We had travelled quite extensively these last two weeks from the incredibly beautiful and surprising wildness of Flamborough nature reserve over on the North Yorkshire coast, swimming in the ocean below the raucous sea bird colonies of puffins, kitty wakes and gulls that dived and swooped of the cliffs above skimming across the surface of the ocean and just above my head as I swam out into the ocean wrapped in the tight warming rubber of my wet suit. Fantastic.
We parked Pearl there and slept up above the cliffs safe secure and protected under the otherworldly glow of the magnificent Flamborough head light house. It seemed as night drew its veil over us that the lighthouse was the axis from where the whole universe revolved as the light above rotated relentlessly, precisely and endlessly above us, I was absolutely mesmerized.
We had to tear ourselves away, left without looking back or we would have surely turned around, got jobs in the chip shop and just stayed. From there we dipped and rose and dipped up and across the Yorkshire dales stopping in at ancient Norman churches and medieval towns, soaking up as much of, to us, unknown England as we could.
We appeared from Derbyshire over the Pennines and down to Stockport Lancashire for the Blackthorn Music festival at Etherow park. It was mobbed so at one point on the first night as the bootleg Beatles played we happily worked behind the bar dishing out jugs of larger, that was a surreal experience.
The highlight of the weekend were again the Stereo MC’s they were ‘ace’ and in a smaller tent, a band called “Dub Sex” also took us by surprise. We also had some very interesting but jarring experiences with clients. It was good to see Jan Carl Julie the family and the blackthorn crew again, but we were quiet work wise and on the way over my laptop had developed a major fault so I wasn’t able to write so Orsi and I walked the hill sides marveling at the wild orchids.
Afterwards the lovely Julie from the Blackthorn team recommended the folds of Peak district again so, we shot out there and hid ourselves away in the village of Castleton, snug and inconspicuous for 4 or 5 days down the side of the 12th century church of St Edmunds. Above us the ruined Norman castle cast its shadow across the village and just across the valley a mile or two away the scar of the Iron age fort of Mam Tor, we set out and walked across the hill tops and down through the beautiful dales, our imaginations were aflame, it was magical.
Finally we got the call from “Stormfront” the bozo’s in York. The laptop was ready, it turned out to be huge expense, it stung us deeply, I was furious at them. We dug deep and cut our losses and I managed not to swear at the slimy “all boxes ticked” staff who had given us the initial quote. I left their shop angry trying to shake off bad feelings, back to pearl, pulled up the main sail and finally set off for Wales.
I’d always been curious about the Island of Anglesey it conjured up mists, our ancestors and the last bastion of the Celts the Romans were in the process of eliminating when Boadicea rebelled in the south so they never quite got around to finishing the job. There are so many sites still standing there for such a small area. Though twentieth century reality didn’t quite have the mist and the whispers I had imagined, Red wharf bay was truly magical and to be fare we didn’t make the time to hike out to where I suspected whispers could be heard.
From there we drove to Carnarvon and parked up inside the castle walls outside a coffee shop we’d sat in all that first day writing. It was very funny, I’d asked as we left what time did they open tomorrow, etc. Ten minutes later we pulled up in Pearl and parked outside their front door, it was coincidence and very funny, but hey, a free parking space, loos that locked, hot water and Internet connection, hot coffee, open at 8am and all inside Carnarvon castle walls. I think when we pulled up in Pearl they thought we were mental, but it was genuinely coincidental, we did leave a tip when we left next day and we were really nice. It kept us warm all night laughing.
From there we’d walked in the mountains of Snowdonia and ended up parked in the little town of Betwys y Coed simply because it had made us laugh trying to say it, still don’t know if we got it right. Orsi loved it, said Wales was a place she could be happy in, the wide openness of that land. I have to say as well that the Welsh were surprisingly friendly.
