Into Music: The Greatest Band You’ve Never Heard – Chapter 12
EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD
The true story of the greatest band you’ve never heard
Chapter 12 – The Wrath of Grapes
To paraphrase Cole Porter, I love Glasgow in the springtime. Especially when it has that ‘summer’s come early’ sizzle. When I say ‘sizzle’ though, it wasn’t quite a ‘Tap’s Aff’ situation. One has to remember that in a town like the dear green place, the phenomenon which requires every peely wally Scot to strip to the waist – Tap’s Aff – can only occur once the mercury pushes past a heady 15 degrees celsius (around 60 in old money). This particular day was more a ‘two button undone, swap one’s heavy cowboy’s for lighter Chelsea boots and move from full bikers jacket to a lightweight Roddy Frame suede with tassels’ type of sizzle but even then, beggars were rarely afforded choice.
Anyway, as Gordon and I sat on the steep grass verge, which overlooks not only Kelvingrove Park but a large chunk of the city, we sank a few cold ones, threw down a few F minor 7th’s and watched the world go by, secure in the belief that our time was nigh. As the Tall One prepared to subject me to his private riff collection, a mistral of zen-like calm blew through my thick, dark locks. Yep, 1986 was shaping up to be quite a year.
“What about this?”, said Gordon, hitting me with sequence number one of fifty.
I took another swig of my beer and delivered my verdict.
Gordon persisted. “Ok, then. How about this?”
“A bit too…ewww”, I replied, dismissively.
I hadn’t realised but my insouciance was starting to get on the Tall One’s tits.
“Right..here you go.”
The progression he played could’ve been straight out of the Bacharach for Beginners songbook but I wasn’t paying enough attention.
“Well?”, he asked.
“A bit too chordy…Gordy!”, I replied, chuffed at my Hal Davidian riposte.
“Pass me over another can, will you?” he asked.
“Certainement, mon ami grande”, I replied just before he pitched it straight back, right off my skull and worse, disturbing the lustrous mane. Strike three.
“Fucking hell! That’s gonna leave a bruise.”
“Do I have your full attention now?”
“Yes”, I replied, “but fucking watch the ‘do, big man.”
“We need to finish these songs, in case you haven’t realised. The set needs some fresh material. We can’t keep living off The Barrowland. So, heid out yer arse and get fucking writing.”
The Stella-shaped, tin-coated curve ball which clanged off of my nut may have been a bit OTT but the Tall One did have a salient, if overtly violent point. In the months since The Barrowland gig, we’d been coasting on the crest of an admittedly small breaker but yes, we’d gotten a tad complacent. We’d been playing just enough to keep us in fresh strings, fast food and bevvy, so Devon had started to look for new seams to mine. Some worked out pretty well while others…
I’ll give you an example. There was this one place out near Dumbarton that we’d booked. All seated gig, decent money, paid in advance and as much cake and soup as we could fit into our then flat stomachs. Better than that, an early start meant that we’d be back in our favourite corner in Nico’s before Angela Rippon and Anna Ford had their nightly council telly cat-fight. Due to the nature of the venue, we had to make some minor adjustments to our act; amplification must remain below three, tunes with a ¾ time signature were to be encouraged and, most importantly, no profanity. Fuck knows how we managed it, but we did. While the lads tailored their behavior admirably, I thought what’s the point of having a devilishly handsome lead singer if he doesn’t bring his A-game, every time? Unfortunately, there was no speaker stack so a return to stage diving was immediately ruled out. I walked up to the microphone, pouted dramatically – always a winner – before throwing my hair back and delivering a killer opening line.
“Eyes down for a full house…”
Whether one’s crucible is the Barrowland Ballroom or the Bide-a-Vista Care Benevolent Home, it’s never a strain to have an audience hanging on one’s every word.
“Two fat ladies, number 27”, I said with a smoulder. There was genuine swooning, I kid you not.
While Gordon closed his eyes, losing himself in the music and Jim was being offered boiled sweets from half a dozen gurning grannies, Devon cosied up to one elderly seductress with a half bottle of Lanliq and a rhinestone dappled voice box.
As I called out the numbers, this old boy approached Billy.
“Hawl son…”, he said, his teeth but a distant memory. “Can you play ‘Such a Lovely Place’ fur me?”
