I never had a train set, never had a bike, lived on a council estate and ran with a gang. I never went on holiday, went to a state school, son of a taxi driver, but no feeble-minded git, me – no, clever. Sharp. Ambitious. No dole factory pension illusion for me. Pop star me!
As a teenager, I was laughed at for being a freak, I never got shagged, instead I got beaten up in the toilets. I was the black sheep of the family, who did I think I was with that long hair and guitar. I’d get my own back though, show every bastard what’s really what. Pop star me!
The first gig, we gate crash The Mekons at The Bournbrook Hotel, borrow all their gear, we only have curly guitar leads, drum sticks and the best looking clothes. The Mekons give us five songs before their support band. We only have four songs, so we’ll have to do one of them twice. Right before we go on, drummer Dik Davis and I go to the gents, which is stinking up the corridor outside the saloon bar. The saloon bar’s full of British Leyland track workers, swilling it down and setting fire to their fingers to prove how hard they are. We’re standing in the ammonia puke stench, taking a leisurely piss, when we hear a voice behind us, slurred and thick with menace.
“What the fuck am that doin’ in the gents?”
“’Ey girls, the ladies is downstairs,” booms a second voice.
“Oh very fuckin’ funny, you cunt.” Dik says.
“Ha-soddin’-ha tossers.” I add.
“What do yow say, yow bleedin’ queer?”
Dik turns from the tile, smiling, “Your missus doesn’t think I was very bleedin’ queer last night.” he says.
I don’t have time to laugh or brace myself, much less zip up. My face is slammed into the tiles and everything goes to fuck. I get hit, I try to hit back, I get kicked, I try to kick back, but there are fists and boots everywhere. It doesn’t last long, it’s over really quickly, probably just as well. As suddenly as it started, it stops and they’re gone. The British Leyland lads are already back in the saloon bar, laughing over a fresh pint of slop about the fun they had with the queers in the bog.
I’m down on my knees, cheek against the slimy tile. I struggle up from piss-stained knees, wobbling, waiting to see how badly I’m hurt. I can taste blood and my lips feel like old inner tubes. I see a pair of black leather legs sticking out of a stall. Dik’s lying on his back, head propped against a crusty, brown toilet bowl. One of his eyes is already starting to close and his nose is streaming blood.
“Yow alright?” I ask him. My mouth feels broken. He grins up at me.
“’Ello darlin’,” he says, “Come here often, do you?”
Just the working class fighting the working class – a necessary part of keeping things the way they are.
We play our five songs – one of them twice as an encore – and fourteen minutes later we’re out of the door, and off down the road, with the applause still ringing behind us.
Pop stars us!
We work hard, the gigs get better, we think we’re on the stairway, but we’re not, we’re Brummies, working class council estate oiks, second city, second class, tolerated but not really invited to the party that is London. Court jesters? No, pop stars us!
A year later onstage at The Hollywood Palladium we’re still the support band – we’re not The Police: a teacher on bass, a public school hippy on guitar, and a member of one of the richest family’s in America on drums. We’re shite! We still have our pride though. We’re clinging to it by our black glitter fingernail polish. Pop stars us! Come on you bastards, when do we get our go? All this promising us the nice car, then buggering us senseless and sending us home on the bus with spunk running down our legs.
Your single won’t be a hit – we’re spending every penny to make sure “Message In A Bottle” by The Police is bought in every country across the globe. Whether they have electricity or not!
Sodding pop stars us! Now one old man, two dead, and one missing – pop stars us … not even close!
Causes Luke James Supports
Doctors Without Borders