Killing Joke

Killing joke are my favourite band and have been my favourite band ever since I first saw them on The Tube in 1983. I particularly remember Eighties from that performance, and although with it being nearly 40 years ago, a quick search on YouTube, and viewing it now for the first time since I first watched it on a Friday evening after school on our little CRT TV, the whole three track set is exactly as I remember, and has brought back instant lost memories of the little house we lived in.

And here it is:

When it was broadcast, I had just turned 14, and although by that age I was very much into Punk, mostly Siouxsie and the Banshees,the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and the Damned, along with Exploited, UK Subs, Chron Gen and Crass etc. this was a whole new sound and image for me. Prior to this, my music taste had been formulated from my disjointed childhood, the archetypal, council estate, single parent family, mostly just me and my mum, my sister being 12 years older than I had more or less flown the nest at that point. My punk aspirations go back to 1979, I can remember watching a feature on Nationwide on the telly about the death of Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols, I would have been 9 or 10 at the time and that would be the first fuel on my lifelong journey into the very best of musical genres. It would be a couple of years yet, to my last year at middle school, for the metamorphosis to become complete.

At that time, at 12 years old, my best friend was Duncan Rivett, we were firm friends, the friendship being born of our similar situation of it being just us and our mums, and us both being into the same noise. Together we would discover Exploited, UK Subs, Charged GBH and other iconic eighties punk bands of the time. There was also another kid at school, Jonathan Read (a.k.a Grubby, I’ve no idea where the nickname came from, you’ll have to ask him). My memory of Grubby is him being more of a metalhead, into AC/DC and Saxon, but it was he that introduced me to the Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle. I remember taking the album to one of our school discos, and Mr Watt, the teacher/DJ point blankly refusing to play anything from it until we badgered him into playing Who Killed Bambi.

Anyway, enough of the rambling, there’s another blog post waiting to be written about those last two paragraphs.

Back to Killing Joke. I had just turned 14 when I saw that performance on the telly and I was mesmerised by it. The energy of Big Paul’s drums, the power emanating from Geordies vintage Gibson ES-295, Raven’s thumping bass and the image of Jaz Colman in that make-up and stomping around hit me straight in my chest.

I remember buying the first album in Robin’s Records in Norwich the following Saturday on our weekly trip to the City, desperately wanting to get home to play it. And playing it constantly when I did, my mum yelling up the stairs to me in my room, to turn down that appalling noise, I couldn’t hear her of course, the music was too loud, she scared the shit out of me, as she often did, storming through the door and bellowing at me to turn it off. I remember taking it in to school on the Monday to show my friends, having already taped a few copies to give away (I know home taping was killing music, the record sleeves told me that, but we all did it anyway, in all honesty, without home taping I wouldn’t have discovered many of the bands that defined my youth and are still with me today).

By the time I first got to see them live at the UEA in Norwich, the following February of ’84, I had the full discography, and they were my favourite band (those of you that know me, this was a good 18 months before I turned into Robert Smith). This wasn’t my first live gig, I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts about my sister’s then boyfriend, Chris, who took me to so many gigs in the early eighties, and who had a massive influence on me musically, introducing me to all sorts from Tom Newman, The Grateful Dead and Joy Division, and a boat load of other stuff along the way.

This though, was the loudest I had ever been to. It was amazing, every track they performed, thumped through me, most of the night is lost in my memory, but I do remember Eighties and Requiem as well as Wardance with complete clarity. My ears rang for days after the gig.

I’ve seen Killing Joke a few times since. The Night Time tour at the UEA in ’85. 1994 at The Waterfront on the Pandemonium tour, the UEA again in 1995. I didn’t see them again until nearly ten years later when I went to the Astoria in London in 2003, two gigs over two nights at that venue. And what an amazing couple of nights they were. I’d been playing the new album, 2003’s Killing Joke, constantly since its release, and when the tour was announced there was no way I was going to miss it, and no way I wasn’t going to both. Back to Norwich and The Waterfront in 2006 and 2012, and again at the UEA in 2018, which was the first concert I went to with my punk gigs buddy Paul. Since that first gig in 1984 I have never missed one in my hometown.

The last time I saw them was last night, as I write this, at Hammersmith Apollo for the last gig of the current, short, tour. Travelling down with Paul for yet another gig, we’ve been to a few together now, over the last few years, despite COVID and lockdown keeping us away for two years.

They were awesome, and I spent the whole night bouncing around in the mosh pit at the front, lost completely in the moment, at one with the music and the atmosphere of The Gathering, revelling in the amazing sound of the music emanating from the stage. It was a great weekend, meeting up with so many fellow fans before and after the gig. And, I have to admit, soppy old me with my emotions always plain to see, I shed a tear or two during, at the end of, and after the gig.