“What?” replied the Bold Yin.
“You know, ‘Such a Lovely Place’?”
‘I’m sorry pal.”, replied Billy. “I have no idea what you’re on about. Is it a song?”
“Of course it’s a fucking song.”, replied Ol’ Gumsy Bastard. “Are you stupid, son?”
“Tell me how it goes then” asked Billy, biting his lip.
“It goes like this”, he said. “Welcome to the Hotel California….Such a Lovely Place…Such a Lovely Place.”
OK, the Bide-a-Vista wasn’t quite the next rung on the rock ladder but we got a couple of quid and this time, most of our audience passed out before we did. Result. But at least Devon enjoyed it.
As we packed up the van after the show, our manager appeared, shirt wide open and strides some way south of where they should’ve been.
“There’s no one quite like Grandma…”, sang Gordon.
The rest of us joined in, much to Devon’s displeasure.
“Was she panting heavily or was that just her chronic emphysema?”
We chortled again.
“Are we ready to leave yet?” snapped Devon.
“At least you scored mate.”, I said. “You didn’t have a pop at that tracheotomy, did you?”
“You’re disgusting”, replied Devon, buttoning up his jeans but still the jibes kept coming. “Remember, any hole’s a goal.”
“Even though her pacemaker is older than Jim!”
“Shut up you lot…” he said. “We need to go…NOW!”
“Why’s that?”, asked Gordon.
“I think I might have broken her hip.”
As a wise man once said, there’s no future in old folks homes so we may need a change of tack.
Back at the crumbling gauntlet of danger that was once my penthouse, kindly slumlord Dick Turpin arrived for a tete-a-tete about my lease.
“So, young lady, what’s wrong with the place?”
What could I say? I simply looked upward at my freshly acquired view of the cosmos, unimpeded by frippery such as struts, beams and roof tiles. A small pile of unseasonable snow formed on the flat’s threadbare carpet.
“I see your point”, he said.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, beneath the tasteless braces, the teal silk shirt and the sixty pounds of excess man fat he was carrying, I suspected that Mr Turpin was a reasonable and honourable man.
“Ok, how about I buy you a rug and drop the rent by a fiver a week?”
So, it was au revoir to my Garnethill Castle in the Sky and with any luck, a kinky big bonjour to this tasty apartment Donny and I had our eyes on. Having natural air conditioning might work when I move into my Malibu beach house but the thought of another Northern European winter under the stars wasn’t conducive to one’s physical and mental wellbeing. As Brido had started working away from home, it was left to The Skull and I to find Penthouse version 2.0. Donny passed his probation with the Co-op and with the extra tenner a week, secured an ancient, pale blue Ford Escort and with those rusty wheels of steel beneath us, and his favourite three cassettes – New Boots and Panties, Sandinista and Jon Wayne’s rabbit shooting, Egyptian baiting, whiskey soaked country punk classic, Texas Funeral – we scoured the city for a suitable ‘crib’.
But to secure the place that was top of our list – the grandiosely named Phoenix Mansions – we figured that we might have to bend the rules ever so slightly…
For a start, we couldn’t speak to the estate agent dressed in our normal attire so Donny shelved his beloved Sex Vampire t-shirt and I peeled myself from my Jim Morrison replica away kit for the day in order to get that lease signed. Just to be safe, we flattened our hair, wore freshly pressed white shirts, borrowed from Donny’s dad, and black ties, stolen from Donny’s work. The cherry on the cake though were the crudely made but surprisingly effective homemade name badges that we sported. For the purpose of this meeting, I became Jeremy Peckinpah while Donny chose the descriptively fragrant name of Mr Chad Bawhummer III.
“And here is your welcome pack.”, said the Letting Agent. “With two sets of keys. I have to say, you are the first Jehovah’s Witnesses we’ve had living in Phoenix Mansions. Our code of conduct, which you will find detailed in the welcome pack, is as much for your benefit as for our other residents. We strongly feel here at Majestic Lettings that a peaceful home is a happy home. Well, gentlemen, I hope your stay here will be a long and happy one.”
“Thank you very much.”, I said, shaking his hand.
Donny followed suit. “Cheers big man.”
“With regards to payment, we collect, in person, from our tenants on the first of the month.”
“No….we’re away a lot. On God’s business, you understand. We can drop it in here if that’s ok?”
