We had been driving through the night. The driver had got a bit
lost and we had ended up on the A-10 near Royston.
"There`s a good transport cafe down here, let`s stop there for breakfast... I`ve been there before when I was a kid." I recall saying.
The bus pulled into the carpark, it was a mostly ripped up tarmac and muddy potholes, it was 8 o`clock in the morning and a fucking freezing october morning. Most of the other occupants were fast asleep. Ken the manager had been trying to navigate and I had been keeping him company through the night giving non-stop commentary. Everyone else had passed out from drinking or had opted for a chance to grab a tiny amount of sleep. Journeys from south to north, or north to south are always a chore.
As we came to a halt, the brakes made a hiss which roused most of the gang.
"Ollie is paying for breakfast, wake up kids" Ken yelled.
The transport cafe hadn`t changed sinced I visited in the 60s on my bicycle with my dad. It was 1983 and it hadn`t changed then. I can assure you apart from a speed camera outside its still the same today in 2014.
I love transport cafes, they are one up from a greasy-spoon, I fucking hate Happy Eaters and Little Chefs etc.
Once we had all entered the cafe we were about ten people in total. We took up three tables, apart from a few regualars and a few truckers it was empty, the BBC breakfast news was on the TV. Something about the Pople on the news, on the radio a song was playing that I had heard non-stop for several weeks.
"Ollie, they`re playing your song!" Gary laughed.
"That cunt is getting all our money, he is ruining it!"
The song was Up Town Girl by Billy Joel, it was a few days from becoming number one in the UK charts and received constant UK airplay. For the last month we had been opening our set with a warped cover version, off-beat and abrasive.
"Why the fuck is he singing about about a West Ham fan?" I said. "What?" Alan replied.
"Up-town, Upton, Upton Park."
"Didn`t think of that."
"Its ok. You can have that joke for free"
We were mostly in our early twenties, scruffy and all chatting, joking, an unusal sight for a transport cafe on a weekday morning. The workmen did lookover, but Ken and Alan the Scouser, the `mature` memebers of our group were chatting about football with our bus driver. Football chatter quickly defused any tension as random old men started giving harsh opinions, the opinion quickly moved on to Thatcher and the price of bread.
The `old-girl` came over and took our order. I ordered full-English with two toast and a tea, so did Patrick, Gary, Aiden, Ken, and Oscar. Alan ordered a bacon sandwich with a tea, Rita had a jacket potato, Betty had egg, bacon and chips. Lauren the same as Betty maybe with a can of Fanta. I have no memory of what the bus driver ordered.
Alan and I were the only non-smokers, on tour we got used to sitting next to each other.
"What you lot doing then?" asked some bloke sitting close by.
"We`re in a band." Gary said as flicked back his hair.
"Well two bands, we`re on tour." Ken confirmed.
The bloke probed further, "punk?"
Gary always enjoyed chatting to the working man. "Sort of, a bit of reggae and disco too."
"The girls, are they backing singers?"
"Nah, mate they`re in their own band. My name is Gary by the way."
"Pleased to meet you. Gary Glitter eh? I bet you hear that all the time. He looks strange, but he`s does some good tunes that Gary Glitter. You ever met him?"
"Nah, but we`ve been on telly a few times, so proberly soon."
The conversation was going at a slow pace, Gary and `the bloke` went on talking about his job, he worked for British Rail as an enginer for thirty years. It explained his reflective orange shoulder patches on his jacket.
Ken not wasting a moment, he chipped in "oi, mate, is that today`s paper? Can I have a read?"
Ken with a smirk on his face, looked at me, "let`s have a look at today`s news, eh?"
Ken always had an upbeat personality, he was in a glam-rock band ten years before. He had met Gary Glitter, but chose to not say anything to `the bloke` chatting with Gary as he couldn`t stand inane conversation. Ken had followed David Bowie`s style from glam and now was wearing a smart-suit and a skinny tie.
He was quite sly man, people were always bitching about money when he was near, when I heard had he had cancer years later, the first thing I said was "that means he will want 45 percent instead of 30." He had quit managing our band and moved on to other projects, however he was invited back as tour manager.
The newspaper was The Sun. He was a few pages into the paper, quietly reading it. Then said aloud "ooh.. Olie.. whats this? You`ve been at it again!"
"Im in The Sun? What the fuck?" was my first thought, I assumed it was a `hillarious story` featuring either someone with the same name, or some skinhead weirdo spastic who looked like me and Ken wanted to take the piss.
Confusion quickly turned to dread as the group quietened down, Ken`s his voice picked up a little more as he read aloud "Punk rocker Ollie`s Six Hour Sex Romp with £600 a night call-girl".
I was still confused as the rest of the gang. Everyone got up and surrounded Ken in a rush. When I got up to see the paper, Alan turned to me, "nah mate, you already know how it ends you don`t need to see it."
"Fucking hell thats funny."
"That fucking tart." I said to myself.
Laughing out Patrick said "Mate, you`ve been had."
"I`m not even famous! I don`t get it?" I questioned.
The old-girl came over, "whats going on? you spilt a drink?"
"Nah, theres some story about us in the paper."
"Why you rob a bank?"