As we have gone around the UK there is a priority of essentials we look for in a town, usually in this order
- Public loos with running water and sink (hot water; result)
- Coffee bar with lockable toilets and a sink
- Swimming baths
- Parking restrictions 8am-6pm (10am-5pm; result)
- Plug sockets in pubs or coffee bar
- A level parking space
- A bakery (even if, just to stick our faces on the window and smile at the staff inside)
Orsi had been swimming just about every day and had connected with the early morning old ladies in the swimming clubs in each town. In Wales they were without fail sweet and curious with her, she came back to Pearl every morning with all the town gossip, where to go and what not to do, if you need to get the lay of the land in Wales get your swimming gear on and get up early
I’d wanted to sit and connect for some time but there hadn’t seemed time or opportunity. I am still surprised at what comes wen I do get a chance to sit relax, it is best when it’s not forced, I have tried to but it becomes confused or just it doesn’t happen. Orsi had discovered the ancient church of St Michaels the name suggests that it was founded in the Celtic era before the Norman invasion, in the age of saints as they say, with its effigy of Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch, grandson of Dafydd, the brother of Llewelyn ab Gruffydd, the last native Prince of Wales.
I’d sat down about three pews back, closed my eyes and almost straight away saw a female figure sat on an Emperors throne, she looked rather splendid with light all around her as if it emanated from her, she gracefully lent forward with hands cupped together, in them was a ball of light, something shining out from them, I observed myself knelt in front looking up, I’d cupped my hands and stretched them out towards her, she lent forward and put the light into my hands and said quite forcefully
“You have been given the light, now use it..!!”
It was quite jarring, I was being told. The scene then faded. I then saw a sheet of glassy water flowing smoothly towards a weir over its edge and become turbulent and choppy. I just presumed that there was a change of pace coming. I quizzed in my mind that it was to be expected seeing as we were about to leave that morning for Blackpool and the Rebellion Punk festival. It’s always a surprise how things turns out, never quite how I consciously expect, but always a revelation, days later when the meaning hits home.
It was to be a profound and turbulent weekend for me, not the just bands and old friends, which were great, but what occurred, and I am still not sure about it, and I am not sure whether I can write it all. I’d sent energy when I wasn’t asked and it would be returned to me in a most unexpected manner, also seeing old band members and finally putting all that to rest.
We’d arrived at the Winter Gardens Blackpool Wednesday afternoon after a fairly easy drive from Wales, parked up went in the front doors, picked up the free program, which I have to say is such a great thing from the organizers, one of the only festivals all summer to do so. Excellent.
We made our way inside and along the tiled glass avenues of the beautiful almost tropical interior, up into the carpeted halls and golden chandelier lit rooms of the first floor, through the wood paneled baronial room with its flags drapes and the left handed Kerr family moto emblazoned across the fire place apparently awarded them by a grateful Scottish King after the battle of Ancrum moor with the English in 1545 ‘Sero de serio’ it said, translated means “Late but in Ernest” which could most certainly apply to me in this life.
Finally with a sense of relief into the Spanish room and the Punk Art exhibition, a hive of muffled activity, twenty or so artists some on hands and knees, some with teeth bared tearing gaffa tape, some tapping nails with anything to hand, others stood wondering and pondering, rubbing chins and biting nails, contemplating masterpieces from across the room. A Punk Rock stars hall of mirrors lay scattered all across the floor, some anorexic some puffy and bloated, awaiting their turn to be hung. We tiptoed over the frames and respectfully around boxes expecting to be in our usual place in the far corner underneath the plaster mock Spanish village, but we couldn’t find our name.
We went in search of Jen the co promoter and partner of Daren and eventually found her in the back stage bar area looking wild, wide-eyed and stressed, she was lovely with us and all apologies. She explained they’d found a beautiful women’s toilets for us down a set spiral stairs or something right at the back of the Spanish room
I said “ I think you’ve got the wrong person Jen
“No” she said its “It’s a beautiful room, you’ll love it
I said gently, “Nobody will know were there
The Spanish room itself is a little out of the flow of things as it wa
I said “What if we set up next too the tattoo artists, the room with the chandeliers and the carpets, there’s a space there next to them?”
“Perfect” she said her relief was palpable “Go for it”
We then got our parking place sorted for the back of the Winter Gardens which would be our home for the next 4 days. I have family in and around Blackpool who had all offered us a place to stay, but we wanted to stay out the back of the festival in the car park with the sound of Punk Rock echoing around us every night and Blackpool tower right there above us, besides Pearl is our home, we like her, and every night with a glass of red wine sat in her doorway, it really made us laugh.