“Yes, that’ll be fine.”
“Thank Christ.”, said Donny, relieved that this overly officious sod wouldn’t be poking his nose around our gaff that often.
“Excuse me?”, replied the Letting Agent.
“He said ‘That’s nice’. OK, take care….bye…”
Once we were out of the line of sight of the estate agency, the ties were discarded and our hair was returned to its former glory. But even though Phoenix Mansions was just another of those hastily constructed 80’s new builds, it was still a step up from Turpin’s penthouse/ slophouse. As such, we had to establish some ground rules.
“OK, this is an awesome place. We cannot fuck this up.”
Donny nodded in agreement. “Absolutely”.
I think it was St Bernard who said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I wonder if he carried a bottle of brandy around his neck?
We’d had the place barely an hour when Donny, standing on a balcony, wearing shorts and a robe, holding a bottle of Cognac, introduced himself to the neighbourhood.
But the cry was not ‘Woof’, it was ‘Party!’
Seven hours. Enough time to watch Connor McLeod fight the Kurgan 4 times, run two marathons or slow cook a 5lb pot roast. Seven hours. From keys to Caligula. The anally precise contract actually stipulated exactly how many people the living room could hold at any one time. It was all there in black and white. Eight. Not eighteen, definitely not eighty. Eight.
Without exaggeration, the room was so packed, that people were sitting on top of other people. Devon pushed his way through the crowd to get to me.
“What do you think, mate?”, I shouted over the din. “Cool flat,eh?”
“I’ll tell you when I can actually see it”, he replied. “Listen, did you know that you’ve got a TV presenter sitting on your kitchen counter?”
“Laura Muller Jones!”, he said.
“From the Arts Show? Fuck off!”
“We can use this”, replied Devon, his devious brain already shifting through the gears. “Get in there and schmooze. This is a great opportunity for us to move up to a different social level.”
No, I thought. This is a great opportunity to see some supernatural titties.
I fought my way through the mass gathering in the hall, which included the Tall One speaking to an enthralled blonde. They were necking from a bottle of wine.
“No, anyone can be a singer…listen”, Gordon hummed a few bars. “See, I’m now a singer. Piece of piss”, he said. “No, it’s all about the guitarist. That’s the lynchpin, the guy who holds it all together. Without me, there wouldn’t even be a band, you know. All about symmetry, sweetheart.”, said Gordon, taking another swig from the bottle. “Think of me as a sonic architect, if you’d like. An alchemist.”
“Surely if you’re an alchochemist,”, she said, slurring, “you shouldn’t be drinking at all”
While Gordon continued with his scientific seduction, Brido, squeezed in between two of the party’s most fulsome revellers, pointed me in the direction of the Bold Yin.
“You rang?”, he replied.
“A little birdy tells me”, I said, conspiratorially, “ that there is some serious peanut smuggling going on in kitchen area.”
Billy was unmoved. “So what? There’s serious peanut smuggling everywhere”, he replied, casually sucking on his bottle of Foosty.
Point taken. Expand.
“Who do we know that has nipples like a Top Gun’s thumbs?”, I said, dropping another clue. It worked, his curiosity goosed. “Three words….Laura…Muller…”
“Jones? Where?”, he said, excitedly, before sniffing at his armpits.
Billy’s weak spot. Not the armpits, which we’ll get to later, but the presenter. At this juncture, she was definitely high on the Glasgow celebrity spank list. Quite a distance ahead of Muriel Gray but just behind another old paramour of the Bold Yin’s; an American based singer of Bond songs who once let our bassist play with her scoobs for a bag of chips. Chivalry prevents us from elaborating between the hours of 9 to 5. But Laura Muller Jones was different. Daughter of noted broadcaster, academic and pompous old fart, Clarke Muller Jones, she’d been the wanking man’s bit of posh since she started broadcasting the Arts Show on the BBC, a programme which until her arrival was as captivating as a week in a medieval Nordic wheel museum. And on these shows, she rarely employed ladies supportive undergarments. This made her rather appealing to males of all ages up and down the country, illuminating dull Sunday nights with the possibility of seeing her hide some legumes in her sweater. She was cool and very smart. Almost untouchable. Which was a drag. But God loves a trier. Billy reckoned he had a chance after a brief encounter in Nico’s a few months back. Naturally, Gordon had a pop though his dubious but generally successful charms were repelled with the minimum of fuss.