The old girl started talking about a local highwayman from olden days, she proberly recited that same sentance again and again to every customer... "That Dick Turpin used to come down here years ago...".
"What`s you lot done to get in the paper then?" She asked looking over.
Alan in his charming Scouse accent, "don`t look at me, it`s him, he`s the one who blew six-hundread quid on a whore...600 quid of our money!"
He was joking, he knew it wasn`t true, he enjoyed adding fuel to the fire.
"Oliver Amanitin, who caused uproar by performing on Saturday morning TV show Hold Tight drunk back in May..." Patrick read aloud.
I was drunk on TV back in May? Impossible, I`m teetotal. The lies were in full swing.
Oscar, the youngest of the group was the photographer, he had a public school boy accent, despite him claiming to be from a normal family. I didn`t enjoy his presence too much on tour. He let slip an interesting piece of information, "hey they used one of my photos, I took that in August."
I was quick to conclude `who-had-done-what` and prepared and a quick jibe.
"Next you should send a photo of your bird to the press, and tell them you found an fucking alien." Refering to his skinny girfriend with a weird face.
"Ohhh, fucking hell leave it out." Alan and Ken worked in tandem to calm the situation.
The black-and-white photo Oscar took was from our brief US tour, I was wearing a tight white vest, in a contorted pose, with a skinhead haircut. (I wasn`t actually a skinhead, I just cut my hair short.)
As I got a bit closer to the article, a truck driver interupted. He was holding up a different copy of the paper.
"Yeah... I`m a love machine!" I grinned with irony.
"Says `ere you`ve got legions of female fans" he mumbled. "Thats news to me, Patrick and Gary are the two who fuck around." I pointed out Patrick and Gary.
"Who`s the bird?" was his next question.
"Yeah, she`s... some bird from Peckham."
"Did you shag her?" he asked next.
"Yeah, but it`s not like that.. the paper has writen they`re own story.."
"They do that. I bet your well embarressed.."
"Confused...Can I get a read of that?"
"Only if you sign it!"
"Sure, who should I make it out to?"
"Whats the name of your band?"
The article was a work of fiction, `Ollie Mira, (21) the lead singer of Amanitin... spent a night in Grosvenor hotel with a £600-a-night call girl.` The article featured two photos. One of me on stage, the other a girl I knew from Peckham, she had her eyes covered with a big black hat the type you`d see Audrey Hepburn wearing. Her name was `Sonia`, but her real name Monica. Lying bitch, I was angry.
"Whats wrong with a a bit of scandal?" Lauren churped.
"Don`t be bothered mate, she`s only having a laugh, your supposed to be a rocker. Go with it." Gary said.
"How would you feel?" I asked Gary. Gary was quick to raise the moral standard "I wouldn`t of pissed her off in the first place" was his reply.
"Yeah..Good point." Then I had a moment of realisation "Ahh, wait a second, I get it, Ken you fat cunt, you put her up to this?"
"Her?" Ken said attempting plausable deniability. "Yeah, your always going on about how your hanging out with loads of press and journos, and you wanted a scoop."
"Bollocks. You know what I`m talking about."
Betty with her Yorkshire wit chipped in "its a propper two page spread, they have gone to town... `we performed tantric yoga and banged like rabbits until 5am..` I tell you one thing you ain`t sitting next to me on the bus!"
Everyone was laughing, it was hard to enjoy it, but I the loved banter.
Another working class accent with a faded tatto on his arm from across the room jibbed in, "says your a teenage heart throb who is known for wild partys with Prince and Iggy Pop."
"Well, we met Prince and Iggy Pop briefly last summer, it wasn`t that wild."
"Personally, if I was a bird, I rather shag that mop and bucket, than you mate, no offense."
Aiden our drummer came to my defense, "I think the issue is shit tabloid journalism, not Ollie`s rabid face."
Alan, our current manager pitched to Ken. "Ken I know you sold that story. Next time can we at least get our sex scandals into The Guardian?"
"Haha, I like that" Patrick commented, "I think thats exactly what the Guardian needs." Alan interupted "Well, I think Ollie would have to be a six hour sex romp with Arthur Scargill to get in the Guardian... Olie do you have what it takes?"
I sat back down and lowered my head over the remains of my breakfast. The stress was getting to me and I let out a sigh.
"Its post-modern! Don`t worry about it!"
"Fucking hell, its going to be embarressing tonight!" I commented, Ken however was quite the opposite, "read this `olie and his band Amantin are playing tongiht in London at the Astoria where we are sure the sleazy blah blah blah...` so we have got a free two-page advert in the UK`s biggest selling paper, not bad. Quit your moaning, we should get going..."
"It`s been a good two months, shit loads of TV coverage then the eunuch of the band gets a two page spread in the Sun newspaper with a whore." Steve commented before heading over to the payphone by the corner of the cafe.
During breakfast the bus driver didn`t seem too bothered by our antics.
"I`ve seen it all before mate" he chuckled.
This newspaper scandal began almost two months before. It was the end Summer, had a few weeks at home after arriving back from the USA, and preparing for the next bout of travelling, this time we were excited as Poland, East Germany and Yugoslavia were included in our European tour for the first time.
The holiday at home had been interupted by a brief Friday slot at the a festival just outside London, it wasn`t a great show.
