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THE CLASH GIG THAT WASN'T (part 2)
FASHION 1978

The rehearsal is absolutely terrible, Nobody’s mind is on what they’re doing. We’re all time traveling forward to sharing a dressing room and then a stage with Joe Strummer and his pals. I forget the words and try to make up for it by playing chords that have no business being anywhere near a guitar neck. Mulligan’s synth plays itself when it feels like it, mostly between numbers, and it’s only the relentless fury of Dik’s drumming that occasionally holds the whole thing together. Not that he sees it that way.

“I can’t decide whether I sound like I’m building a fucking shed or pushing a suit of armour down our cellar stairs.” he says.

“Oh shut up, you tart. This is the third string I’ve broken this afternoon. And what the sodding hell is up with that bloody Wasp Jon?”

“I think it’s lonely.” Mulligan says, and as if in agreement the black and yellow touch sensitive keyboard lets out a sad, dribbling sounds not unlike a farting badger being blown off a cliff.

“Well lads,” Miki says, “You know what they say, lousy rehearsal, brilliant gig.”

“So on the strength of today we’ll blow The Clash offstage then.” I say.

“Here, here big nose,” Dik says, “a bit less of the fucking blasphemy if you don’t mind.”

I’m at home practicing for when we’re on Top Of The Pops, skank dancing in front of the wardrobe mirror, miming to Product Perfect. The neighbors are probably banging on the wall but I can’t hear them. I ponder the eternal question, if a neighbor knocks on the wall but there’s no guitarist around to hear it, is he still playing too loud.

Then I decide more important matters are in need of my attention. I bring my Technofascist Doc Martens to a halt, set the Birch on its stand, and go into the kitchen to get the boot polish and my brush. The docs are going to be polished to mirror-finish tonight. There’s a knock on the back door and it topples into the kitchen. I really must get around to rehanging it on its hinges sometime – that was some party though. So they tell me. Dik comes into the room like Taz off the Bugs Bunny show, a whirlwind of hair, knuckles, drumsticks and invective. He pirouettes to a halt in the middle of the floor and lets out a bellow of rage.

“Nice of you to pop round.” I spit on the toe of my left Doc and attack it with the brush.

“I’ll fucking’ swing for him, The cunt! He’s only pulled us.”

“Pulled us?” I’m not really listening. I often don’t.

“Corky. From the gig tonight.”

“WHAT?”

His voice sinks to a low growl filled with promised retribution.

“He’s pulled us and put those New York poufters Suicide in our place. I’m going to- ”

“-please. Spare me the details. They can’t be any worse than the ones I’m thinking.”

Mulligan creeps into the kitchen. He looks like some severely depressed Revlon field mouse who’s lost his tea party.

“We have to do something.” I declare.

“Shut up.”

Mulligan digs in his jumpsuit pocket and pops a handful of small purple pills into his mouth.

“I’ll put the kettle on.” I say.

“It won’t fit. And besides, it doesn’t go with your eyes.” Miki has trailed in behind Mulligan. He lights a B&H, so he now has one in each hand.

As Mulligan subsists almost entirely on a diet of toast and pills it only takes about ten minutes for the purple hearts to gallop through his empty stomach into his blood stream. Somewhere around my second cup of tea, his head snaps up.

“Fuck ‘em.” He says, “we’ll do a gig anyway. Our own gig.”