IMAGE (kitchen and bedroom fittings)
I was never interested in getting a driving licence. It was an ethical
decision. I wanted to avoid contributing to the pollution of the inner
city by using bikes, buses and trains wherever possible. When travelling
further afield I seemed to have a magic thumb for hitchhiking. I would
often wait a few minutes and get one lift right to my destination. Louis
also had an aversion to motor vehicle ownership. It was a challenge getting
the double bass on and off public transport, but there you go: Sometimes
a stance just had to be taken.
Gene had a licence but didn't have a van. Xero had a licence but his
van was about to be given the last rites. We were in a bind and needed
to get creative. We would have to beg, steal, borrow or - horror of horrors
- hire a vehicle big enough to take the four of us and all the gear to
Koln and back, via Calais, Amsterdam and Ghent.
Heinz would organise a tour bus from Koln, so all we had to do was get
from Leeds to there. The problem was that none of us, it seemed, had
anywhere near enough readies. Sure, we were all due to return to Leeds
in three month's time absolutely loaded, but the Nat West manager was,
especially in Leeds, rightly sceptical about promises of future earnings
from music business ventures.
We were stumped. Lame jokes about robbing a bank started to bob to the
surface like turds in a municipal swimming pool. Xero, Sally, Louis and
I were taken aback and somewhat puzzled when Gene went off in what we
feared was a petulant mood saying "Don't any of you lot worry
about a thing. Just put your bloody feet up and take it easy!"
In a couple of hours he was back. Hearing a horn blaring, we all emerged
into the street to see him pulling up in a green transit van, looking
immensely smug and self-satisfied. On the sides of the van were the words " IMAGE
- Kitchen and Bedroom Fittings " and an address and phone number
in Armley, should you need your house refurnishing. Our collective relief
was as palpable as our amusement.
"How did you manage this?" asked Xero, agog.
"You been selling your body?" asked Louis with a smirk.
"I've been saving up busking money while you lot
have been blowing it on beer and dope" Velocette said, the sanctimonious
" S'pose we'll let you off for always having short arms and deep pockets
at the pub then" Xero retorted.
In a matter of minutes, the van was loaded up with instruments, amplifiers
and kit bags. When we were all wedged in as well the van began to sag
on its springs. Gene was in what was to become his perennial place, at
the wheel, biceps flexed. Xero was by the open passenger window, eyes
peeled for waterways into which the van might fall. Louis was sandwiched
between the two of them.
I was sitting in the back, squashed between the 'coffin' (Louis's double
bass case) and a very bony Marshall amp. As we got going, I braced against
the cold draught whistling through the rust holes in the side of the
van. Perched on top of a metal ammo box (which contained Xero's odds
and ends) was Eric. He was holding on to the roof for grim life, hitching
a lift as far as the M25 orbital around London.
We always made a point of going around London. It just seemed to get
in the way when we were trying to get to the European mainland where
The Works were infinitely better understood. For now though, the five
of us were finally leaving Leeds. We wound our way through the devastated
post-industrial rubble-strewn rump of the city south of the river, to
where the M1 would carry us off on Tour.
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