However, Billy’s cool was definitely tested when she was around.
Last week, there was a freebie at the Centre For Contemporary Arts. Ordinarily, we’d only accept invites of this nature to fill our bellies with booze and our pockets with grub, gratis. On this occasion though, the luminous Miss Jones was scheduled to give a talk on some critically acclaimed artist. As she held court, a group of high-brow scribes from the broadsheets stopped stroking their chins for a minute and listened like schoolboys to her opinions on some of the most idiotic pieces of modern art I’d ever seen. The Bold Yin looked on, curious, while Gordon and I ran a closer rule over it.
“I can’t tell if it’s oils or watercolour but it sure smells fucking honking”, I said, taking a tentative sniff at the canvas.
“I’d say that it’s a heady mix of ammonia and…dick cheese”, replied Gordon, his sense of smell as keen as a bloodhound. We both took a final whiff and,repulsed, we went straight back to staring at Laura’s hypnotically cosmic breasts.
“Wine gentlemen?”, asked a waiter
“Whaaa!”, I answered, childishly.
“Two please”, said Gordon. “And two for my friend.” We stocked up on watered down Chardonnay and elbow our way into the pack.
“Does fortune favour the brave in this case?”, argued one particularly earnest patron. “ I think not.”
Miss Jones gave him the merest hint of a smile, leaving him standing in a puddle of his own fluid. “It’s clear to see that her work is heavily influenced by the Wellesley findings of McClintock, in so much that the pheremonal pushes emphasis away from chance and more toward sheer animal attraction. That took courage in my opinion.”
Gordon looked at me, face blank. “Nope”, he said. “I’m out.”
“So, you’re saying that she believes that attraction is purely sensory?”, asked another journalist.
“Very much so. And I agree.”, she said.
“Even a sweaty armpit secretes pheromones.”, said the journalist dismissively “ Are you telling me that you find that attractive?”
Here we fucking go, thought the Bold Yin
Laura laughed. “This is not about me but yes, I won’t deny there can be a powerful attraction in the heat of a pheremonal male.”
She continued, “Let me just say to you that, quoting the same old Roman, ‘Nothing human is alien to me.”
By the end of her Q&A, Billy’s ears weren’t the only things that were pricking up.
Back at the flat, I finally made it into the kitchen to confirm that Devon’s rumour was fact; Laura Muller Jones was in my gaff, clutching a glass of red wine, looking slightly bemused by the mayhem. Naturally she was wearing a tight sweater. You can see why she was so popular.
“Hi!”, I said, removing a fresh bottle of beer from my newly christened fridge. “… you’re Laura aren’t you?”
“And you’re the singer.”, she replied. “Haven’t seen you play but I’ve heard good things about you. And your band.”
There’s a rumbling down under….
Just then, boing! Zebedee arrived. “Hi.”, said a spring loaded Bold Yin.
“Hi yourself.”, said Laura. “You’re the bass player, aren’t you?”
“Yes I am.”, replied Billy, smugly. “We met at the Gallery.”
Hmmm…competition, is it? Time to step it up, I thought.
“I loved your programme on Gaelic punk.”, I said, lying through my pearlies.
“Thanks…”, she replied, “you never know. One day, we might have to make a show about you.”
Thank God my jeans were skin tight as I was almost up to optimum chub limit.
“Cool.”, growled the Bold Yin.
“I’m going to have to leave shortly.”, she said. “Doing an edit on a Mackintosh feature that’s going out soon.” She leant over and whispered, “Maybe we could continue this discussion tomorrow?”
“Damn, we’re playing a gig, in Houston tomorrow night.”, I said, gutted.
“Sunday then. My father is having a discussion at the house about Pasolini…”
The Italian Dictator?
“…why don’t you join us?”, she said.
Dancer! But wait…
“I took one of your fathers European film classes, a few years ago.”, added Billy.
“Then you must come too!”
As she went to leave, the smiles on our faces turned to scowls…
“Don’t cross streams, boys.” she said.
As a permed brummie philosopher once said, ‘There’s gonna be a showdown!’ But first Houston, hopefully without problems.
