Check One Two

There are two main careers when you are young. Pretty soon, however, you discover that you just don’t have the speed, physique or skill to be a centre forward. Which leaves one… rock legend. I have never shown the slightest hint of musical ability but the dreams don’t die just because they don’t tally with reality. Everyone dreams of being a famous musician don’t they?

How to write a blog post when you aren’t really allowed to talk about the thing you want to write about? Tricky.

Just spent two or three days in Oxfordshire and it really was idyllic. Like most countries England looks great in the sunshine and we were not far from Chipping Norton – home of David Cameron, Clarkson and the like. You can see why they would choose to live there. It is the very definition of the green and pleasant land.

Why was I there? No, not the advance party for the next uprising – although we did cause a fair bit of mayhem.

No, I was working with this bloke. Fish.

And it was an absolute riot. We were there to film some interviews for a documentary and hosted by Ye Olde Reine Deer Inn, Banbury. A lovely place, somewhat thrown out of whack by our arrival. Not sure why we took enough equipment to film Game of Thrones but we did.

We arrived in the centre of Banbury at around 4.30pm on the day before the shoot and decided it might not be a bad idea to just put some of the kit on location that night so we didn’t have to do it in the morning.

And Charlie, who was working the bar, couldn’t have been more helpful. We turned the Globe Room – you’ll see it when we cut the documentary, into our store room for the night. Which, given that Cromwell held court in that very room back in the day, seemed very generous of them.

This was a somewhat seminal moment. it is not often that Fish and Marillion are in the same room together and we wondered what it would be like. You’ll have to wait and see the documentary but it was fascinating to listen to them as they talked about the process of making (what turned out to be) their final album.

Clutching at Straws came after their monster hit album Misplaced Childhood and it was a very difficult process by all accounts. Many of my pals were Marillion fans (some still are) and this album is a favourite for a lot of them.

So we spent an entire day together talking about the album, the tour, the break up and what not. As I said, I can’t go into too much detail here but I will say one thing.

I was never as glad in my life to be a writer/film maker.

Life as a rock star is insane. We got a few of the stories on camera but they are just the tip of the iceberg. The cars, the drugs, the women and the drugs and the drink and the… you get the idea.

I was given a brief glimpse of the lifestyle through listening to these stories and I am frankly amazed that these people managed to survive at all. When you hear of an Amy Winehouse or a Kurt Cobain or whatever that is a tragedy but the truly astonishing thing is that it happens so rarely given the excess that goes on.

I was then given another glimpse through action. The kindly folk of the Olde Reine Deer Inn are part of a company that also own the Hook Norton Brewery. This five storey building has been there for nearly 120 years and even though it is at the end of Brewery Lane you would pass right by and never see it. They showed us around, let us try a few samples and took no offence when we bemoaned the prevalence of union jacks and a lack of saltires. Then one of these blokes did the sensible thing and went home.

I was not that bloke.

After the tour we went to dinner and having sampled some of their fine ales I decided to move on to wine. All I can say is that drinking with someone called Fish ends up just like you think it does. Or at least, that’s what I am told. I do not recall anything beyond midnight. More tales of rock excess, the occasional fan photo and a mad rambling conversation of 9/11 conspiracy theories filled out the evening. Then darkness.

Having neither watch nor phone (where they were was a mystery) I awoke the next day not knowing whether it was 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock or Thursday week. I went down for breakfast (only an hour after breakfast finished) and discovered that my appetite had been left somewhere between the wee hours and the umpteenth bottle of wine.

The actual rock star appeared a short period later – fresh as a daisy. Smiling, even. Hateful man that he is.

What had been a huge night of debauchery for me counts as a mere aperitif in the music industry it transpires.

So yeah, I had a wild time in my 20s but my complete lack of a musical ability has saved my life. You dream of being a rock star but no one tells you about the hangovers.

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One thought on “Check One Two

  1. Ah bugger, sounds like I left too early…maybe you needed a sassanach to cope with rock star appetites!! Seriously though thanks for having me along with you for part of the evening…

    And next time you come down I’ll take you to our local Cotswold whisky, gin and absinthe distillery…

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