Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 112: “Quomate”

Many years ago, roughly thirty-five years ago, I had an alter-ego, Roger King mobile disc-jockey, I’m sure that I’ve alluded to that fact, if not mentioned it here before. Let me tell you a story:

The wedding season was in full swing. It was May and Saturdays were booked back-to-back with weddings. My brother and I would reluctantly take it in turns; it was good money though and the perks could often make up for the long hours and terrible playlist of mixed musical tastes that you’d have to satisfy. You could guarantee that at any wedding there'd be every follower of every sort of music and theydl all want to hear their particular, group, artist or genre played, even if it was going to clear the dance floor and alienate everyone else withing ten square miles of the venue.

That said, we carried everything: soul, funk, punk, disco, middle-of-the-road, oldies, Motown, rock and roll, metal, big band, new romantics, everything. Admitedly, the selection might be a bit thin but we could accomodate all tastes.

I guarantee you that in every village in the Bristish Isles, however small, however tiny, there will be at least one punk. Since 1976-77 they left just a few behind, strategically dotted around the frontiers and outposts waiting once more for the faintest whiff of anarchy. And that one village punk would always be at the wedding. They’d of course ask you for some punk, but to prove how credentialised they are, they’d never ask you for soemthing easy like The Sex Pistols, The Clash or even Siouxsie & the Banshees; they’d ask you for something that they knew you did’t have: “You got The Slits?”, “nope”, “X-Ray Spex?”, “nah”, “What about The Fall?”.....I mean come on give me a break. Even if I did have them, do you think that I’d be putting that on at five thirty on a Saturday afternoon at Kev and Donna’s wedding reception at the Curzon Rooms?

They are asking you for something they know that you don’t have and for a type of music that they know you’re not going to play, so that you, Mr Mobile Deejay and Light Show, can be junked in with the rest of the anti-punk establishment like everyone else at the wedding. "Go back to your Nolan Sisters" would be gobbed at me.

So with that odd Punk or two, you played out that scenario of them sneering at you and eventually drifting away from the console. As if they intended pogoing on their own anyway? If you did put on the Pistols or Ramones, the most that they would do is retreat to the back of the room or hall, nursing their pint (let me add at this point that they came, more often than not, in pairs: punk boyfriend and punk girlfriend - salt and pepper punks) and moving about a bit in time with the beat, hoping that other people would notice them and point them out to their neighbours. “I reckon they’re punks them two”. Sometimes, very infrequently, they would take to the dance floor; just the two of them. Had the Ducking Stool still been around they both would have been taking down to the river faster than Wayne County & The Electric Chairs could have sung “If you don’t want to fuck me baby, baby fuck off”. I liked Punk, liked what it stood for, but in the middle of a dancefloor at a wedding whilst Uncle Arthur down from Warrington for the weekend is crossing back from the bar with a tray of pints and Baychams? Incongruous, that’s what it was, in that setting.

And anyway, the biker/heavy metal type had long pioneered the wedding territory way before Punk. This would have probably been the only day of the year that they took off their leathers and Levis and replaced them with some other type of clothing - a suit in this case. Only problem was, that cousin Graham or Tim may have left his bike behind, but had left his Catweazle head on.

You’d be into your show by a couple of hours and it’d be heading towards the middle part of the evening when Cousin Graham would lurch or swagger up to you, rollie sticking out from the bearded mouth, pint of brown and mild in his paw, and you knew that he was going to say a variation of the one theme: “Gotanyquomate?’or “Gotanysabbathmate?”

I knew most people in the area around where I lived, and even if I didn’t know them personally i would have known of the colourful characters that myths and legends were made of. “Put three blokes through the window of The Rising Sun he did, Graham Tonkins, fucking nut case”, “ See that bloke there, that’s Phil Kennett; they reckon he pulled up to The Red Lion one night on his bike, went in the public bar, pulled out a bayonnet and took on the whole lot ‘cause someone from there had shagged his missus.

So what was I supposed to say when one of their younger brothers asked me for a bit of “decent music”? I’ll tell you what I would say “Sure, what would you like? Zeppelin, Deep Purple, I’ve even got some Motorhead?”

To be continued tomorrow.........

Day #112 Tip: “Of course I can”
Today’s piece of wisdom is taught and pithy.

If someone accosts me or wanders up to me - and I can sniff a cheque book - asking if I can write a screenplay in a genre that I’ve never written in or intended writing in - musical, childrens’ story, war film, animation, martial arts - my response, with out thinking, is faster than immediate: “I’d love to, of course I can, when do we start?”.

If you’d like me to respond to Martic Scorsese’s The Age Of Innocence, with a period piece “I’d love to, of course I can, when do we start?”. If the request is for me to make a comedy-vampire cross genre piece “I’d love to, of course I can, when do we start?”.

Money for screenwriting is HARD to come by. When and if you’re asked, do not think twice; smile, be enthuisastic, name a film you love in that genre and then say “I’de love to, of course I can, when do we start?”

"...and would you like me to play some Nine Inch Nails while I write?"

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