February 14, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 1/7/2000 - The Jug Of Ale, Birmingham

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 1:46 pm

In my early years in ROCK I would very rarely meet ANYBODY who thought my stuff was any good (possibly because it wasn’t) but I spent those fallow years observing bands who DID have “fans”, and how they reacted to it. The BEST example of this, as with so other aspects of life, was Mr John Otway, who was always POLITENESS PERSONIFIED. The very first time I saw him he chatted with me and my friends for ages, full of stories, not at all show-offy, and generally LOVELY. When I asked him why he was stood around with us rather than in the backstage area where, surely, Pop Stars were SUPPOSED to be, he gave me the BEST piece of advice I have EVER had in my ENTIRE LIFE: “If I went and sat back there I’d be all on my own, feeling miserable. If I stand out here people tell me I’m brilliant and buy me beer.”

I have LIVED by that maxim ever since. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve occasionally seen bands who SNIGGER when Lesser Beings approach them, and openly DERIDE them once they’ve been dismissed from their presence. Apart from being RUDE (and hey! being ROCK is about being ROCK, not RUDE - I prescribe a DVD of “School Of Rock” for anyone who needs TEACHING) it’s also STUPID. It can take a LOT for some people to pluck up courage to talk to someone they a) like b) admire [CF me seeing Alan Moore in a comic shop the other week: TOO TERRIFIED TO MOVE], and if you’re horrible to them they not only won’t do it again, they’ll more than likely tell other people what an arsehole you are. Luckily for me nearly all the people who like my stuff have been DEAD NICE so have made it EASY and indeed a PLEASURE to be in their company, but it has not always been so.

For LO! this gig saw another appearance by MAGNUS, the young lad who kept turning up at a gigs and buying my cassettes. OK, he was a little quiet, a little difficult to talk to, and DID tend to sit nearby LOOKING at me before the gig actually happened, but hey! We all have our little ways, right?

This time he came and joined me and some pals at a table outside the pub for his Sitting Nearby And LOOKING and seemed fairly normal. One of these PALS was Mr Mark Guest, a friend from SCHOOL long ago who now lived nearby. I went to put him on the guestlist and had a Four Candles/Fork Handles MOMENT, as the top of the page said “Mark - Guest.” and I had to get them to write “Mark Guest” underneath it. I thought this was AMAZING though he seemed less impressed. Apparently it wasn’t the first time.

It was a good line-up for the night. After my Politely Endured opened set LEGENDARY Brum band The Regulars played, and as I watched their lead singer cavort about the stage in an indie-rock fashion I had no way of knowing quite how OFTEN our paths would cross in future, for LO! (again) that young loon would one day grow up to be Indie Troubadour Mr Pete Green, with whom MANY acts of ROCK would be perpetrated a few years later.

ALSO on the bill were Saloon, noted Festive Fifty victors and, at that time, LABEL MATES with me. We’d put out their first single but then we seemed to have a bit of a falling out with them. Even now I’m entirely sure why - I THINK they might have thought we was ripping them off CA$H wise, as at the time there was a LOONIE going round telling people this is what we were doing (and he was a proper loonie too i.e. THE POLICE got involved later), although I cannot rule out the possibility that I may have SAID something improper.

Anyway, at this time all was WELL so off we all went to a PARTY. It was a SWINGING time, there was BEER and… well, that was all that was required to make it a slightly dishevelled Hibbett who found himself in Birmingham New Street Station next day. Every time I visit New Street they seem to have thought up some new AWFULNESS - each time I think “SURELY this horrible, horrible place cannot get any worse” and yet each time it does. There are worse looking, worse smelling and/or more grumpily staffed stations in the country - Harlow New Town springs to mind for the latter - but you’ll never find one that scores as highly in all three categories, and certainly not another that is one of the country’s major transport hubs. Truly, it is a BLIGHT on all that is good and delightful about our nation. For instance, THIS time I discovered that, because trains are SO unreliable on a Sunday, and because there were ALWAYS alterations/cancellations/buses at the weekends, the BRAINS TRUST that ran the station had decided not to put up timetables for Sunday i.e. NONE AT ALL. They’d just GIVEN UP on the whole idea of even BOTHERING. Of course, being New Street there was no signage to this effect, and I had to queue up for fifteen minutes to have this information SPAT at me by someone behind a thick glass screen who obviously shared Margaret Thatcher’s views on public transport users i.e. DISGUST.

It took about four hours but EVENTUALLY I got home where I had to wait a whole day to get on the email - having the internet at home in those days was a) a wild luxury and b) fairly pointless. If I had nothing better to do at HOME I could watch TV, rather than read the three or four internet pages that existed then, so why bother? When I DID get in, however, I found an email waiting for me from Magnus. He said he’d enjoyed my set and also The Regulars, but went on to say something that is BURNED INTO MY MEMORY. Readers of a more delicate disposition may wish to look away, as this isn’t going to be pleasant. OK? Right then, he said “One of the last band must have been giving the management blow jobs to get that gig. It would have to be one of the men - fucking any of the women would be like fucking slabs of dead meat.”

It burnt the HAIR off my EYEBROWS just to look at it! He seemed so quiet and inoffensive and yet… WHAT? Meat? WHAT? Once I’d had a stiff cup of tea and a calming cigarette (DARK DAYS) I sat, gob smacked, before my computer, wondering how on earth I could reply to THAT. In the end I decided that DELETING it would probably be the best bet, followed by a schedule of IGNORING IT COMPLETELY, in the hope that, somehow, this would mean it would never have happened. For once this traditional British DEALING WITH THINGS policy actually WORKED (apart from the inability to ever forget the words themselves) - I would see Magnus again at another gig a few months later, but he never sent me anything so SCARIFYING ever again. Nor, in fact, did anyone else.

1 Comment »

  1. that truly is an unsavoury thing to think, let alone share with another person.

    Comment by quasi-pfaff — February 18, 2008 @ 7:24 pm

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