Chapter 14



Roll your own cigarettes, glasses of real ale (Tetley's of course), social workers and teachers, gravediggers and fellow musicians, receding hairlines, Oxfam clothes, Donkey jackets, they're all here tonight. It's another Friday night at the Termite Club, upstairs in the L shaped room at the Adelphi. There's a mirror on the wall behind the stage, the tiny stage which is crammed with instruments, amps, wires and contraptions galore as well as a couple of potted palms.

At the front of the stage stands Tubby Titters, a robot made by Slingsby from bits and pieces found in skips. He's wearing a flasher's overcoat and a beret adorns his head. His white skull face peers from between hat and coat, moving mechanically from side to side, leering insanely at all and sundry, lights in its eye sockets flashing on and off.

The Adelphi Hotel, home of "the Termite Club"

The Works are belting out their rapidly expanding repertoire. The warmly receptive audience of familiar faces is exponentially growing with each performance. Suddenly, the music stops. Louis walks over to an old valve radio which has started blaring out. He switches it off with a Laurel and Hardyesque dusting of the hands and nodding of the head, and they resume playing their tune, "Ostriches".






Within a few bars the radio begins to blare again so they stop playing and Louis again turns it off. After several attempts at silencing the radio, and several interrupted attempts at playing the tune, Xero takes out a gun. He shoots the radio. It explodes with a loud bang, a flash and much flying metal, wood and glass. Fortunately, noone is hurt. Slingsby looks somewhat sheepish - he has been a tad careless and bought the wrong strength theatrical charge.


It could be argued that the creative power of The Works is at its Zenith right Now, right Here in this smoke filled room. If you wander around the tables during the break and eavesdrop on conversations, amongst the jokes and peoples' tales of the working week that was, you might hear intense discussions about all sorts of stuff.....

"Thatcher and Reagan know what they're doing. The Russians can't afford to keep up with all of the spending they're doing on missiles"



"It shits me, it really does, how much money they're wasting that could be spent on health and education. And does it make us sleep easier in our beds at night? Does it fuck! All of the kids that I teach are scared shitless of a nuclear holocaust. We've got a whole generation growing up who are permanently paranoid"


Or, at another table.....


"Well what the fuck is avant-grade anyway?"

"It's about individuals who create new styles innit?"

"It's certainly not about labels and boxes - that's a load of bollocks"

"So what do you think avant-garde is, smart arse?"

"Well, like I said, you've got individuals like Charlie Parker or Ornette Coleman, right - and then hundreds, thousands of musicians begin to be influenced by them - and what you find yourself with - whether you like it or not - is a form or category which people will insist on giving a name to.....But I don't believe in terms like Free Jazz or Modern Jazz or Bebop - I just listen for those individuals."



"People get excited about these new forms, eh? They tell all of their friends about this shit-hot new band they saw at the Termite on Friday. So loads of people come to check it out. And they want to take a piece of it home, so they buy tapes, records, videos......they want to capture it, to pin it down. But you can't! It's all about spontaneity innit? The Live Thing. And eventually hundreds, thousands, millions of people start to get off on this new Junk Music as pioneered by Xero Slingsby and The Works.....and we're raking it in - but it's no longer avant bloody grade."

"C'mon Xero it's your round. We're back on in two minutes."

"Uh, I haven't got any dosh - can you get us one?"

It COULD be argued that the power of the trio is at its peak right about now, but there is no time for chit-chat. The Clients want to hear more and the Musicians are raring to go. Is the avant-garde by nature performed in front of a privileged few, the cogniscenti? Does the power of the art become dissipated, diluted once the wider public come to discover it? Who gives a shit, really? Unrecorded, uncaptured, untamed, the river of music flowing again for these fortunate few at the Termite Club soon becomes a flood.





But, ultimately, even at the Termite Club "TIME" is still always called at 11pm, and the landlord still walks around the room saying




"Come on now, sup up and piss off. Haven't any of you buggers got homes to go to?"


Previous Chapter  Next Chapter