Paradise (A Story Of Shambolic Failure) Part 2 by Allen Miles

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The euphoria didn’t last long. But the enthusiasm did. And the enthusiasm overtook any form of common sense. We agreed to loads of terrible gigs, gigs that we shouldn’t have even contemplated doing. Our third live performance as a group was a Battle Of The Bands at Polar Bear down Spring Bank, and two of the billed four bands had pulled out, so it was us and Blind Frog Ernie, a mediocre post-grunge outfit who had been together years and were pretty tight, and were friends with the promoter, who was also the judge. Obviously we had absolutely no chance of winning but we really were shite that night, Danny buggered up the intro to Introvert and I forgot the words to Flaming Raymond, Leanne had a barney with the soundman because the mix was terrible and the crowd certainly thinned during our set. I was almost in tears when we came off. When you’re playing a show and you know that you’re on it that night, when you sound good, feel completely confident on stage, and the crowd are into it, there is no better feeling in the world. When you know that you’re performing terribly, everything is going wrong and you just want to pack up and go home, it is one of the most disheartening and humiliating experiences you can put yourself through. We didn’t play another gig for six weeks after the Polar Bear debacle.

sals 2005

One night much later into our lifespan we played at The Tap and Spile, with Frank’s Right Hand Trouser. Why the hell they decided to put bands on at Tap was totally beyond me. We went on in front of about forty regulars, of whom thirty-five would have been over sixty, out for a quiet pint of mild and a smoke of their pipes on a Sunday night. I’d made my eyes up and Andrew was in the midst of his “hat phase.” We tore through a ferocious set and when we came off half an hour later there were about three people left in the pub.

wurr bass

A place we played far more times than we should have was a venue called The White Room. I have never been to such a place in my life, before or since. For those of you who have never played in a band before, when you first get going you’re expected to play what is known in the trade as “the toilet circuit,” which is basically shithole venues where you have to kick things to make them work and it would be commonplace for someone to be openly urinating against the wall outside. The most well-known toilet circuit venue in Hull is The Adelphi, which is a complete dump but is beloved by all due to its intimate atmosphere, excellent sound quality and the owner’s propensity for putting acts on that are outside any sort of “scene.” The White Room, on the other hand, was like the end of the world.

One day I'll tell my grandkids I played there. Yeah.

One day I’ll tell my grandkids I played there. Yeah.

It was about half a mile past Spiders down Cleveland Street in Hull, and there no other human dwellings for miles. No shops, no houses, no other pubs. The only place where people would congregate were the building sites dotted round and about, and the only people who would casually drink in The White Room, or The Full Measure as it used to be called, were the site-labourers who would pop in for a pint or two after their shifts. The owner was a six foot six Geordie lunatic who wore leather capes and had tried to set the place up as a warm-up venue for all the metal-heads who would go to Spiders on a Saturday night, and he would try and plug it as a music venue for the rest of the week. The problem was, The White Room was in no way, shape or form a music venue. There was an enormous load-bearing pillar directly in front of the middle of the stage for a start, which meant that 90% of the pub couldn’t actually see the acts, the drums had to be stuffed in a corner and there was very little room for the rest of the band, particularly if you were a five-piece, which at the time we were.

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The White Room’s one saving grace was Mark Chatterton, a genuinely nice guy who did the mixing, and although he was on a bit of a hiding to nothing, he managed to get a pretty good sound out of us whenever we played there. We ended up rehearsing at his rooms for all of our many comeback/last ever gigs and I always thoroughly enjoy his company. He couldn’t save the stigma I’ve since attached to that venue though. I remember so many utterly abject moments that made us come really close to packing it in, there at The White Room.

The first time we played there we were absolutely terrible, and I was so demoralised by our performance that I threw my first prima-donna tantrum and stamped off-stage before the end of the last song. That was only our second gig though, so it could be taken as a learning curve.

There was the time we played and my dad offered to drive me and Leigh down there with our equipment in his transit, and as we pulled up to the Musician’s Entrance, which was actually a fire-door with the bolt smashed off it, I wished I’d got a taxi instead. I remember the single lowest point of my entire showbiz career, one night there in front of about fifteen people. We finished a song, got a few claps and, in the lull I heard the following discourse from two blokes at the bar.

“You see the singer there?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s where the dartboard used to be.”

