Monday, March 27, 2006

The Poets in the Tower

Poetry played a part in our lives too. Under the Club a ’Gogo was Handysides arcade, built by George Handyside. It was horseshoe shaped and sloped upwards from Percy Street. The late sixties saw a crop of new shops opening in the arcade, one of which was named The Lady and the Unicorn, and had a painting of them on its window. It became Ultima Thule (at the furthest point from the entrances), run by local poets and selling poetry books and publications like IT and Oz. It was there I bought a paperback copy of Adrian Mitchell’s Out Loud. It was cheap because, said Bill, the poet had peed on his pile of books in the night. I didn’t really believe him until years later when I found out that Men do that kind of thing: I’ve had a wet wardrobe and a mate had her electric fire sprinkled. We’d meet up there after school some days, breathing the joss sticks and reading revolutionary tracts (hoho).

There were also the poetry readings in the Morden Tower. The tower is part of the old city walls, very old. (‘Upper room of medieval Town Wall turret, modernised in 1700 by the Guild of Plumbers’ it says in the Newcastle guide.) As well as Adrian Mitchell, we went to hear local poets such as Basil Bunting, Tom Pickard, Barry MacSweeney and Tony Jackson, who performed with blood and guts (well, once there was a set of sheep’s lungs). My poetry highlight was in 1973 when Allen Ginsberg read at the Miners institute, between the Station Hotel and the Lit and Phil (Literary and Philosophical Society). He was awesome – I think I suddenly realised that the local team had some way to go. A lot of us were there: schoolfriends, Defoe, and drama friends. The tower itself was closed at the time.

A friend wrote a lot of poems, I’m proud to say she is now a Proper Published Poet. she knew others, mainly lads who carried folders of their poetry with them, one of whom went out with another friend for a while. How impressive I thought that was: having a man write poems for you.

The power of words.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

So Many People: Arthur Lee - Rock Legend and My Long Term Hero

Friday, March 17, 2006

are you reading this?

I suddenly can't view my own blog. Just wondered if anyone else can.

hmmm now who have I offended?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

You’ll Always Find Us in the Bathroom at Parties

My great Bathroom residency was at one of Defoe’s parties. His family were on holiday and we’d been helping him set up all day, borrowing a record player from Toomey’s house and stashing bottles for emergencies. For some reason Toomey had taken quite a shine to me. I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or to panic. He looked a bit like Captain Beefheart, which could have been a plus to a fan like myself but I had designs on another of Defoe’s Lost Boys at the time(probably Nixon).
Defoe had bought sauternes because he liked the name (and it was cheap). I’ve never been one for sweet wine but I drank a bottle quickly as a precaution against tasting it. Toomey plied me with more, along with the odd maul, until yonder I saw The Object of My (transient admittedly) Desire. I stood up, realised this was not a wise move, made my apologies and rushed up to the bathroom where I stayed for most of the evening, holding semi-coherent conversations through the door and contemplating whether I was going to be sick, and if so, could I get out without anyone noticing. I did open the door once to let Ellen in for a poo (all heart, me). Outside I could hear Toomey ranting ‘Where’s mah meat? Who took mah meat?’ Flattering or what? I locked the door. At least I wasn’t sick (but may have been if I’d pursued my earlier plans). I didn’t come out til it was quiet and lost boys were snoring downstairs then I did a cowardly creep home. I missed Defoe sneaking into his bedroom with Jolls but did hear later in graphic detail about how his virginity was much more than merely misplaced that night. Unfortunately there was only one toilet in the house – and it was in the bathroom. Well watered flowers down Glebe Avenue.

Tina’s bathroom residency was at a party at my house. She noticed that Marx was a little grubby and did the Only Decent Thing: locked him in the bathroom to sort it out. Oh but she locked herself on the same side. On the landing books were being opened on who was in there but I held my peace and took over a forbidden room with Nixon. Result (later, clearly): Nixon told me I was ‘the most unrandy girl he’d ever met’. You win some, you lose some, but I hadn’t quite lost him yet…Separate toilet in this house and another party 3 doors down, but the flowers were still well-watered down Midhurst Road– so many people.

I’m protecting the guilty here, but could it be you? Key:
Toomey – sock it – socket –
Nixon – president –
Defoe –
Marx – &spencer – St –
Jolls – (car: as in Bolks Bagen)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Defoe and the RVI

Aaargh!!! I can't honestly believe she has posted this - the fingers hovered briefly over the delete button but - hell - this is 35 years on innit?

I had known my old man for about a week when we had an interesting weekend. My parents were on holiday and a cousin arrived to stay because his mam had just decided to leave home. Jade was home from uni, abandoning her live-in partner and quite keen to meet the Old Man. Ellen was there as usual (her home wasn’t on a good bus/train route). Defoe (formerly known as the Groover) came from around the corner and a few of my brother’s friends turned up too. We played a lot of music, drank a lot of cider, and smoked a miniscule quantity of dope. Eventually we turned in for the night, sleeping anywhere but my mam’s room (because clearly they would have trip wires and powder traps etc). I had Ellen, and Young Cuz in my room as well as the Old Man, which didn’t inhibit us as I recall. Jade came and took an old eiderdown downstairs, so I guessed it was the bed-settee for her.

At about 2 in the morning, she tapped on the door and came in. She was using her posh, Joanna Lumley type voice, so I knew immediately it was trouble.
“It’s Defoe” she said “He’s bleeding from his penis. We have to get him to hospital”. So I staggered downstairs with OM. There was a bit of disagreement about how it had happened…
“she bit me”
“must have caught on the ring I’m wearing”
…but there was a lot of blood.