Our house was a large Georgian townhouse in Peckham, South London. According to my mum Peckham was once a desirable suburb, which after the war went downhill and now only attracts a better class of thief. Originally the house was segmented into four apartments. It was abit of a dump.
I began living there three years before as an `art school` drop-out squatter and some of my brother`s friends, I had tried squatting before but this was the first building I was in-charge of. When we first moved in the ground floor and first floor had no floorboards or staircase, removed by the landlord as a detterant against squatters, however the landlord was impressed by our repairs to the building and offered us a contract.
It had broken windows, holes in the plaster, random wires coming-in-and-out of skirting boards and strange smells in certain areas. Despite it being a dump we had worked hard to bring the house to life.
Patrick and Gary moved in the house a year after me, they were both from the South coast. They had both been accepted at Camberwell Colledge but took a sharp turn to the DHSS instead, I had known them for a few months before and offered them a room in our house. At that time I was in an up-and-down band with Betty and Lauren. Patrick and Gary`s arrival in the house represented a sudden change in house politics. Before it had been pan-European bomb-makers with Palestian flags hanging out the windows, there were two Turkish guys, well they said they were Turkish, I they came on fake French passports, "did you come here by plane?"
"Bus through France?"
"Do you speak French?"
"Why do I need to speak French?"
"Well I think its a requirement if your carrying a French passport in France."
The two Turks would spend most nights smoking heroin in the basement, my brother was going to step in and kick them out, but luckily the police caught up with them due to one of them having mental health issues. We never saw them again, but after knocking down a piece of plaster board we found one of the fake passports.
The fake passport inspired the title of the second album, "Erkan`s Holiday."
I had been dejected from Lauren and Betty`s band, Patrick and Gary were keen to recruit me, Aiden the drummer came from up north, we gave him the damp room in the basement. With a stable base in London our made waves within sixmonths of forming. The house suddenly attacted art journalists and all sorts of "creative" work shy people.
The house was number 78 in the street, it had large pair of front-doors, I painted them red and painted a large `78` on the door in yellow as piss take of the kids t-show "Number 73", it only led to the local kids showing how much they loved that TV show by chucking bricks through our windows.
The number of people living there ranged from six to 20 or
more depending on the time of year. In the winter the house was
freezing but the Summer brought friends to stay.
The house always had different people coming up and down the staircases, the nearby art schools guaranteed a fresh supply of young girls for my housemates. When not on tour I had little worries at the house, we had enough room to do as we pleased and the dole office was five minutes walk away. We had a communal studio for screen printing, with a new edition of a battered, old printing press for making flyers.
The most advanced feature of technology we had to keep under lock and key. It was our telephone. It meant our band could treat our house as a professional office and plot world domination, although in a house with several girls living and friends regualy visiting the phone was an expensive liability.
The rat problem in our house had turned into a cat problem soon after moving in. The cats kindly invited 10,000 fleas to come and stay, leading to us throwing out all the soiled carpets.
Elsewhere the old Victorian water main was leaking somewhere near our house making the basement damp and the front yard a pond.
When Thames Water dug up our front garden to fix the leak we named it "Peckham Spring" long before the TV show Only Fools and Horses did a similar joke. The house was always lively and interesting events elsewhere were only a minute bike ride away.
We met Marco in New York, he was an olived skinned fashion photographer, very broad shoulders and very butch. He spoke with a Meditarean accent. Patrick insisted he come and stay with us. Although he had accomation elsewhere he expropiated a room as his personal studio, and dumped a rich, skinny West-London girl in there called Penelope to live with-out asking me for permisson first.
Despite being Marco`s studio, the room was a mess, the floor was an assortment of clothes and cutlery. She was in a foul mood over an arguement with the other girls about hair dye in the bathroom.
I was never sure if Marco actually liked me, but I enjoyed his company. I couldn`t ever work out if he was gay or straight, I never saw him get lucky with men or women. Patrick realised Marco`s potental for bringing more girls to the house.
In his studio Marco was taking photos of me. He had spent the morning setting up the lighting, putting up black sheets over the walls and window. "Its ok, it for press photos, I got a good idea, maybe for a poster or a t-shirt for the band. You will love it" was his confirmation of his own talent.
Pavel, who lived in the adjectent room was laughing as Marco asked me to take off my top.
"Ok, here is the idea, you stand, look to the left, and stare at Penenople."
"Am I going to be in the photo?" she asked.
"No of course not, just for a test shot, maybe it will be another girl, don`t worry" he reassured her in a very unflattering way. For me the request was getting a little weirder, he carryied in an `over-head projector` that had been on the stairs for a few weeks.
"Ok, we are gonna` use this ok, I will do some drawing graffiti style on it and it will project over you. I was thinking of stripes, and dots, and maybe a sledgehammer on your chest..."
Despite being a well connected photography person, and a full-time name-dropper Marco`s own portfolio of work was shit.
"Like Keith Harring?"
"Oh my god, he is cool." I didn`t reply, he had said enough.
Pavel stood in the doorway laughing. Pavel was a huge Czechslovakian with a body-odour problem. An exile after the Prague spring he had spent several years travelling around Europe before meeting my brother. We were the original two squatters of the house and both had our own personal bedrooms, inside this house we were infallibale like the pope.