There was the show just before we did our first out of town gig, we were all really gee’d up for the occasion and we needed a good performance to set us up for it. We were going to try a couple of new songs and gauge the crowd’s reaction to see if they were worth chucking in the set for the Leeds gig. Sadly the “crowd,” as we went on stage, was from front-to-back, as follows.

Dave Stothard (The chef from mine and Andrew’s work)

Cousin Devvers

Luke Lowery (mate of mine from work)

What a waste of fucking time.

In closing, the last White Room story is possibly the most ridiculous. It was our fourth show, the first since our hiatus after the Polar Bear fiasco. We’d rehearsed hard and had two new songs written, and although there weren’t many people there I had invited some who had turned up. After soundcheck the owner, I can’t remember his name for the life of me, said to me:

“You’re getting paid tonight. Ten per cent of the bar.”

I was quite chuffed at this news and shot back over to my band mates to tell them. As of tonight we are professional musicians! I immediately seized my printed setlist from my bag and scrawled the now customary pretentious quote underneath it.

HATE AND REGRET
FLAMING RAYMOND
THE FALLACY
I CAN SEE A BOY
SPASTIC ROMANTIC
DEVVERS
INTROVERT

“When we are victorious I think we shall use gold for the purpose of building public lavatories.” – V.I.Lenin

When we came offstage after our best performance since our debut at Haworth, the massive Geordie handed me an envelope. Our first payment as professional musicians. I opened it.

Six quid.

Not six quid each, six quid.

One pound twenty each.

You can read part one of this article here.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx

Generation Terrorists (A Glam Symphony In Two Parts) by Allen Miles

“You are pure, you are snow,
We are the useless sluts that they mould,
Rock n’ roll is our epiphany,
Culture, alienation, boredom and despair.”

Little Baby Nothing, Manic Street Preachers

Myself and Mr Potter occasionally get misty-eyed at work after talking with furrowed brows about how we are struggling to pay bills, and hark back to our youth, how we had the greatest job in the world and how life was so easy because our heads were full of magic, we had a decent amount of money to burn and we could do as we pleased. The only three things we spent our wages on were music, clothes and going out. We bought different clothes, listened to different music and went to different clubs, but Mike and I both acknowledge now that those were the glory days. Nothing has touched them since.

Ms McCartney has written her requiem to the glorious days of our late teens. And, in much the same way that Mr Taylor and his wife have given their separate takes on the same story, I’m now going give my take on the glorious year that was 1999.

She’s right. She knows she’s right because she was there. It was all about the music, all about the looks and all about the invincibilty. It was a time when independent shops still flourished on high streets, David Beckham was known for playing football and Johnny Vaughan was seen as the future of television. The 18 year-old Allen Miles? I wouldn’t like to meet him. He’s got an appalling attitude, treats women like shite and for some reason people call him Ally. He looks like a girl and doesn’t seem to get hangovers. He’s frightened of nothing and thinks he’s going to rule the world. What a dick. No, I wouldn’t like to meet him, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to be him.

This photo was actually taken a year or so later but we still look pretty.

This photo was actually taken a year or so later but we still look pretty.

Unlike Lyndsay, I never rebelled at school. Although I was a gobby little sod I was quite bookish and nerdy and should have been a prime target for the tracksuit-clad, cider-drinking bullies of my year but I was a decent football player so I was sort-of in with their crowd at the same time. You can’t show the merest trace of flamboyance if you’re friends with those sort of people. The summer we left school would be remembered for the shambolic parties at Woody’s where women never turned up and the never-ending afternoons during which Martyn and I would come up with the name of this website. I spent most of my time listening to Oasis and The Stone Roses, brilliant bands but neither with any real image to get excited about, and my other two most played albums were Stanley Road by Paul Weller, and Everything Must Go by The Manic Street Preachers, which I loved, but didn’t know much about. The Manics were in the press a lot that summer, due to having had their first number one single, and a one night an BBC Up Close documentary about them was due to air. I’d watched the previous week’s episode about Creation Records and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I flicked over to channel 2 and my life was completely changed.