I’d found a trolley at the back of the opera house next to the stage door, I’d tried to roll it away quietly, but of course they are built to make noise aren’t they, everyone looked around as I rolled it away and as I rolled it in loaded up with all our stuff clattering and rumbling across the sparkling clean tiles inside the venue.
We were well drilled by then so it didn’t take us long to set up, Orsi had told me there was a lift but it hadn’t registered so we’d cheerfully lifted all the gear up the stairs. There is no trooper quite like Oris at times.
We were mirror opposite to the two miserable girls behind the fenced tattoo area. We usually warm to people we are working next too at festivals but they remained switched off and cold and aloof.
Afterwards we went to get chips on Coronation street between Albert road and Charnley road. The town was still quiet; the tide of spikes and leather hadn’t arrived yet. A portly Banhgladeshi guy served and was very sweet with us dressed in grubby faded blue t-shirt pulled over his rounded belly that was covered in batter and splashes of spreading chip fat served us. I loved it; Chips and Mushy peas sat in the back of a chip shop chuckling at the smudged brush strokes of the Indian paint job. Later met we up with my little sister and her husband at the Old Criterion, in amongst the first Mohican arrivals. I was glad to see them both they were curious as to how we were doing as I’d done a lot of work on Pearl in their driveway. Good to see family isn’t it.
We’d gone back to Pearl that night very happy
I knew there would be a rush for passes as soon as the front door opened next day, so I was up early next day and across at the box office just before 10am and as we were parked out the back I was able to walk in through the back doors and pip the queue.
I managed after a little confusion to get AAA passes. I was very relived. It meant the freedom of the building all weekend and we’d need to get in early and also if I am honest I have a sense of pride to have the AAA, it felt like a nod that I’d earned, The Fits were the first real punk band in this town, that’s a fact. We may have released the first punk record from a Blackpool band too, Section 25 weren’t really a punk band, I’m sure they would agree.
I was first in each morning to set up and just sit and quietly soak up a little of the grandeur of the place. Orsi was usually away off down to the sea front and the beach doing Yoga, slugging out territory with the donkey rides. Meanwhile Derek the guitarist from Peter and Test Tube Babies who was doing the Rebellion Radio usually arrived soon after me looking surprisingly dapper in a straw trilby
“Moring Neighbour” he said disappearing into a room opposite us
Gareth Aston the author of ‘Hanging around with musicians’ was there again too, we’d met him last year, great guy, his theme this year was the Manchester punk scene and how it had perhaps had a bigger influence on the Punk Scene than London, he is an amazing library of knowledge facts and dates.
David from Failsafe Magazine came to sit with us for a while too chatting and checking punk rock facts and gossip, another great encyclopedic knowledge. He seemed genuinely terrified at the offer of a Hypnotherapy session. Made me smile, I think he sensed we were hungry and later sent us up a big salad bowl which we were really grateful fo
We sat up there wedged in between the Baronial hall and the caged tattooists as the tide grew stronger each day washing up spikes studs and shaved heads. It also washed up growing bellies and creeping baldness, they landed there, eyes momentarily widened, then a blink and the veil of stoic resistance came down, then another wave would seem to dislodge them and they flowed on past, the curious conservatives as we have begun to call them.
To be honest sat there we observed such a lot of illness drifting by, people who’ve crumbled, or others who are in the process of doing so. Wheel chairs and walking sticks, such a lot of pain, but few of them stepped over our threshold, it frustrated us; we really could have helped.
This year was the 40th anniversary of Punk Rock so there were a significant amount of 50 to 60 year olds around. We absolutely loved it, growing old disgracefully, there were whole families of punks and in some cases the grand kids too, generations of Punks, excellent.
Alan the head of security who we’d met the year before came up to say hello, a big hard looking guy from Manchester, came to tell us about the progress of a family of ducks that had adopted him and his home a few years ago. All the security guys like working at Rebellion, there is rarely any trouble, ever, people are well mannered and entertaining. They, security, mostly wandered around just talking to everyone, they have also become part of it all too and were catching up with people.