If anything broke Pavel fixed it. He liked art but hated fashion people, he enjoyed watching my petty humilation.
Marco serious-as-always continued his shoot, switching on the projector, I was blind.
"Ok, I want to you to... you know, get an errection... and stare at Penelope.."
By now Pavel couldn`t stop laughing.
"It will be good, with your tight shorts..."
"No it won`t! Didn`t the Sex Pistols do that in 76 on a tshirt?"
"No, that was two cowboys with their cocks touching by Vivian Westwood. This is not about homo-sex` its about you know- hetro-celebration..."
I tried to negotiate a little with Marco, "can`t I just stuff a sock down my pants?"
"That won`t, look like penis!" he muttered looking down into the camera.
"How about some cardboard? I don`t mind getting a boner for your photo, but why do I have stare at her?" refering to Penelope.
"Why can`t it be Monica!"
Marco smiled. "Ahh you like Monica?"
"Well I don`t `like` her, but she`s cool... she`s got a good vibe, like... that singer, I can`t remember her name, the German one, the punk-pop singer.."
"You mean like Cindy Lauper?"
"She aint German! Cindy Lauper is noisy, Monica is quiet."
Again Marco smiled "You like Cindy Lauper?"
"No I fucking hate her music."
Marco objected "I love her music, how can you say that?"
I asked the room "Where is Monica today?", a voice came from the hallway "I hear she`s working today" the voice was Johnny, an Californian musican-come-traveller who was in London for a few weeks, we met him in Paris, and gave him a ride to London, he never left.
Monica and a few other female friends would usually arrive arrive at our house Friday afternoon and leave Monday, her parents lived out in the countryside and she used our house as a basecamp for late nights, drugs and cats. She was introduced to us by Marco. I liked Monica, she was quiet but had confidence, she seemed to like my house and it`s cats, so I asked her to feed my cats while I was gone, and offered her my room. In reality was just a chance to speak to her a little more, and to avoid Baz, Mathew, Rita or Hippy Johnny claiming my room while I was gone. I had felt my infallibility shrinking and my large bedroom was up for grabs. Patrick shared his room with Gary and Mathew.
The back garden was huge for a rent-free London house, we had spent time bringing it to life and planting vegetables and flowers. To keep fuel bills down, we avoided using gas in the kitchen, instead we `borrowed` wooden pallets from the industrial estate at the end of the street. These pallets burnt well and were the heat source for a cooking. During Marco`s photoshoot I could hear outside Patrick and Gary had returned with several pallets, this hinted tonight there would be somesort of barbaeque.
Because of the constant female arguements in our house we nicknamed it "Squat-roads" after the ITV soap opera Crossroads which was popular at time. The opening theme tune, a very Hank Marvin style piece of guitar music was injected into our live set as an opener.
That night the evening was pleasant, as we would be gone for a few weeks we made sure our last night of summer in London would be fun, and we did our best to make any guest feel welcome.
Neighbourhood squatter friends, and guests from far away mixed with musicians, artists and groupies, it was wide spectrum.
We had carried a sofa out from the living room, via a window with a load of other chairs and the TV on an extension chord. People played on a cheap accoustic guitar composing cheap Lou Reed covers, or painful Bob Marley interpretations.
Many a wooden pallet perished on the bombfire that night. We joked about the fire being sacrifical pyre to Shaitan or Wotan or someother pagan god. I`m not sure if the gods enjoyed it, or were angered but the accoustic guitar finale was Michel Jackson`s Beat It followed by Angel Baby by Rosie & the Originals.
"This is funny, I`m gonna write about this..." said a girl, in the shadows, she was a new face a friend of Gary.
"Your a writer?" I asked.
"Yes, I write for Melody Maker."
"Y, y, y,y.. your a journalist?" I stutter sometimes if speak before thinking.
"Yo, yo, yo yo, your a journo!" Gary yelled, he liked going off-topic to wind me up, "Yo,yo yo, Grandmaster Flash!" "O O Olie, freaks out at the j-j-j-journos, he accused some BBC producer who wanted to interview us of being a spy..."
"I, I, I didn`t"
"Well I said he was suspicious."
"And Wang and Chang from the Ding-Wa Fish Bar, down the road... the two Chinese blokes at the fish n chip shop... your always going on about them..."
Before I could explain the circumstances the topic changed again as Gary carried on his conversation with the girl and I turned to Patrick.
I asked where Monica was, "why that?" Patrick with a hint of romantic suspicion.
"She said she was gonna feed the cats and she was gonna stay in my room while we`re on tour."
"she can get the key from Pavel or Penelope, or someone...she is going to trash your room and the phone bill is going to go through the roof..."
"No, we took the phone out of my room weeks ago, the only phone is in the office in the basement... I worried about all my stuff getting borrowed."
"You know Mathew is letting his brother stay in the office."
"You mean Baz the Mexican strangler? Fuck there goes the phone bill."
"No, it was Mathew who strangled the Mexican taxidriver..."
By midnight the bombfire had died down and the majority of the
party had moved to central for a night out.