My journey with Killing Joke, may not have started when the band first started, but they have been in my life, and constantly in my ears, for nearly forty years. I love each and every Album (not Outside the Gate, it wasn’t really a Killing Joke album anyway, just a Jaz Coleman opus, which having caused the loss of Big Paul led me to resent the recording and I haven’t listened to it since its release). I love the not so popular Night Time and Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, Rubicon and Love of the Masses are two songs from the latter that got me through some tricky times. Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions thumped, Pandemonium is my favourite, a powerful album that also reminds me what a great year for me 1994 was as I headed into my mid-twenties. Democracy with its mellower acoustic sound, Medicine Wheel being my favourite from that one. The power and brute force of 2003’s Killing Joke, a return to form that continued with Hosanna’s from the Basements of Hell, that album is ear bleedingly brilliant. Then the return of Big Paul Ferguson and Youth, the original line up back together for the first time since 1982, for Absolute Dissent in 2010. 2012’s MMXII, ready for the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans. Another head-splitting powerhouse outing with 2015’s Pylon, the track I Am The Virus an eerily scary and accurate prediction of what would hit the world a few years later in 2020. The latest release, the Lord Of Chaos EP, an awesome track, which got dropped from the setlist mid tour for an unknown reason. It’s great, I urge you to listen to it. Indeed, I urge you to listen and immerse yourself in all that is Killing Joke.

Honour the fire!

On this scrap of paper, she hastily wrote…

Thanks to crippling writers block, this is the first piece of micro fiction, or anything for that matter, I have written in a very long time. It is a long way from my best work with a dodgy paragraph or two, and it took me an hour and not the usual ten minutes, but I’m pleased I’ve managed to get something out. Here it is in it’s unedited form as it was written, I plan to revisit it at sometime.

Massive thanks to my awesome friend over at for the prompt, although it did take me three days to act upon it!

On this scrap of paper, she hastily wrote…

As she jumped from the wall, she landed awkwardly and tumbled to one side, letting out a gasp and a slight groan in surprise as she did so, then cursed inwardly as she heard voices from the other side of the wall. “Over here, I heard something, she’s gone over the wall, c’mon.”

She picked herself up, looked up at the wall behind her, noting the light from the flashlights beaming erratically into the sky like miniature searchlights. Her pursuers were close, closer than she realised. She could hear them clearly now, barking instructions to each other as they began to climb up the other side of the wall.

MOVE IT… she screamed to herself as she pulled herself to her feet and ran, falling forward slightly, almost losing her balance as she did so, correcting her gait as she gained momentum and ran for her life.

She kept running, until the adrenaline began to wear away and the pain in her feet started sweeping   into her consciousness, then slumped down, with her back against the trunk of an ancient oak. They had been forced to flee barefoot, her and her beloved, and the wounds on her souls pained her greatly. The memory of her beloved distracting her from the pain in her feet. She wondered where he was, hoping he had managed to escape, they had been forced to separate at the wall, no time for him to climb over as their hunters gained on them.

No time for this, got to keep moving, she cursed to herself, wiping a tear from her cheek as she did so, rising wearily from her resting place, then standing bent over, hands on her knees as she let the sudden rush of blood to her head drain away and set off, once again, as the sudden dizziness dissipated.

An hour later she reached the rendezvous point, an old flint shed tucked away in the corner of a field, secluded somewhat by a thick copse that had grown around it as the disused building had become derelict its use having become redundant as modern farming techniques tool over. She went in and huddled in a corner where there was still enough of the roof structure to afford her some protection form the drizzle in the air.

There she waited. Falling into a deep, exhaustive sleep from her exertions, just as the light of the sun was rising with a new dawn. She awoke, the brightness of the sun arching overhead, breaching the cover of the remaining roof tiles and startling her awake. For a moment, she panicked, forgetting where she was as the memories of the night before reasserted themselves in her mind. What time is it, she wondered, how long have I been asleep? She blinked rapidly against the powerful light the sun in her eyes, judging it to be early afternoon. where was he? Her mind instantly sprang to her beloved, should have been here by now. He must have been forced to take a longer route, he will be here soon, don’t worry. Her mind tried to reassure her.

Several hours passed, and soon the sun was fading, as dusk and the night approached. She had to move, if she stayed too much longer, she would be discovered and taken back to that dreadful place, where she would surely die. From her pocket she fished out a piece of creased paper and the stub of a pencil. On this scrap of paper, she hastily wrote a quick note:

 “My beloved M

I’ve had to leave, it’s too dangerous here for me to wait any longer,
I pray that you find this note and follow quickly my love.
I’ll await you in the secret place at the border. Hurry, please my love,
I cannot bear for us to be apart and yearn to hold you close to me again.



Below is the prologue to my new book. The story I started to put to paper eighteen months ago without really knowing what it was I was writing about. The plot has been rolling around in the back of my mind for the past eighteen years. It is only now I have been able to put the two together. Have a read and let me know what you think, and if you would like a taster of what is to come, let me know.


So, time only moves forward, yes? Time does not go backwards, neither does it go up, down, left, right, top to bottom, or slantways?