Lyndsay

Lyndsay

Richey

Richey

Having been used to seeing this band in kagouls and slack jeans, to see them in blouses and feathers and military gear and spray paint was jaw-dropping. I bought the rest of their back catalogue within a week; my perception of what music could be had completely changed. Music now had to have a bit of glamour, a band had to be more than just a band. Out went the Ocean Colour Scene, Weller and The Verve. In came The Clash, The Smiths, Placebo and Suede. I got my job at Castle Hill, which provided me with £50 a week and I was also running a racket at college selling pirated Playstation games so I had plenty of money to spend on CDs and clothes. I remember going to the Wyke Christmas Party at the age of 17, me in my Manics T-Shirt that I’d bought when I’d seen them the previous week, watching all the orange Jennifer Aniston wannabes boogying to Another Level and the Spice Girls, thinking, “I don’t want to be here, these aren’t my people.” Who were my people?

Unlike Ms McCartney, I never wanted a gang. I would quite happily be the outsider who everyone sees as a little bit strange and intense and not someone to talk to on a casual basis. I wasn’t one to desperately try and get in with the cool crowd who sat on the sofas in the common room at college when I could hang about in some far flung corner of the science wing with one or two of my grubby football mates instead. I’m not very good at making friends to this day, mainly because I’m a terrible inverted snob. But as it turned out, there were a few more terrible inverted snobs out there. At Spiders, and at Room.

My surrogate sister Sam Hopper had somehow seen some sort of potential in me, and wanted to drag me away from my grubby chav roots. And she had nagged and cajoled and, by the end, downright abused me into coming out with her crowd and I first went to Spiders in probably April 1999, I was 17 years old. I was wearing my Manics t-shirt, and a pair of jeans. I went down there with legendary Hull piss-artist Andrew “Beast” Hawkins, who is now a possibly-insane recluse and hasn’t been seen since 2008. I saw Sam and her crowd in the entrance and the first song I heard there was Kevin Carter. A vodka and coke was 55p. I wasn’t expected to drink lager and belch manfully. I’d be at home here.

That bottle of wine just seems to always be there doesnt it?

That bottle of wine just seems to always be there doesn’t it?

At first I’d go maybe once every three weeks. I enjoyed it but was pretty much hanging on for invites from other people. Also I’d taken to spending the odd Saturday night going on massive rambles around Hull with a charismatic and erudite gentleman I’d met at my new job who now calls himself Xavier Dwyer. He turned up on my doorstep one night, having only been introduced about a week earlier, and simply said “Fancy going for a walk?” These walks would become known as The Tours and are among the happiest times of my life. We would have utterly pointless debates such as “Which band were better The Who or The Clash?” or “Is Pablo Honey underrated?” He would furnish me with exotic items such as Radiohead bootlegs and a grainy video import of the then-still banned Clockwork Orange. We talked of one day forming our own band and taking over the world. We had a party at my house where we both smashed the guitars that we could barely play. We went to V99 to see the Manics, Suede and Placebo; I wore a Mecca shirt with the sleeves ripped off because I wanted to be Joe Strummer, Xavier wore a black balaclava because he wanted to be James Dean Bradfield. Glorious, ridiculous, unequivocally romantic memories.

As that monumental summer turned to autumn, I was going to Spiders every Saturday, and by this time I’d met Ms McCartney, Ms Spavin-Haigh, Arthur and unbeknownst to me then, the lanky ginger guy who would be my best man ten years later, Dr Dave Salmond. So this, along with my long-time birding and boozing partner Woody, was now my crowd. How unspeakably beautiful we looked! A year previously I had been a tracky-bottom-wearing grubboid who spent his weekends watching repeats of The Thin Blue Line on UK Gold, now I smeared my eyes in kohl, donned my shiny blue satin shirt and copped off with so many girls it was a disgrace. I had a playlist that by tradition I absolutely had to play before I left my bedroom at seven o’clock every Saturday night.

This Charming Man – The Smiths
Animal Nitrate – Suede
Going Underground – The Jam
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me – U2
So Dead – Manic Street Preachers
White Riot, White Man In Hammersmith Palais, London’s Burning, I Fought The Law – The Clash

I never ever had a hangover, but I realise in hindsight that was because I didn’t drink very much. I could go out with thirty quid and come back with plenty of change. It wasn’t about the drinking, it was about the euphoria of being part of something, looking fantastic and feeling, as Lyndsay has already said, completely invincible. Fearless. We were in thrall to Richey and Brett and Brian Molko, and we all tried to impress each other by quoting Camus and Sartre, even though we wouldn’t read them for another five years. I would shamelessly plagarize any gimmick from whichever androgynous tortured genius I favoured that week; Brett’s single braid in his fringe from the Stay Together video, Johnny Marr’s polka-dot shirt, Nicky Wire’s white jeans… When a new lost photo from this era emerges myself and Mr Salmond more often than not find ourselves wincing at the pair of ponces that stood in our eighteen year old shoes. It was a different age though, and at the time we thought we were the cat’s pyjamas. And we were.