“Easy wee gig, 45 minute set, £300, back in Glasgow for last orders.”, said Devon from the front seat of the van. “What’s not to love?”
As we drove into the village, something didn’t sit right.
Jim didn’t think so, though. “Looks quite nice here…”
“Don’t you think it’s a bit too quiet for a Saturday evening?”, asked Billy as Gordon started humming Duelling Banjos.
“As I said, just an easy wee gig, good money, nice little village…”
“A nice little village that is full of skinheads?”, said Jim, his opinion doing a one hundred and eighty degree turn.
As we turned onto Main Street, we realised that we were surrounded by scores of neo-Nazis…
“Holy fuck!”, said Devon.
Holy fuck indeed. The village looked like Ibrox on a matchday.
“Is it normally like this?”, asked a confused Bold Yin.
“Not unless Houston has just been twinned with Nuremberg.” replied Gordon.
“Let’s just get to the pub…”, I said, trying not to panic.
We headed further into town, spotting the pub we were supposed to play. There must have been a hundred skinheads, maybe more body slamming into each other. This was NOT in the script.
Billy drove the van into the car park and we forced our way into the lounge. One of the under siege bar staff pointed us in the direction of the Proprietor’s office.
Devon chapped the door. It opened and a fierce looking fellow popped his head out.
“What the fuck do you want?”, he asked.
“What we want is for someone to tell us where to set up. Is it in the bar or is there a separate room?”
The Proprietor looked confused.
“Who the fuck are you?
“We’re the band.” replied our manager, equally puzzled.
No, Devon, we’re A band. Something tells me we’re not THE band that they had in mind.
“No, you’re not.”
“Ehh…yes we are.”, argued Devon.
“Do you play Deutschland Über Alles?”, asked the Proprietor.
“Nope”, said Billy.
“Are you planning to cut your hair in the next half an hour?”
“Hell no.”, I said, defiantly.
“Do any of your songs last more than one minute?”
“And are you comfortable with the tenets of National Socialism?”
Are we fuck!
The Proprietor went back to his papers. “Then you’re not my band.”
Something catches Jim’s eye.
“Guys,”, he said…” take a look at the flyer”.
Plastered all over the wall were small posters which read…
Live on Saturday
ROCK GROUP FROM GLASGOW.
A dash, a dash, my kingdom for a dash. A hyphen, even a fucking comma would’ve sufficed. If you want to point fingers at where the country has gone wrong, one could start with this piece of pathetic punctuation.
Gordon turned on his heels. “I’m out.”
“Back in the van boys.”, I said, in agreement.
“But…it’s still a gig, “ said Devon “…£300 is not to be sniffed at.”
“Fair enough”, said Billy. “You play the fucking gig. We’re off.”
The Proprietor started laughing.
“Here’s the thing boys. This mix up doesn’t hide the fact that I still need a band to play for these boneheads.”
“So?” said Billy.
“So, get yourselves set up and remember to play fast and loud.”
“Fair enough.”, said the Proprietor, unmoved. “In case you’ve forgotten, I still have a contract, signed by you. Here. Take a look.”
He rolled it up and slapped it against Gordon’s chest. Bad move. “Don’t play and I’ll sue the utter fuck out of you”.
Gordon took a look at the contract.
“Seems pretty watertight.”, he said, nonchalantly.
“Damn right it is. Stage is that way boys.”, said the Proprietor, gulping down smugness pills like Smarties. “Close the door on the way out, if you don’t mind?”
“Here’s the thing.” said Gordon. “Contract or not, 500 skinheads, we play…our problem. 500 skinheads, no band…your problem.”
“I hope you’ve got a good lawyer. You’re gonna need one.”, said the Proprietor.
“You might need to find a joiner.”, said Billy as a handful of skinheads broke through the closed bar.
“And a glazier!”, said Jim ducking instinctively as a heavy wooden table came flying through the window. The Proprietor started to realise the seriousness of the situation.
“Don’t worry, mate. I’m sure your insurance will cover it, once you show them the footage. You do have cameras, don’t you.”, said Devon.
“We don’t have any cameras.”, he said as reality, and the front door started to crash around his feet.
“No cameras?”, said Gordon, smiling as he removed his glasses.
In addition to a joiner, a glazier and a whole new crew of bar staff, it seemed that the Proprietor was going to need a dentist too.