It’s quite an odd place up there in the peace and tranquility of the Arts Spanish rooms, where Charlie Harpers blue and pink cartoon cats in oil were selling like hot cakes at £120 a time. An oasis of peace and calm, so as you descend downstairs to the festival itself the energy meets you half way like a subdued roar. It’s like preparing to dive into a fast flowing river, feeling a stronger electrical current ahead, you subconsciously brace yourself, pause, then jump in, takes a second or two to get your bearings and then just start paddling.
The ground floor of the winter gardens resembles a very large green house with stalls at one end that circle the pavilion stage like a corralled wagon train it’s glass domed ceiling all the way along above, it a constant hum with thousands of perky active people chattering and milling, some of the most extra ordinary sights you’ll ever see. This year there were 7 stages in all, with a new one outside on Tower Street the whole beautiful place was buzzing
Everybody we talked to over the weekend said the same thing, everybody loves being there, everybody loves Rebellion, a few years earlier there had been a few sour jealous gripes about it not being punk Etc. Punk is of course not what it was, but it seems tighter now than ever, everyone just looks forward to meeting up there with old and dear friends to chew over past deeds done and enshrine new deeds and exploits, a Punk Rendezvous by the seaside, classic British stuff.
We missed all of the afternoon bands, some of who I’d really wanted too see for example, Guida, Subhumans, The Defects, the Polyesters, The Membranes, Penatration & the Pauline Murray, Jello Biafra and Captain sensible interviews. If ever one of us took a step off to watch something to or chat with Gareth in the Spanish room, somebody would arrive appear or stumble upon us so we never got away. Our rule by now was last booking by 7pm as people by then were definitely starting to look a little hammered and worse for wear.
First band we got to see was Discharge, I wasn’t going to miss them and they were absolutely overwhelming ferocious raw fury, they are very very good, the originals, but thrash they are not, razor sharp precision is what they are. I have never seen anybody play the bass like Rainey, it was simply amazing to see, he looked absolutely ravaged by something and was hidden under a beaten up straw cowboy hat. They are the real deal. The singer has a real authentic fury. Orsi stood with her mouth open watching the speed of their playing and delivery. Of all the bands we saw at all the festivals Discharge were her favorite, top girl.
Later we caught a bit of Peter Hook and the Light show playing all the Joy Division songs, they were great, the opera house was church, a chorus of voices and raised worshiping arms “Love will tear us apart” amazing to see. We’d watched a little bit of the UK Subs and the Buzzcocks though neither were as good as last year, we reasoned everybody can have a night off, we forgave them, Charlie harper is one of the most loved people in the punk world, such irreverence and wonderful warm humour. holding a can of beer aloft that night grinning up at it like a little kid, he said
“This one’s for beer, if it wasn’t for this beer ,this gig wouldn’t be appenin”
Next night we got to see GBH, it’s always good to see a slick tight band enjoying themselves. Swapping bass and drums on a couple of songs with a couple of beautiful girls. It was such a good set, the singer Colin still agile and full of energy. It was slightly marred for us though by the singer from Rancid who I have loved but who’d played a fairly average set as the Old Firm Casuals on the main stage and then arrived in the midst of the GBH set being a bit of a prick, wading through the crowd, not sure what was going on with him, but really quite disappointing considering all the rhetoric of brotherhood the guy spouts.
Then on the Saturday night on the Tower Street Stage the greatest band of the weekend, The Damned. It has gone down in my mind as one of the greatest gigs, just so easy, effortless and funny, a fist tight, powerful master class of how to do it. They looked like they were just having such a laugh, the Captain as irreverent impertinent and mocking as ever, talking rubbish that somehow when you’ve stopped laughing realize how insightful and well delivered his acerbic outbursts are. Dave Vanian prowling the stage was great, at ease, confidently adlibbing, Stu West on bass in an orange high viz jacket over his suit and the butt of all the jokes, Monty oxymoron on the keyboard now a well accepted part of The Damned. They played old B sides and even gave Brian James a nod, Captain refereeing to him as the riff meister.