I do that, sometimes...

I do that, sometimes…

That December was the last month of it. I remember one day me and Xavier were both off work and we walked all the way into town from his house down Arram Grove to go record shopping. It was snowing and the grates down Beverly Road were spewing steam into the frozen air, a proper winter’s day. I bought a load of Suede vinyl and Manics memorabilia from Disc Discovery down Spring Bank and arranged to go to Room on the night. I walked round to Woody’s house with a Suede song called The Chemistry Between Us in my head, and I knew as I walked that these were the glory days. This was the peak of youth and these were the days that I would remember in years to come when I was old and bitter and sat typing at one in the morning. More than any other song, that one encapsulated what it was like to be young and pretty with a head full of colliding stars, and I’m not quite sure how it happened, but as 1999 became 2000, something was lost. After we got back from Cardiff the make-up and glitter went in the bin, and the gang mentality seemed to dissipate. We still went every Saturday but something had changed, like it was an obligation rather than for fun. The silks and satins would be replaced by Mecca jeans and Converse work shirts; I somehow acquired my first long-term girlfriend, and twenty disastrous months later I would find the Manics and Suede replaced by Nick Cave and Scott Walker, alone in a flat I couldn’t afford, an eviction notice nailed to my door, having drunk myself half to death as I waited for the next angel to come and rescue me.

Lyndsay writes of how important it is for any young people to feel they belong to something. I never wanted that. My memories of that period are defined by the feeling that I didn’t want to belong to anything. I wouldn’t join any club that would have me, as Groucho Marx once said. But for those eight or nine months in 1999, I genuinely believe that on a level of sheer euphoria it was as good as my life ever got. The three chaps I have spoken of in this piece; Dave, Xavier and Woody, remain, fourteen years later, my three best friends, and occasionally, we speak of those times as we down our warm pints of mild in a “food pub” or a “cafe bar” and sneer disapprovingly as we watch the trendy teenagers of the day sleep walk their way down the streets as they play with their smart phones and listen to their mp3 players. Me and Woody, in particular, often kid ourselves that it isn’t we who have got old, rather it is the clubs that have gone downhill. (“Now, Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”) All four of us will have contretemps about how we dressed, whether we looked silly or looked cool, and whether it is ok to listen to Generation Terrorists when you’re thirty-one. One thing we always agree on though, and we’ve both used this word already; we were utterly invincible.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx

This Women’s Work (part 2)…. By Vicky Taylor

mart and vicky

10:30 AM – Martyn rolled in at 10 o’clock last night pissed up. So as punishment I woke him up him up early so we can go shopping, Ha Ha! He told me he was only going out for 2 or 3 pints and he came home steaming! Why is he putting them sunglasses on? He looks daft, and besides, its not even sunny.

10:35 AM – Thank god we’re nearly there, the car stinks of stale booze, maybe I should’ve driven. The kids, sensing Mart’s tender head, have started to take advantage and are playing up. The traffic lights are changing so I’ll have a chance to calm them down. Hang on, he’s going for it. WOOH! that was close, too close when the kids are in the car. I give him my ‘Calm the fuck down’ look and he has the nerve to have a go at me!

10:40 AM – At least we’re here at Sainsbury’s now. Why is he parking all the way over here when there are all them spaces near the store? Oh yeah, someone opened their car door onto his last week and left a mucky mark. This better not be a permanent habit. I tell him if it rains I better not get wet. He strolls off pretending not to hear me. Wanker!

10:45 AM – Mart gets the trolley and gives it to me. I head straight to get some veg for dinner tomorrow. I turn around to ask Mart to get some spuds, where the hell is he and where are the boys? I bet they are looking at the shitty X-box games. Oh well, I’ll get the veg myself and make that twat cook it tomorrow.

10:50 AM – Oh good they’re back. Just in time for me to show him the meat he’s gonna be cooking tomorrow. I tell him he is cooking it but he seems distracted. Then I realise what has his attention. Walking towards us is a trampy looking woman in a skimpy outfit. Mart’s jaw nearly hits the ground. Could he stare any harder at her? He looks like a puppy dog with his tongue hanging out, perv!

