The Black Bull was so packed that the best strategy was to squeeze in and then try to hold your ground. The crowd was good natured, bordering on rowdy, and at least half of them looked far too young to remember Madness. Lee was in fine voice, dedicating the song Honey to his wife and playing a new song which I think was called You Don't Own Me, whose words were on the ground. 'Im not admiring my shoes', he promised. A tall man sporting one strut of a pair of specs over his ear conducted along happily; everyone was wearing their finest, even the grown-up skinheads, still wearing pristine Harringtons, who were on their best behaviour.
When the band launched into Too Much Too Young, there was a surge to the front and people started bouncing; a cover of a Jam song (don't know the title, it was a hit but I'm not fan enough to know it) went down a storm. It got so crowded I tried out the courtyard where a sax player was lurking, but you couldn't hear a thing so I came home. This was a spirited gig that obviously pulled the punters in from miles around. There was much mobile-phonery as people phoned their mates, but alas I think they'll get there too late.
Pretty good having a proper gig in my manor. The guy round the corner in the antiques market used to drive pop stars around and he told us one day that Madness, Sade and Spandau Ballet all used to play regularly in a pub in Barnet which was demolished a few years ago: they cut their musical teeth out here in the sticks. On the sticks, possibly.
We all get older, fatter, wrinklier. I wish I hadn't opened that bottle with my teeth to show off; there is a gap where it once grew.
I was left wondering about skinheads. Was it a good rehearsal for going bald in middle age?