The Damned were absolutely spine tingling brilliant, dipping into all their back catalogue, masterpieces of explosive color and melody. Nobody all weekend or for that matter all summer would top them, joyous to witness. I looked around at times just to gauge the crowd, everybody there knew they were witnessing something very special that night. They ARE the benchmark.
A great surprise that weekend were “Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons” We’d been bored by Slaughter & the Dogs and left them to their egos and gone in search of something authentic. We’d wandered in upon a three piece band making a racket in the opera house. They came rocking out from a corner of the dark outer suburbs of some grubby rockabilly town but with direct inter city connection to all that was best in Punk Rock and roll, the singer Puss was fearless dressed in a cat suit hair stolen from Sue Catwoman vintage 76 but molded and sprayed into her own, fragile, strange and quite odd, she dived off the stage at various points to confront us lot stood around gawping at them. The big very overweight guitarist Dirty Jake with a greasy quaff had injured his back, and no wonder with the size of him, he’d had to sit down at around 4 songs in
“Aw” said Puss mockingly “Jake’s had to sit down….. cos he’s in PAAAAAAIIIIN” she screamed close up into his face. He looked really quite startled and vulnerable. It was hilarious, he really was in agony you could see it, brilliant moment. From then on we locked on and followed that girls every move.
Orsi said “that’s what I want to do”
And that’s a secret to a successful band isn’t it, when people want to do what the band are doing. They were great.
We met them on their stall later, Orsi pushed me forward and said offer him some Healing for his back, I did and he sort of laughed nervously and said something about if he could get out of bed the next day he’d come up to us. Diamonds in the mud, a strawberries moment, that boy has issues. He never came
The Healing and Hypnotherapy too had been quite remarkable at times. Orsi also had been really busy all weekend, she had dropped the price for readings to £10 we knew from experience that anything more would make people hold back and we figured better to be busy, she has become a really good reader, just about everybody left her table lifted and energized and well worth the tenner for what people came away armed with, a gift in fact.
Healing and Hypnotherapy I think for the moment are curious things for people there. People have seen to much TV Hypnosis, jokes about can you turn me into a chicken starting to wear a little thin by now. I’d lowered my price too and did quite a lot of free ones, it has given me much to think about since we came away, not the price but the effect and the physical changes that happened.. The vision had said “Use what you have been given,” it was in my mind all the time we were there.
I did a lot of successful pain relief with people who did find the courage to step forward, turning the volume down as I call it. Afterwards, startled, people saying they had no pain, it had gone, hardly any of them though thought of a donation, I didn’t mind, I figured that it was a great thing just to be there, Jen had made that possible bless her, but what would you give if you were in a great deal of pain to find a way to turn it down? Genuinely though, we were just happy to see the surprised and happy faces, it doesn’t get better than that.
A girl came back from last year to see me, she was ready and prepared and that is how it is too. Hypnosis is first of all being educated on how to let go and so gain control, she had obviously thought about, felt it and had understood. I will only say here that she had a weight problem, armor, and as we’d talked, I’d realized that I was very tired. I had to physically, consciously pull my whole self up and back into the moment with her, it took a great deal of effort to be right there, and once you are, there is no time. The subconscious of the person opposite feels your attention and focus, it is then that magic happens. It was only afterwards that I fully realized what had happened, it was a remarkable session, after the fact, as during it was matter of fact, when you are so focused you are in the calm center of the tornado. We saw her later down in the festival and for a few seconds I didn’t recognize her, she just looked so bright and happy.
A hard looking guy had come for a card reading to Orsi. He’d mentioned his chronic pain and was talking about suicide she called me over and we took him into the dome, talked clearly and directly to him, no BS. He seemed surprised and responded and had a wonderful session. He very successfully turned the pain down and walked away smiling from ear to ear, we never asked him for anything but his face was priceless. There were so many other moments too, what is becoming more and more clear to me is how deeply powerful the mind really is, creatively and destructively
We tend to talk about the mind in glowing third person terms and what it can do, that old chestnut about how us only using 10% o the brain and what if we could use it all. “I’ve seen it on you tube’ people say. I have heard this year so many times people saying they believe but have not experienced, so they ‘don’t know’ it has begun to sound to me that when people say they believe, they are making a wish, wishing they did.