According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, in an isolated system, entropy only increases. Entropy is defined as the measure of disorder in a system. The direction in which time runs, which we refer to as forward, is the direction in which disorder or entropy increases.

In thermodynamics, an isolated system refers to a confined space impervious to any external forces or energy aids. To put it another way. If your kids are like mine and you are forever clearing up their toys by shoving them into boxes and back in the cupboard without first sorting them out , they will continue to pile up and become mixed and jumbled up, in a cupboard with mixed and jumbled up toys – an isolated system –  disorder will only increase.

That is what Rudolf Clausius said, the German physicist and mathematician who was considered one of the central founders of the science of thermodynamics during the nineteenth century.

Albert Einstein, initially believed the universe to be static, it just existed, a belief he stated in later life to be his biggest blunder. The Big Bang theory is now accepted universally. This states the universe was formed from an almighty, colossal, cataclysmic event, and expanded outwards, continually travelling forward in time, so when we look through our most powerful telescopes at the very dim and distant galaxies, we are actually seeing them as they existed billions of years ago due to the speed of light and the amount of time it takes for that light to reach us. Another analogy would be to look at our own sun (not literally, that would be silly and probably damage your eyes), which is approximately 93 million miles away from the Earth, light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so the light from our sun takes about 8.3 minutes to travel to us, effectively the sun we see in the sky at any given moment, is the sun from 8.3 minutes ago.

What if I were to tell you that Einstein was wrong? And in the very next sentence declared he was right? You would think me a fool, right? After all, I am just an uneducated old man who has spent his life jumping from one job to another, lurching from one mistake to another, and generally making a complete fuck up of everything along the way. All of which is true.

What if I were to tell that time is happing all around us, all at once. Every moment of every event happening simultaneously, predetermined from start to finish, and we are just travelling forward through it obliviously? Would you think me a nutter? Highly likely.

It is true though, as incredible and preposterous as it sounds. It is true and very real. I know this because I live in every single moment of my lifetime at the same time. I am present everywhere throughout the past 99 years, at the same time, and I am able to instantaneously jump and appear as a version of myself at any point within my lifetime, my appearance is always the same and that of my first jump, which happened at a particularly low point in my life, where I have to say, in all honesty, I’m not looking my best.

I have witnessed my birth.

I have witnessed my death, that is, my many deaths.

If you are interested in attempting to understand the how the what and the why, read on, keep an open mind though as you are in for a mind bogglingly, time jumpingly, bumpy ride…

Jones 563

After my mother passed away in 2008, my sister and I spent a few days clearing out her old council house before we had to give the keys back. Anybody who has lost a parent or a loved one and has had to do the same will understand the roller coaster of emotions that go with this task. I won’t go into all of them here.

When it came to my mum’s old sewing machine, the consensus was to get grid of it, as it was very old, and we both remembered it to be a troublesome beast. I used to use it in the mid eighties to adjust my school trousers to turn them into skin tight punk trousers. It would always jam on me and I was forever re-threading it, more than likely due to my misuse of it rather than any fault with the machine. Usually my mum would take over and do the job for me, obviously without any aggravation or jamming.

Anyway, that evening it returned with me in the car, along with some other stuff to sort through. Me being me, and much to the annoyance of my wife, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it. I had an emotional attachment to it, and along with a load of other stuff that I probably should have binned, I put it in a cupboard in the garage, where it lived for twelve years. Until a couple of days ago.

With the current lockdown thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic my wife had hand made a face mask, which took quite a while and I heard her mutter under her breath how much easy it would be with a sewing machine.

“We’ve got one.” I piped up. “Got what?” She said. “A sewing machine.” I replied, “My mum’s old one, don’t you remember I was supposed to get rid of it and didn’t?”

Anyway, I fished it out of the cupboard in the garage and brought it inside. The case was in a bit of a sorry state and I set to cleaning it up before opening it, adding the obligatory duck tape to the edges to cover up some tatty and chipped bits. I then cleaned the whole thing up, plugged it in, and was very happy to see the little sewing light illuminate. I then pressed the pedal to see if it worked and… all the lights tripped out in the house.

I’d already printed out the manual I’d found here:

I had sent a very happy message to Dan Hopgood, whose blog it is, for providing the PDF, providing a brief history of the machine. I soon received a reply telling me he was glad he could help, and the garage wasn’t the best place to store a sewing machine, and he hoped it would work fine. I sent a message back telling him of the electrical issue. Again, there was a very friendly prompt reply telling me where to purchase a replacement motor, as he had done with his machine.

Three days later, the motor arrived, it took me less than five minutes to fit it and, having followed the instruction manual to thread it up, it worked perfectly first time. No jamming either, with the bobbin still in it from the last time it was used all those years ago.

So, I owe a very big thank you to Dan Hopgood, without whom the machine would not have been resurrected.

Take a look here:

My Mum’s old sewing machine.
The case.

