It was the summer of 19-something-or-other…

It had been a hard day at the office.

The office, at that time, was a small recruitment agency in Islington. I worked in a poky little space not much more than a large corridor with half a dozen unrememberable people – with one exception; a nice guy by the name of John Gunsell who, as well as having a ‘day job’ with me, was also a session drummer. I wonder what happened to John? That job was weird. I only had it as a rent-payer while I looked for a career move after hanging up my uniform. One day I was transferred to a Central London branch because everyone in that office had gone sick. It was raining outside, absolutely pouring down. The door rattled open and a drenched guy came in and sat at my desk. He wanted me to find him an office job. His current occupation? Guitarist with Ian Dury and The Blockheads. I worked out he was just sheltering from the rain so I got him some coffee and we talked music until the rain eased off. He gave me his autograph and said he’d get Ian’s for me. You’re expecting me to say I never heard from him again, aren’t you? Well, he called me four days later and I was invited to a recording session and yes it was Ian and the rest of The Blockheads and yes it was cool and yes it was fab and laid back and yes, I really did get to play guitar in a rehearsal room with three of The Blockheads while Mr Dury sat in the corner and chain-smoked and coughed and nodded at us as we rocked and ripped our way through Waterloo Sunset in a manner that had more enthusiasm than musical ability about it.


Where was I?

Oh yes.

It had been a hard day at the office. So after work I went out for a drink with a girl who worked at the nearby accommodation agency – she’d got me the flat in Tooting Bec that I was temporarily calling home.

And we had a few drinks. Then some more. And another one or several. And after a series of events which included a little more alcohol and several pubs we ended up, in the very wee small hours, at a party. I didn’t know whose party it was and neither, I suspect, did the girl. But there we were, swilling and spilling somebody else’s booze, eating somebody else’s buffet, listening to somebody else’s music in somebody else’s flat.

And that’s where things began to go pear-shaped. No, not the flat. The music.

Talk of The Town, by The Pretenders. How I hate that song. If God wanted to give the music industry an enema, Talk of The Town is where He’d stick the tube.


I happened to accidentally voice my opinion about the dreadful din that underlined the truth that Talk of The Town is nothing but a controlled clash of downwards-plummeting musical values. I say accidentally because the booze had somehow transformed my thoughts in to the spoken word. I’m sure I was only thinking the words ‘shite’ and ‘dross’ but magically they found their way in to the party.

So I’d accidentally mentioned to the girl from the accommodation agency – I seem to remember she had to retrieve her tongue from the throat of some random guy before she could give me her full attention – that Talk of The Town wasn’t worth the bog roll it had been printed on, when the person next to me said she’d co-written it.

Fuck. What does etiquette demand one do in such moments? I did what any self-respecting gentleman would under those awkward circumstances.

I offered her my condolences on her loss of hearing and degraded sense of taste, and hoped that they’d both return as easily as they’d left her.

And then, inexplicably, there was a little argy-bargy which involved the contents of a glass of beer moving in my direction but splashing all over the wall because I’d had the common sense to take half a pace to the left and in so doing had cracked my knee on a coffee table and went down quicker than a sack of potatoes and somehow pulled the coffee table and its contents over with me which, unfortunately, struck Miss Hynde in the shin and then there was cursing and rage and anger from her but laughing from other people.

Anyway, I got to my feet, retrieved the peanuts from inside my shirt, brushed myself down and left.

So from this you can deduce two things.

1. Coffee tables are dangerous pieces of furniture and should have a public health warning attached, and
2. Talk of The Town is not ever going to make it on to my Desert Island Discs list, but it would be a front-runner for my Room 101 list.


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13 Responses to It was the summer of 19-something-or-other…

  1. Amy says:

    I cannot believe that you don’t like that song.

    I…I am speechless.

  2. Masher says:

    You’ve played with Ian Dury (not in a fiddling about way) and his band, AND you’ve met the Hyndester. Cool.

    You mix(ed) in exclusive circles Mr Jones.

  3. Brennig says:

    Amy: In to every life a little rain must fall. 🙂

    Mr Masher: Ian Dury sat in the corner and humoured us with a smile, that was the full extent of his involvement. It might have been a grimace though.


    I could tell you about the times I’ve met Peter Gabriel if you like?

    Or the times I’ve dined at Anthony Head’s house? And met some of the cast of a certain cult American television programme? 🙂

  4. Masher says:

    Michael Bentine bought me a pint, once. So there!

  5. Mya says:

    I have always found her excessive use of vibrato an impediment to my enjoyment of her songs. That said, Brass in Pocket is a cracker.

    Mya x

  6. Soph says:

    Masher: mixed (emphasis on the past tense) would be right – he now hangs out with me…

    …far superior company, I’m sure all would agree;)

  7. Brennig says:

    Mash: Michael Bentine bought you a pint? C’mon! Don’t keep that one a secret. I expect to read all about it on your blog in the near future.

    Mya: Yeah, those presentational issues get up my nose a bit too. But musically, Talk of The Town has so little to offer the world that it’s actually overdrawn in the world-offering bank account. Brass in Pocket is borderline ‘good’, the beat saving it from being mediocre. A swiftly-paced 4/4 time does wonders for dressing up an average song.

    Soph: Your company is, of course, far, far superior and I prostrate myself before your greatness.

  8. Amy says:

    Mya – Brass in Pocket is one of my favourite songs ever ever 🙂

    I am ignoring the Brennig insultation of that song 😛

  9. Masher says:

    I already have.
    27th Feb last year.

  10. Vicola says:

    Get you, mixing with the stars! I once made an arse of myself in front of Boris Johnson, refused to believe Rio Ferdinand when he told me his name was Rio in a bar in Manchester AND smashed a shelf full of glassware in front of David Beckham. See, you’re not the only one!

    And you’re dead right, that song is properly shit.

  11. Brennig says:

    Amy: I love you to bits. But… Brass in Pocket?

    Masher: Read it now, thanks!

    Vicola: I can’t comment on BJ for politcal/professional reasons. Rio Ferdinand? You had a lucky escape with that one. But smashing a shelf-full of glassware in front of David Beckham? Comedy gold!

    And yeah, properly shit. 🙂

  12. Scribble says:

    OMG a survey man!! I am *very* disillusioned about surveys. I signed up for them, labouriously giving my details all for the sake of earning some money and guess what? No momey, just stupid offers of packets of biscuits and holidays I will never be able to take and cost money anyway. Needless to say, I’ve deleted them all, though they won’t go away. Leave me alone!!!!!!!!! I hate you!

  13. Brennig says:

    I think, with the surveys (was that this post? Do you want me to move your comment to the right one?), there’s a distinction between the product ones and the political and consumer-led ones. Try