Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Chefs

I sent scans of all my old Chefs posters to Peter Lyell, who ran a website dedicated to the band.
You can look at them here
The Brighton Punk Alldayer seems to be selling out fast- maybe there need to be more shows next year. Offsprog 1 won't be able to come as the afternoon tickets have all gone, and nor will Joby as he cannot get up the stairs.
I'd like to see the Objekts (I'm still in touch with Dawn Sanders and bumped into her in Edinburgh in July), Dick Damage, Nicky and the Dots, Fan Club and yes, Joby and the Hooligans (Ricky the drummer lives on London and has been to a couple of my gigs, I'm still in touch with Joby and I'm sure we could find Steve Beardsley).
I can remember loads of Joby and the Hooligans songs!
A Vandal Ain't No Scandal
Skateboarder, Rollerballer
Mary Bell
Looking Through Gary Glitter's Eyes
Seeboard Gas
Got Myself a Girlfriend (this wasn't the real title, I can remember the lyrics though)
And of course, we did covers of Jonathan Richman's Roller Coaster and How Can I Leave by Dennis Brown, because I loved the bass line and I could play it, and our then drummer, Dub Duncan, was a reggae nut.
Heady times, escaping from the Teds up the back stairs of the Buccaneer (we were wearing plastic sandals and they hated that) (actually, they hated everything: any excuse for a fight!); drinking in the Windsor Tavern with its two little-old-lady owners who had a cage of budgies on the wall, and the deaf people across in the other bar who used to take the mickey out of the punks in sign language and roar with laughter; the fence who came in there drinking regularly and who tried to sell us stolen bananas; the good old Resource Centre with its printing facilities upstairs, Dawn Jordan's School of Tap crunching away next door, populated by ladies from Vokins department store, frighteningly voluptuous in their black nylon leotards, fishnet stockings and winged spectacles on chains draped round their necks and singing The Good Ship Lollipop in little-girly voices!
Brighton back then was a totally and unselfconsciously camp place.
If you were a lady over 40, you had a solidly-sculpted rococo hairdo, sprayed and coloured to the solidity and hue of antique mahogany: your boobs poked threateningly and sharply to left and right under a pastel merino cardigan with pearl buttons, done up to the neck. Your skirt was tweed and knee length, and you wore beige tights. Your shoes were patent-leather and pointy, and your face was hidden under a thick, thick layer of orangeish foundation, just on the point of crumbling: your lips were drawn on in coral, and your teeth were gleaming greyish-yellow, varnished by nicotine and set by gin and tonic.
The evening streets were populated by caricatures of gay men, some of whom would actually hiss at you if you looked nice, but some of whom were completely au fait with punk and who would be loyal and kind at the most desperate times of life. I remember a friend from Art College used to go to London clubs, as he found the Brighton ones so full of stereotypes.
There was a boxing subculture (many of whom, word had it, were drug dealers) and an antique dealers subculture (ditto); old men thwacked little boys on the bus with their walking sticks ('Let that be a lesson to yawh!'). In summer, the streets were full of young French and Italian students in bright-coloured clothes, running and shouting as if they were in a playground, oblivious to the sinister undercurrents that flowed beneath them.
There were sharks everywhere, waiting to gobble you up: and everyone from back then knows who the worst shark was.
I remember wondering where all the children were. Occasionally, you'd hear them shouting from behind a high wall but you would rarely see them. I imagined that the Pied Piper had been through and taken them all away, perhaps freezing them and turning them into dolls in an antique shop window.
There were mad things: the toucan who wolf-whistled when you walked past the pet shop in Gardiner Street; the cork shop; the budgies in so many pubs: the King and Queen in the Old Steine had a gigantic outdoor cage full of them. The damp houses! Someone I knew came in to college one day and told me the front was falling off her house.
There were romantic lives. One young man lived in a house draped with bronze coloured chenille and kept a dovecote with white turtle doves in his back garden. He dressed in green velvet to complement his red-gold hair and showed us a box where a mother Egyptian cat was lying with a litter of tiny elfin brown kittens.
There were nasty lives too. I went to a party once where (pre-punk) a giant swastika was hung from the wall and everyone was dressed in authentic Nazi uniforms, posing coldly with their drinks and one-upping each other. I couldn't wait to get out of there.
Partying could be dangerous. We were all leaping up and down ('dancing') on the upstairs floor of a squat in Bedford Square when someone pointed out that the central support of the house was missing and the floor might simply collapse at any minute.
I worked as a cook, and later, a coat-check girl, in a big nightclub called Sherry's. There were regular handbag fights at closing time, and young itinerant workers used to stand at the counter and sell each other girls. If a girl liked one of them and he didn't want to get off with her, he would sell her to his friend, telling the girl that his friend fancied her and he did not. They seemed to think that I was some kind of not-girl, and they simply did not care what I thought of this at all.
I made extra money when I was sent out glass-collecting. The clientele got extremely drunk, and every time I took a bunch of glasses back to the bar I could find a couple of quid in change on the floor that had fallen from the men's pockets as they fumbled for change to pay for their drinks.
I worked in a shop called Gallery 57 in The Lanes with Alison, Little Claire, Steph, Linda and Andrea, having some of the best times of my life and writing to John Peel surreptitiously when I should have been working. Nigel used to come in regularly, in his cups and always ready to show us the neat little rows of transplanted hair he had paid for out of the royalties of a South-American hit song he had penned. He got narked one day and grabbed me round the neck, bashing my head on the thick layer of brown sheets of wrapping paper on the counter in full view of the customers with the ever-present Twin Guitars of Don and Juan plinking away innocently in the background. The customers carried on serenely looking at the postcard racks and leafing though the posters. This was Brighton, after all.
Ah, memories, memories. I have far too much thinking time at the moment as I am still too knocked out to leave my room. Back to the book (Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre, which I ended up buying because my library card got stolen and I simply didn't have the energy to go through the process of getting another one on Friday, alhtough I did make a donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee as I said I would).


Anonymous said...

Helen, you have to look at these photos I stumbled on today: my favorite is the reminder that there was "TV's Frazier White" offering handwriting analysis in The Belvedere. Of course there was, it was Brighton. I was so used to him being there that I never even thought about it...

Anonymous said...

OK, there should have been a link there...

hope that works.


Anonymous said...

Well now I dug deeper and see you have seen these and commented on them already.
But maybe your readers will enjoy...


Anonymous said...

Did you spend the weekend watching Tennessee Williams movies? :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Helen, I just bought an afternoon ticket for punk gig on we got tickets - there are still a few left! Sue (violin!)