.
It is very common that elderly people cannot recall yesterday but can relive events from way back in their childhood. If this is the case then I feel I have a very unpleasant retirement to look forward to.

Later I consciously erased my father from my mind. When he died, I stood over this wizened corpse and thought “Well, that’s that then”. That was the extent of the emotions I felt. I was relieved. I had been waiting for this day for years. There were times I contemplated hastening his end but I had been caught doing far too many things bad things in the past and I wanted no more of it. I decided to let time and his illness stop his blackened heart. But it had been a long painful wait.
I walked out of Princess Alexandra hospital and barely thought of him for 30 years.
Until now.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

There's no smoke without fire.

I’m sitting in Warrington visiting some old friends in exactly the same way I did last year before the Wasted Festival. Being here is a chance to catch up and know that the greater part of the journey to Blackpool has already been accomplished. Rosa is with us again and luckily, being a year older, didn’t spend the entire journey saying “are we there yet” like she did last year.
There is so much that is similar to 2006, being in Warrington, the festival continuing in Blackpool, playing the same night in the same venue with the same acts on before us and after us (although all these bands are appearing a little earlier this time). One could lazily conclude that every thing will have the same outcome but I think it is dangerous to believe this.
Regarding the audience numbers in front of each act, where there are multiple stages running all day, there is a big proportion of people who hang on after watching a band to check out the following act who they have heard are good. I’m wondering how the new smoking ban is going to effect the behaviour of this floating audience, and in a way the advantages of having all these venues under one roof makes going out to have a cigarette completely arduous.
When ever we went outside last year there was a sea of punks everywhere around the streets surrounding the Winter Gardens, with the new ban I can’t image what it will be like this year. When ever a band finishes, the smokers will probably wish they could catch a tram out to the front of the Winter Gardens and then, after having a smoke catch one back in to the stage of their choice.

I am a little worried that this going to affect audience numbers on the night. I don’t just want to play to committed fans, I want to convert people who have never heard us before, lets just hope that those potential Neurotics newbies are not heavy smokers eh?.


Once we had moved to Harlow New Town both made attempts to recreate that close relationship in other church groups, but it was very hard to do and Sandra found it impossible. She had to keep returning to her old school to finish her course and take her exams as the curriculum was completely different in Brays Grove in Harlow.
She returned again and again to meet up with her old friends but the link was hard to keep up.
It was hard for my parents too; they were used to a very polarised close nit community in the East End where friends were all just around the corner and could be called upon to help with babysitting at the drop of a hat. Support in times of trouble was a quick run down the road.

As they closed the door on the first night in the new house in Pear Tree Mead all of that was shut out and was never seen again. The friends they agreed to keep contact with didn’t get to hear a lot of us from then on, we were two far away.
Although the distance doesn’t seem much now, meeting up with them was a long cold wait at a bus stop for a 718 bus that quite often suffered cancellations and then a long journey on the twisting roads that were all we had before the arrival of motorways.
We couldn’t drive to see them, we couldn’t afford a car and my parents had never learnt to drive. The train was expensive and the station was situated on the edge of town on the opposite side of it to us, a separate journey was needed just to traverse it. The tube started in Epping which also needed a separate journey to start the bigger one.

Nothing was easy.

We couldn’t even ring them, we didn’t have a telephone. Communication was by letter only and neither of my parents were very literate. My mother only wrote when forced to and always needed supervision.

The support network collapsed, and because of that so did the relationships with each other, slowly, but surely.

Whilst we lay in our new beds on our first night, the wind blew round our little house, over the big green fields and down the almost endless cycle tracks of our newly adopted town. In this environment, this buffeted silence, so different to what we had previously been used to, everyone must have felt an open claustrophobia even if some of them didn’t dare to admit it

For the very first time we were truly on our own.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Preparing to leave and preparing to live.

I’m exhausted, had a final rehearsal today and it went very well, talked about some of the logistics of the band making their way to Blackpool separately and generally started getting excited/worried about the festival, the band excited and me worried as usual. Last time we went up there I only had to worry about making a good impression and we went down a storm. Now I’m worried about not being able to match last year. I don’t know, I’m trying to tell myself just to relax and enjoy it for what it is and another part of me is crucified by the prospect of rejection. It must be something to do with my upbringing.

The band leave before the end of the session which ends at 6pm and I remain for the final hour playing guitar on my own, waiting for my lift.
It's 5.45pm when suddenly the door swings open and there stands someone I presume is rehearsing in our room once our session is up.