Homo Stupidus

I’ve spent the majority of today filling in job applications. At the age of 50 I’ve decided, with the original suggestion and support from my wife, that a career change might not be a bad idea. This is something I have tried to do several times over the past few years. The driving factor being the ongoing struggle I have with my mental health and my increasing inability to deal with the high pressure and stressful situations I always used to handle with aplomb.

Wether this is down to a loss of confidence or some kind of mid-life crisis, I’m not really sure. All I know is, that at any sign of a stressful situation, although outwardly I appear to handle any kind of stress with my usual coolness and expertise, inwardly I tend to crumble and question everything I have been doing, saying, and thinking, to the point where my brain turns to mush with the cacophonous internal monologues overlapping and flooding each other out until I’m reduced to a mental gibbering wreck. All the while seeming outwardly composed and collected until I can find a safe place, on my own, to collapse and gibber physically, completely lost and unable to recollect what I was actually supposed to be doing. Questioning my every thought over and over and over again.

It’s no secret that I had a massive mental breakdown towards the end of 2019, with which I was so mentally crippled with anxiety and self doubt I couldn’t cope with the simplest of situations for several weeks. I’ve always been very open about my mental health issues as I hope that by relaying my experiences in an open and factual manner it would help others suffering inwardly with their own demons, even if it’s only in small way. Wether it does or not I don’t know, I like to think I have a positive impact on someone, somewhere though.

Anyway, this post, isn’t really about my mental health though, those paragraphs were just to set the scenes, as it were, as to what I’ve been doing today and why. What I’ve been doing is applying for various different jobs, a very small fraction of which are related to IT, because I want to do something different, something satisfying, something new at which I can excel for the remainder of my years. I don’t really know what it is I want to do, other than it needs to be less stressful, rewarding, environmentally friendly, and probably to do with working outside as much as possible.

It’s while filling in these online application forms that I’ve noticed a theme which is actually going to bring me to my point. That theme is to ask me my gender, what age group I fit into, what ethnic group I consider myself to be, the nature of my sexual orientation, my religion and other such things, for the purposes of transparency, impartiality and equal opportunities and the like.

It strikes me that these sort of questions are likely to have the counter effect of their intended purpose, which is to ensure that an equal amount of people are selected from said groups. I get that, but surely that defeats the object anyway by also eliminating the best possible applicants for the position in order to fill the positions diversely?

With the unrest we are currently, and rightly facing, following the deplorable killing of George Floyd in America and the rekindling of all the emotions and wrongs that this appalling and senseless killing has resurrected, I can’t help but think back to my original philosophy and the opinions I gained during my anthropological studies so many years ago.

It matters not the colour of skin, religious beliefs, where we were born, what our heritage is, the supposed class under which we reside, the educational establishments attended, etc. There are no such thing as different races. We are one race, one species, and the only one of our kind. We are the Human Race. We are Homo sapiens, taken from the Latin for “Wise Man” as named by Carl Linnaeus who set himself as the specimen for the species way back in 1758. We are supposedly sentient and enlightened cultural beings with the capacity gained through evolution to love and feel and express ourselves. I don’t feel as if we are very wise though. In my opinion we are the opposite. We are collectively exceptionally stupid. We are truly unique on this planet, and probably in the universe, and yet we choose to segregate and persecute members of our own species, people that we are related to by race, no matter what colour we are or where we are from, WE ARE ALL THE SAME RACE. Maybe we could try and stop the pain and hurt and devastation we are pouring on ourselves and everything around us and reflect upon this? Please? For the sake of our own consciences? I know it’s a lot to ask, but I, for one , am beginning to despise my own species.


Following on from my FB post…

I remember first seeing Muse supporting Gene at the Waterfront in Norwich in 1999, I wasn’t much of Gene fan, but one of my mates at work wanted to go and see them so I tagged along as well as I’d dragged him to see Therapy? a few months earlier and owed him a return gig. I’m very glad I went. Muse completely blew me away with their originality, sheer brilliance and that amazing sound. The next day I bought Showbiz, and to be honest, I was a little disappointed.

There were a couple of good tracks on it, Muscle Museum and the title track, and I listened to the album a lot, but it never really grabbed me, and the amazing song they played at the Waterfront wasn’t on there. I had no idea what it was called, but it was incredible. It sounded like classical music, industrial rock, heavy metal and punk, all rounded into one amazing cacophony of sheer brilliance.

I next came across them completely by accident performing on Later, with Jools Holland. I rarely watched Jools Holland as I cannot stand his arrogant, patronising, smugness, and he always came across as a bit of a cunt (an opinion that was confirmed a couple of years later when I saw him in Yo! Sushi in Harvey Nichols with his family behaving like a complete cunt to the staff – incidentally, Jools Holland and his big wank band is the only gig I’ve ever walked out of. Shockingly shite he was).

I had not long come in from the pub, switched on the the telly, which was already on BBC2, and walked into the kitchen. I stopped dead in my tracks, turned around and walked straight back to the telly as I heard those screaming lead notes of that song I had heard a year previously at The Waterfront. It was mesmerising. An absolutely pleasurable assault on the ears. And now I new what it was called. Plug in Baby.

