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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, 28 February 2013

1989 - The Summer of Confusion

1989 was clouded by the effect Ibiza and the summer of love had on me.  Blogs for the year (commencing below), are really one long story and flow into each another, so sometimes there may not be a "dramatic ending or denouement" you sometimes get or expect to read at the end, but you'll get used to that I'm sure - thank you for continuing to read this blog-spot.  JW xx

Creating Confusion
Dave Bennetts football career was cut short in 1984 with a knee injury and whilst his ligament damage was considerable back then, it but would probably have been operable and treatable today.  Fortunately Dave was insured and given his zest for life he bought a lease on a bar in the West End of San Antonio, Ibiza; the centre of the islands nightlife and party community.  He managed it himself in 1984 and leased the bar out over the following four summers, but by 1989 he was itching to get back to he island because he knew there was a mint to be earned if you did the right thing and more importantly, he was almost broke.  He had married Rebecca and they lived in a nice bungalow in Thorpe, Norwich.  By late January 1989 Dave and I were becoming great friends, he had an infectious personality and one could not help but like the guy, even though anyone other than I would take his plans and schemes, points of view and dramatic affectations with a pinch of salt.  I just saw a nice man who was great fun to be around and he had connections.

Dave approached me in the Hole in the Wall one evening and said he wanted a word.  Given my ‘gift of the gab’ he thought I’d make an excellent barman in Ibiza and wondered whether I fancied running the Bar with him over the summer months?  I was in a quandary here as my friend Rick Holmes, the musician and fledgling rock star, had also asked me whether I wanted to set up as a two piece outfit and to go to Ibiza and play the bars and clubs?  I love Rick dearly but with only three months to go in which to build a set list large enough to match the quickly developing ‘Acid House Music’ and Ecstasy charged clubbers needs, find a regular gig, accommodation and income needed to live I decided, sadly for Rick, to choose the easier route to Mediterranean madness that year.  Rick, whilst disappointed in my decision (he has forgiven me now) still had his band (The Law) to keep him occupied as well as his job and girlfriends.  I on the other hand was finding it harder to get up in the mornings for work (wonder why) at the Double Glazing Factory, had slipped behind on payments for the Scirocco and Glenn moved out of the house as he was going to move into cheaper rooms with a group of friends.  So suddenly in the space of a month I lost my job (restructuring – last in, meant first out), my car was going to be repossessed by the finance company and my brother Richard delicately asked me to move out giving me a months notice, as I had no money to pay the rent; so it was back to mums house again.
The Hole in the Wall and Ricks place were still my main hangouts of a weekend and some weekday evenings as well.  

I started seeing a lot more of Dave and would pitch up at his house for tea, which usually came with a sauce of some kind as being a Manchester lad everything edible that was served for dinner involved gravy or if gravy was not the suitable sauce, it was replaced by some other form of liquid or semi-liquid substance poured over or around the main course.  So through Dave I was introduced to Hummus, Taramasalata, Pesto and various other delicacies.  Rebecca his wife was a slim, very attractive blonde who was quite shy and reserved but who also had a wicked laugh and was more than able to match Dave in a battle of wits.  I liked her a great deal as she was easy to talk to and was always interested in my life and what was happening to me.  Health wise, I was still seeing the Orthopaedic Consultant at the hospital and underwent a short period of physiotherapy to try to alleviate the pain and problems with my back and legs.  I was also taking large amounts of anti-inflammatories and pain medication that, whilst masking the pain, did nothing to identify the cause.  I was not overly concerned at comments such as “could be a prolapsed disc and even the spondylolisthesis” as no one seemed to be able to nail the genuine reason for my pain.  Various x-rays were taken but all proved worthless as to providing a diagnosis. 

