Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Jackie Wilson - Reet petite -Christmas number one for four weeks -1986
Emma was true to her word and didn’t mention our Thompson Twin moment to anyone. In fact we never spoke to each other again until, quite by chance I spotted her walking down Hammersmith high street in London, but that’s for later.
By chance, oh come come my innocent one. Nothing is by chance. It’s all part of the plan, mapped out worlds ago. So sweet and unsullied.
I was off to the Edinburgh festival. A group of 'the most promising student actors' in the country had been chosen to form part of a crème-de-la-crème theatre company. Four weeks of rehearsals in Bloomsbury and we were off to perform in St. Margaret’s theatre, Princess Street. Mothers embarrassment more commonly known as my Triumph Dolomite accompanied me to Birmingham where Romeo and Mercutio clambered into the back seat.
I had originally been offered the part of Benvolio however an 'administrative error' saw me reduced to playing five ensemble parts, whose total word count didn’t even reach Benvolio’s fourth line. Mother was less than delighted.
‘But you assured William he would be playing Benvolio. The five excuses for characters you have offered him have no integral relevance to the play and indeed in Peter Brooks’ adaptation at the National three of them were cut completely’.
Mother had a point.
‘Look, if he doesn’t want the parts that’s fine, we’ll get someone else’
‘We’ll have to think about it’ and mother slammed the phone down, well, replaced the receiver firmly, she never actually slammed anything. ‘Slamming doors and telephones William is the curse of the ignorant or at the very least families who claim Social Security’.
‘Mother I really think I should accept their offer, some of the greatest actors started off with the smallest parts’
‘Well if you think so William, but at least they know you won’t be pushed around’
‘Whatever you say Mother’
I now had Prince Escalus, Peter, two spear-carriers, the Apothecary, Mercutio and Romeo tucked into my dolomite, the first five characters being the challenging one liners I had accepted.
We were on tour for three weeks. Each day the same as the next. Wake up at eleven, shower, arrive at the theatre no later than noon, (actually arrive at half twelve), get bollocked by Director for total lack of professionalism, Curtain up at one, Curtain down at four, strike set, leave theatre at five, pick up fish and chips and can of McEwen’s export, back to flat, sleep ‘til midnight, out to Fringe Club, stagger back home at four, sleep, wake up at eleven, theatre by twelve (actually arrive at twelve thirty), another bollocking from the Director and so it went on. Groundhog day was alive and well and living somewhere in the backstreets of Edinburgh. I started the tour weighing eleven stone. By the last performance I had ballooned to a bloated twelve stone six pounds. Anyone seeing the first and last performance would have thought the company had changed actors.
‘Prince Escalus certainly enjoys his pies’
‘He kind of resembles that other actor we saw a few weeks ago’
‘Perhaps he’s got an overactive thyroid’
‘I can hear you, you bastards’
By the last performance everyone was so exhausted that concentration levels were not strictly as they should have been, which was a shame because the Director nearly spontaneously combusted when ending what had up to then been a fairly decent run, Prince Escalus who would normally close the play by saying:
‘…For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo’ decided that endings were all well and good, but why not tinker with them, just a little. Obviously Billy had intended his very last lines to coincide with the same iambic pentameter that the rest of his play had taken.’Tale of woe…Juliet and Romeo’. Nice rhyme, thank you, and goodnight. However it was the last performance and my mind was firmly elsewhere. In fact it was firmly in the Fringe Club two nights ago with Rachael Martini the flautist with the Scottish Special Needs philharmonic Orchestra.
Prince Escalus is standing centre stage with Romeo and Juliet dead and the rest of the cast who were still awake looking on sorrowfully.
‘For never was a story of more woe than this of Romeo and his Julio’!
Julio! Who the fuck was Julio? Well I had to think fast. From the moment it left my lips I knew Juliet didn’t rhyme with Woe so who better than her half sister and soon to be lady boy, Julio! Not quite the rhyming couplet the bard had in mind, but a good alternative ending I thought.
