Seeing live – The Smiths, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Everything But The Girl, The Pogues and working in the kitchen at Lakeside Country Club!
January – March
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.
1 January – The first mobile phone calls in the UK are made
I spent most of my time listening to records, writing songs and reading, 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. Sam had gone to Monaco in 1981 and got work on the yachts, generally helping out and later cooking. He travelled across the Atlantic and had many incredible adventures. Sam was also an actor (he filmed ‘The Doctor and The Devils‘ in 1985). In between trips abroad and acting he 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’). Mrs D only did the morning shift, my mother did the afternoons too. When I got up during the week, Mum and Mrs D were usually having their elevensies in the room off the family kitchen while the children had their drinks and biscuits in the rumpus room. There were music lessons every day, two types and both fairly raucous. If anyone was still asleep upstairs, these would soon pull you into the waking world. Mum played the mouth organ, and did so magnificently at many family ceilidhs. She would play for the children, around twenty of them in one room, each armed with a drumstick that they were encouraged to hit the wooden floor with, ‘in time’. The children would also sing. Looking back, these were very lucky kids having someone as wonderful as my Mum coming up with these fabulous classes for them. (Along with music, she taught them their first steps in reading, writing and drawing. She was also the head coach and manager of the Nursery United football team). The second type of music lesson was hosted by a local lady playing the piano. Usually to about thirty kids and a few staff members all singing. The theme tune to ‘Rupert The Bear’ was a firm favourite, sung with much enthusiasm, and again, as good an alarm clock as you could wish for.
10 January The Sinclair C5, a battery-assisted recumbent tricycle, designed by the British inventor Clive Sinclair is launched.
I had had various jobs since I was fifteen. My first was as dishwasher at Lakeside Country Club, which was walking distance from my house. Lakeside was later famous as ‘the home of British darts’ but in those days was a classic nightclub very much on the dinner and entertainment circuit, where Morcambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, Sammy Davis Jnr., Bob Monkhouse and Frankie Vaughan had all appeared. When I was working there, Bernard Manning, Jim Davidson and Freddy Starr were all regulars. The waitresses would sometimes come into the kitchen in tears from Bernard Manning making jokes about them if they cleared the tables near the front of the stage. One night, they all refused to go back out and customers started to complain about the cluttered tables.
There was a house band who would often be sound checking when I arrived and working in the large, busy kitchen was exciting. I started at 6pm, and usually finished at about midnight, 2am if it was a really busy night. Often, I manned the industrial dish washer on my own, sometimes with someone at the other end. It was knackering work. I got covered in peoples’ left over food and dirty water from the machine, slipping on the floor as I ran from one end to the other to grab the red hot plates and then load it up again. After I’d been there a few months, I got better work in the kitchen – making huge trays of coleslaw, helping the chefs prep and when a capacity show, filling up the waitresses’ plates with roasting food for the noisy crowd through the swinging doors. I still had to do the dishes though. I was able to get some of my school friends working there too. They’d come back and crash out at my house afterwards, occasionally Sam or anyone else who was home would be there with a few friends and we’d stay up a bit longer, having a laugh.
I needed this job as, I had borrowed an amp to play a gig at the Camberley Working Mens’ Club in The Essential Extras a few years previously. I had left the amp on the pavement while I went in to get more gear and guess what? When I came back, the amp was gone. I had to give my brother’s friend Andy, who had leant it to me, £150. So, I walked up the road, asked if there were any jobs and got the dishwashing gig, starting the following Saturday night. ‘Wear old clothes’. After eventually paying off the amp, I enjoyed having my own cash, so kept working there, this is while I was still at school. It meant I had money for records, gigs and clothes. I had been buying records since I was about 12 and had a great collection, particularly 7″ singles.
I had stopped working at Lakeside the year before to do the European tour with The Television Personalities.
In 2020, ‘It Males Me Realise’ was included on the Cherry Red ‘Make More Noise! Women In Independent Music UK 1977 – 1987‘ CD 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 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 Woodentops – Brixton 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 love Orange Juice and had all their albums along with their Postcard Records singles, (including their debut, one of only 1,000 pressed, ‘Falling and Laughing‘).
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.
The Smiths / James – Guildford 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 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)
An insane 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.