He looks at me astonished and says “oh, er
, are you sure you’re booked into this room this evening?”
Feeling peaved at being interupted, I say “No, but I am sure I’m booked into this room this afternoon and that has a quarter of an hour to go”
“oh, ok” he says “Sorry” and disappears to leave me to restart the song he interrupted.

I love it when I’m assertive.


In retrospect, it seems my mum suffered psychologically from the caesarean and fell into a post-natal depression. I don’t know how much they knew about it in those days but it wasn’t spotted and then she had trouble bonding with me.
Where was warmth in my life to come from? I was heading for a lot of disappointment.

Being supplanted into a Newtown had consequences that were not apparent right at the beginning. There were quite naturally reservations felt by both of my sisters as they were torn away from their schools and their network of friends. However the thought of moving into a brand new house in a brand new town with lots of parks and fields did fill them with some excitement and it was much the same for my mum and dad.

The problem was, the move was to dislocate them from the very anchors that held the family fabric together.

The thing is, everyone had been pretending to be a real family for quite a long time before I was born. What was missing was a closeness and warmth that typifies a close family unit. It must have been quite soul destroying as there was a very strong desire to fill the vacuum it left with something else.
Both my sisters joined church groups which provided the feeling of family that was missing at home.
Not to have done that would have had a very detrimental effect on them, if you cannot define yourself by using your parents as a model then you have to look elsewhere.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Family favourites.

I’ve got too much to do tonight to prepare for the weekend! My ideal evening would be do some final gathering and then relax but it’s all going to take a couple of hours and then it will be time to climb the wooden stairs.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Blackpool so I suppose that means I’m looking forward to it. The organisers of the Rebellion Festival have left their usual office and have set up camp at the Festival site. I text’d the main man to add a couple of guests for our show and was surprised this evening to find that it had all been sorted. I couldn’t believe that with all the stuff he needs to oversee at the moment that he would remember my little text, but he did and I am very grateful.
Did you read what I wrote about Blackpool last year, in case you missed it here it is again.

"We stand by the concrete road, rails and wires, built for the trams way back in the distant past when it had no competition from motorcars. The wires look like tight ropes suspended between Blackpool Tower and a massive Big Dipper way off in the distance. The sun is muted behind thin slate black cloud, casting a light promising summer but disappoints nonetheless. Although I have never been there, this place reminds me of Coney Island. Funny how you can make a comparison with something you've only seen in images.

Blackpool is like a big smile through clenched teeth. It has a warm heart and will doggedly try to entertain you with its faded glories because it believes that if you are here, it's what you are expecting. It is both defined and shackled by its own past. It wants to modernise and remain the same, as the world moves on around it, it doesn't know what direction to move in, like a tram, it faces both directions at once.

The donkey man lifts yet another child on to back of his little group of four legged employees totally immune to the charms of excited little innocents getting the ride of their lives. He, like the donkeys, move slowly along the beach, yet one more beast of burden. His flat cap and clothes, sand blasted by the wind coming in from the sea. His skin, hard and wrinkled like a treasure map with no gold to point to. His head down, gazing at the footprints of the last time he came this way. Only a few minutes ago. It's the modern day equivalent of the Myth of Sisyphus where a man is condemned to roll a rock to the top of the mountain and when it rolls back down the other side, he has to start all over again. For eternity! It's almost as though when he was a young man working his pitch with the Tower Gypsies selling lucky heather, he had cursed himself. He is now condemned to give children donkey rides, with each squeal of delight and "look at me Mummy, look at me Daddy, I'm riding a donkey" stealing part of his soul until he shrivels up and is blown off of the beach by the sands of time.

The bottom of the hour glass is indeed filling as we arrive back at the hotel, we have little less than an hour to get ready before the band and crew head back to the Winter Gardens, the Empress Ballroom and the event we have been building up to for months. My lack of sleep is getting to me, for a moment there I thought I'd left my donkeys unattended on the beach. This isn't right; I should feel like a rock star! I will, later. I hope".

I wonder what frame of mind I'll be in this time. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)!


Religion was big in my house at this time, my sisters definitely preferred “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” to “Our Father Who Art in the Living room’.
This was because there was a malevolence underpinning our family life which was ripping the soul out of it. This was happening before we moved to Harlow and before I arrived on the scene.
Before the move he had taken to hitting Sandra but not Lorraine or my mum, this seemed to be motivated by the cramped conditions we were living in (You can measure how cramped things were in that all that could be promised for the girls in Harlow was a room to share but it would be their own and that was an improvement.) and a obsession with noise disturbing the neighbours, Children are noisy creatures by nature and as I said before I think my dad stuck my cot with a wooden spoon to shut me up. I can’t imagine that was a very effective method but never mind.