I choosed to stay home and enjoy the company of Pavel and my cats. Me and Pavel had to carry the furniture back in, if we left it in the back garden, we would proberly wake up in the morning to find someone has chucked it on the fire. Whenever Patrick and Gary bring brought home grotesque club kids something always went wrong. One time Patrick forgot the key to the front door, instead of climbing over the garage like I did for six months to get in through the back, he kicked the front door off its rusty hinges. We left the front door like for two days until Pavel fixed it.
I fell asleep, but on nights like those its hard to sleep, alone it was a sweaty night of masturbation, a real Olympic marathon.
I`m was too stingy to waste tissues, instead, I just kept my left wanking hand hand down in my pants until I could be bothered to go to a sink and wash my hand, to avoid making a mess. Its sounds disgusting, but fifty percent of the human race does this.
I heard the gang come home in two or three groups, it was quiet. Later at about five in the morning I had woken up. I heard a taxi cab pull away, the front door opened, closed, lone footsteps I could hear. Heeled shoes walking up the stairs, first floor, second floor, then my door opened.
Wearing a trench coat Monica stood there looking at me.
"What are you doing here?" I asked with a smile. I focused my eyes, there a tiny amount of sunlight, I turned on my bedside lamp with my right hand. I could see everything clearly, Monica stood at the end of the bed.
"I thought you were already on tour. Is it cancelled?"
"No we fly to Oslo tomrow night."
"Patrick said your tour was starting Stockholm?"
"I was going to feed your cats, and sleep here, that ok?" That feeling of relief, that moment when that girl who has caught your attention for the past few months is sitting at the end of your bed wanting your attention. The feeling in your chest. I never assumed she had feelings for me.
She looked euro-asian, I never knew where her parents came from. She had eyes that a fiction writer would describe as almond, I would say they were brown. She had hair down to her shoulders. Normally she dressed in shabby dungarees and a leather jacket with patches. She spoke with a soft quiet voice and pretty home-counties accent. By the look of it she had been nightclubbing in Soho proberly with the rest of my housemates. I had never seen her dressed like that, she`d untied the belt of coat, and put the trench coat over a chair.
She sat at the end of the bed next to one of my cats, a tabby. She was wearing a black tube-top, meanwhile I was wearing a white t-shirt, still with my guilty masturbation hand down in my pants. I didn`t dare twitch a muscle.
"What`s that cat`s name?"
"Yamato" I replied, "didn`t Patrick call it something else?"
"Roadkill or Shithead, or something."
She smiled, "I think Yamato is better."
"I`ve already fed them tonight."
"Have you got a t-shirt I could sleep in?" This question was the goal I had been waiting for.
"Sure, over in that drawer..." I pointed with my clean right hand, she got a t-shirt and came back to the bed, this time sitting closer, I could see the heavy makeup she was wearing on her face, red lips, she began to remove it with a tissue from her bag. She pulled off a set of fake eyelashes, we kept talking whilst she looked into a pocket mirror. We spoke about bands and her plans for the future.
"I`m just going to the toilet" I made my excuse to quickly wash my hands.
I came back to the room, she was still going at her makeup.
"Fucking hell, I don`t normally see you looking like that..."
She paused and looked at me, "You don`t know a lot about me"
I edged round the room, giving her space, and got back into my bed from the other side. After removing the makeup she pulled off her bodytop, getting a glimps of tit. I turned to left to avert my eyes, as I looked away, my older brother`s advice came into my head, "don`t be a wimp, just do it."
"Its a nice t-shirt, I like it." she muttered.
I looked back to see her changing into the t-shirt, it was a black Crass t-shirt I had screen printed two years before with emulsion paint. She looked good in it, without makeup she resembled the girl I knew.
She got into bed. My room was the largest, I had a double-bed matress. leaning on her side she looked at me, "night" was all she said.
She lay back and closed her eyes. I switched off the lamp, by now it was about 5:30am, the sunlight was already coming in, I looked down on her. I had to make somesort of contact. I slowly edged my left hand forward towards her body. I touched her rib, eyes closed she smiled, then her right hand took mine, I thought she would say something, and push me away, instead she led my on to her breast.
A few hours later, I was wearing a black crass shirt, Monica was wearing my white pjama tshirt. It was 12 noon.
Downstairs the house was waking up.
Alan our current manager downstairs shouting if any of the boys were up. Alan wasn`t actually a Scouser by definition, he was from some town outside Liverpool despite sounding like Scouser, he wasn`t. Patrick met him in the local DHSS, a common place for many rock bands to meet, normally in the que waiting for free money.
Instead Alan was the deputy manager. He had been covering someone else shift dealing with Peckham`s never ending hoard of unemployed scum. Alan was well loved in Peckham cause he would accept anyone`s excuses, he even persuaded a known burgular to pay tax and register self-employed to avoid the local old bill asking questions.
Alan sat at his desk with his feet up on the table, chit-chatting his way through a long que of benefits payments. He really had little tollerance for the grind of the job. By this stage our band had been on TV a few times and done a lot of high profile big gigs, even Smash-Hits had done an interview and we played on a the Young Ones dressed as lobsters, Patrick was making excuses for missing his last `signing on` interview for his last dole payment, and Alan, at the desk lent over and whispered, "Oh righ, Mr Abbot, what if I was to say I know your working full time and not delcaring it?"