Norwich City were playing Wimbledon at home in March 1989 and through Dave, the self anointed king of ‘The Blag,’ we always managed to gain seats in the River End Stand by a circuitous route that would lead us through the sponsors dining room and the fire escape in the corner, onto the stairs behind the terraces and out onto the seats at the top of the stand.  John Fashanu was playing for Wimbledon and was a good friend of Dave’s and that Saturday night after the game we gathered at the Hole in the Wall.  I was not planning on going to the clubs that night probably due to being broke and so turned out wearing jeans.  It was early evening, probably around seven thirty when ‘Fash’ and Dave turned up and there were barely ten people in the bar at that time.  Dave introduced me to John and his friend Glen Mace and Neil Riley joined us as we all had a beer and started chatting.  I was talking to John when he asked me whether I would go to the toilets and check whether anyone was in there?  A very strange request needed a very good reason, so I asked him what he was worried about.  John explained that as he had played for Norwich before moving to Wimbledon there was still some resentment from fans of Norwich and as such he’d had run ins with a number of supporters over the years.  “So basically, I need you to just go in and check there is no one in there before I take a piss, ok?”  ‘Fine’, I thought and went over to the toilet and as there wasn’t anyone in there I came out and told John that the coast was clear.  He went in and I stood outside as requested to stop anyone going in whilst he used the loo!  John came out and we walked back to the group we were with. Dave started telling John about my George Michael lookalike career and John said he would be happy to listen to my demo.  He asked me what I was doing later and that I should join them at Rick Place but I said I was off home as I was skint and could not afford to go clubbing.  “That’s a shame,” said John, “there might be an opportunity coming up later this year that you might be suitable for but I need the tape.”  I said I would pass it onto his friend “Mace” who was with him and lived in Norwich, he would get it to John and we left it there.  The usual crowd started to fill the Hole in the Wall and around 10:30pm, I made my excuses and left to drive home.

Sitting at home watching Match of the Day the thought of missing out on an obvious chance to get some work started to niggle and by 11:30 I was changed and ready to go back out, armed with my Demo Cassette and £20 ‘borrowed’ from my overdraft.  I parked at Hunters Squash club in the hope of bumping into John there, saving myself the entrance fee to Ricks if I couldn’t blag my way in.  The group of footballers and hangers on had already crossed to Ricks Place so I walked over to the club and succeeded in blagging my way in courtesy of a doorman I knew.  I walked upstairs but this time there were no cameras flashing, there were no crowds of screaming girls and instead, had to worm my way through the crowd to reach the bar, were I spotted John, Dave and a whole host of Norwich City footballers stood by the bar surrounded in the main by women.  I weaved my way through the group and stood behind John.  I tapped him on his shoulder and he turned and smiled a big grin as I passed him the cassette.  “That’s what I like to see, someone who is eager to make a go of things, well done, superb effort, I’ll definitely listen to this and get back to you, do you want a beer?” he said.  Later I found myself standing with Andy Townsend (now a well regarded football pundit on ITV) who was very much the worse for wear.

The DJ was playing a U2 song and Andy was singing at the top of his voice swaying around and bumping into people.  I had spoken to him a few times in the past and put my arm around his shoulder and guided him to the bar.  He put his hands in his pockets and fumbling around finally produced a ten-pound note and a set of car keys.  “One more pint and I’m going home, I’ve had enough fun for one night.”  He was staggering drunk and I looked at the car keys and the tenner and said, “I think you’ve had enough beer Andy, put your money in your pocket.  Do you want me to drive you home, I’m happy to do that for you?”  I could just see the headlines, Norwich City Footballer in Drink Driving Arrest! Or some such headline like that.  “Nah mate, you’re legend, but nah, god bless ya, nah, I’ll be ok.”  Like bollocks you’ll be all right I thought, I took his keys and led him away from the bar towards Dave and John.  “I’m heading off now chaps, I’m putting Andy in a cab and then going home, won’t let me drive his car so I’m making sure he doesn’t drive it himself.”  Whether they heard or not I don’t know, they just nodded. John shook my hand and we stumbled across the club and slid down the stairs towards the doors.  In between hugs and shouts of “you’re great mate” and moments of lucidity wherein he appeared totally sober we found the Taxi rank.  I opened the rear door of the first cab and Andy sat in the car.  I shut the door and said the cabbie, “I don’t know where he lives but I’m not letting him drive, so you’ll have to get an address from him.”  “Ok, he’ll be fine with me,” said the cabbie and I walked towards my car at Hunters and saw their taxi driving up Magdalen Street as I went.  ‘Good deed done there’ I thought.