This smacking is classed by some as a tool for instilling discipline but I don’t think that is a convincing rational. Possibly, if you apply it consistently, you may be able to argue it but to constantly smack only one of your children is suspect and I would imagine have a more detrimental effect on the family than positive. I don’t like the idea that the threat of violence is part of the make up of family life. This is especially true if your father is a bully, and he was, it was as simple as that.
but he was more than just a simple bully I am convinced of that.

He was a master of hurtful sarcasm, he make derogatory remarks to us all, all of the time with my mother baring the biggest brunt and the arguing went on and on and on during the day, the week, the weekend, each month and every year.

Doesn’t sound so dramatic as swift acts extreme violence does it?

But imagine being made to cry, or being made to come close to tears, every waking day of your life and then you have an inkling of what it was like for my mother. Even when these verbal assaults were directed at my mum and not us, we all felt we were being slapped metaphorically. This is what I call secondary violence. My father would continue this assault until the day he expired.

They say that a baby in the womb is aware of the sounds that filter in from the outside world, nowadays mothers and fathers play music of their culture (or of so called ‘high culture’ like Mozart) to their unborn children. I imagine that the sounds I heard was a sort of ‘Two Way Family Favourites’ of arguing, slapping, smacking and crying.

It was almost as though I didn’t like the sound of the family that awaited me and couldn’t face a life of pain so early. I slowly manoeuvred myself so that my mother’s umbilical cord twisted around my neck and began to choke myself.

I was not of woman born, from my mother’s womb I was untimely ripped
(Paraphrased from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’).

The doctors noticed what I was doing and recommended a caesarean section. They cut my mother open.

As I emerged into the light, they mistook the way I looked as being typical of a newborn. I am convinced differently.

I believe I appeared with a grimace on my face, my jaw was gritted and my little hands where clenched fists.

I believe I was born angry.

Monday, 6 August 2007

A change of mind is never a bad thing!

I woke up in quite a state, my back hurting, my mind disorientated, excessive sleep in my eyes and unable to feel anything resembling normal. Swallowing back any rise in anxiety that could so easily occur, feeling like this when a big gig is getting closer I drink a couple for cups of tea and coffee and slowly emerge from the haze. Eventually I feel pretty good, the back pain is beginning to subside with the aid of the usual dose of anti-inflammatories and I begin to feel like a 50 odd year old man should, like I’m held together with gaffer tape.

Time will now accelerate for me in the next couple of days and with tying up loose ends at work, home and with the band, the next thing I will find will be leaving Harlow in a state of agitated uncertainty which includes, “did we turn the cat off and put the cooker out”.

I kept thinking of Blackpool today, I would look up at the blue sky and smell the breeze for a trace of salt in the air. I could almost taste it, the mind is a powerful thing, and it does like to play it’s tricks, I wish I could remember what I meant by that.

Oh yeah, umm,


Why am I so scared.

I’m scared at the mind’s ability to forget past events and I’m scared of the will of iron we display when we decide never to mention something that is quite clearly destroying us, slowly day by day, eating away as us from the inside.

In the sixties, a neighbour told my mum she has seen me swinging a cat around by its back legs and then letting go.

I have absolutely no recollection of that.

It’s a horrible thing to do, l love cats,

But I believe it was me.

Let me tell you why.

Our first cat was a very fluffy black and white thing called ‘Whisky’, he was a lovely lap cat and I absolutely adored him and he did me. However I showed my affection to him in some unpleasant ways, Firstly I found that I could do a high pitch whistle which made him meow and then he would come to me and jump on to my lap, I think he was telling me to stop because he found it unpleasant to his sensitive ears, the only way he found I would stop was if he came to me.

I showed off this skill to everyone of-course and Whisky was made to suffer time and time again.

He forgave me, he always did.

I was unhappy and frustrated by things at home I could not understand and it would manifest itself by me being cruel to my little friend. I would stop it walking where it wanted to go. I would pick it up and place it back exactly were it had started, it would try to walk forward again and I would pick it up and would again place it back on it’s starting place. And so it would go, on and on and on, in an obsessional battle to bend it to my will.

He forgave me, he always did.

Eventually when he didn’t do what I wanted him to do, I would smack him, he would recoil, I would then fuss him to make up and then when he didn’t do what I wanted him to do again I would smack him again, affection and cruelty switching on an off, on and off like cruel binary.

