It was 7:30 PM when I stepped out of my house, turned right at the bottom of the garden and walked down Herbert Terrace and onto Herbert Road. The late June sun was still shining and it was warm. I was heading towards Sandy Hill, which would take me down to Woolwich. Approaching the Lord Herbert pub, I saw John and Ginger standing outside. They both had beer glasses in their hands. John was still at college. Tall and thin, he stood by the pub door dressed in his leather jacket and tight jeans. His blonde hair was spiked. Ginger was leaning against the wall, his checked shirt sleeves rolled up. His beard looked somewhat scruffy, sparse. It was marginally less ginger than his hair.
“Are you coming in for a pint?” John asked.
“I’m going down to the Tram Shed,” I replied. “Splodge And His Abounds are playing tonight and I have been invited backstage for a drink before they begin their gig.”
“2 pints of lager and a packet of crisps please,” Ginger said and laughed.
I smiled and waved as I continued on my way. The shops in Herbert Road were closed. The Street was eerily quiet. As I passed the off-licence, I saw at least five people inside. One of them was Molly. She and her guitar playing husband John had visited one night. They asked quite openly if my wife and I would like to do a wife swapping session. I was bemused. My wife was shocked. She looked at me in horror. We declined the offer. To this day I wondered whose idea it was: John or Molly’s?
As I crossed the main road and began strolling down Sandy Hill, I thought about Miles, the lead guitarist in Splodge in His Abounds. He had called into my workshop earlier that day, wanted me to make a few adjustments to his guitar. That was when he invited me backstage. “Come on Mick. You’ll enjoy it …”
The band had risen to fame from nowhere. A talentless bunch, they were runners-up in the 1979 Battle of Bands contest. Their banal but amusing songs had caught the imagination of the punk scene crowd. In their own way they thought they were changing the world. Revolutionary, ground-breaking. Bullshit! Their repertoire consisted of a few outrageously simple songs and that was it. I have to give them some credit, though. They had a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. To call them a punk band was a misnomer. They were a kind of comedy band. Splodge and His Abounds were caught in a contradiction of their own making — they were a comical musical act pretending to be punk.
In the dressing room I joked with members of the group. They seemed pissed or high on drugs. Baby Greensleeves gave me a chewing gum. It was one of those joke chewing gums that when chewed made your mouth turn purple. The room erupted into laughter. The lead singer, Max, found it particularly funny. He nearly fell off his seat laughing. I got the joke. “You bastards,” I said smiling, showing purple black teeth, gums and lips.
A few minutes later they were on stage. Their opening number was Simon Templar. The crowd surged to the front and began spitting at the musicians — spitting was a phenomenon of the punk revolution. Bands were expected to put up with it but the truth was they hated being spat at. Standing behind a huge speaker system to the right of the stage, I watched some fat moron aim a huge gob of phlegm at Miles. It hit him in the face. The sticky, wet phlegm dribbled down his cheek and hung from his jaw. Disgusted, he wiped it away and carried on playing. I don’t know how they put up with it. They had to, though. It’s what the audience expected. Not very punk, pandering to your audience.
As they launched into their second number, Michael Booth’s Talking Bum, a couple of pyrotechnic explosions unexpectedly erupted either side of the stage, one of them directly in front of me. Showers of sparks flew twelve feet into the air. It was part of the show. Nobody warned me. I didn’t know they were there. If I had been standing just two feet further forward I would have been seriously injured.
The band went from number to number and finished with 2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please. The crowd loved it. They were practically climbing on the stage. I’d seen it all before. I was bored. Couldn’t be bothered to stay and have a drink with the lads after the gig and so I moved away from the speakers, jumped down from the stage and made my way out of the Tram Shed and headed for home. I had mistakenly thought the band would be somehow entertaining, but the fact was I found them rather dull and uninteresting. What an idiot. I could have stayed at home and played with my kids, or had a drink with the lads in the Lord Herbert. Happy days!