A GUEST SERIES
4 – Pictures of You – The Cure (1990, Fiction Records)
Released as a single in March 1990, (Reached Number 27)
There was of course an eleventh commandment scrawled by God on the stone tablet at the top of Mount Arafat when Moses came looking for them that sunny Thursday a few years back. The eleventh one, only just fitted on the rock. It said ‘Thou must never, ever, not even as a joke, or to be ironic, ever, full stop, wear double denim”.
The editor of the music pages at the student rag when I started was a long-haired double denim wearing Poison fan called Jonno. He one true aim in life was to turn the music section into a soft rock mecca, a place where Guns N Roses and Pearl Jam were kings and bands like The Pastels were publicly ridiculed for being bed wetters.
Jonno was also good mates with the band we now know as Knobheads. Knobheads were due to play a gig in the Union on Wednesday night, and Jonno couldn’t go so he was sending me out to review the gig. I reluctantly agreed, I was a bit annoyed because I’d already promised a mate, that I would go for a pint with him and besides I’d listened to Knobheads self-financed CD, ‘Crapsticks’ just yesterday (it wasn’t really called Crapsticks) and it was awful. In fact it was bilge, pish, shite, septic discharge and other words usually used to describe something wet and smelly. This was something I intended to tell the student population about in print in next weeks paper. I’d given it 1 and a half out ten. The musical equivalent of being stabbed up the arse by Piers Morgan.
The night of the gig came along. The Union was sort of half full, students encouraged along by the promise of cheap spirits and half-price bottled lager, which sort of became the norm for Wednesday night in the Union, I grabbed myself a bottle of Becks and gravitated to the back of the hall already knowing that this would be awful.
It was then that I saw her. Standing next to a pillar, dressed in a Chumbawamba t-shirt and black jeans, vodka (which turned out to be Malibu) and coke in one hand, cigarette in the other, she oozed cool and she was beautiful, easily the most stunning thing I’d seen in, well, ever.
The band walked on to a ripple of applause, I barely noticed, my eyes kept wandering around the room looking for Chumbawamba girl.
Enough Is Enough – Chumbawamba (1993, One Little Indian, Number 56)
She looked bored, in fact she looked unhappy. I decided that I was going to talk to her. She was off to the bar, one of the few quiet spots in the place. I decided that it was now or never. I ambled over.
“They’re terrible aren’t they…?” I said to her, casually leaning on one elbow, skilfully avoiding the beer slops on the bar. She looked at me and nodded, “Pretty boys with guitars”. Silence. Say something, my brain told me. I garbled something out about seeing Chumbawamba a few weeks back in London. It worked, she stayed still. We talked, we exchanged names, the minutes flew by. The band finished. We barely noticed. We were talking about whether or not Jock Young was right about drugs or not (sorry that is a very niche Sociology joke).
It was close to eleven and the bar was starting to empty, I didn’t really want to go anywhere, we didn’t notice Knobheads (or two of them) ambled over. This was annoying because I was just about to ask CG if she wanted a cup of tea.
The guitarist of Knobheads came over, his dreadlocks sticking to his face, came up to Chumbawamba girl and hugged her. This was interesting. She never mentioned a boyfriend, certainly had never mentioned that she knew the band that I’d just spent half an hour slagging off in front of her. I mean, you would say – “Look, chap, I understand you don’t like them, but you see that bloke playing guitar, well me and him, we are together”. I started to rewrite that review in my mind.
I stood there, analysing the situation, they did look very close, I mean she is laughing at his jokes. Good friends perhaps, brother and sister maybe? I introduced myself. “Yeah, I know you” the guitarist said. “Jonno, tells us you don’t like our music, man”. That is what he said. He virtually spat the word ‘man’ at me. “Ah, well..” I said, “We can’t all be the Smashing Pumpkins” and immediately regretted it, although CG did smirk as I said it.
Then he pushed me and luckily I fell back against the bar. Now, I’m no fighter, anyone will tell you that, which is a shame because I’m a sarky bugger, I always have a quip for the wrong occasion, and actually knowing how to punch someone would have on occasion, been a good thing. This being one of those occasions.
Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones (1968, London Records, Number 21)
I decided to cut my losses and told CG that I was going, and that I really wanted a cup of tea. She nodded and said, if I hung on a minute she’d come with me. So I stood there, like a lemon for about five minutes, whilst the guitarist out of Knobheads slowly killed me with murderous looks as he got closer and closer to CG. Just before CG left he took her to one side and she slowly touched his arm and shook her head.
We left together. CG and I. We sat in the café on campus that doubled up as a computer lab and finished our chat about drugs, deviance and her liking of really cheesy dance music over several cups of weak tea and a few Jaffa Cakes. I was enthralled by the way she sat, the way she drank, the way she ate, breathed, smiled, walked, talked, listened. I still am.
Ecuador – Sash (1997, Polygram Records, Number 2)
Then on her doorstep at three am, we kissed.