He forgave me, he always did.

I would trap him in cardboard boxes and not let him out for hours, then let him out and fuss him. I would throw him high into the air on to the settee and sometimes over the settee where he would land on the floor at the back and would be afraid to come out. I would then drag him out and fuss him.

He forgave me, he always did.

Things began to get worse, I started turning really nasty. I picked him up and placed him in to a large saucepan.

I watched his frightened eyes staring back at me as I placed the lid on top shutting him into a metallic dark prison.
Is there some strange alchemy that allows evil to transmute through metal? This saucepan was made of the skin retrieved from a downed German Meschermsitt during the battle of Britain. Raw materials to make saucepans were so rare that they were eventually made from the scrap falling from the skies.
I wondered if Nazi evil was spreading from this implement up through my arms and making me do this unspeakable thing as I lit the gas and lowered the saucepan on to the blue flame. The evil was definitely spreading from somewhere but it was coming from closer to home.

I was schizophrenic, I could the feel the anticipation of inflicting pain and the power it seem to give me, but I was in turmoil, another part of me was horrified. Jiminy Cricket fought with something indefinable and sickening, and I was in no mood to give a little whistle.

The lid rattled as Whisky fought to get out, he let out a long meow of anguish as I bore more pressure to the lid. I gritted my teeth and turned up the heat. The flames licked up high on the sides of the saucepan. I was about to commit a horrendous act. I looked at the straining muscles of my arm and for a moment saw myself as others would see me if they were here.

In a split second the battle within me was won, by my conscience. I dragged the saucepan off of the heat and removed the lid, Whisky sprung out and darted off into the living room to hide. I slumped onto the kitchen floor drained and frightened at what I had attempted to do. I gazed at my hands as though they were not mine, the handle of the saucepan lid indented into my right palm through the pressure I had exerted. I felt wretched, I got up off of the floor and threw up in the sink.
The heat had only slightly warmed the bottom of the pan, it wasn’t on the gas long enough. But that wasn’t the point!

I found him cowering under the sideboard, I pulled him forcefully out and placed him on the settee and fussed him while I cried my eyes out, to feel better, to show him remorse.

He forgave me, he always did.

He used to wait for me half way home from school and then trot along behind me all the way back. He was so loyal, so committed to me.

It made no sense.

But it did, really.

I was not the only one who rewarded the loyalty of another with cruelty

I had become my father.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

A pain in the side is a pain in the neck or a pain inside

Just typical, I awoke to today with some pain in my side that has got progressively worse as the day has gone on. I hope it doesn’t come to anything. I can’t bear to think of having to pull out of our final gig. I’m not saying it’s that bad at the moment but it’s sort of neurotic anxiety that goes through my mind at times like these when so much has been arranged and so much work has gone into preparing for this.

It could be psychosomatic I suppose but it could be something real hurting too. I don’t know, I’ll just have to see if it’s any better tomorrow. I’m taking Ibuprofen at the moment to take the pain away.

I spent the day today at a multicultural celebration day. It was held to celebrate the diverse make up of Harlow and it was real fun being with Chinese, African and pale skin families enjoying watching their children having the time of their lives under a recently parked African sun. Rosa is nearly five and asked this boy why he sp sp sp sp speaks lik like thththis, before I could chide her for asking such a personal question, the boy replied “It’s called a stutter and sometimes my mind is running faster than my mouth and it doesn’t come out properly”. “Oh?” Rosa said. Children ask such direct questions sometimes.
Yesterday she asked, “Daddy, are you the boss of your band?” I answered, “yes I am” and then she said, “Is that because you have the best voice in the whole wild world”. I replied “I would love think that was the case.” Which was my way of saying neither yes or no.

I got away with it she was satisfied with that response.


Other acts of violence? Well another time he pulled my trousers down and took off his belt to strike me with it, but he didn’t.

I remember my mum hitting me, I remember the very piece of pavement I stood on. It was at the back of the rent office in Bush Fair as we were climbing the hill to go home after I had ‘helped’ her with her shopping chores. I was playing up for some reason, as you do, and I turned round to her and told her to ‘Fuck Off’. It was the first time I used a profanity against her and I was rewarded with a very hard slap across the back of the legs. Ouch!

As a father now I await the fateful day when my lovely daughter Rosa turns into a malevolent teenager and crosses that line in the sand. I’m sure it is inevitable. But I never want to hit her, because I know now that If I do, I would have failed. I’m not saying I think my mum was wrong to give me that slap but I do not want to become my parents.

