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Used to work for AVIVA offshoring IT to India.  Now retired through ill health, writing my life story as a series of blogs chronologically from birth to current time.  At www.jw-alifeofsurprises.blogspot.com
 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Is that George I see before me, Part Three


Every now and then I say or do something that when viewed from the outside looks a ridiculous thing to have done, stupid even.  Examples range from; influencing the Mormon girl in Canada to change from a bible basher who’d never smoked, never drank alcohol nor (and even worse) even had sex; into a nymphomaniac, beer swilling, 20 a day Marlboro smoker, much to the horror of her mother.  To smart mouthing senior NCO’s and colleagues in the Army and for my cheek, receiving fines (over £400), ROP’s and the occasional punch or pinch just because I thought I was funny!  It took a long time before I realised that I was the only one being punished for what I thought was entertaining them.  Only just recently at Sapperfest2012 I met up with Garry Judd who was my dormitory Apprentice L/Cpl at Chepstow.  Sitting with John Moss (Wingnut), Garry and I were joined by two other Sappers who I’d never met and over a few beers we all recalled days gone by.  One of the others mentioned something that was obviously worthy of a smart mouth retort and I unconsciously made remarks that whilst hilarious to Garry, John and the rest, could have been taken in quite the opposite way, resulting in a slap at the very least.  Having recovered his composure Garry said that that was my problem in the Army; I was too quick a wit and a smart mouth and those in authority did not know how to deal with me hence my deplorable record of fines and ROP’s.

So sitting in the dressing room in Ricks Place with hoards of the Fifth Estate milling around outside all at my behest so to speak I was in quite a privileged position.  But whilst sipping Champagne and laughing with my friends at how events had unfolded so far, a small niggling thought started pecking its way into my mind, a “Woodpecker of a thought”, if you will.  Barely noticeable at first its constant peck, peck, pecking eventually made its self noticed and formulated into the dreaded “Fathers Political Influence Thought”, wherein anyone under its guidance makes decisions based upon a wholly idiotic basis that their fathers political leanings meant more than any rationale as to their future prospects in life!    I’m a Labour (Socialist) boy blindly following my Dad’s influence, who was a Union man.  He was a Labour Party member until he died in 1979 aged 53 and I felt, (still feel to some extent), it my birth-right to follow his lead, to vote Labour and resist the influences of Capital C Conservatism on my life.  I’m not anti-capitalist; my father worked for a multi-national company and I have too; its simply that I have been influenced by my Father and never having had the chance to debate with him I am stuck frozen in time and following his left leaning legacy by default. 

Thus events played out as follows, when one of my friends knocked on the door and came in to say that the press wanted to interview me.  (Peck, peck, peck).  I asked him, “What newspapers are out there?”  My friends all quietened down and looked intrigued as he answered, “The Sun, The Express, The Mail, The Star plus the Evening News, EDP (Eastern Daily Press) and The Advertiser (Norwich free newspaper)”.  Impressed by such a great turnout with four national and 3 local papers plus their photographers, additional hangers on and a large crowd as well (Peck, peck, peck); “Anyone from the Daily Mirror?” I replied.  “No, just those I said mate,” came the response. 

In 1988, all four of the national newspapers in attendance that night leaned toward, (in fact were horizontally on favour of) Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government and The Daily Mirror, (who weren’t there), was and has been a continual supporter of the “Left” or Labour Party and I felt it only right and proper that any interview should be given to the newspaper that gave its allegiance to the Labour Party. Dad would be proud!! (Peck, peck, peck)  “Go and find the Daily Mirror guy,” I said, “There has to be someone here from the Mirror if the others have come”.  He turned and headed off to search the club for the Mirror Journalist but without any luck.  “Nah, there’s no one here from the Mirror George” he said returning with a full pint of lager in his fist.  I knew he’d only gone to the bar, ordered a beer and asked the barman if anyone from the Mirror was in and then returned.  It was then that the Woodpecker thought named “Fathers Political influence” finally pecked its way into my consciousness and dredging up those long held beliefs from the Amygdala region (memory retention centre) of my brain prompted me to say, “Fuck’em, I am not talking to the Tory rags, I’ll only speak to the Mirror” and that was that.  I refused to allow anyone from the press to have an interview. 

