Sunday 14 April 2024

The Sunday Reflection #9 - Yesterday was a near perfect day!

 I awoke this morning with the song Perfect Day by Lou Reed running around my mind. After lockdown, when we realised that Allen Ashley was not able to sing with The False Dots for the foreseeable future, the band entered a state of suspended animation. Then in January 2021, as the country was in the second lockdown, tragedy struck. Our drummer, Rambo's son took his own life. Even worse, Rambo was isolating, having tested positive for covid, and so was totally unable to get any real support from friends. As soon as was possible, I gathered the band to get a rehearsal together, ostensibly to 'try out some new material, whilst Allen was unavailable', but in truth to get Rambo out of the house and give him something to think about other than the tragedy that had befallen his family. It worked as well as anything reasonably could in the circumstances. After a couple of hours playing, he said "That's the first time anything has taken my mind off what happened" or words to that effect and he seemed to have a bit of a spark that had been missing when he came down. I realised that we had to rehearse as often as possible and we had to try and play music that would raise his mood. That first rehearsal, we played a real mish mash of old False Dots songs, cover versions and jammed a few ideas. The only song that my limited vocal powers seemed to work with was a Ska song I'd co written with Allen Ashely called "Long Shot didn't die". This seemed to show the way forward. 

Last night, at The Bull Theatre, we supported The Silencerz. If you don't know, they are Lee Kix Thompson of Madness's other band. His son Daley is the vocalist. They are probably the best band you will see in the London Borough of Barnet. I love them and I'd have gone even if we hadn't been playing as support. It is always challenging being a support band, as most of the people are not there to see you and aren't interested. We are not a band that likes to be ignored and we pull out every stop to give the audience a show. Last night was a testimony to how far we've come on the journey since that first rehearsal after lockdown. We've put together a complete new set of material. Only Longshot and Acton Shock remain from when Allen was in the band. After we played, the complements came rolling in. After a quick beer in the bar, to chill out, we went back up and watched the Silencerz, who were amazing.  Playing with the band and watching a band I love are two of the things I enjoy most in the world, so it was a wonderful way to spend the evening. 

Even better than that, my other great passion is football. I support three teams. My lifelong love, who I've supported all of my life are Manchester City. As I was playing a gig at 8pm, I couldn't get up to see them thrash Luton 5-1, but I did watch the highlights on Match of The Day when I got home. The second team I support are Hadley FC, who play at Brickfiend Lane, by The Gate Pub. I joined about 150 other fans and saw them beat Biggleswade 2-1 in a tense and thrilling game, lit up by two excellent Hadley goals. Hadley's striker, Isaac Stones has been on fire since Xmas. Father Christmas did the business bringing him some scoring boots!  Normally, I have a couple of beers at Hadley and get the bus, but I was driving so it was zero alcohol Guinness. It is odd as my brain knows I'm drinking Guinness so I almost feel as if I'm tipsy. It is all rather strange. To top it all, the Sun was actually shining!

And my other club? Well ever since 1984, when a Welsh lad joined the company I was working for and mentioned that he was going to watch Wrexham play Barnet, followed by a pub crawl and a curry, I've been a part time Wrexham fan. Ever since Hollywood took an interest, everyone thinks I'm a glory hunter, but for years, I've been making trips to grounds like Barnet, Leyton Orient, Potters Bar, Wealdstone, etc to watch them. Since Hollywood got involved, it's become impossible to get tickets, but I retain a soft spot for them. To my delight, for all my North Welsh mates, they won back to back promotions yesterday. 

I even picked the winner in the Grand National. I wasn't going to put a bet on, but my nephew Max is coming for lunch and when I saw that "I am Maximus" was the favourite at 7-1, I decided to put a quid on it for fun! As the race was starting in a couple of minutes, I couldn't actually get logged on in time, but I had the pleasure in knowing I picked the winner!

After the gig, we went to Ye Old Mitre in Barnet for a couple of beers. It is a great pub and featured in my list of favourite pubs in London a couple of weeks ago. Before they moved to The Hive, Barnet FC were on my list of fave clubs, and we'd adjourn to the Mitre afterwards for a pint and then cross the road for a curry.  I now only go there when there's a gig at The Bull Theatre, but I do love it.  I was sitting in the pub with some friends, my wife and Tom and Rambo from the band. The band was formed in 1979 and Rambo initially joined in 1985. We've been firm friends ever since. Tom is our trumpet player and joined in 2023 and is a massive edition to the band. As we chatted, he was amused by the fact that Rambo joined the year he was born. It is strange to think that I wrote Not all she seems and Action shock before he existed. Tom not only plays trumpet pretty well and adds some percussion, he is very in tune with how I visualise the band's image and look. He dressed the stage last night with Hadley FC scarves and flags as well as posters for the Bring Barnet Back campaign, for the Barnet FC fans wishing to see the club back where they belong. Tom also suggested that we got some inflatable footballs, to release on the crowd when we played Saturday, our football anthem. It worked a treat! It is almost surreal how someone can turn up and fit in so well. It feels to me like there was a piece of the jigsaw missing and now it is perfectly in place. 

As I sat there, my mind went back to that first post covid rehearsal. We were all as rusty as hell and without Allen it seemed like we had no band identity. One of the covers we tried to bash out was Lou Reed's Perfect Day.In truth, we probably butchered it. The song is a beautiful piece of music, but I almost immediately realised that it was not suited to the band or my voice. As we chatted about the band with Tom, I thought back to that. One of the mistakes I used to make as a musician with the band was that I persisted with ideas that didn't work, didn't suit the band or were just plain idiotic. A big lesson has been that you shouldn't flog a dead horse. A song may sound great in your head, may be ideal for another band or artist, but if it doesn't wok for you, then move on. The time is spent more productively on ideas that come together and click. 

The band has really developed a lot. It appeals to my sense of humour that Perfect Day played no part in what was an almost Perfect Day for me, except that it did. One of the things that often happens to me after gigs is that when I fall asleep, I dream about the gig. So I found myself back onstage at The Bull Theatre. We had a second encore. What did we decide to do? We'd not prepared anything, so we did Perfect Day, with Tom singing. To my amazement, he had an amazingly accurate Lou Reed voice and the song sounded brilliant. Then the alarm clock went off at 8am, which is probably why I recalled the dream. I've been singing it ever since. It was pretty much as good as it gets at my age!

Anyway, on wards and upwards to the next gig. That will be on Friday 26th April at the Dublin Castle in Camden. We are supporting a brilliant Ska band, called Skaface. It will be a blast! As with The Silencerz, it''s a gig I'd go to anyway, even if we weren't playing. Quite a few members of the audience last night told us they'd be coming along, so it should be fun. Ska music is perhaps the best way to guarantee a fun evening. The Dublin Castle is probably the best pub venue in London and it always feels like an honour to play on the same stage that once was graced by the likes of Amy, Madness and Blur. The posters are still on the wall. 

And before then, on Friday we release our new single, We All Love a Party. 

Here is a trailer we made for this

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