January – March

The Ham and Blackbird by Farnborough Station, where I regularly caught the train to London. January 1985.

I finished 1984 by turning 19 and recording my debut release; ‘It Makes Me Realise’ as part of Go ! Service. I was living at home with my parents, happily playing the cassette, copying it (making my own cover) and sending it to people for the next few weeks. Dan Treacy ‘phoned to say he loved the three tracks and we started talking about artwork and a release date. It was to be one of the first releases on his new Dreamworld Records.

The journalist Stuart Bailie recently posted me the tape I had originally sent him in 1985!

1 January – The first mobile phone calls in the UK are made

For a few blissful months, I spent my time listening to records, writing songs and reading. I was in the room my oldest brother, Michael had vacated when he left home. Right at the top of the house. There were only two rooms up there, funny shaped and bigger than the others. Sam and Michael‘s. I had taken my records, guitar, books and record player, painted it, and basically moved in. This is where myself, various friends and band members socialised. Sam, my middle brother, often had friends in his room too, playing his (Elton John) records. After university, Sam had gone to Monaco and got work on the yachts, generally helping out and later cooking. He travelled across the Atlantic and had many insane adventures. He was also an actor (he filmed ‘The Doctor and The Devils‘ in 1985). In between trips abroad and acting, Sam would return to Elm Cottage.

Go! Service rehearsed once a week, downstairs.

I was brought up in the local nursery school; up to a hundred children in the mornings and slightly less in the afternoons. My Mum ran the nursery with about six members of staff and her business partner, Mrs ‘D’ (Mum was ‘Mrs B’).

Elm Cottage AKA ‘Mrs Bartlett’s Nursery School’, where I was brought up. The two small windows at the top are Michael’s room

10 January The Sinclair C5, a battery-assisted recumbent tricycle, designed by the British inventor Clive Sinclair is launched.

In 2020, ‘It Males Me Realise’ was included on the Cherry Red ‘Make More Noise! Women In Independent Music UK 1977 – 1987CD box set.

17 January – British Telecom announces it is going to phase out its iconic red telephone boxes.

‘The Tube’ every Friday night was compulsive viewing. To ensure we could watch a whole episode (they were long) without getting disturbed, Danny and I would put a couple of chairs in front of the tv in the large rumpus room, the nursery kids had all now gone home.

I only went to one gig in January, but a line up so rich, it was all I needed.

19th January Aztec Camera / Orange Juice / Everything But The Girl / The WoodentopsBrixton Academy

Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera, had got the ball rolling on this one, he had the idea of playing live to raise money for the striking miners and put this wonderful line up together. Edwyn Collins suggested Orange Juice would play first and announced on stage that this was in fact, the last ever Orange Juice gig! I wondered if it was a joke as earlier he had said, ‘My A&R man doesn’t love me any more, he loves Lloyd Cole now’. He was serious though. The band that had ignited my love of semi-acoustic guitars and floppy fringes were calling it a day. The first time I had seen them play live.

I loved Orange Juice and had their albums along with all their Postcard Records singles.

Luckily we were there on time as it hadn’t been announced that Orange Juice would play first. It would have been really annoying to have got so close but never see them! I saw The Woodentops the year before and had both of their 7″ singles, ‘Plenty’ and ‘Move Me‘. I was also a big fan of both Everything But The Girl and Aztec Camera. A dream line up, great venue too – my first visit to the Brixton Academy.

Orange Juice ‘Rip It Up’

I went to a couple of local gigs in February – 8th Function at The Royal in Guildford and 23rd Squeals of Delight Frimley Community Centre.

19 February – EastEnders, the BBC1 soap opera set in the fictional London Borough of Walford, debuts.

February 28th

The Smiths / JamesGuildford Civic Hall

My first time seeing James, it was known Morrisey was a fan so everyone was there to watch them. They were amazing.

‘Meat Is Murder’ had come out on 11th February and I was constantly playing it. My third time seeing The Smiths and the best so far. It was fairly local which made it great. I knew Guildford Civic Hall very well. It was rammed, long ago sold out. Hot and sweaty, right down the front. ‘How Soon Is Now’ sticks in my mind as being particularly crazy. Danny took his Seton High School jacket off (we had got it at Camden Market) and left it by the speaker but it got nicked, so he was left, just wearing his soggy tee shirt.

I loved this jacket. If it was you who took it, I’d still like it back! 🙂

I knew how to get back stage at Guildford as I tried it every time I went there. (I had been successful and met Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton when I saw The Jam there in 1981.) We managed it by pushing our way through and past the security, I ran to the dressing rooms but sadly, The Smiths weren’t there. I did find a tambourine with ‘I Love Me ‘ written in marker pen and signed by MORRISSEY in his childlike scrawl. I grabbed it and managed to keep hold of it even when we were chucked out! It hung proudly on my bedroom wall for a few years, the marker pen slowly fading.

‘Never Understand’ by The Jesus and Mary Chain was released – their first single for Blanco Y Negro.

3 March – The UK Miners’ Strike, involving at its peak 142,000 mineworkers; ends after one year.

11 March – Mohammed Al Fayed buys the London-based department store company Harrods.

March 18th The Pogues The West End Centre, Aldershot. (Where Danny and I would soon start the Buzz Club)

A mad gig. I’d seen them when they were still called Pogue Mahone, the year before and knew they were fairly riotous. They were about an hour late going on. Everyone was starting to get cross, when they appeared and literally fell on to the stage, picked up their instruments and away we went. My friend Guy Van Steene was also there and took these fabulous photos. (More photos from that night)

19th March Billy Bragg / Sid Presley Experience / Porky The Poet – Guildford Civic Hall

Back at Guildford Civic Hall. I’d seen Billy Bragg a few times by now. I also had both his albums, ‘Life’s A Riot with Spy Vs Spy’ and ‘Brewing up with….’. Brilliant records.

Great supports acts too, especially the Sid Presley Experience who would soon become The Godfathers. (Porky The Poet is actually Phill Jupitus)

No need to try and get back stage for this one, Billy, hero that he is, came into the box office area at the front and a gang of us crowded round him, got posters signed and asked questions. (I booked Billy Bragg to play the Green Man, in 2010 and chatted to him briefly just as he was going on stage. It made me smile, remembering this, the other time I had met him, clinging to my poster to get it signed and delighted to share a few words with him.)

As well as having a band and running a label, Dan Treacy regularly put gigs on at pubs in London. (He was a huge inspiration to me.) Soon he would start his weekly The Room At The Top above The Enterprise in Chalk Farm, North London. Dan and his girl friend Emily (from the band The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters) made the fliers, they were hand written and photocopied for the gigs. These are now considered to be iconic artwork from those early indie days. This was our first gig of 1985, not until 28th March, with Dan’s band, The Television Personalities and also our soon to be label mates, 1,000 Violins, at The Underworld Club, SE1.