When Origins of Symmetry was released the I played it to death, I still do, it is an incredible album by an incredible band completely dedicated to their art.

Muse are one of my favourite bands (not my absolute favourite as that will always be Killing Joke). I have bought everyone of their releases and have almost loved every single one, I was very disappointed with The Resistance, although the title track is so far my all time favourite track. Also, I love Showbiz a hell of a lot more than when I first heard it, having not played it for years, revisiting it was a blast and I have to say I love it!

I’m also sad to say I’ve never had the opportunity to see them live again.


I’ve just finished watching We Jam Econo – The Story of the Minutemen. It is not the first time I have watched it, but it is the first time I have managed to watch it all the way through in one sitting. How come I have never watched it in one go before? It is not because it is heavy going, and it is not because it is particularly long. The reason I have never made it through in one go is because it always makes me cry.

Minutemen where one of the bands of my teenage years, one of the influential bands of my teenage years, maybe the most influential band of my teenage years. They had a massive impact on me musically, at a time when my musical tastes where maturing.

I was introduced to Minutemen by one of my best friends at high school, who in turn was introduced to them by his older brother. It was in the summer of 1985, and although punk music and the American hardcore scene was not new to me, (I had been listening to Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Minor Threat and other great American bands since I was eleven years old along with the British greats of the secomd wave of punk, The Exploited, GBH, Chron Gen etc.) Minutemen were completely new and completely different.

Hailing from San Pedro in California  and despite being labelled a west coast hardcore band (literally, I guess, having signed to Greg Ginn’s SST label), there was more to them than just another hardcore band. They were fast, they were loud and they were shouty, but there was something about D. Boons trebly guitar and the contrast to the deep solid funk bass of Mike Watt. Along with George Hurley hitting drums like I had never heard before, these guys could really play. And these guys were really close, you could tell by reading the interviews in Maximum Rock and Roll and other publications of the times the deep affection Watt and Boon held for each other and what solid friends they were.

I was fifteen in the summer of ’85, and in those days I was more recognisable as a goth, heavily into The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees and the like, along with trying my very best to look like Robert Smith with my crimped hair and moody manner. Minutemen had been about for a few years when I was introduced to Paranoid Time, their first E.P. and it completely blew me away. I couldn’t get enough of them. I would save my dinner money every day and on Saturdays would hit Andy’s and Backs Records in Norwich to feed my Minutemen addiction. By the time I had caught up with their back catalogue and fallen completely in love with Project Mersh, with a much more commercial, yet edgy sound, Minutemen were over, D. Boon was dead at 27. killed in a car crash on 22 December 1985. The news didn’t reach me until the January of 1986 when I picked up the first copy of the NME after Christmas (I still have it). I was devastated, the loss of someone I didn’t know, had never met, yet felt I knew so intimately through his music, hit me pretty hard for a sixteen-year-old from Norfolk.

The Minutemen, D. Boon, Mike Watt, and George Hurley, were the first musicians that made me really want to play in a band and dared me to dream that being a musician could be an actual career choice, even though the careers advisor at school, along with the majority of the teaching faculty were saying I would never amount to anything, I truly believed I could conquer the world with music.

I had been playing the classical guitar for a good five years at this point, since receiving my first one for Christmas in 1979, and in all honesty, even if I do say so myself, I wasn’t that bad a player. At fifteen it seemed a logical step to get an electric guitar, so I purchased an Eros Les Paul copy from a kid at school for twenty quid and began my path to rock guitar glory. There was a bit of a problem though, when it came to the electric guitar, I just couldn’t get the hang of it. My fingers fumbled all over the fret board, I got very frustrated and just couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried.

I put it down to the strings being too close together, and having played a full-size classical acoustic since the age of 10, I reasoned that being accustomed to the larger size of the classical fret board, and having played it with tiny hands to begin with, was the issue. That is why I switched to playing bass. I didn’t have a bass guitar though, I was a poor kid from the archetypical council estate after all, and I couldn’t afford one, neither could my mother afford to buy me one. So, what I did, much to my mother’s horror having only had the thing a couple of weeks, was to cannibalise the Eros Les Paul and turn it into a bass. The first licks I taught myself on this makeshift bass guitar where Minutemen songs. I loved Mike Watt’s sound and style and I played and played until I could jam along to every Minutemen record I had (I had them all). Playing a make shift bass guitar wasn’t good enough though. I needed a proper one, but had no means to do so.

It the summer of 1986 myself and another best (and now my actual oldest) friend picked strawberry’s all summer. In all honesty I wasn’t very good at it, hated doing it, couldn’t really be bothered and only managed to make about twenty five quid that I mostly spent on Guinness and Marlboro’s.

My friend though was the strawberry picking king, and he manged to make £80. I convinced him that he should spend it on a Black Vox Standard bass I’d seen in Secondhand Land as he already had a guitar and, my reasoning was if he bought a bass, we could form a band. I remember going in to get it and him paying for it with eighty one pound coins.