It was at this point I could feel the eyes of the entire cast burning into me. Even Romeo’s eyes opened and stared at me. I think I would have got away with it had it not been for Mercutio beginning to shake uncontrollably. Romeo tried to suppress his joy at my misfortune and began what to the audience must have looked like convulsions. Mercutio spotted Romeo, Romeo spotted Mercutio and the pair of them broke into insuppresible laughter, tears streaming down their unprofessional faces. The curtain came down faster than usual accompanied by sporadic clapping from the twenty three people who made up the audience.
‘What in fuck’s name was that?’ The Director asked quizzically. ‘Our tale of woe…of Romeo and Julio! Fucking Julio! The cross dressing brother of Juliet ? You total fucking fuck wit. Okay, I can just about accept you fucking up your words. It happens, but what the fuck do you think you were fucking playing at’. The Director was now frothing at the mouth. ‘You, fucking Romeo’ Romeo was still wiping the tears from his face. ‘Romeo and Juliet have just died. Dead. Not fucking alive. Now, I don’t know about you fuckers, and I’m not a doctor, but I would suggest that most dead people are not in a fit state to start pissing themselves with laughter’ That was the cue for Romeo and Mercutio to run out of the theatre howling with laughter.
‘That’s right, rats and sinking ships. Bastards. If you’d shown the same commitment to your performances, we might have got nearer a Perrier Award rather than just drinking the fizzy piss. You’ll never work in Edinburgh again. I’ll see to that’.
He was right; Romeo and Mercutio never did work in Edinburgh again. Romeo went on to become an Insurance salesman, and Mercutio was last seen in Hamley’s as Mr Magic, demonstrating card tricks and illusions.
As for William, well I had a wedding to destroy.
Sunday, 5 February 2012
The Thompson Twins
The summer holidays were coming to an end and I’d spent most of them working with Father driving for the council and selling Aluminium down the tip. Having fucked up my end of year exams yet again I had to retake during the holidays which was a real pisser as it meant I actually had to buy some books and furthermore, read the buggers! Luckily Letts revision notes were available on Nineteenth Century Metaphysical Poets which meant I didn’t have to read the boring fuckers. The money I managed to save whilst working with Father was put towards my first car, a red Triumph Dolomite with Walnut inlay dashboard, leather seats and wooden steering wheel.
Bazzer, the fat lad who had nearly won an Oscar for his appearance in a Colgate ad on East Anglia TV had given me the nod that the college super model Emma Eccles was going to be back a week early and staying in his flat.
‘And why does that affect me?’
‘Well why mention it then?’
‘No reason. She did say though she’d never seen a golden frog before’
And that was all it took. I packed my car, said my tearful goodbyes.
‘Cheerio then Mother’
‘And don’t park that monstrosity anywhere near here again. Mrs Cameron reported it as being abandoned. The shame of …’
It’s like shelling peas from a pod. Oh the joy of watching it all unfold. Have you ever stood dominoes on their end and watched them fall. They can’t help themselves. Keep going my child, you’re making an old man very happy.
The Stereo which only played every other word and wouldn’t awake from its slumber until you balanced a can of Fosters on the top of it finally spluttered ‘Everybody wants to rule the world’ by Tears for Fears or as I had come to know it, ‘… wants… rule…world’. Waving and smiling at Mother as she continued to rant about the Shame I and my Dolomite had brought upon the neighbourhood I took one last look in my rear view mirror and felt life streaming back into my constrained and withered veins.
As ‘You are entering Cheshire’ greeted me at seventy miles per hour Morrisey warned me about the perils of dating a girlfriend in a coma. The can of Fosters precariously balanced on the stereo was having the desired effect enabling my tape deck to work without chewing up every cassette I owned.
My plan had been hatched and finely tuned. I was to knock on the front door, feign surprise when Emma Eccles opened it, giggle a little, say something witty, she would find me totally irresistible and voila.
‘Oh hello Emma, I didn’t realise you were here. Is Bazzer in?’ Knowing full well he wasn’t due back until Friday.
‘No, he’s not back ‘til Friday. I’m house sitting for the week, until he gets back’
‘Oh I see. I’ll be off then’
Brilliant! What a pillock. Emma shut the door. Bollocks.There had to be a backup plan. Dickie Attenborough always had at least three tunnels in case the Germans discovered one. I knocked the door again.