I want to be me,

I want my path to be different.

If there was more violence in the family, I don’t remember it, that doesn’t really mean it didn’t happen, I must have received more smacks than that one. But if I cannot remember any others, then the level of it must have been small or at least manageable
Or, it was so traumatic that I have buried it in my memory, but I don’t think so. I don’t recall much evidence of that from conversations with my sisters but when we meet up we tend not to use that precious time going over past traumas. Perhaps there is another reason for that, I could ask, but should I?

I may regret where that might lead.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Standing in court and lying

Been trying to relax a little bit today as quite soon we will be really busy trying to do everything we need to do to be ready for the Blackpool gig. I am looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time.I’m a Neurotic ok, people are puzzled by my nervousness before a gig after all the stage experience I have had over the years but that’s the way I am. To try to put this into some context so you may understand what emotions I feel at a time like this I will describe is as such.

I feel like I am on trial every time I play a gig, the gig it’s self is a court room in which I make my case with the help of my co-defendants (the rest of the band, I am of-course referring to here) to a large group of judges and it is their reaction which determines if I am ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’ to bringing rock ‘n’ roll into disrepute.

If I am found ‘Not Guilty’, that only stands until the next gig and then I have to be put on trial again.

Like anyone facing a real trial the lead up to it is a very unsettling time and can start days before. Therefore I find the whole thing very wearing.

Of-course after all the worry and the pressure, if the verdict is ‘Not Guilty’ I am then filled with the sort of exhilaration that can be found no where else and with that, a dependency on the thrill that can only be repeated by doing it all over again.

If the verdict is guilt as charged, then I am thrown into a dark cloud and feel I have been lead away in chains to a dark, dank dungeon.

There is a part of me that wishes to be free of this cycle of craving acceptance and there is a part of me that just will not let go.
I told you a was a Neurotic!


Next to him just inside my door was one of the many things dumped in my room ” just in case we ever need it”, a sort of kitchen wardrobe. It had storage space on the top part for packets and tins of food, a deep area in the middle that held the bread basket and had a single drop down door that revealed an enamel work surface on the other side of it, this coupled as a preparation area. Under that were two drawers that held cutlery and below that storage for pot and pans. It now held anything but the above in it.

He half remembered it in his frenzied anger so turned and pulled out the knife draw.

Why would he go to that drawer?

All he found was a single wooden spoon, we no longer used it because it was replaced by some rather modern plastic ones and the old one was now to be hidden from sight as a punishment for being old fashion.

He grabbed it and lunged at me just at the moment that my lungs had finished filling with air again, which allowed me to let out a long piecing scream as he hit me and hit me and hit me and hit me and hit me and hit me and hit me and hit me over the head with it, until it splinted on my brow sending pieces of it ricocheting around the room.

He kicked the side of the bed threw down what was left of it and spat out “You’re going to pay for this, mark my words” as he stormed out

It was a strange thing to do.

But it was not the implement he intended to find.
I am sure of that.

Now, loath as I am to admit it, as the omission would allow the continuation of a flow of narrative that would be familiar to anyone who enjoys a story of the struggle of the individual attempting to overcome a violent upbringing, none of this happened!

From the point of the cell door opening in the dream of captivity, I made it all up. I did it to make a point, there was hardly any violence that I can remember during my childhood but there appeared to me to be the threat of it, always present in the background which affected me in a slow creeping sort of way.

There were a couple of grains of truth in that mini tale.

My sisters were not happy to have been dragged away from their fiends and an environment they were familiar to the brave new world and vistas of the Newtown experiment.
My dad did come at me with a wooden spoon but it was when I was young enough to be in a cot. I remember it to this day, my earliest memory. I must have been crying as children tend to do, I must have carried on too long.

He struck the side of the cot with the spoon with a force so great that a piece it flew off, probably into the cot, I don’t know.

That spoon was never thrown away, it was useless for the purpose it was designed but it was kept, for what reasons I do not know.

What I do know is it was kept in the knife draw of the kitchen unit I described earlier and that did stand in my room.

That’s why I never forgot the incident, every time I came across the spoon I remembered, and it burned that act of violence into my brain so that I could not forget it.

Friday, 3 August 2007

In the past I used to take some beating!