Needless to say, we never formed a band. We jammed for a bit, trying to play Cure and Bauhaus songs, but that was about it. A couple of years later he went to university and I had his bass. He did return having dropped out after eighteen months, but having got my hands on a bass guitar, I flatly refused to give it back. He very kindly let me keep it, on the promise that I would get my own soon and give his back. I managed to cling on to it for nearly five years! Using it to form a band in late 1990 with another friend from the village.

This was a more serious effort though, the two of us clicked very quickly, we had very similar music tastes, and would talk endlessly about different bands and musicians, introducing each other to all manner of new bands and going to a lot of gigs together. We also practiced and practiced and practiced. We got a few covers down and wrote a few of our own songs and continued to practice and practice and practice. Just the two of us, him with his purple Ibanez and a Peavey amp, me with the Vox and using my Pioneer midi stereo system from my bedroom as an amplifier, as well as using it to play the drum machine through.

By ’91 we were good enough to start gigging, but couldn’t do it with my makeshift equipment. Although I now had my own bass, having purchased a sorry looking 1976 Fender Precision Bass from the same second hand shop as the Vox, for £250 (a months wages back in those days). At the time I was back home living with my mother and she was horrified when I came home with this expensive, shabby looking item and instantly took it to bits. It stayed in bits for two weeks, as I replaced the wiring, tweaked the pick-ups, resprayed the body, straightened the neck and added a picture of Uma Thurman to the scratch plate. A truly unique piece of equipment, and one that is remembered by others and associated with me to this very day. Nearly thirty years later, despite being well gigged, she still looks fantasitic and sounds awesome. Anyway, I digress, we couldn’t gig using my tin pot stereo to amplify my bass, with the DR 550 drowning me out. I needed a proper amp.

How I managed it, I don’t know, but I talked my mum into buying me an amp. I guess having watched how meticulously I rebuilt the Fender, listened to the noise coming from my bedroom as we practiced, and seeing the effort we were puting in, she could see how serious I was, and one Saturday, out of the blue, she took me to Carlsboro and parted with £450 of her hard earned wages on a spanking, brand new,  Peavey TNT 110 bass amplifier  with a massive 20 inch speaker (I wanted an Ampeg head and cabinet, but that was way too expensive). A couple of pedals later, I finally had my first full rig.

Instead of gigging though, we just practiced more. We moved from playing in our bedrooms to practicing in the dressing rooms at The Waterfornt in Norwich on a Sunday morning, and then to alternating between Noisebox and Steady State Studios. We soon recruited a drummer, and just kept rehearsing. This went on for months. There was a reluctance from the guitar player to gig, we shared vocal duties, each singing different songs, but he was not confident with his vocals and wanted to get a singer in. Which I was happy to agree to as long as I could continue to sing my songs, as I really enjoyed it and in actuality I was pretty good at it. We advertised, auditioned several candidates, and pretty soon an amazing female vocalist joined our line up. Now we were a foursome, a proper band, and it felt amazing. And once again, instead of gigging, we just rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed. We must have been the tightest band that never played a gig.

In the end the whole thing fizzled out. I’d been moonlighting in other bands as a session bassist, picking up quite a reputation for myself and actually earning a bit of money from it.  I got to play on a few records, had one of my songs picked up by a fairly well-known indie band, and I got to play a lot of gigs at a lot of great venues as well. I loved playing live, it was exhilarating, on stage I could be anybody I wanted to be and really gave it my all, it was so liberating not to be the insecure, introverted individual I was in reality.

It wasn’t enough though, not financially or artistically, so I gave it up. The last paying gig I played as a professional was a one off, hardly rehearsed, drunken and drugged up mash up of covers and improvisational noise at Norwich Arts Centre sometime in 1995 with a couple of mates from different bands. I was in such a state I managed to fall off the stage while trying to pose with one foot on my monitor, I missed it completely, and landed on my knees in the crowd, although I did get back on stage and carry on playing, they swelled up massively and haven’t been the same since.

By the following year I had a well-paying factory job which I loved (the teachers at school would’ve been so proud) and had bought my first house away from the city. I did a little bit of playing with new friends I’d made in a local pub, but that didn’t last very long, and following an accident at work where I dislocated nearly all the joints in my fingers, I gave it all up, having decided I would never be able to play again due to my injured fingers. Looking back on it now, that was just an excuse, in my heart I felt I had failed at the only thing I was ever good at and I just couldn’t face it. I sold all my gear, except for Uma and the Peavey who went in to storage (these were far to precious for me to part with) and that was that. I symbolically joined the 27 club that my hero D. Boon had become a member of 11 years earlier. Instead of me dying though, I quite purposefully and deliberately killed my musicianship.

