A GUEST SERIES
17 – History (Radio Edit)– The Verve (1995, Hut Records)
Released as a single in September 1995 (Reached Number 24)
Of course, the album version with its reference to ‘Beds being unmade and having a skin full of dope’ is the superior version.
‘History’ was the single that was released about a day before The Verve split up (the first time at least). It a luscious string laden epic that is obviously about the break up of whatever relationship Richard Ashcroft was in at the time, although he denies that. The front cover of the single sees the band standing in front of an American theatre with the words ‘All Farewells Should be Sudden’ reaching out from top of the theatre.
When I listen to this song I can only think of one thing. A guy also called Richard, although nobody called him that. We all called him Dickie Twice.
Dickie Twice was a student at my University. He got the nickname ‘Twice’, because he used to repeat everything twice. Especially, but not exclusively, jokes. We’d be in the bar and he would be telling us a story of his formative days living on a rough estate in Portsmouth and he would get to the point of the story and then he would repeat it, just in case, we’d missed it, “so we legged it and hid in the pub. (Pause) We hid in the Pub.” – that sort of thing.
He did it all the time. Hence Dickie Twice. He was a brilliant rugby player as well, but that’s not relevant.
Dickie Twice had a girlfriend, who we will call Natalie. She is relevant because half way through our second year, Natalie decided to out of the blue, give up University, go travelling and find herself in some Guatemalan jungle (I’m told she got a refund…). She had been with Dickie Twice about a year at this point and three weeks before Christmas she told Dickie in the Guildford Branch of Marks and Spencer that the reason, she was buying travel socks was because she was catching a flight to Santiago in a weeks’ time and no he wasn’t coming with her.
At 2am, the next day, the phone in my house rang. Johnny my housemate answered the phone and about ten minutes later he was knocking on my door, about five minutes after that Mrs SWC, Johnny, Johnny’s girlfriend Amanda and me were sitting in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. Johnny explained what was going on but Johnny being the wickedly funny and heartless soul that he is, did it in full on Dickie Twice mode.
A Little Soul – Pulp (1998, Island Records, Number 22)
“That was Dickie Twice on the phone. Nat’s dumped him. She’s going travelling. She’s going to the jungle. To the jungle. To help save monkeys. Monkeys. He’s spent the last six hours trying to change her mind. Change her mind. But she’s going next week. Next Week. Christmas in La Paz is lovely apparently. La Paz.”
This went on for about five minutes, we sat there spellbound as Johnny recreated the phone call word for word. At times it was hilarious, and Mrs SWC and Amanda chastised us for laughing as the intimate moments of Dickie Twice’s relationship breakdown were revealed to us…” and she thinks its weird that I insist on wearing my Quins Top during sex. My Quins Top! I never mentioned her third nipple. Third nipple.”
Eventually Johnny tells us this sentence…”Oh he’s going to go to Wisley Rock and chuck himself off the top. Off the top. And we mustn’t try and stop him. Do not try and stop him. I know he’s serious because he said it twice”. Johnny said between laughter. Wisley Rock is a small rockery located at a famous garden in the Surrey countryside. You could barely chip a toenail by throwing yourself off it. Besides it costs ten quid to get in and Dickie Twice hasn’t got ten quid and couldn’t find his way there even if he was serious.
Johnny refills the kettle and grabs some crisps from the food cupboard. I get out some biscuits, sensing an all-night tea and chat session.
Coffee and TV – Blur (1999, Food Records, Number 11)
Mrs SWC, ever the voice of reason, looks at me and Johnny, and says you should both go over and see him. Take a beer over or something and make sure he’s ok. I look at her and tell its two thirty in the morning and its minus bloody four outside. Amanda nods and tells Johnny the same thing.
He switches the kettle off and I sigh and grab some gloves. It’s a twenty minute walk to Dickie’s house. I give Mrs SWC a look and pocket the biscuits. She stands up goes over to the other food cupboard and takes out some Galaxy Chocolate and sticks her tongue out at me.
Dickie Twice was fine. We wake up his housemates and find him passed out on his bed wearing his Quins Top and cuddling a small toy bear, a half drunk bottle of Jim Bean is on the floor next to him. We check he is breathing, and then before we leave Johnny draws a moustache on a small photo of Natalie that is next to the bed and with a stifled giggle, we leave him alone.