Friday, March 25, 2011

The Alcoves V: Alcove In Wardour Street

A hot summer evening in Soho, driving with Tony Wager through rush-hour traffic in his wheezing Triumph Herald. Dave Vanian in full make-up wearing a cape materializes.

"Hey look! Dave Va... right! TURN RIGHT NOW!"

Tony swung the car onto Wardour Street. Almost immediately we discovered that Wardour Street is one-way and the way we were going was not the one indicated by the large arrows. Tony executed a series of hand gestures to indicate to the oncoming traffic that his navigator was an idiot. I waved.

In the same way that punk had given permission and opportunity to people like me to form a band, it also prompted us to write. Fanzines sprung up as rapidly as bands and were often as transitory. Bev was now not only lead singer of The Alcoves, she was editor of Fijit. She cunningly invited me to write for the fanzine, thereby becoming my boss.

The previous day Bev had handed me a list of questions, a cassette recorder, and a spare battery for the cassette recorder.

"We've got an interview with Modern Jazz tomorrow at The Marquee," she said.


"We. Fijit."

"No, I meant who is Modern Jazz?"

Bev handed me their press kit.

"Wouldn't it be better if someone who'd heard of them did it?" I said.

"You live nearest," said Bev. "You better write down the interview too, the cassette recorder's a bit iffy."

This didn't strike me as the greatest assignment ever, but I thanked the boss anyway. It was my first interview. I'd done a couple of gig reviews, but for some reason my main role at Fijit was writing opinion pieces in which I insulted everyone who wasn't in The Alcoves or the handful of bands that we liked and gigged with. As an avid reader of the NME, I based my style on that of Julie Burchill.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep or a hypomanic episode. Possibly a reaction to The Alcoves gaining a following. Maybe I'm just a mouthy bastard. But in the space of a couple of issues of Fijit I'd unleashed largely unprovoked attacks on Phil Smee (who I'd never met), Waldo's Records (despite liking most of their releases), The Innocent Vicars (having forgotten I knew them), and another fanzine named "99% Shit" (which I did read, thereby deviating from a purist Burchill stance).

The bouncer at The Marquee seemed less than pleased to see us.

"We're on the guest list." I said.

"Ain't got no fuckin' list. Too fuckin' early."

"But we're here to interview the band," I said, waving the cassette recorder as definitive proof.

The bouncer sighed. "Wait here."

He returned a couple of minutes later with a man in a puffy shirt who identified himself as the manager of Modern Jazz and who escorted Tony and me to the dressing room.

Any plans I had on a hard-hitting, in-depth interview would have flown out the window had the dressing room had one. The place got to me. I was in the dressing room of The Marquee, someone had given me a beer, and two members of a band I had never heard of were sitting on a dilapidated sofa explaining the lyrical significance of their latest single "In My Sleep I Shoot Sheep."

They played the record over the Marquee's P.A.

It was okay.

I noticed that someone had written "Pete Townshend," on the wall behind the sofa. It occurred to me that the somebody was probably Pete Townshend.

The cassette recorder did work. I transcribed the interview and gave it to my editor. It didn't make it into the next issue of Fijit because, as far as I know, there wasn't one.

Things were beginning to fragment.


  1. So, ever thought of coming back to terrorise little old ladies on the 84?

  2. Maybe when I'm old enough to get a free bus pass. Save all the hassle of forging them.