Like Freaks of a Feather

Today’s Much Love Monday comes after a whole load of song-searching for something appropriate and uplifting. Some Mondays are very tough days. What could be better, then, than Red Hot Chili Peppers with Me and My Friends?

Tomorrow is Mark’s funeral and though I can’t be there, I know I won’t spend a minute of the day without thinking of him. I thought I’d just steal two stories that sum up Mark the best, without resorting to anything that might end up with a prosecution.

This is from Chris and I love this story. It’s just typical Mark.

“My best memory of Mark, I was in the recording studio wrapping up the very last track of the album back in 2007. Carl and the rest of the boys had been in the control room and I’d been locked in a dark vocal booth all day. I walk out and see Mark sat there, beer in hand, smile on face and giving me that nod, that seal of approval that he thought it was cool. No words just that nod!! The only non band member to ever share a recording session and I’m so glad I got to experience that with Mark and many other great memories………..oh, Worst memory we were wrestling one day drunk and he actually bit my ass cheek so hard it drew blood. I’ve never felt anything like it. Cheers for that bro. X”

It makes me laugh because I think you’d have to be crazy to wrestle with Mark. Like, clinically crazy.

And then the next is my good friend Henny, who has often been the glue that held various groups of people together, and was more often than not the oil on troubled water.

“One of my favourite memories was when I took him to a party in Horwich. It was in this really big posh house. We were wandering around being nosey, when we opened a door to a large darkened room. Someone flicked a switch and the lights started to come on to reveal a large kidney bean shaped swimming pool. Mark’s eyes widened, he pushed me aside and without a moment’s thought did a running jump, cannonball style into it. Fully clothed of course.
He spent the rest of the night in the pool, stripped to his boxers, laughing and joking, can of cider in hand, using corny lines and innuendo to try and get the girls to join him.
Before long the whole party gravitated to that room. First to come see the crazy guy in the pool. Then they stayed because around him was the best place to be.
His spontaneity, or lack of thought, was part of his charm and his eventual downfall. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying he made every party interesting.”

What else can I have Much Love for on a Monday morning other than a big crazy guy who was a completely loveable hooligan?

But more than that, I will miss seeing all my friends together, people who I’ve not seen in the flesh for a while, people who were once a huge part of my life.

The first seat of our Friday and Saturday night festivals was The Royal in Bury. In about 1988, I went in there to find a boy named Daniel Showman, the object of about two year’s worth of affection. He was playing pool with a few other people and I’d gone in with Angela, a friend of mine. At the time, The Royal was just a dirty, old pub where the landlord didn’t care much if you looked 18 or not. That first night, I met three people. One was Henny. He was playing pool, as he often did. The next was Danny Howarth. The other was Steve. I’d known Steve since I was 11 anyway, but I know for sure this was the first time I’d seen Henny. There were a few other guys from Tottington… Oggy, Nathan… other people who are barely but legends to me any more.

The real rockers of the time went in the Two Tubs, a pub up the road from The Royal, but the landlord was more picky. No kids. It would be a good six months before we would make our way up there, past The Clarence.

Those nights were never static. There was a cast of thousands. I think that’s what I like most about it. And everyone kind of knew each other, or knew someone else who knew someone else. I’d like to say I’d got memories of all of those people, maybe not always together. The night me and Mark walked back from Headbangers, going for rides in Nick’s Fiat Panda with Alison and Danny, me and Andy Mundy walking through Walshaw at 7 in the morning, nights when Stu would play guitar and we’d have a few drinks up in Whitefield, sitting outside Bury Church with Mark who was insistent that he wanted to show me Robert Peel’s penis. I have no idea what that was about.

When Monty’s opened, on the far side of town, it was like the mother ship had landed. This kind of sticky, seedy club-in-a-warehouse played great music, was cheap to get in to and was the Saturday night home of all my friends. I’ve got literally hundreds of photographs taken in here, and I can name just about everyone in the pictures. That’s quite something, to have a world where you know everyone, and everyone knows you. It’s a bit like the opening of Cheers! It totally rocked.

What else made these people my home (because finding a venue was just a place to all hang out, and we did a fair share of hanging out wherever we got together, be it outside Vibes record shop or at the bus stop with a bag of chips from the takeaway next to Tiger Taxis) is that although I had lots of friends at school, I wasn’t the preppy, clean, Benetton type. It’s funny to look back now and realise that most of my school friends weren’t either, but there were a lot of big, expensive perms and lots of Naf Naf clothes and ski trips that I never went on. We were the antithesis of that. No labels. No expensive perms (though some heavy-duty crimping!). No ski trips. No foreign holidays. Ironically, I’d say we were much happier and a whole lot less pressured. School, college, work… they weren’t at all important. Friendship came first. Then music.

Anyhow, here’s to The Royal, The Two Tubs, Monty’s and Jilly’s Rockworld. They were the seat of much good humour, many laughs, friendships that have lasted years and years, marriages, babies, children, bands, musical careers, fashion crimes and lots and lots of things we’re all very glad our parents don’t know. And even if I’m very far away from it this week, it’s always right at the heart of me.

3 thoughts on “Like Freaks of a Feather

  1. The perfect expession of the time Emma, Its strange to think that we experienced it separately as you describe it just as I remember. I will spend tomorrow wrapped up in those memories, missing Mark and wishing all the guys and girls in Bury well. x

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