Patrick paused with a look of fear on his face, Alan continued, "however what if I told you, I`m going to quit my job here, get incacity benefit for me-self, and then manage your band?"
"Will I still get my next giro?" was Patrick`s response. Alan went ahead with his `sick leave plot` and he quickly rose from deputy manager to manager. Before leaving he even managed to commandeer a load of unwanted DHSS office furniture for our living room and office.
Monica was stoking my stomach.
"I hate my belly, I got my fat there I can never shift."
"I like it, its cute." She muttered.
"Patrick always takes the piss, he says I`m fat..."
In my pants and t-shirt I came out onto the landing, the girls of the house had found a Hoover vacum cleaner and had just brought it in from the street. Penelope, Rita, Betty and Lauren were arranging the Hoover artistically, they also found a large but cracked mirror. They placed the mirror flat on the floor in the downstairs hallway. From my top-floor landing I could see my face in the mirror on the ground floor. They were on the first floor attempting to hang the Hoover by its powercord to the banisters on the stairs.
"Not more junk!" I said.
"You said we needed a vacum cleaner!" Lauren replied, when Lauren replied all four of them looked up, each was wearing plastic novalty children`s glasses.
"I thought Argos Eric was going to rob one for us!" I replied. Argos was the codename we gave to Eric, a squatter friend who lived exclusivly in the West-End, he could rob anything to order, so he earned the title Argos, after the Argos Catalogue.
Pavel came out on to the landing on the first floor, already smoking his second joint of the day joint "Hallo" he said in his central European accent. He walked up the stairs towards me, "Ollie, can I get the record player from your room and some musiks?"
My record collection was huge, I kept it in two large trunks, infact most of it was household-team collaboration of shoplifting and anyone was free to come into my room to take what they wanted. This time was room was out of bounds as the young maiden was sleeping there. I guestured to Pavel the international symbol of "fucking", the arm-hip movement. Sadly this international symbol never reached Czechslovakia, I was about to explain what I had been doing when I heard the squeek of a door open. "Hallo" Pavel said, looking over my should. He was talking to Monica who was behind me, who was wearing the white t-shirt and a pair of my boxer shorts. She tiptoed across the bare landing floorboards into the top floor`s tiny kitchen space.
Pavel looked at me with a grin, he knew I liked her he was one of the only people in house I confided in without taking flack.
"Do you want tea?" Monica said from the kitchen.
"No thank you" Pavel said, "sure" I answered.
"Ok, lover boy, I will come back later..." Pavel said loudly before departing.
I could hear Alan talking on the stairs to the girls. "Whats with those sunglasses?" he asked.
"Do you want a pair? We found a box of them in the street!" Betty replied.
Alan came up the stairs wearing a white pair of jeans, a white cardiagan and a retarded pair of novalty sunglasses, "who are you supposed to be?" I asked, "im The Man from DelMonte!" he replied, he had a shopping bag with some groceries in it, he walked into the kitchen, Alan quirped "I you two have been up to something last night!"
I gave a grin with a quiet smile, she sat on the only chair in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, she kept her feet off the ground cause we hadn`t mopped the floor ever, as the top floor kitchen was the boys kitchen.
"We should take these sunglasses on tour, have you seen the box downstairs, they got about 300 hundread pairs! those Danish fans will love it."
"I though the tour is starting in Sweden?" Monica asked.
"Denmark, Sweden. Same thing, it don`t matter." I said.
"What time is the flight?"
"11pm from Gatwick we will leave here at 7:30 this evening, the van is sorted, Boomer is driving it, are the boys awake?"
"Alan!" a loud voice came from Gary and Patrick`s room, "Yeah?", Alan replied, "tell Ollie to make toast and tea for us", Alan replied a chinese-whisper "make me a cuppa tea, Patrick and Gary don`t want one, toast would be nice too." The banter of the day had began.
Downstairs, the rehearsal of the girl`s band The Mittens had begun, they weren`t doing the european tour, just the final UK leg of it.
"Fucking hell, that bass is a bit heavy!" the window planes were vibrating, "have you got the keys for office?"
"Its unlocked, I think Mathew is letting Baz sleep in there."
"Fucking hell, can`t you let him stay in your room, the office is going to get wrecked and the phone bill is going to go through the roof!"
"Well if its a problem we can take the phone out like we did in my room."
"Its a pain in the arse to unwire the fucking thing"
"I just ripped it out of the wall, took out a big chunk of plaster too." I said with a grin.
Alan and I were bantering on, I turned around, Monica silently had been making toast and tea for everyone, she even had washed a tray.
"Fucking hell, you`ve making breakfast for the house, I think you deserve Ollie`s room" Alan added.
"Alright!" The sound was Aiden`s voice coming up the stairs, he reminded me of Kenndy Evertt, but a hard-bastard version. His room was full of damp, he didn`t mind, "how`s the dungeon?" I asked.
Baz was close behind him, I first met Baz the year before in Mexico City, we did a gig there on the final part of the US tour. Baz and Mathew had flown out intending to see us play, being arrested at the airport over a taxi fare punchup, the boys spent a three-days in jail refusing to pay any money or bribes to the police (they flew with no money intending to mooch off us), the taxi driver who they got into a fight with was in the cell opposite for the first night, they worked in shifts keeping the taxi driver awake, until he threw cup of piss over them.