Making final arrangements for accommodation at the Rebellion festival has been stressful as today was the 'sort of' final day to get everything agreed. Granted we are a week away from it but I cannot imagine how much still needs to be attended to by the organisers so I just hope my second proposal for who’s staying and for how long, is agreed. One thing is for sure, we are in a hotel a lot closer to the venue than last year and it is on the sea front near the north pier. I just hope we have some nice weather, I love the sea and if I am near it, I need to get down on to the beach and walk along the waters edge.
Last year I stood watching the waves on a boiling hot day and at that time thought that we had played our final gig. Little did I know that a year later we would be back. However this time it is the final gig.

But I know no one will believe me anymore.

Anyway I spoke to our entire crew via telephone today and everyone is getting excited and looking forward to the weekend starting on Friday 11th August. The final arrangements came together so we are pretty much ready to go.
We have a lot to live up to as last year Wasted was a dream gig playing in front of 1500 Neurotics fans, surely this years one can’t match that. Maybe not, that would be too much to ask but I have to be sanguine about that and just enjoy it for what it is and nothing else.


I sat bolt upright in my Pear Tree Mead bed and there stood my dad.

He looked angrier than I had ever seen him before and a feeling of dread washed over my body.

“The Police have been back”, he said, “They’ve just left”

“Oh” I said, which didn’t mean anything but at least it was a response. I thought that silence would be construed as an act of defiance rather than being stumped as to what to say so “Oh” it was.

“They have been round to interview both Billy and Graham and their stories match up that it was you who set light to the lorry”

“Was it you?”, he barked, and I jumped again as though I had being struck.

“No, it wasn’t me, it was Billy!”, I read the situation wrong, I thought that if it was this bad now, how much worse would it be if I admitted it.

I got it wrong.

You’re lying, you’re a liar! You’ve been lying all along, haven’t you? Haven’t you? Look at me when I’m talking to you.

My mum appeared behind him.

Leave him alone Len, it’s not helping, it’s not going to change anything.

He turned to her and said, “and who asked you?, go back down to the kitchen, if you hadn’t have been so soft on him in the first place none of this would have happened, this is YOUR FAULT.

He turned back to me “admit you burnt that lorry to the ground!”

I had run out of what tiny voice I had left, my bottom lip just quivered as if I was whispering the 'Lords Prayer' at breakneck speed.

“That’s not fair” she replied, how can this all be my fault, I’ve done my best to bring him up properly.

OH YEAH, and this is the way he repays you, we came to this town for a clean break, a new life, a brand new home a bright future for all the family and the girls have just moaned about wanting to live back in London and him, him! You and the move and this town has produced this idiot.

“I’m not an idiot” I manage to protest with a cracked voice.

He paused mid-flow and reconsidered

“Oh you’re not?”, no you’re not, no I was wrong to say that. His voice now softened.

He crouched to my level and looked me in the eyes.
“You’re are much more than that” he paused for another moment.

You are an arsonist, a liar and a fucking idiot he yelled.

Then just stars……

I then realised that my head had hit the head board of the bed and came to rest on my pillow. I had an incredibly sharp pain shooting down my nose and blood was now pouring over my bedspread.

My mum was screaming, leave him alone, please leave him alone Len, please! She was clawing at his cardigan which was now beginning to stretch completely out of shape.
The corridor directly outside my room was very narrow, bedroom door, airing cupboard door, bedroom door on the left side, on the other a small wall to prevent you falling down the stairwell. It didn’t leave a lot of room.

By now the commotion had attracted the attention of both my sisters but as horrified as theH were to hear what was going on and as concerned as they were that it should stop, there was no way they could get past my mum to help, one lent on my mum and was shouting stop it, and my other sister lent on her and was shouting the same.

It must have looked like they were dancing a macabre conger.

We’ve had the police coming to our front door two days in a row, what do you think our neighbours think of us, eh? Eh?. I’ve had in the pub last night, everyone knows, and it hasn’t even been in the local paper yet.

"Oh yeah, isn’t your son the arsonist?" They said

I’ve fucking had enough of you, you’re fucking useless, I’ve always said you were, you are a fucking curse.

I never wanted you, you were a mistake, you should never have happened.

Just a mistake, and what a mistake you turned out to be. When we had you, we couldn’t afford it but we had you because your mother wouldn’t get rid of you!

And what happened? We couldn’t afford to pay our way. I was out working every hour that God almighty gave and we still couldn’t pay the rent. Why do you think we were being fucking evicted.

He was winding him self up to a fever pitch, both my mum and both sisters ware crying and pleading, it sounded like the choir of the anti-christ as a fundamental Christian preacher smote the possessed child with holy water.

It was because of you, always you, and all of this is you.

Our last chance to have a normal life and you’ve fucked it up.