‘Bazzer said I could borrow his Best of the Thompson Twins LP’
‘Oh right, do you know where it is?’
‘He said in his bedroom somewhere’
‘Come on in then and take a look’
‘If you’re sure?’
‘Excellent. Only if you’re sure?’
‘Well I think I’m sure’
Jackpot; the enemy within. It was all very well gaining entry, but what was I going to do when I found or didn’t find the Best of the Thompson twins LP.
‘Do you want a cup of tea?’
‘Smashing, thanks’ Stop saying smashing Will.
The Germans had fallen for it. Now all that was left was the capture of the secret decoder, followed by a swift escape over the border to Austria.
‘What are you doing here so early?’ Emma enquired.
It was the obvious question really, one I should have been prepared for. Dickie wouldn’t have found himself lost for words.
‘What are you doing in Germany?’
‘William -72541- Corporal’
‘Answer my question you schwine hunt’
‘Will, why have you come back so early?’
“Will, twenty one, brown eyes’
‘Um, sorry, to borrow Bazzers Thompson twins LP’
‘You came back to college a week early to borrow a record’
‘Yeah, it’s a very important record, as far as records go, it’s a picture disk and they only made two of them and if I don’t get it…can I use the toilet?’
There were droplets of sweat forming on my forehead and above my top lip. I plunged my face into the half full sink of icy water and stared into the mirror.
It’s a picture disk…pathetic…what the hell are you going to do now…she must think you’re bloody nuts. Tell her why you’re here…be a man…you’re here because you knew she’d be here and you’re going to give her what’s what.
Think Will. What would Dickie have done? In the Great Escape they had three tunnels: Tom, Dick and Harry. Tom and Harry had been discovered. I was left with no alternative. Dick was my only way out!
‘Emma, I didn’t come back early for the Thompson twins, I came back because I knew you…’
I stopped dead in mid-sentence, my mouth trawling for plankton and my body a Medusa masterpiece.
Emma was lying on Bazzers oversized bean bag, two Thompson twins singles ‘Doctor Doctor ‘and ‘Love on your side ‘ covering her ample and what I assumed were perfectly proportioned breasts. Their other hit,’You take me up’ strategically positioned. Apart from those three vinyl songs of eighties genius all trace of what presumably was once clothing had vanished.
‘Shall we listen to these now or later?’
Sunday, 29 January 2012
‘I’ll come quietly’ and with that Katy offered both wrists to the officer to handcuff.
‘You too’ said the understandably and less than delighted officer.
‘But I hardly know her officer. I’ll just get my golden frog and be on my way’
‘Leave the frog, you’re coming to the station’
As I sat in the back of the Panda, Katy up front and flirty with our arresting officer, a walkie-talkie, yellow fluorescent jacket , log book, handcuffs and truncheon lay unattended next to me . How it all managed to get stuffed under my dress shirt is still a scientific mystery. Admittedly I looked two stone heavier than when I got into the car, but Katy’s new aficionado certainly didn’t notice, as he was far too preoccupied trying to avoid another accident whilst having his left thigh squeezed by a paralytic Scotswoman.
By the end of her interrogation Katy had succeeded in seducing our arresting officer (now referred to as Ben) who had fallen hook, line and sinker for Katy’s womanly ways, and had agreed to give both her and I a lift back to the college campus.
‘Thank you Ben. You’ve been very kind and understanding about it all. See you in the 'Pissed as a newt' on Saturday. Kissy, kissy’
‘Kissy, Kissy? How on earth did you get away with that?’ I said incredulously.
‘If we’d made it to the copse you’d have found out’
Walking back to the three bedroom house where me, Mel, the gang and thirty eight other students lived, Katy’s Blue Nun really began kicking in. Voices in my head filled every step. It was like tuning into FM and only getting Medium Wave. I began running to shake off the crackling invaders but they wouldn’t leave me alone.
‘Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick.’ Mel was quite rightly concerned for my welfare as the last time she had spoken to me I was going to get her a packet of dry roasted nuts – that was 6 hours ago!