Eventually the police drove them to the airport to take their return flight home, it was the same flight as us, "alright lads" they said as they got frog-marched past us on to the plane, they fucking stank.
Baz and Aiden we`re both wearing the same novalty sunglasses, "Ollie, Im borrowing your record player" Baz said, and automatically verred into my room. Patrick and Gary finally both came out of they`re room, Gary for pjamas was still wearing his spandex leggings, luckily he wore them out of irony, but few people realised. For his torso he had an old tweed blazer and nothing else, he looked like a superhero tramp.
"Who the fuck are you?" Gary asked Alan.
"Im the Man from DelMonte!"
"Fuck, I thought I was the man from DelMonte... Alan your the man from the DHSS!"
"Fuck, its this split personality"
Gary looked over to see the tray with tea and toast prepared. "Fucking hell, Ollie your a legend."
"No, more of a legend like the type of legend used on an atlas..." Gary stepped into the kitchen.
"Yeah, she made the toast..." I added.
"Cheers Monica.." Gary got to work on the toast.
"Ollie, Im having this Devo album, its cat hair tollerance tax..." Baz said as he returned from my room, "Monica!" was his reaction when he saw the young girl sitting in the kitchen.
Everyone was reacting, Monica often stayed over, but always in the girl`s rooms and never would be seen dead in just underwear and a t-shirt eating breakfast in the boys kitchen.
Despite my liberal lifestlye at that age I was still too shy to handle this sort of attention from my housemates, they were all proud that I had got laid, with a high status target. Christian morality is a hard thing to shake off, after secondary school I think it takes about 20 years of re-education to fully remove any guilt from free sex. My housemate`s could hump hippos all night long, not feel embarressed as alcohol was common excuse.
"Baz are you staying in the office?" Alan asked.
"Yeah, is that a problem?"
"Where are you sleeping?"
"On top of the t-shirts."
"The boxes? Fuck they will get ruined?" Alan finalised.
"They make a good matress those boxes! Don`t tell that to me, ask Ollie aka Dr Dolitle to speak cat language, and tell the four cats sleeping down there to not piss over everything!"
Baz continued to the group "You lying bastards, you were telling that NME geezer you screen print all your own t-shirts, DIY etc, you paid someone to do them for you."
"They are for the UK tour in October, its all big venues for one-week, you should come along, maybe there is a Mexican taxi driver you can strangle." Alan added.
"Have you seen the back of the t-shirt?" Patrick asked whilst sitting on the landing sipping tea.
"No not yet." Baz said.
"They are good, they are white cotton with black print. And we put Erkan`s fake passport on it as a vertical image, you know the page with his personal information identity information, and photo..."
"Haha, thats funny, perfect compromise the record label weren`t happy with you using it for an album cover." Baz replied.
"Yeah, imagine if they did allow it, there would be moutached people from all over the world buying our album and attempting to get through passport control with it..."
"Does it have his real name?" Monica asked.
"Nope, its something French like `René Artois` or `De Gaule or something`."
Me and Monica went back to sleep for an hour, as we walked past the boys to my room, I held her hand, I could sense envy, I hadn`t ever felt like a lead-singer before until then.
The Sunday afternoon featured another bbq, some friends were
clearing out the old garage, so they could use it as a welding
workshop. Me and Monica decided to go for a walk.
I knew very little about her, it took me two months to remember her name. I used to call her `Girl`. We walked down the Peckham Rye then up Denmark Hill. At the top of Denmark Hill I pointed out some houses me Patrick squatted in 78` with our mate Punk Adam, for a Summer when my dad kicked me out for a few weeks. The story amused her. She told me she wanted to study film, go to new york or write for a magazine, but she didn`t want to go to university.
Pavel came past on his bike, still wearing the plastic sunglasses "Hey lover man!" he shouted.
We went back to the house, the walk had been a sweet simulation of what boyfriends and girlfriends supposedly do.
In the backgarden around twenty people had converged, enjoying the sunshine, mostly local artists, everyone was wearing those stupid glasses including Monica. I refused to wear them as I joked they were "bourgois decadence."
The sofa had been carried into the garden for a second time.
Pavel kindly passed around a joint. Inside we could hear the
printing press going at fullspeed in the office.
"Alan how is the press looking?"
"You mean the printing press?"
"We got some more TV interested, in Germany and Scandavia...
"Old Gray Whistle Test want us, I spoke to Toby two days ago.."
"Old Gray Whistle Test?"
"They want to film the London gig at the end of the tour!"
"Fuck that, the stingy BBC cunts just want to get on the guestlist!" Gary interjected.
"Nah, if they film the gig, it means your the best band going... they want the fans going crazy... Ollie you can do your pupper show."
"Who printing now?"
"The girls are making a fanzine with Hippy Johny..." the printer stopped the phone rang, it was real phone sound or a bell being bashed.
"Steeevvveee itss forr yooo-uuu wwhhhooo!" Betty said with a dramatic grandma tone of voice.
After a few minutes, Alan returned, "that was Channel Four, they said all they`re big producers have been doing a cocaine party, and they wanted to know if we had any coke we could sell them."