That wasn’t the end though. I came out of retirement four years later in 2000 and re-joined the village band, who were picking up quite a reputation as a local covers band, replacing the departing bass player. And I still had it, I could still play and I rediscovered my love for playing music again, the guitarist and I were both semi ex-professionals and I gelled with the drummer very quickly, forming a monster rhythm section. We played together for fifteen years. Until I got kicked out, not realising for several months that I had actually been replaced. I’m still not entirely sure why, I had been moonlighting again singing and playing bass for a local punk covers band, I didn’t see any harm in this as the singer had loads of different side projects, although I didn’t tell my band mates, mainly out of embarrassment. I’ll admit I could be pretty lazy when it came to learning new songs, particularly if they were songs I didn’t like. But I would learn them, eventually, often rearranging the bass lines to create a more original sound while still maintaining the integrity of the tune. The whole experience was painful enough to stop me playing and give it all up again. Apart from the odd strum of the acoustic at home, I haven’t played since.

However, despite falling out massively with the drummer for a couple of years, we’re all still good friends, we sadly lost the singer to cancer last year and I miss him dreadfully and wish I had been able to play in the band to the end. I think of him everyday. His loss has had just as big an impact on me as D. Boon passing away all those years ago. This time around, rather than being inspired to emulate my hero, I have instead put away my musical toys, mostly sold everything off, and have finally lost the musical inspiration I had in my youth.







Sad days.

On a day when when the UK finally leaves the European Union, I find myself at home, reflecting on the whole sorry situation.

What I find so very sad about this whole sorry situation, and that is what it is folks, is the division and the hatred it has caused not only across social media but, in the press, in the pubs, on the street and just about everywhere else. There are no ‘sides’ in all of this. No winners, no losers. All I have witnessed is a rise of intolerance and hatred. I’m always up for a good argument and have had some fun and interesting debates with some of my Tory voting friends, good friends that I love and have a lot of respect for. I’ve even argued the other side with a family member just to show how skewed and incorrect their argument was. I have been called all manner of names, had my character and that of my heritage called in to question (suffice it to say my family has been traced back a thousand years, and apart from the recent introduction of a smattering of Welsh and Scottish genes into the pool, we have lived on this Sceptred Isle for generations). I have been vilified, on Facebook and Twitter for my opinions, and they are only opinions, not ‘beliefs’ (there are no political beliefs. Beliefs are for religions, and let’s not get started on that subject just now), by people who are supposedly my friends, some of which I have known for 20-30 years or more, all my life even and, by those which are only recent acquaintances and who don’t really know me (or I them) that well. It has been quite frightening to get to know some people whom I thought I already knew very well and have known for a number of years.

From the moment the vote was in, there was never any doubt in my mind that the UK would be leaving the EU, although I have been dreading this day and the ensuing months and years, it is something which I accept and have accepted from the very beginning. It doesn’t matter if I agree with it or not, it is what it is, and always has been. It is just a shame that it has been done on a mountain of lies and fact skewing. It is a shame it has brought out the very worst in people that are both dear to me, and complete strangers, in the continuation of perpetuating those lies without any fact checking, just taking the words of politicians and the likes of Farage et al. as the truth, when it has been shown time and time again their arguments have been built on lies and false and inaccurate information. It’s a shame it has brought such division amongst the old and the young, friends and family. I could go on all day, but I’m not about making political statements, and that is not what this particular rant is about.

Some of you know me as an anthropologist and for the study I have made of our race, the history of our species, and the myriad of different cultures across our world, my love of world history, and my almost fanatical quest to understand all religions dating back millennia. Thanks to my studies and the personal knowledge I have gained through them, there is one thing I can say for certain. Whatever the result of a divisive referendum on a relatively insignificant piece of land on a tiny piece of rock wheeling its way around it’s star. It is mostly irrelevant. Despite the squabbles we have amongst ourselves, and how much damage we do to the only place we can call home. It doesn’t really matter. The planet, and life on it, will still be here. The fact, and it is a fact, that we as a species won’t, and that we would have destroyed not only ourselves but so many other species along the way is what we are missing. This is what we should really be sad about. At a time when we should be uniting as a species for all that it is to be human to combat the daily horrors and damage we are inflicting on our fellow humans and our planet, we are becoming more and more divisive and inflicting more damage, death and destruction as we go.

It makes me very sad. Very sad indeed.


Today is my birthday. And by a minor miracle I’ve made it to fifty!

Those of you that knew me in the late eighties & nineties would probably agree that’s quite an achievement considering my reckless abandonment back in those days.

How that taxi outside the Festival House missed me, when I rather drunkenly slipped off the curb, I’ll never know. The day I survived rolling over the bonnet of a car, having rather stupidly and dangerously decided it would be a great idea to skateboard down Gas Hill to see how fast I could go, I’ll never forget the look on the face of the poor woman who was driving as I screamed in horror as my Sims Pure Juice board carried on across Riverside Road and was lost forever to the bottom of the Wensum. It had cost a weeks wages back in 1995 and I had only had it barely a week. I was absolutely fine, apart from the 25 year heartache at the loss of that fabulous board.