After the Tall One hammered out the finer points of the contract with the Proprietor, we snuck out the back door and into our van. Leaving Houston, as bottles bounced off the sides of our van, one rather athletic skinhead attempted to show Jesse Owens how the long jump should be done by sprinting after then launching himself towards our escape craft.
“Jeez. That was close, eh?”, laughed Devon nervously.
Gordon leapt across the van, collaring our manager.
“That’s it.”, he barked with some aggression he had left over from the pub. “No more old folks homes, no more bingo and no more trips to villages of the fucking damned. Got it?”
“I agree”, I said. “I’ve been doing this less than a year and I’m already fed up with this shit. Don’t you care about us? Our image? Why are we paying you?”
“You’re not.”, snapped back Devon.
“Come again?”, asked Jim, confused.
“You’re not. How much money have I taken from the pot since we started? Billy? Anyone?”
“Err..I don’t know.”, replied the Bold Yin.
“Jim…George…come on. How much?”
Jim and I shook our heads.
“Nothing.”, he spat. “That’s right. Nothing. Not a fucking bean. All outgoings. And why? Tell me Gordon, why?”
Gordon stared back at him.
“Ok, I’ll tell you why. Because I love this band. That’s it. I love this band. I wake up every morning singing your stupid fucking songs. I spend all day calling people who couldn’t give a toss about another bloody band and I fight, reason, beg then pay them to take a chance. They ask what makes you so special and I tell them. I tell them about the magic that you create, Tall One. There is no one in your league. No one does this. And Billy’s grooves?” he said, moving around the van. “Jim’s drumming? That’s why we have crowds bouncing. And then I tell them that this skinny tosser,” he said, pointing to me “this dopey cunt is the reason that all of this is going to go stratospheric. It’s not just the girls who are going to bed dreaming of White… I lie down, and I rack my brains thinking of ways to get you heard. To get you on TV, radio. To get people to understand what I feel about a fucking three minute piece of magic. Sometimes, like today, it doesn’t come off but am I still out there hustling for you? Want a good review? That’s another journalist I need to get drunk. Want to hear your song on the radio? That’s a DJ I’ve got to take care of? A chance to get some dead time in a top studio? That’ll be another producer who won’t even open the tape until he gets his miniscule knob blown.”
Devon leant back against the flight cases and sighed, heavily.
“I haven’t paid my mortgage in three months.”
“What?”, said Gordon, as startled as the rest of us.
“Close to four now. I need this breakthrough just as much as you do. Maybe more. But if I didn’t believe in what you’re doing…what we’re doing…I’d have moved you on a long time ago.”
You could’ve heard a pin drop..
“Fuck it,”, said Billy, “let’s go to Nicos.”
“One beer, five straws. I’ll pay.” said Gordon, breaking the tension.
As the old proverb goes, sometimes it is better to be in chains with friends, than to be in a garden with strangers. Paying through the nose for priapic, arsonist, cokehead drummers and mid range call girls in the name of chasing a rock and roll dream will do strange things to a man. But we understood. Devon, like the rest of us, was baw deep now. No going back.
“That’s fine lads but what about this guy?”, said Jim pointing to the window at the back of the van.
We all turned to see one athletic but now terrified skinhead, hanging onto the van’s roof rack for dear life.
Billy slammed the brakes on and from the sounds of things, the skinny fascist broke more than his personal best.
Twenty four hours later, Billy and I stood toe to toe outside a large, foreboding gothic house on Victoria Circus in Hyndland.
Sword fight at the Muller Jones Corral.
Billy put his shades on and said, “Where we’re going…we don’t need rules.”
“Do your worst, Bold Yin”, I growled back.
We rang the bell and the lovely Laura herself answered, ushering us through the agglomeration of West African art and West End Wendies that filled her hallway. It was a toss up as to which was more heavily decorated. Laura walked us into a very busy lounge with seating arranged, theatre style.
“I’ve kept a space, just for you…”, she said, pointing to an ornate couch near the front.
On the couch sat Gordon, stretched out and drinking from a wine glass the size of a small goldfish bowl.
“Alright boys?”, said a very relaxed Tall One.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”, I asked.
“You didn’t think I was going to miss out on a free kinky booze fest, did you?”
Laura returned with a couple of large glasses of red wine, handing one each to the Bold Yin and I.