"And some TV show called the Tube, said they want to get us on the show."
"Wicked, we will do a cover of Cool for Cats during our set, I love that song, Jools Hollands hates it I reckon, it will piss him off, we can get the girls to come and do backing vocals."
"What about Rentaghost? Have they responded to our offer of free appearance on the show?" I added.
"I dont think they were keen on the idea of us dressing as the ghosts of dead nazi war criminals..."
"I hate going on tour, I keep missing Rentaghost, its my favourite TV show."
I was alone in my room packing, Monica was downstairs chatting, after about thirty minutes Monica came up stairs to chat, it was weird, I could guess how to behave, when we were in the garden we sat next to each other but didn`t touch, up stairs it was casual conversation, I packed up my rucksack, my camera, sketchbook, and all the cables for my drum-machine, whilst looking at the clock.
We had sex a second time. "While your gone, can I ware your clothes?" "Sure" I took it as compliment with a smile on my face.
Downstairs there was a racket, I could smell burning rubber and hear smothing like a drill, I was rushing down the stairs and could see into the living room, full of smoke, the girls were standing around the hallway amoungst the bikes waiting for the smoke to clear.
Inside the livingroom Roddy, a former resident and drunkard Glaswegian artist had decided to try out the vacum cleaner the girl`s brought home. Roddy often spent the night on the sofa. He pluged it in, making an unholy sound with smoke bellowing out, quickly the ground floor filled with smoke and that nausus scent.
Roddy stoody there unfazed wearing those cheap novalty sunglasses everyone was wearing, whilst holding the vacum cleaner like a guitar.
"Hey man, hows it going?"
He asked me.
"You want to buy a smoke machine?"
Boomer arrived driving a hired-minibus. We assembled outside
packed our stuff, the whole gang came out to wave us off, Patrick
said "Oi, Monica give your boy a kiss!"
We kissed in front of everyone in a tastless display of affection.
Once in the van, it turned to boy talk.
"Ollie fucked Monica!"
"Ollie, you fucked her?" Boomber asked.
"Smell that..." I put my fingers under Boomer`s nose while driving through Dulwich, "I still ain`t washed my hands, I was fucking her again ten minutes ago."
"Fucking hell, you smashed it!"
Gatwick is a depressing airport, I always assocaite it with
duty free package holidays. At Gatwick the group had settled
down, we had set up our camp in one corner of the depature
lounge. A Swedish friend and music journalist had been in London
for a few days he was flying back to Stockholm on the same
flight. He tape recorder out on his lap asking shitty questions
and taping the answers.
Some kids recognised us and asked for autographs, "little shits they will proberly take out a mortage in my name, now that they have my signiture..."
Gary put the subject back on to Monica, "did you actually fuck her?"
"She is the hottest girl I know, she has turned us all down ,she don`t put it out. Well not with us anyway!"
"What does that mean?"
"You know what I mean."
Gary had a sincere look on his face, "You must do...You know she`s an escourt girl?"
I was suprised.
"Nah, she gets paid to go out rich arab guys and fuck them."
"She`s on the game?...Fuck."
"She is also a stripper apparently."
"Mate, I thought you knew"
"I thought you were handling it well, like a stud."
The rest of the group looked at me, they could see the pain on my face, Patrick got the boot in with his coup`grace morale booster: "Mate, you better go and wash your cock!"
"Ok... dont worry about it..." I said, with my lip
"You look like your gonna cry... you should calm down" the Swedish man said.
Despite my self being fractured and hurt, I tried to keep face considering Radio Sweden were recording everything.
"Oi Sweden!" I said to the journalist.
"My name is Martin, go on..."
"Sorry, Martin. Put this story in your write up for your fanzine or whatever, it will be funny. It will let your readers know how boring our lives are."
"Well its not that type of interview..." it said in his timid Scandavian accent.
I walked off in mood. I found a payphone, Gary caught up with me, "Dude, dont call her, forget about it. In two months time you two can chat, and work it out, just enjoy two months of girls on tour."
"Those Yugolsavian girls are gonna go crazy for puppet show..."
I had nothing but images of news footage about AIDS stuck in my head. "I feel sick, I could have AIDS!" I said in a childish reaction.
"She aint a slut, I have banged so many real sluts I aint got aid or nothing... well not yet anyway... I aint had any diseases so dont worry."
He gave up, "fine call her, it won`t make you feel any better."
The phone was ringing, luckily Baz answered it "Barry Finegan Cat Extermination"
"Baz, shut up, go up stairs and get Monica on the phone"
"Sure she`s watching a video with girls."
Gary tried one last time, "hang-up and save your self 10p!"
"I know..." she said with a friendly tone of voice.
"Whats the deal with your job?"
"Gary said you got a job, I didnt know about."
She sighed, "You didn`t know?"
"I feel a bit confused...I like you, but I don`t know what deal is now"
There was a moment of tension. I could hear her sobbing,
"I thought you already knew..."
Her tone of voice became hostile.
"You were talking to everyone about this? Your a fucking pig" she yelled.
Before slamming the phone down she gave her final summary "Yeah... Im a call-girl, but at least my clients keep their mouth shut, and at least they use protection!"
Ouch that hurt.