"INTRODUCING OUR COMPERE FOR TONIGHT......THE FABULOUS, THE ONE AND
ONLY TUBBY TITTERS! "
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
"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.