How stupid was that!  

After all the hard work we’d all put in to that night, the deepest latent memories and emotions had pecked their way into the present to screw it up.  My friends and the management team at Rick’s Place must have thought I was mad but I just couldn’t bring myself to speak to them and it was all down to the subtle indoctrination in my youth.  So the press stayed firmly outside the door and I stuck to my beliefs, moreover my father’s beliefs.  I think he would have been livid with me had he been alive at the time and would have said something along the lines of. “it’s not selling yourself out, you’re using them to improve your chances of success.  How often will you convince the major papers of the day to turn up to a gig and report on it and on the fact you have tricked them into it?  Stop being an idiot and talk to them, you need them, they don’t need you!”  But he wasn’t there and I didn’t talk to them and I remained a legend in my own lunchtime……………………………

This shot was taken in Ibiza in 1989 - but you get the general idea


There was however a gig to do so I asked the boys to move out so the dancers and I could have a final chat and set ourselves for the stage.  The DJ came backstage and asked us if we were ready saying that the press were still out there and the photographers had set themselves up in front of the stage.  This last comment warmed my heart, pleased that we at least had an audience to perform to as the DJ went out and introduced me as the night’s special guest and we walked onto stage.  The guitar intro to ‘Faith’ rang loud across the room as we started dancing around each other, my voice hit the notes and I sang my heart out.  For “I’m Your Man’, we performed as if I was after one of the girls and intently focused on following her around the stage then becoming distracted as the other dancer crossed my path, diverting my attention again and again.   For ‘Father Figure’, I acted as though I was devoted to one of the dancers with the other acting out a cupid role bringing us together.  The song closed with me giving one dancer a long lingering kiss and the other was draped at my feet.

The applause was long and loud and throughout the set the flash bulbs had been going off constantly.  As we moved off stage one of the photographers approached us and took close ups and we posed together the rest of the photographers joining in.  Instead of going to the dressing room I stood outside with the dancers and reporters came over and asked questions; who was I? And why I had decided to do the gig?  I was so wrapped up in the event that I forgot my previous motives for not talking to them and answered their questions.  We moved towards the bar and my friends and the audience in general came over many back slapping me and congratulating the girls on their dancing, it felt good!  We stood at the bar and continued answering questions and it was only after a few drinks that I realised that the reporters we were actually talking to who’d shown any interest were the local press as the Nationals had left as soon as the gig finished!  The photographers were all working for the local papers and not connected to the National press; I suppose they could try and sell the pictures to them if they felt there was a story in them but I had dropped the ball (or a bollock if you want to out it that way), there was no National publicity coming my way! 

The night carried on with the club playing R&B tracks and I danced with the girls and my friends between stops at the bar for refreshments.  I also sang ‘Kissing a Fool’ at the end of the night to a quickly emptying club.  The photographer who’d approached us as soon as we got off stage came over again and asked whether I wanted to give him a one to one interview to which I agreed figuring there was something to rescue from the night.  We moved towards the rear of the club away from the dance floor and sat in a corner by a corridor that led to the toilets!  I gave the guy a full interview going over my motivation, background and inspirations, plans for the future etc.  All the detail I should have been giving to the National Papers.  He then told me he was working for the Norwich Advertiser newspaper, a freebie that came through front doors on a Thursday.  It consisted of a few pages of local news from that week and columns of free-ads selling everything from car parts through to kitchen white goods and pets!  I had hit the big time at last…………..

Once the interview was over Mark Brennan came to speak to me and said that he was due to launch a new club in Reading in January and did I want to help on the opening night.  Rather than sing he said that he wanted to me to be “George on a night out, opening a friends club”, I would sit in the VIP area and meet clubbers throughout the night.  I said I would do it and we agreed to meet later in the week to discuss the detail.  A few days later the Advertiser fell through the letterbox and I was on the front page, a picture of me singing on stage alongside the interview I had given to the reporter/photographer.  It had been a success of sorts, if only my Dad had not gotten in the way, it would have been even better……………

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