When Buster Bloodvessel Bust A Gonad!

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Seconds before I entered Bad Manners’ dressing room to interview their front man, the band’s manager warned me Buster Bloodvessel was not well, following that evening’s performance at The Britannia Theatre, Chatham. Concerned he was too ill to be interviewed, my first question to Buster, as we shook hands and I sat down next to him, was if he was well enough to answer a few questions. “Yeah, I’m in a lot of pain though.” He certainly looked to be in some discomfort, but before I could suggest postponing the interview, he continued “I’ve got a swollen, painful b*llock.” Seeing the look of shock on my face, he grinned “The right one’s got a lot bigger!”

An unconventional start to any interview, but then Buster Bloodvessel (real name Douglas Trendle) has never been one to hold with convention. With appearances on Top of The Pops in the Eighties, during which he dressed up as Henry VIII to sing “Lorraine” to a blow up doll – “That girl got it,” he states in mock seriousness, “It was a long tour!” – and in a yellow and black satin saloon girl dress to perform the Can Can, Buster is no stranger to using humour and fun in his act. “I actually think I was put on this earth just for that reason, to make people happy,” he muses. At the age of 56, and under normal circumstances, Buster still dances the Can Can. “I do like to do the Can Can…[I’m] really sorry I didn’t do the Can Can tonight,” he looks at me apologetically, before laughing “Twisted a b*llock, I think!” He then suggests that the title for this article should be “My Twisted B*llock”.

I tell Buster that all this talk of testicles has made me lose my threOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAad. “You’re the one who’s got to keep control,” he challenges, before turning to the camera and sticking out his trademark tongue. I do manage to get the interview back on track, and find Mr. Trendle to be not only entertaining, but totally engaging and charming. We covered a wide range of topics, including his musical influences, ska in the Eighties, and Buster’s long term love affair with Margate, all of which will feature in my next book. I also learnt what a true professional lies behind the unabashed facade. The flippant remarks about his anatomy belied the real pain Buster was suffering but, ever the showman, he refused to give in to it. “It was hurting me when I started to sing “Just A Feeling,” he explains. Only a few songs into his set, it meant he spent most of the evening’s performance in agony. “I had to fight it ’cause I ain’t letting that crowd down.” Anyone who was in that crowd would agree that he did not let us down, but gave a performance with such an energy no one would have guessed his injury. The evening was the first date of a 30 gig tour for Bad Manners, so there is still plenty of time for you to see Buster Bloodvessel and his extremely talented entourage for yourself. I can’t wait to see them again next week, when they play The Quarterhouse in Folkestone. To find a gig near you Click Here

 

Band Aid 30

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It’s funny how today’s return to Sarm Studios, to record Band Aid 30, has brought memories of the recording of the original Band Aid single flooding back. The unprecedented collaboration of some of the biggesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAt names in music, and some of the biggest egos too, had me enthralled from the very beginning. Watching the news that evening in November 1984 was an overwhelming exercise in star-spotting, as the likes of Duran Duran, Paul Young, Spandau Ballet, George Michael, Sting and Boy George crossed my TV screen. As Paula Yates came into view, with a big 80’s bow in her hair, carrying baby Fifi Trixibelle, I felt so envious of her behind-the-scenes access. It will therefore come as no surprise to learn that I was first in the queue to buy the video of the making of the Band Aid single, to add to my collection of 7″ and 12″ singles, and Feed The World t-shirt.

Unfortunately, my family had chosen the loser in the VHS/Betamax video battle, so I’m no longer able to watch my video. I live in hope that one day I’ll find a working Betamax video player that does not cost a fortune, or is not sitting in a museum somewhere!

Band Aid Dolls

Those of you who are familiar with my writing, will know how having Mr. Geldof living nearby influenced my teenage years. However, you may not be aware of how far-reaching that influence became . I think describing my behaviour around that time as “obsessive” would not be an understatement. How many 14 year olds do you know who would spend hours creating a replica of the Band Aid line up out of wooden peg dolls??? All worth it though, when it won first prize a few months later at the Geldofs’ summer fête, and I was congratulated by Bob himself!

