Chapter 2: 1984

October – December

And so we landed with a bang, back at home with the exciting tour behind us. My friend Tracy was singing in a band called Controls, and on October 3rd, Danny and I went to see them at Splinters Night Club (at the Cambridge Hotel) in Camberley.

Here we are in the audience. We’re standing next to Mick, the drummer I had asked to leave the band at the start of the year, we must have bumped into him there and I’m guessing by the way the three of us are standing, it was little awkward.

Thanks very much to Tim from Controls for the photo and flier.

They had started to put local bands on at Splinters quite regularly, we were due to play there ourselves soon. 

9 October – Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is first broadcast on ITV, becoming one of the most successful children’s TV programmes of all time since Postman Pat on the BBC three years prior.

On the 12th October the debut album by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, ‘Rattlesnakes’, was released. They were to play at our local university, in Guildford the next day. I had already bought tickets as I loved ‘Perfect Skin’. I had one day to play the album as much as possible before seeing them live for the first time, and play it I did. My oldest brother, Michael, had moved away from home and I had moved up into his bedroom. I actually had two rooms now as I kept my small one, downstairs, to sleep in. The house I was brought up in was on three floors. Michael and Sam had rooms at the top and that is where I moved my record player and records. I painted the room in pastel blue, pink and yellow and put gig tickets, posters and cuttings from ‘The Face’ the ‘N.M.E.’ on the walls. The room had a few beaten up, brown leather armchairs and this was where we hung out. As soon as I put ‘Rattlesnakes’ on the turn table, it stayed there for ages. I would play which ever side was facing upwards when I walked in. I adore this album, it was love at first listen.

Go! Service drummer Mike in Michael’s Room.

To be honest, I actually loved it even before playing it, the sleeve, the brown shades. I thought they all looked so cool, the clothes and guitars.


I played it and played it. I learned as much as I could. To this day if someone mentions 1984, I don’t think George Orwell, I think ‘Rattlesnakes‘.

Cath Carroll’s review in the N.M.E. said ‘Having a record collection without ‘Rattlesnakes’ is like having a kitchen without a kettle’.

And so to the gig. Support came from The Blow Monkeys who were wonderful (and who I would later book for The Buzz Club.) (I thought Dr Robert was interesting and liked his hair. I went as far as buying a bottle of black hair dye, suggesting to Danny that he might try it. The bottle stayed, thankfully unopened and unused in Michael’s Room for a few months before I eventually chucked it out.)


Lloyd was a shy performer, bass player Lawrence Donegan did most of the talking.  I was filled with  a sense of belonging. I had found a band I could share the next few years of my life with. (Read in more detail about my Lloyd Cole story here) We managed to get back stage afterwards, about twenty or so of us in the bands’ dressing room. I had a brief chat with Lloyd, told him I was in a band and that we had just toured with The Television Personalities. He told me he had their ‘Part Time Punks’ single.

Danny and I went up to a few gigs in London, we met up with Janine from Whaam! (who we had befriended after she had joined us on the last leg of the European tour) we saw a friend of hers in a band called The Jack of Hearts, at The Hope and Anchor in Islington. On October 20th, we went to see The TVPs at Thames Poly, the first time we’d met up since the tour. Dan updated us on the single – Wham! the band had asked him to change the label name, he was called Whaam! first, so they paid him some money to do so. With this Dan would release records on the new Dreamworld Records – including Go! Service. We told him we wanted to re-record the single anyway, as we had come on so much since the tour and written some new songs.

18 October – Support for the Conservative government is reported to be improving after several months of dismal poll showings, with the latest MORI poll putting them nine points ahead of Labour on 44%

23 October – BBC News news presenter Michael Buerk gives powerful commentary of the famine in Ethiopia which has already claimed thousands of lives and reportedly has the potential to claim the lives of as many as 7 million more people. Numerous British charities including Oxfam and Save the Children begin collection work to aid the famine victims, who are mostly encamped near the town of Korem.

I read a review of a film called ‘Repo Man’. Danny and I went to see it at the Electric Cinema in Portobello, West London. It was a freezing day but I felt really cool. We were the only two in the cinema.

On 31st October, Go! Service played our first gig since the tour, at Splinters. We played there again on 7th November.