I moved out of the rented house and back to mums (Again!) and despite having no money other than Unemployment Benefit, I still managed to get around, thanks to friends with cars.  Early April 1989 Dave came to see me and said we were flying out to Ibiza to decorate the bar so I packed a case and off we flew.  Dave had arranged for us to stay in a small flat near the centre of San Antonio and after a late night arrival, the following morning we walked round to the bar.   We stood in front of “Bar Confusion”, which Dave had named after a Happy Monday’s song and took stock.  Looking at the front there was a set of Georgian double doors and to the right of these was a window that opened horizontally; the bottom pane resting on the windowsill, the upper pane held in place with a hook and eye.  Inside on the right were concrete moulded seats built in booths and there were four of these along the wall toward the bar each with a marble table fixed to the floor on a single central pole.  The floor was marble tiled floor and the wall to the left, wood panelling with mirrors from waist height up to the ceiling.  The bar was on the right starting behind the last booth of seats and came out of the wall and doglegged towards the rear of the building and had a marble top.  It was around 3 metres long with a couple of San Miguel beer pumps halfway along.  Opposite the bar were the toilets; a small room holding two washbasins and two cubicles with a large mirror on the wall behind the sinks. On the wall behind the bar was a large mirror and where the bar ended there was a floor to ceiling beaded fly curtain and beyond that a store room.  The bar smelt musty; of stale wine and beer and cigarettes, the tangible ghost of party nights long past, the walls were sound but needed a re-paint and the seat cushions were beyond help.

“Right Jonny Boy,” said Dave, “what do you think to this idea?”  Dave went onto describe his plan for a refurbishment starting with painting the interior and exterior walls white.  The concrete seats would be painted white and new cushions would be found, made of sponge covered in material, he’d then over paint the walls with a design similar to the cushions. He had a special idea for the design he’d have painted on the outside.  We walked to the haberdashery and sorted through bolts of cloth until Dave found a white cotton that was covered in multi-coloured fluorescent daubs, as though a paint brush had been swept across the cloth in all directions, using blue, orange, red, black, green, pink and yellow paint.  “We’ll do the same to the walls on the inside of the bar,” said Dave.  I was not so sure but Dave was convinced and we walked into the Hardware store and found all the colours we needed to replicate the cloth on the walls.  He bought Fluorescent Blue strip lights and new spotlights with Fluorescent bulbs and Dave rang his pal who was the resident ‘Ex-Pat Electrician’ to come and fit them.  We organised the licences that had to be purchased, Music, Alcohol, Fire and Health and Safety, which was a joke in it-self as you will read further on.  On a regular basis we had to pay kickbacks to police and council officers who would turn up unannounced, invent some infraction and state that a fine was due otherwise the bar would be closed until payment was made.

It appeared that rather than working with the clubs and bars to the benefit of the whole Island the rules and regulations were built to force adherence to such an extent that, how businesses managed to survive was sometimes beyond me.  Patrols by plainclothes police or enforcement officers meant that we had to be aware not only of the music volume audible outside the bar but also where our customers stood outside with their drink in hand, the area our outside seating covered and whether anyone was smoking pot.  The street the bar was on was paved and closed to all traffic unless on deliveries.  Large concrete oblong planters (no plants in them, just dirt) marked the extent of the seating areas outwards from the bar and width ways was limited to the width of our bar.  However, should a customer decide to move a chair beyond a planter to sit with friends and be spotted by the police, a fine was issued straight away, so we were forever going outside and checking where our customers were.