My obsession did have a less flippant side though, when it came to the Band Aid single itself. This manifested itself in me band aid VATorganising a petition, calling for Margaret Thatcher’s government to waive the VAT on the single. Remember, this was 1984, so no clicking online to “sign” a petition. I spent a week approaching strangers in Canterbury city centre and my home town of Faversham, as well as canvassing signatures at school, until I finally had over a thousand signatures, which I then sent to the Iron Lady.

The letter opposite was the reply I received from HM Customs & Excise in February 1985, in response to the petition. A long-winded way of saying “No”, the contents of it are summed up in its second paragraph: “The suggestion that either VAT should not be levied or that an amount equivalent to the VAT should be contributed to the relief  has been given very careful consideration by the Government but the conclusion reached is that it would be neither possible in practice – nor indeed right – to treat this fund-raising operation as a one-off case…If the principle of relief was extended generally, it would lead to a major commitment of taxpayers’ money which would have to be recouped by increases in taxation elsewhere.”

Thankfully, today’s recording will not be subject to such draconian judgement. Chancellor George Osborne confirmed this morning that VAT will be waived on the Band Aid 30 single, meaning every penny raised will go towards fighting the Ebola virus. With that in mind, I will again be one of the first in line to buy the single, even if it means having to watch the X Factor on Sunday night, when the single has its world premiere. The lengths I go to for Sir Bob!

 

My Eighties Book

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Tomorrow (Friday 14th Nov) sees the release of my book, “My Eighties”. The first in a series of books on the decade, “My Eighties”, as the title suggests, uses my own recollections of the 80s as a basis for a nostalgic but realistic look back at the decade that subtlety forgot. Alongside my own (sometimes embarrassing) anecdotes, are interviews with some of my Eighties’ favourites, including Hazell Dean, Owen Paul and Paul McCarthy (aka Tommy Watson, from the best kids’ TV show ever, Grange Hill!), plus a visit back to some of the greatest (and some of the worst) tracks to ever find their way onto vinyl.

My Eighties Cover

I hope that in sharing some on my memories, you will be inspired to share some of your own. I would love to hear your stories of my favourite decade, and maybe even feature some of them in a book I am currently working on. You can send them to me via my website: Your Eighties

For those of you who would like to read my book, it is available from Amazon for less than the price of a cup of coffee!   Order here

Although currently only available in Kindle edition, you do not need a Kindle to read it – just download the free Kindle App which allows you to read it on PC, tablet, mobile, iPhone, etc.

Let me know what you think…

Winter Tales – Stories to Warm Your Heart

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Although it may now seem like a distant memory, this summer, in the south east of England, was incredibly hot most of the time. I know for a fact that on one July day the weather was sweltering, because this happened to be the day I began to write my contribution to a charity anthology of winter fiction, which is due to be released this Saturday (8th November). If I thought that stepping out of my comfort zone of music journalism was going to be difficult, doing so in temperatures better suited to the Caribbean was not going to make it any easier. This was how I found myself to be in the rather peculiar situation of sitting in my sun-drenched garden, in the middle of July, writing fiction, listening to a CD of Christmas songs. To elaborate on why I felt compelled to do so, I will hand you over to The Write Romantics, for whom I had previously written a guest blog.

“In Spring this year, The Write Romantics – a group of romance writers – were touched by the story of teenager Stephen Sutton and his incredible fundraising achievements. They’d been toying with the idea of compiling an anthology of short stories in aid of charity and decided to turn talk into action. The anthology will be released on 8th November 2014 with all proceeds to be split between The Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Alys West and her nephew

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust was selected as a second cause close to their hearts as one member of The Write Romantics, Alys West, has a gorgeous three-year-old nephew who battles with CF.

‘Winter Tales – Stories to Warm Your Heart’ is a collection of twenty-four uplifting winter and Christmas-themed short stories, which is now available for pre-order, in paperback and eBook formats, through Amazon.The stories are written by the ten Write Romantics and a selection of published guests and new voices,  including those who have graced the best seller lists. Published guests include Samantha Tonge, Kerry Fisher, Annie Lyons, Rhoda Baxter and Zanna Mackenzie.”

To find out more about the anthology and the two wonderful Anthology Cover (white blurb)young men who inspired it, you can visit thewriteromantics.com. To order your copy, and help two deserving charities in the process, please visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Tales-Stories-Warm-Heart-ebook/dp/B00P84UGHA/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415125192&sr=1-4&keywords=The+Write+Romantics

Thank you for your support.