My mums reasoning turned on a sixpence to an accusation. “Leave him alone, leave him alone for god’s sake leave alone Len, leave him. You’re just as much to blame, you’ve never be a proper father to him!

I’m trying to stop the blood pouring from my nose with the aid of my fingers I have been so shocked that I had unconsciously held my breath, now no longer able to do so I began to fill my lungs as my anguish was welling up and it was reaching fever pitch. My father responded to what my mum had just said by slowly turning round, he jerked his arms violently out with the palms of his hands in a vertical position, making contact with my mums shoulders and drove her backwards, flying on to the floor, this had a domino effect on my sisters too who all landed in a heap. He stood there and gave her an almighty kick.

I said fuck off back down to the kitchen didn’t I? And that means all of you. Fuck off.

I’m gonna do what should have been done a long time ago.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Friends, Heros and Foes!

I got confirmation today of our accommodation for the Rebellion Festival, which is a relief and it turns out that we are placed really near the venue this year which is fantastic. What is not so fantastic is that I feel there may be some misunderstanding of some of the agreements we had struck with the organisers, which is a bit depressing and wearying. I will have to try to get this straightened out but I was hoping for a smoother ride in the days leading up to the event.

We’ve been getting increasing amounts of MySpace Friends requests and I haven’t had enough time to go through them all. I take my time, I check out everyone’s site that makes a request and only when I am sure that they are true believers do I accept them.
I’m really fussy, I’m sure most bands accept them all just to get the numbers up, but not me, I want to feel it is a real fan base.

But it is difficult, if the Carpenters were still around today I might request to be their friends as I have a soft spot for their ultra-clean, dumb girl and boy next door trash. Yet they may have looked at a request from a punk rock band and said, this is a joke, just deny it.
So I get requests from greek electro pop boys and from the United States, a vocal impersonator who can sing in the style of every artist or group from Frank Sinatra, U2, to the Pogues and Elvis Costello. Then there’s a famous Latin American dancer from South America and Canadian comedians, and I agonise over whether to deny them or not.

I like to think our music could be enjoyed by just about anyone, because we have good tunes and people’s perception of musical styles is not so rigid in other parts of the world.

To deny someone because they don’t look like the sort of people who would be into our music is both confirming my own prejudices and ghettoising our MySpace site to just punk fans.

But then again, they might just be trying to get their ‘Friends’ numbers up, making it look like they have a big fan base.

Very hard, anyway requests from punk rock record labels, recording studios and promoters I have never heard of are dumped unceremoniously.

Take a look at the Neurotics ‘Friends’ at, see what you think.


I so wanted to be Captain Video, I wanted to be a hero and as I watched his adventures I could almost believe it was possible. When the show was over, the Odeon ejected us out through it’s doors on speeding spaceships, and streaking Galaxy II star fighters as we raced the girls on their white stallions (Captain Video was a mixture of sci-fi and a western) through the Town Centre weaving in and out of startled shoppers as though they were merely debris in a meteor field. When finally we would run out of breath propulsion at the bus terminus and there I would board my protobus 804, destination – Bus Fair and then the outer rim, Pear Tree Mead.

However, the feature in my head on this miserable morning was an entirely different thing. The room darkened, but darkened too much, it went completely black. The pale yellow screen turned to dazzling white and then lifted high into the air and shrunk to the size of a court order.
I peered up at it, it looked like a window far away.

I’m in a jail, a dungeon or something like.

I’m imprisoned, trapped.

I have lost my freedom!

I positioned myself a little to the left so the sun shone directly onto my face, I could see dust made up of the skin cells of former inmates abseiling down the ray of light towards me. It was true, once released from a period of captivity, a part of you always remains.

I could hear a slow drip drip drip of water somewhere in dark and when I put my hand down I found a puddle and an empty tin cup on its side by my foot.
I had become startled at my new environment and kicked it over. I could also hear the sound of children playing, a long way away outside the window, how I wished I could join them. How I wished I could be them.

I couldn’t see any thing and I desperately needed to, so I located where the ray of light fell on to the floor exposing a grey flagstone and I thrust my hand into it.

NO, NO NOOOO, it can’t be true, not me, not now, this shouldn’t be happening to me.

There like a follow spot in a theatre had fallen upon it, was a wooden hand, and all it’s fingernails had been pulled out.

Complete panic gripped me as I clattered purposelessly around in the dark trying desperately to find a wall.

Then I spotted it, a very thin line of horizontal light on what I perceived to be the floor, it was light coming from somewhere outside, it was a door. I ran over to it, located what felt like a handle and placed my hand clumsily upon it.