‘Good to see you too Dave’
It appeared the whole gang had stayed with Mel to lend moral support.
‘That’s it. Night all’.
I slammed the bedroom door and collapsed on the bed. I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow. Mel thanked the gang for their support when there was loud knock on the door.
‘Morning madam. Sorry to disturb you so late, but we have reason to believe that you have something that belongs to us’
‘Bravo two tango…’
The Police accompanied by Mel and the Gang listened intently as they followed Bravo two tango into my bedroom and under the duvet. Dave began rummaging around inside my dress shirt causing involuntary spasms of giggling.
‘This is not a laughing matter sir.’
‘I’m not laughing, I’m giggling’
It was at that point that two offices persuaded Dave to step aside, one holding my arms above my head as he straddled me, the other ripping open my dress shirt.
‘Bit forward aren’t ya. I don’t even know your names?’
This was my ‘Midnight Express’moment, but instead of finding fifty kilos of hashish strapped to my abdomen out popped the log book, fluorescent jacket, handcuffs, truncheon and finally the Walkie Talkie.
‘I promise I haven’t stuffed anything up my arse’
‘He just gets a little over excited at times.’ Mel loved me unconditionally.
‘He’s also a complete and utter knob’. Fair to say the gang didn’t share Mel’s unqualified emotion.
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Katy McTavish, a slightly rotund third year Special Education student yanked my arm and dragged me to the car park. Ordinarily I would have refused Katy’s advances, but tonight Katy had something that no-one else had. Tonight Katy was the new messiah. Tonight Katy had a room temperature bottle of blue nun.
‘Where are we going’? Not at all interested in the reply as I salivated at the thought of my parched and cracked lips being moistened by Katy's naughty Fraulein.
‘I’m taking you to a quiet little place I know at the edge of the copse’ Whispered Katy in a sort of unnerving Misery Chastain sort of way, still yanking me towards her Datsun Sunny.
'I'm your number one fan'
‘Katy, can you try and stay on the right side of the road? I think the cars coming the other way would sort of appreciate it’
‘Oh, don’t be such a wee girl and open the wine’
‘Katy, for God’s sake get back on this side of the road, you’re going to kill us’
‘O flower of Scotland’
‘When will we see your like again’
‘I’m begging you Katy’
‘That fought and died for your wee bit hill and glen’
‘I dont want to die Katy'
‘And stood against him’
‘Would you like me to touch you’?
‘Proud Edward's army’
‘Would you like to touch me’?
‘And sent him homeward tae think again’ Katy's Private Fraser stare bore into my very soul with her maniacal gaze.
As Katy began laughing uncontrollably my thumb forced the cork deep into the Blue Nun causing an enormous eruption to explode over us both, the sudden shock jolting my head violently against the passenger window.
'Please let me go Katherine'? I was now blubbering like a baby, tears merging with droplets of room temperature Riesling.
We swerved violently as Katy struggled to keep control. Blue lights from the car on what should have been the opposite side of the road to us, but was now the same side of the road as us alerted me to the fact that if death didnt get us first then we were probably in a spot of bother. As we flew past the flashing blue lights Katy waved.
‘For fuck sake Katy what are you doing? You’re pissed out of your head, I’m covered in Blue Nun and you’ve just waved at a police car’
‘Oh you big pansy they’ll never catch us’
As my cheeks began to suck in and out like astronauts approaching G-force, images of my childhood flashed before me; Bouncing on my orange Spacehopper, lazy hot summer days in the paddling pool, egg and cress sandwiches, hula hoops, fizzy Tizer, count Dracula lollies that made your tongue go black, Tucker Jenkins, Valerie Singleton.’
“’Dear Lord, Please forgive me for I knew not what I did’
‘They’ll never find us in here’
As we smashed into the archway that normally led to the car park of the ‘Pissed as a Newt’ public House, Katy’s Datsun estate quickly became Katy’s Datsun Saloon. My legs neatly tucked under my chin. The police car pulled up alongside our now very stationary vehicle, Katy wound down her window.