“Just keep away from her.”, I said. “She’s mine.”
“We’ll see about that, boy.”, replied Billy, sniffing at his armpits.
“You two are strange.”, said Gordon, in between gulps.
Strange. There’s an interesting word. Billy attempting to inhale his matted armpit hair was the height of normality compared with what was to follow.
The lights went down and a loud voice bellowed. A large, elderly man with a shock of untamed grey hair entered the room.
“Welcome! Welcome all.”
The voice belonged to Lisa’s father, Professor Clarke Muller Jones. Fantasy Leeds attack of the 70’s or mental old bastard? You decide…
“Pasolini. Pasolini.”, he said, stretching out the four syllables like a beat poet. What do we know about this artist? Coprophagiac, visceral, satanic. Misunderstood?”
Flashing on the screen behind him were clips from Pasolini’s film ‘Salo’. Almost all of the invited audience were enthralled by the imagery and discussion but Gordon, Billy and I weren’t. Laura looked over at me and smiled. I gave her the most reluctant thumbs up since Prince Phillip’s last proctology visit. And like the old formaldehyde drinking racist, I closed my eyes and hoped that the dreadful experience would soon be over.
The things one does to get one’s Nat King, eh?
After twenty more minutes of incoherent gabble, the lights went up and there was an emphatic round of applause.
Laura approached our couch with a fresh bottle of red.
“What did you think?”, she asked, keenly.
“It’s no Ghostbusters.”, replied Gordon.
Billy, swallowing the remains of a thesaurus with his crab vol-au-vent, added.
“It was very …interesting. Allegoric, metaphoric…”
The word you’re looking for, Bold Yin, is horrific…
“I have honestly never seen shite eaten before.”, I said, “ And by a human. So, thank you for that.”
Just then, Professor Jones arrived.
“Ah! You must be the boys my daughter has been talking about. I have heard very good things about you. Young gods all.”, he said.
He sidled up to Billy and Gordon, gazing intently into their worried eyes.
“Look, Spartacus and Apollo, reborn. Striking, deliberate, strong. The one of entrapment.”
“And you”, he said, turning his full attention towards me, “young Dionysus.”
“Come with me young man.”, he said, grabbing my arm.
I looked at Laura with a mix of confusion and blind panic. She shook her head, smiled and waved me on.
“Where are we going?”, I asked.
The way of all flesh, young George…the way of all flesh.
He led me to a private room, the walls covered in portraits and sculptures, the windows lined with dark red velvet drapes. I took a seat on a small couch with ornate, gilded arm rests. The professor joined me.
“Comfy?”, he asked.
“Pollok. Southside.”, I replied. “And you?”
“No, are you comfortable?”, he asked, squeezing ever closer to me.
“I guess so.”
“I could see from your reaction to the Pasolini film that you are a young man in search of both enlightenment and…experience.”
I wonder where this is going?
“Tell me,”, he whispered, “do you like eating oysters or eating snails?
Professor Jones picked up an oyster from the plate, resting on the table and attempted to pour it into my mouth.
“I prefer chips”, I said, spitting the foul tasting muck into a vase while the Prof’s back was turned.
“Chips. Of course you do.”, he laughed. “Tell me, do you know of Tristan and Isolde?”
“The folk duo?”
Professor Jones poured me another large glass of wine. “Forbidden, dangerous passion has always inspired the greatest art. Pasolini knew this. So did this man.”
The Professor dropped the needle on a recording of Wagner’s ‘Liebestod’. For a moment, he was lost in the opening before returning to sit even closer to me.
“It’s nice.”, I replied. Actually, it was..
That’s when the Professor stroked my cheek.
“…and beautiful.”, he said tenderly.
Gordon, Billy…get me the fuck out of here!
As the music continued, old Clarkey boy closed his eyes and rocked back, drowning in the piece.
“Softly and gently…how he smiles… how his eyes… fondly open…do you see, friends?”
I do not see my friends.
As the music rose to a crescendo, he gripped my thigh. And not near the knee. The other end…
“Aaarrggh!”, I yelped.
Saints preserve us!
Just then, the door opened.
“There you are.”, said Laura. “Can I have my boy back now, Father?”
This miraculous escape was brought to you by Christina the Astonishing, patron saint of groin grabbing lunatics.
