Thursday, 21 October 2010

Remember how it started?

I first met Mark Straw at a party – in a darkened room – my head swimming with cider and my mouth brimming with words. Mark made me laugh. A lot. Mark was also a marine with a slick side in modernist aesthetics – he was a ticking, clicking, gin sipping time bomb who put a smile across your face in an instant. I miss Mark. A lot.

Mark and I liked Paul Weller. We did not know this at first but we would [solid] bond over Weller’s look, lyrics and loves as those summers raced by. Clean living in dirty times was our mantra. To be fair I looked a right old hippy when I met him – in some attempt to grow out my hair – through what I would still like to imagine as a quality Ian Brown phase – but in retrospect I looked like a fat version of my mother in the 1960s – with a more pasty complexion and sunken eyes. So my hair was getting wilder but mind was staying focused. Again I would liken this to Roger Daltrey’s modernist balance in Tommy – it’s reckless, relentless but focused with the right amount of humour and aggression. This is where I was at.

I was in the throes of trying to hang on to a London life I had left behind – arriving back from that hippest of institutions – that Goldsmiths’ vibe man – I had surrendered the cultural sights and slights to a life at first behind a bar and then propping one up. But at least those Scunthorpe soul [less] days were spent with soulful people. All will be written about at some point. You are not forgotten.

Once again Paul has the underlying role in all of this [I have discovered some tunes myself] he returned home from town one day clutching THE PAUL WELLER MOVEMENT 12 inch single – those first bars of Into Tomorrow – descending scales and fluid bass as we all took a trip down boundary lane – and here I found myself again. I’d been losing track of myself [somewhere] for while – I would do again funnily enough but now was the time to wallow in the Weller and take that modernist approach to getting high/ by. This sudden grand return to modernism – a backlash against the grunge – the Seattle [freak] scene was welcomed in the North – it meant a return to suits – you see you know where you stand with a suit – you get dressed up for a Friday night. See me walking around – I’m the man about town that you heard of.

And Paul Weller was the catalyst for all of this – the loaded scene – the reinvention of the new male – one who could laugh at the 70s but secretly yearn that it was all a lot easier when Benny Hill was prime time. Now I had my fair share of mightily misogynistic moments – but I didn’t want to nail my colours to a scene of ignorance and stupidity of football chanting mediocrity - and Weller I feel had a little more soul than areshole about him. And that first single chimed with the times – it embraced the changes we were all looking for – and it made the style council seem redundant. It seemed if Weller had really channelled the Marriot magic and the Paul Weller Movement album just proved this - it’s underlying funk and RnB riot laying siege to the modernist within.

So we bought flat fronted trousers in markets in Manchester. Scoured second hand shops for shirts and tops and looked for new loafers to loaf in at public houses. And a dear friend Richard even got handy with the sewing machine, an iron and some soap – and was turning out the four button high collar suits with flat fronted fixed crease narrow cut trousers. I cannot fit into mine now. At that point I was the face. If you wanted it.

But let’s get back to Weller.

I saw him at the Royal Albert Hall – early Wild Wood tour. He simply was on it. It was excess with finesse. Craddock and White holding it all in – as Weller strutted in his Peacock Suit and sang with the masses. This was not dad rock – it never was to be honest. But lazy journalists like lazy terms.

But Mark and I’s love of the Weller would culminate in us sending ‘Stanley Road’ home in a taxi as Paul raged evermore and I drank to excess in The Honest Lawyer. You see I was a postman – that meant I was always up early – not always awake but up early. To sort my round – to put the letters in the frame – to bag up and get out. Feeling resentful like Jimmy in Quadrophenia. So with instructions to purchase the CD box set of Stanley Road – in its 12inch Peter Blake designed glory – I finished my round of the downtown of Westcliff and the surrounding environs and made my way to Mark’s so we could go buy it together.

Duly purchased we made our way to the finest public house in Scunthorpe – The Honest Lawyer and had what would be described as loosener. And then we had several more. All the time that Record Village plastic bag lay at the bar – shouting out that it was meant to be being played in a bedroom somewhere on the way to Ashby. It was one of those drunken epiphanies – to call the local cab office – to send it home – in the front seat the belt on. It arrived safely and I eventually rolled home. You see music can do that – it can send you spinning into places unknown.

And often with Mark the unknown turned out to be a revelation.

And often Paul Weller provided the soundtrack.

Paul Weller Time Passes