‘Don’t say a word Katy. Let me do the talking. Just don’t say another word’
‘I’ve had a teeny weenie bit too much to drink officer’
‘Oh fuck it’
Sunday, 15 January 2012
The Flying Pickets – Only you – 1983
I should have realised. Three years living and sleeping with the same person yet never actually consummating the union. I should have realised. Fiddly diddly, but never actually docking and shaking hands with the Cosmonauts! I should have realised.
We, that’s the gang (‘Wye aye Dave’, ‘Take no shit Yorkshire’, ‘Up the revolution Wends’, ‘Posh southern twat ME’ and ‘Too bloody lovely for her own good Mel’), did everything together, drank, partied, partied, drank, drank and partied, studied (occasionally). The fact I was having a sexual relationship with a tube of hand cream didn’t really seem to bother me. So here’s the thing. Mel and I would do all the usual things, all the fiddling, but that final push to the Promised Land, well it just never happened. Obviously I took this as a huge compliment, believing my weapon to be of such proportions that any girl would naturally recoil in horror and so in order to maintain some sort of status quo and semblance of normality coitus would become a kind of simulated affair. Not dissimilar to when you have one of those cinema hot dogs and you’ve been a little over zealous with the mustard. Out came the hand cream, massage nether regions, Pearl and Dean intermission and out with the hot dog; A sort of rubbing, sliding, slipping kind of masturbation. And yet did we care? The gang were in the middle of its arty farty poncy utopia and the rest of the modern world could piss off. If Mel and me or Wends and me or the whole bloody lot of us wanted to cover our genitals in salad dressing then so be it. It was art and we had convinced ourselves it mattered.
“And the winner for best actor is…William for his portrayal of Hamlet”
It was a sultry July evening with just a hint of jasmine and the unmistakable aroma of hashish floating on summer’s forgotten memories. My first year at the ‘Down and Out’ College of Further Education was coming to an end with the end of year Oscar’s held in the dance studio. Dressed in our dinner suits courtesy of Oxfam and the Sue Ryder Home, I had just received the ‘golden frog’ for best actor. All those rehearsals in Karen’s (COW), let it go Will, parents front room blubbering to Rose Royce had fully prepared me for such an occasion.
‘I’m overwhelmed by this award, although fully deserved. I’d firstly like to thank my Director Dave whose total lack of direction allowed me to explore my character in my own way and bring something to the stage never before seen in this part of Cheshire; My fellow actors who stood by me on stage mesmerised by such a monumental performance, and of course my mother for marching me down the job centre and allowing me to fully express my inner passion at this wonderful college of advancement. I dedicate this award to me for all the bloody hard work I put in researching and rehearsing such a challenging, yet ultimately rewarding part. Thank you all so much’.
“Bloody good speech old boy”
“You deserved it”.
“You showed such…charisma”
They loved me, the critics, the paying public and my fellow thespians. Ok, so we were all first year undergrads pissing our grant up against the wall in the name of Art, but allow me my dreams, for what are we without our dreams?
The ceremony over we moved into the Mandela Centre for a sumptuous feast. Alright, we moved into the Mandela Centre, (normally our canteen and fag break area) for Pasties and whatever booze we could find.
The evening was taking on its familiar look. Dazzler, the fat boy who had been in an advert for Anglia TV, had trapped some poor unsuspecting fine art student, recanting the merits of Colgate dental floss, the product he almost won a best actor in an advert in the Anglia region for. The Steve Biko Society were huddled in one corner of the room planning their next direct action The dancers were still in their black leotards and brightly coloured leg warmers and were as ever plieing and demi-plieing. The jocks (rugby team), now true to form were dipping their cocks into the hookers pint of Guinness whilst he was away in the bogs chucking up last nights vindaloo. All in all a fairly typical and unexceptional end of term bash. That should have been the end of it. The gang should have gone home and I should have cuddled up with my ‘golden frog’. That’s what should have happened, but she had to go and make an appearance. I didn’t want her there, I hadn’t invited her, but she was in no mood to take ‘NO’ for an answer. Provocative and brazen she sidled up to me with that unmistakable look of hers. Wet slim and ready to erupt as soon as I touched her slender form. I twitched uncontrollably as she slipped into my trembling hands. Mel had gone home early, the gang were nowhere to be seen, I had just won a ‘golden frog’ for fuck sake. We looked at each other with that look. That look that can only mean one thing. The consequences of that German forthrightness were to leave a devastating mark on us all. A bottle of room temperature Blue Nun can do that to you.