Laura took me by the hand and led me to safety. The mad old bastard continued to sing
“unconscious…utmost joy!”, he warbled. “Where is my Spartacus?”
She took me up a flight of stairs and along a quiet hallway.
“Come with me…”, she said. “I want to share something with you.”
This had better not be some mad uncle in the tower with a penchant for buggering corpses.
“This was my room.”, she said, opening the door.
Promising, no relatives here.
“Do you partake?”, she asked.
Laura sparked up a reefer, took a drag then passed it to me. As I took a medium sized hit, she undid the buttons on her dress, letting it fall to the floor, confirming my suspicions that no ladies undergarments were present.
Breathe my boy, I thought. No pressure, she’s just a famous TV personality. You’ve already cracked one or twelve off to her on TV. Now that you’re here, do not fuck this up. And don’t spooge in the first few seconds. That would be unforgivable.
I gulped down the remainder of the wine then took a couple of heroic drags before moving over towards her.
We started to kiss. In ordinary circumstances, this would be one of the hottest moments of my short life. But…
“Are you alright?” she asked. “You look quite pale…”
Is it possible that the cubic gallon of red wine and killer J chaser, combining with the doner kebab I had earlier and the shellfish combo that the Professor forced upon me had knocked a fuck off hole in the side of my libidinous love boat?
As I pushed myself up and away, I proceeded to coat the naked, firm and unbearably sexy body of Laura Muller Jones in a vat of luminous vomit.
I had never seen sick that colour before. The word vivid does not do it justice. Redecorated her lady garden too. Oddly, I reckon her Dad would’ve approved.
“Laura”, I said, still gagging. “ Any chance of borrowing your toothbrush?”
I hastily dressed and staggered out of the room towards my baffled compadres. Someone offered me a glass of wine. I think I spat the remaining residue into the glass and handed it back.
“Nice touch.”, said Gordon.
“Bold Yin?”, I said. “She’s all yours mate.”
Someone once said that wine gives courage and makes a man more apt for passion. They must have missed out the part about watching people eat faeces and fighting off Trumbo quoting, oyster wielding letches. Our desperate attempts at social climbing ended with us barely getting out of base camp. It’s not that we were particularly uncultured, but if you imported a couple of drunken, horny philistines into a setting like this, you cannot expect the transition to be seamless, in the same way that the random shite a monkey may throw at the walls of his pen might not immediately resemble Tintoretto. Lesson learned? Not quite. There was an interesting postscript to this tale…
Some days later, after a successful date, the Bold Yin was having a nightcap in his flat with a female companion.
“White or red?”, offered the Bold Yin.
“Red…”, she replied, lighting a match. “Do you partake?”
The lady was Laura Muller Jones. As game as she was classy, Laura didn’t hold my regrettable episode against us, giving our bass player a chance to step up to bat.
But just as it looked as if the bold Billy had saved the day and restored our burgeoning reputation as champion shaggers…
“Are you ok, Billy”, she said. “You look pale…”
You can guess the rest. To date, she is the only woman we ever covered.Twice.
Back to Kelvingrove, on another glorious afternoon in Glasgow. Gordon and I sat, strumming our guitars on the same steep, grassy verge which overlooked the city
“That was a lovely beer.”, I said, satisfied.
“No vino today?”, asked Gordon
I opened a brown paper bag and popped a couple of grapes into my mouth. “No, I think I’ll stick to wine in pill form.”, I said. “Here, I’ve been working on something.”
From the look on Gordon’s face, he either liked it or has heard it before.
“Mon..ey…”, I sing.
“On a sunny afternoon?”
“Oh…yeah. I thought it sounded familiar.”
“100 million sperm. And you won?”
In case you missed the previous chapters…
Socrates,Tony Bennett and Toblerone
Wendy, Penelope, Felicity and the First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Scheme Scum
Talking with the Taxman about Duran Duran, Monster Munch and the Nitshill Ball Lickers
Bella Bella, Billy Bremner
Going Down in a Blaze of Pale Custard
Freddie, Edwyn and the Unbearable Lightness of a B&Q Wardrobe
Penthouse and Payment
The Gospel According to Robert Powell, Mad Alco and the Seven-fingered Jesus of Garnethill
No Sleep ‘Til Strathaven
Barrowland or Bust