Many moons (and many suns) ago, I worked in an independent music press office, and one of the clients was Billy Ocean. He was a tremendously nice man who used to wear shirts with microscopic prints on them and enormous rounded collars. I learned today that he used to be a tailor, which probably explains his unique style.
His hit song Go And Get Stuffed was one of the most memorable songs of the time- a proper pop song with it's own sound, a great groove (how did they make that funny grindy noise?) and a memorable motto, even if you remembered it wrongly.
We also did press for Depeche Mode (or Depressed Mood as they were known) and later, Yazoo, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Associates, The Stray Cats (yes, reader, I kissed Brian Setzer), The Birthday Party (yes, reader, I scratched Nick Cave's back), Misty in Roots, Gaspar Lawal and Hugh Masakela.
And Samantha Fox; I still have the Sam Fox picture disc with her photographed in studded leather, across a fold-out wallet with three discs in it.
Other jobs I have done include typesetting and printing tablet envelopes for veterinary surgeons in Lewes, Sussex; processing x-ray films in a hospital darkroom at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne; working for the Labour Party in Walworth Road circa John Smith (bless him, he was a sweetheart); and of course the usual pub jobs (bum nipped by clients), hotel and guest house jobs (disposing of used condoms tucked behind the dressing table: ugh), washing up in a restaurant in Brighton (garlic butter all the way up the arms), working in a shop (therein lie many stories), cleaning old people's homes (lost two diamonds from my old engagement ring), being a youth worker in Peckham (no-one would sit next to me on the bus of the way home after I picked up a chicken at the city farm), and assorted other mad occupations.
It always amuses me when students speak to me as though I have always been a musician/academic and somehow led a charmed life. Many parts of my life have been rough-and-ready to say the least, and I always have a nagging fear that the big claws attached to the scary bits of my life will come up and grab me and take me back there.
I am sure there are many people who feel like this; often, I completely forget, but this week I met someone who didn't believe that I used to live in a squat. I felt like going to look in the mirror, because I thought you could read the whole of people's lives in their faces, but obviously I am wrong.