I instantaneously flicked my arm back again, the handle was already turning. The door opened very suddenly and there stood the silhouette of a huge man with blinding light behind him.

Get up, he shouted.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Roll up, Roll up, experience the wonders of the moving pictures!

I am slowing catching up on all the sleep I lost over the weekend and my hearing has returned to normal which I am really pleased about. Trouble is, I have a cold now from getting caught in various summer downpours over Saturday and Sunday and being generally run down.
I don’t care, it was worth it, I think of the weekend now and it all seems a blur of drinking and laughing and rock ‘n’ roll.

Friends of ours caught a bit of the Spitz gig on their phone and have placed it on YouTube.
It’s a section of ‘Living with Unemployment’ and considering that it was filmed on a phone and that the PA sound was ropey it’s not all that bad.

It’s bizarre to have such a good time and yet know these are our last gigs. On the other hand, everything comes to an end eventually and it is better to end it the way you want it to than have other events bring the show to a close. So now we only have the Rebellion Festival gig to go and par for the course we have to have something to fret about as it gets nearer.
I emailed the organisers to get our accommodation confirmed and they replied that one of their hotel block bookings had pulled out and now they had to look around for other accommodation. They told me not to panic, (which gave me the impression that maybe I should be) and said they will sort it out and then email me the details when they have. I am awaiting further news.


The following day I had one of those awakenings, those unpleasant ones, they are cruel and I hate them.’

You start to come round, your eyes open to a sunny morning and for a moment, just a moment all is well and a new day of excitement and discovery is about to begin. The next moment is an explosive flash of what happened the day before and then a sinking feeling that makes you wish you hadn’t woke. I rolled over and faced the wall as the events of the following day replayed in my head.
My wall was painted a pale yellow and it just so happened to be much the same colour as the illuminated Cinema screen at the Harlow Odeon in that moment between when the curtains were pulled back and when the feature began to appear on the screen. When the first image began to shine through (usually a black certificate with a massive ‘U’ on it) the yellow light was faded down and we entered another world.
I would stare at my wall and it would dissolve into a screen and then my imagination would play out all sorts of scenarios as though they were features being projected into this space.
My earliest memories of the huge somewhat futuristic Harlow Odeon was going to Saturday morning pictures. The programme began with a God Save The Queen clip (not the Sex Pistols one!)played every single week, a Scouts or Brownies advert then the real stuff. A cartoon, a serial and then the main feature. My real love was the serial, a black and white re-run of an American TV show called Captain Video and his Video Rangers. This programme, being a cheap filler, a TV show long ago axed by the American syndicated networks was a revelation.
Into this brave new vision of a newtown in which I lived, in this huge Odeon which in itself was an architectural statement of modern living, this serial space adventure was the first sci-fi epic which depicted technology not so much of the future but more like tomorrow.
This cinema was huge, later to be turned into a muti-plex, later to be bought by a local entrepreneur (polite term) to thwart the Council’s redevelopment plans for the area. It now stands an empty sulking hulk drowning in a sea of DVD movies and flat screen televisions being purchased in the town.
It was designed with a big square in front of it seemingly just to accommodate large queues of people waiting to get into it. And they did, when the first James Bond films were shown there, it produced a queue so long that it snaked back and forth through the square and around the corner. Hundreds of people escaping the black and white programming of their little valve televisions to be bathed in Technicolor where the blood was really red, and the 007 travelog gave breathtaking glimpse of countries we couldn’t afford to go to and killings we were sure we would never be capable of. Although most of us, when we got older, eventually managed the first (and I dare say there might have been the odd person sitting in the dark with the light flickering in their face who achieved the second. We will never know for certain fortunately).

Saturday morning pictures were different being for kids but I remember the ceiling being so high that the little recessed lights looked like stars, and hanging from that ceiling all the way down at regular intervals were spuntnik like shapes with a series of spindly arms springing out from the sides and then facing downward each with a bulb in it’s end. It was like fireworks ejected from body of a 'War of the Worlds 'machine.

I liked sitting at the back where I could survey all below me, the slowly descending rows of seats disappearing into the dark and illuminated again in what seemed miles away, by the light of an enormous screen.
I also knew that if you sat right at the back you were not going to get a half consumed Jubbly (sold in a orange cardboard, pyramid shaped container, sold by IDRIS) thrown at the back of your head.

You learn fast when “you come along, on Saturday Morning, Greeting everbody with a smile”.