I think my friend Guy Van Steen took just this one photo of us at Splinters!
Adrian Creek wrote about us in The Camberley News – including the news about Whaam! Records.

There were lots of great records getting released and it felt like they were all connected. Mainly through Rickenbackers, semi acoustic guitars and intelligent lyrics. I bought ‘Reckoning’ by R.E.M.. It was their second album, so I was delighted to be able to go and buy their first, ‘Murmur’ a few weeks later. What wonderful albums.

Add The Smiths album, ‘Eden’ by Everything But The Girl and ‘Rattlesnakes’ by Lloyd Cole. Playing records up in Michael’s Room was joyful. These records still in my top album lists and all released in 1984.

We travelled up early on the 2nd November to see R.E.M. at The Lyceum. Rudy had got a tattoo a few weeks earlier and I wanted one, Rudy was going to introduce us to the guy that had done his. We met at a place called All Saints on the Portobello Road. I chose some musical notes and turned away in pain as the man coloured the ink in at the top of my arm. The design I had chosen was two notes, when I looked down, he was colouring in a third. ‘I asked for two’, ‘I thought three would look better’. He was right, but hey, this is my arm! Off Danny and I went to see R.E.M. – me with toilet paper stuck to the freshly done tattoo. These were the days before everyone had tattoos and they were very small. Rudy was the only other person I knew who had one and certainly no girls did. This was revolutionary stuff! The gig was awesome.

20 November – British Telecom shares go on sale in the biggest share issue ever. Two million people (5% of the adult population) buy shares, almost doubling the number of share owners in Britain.

I turned 19 in December. We gathered around the breakfast table in the morning for the present opening ceremony. I had a sleeveless tee shirt on and asked my Dad why he’d never mentioned the tattoo – I was surprised. ‘It will wash off’ he said. Oh dear. ‘Um, no it won’t, it’s real’. I’ve never seen him so annoyed with me. He actually shook as he walked away, letting me know that ‘only criminals have tattoos, you will regret this so much when you are older’. (I don’t, I love it still)

Me and Tracy on my birthday.

11 December – Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” goes to the top of the UK Singles Chart.

Danny and I went to see Lloyd Cole again on December 13th, at the Hammersmith Palais. One of my favourite venues. Robert Elms was in the crowd.

Go! Service re-recorded the single. We had written a few new songs and had become so much better since the tour. We went to Goldust Studios in London and recorded three songs. ‘It Makes Me Realise‘ and ‘Real Life’ with me on vocals and ‘I Just Don’t Know’ – a Rudy song, with him singing.

We drove to Dan’s flat, Poynders Road in Clapham, knocked on his door but there was no reply. Disappointed to not see him, but excited with the music we had just recorded, we slipped a tape through his letter box and drove home.

Living in a large nursery school was fun. At Christmas it was excellent.

Father Christmas looks suspiciously like my brother Tom.
Father Christmas looks quite pleased with himself to be getting attention when some of my friends came round for mulled wine – here he is with Emma.
Helen, Georgie, me, Aidan and Marie Lou, Tracy, Jane and Tracy’s friend, can’t remember her name.

My Mum turned 60.

All six of us were there to celebrate. In age order – Michael, Trina, Sam, Calum Iain, Tom and Me.

We went to a local Greek restaurant. (Mum and Dad had met in Athens)

Trina got a wee bit tipsy!

22 December – Band Aid’s charity single is this year’s Christmas number one.

Christmas Day.

Tom and Trina.
Calum Iain
Mum and Dad
Sam and Michael (playing the pipes).

New Year’s Eve was always massive at Elm Cottage where we lived. With so many of us, the house was full of all ages, partying. My Dad played the bagpipes on the village green and hundreds of locals would gather to dance or stagger round the tree at midnight. He would then lead them into the Rose and Thistle pub, sneak out the back door and return the the party at ours. My parents and their friends sang, talked and drank until the wee small hours. Records played in other rooms, me and my friends, my siblings and theirs. All meeting up in the kitchen at various stages or wandering into other rooms and meeting new people.

Tracy and me
Clare P., Aidan and Marie-Lou.
Rudy, before….
….and after.

Happy New Year!

(Read January – March 1985 here)