Actually cuz - what he said was "You've got teeth in there".

He was feeling faint, unsurprisingly..

That’s how 4 of us came to screech up to the RVI casualty department in my old mini at the crack of dawn dressed in pyjamas. Defoe had my dad’s dressing gown on. We didn’t have the heart to tell him about the huge jagged tear in the bum area. He had other things to worry about, like keeping the cold compresses(mam’s tea towels) in place. We marvelled at the moon as he walked in. I don’t know how the duty team kept their faces straight, between the hissed exchanges of “teeth” and “ring”, but they managed to staunch the flow and Defoe was released a couple of hours later.

We spent the next 2 days at jade’s mum’s, where there was a big toploading washing machine, trying to get the blood out of the towels, an eiderdown and the wool dressing gown. Then we had to get them dry, which we nearly did. There was just a faint damp smell around the eiderdown, so we stuffed it in a cupboard hoping it wouldn’t be missed.

hidden link

Monday, March 06, 2006

From UK to LA – A Petition

In 1968 we got up a petition to get the Byrds and Love to come to England. It started with a letter to Disc and Music Echo which they kindly published. We asked for 2 signatures for the petition and got some great letters which we pasted onto a long roll of paper and sent off to Los Angeles. The Love one actually came back marked unknown at this address. How much must that have cost?

We made a lot of friends across the country, and exchanged letters written as a joint stream of consciousness (passing the pen, man). The letters often used multicoloured paper and inks with pictures stuck onto them. I still have some hidden away. One has a strip of tiny faces across the top of the envelope: camo for the stamp. We all listened to John Peel and followed the same bands. Just in case they are out there:
Dougie from Glasgow
Much and Bund from Bristol
Chris from Wales
Wendy from Devon
Peter from Harrogate, studying with Stefan at Plymouth
Barry who worked at Heathrow
And many many others
We didn’t meet any of them (well, not knowingly), though I have tried to find them a few times on friends reunited. It was great to know that there was a crew of like-minded souls spread across the country. Recently it’s been a bit similar as we’ve met some great Love fans during Arthur Lee’s 2002-2005 comeback.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Byrds Party at the Roundhouse in London

25 February 1967

The Byrds were always high on our list of Top Bands. One cold morning, just about 39 years ago, I got an official letter from The Byrds inviting me to a party at the roundhouse in London. They must have sent them to any UK fans who had tried to contact them, because the usual suspects from school had them too. I had only been to London once before, for a day with my family, but that didn’t deter us, nor did the small matter of our age nor the lack of funds. Plots were hatched in school and by telephone. We decided to travel down the night before, by train (we were too scared of the stories we’d heard about hitching), because it’s easier to go missing at night. With any luck, we’d be in London before we were missed. There was a complicated plan involving pretending to stay at each others’ houses, but in the end it was me and Jade at her house and plans to meet Cat and Bra in the Central Station in time for the mail train south which went through so many little stops on its way that it didn’t arrive until daylight. We didn’t have money for the fare, but reckoned we could get on and hide.

On the Big Night we went to bed and waited until the house was quiet. Our escape route was through a window. The window was about a foot square and above the toilet bowl. Jade was a) thinner and b) more adventurous so she went out headfirst and prepared to guide my feet as I emerged. Naturally we wanted to look our best, so, to set off my long curly ginger hair, I was wearing a high waisted short seersucker dress in an orange/red/green/yellow psychedelic swirly print with red tights (perfect outfit for keeping a low profile). We crept out onto the road and caught a bus into town. It was full of pitmen returning from late shift. There was standing room only and we swayed about trying to avoid getting coal dust on our finery. When we arrived the station was bustling with people: some out for the night; some plying their trade with price displayed on their shoe soles; sailors returning home. What there wasn’t was Cat or Bra. We waited as long as we could then went back to Marlborough Crescent to catch the last bus home. Breaking back into a house is more difficult than breaking out and Jade had to climb and wriggle through first then open the door for me. We had tried.

Cat and Bra had gone down the following morning on the train. They went to the party. The Byrds were brilliant. McGuinn himself gave Cat money for her fare home. We were more than simply envious: we were devastated. Bra’s parents were not too chuffed, they phoned around to find out where we were etc.

Back at school a couple of days later the fun started. The head, Bag South, had been tipped off about the adventure. As a classical scholar she knew how these things worked and her main line of enquiry concerned what a couple of 14 yr old girls may have done in exchange for the train fare money. We were summoned and denied all knowledge (so much for solidarity). Bra was grounded.

Looking back, I remember telling my mam when I got the letter, which means she must have been on the alert for escape attempts. Perhaps she thought that when she said no to a 13yr old I’d accept it. If it happened now we’d have made it – text messages would have kept us coordinated, sigh.

postscript from MikeB on the love site
Ah, found it now in my Johnny Rogan Timeless Flight Revisisted 720 page tome now you have got me looking earlier. Some more details if you have not got them:"The following afternoon (which is 25 February as you say) the Byrds attended a 250-strong fan club gathering at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm. This was a special thank you to the fans who had collected 1,700 signatures urging them to return to England. For the best part of two hours, the group autographed albums and chatted to fans while their records were played as background music. One fan had the foresight to ask Crosby if the Byrds were likely to split up. "Not a chance" he retorted, convincingly. McGuinn, meanwhile, captured part of the event on his new movie camera."