Sunday, 8 January 2012
Karen's parents were away on a six-week Hoseason self catering cruise giving us the freedom to play happy couples in between hours of endless revision. As we lay in each other’s arms, she with taught boyish buttocks nestled into the faux fur oversized bean bag, me my trembling buttocks precariously hanging on for dear life in fear of sliding off the tactile slope of happiness, we dreamt of all the awards we would one day pick up.
‘And this year’s Oscar winners for their portrayal of Spear Carriers number one and two in Spielberg’s ‘Encounters of the third Spear’ goes to William and Karen now joined at the pelvis who share best actor and actress since becoming inseparable due to Karen’s surgical detachment from Chris (previously known singularly and collectively as ‘Chris and Karen’) and whose reattachment to William (soon to be known singularly and collectively as Will and Kaz) has created a quite outstanding tour de force. APPLAUSE.
‘Thank you all so much, we’d like to thank everyone we’ve ever known’ and so it went on. We were blissfully happy, blissfully unaware, blissfully self indulgent, we were so full of bliss, when out of the blue I received a telephone call from a college I’d auditioned for earlier in the year.
‘We keep some places back for students who really impressed us at interview and we’d like to offer you a place to read English and Drama’
I couldn’t believe it. Somebody actually wanted me. I’d finally impressed someone. But this college was number seventeen on my list of places I never wanted to study at. Not if they were the last college on earth would I contemplate going there.
'Thanks very much, when would you like me to start?'
I later found out that of course there were no places kept back for exceptional auditionees , only places left over they couldn’t fill and rather than leave empty and risk losing funding they filled them with the thicko’s and total wasters who ordinarily the college wouldn’t touch with a barge pole .
When I told Karen of my imminent departure she was devastated beyond devastation. Hours upon heartbroken hours were spent crying and kissing, kissing and crying. Fate had thrown us together and fate would cruelly tear us apart. We didn’t need a University to teach us about life. Karen’s parents Rose Royce album was our Alma Mater, showering us with wisdom and guidance. Our tears cascaded onto the vinyl of despair as ‘love don’t live here anymore’ comforted us with its prophetic musings.
When I left the following Friday bound for Crewe, Karen came to see me off. We cried some more, our tears now threatening to become cavernous stalagmites. We told each other we’d never find another love like ours, that one day we’d meet again and whatever life threw at us we were now singularly and collectively as one.
Well what a load of bollocks that all was! The Friday evening of the Friday afternoon of the most devastating Friday of our Singular and collective lives saw heartbroken Karen in attendance at David Bartletts ‘going away’ bash with fifty other successful undergraduates who were all looking ahead to a place at one of their top three chosen Universities. Obviously the emotion of total devastation and loss for me had overwhelmed Karen to such an extent that she quite understandably felt the need to seek comfort, legs wrapped around David, his hairy white arse pumping for all his worth.
I just wish I had found this out at the beginning of term rather than at the end and certainly prior to buying Athena’s entire cuddly toy department on my newly acquired credit card. Cow! In a way I think she was far too nice a person to tell me to my face ,that I’d only ever been a fill-in during the summer holidays, and that in a strange way she was helping by allowing me to run up hundreds of pounds on my credit card on twenty seven assorted stuffed bears. COW! Mother was furious of course when the statement arrived and promptly cut up my four and half weeks of independence. For the next three years I would receive an allowance by recorded delivery to be picked up at the bursars lodge on the last day of every month. On the days it was supposed to arrive and didn’t my culinary skills were put to good use varying my diet from dry Shreddies to Shreddies with brown sauce. But what did it matter? What did any of it matter? I was at my seventeenth choice of further education and ready to study… get pissed…and study…get paralytic…and study… rekindle my acquaintance with my donkey derby friend.