The Chefs were driving back from a gig in Winchester, with Midnight and the Lemon Boys, in thick fog one night. Their drummer, Hoggins, started laughing helplessly. I asked him why. 'Look at Watto!', he laughed. Watto was driving at the time- fast asleep with his head snuggled up on the steering wheel. I never would sleep in a van after that, and always sat next to the driver to keep them awake, no matter how long the journey was.
Once your band has it's own van, you know you are a proper band. In The Chefs we had an old blue Ford gas van. Carl nicked an 'o' from another van, so it read 'Food' instead of Ford.
Jonathan, the Chefs' manager, ran himself over one night. We'd been doing a gig in a church hall in Willesden. My friends were down from Newcastle, and Graduate Records were just on the point of signing us. They had driven down from Dudley in their Posh New Top Of The Range BMW and gave me a lift back from the gig- everyone else piled into the van, with my friends packed in behind the drumkit and looking out of the back window. We got back to the house first and were parked outside: along came the van, and started reversing towards the BMW- problem was, it didn't stop and just carried on towards it, rather fast, with my friends' little white faces peering fearfully out of the back window. It stopped with millimetres to spare... and there was Jonathan, lying in the road groaning in agony. He had poked his head out of the drivers door, with it slid back, to see where he was going, fallen out, and the front wheel had gone over his chest. Russ had tried to catch him and fallen on the brake, just in time to save the posh car, but not in time to save Jonathan. But his chest just sprang back to its former shape before the night was out.
Ah- the Lucy story! When the Chefs split up, Carl and myself shared the van. I couldn't drive and had to ask Lucy to take my new band up to a rehearsal in Harlesden. At the end, we couldn't work out why she wasn't there. we went out to look for her and saw the van in the middle of the road, between two width restrictions with Lucy frantically gesticulating out of the back door, which had a padlock on it as the lock had broken ages ago. She had driven through the width restriction, smashed in the passenger sliding door, reversed back through, smashed in the other one, and been locked in for half an hour. She felt like a complete fool but it was incredibly funny, apart from having to replace the doors. Sorry Carl.
That's enough van stories for one day.