Believing and knowing are very different things. Many people think illness and disease is just bad luck, let me assure you they are not in the majority of cases. There is of course wear and tear, age, external environmental and genetic factors, but a large percentage of dis-ease is created within, by thoughts and unexpressed emotions and suppressed physical energies. In fact we do use far more of our brain, mind, than we realize, we are supermen and women, but we are untrained and the subconscious is running riot with our bodies, all that brain power used to bury the bodies of hard knocks, disappointments, anger, guilt or what ever, within our physical bodies, its chaos, and it is evident if you sit anywhere and look as people pass you by.
As we sat there watching all this pass us by, pondering on these weighty thoughts and lofty realizations they would regularly be brought to an abrupt crashing halt. Opposite us was the door to the kitchen. It would swing open about every 20 minutes or so and a red faced girl in a white shirt and black trousers would appear, pushing a two tiered trolley of mashed potato and sausages, huffing and puffing, rolling her eyes, cussing and laughing. She’d been christened she said ‘the mad mashed potato girl’ she was actually quite glamorous and so even more hilarious, she literally didn’t stop all day for the 4 days we calculated she must have pushed a few acres of spuds out and into the lift.
‘You’re making me hungry” I said at one point as another trolley load burst into view
“Don’t try the mash” she warned “just don’t”
I don’t think it was health reasons, I suspected the chef behind those swinging doors was having some sort of melt down and the angst had been absorbed by the taters, didn’t feel like there was much love behind there, thank goodness she was there,
At one point the swinging doors banged open she came striding up to us wide eyed and palms outstretched
“They have just out of potatoes..!!!!!” she said “What do we do now?”
She was another example of everybody security, management, bands, audience and traders just enjoying the spectacle of everybody else. Hilarious
I saw The Fits drummer at one point, it brought it back to me what a mercenary selfish bunch they we’re, heard too that the bass player had collapsed puking up and had to be carried back to the hotel, embarrassing, I was glad to be away from them, but to be honest, a storm raged within me for a few days afterwards. It had hurt and disappointed me but without the mention it wouldn’t be a full story.
We spent an evening with my friend Gary Fahy from the Belfast Punkerama label. We’d walked him back to his hotel one night as he wasn’t sure where it was, turned out to be on Lonsdale Road “Betty’s hotel we all used to hang out in with Ronnie and Micky from the genocides, sat and had a beer outside the old bridge house pub on Lytham Road around the corner opposite of where I’d grown up and right opposite Barry Lights old shop where we’d sold our first records. It was a good night, he smoked and told us how hard he was working on the stall, though when ever we’d gone down to catch him Sharon would shrug her shoulders and a few times I’d found him outside the stage door sat on the pavement smoking roll ups with a load of punk rockers.
We said “Whaaaaa evvaaa Gary” We love Gary but we weren’t buying it, everybody loves being there, it isn’t a coal mine it’s a joy.
Caught up with the Belfast lot too, the hard working Sharon “dolly” Defect, Buck and Aidy Defect too who seem to be going from strength to strength, good luck to them.
We wouldn’t swap the Rebellion for any other festival , we’d had the opportunity to go to various other festival where we could have made a lot more money, it isn’t for the money, it never was nor just the music and I have never forced Orsi into anything, it is the feeling there, it’s a one off. Best festival of the lot as far as we’re concerned. We met Jen on the morning we were leaving, she’d had a little healing from us, we’ll be back next year, there will be morning meditations and punk yoga too, can’t wait already.
We called into my brothers and sister in laws house on the way out, he wasn’t doing great, she spoiled us and cooked us an English breakfast. Then we shot out of town and back towards Wales and for a few more quiet days afterwards. I really nose dived into a dark place, I seemed to descend as we rolled out along the M55 the M6 and into wales on the M56. Perhaps I was just tired, but also I had experienced things in there that seemed so high and only to be fully realized afterwards. The old band stuff had jarred me too I was sad I wasn’t playing. I think we coasted back down to earth on the way back into the welsh mountains it took me quite a while to begin to resurface in the peace of Colwyn Bay. That period in between the Rebellion and the Northern Green Gathering was probably my lowest point on the whole summer. I Crashed there but it began the climb too