Then there was the time I wound up in casualty with cracked vertebrae after losing a piggy back fight outside the Pottergate Tavern. How I survived (along with a few of others) the Potts is another miracle and a story in itself.

There are quite a few other notable incidents to mention as well, Charlie with the Flymo in the kitchen at the notorious house in Honey Close waving it around, blade facing forward chucking bits of dried grass around the room, while I stood with spinning blade inches away from my face while telling him to put it down. Setting fire to my hair in a cupboard at one of the many Honey Close parties. Knocking myself out after falling into sixty or seventy empty Newcastle Brown bottles we were storing on the kitchen table just to keep a record of how much Newcastle Brown we could drink in a month. In hindsight a tally with pen and paper would’ve been a more sensible solution. Just to finish that event off, two of my friends tried to shove me head first into the oven while I was unconscious. How about passing out half in and half out of the front door having barely made it home after a full days session in the Potts. Where did these shenanigans take place you ask? Honey Close of course. I lived there with various housemates for nearly two years between ’94 and ’96, me being the only consistent resident, before buying my first house in 1996, which upon reflection, probably saved me from a demise that would no doubt have made the Darwin Awards.

How about the time I fell off the stage at the arts centre when putting my foot on the monitor in front of me in a classic rock pose, missing it completely and heading head first into the audience, who rather than trying to save me, parted ways as if for Moses, presenting me with a nice open space on the floor on which to land heavily on my knees. They may have swelled to the size of footballs, but I still finished the gig!

There are many, many other stories of this nature, and thanks to my insomnia, I’ve managed to commit these few to my blog space. Unfortunately though, it’s now nearly 6:30am, and it’s time to get up and battle with the kids to get them fed and ready for school. Then I’ve got to fight the traffic on Norwich’s wonderful inner ring road to get to work, a journey of 2 miles that takes longer than the 12 mile journey from home to the school. If it’s anywhere near as traumatic as yesterday morning’s escapades, I’m in for a very stressful treat!

Happy Birthday to me!

The Perils of Travelling to London For Work

One of the things I have to do for work is travel to our London office fairly frequently, usually once a month, and usually I have an overnight stay as it gets me in bright and early the following day, usually a good two hours before anyone else which allows me to get a hell of a lot done. Due to hospital and doctor’s appointments preventing my planned overnight stay last week, this is the second consecutive Monday I find myself sat on the 09:00 service on my way to Liverpool Street Station. It is also the second consecutive Monday the 09:00 service has been late (although, if I’m honest, every time I get the 09:00 service to London Liverpool Street it is late), and the second consecutive Monday, the automated announcing system at Norwich Station had everyone but me (I’ll explain this further down)  shuffling from one platform to the next while it tried to decide which platform the train would be departing from.

Usually it’s pretty straight forward getting the train from Norwich, and in the past I would always get the 08.30 which gets into Liverpool Street at 10.20. Due to moving the kids to a school in Norwich, though, I’ve had to change my pattern and get the 09:00 instead. It doesn’t make a massive amount of difference journey wise, as it’s the fast train from Norwich with only one stop at Ipswich, and arrives at 10.30. The tube and walk to the London office in Clerkenwell is only ten minutes, so, as you can see, not much of a hardship.

Getting on the 09:00 is an absolute ball ache though. My usual routine for getting a London bound train is to check the arrivals board online for the last previous train to my intended departure, which gives me the platform to head to when I get there. It’s then just a brisk walk from the office to the station, followed by a five or ten minutes relaxing, stress free sit down to get my laptop ready to do a bit of work on the way.

This, however, does not work for the 09:00. I still check online for the platform but, as the 09:00 service to London Liverpool Street relies on the 08:56 service from London Liverpool Street arriving on time, the incoming passengers disembarking, then the great throng of us standing on the platform to board the train, it’s always an utter pain in the arse. First of all you have to contend with the automated announcer shuffling us from platform to platform, like male emperor penguins huddling together for warmth and respite from a blizzard. I’ve become wise to these shenanigans and have learnt to stay put when the announcement is made. It happens because there is a slower service that departs at 09:03 to London and if the 09:00 is late the automated system gets itself all in a tizzy, and starts sending us back and forth between platforms, well not everyone, as there is always a few others, like myself, who have figured out this glitch in the system, and while the rest of the throng is shuffling from one platform to another and back again, we position ourselves in the prime spots on the platform to ensure we are first on the train and bag our favorites seats.

Me? I like to sit in one of the double window seats travelling backwards as you get a better view out of the window, I find if you sit facing the direction of travel, everything rushes towards you and has gone past you before you’ve had a chance to take anything in.

Stay tuned for the return journey, I always aim for the 14:30 from London Liverpool Street back to Norwich so I get back in a reasonable time and get home to spend time with the family before the kids go to bed. It doesn’t always work out that way, mainly due to a certain individual in the London Office, although sometimes, fate just gets in the way as it did a few weeks ago. If I’m not to drained and sleep all the way back to Norwich later I’ll detail that journey on here while I’m heading home.