10:57 AM – Martyn throws 3 cans of lentil soup in the trolley, who the hell eats that shit? I ask him if we need some beans. He looks at me like I’m thick, but he was the one cooking beans on toast at 11 o’clock last night while pissed. He tosses two cans in sarcastically, I ignore him and walk on.

11:03 AM – Martyn is letting the kids run riot down the sweet aisle. They all grab hands full of sweets to eat at movie night tonight. Marts been bugging me to get him ‘The Karate Kid’ to watch with the boys. He is happy I got it from town the other day. He thinks I bought the original version, but I got the remake that the boys wanted with Jackie Chan in.

11:12 AM – Is he really getting more beer? Didn’t he drink enough last night? What’s he doing now? him and the boys are fighting, I knew I shouldn’t have got a kung-fu movie. People are starting to stare, how embarrassing!

11:16 AM – Mart grabs a drink off the shelf and only bloody opens it and starts guzzling it down! He sputters something, puts the lid on and puts it in the basket. I work here, the last thing I need is to be arrested for shop lifting again.

11:18 AM – Gracie is pestering Martyn for something. Mart picks her up and starts throwing her around. I tell him she has just had a full bottle of milk in the car. My warnings fall on deaf ears. He carries on and she spews on the floor. Mart just looks at it and walks off. I can’t leave it so I clean it up.

11:27 AM – Mart tells the kids to sit down while he packs, I load the grub onto the belt. I do it all tidy so its easy to pack away. What, just what is he doing? Could he mash that loaf of bread up any more? Slob!

11:31 AM – I pay for the shopping, with Mart’s debit card of course (which will be a nice surprise for him later). I get the kids together and head out. Great, its pissing it down! I warned him. he runs with the trolley hollering something back. Just then, BEEEEEPPPP! A car nearly hits him. Ha Ha! He should’ve parked closer!

Get Martyn’s take on this trip to Sainsbury’s here.

This Man’s Day (part 2)… By Martyn Taylor

mart and vicky

10:30 AM – Why do I do this to myself? Its bad enough having to go shopping on a Saturday morning, but to make things worse, I’m nursing a hangover after 8 pints in the pub last night. Vicky seems in a mood as well, I’ve no idea why. I’m not about to ask her why either, she’ll bite my head off. Christ! That sun’s bright, its like needles in my retinas, better put my shades on.

10:35 AM – Nearly there now, just this set of lights to make it through and we’re there. The kids are starting to play up in the back, which is doing my hangover no favours. Hang on, the lights have changed to amber. Fuck it! I’m going for it. Made it. Vic gives me a look. I tell her if she doesn’t like it she can drive home.

10:40 AM – At the car park now. Some twat dinked my door when I was here last week, so I’m gonna park at the back where nobody ever parks. Its a 2 minute walk to the Sainsbury’s but its worth it to keep my car safe. Vicky goes on about how the weather is going to change later, but I ain’t listening.

10:45 AM – I get the trolley and we make our way into the shop. Vic takes the trolley and goes down for some veg. Me and the boys go down the magazine aisle for a flick through the mags.

10:50 AM – We catch up to the wife, she’s picking some meat for Sunday dinner, she tells me we’re having pork. I hear her but my attention is drawn down the aisle. A cracking looking bird is walking towards us. I play it cool and catch a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. She has brown hair, a short skirt and a tight white top. The chill of the fridge has made her nips stand up a wee bit. Its funny how much you can pick up in a glance.

10:57 AM – Down the tinned food aisle I throw a few cans of soup in. Vic asks if we need any beans. How the hell do I know? She cooks the god damn dinners. I toss a couple in and look at her as if to say ‘Is that enough?’ She just rolls her eyes and walks off.

11:03 AM – Down the sweet aisle the boys and Gracie run off to choose some goodies for our DVD night tonight. Vic said we could watch ‘The Karate Kid’ which I’ve been nagging to watch because its one of my favourites from the 80’s.

11:12 AM – I throw a 6 pack in the trolley while down the beer aisle. They boys are playing up ahead, I’ll show them who the real karate kid is. I run up to Lewis and deliver a Mawashi-Geri-Tudan to his head (just playing of course). Then me and Harrison recreate the famous ‘crane-kick finisher’ from ‘The Karate Kid’. Vicky shows her displeasure with a ‘TUT’

11:16 AM – I’m thirsty, so I grab a Lucozade off the shelf and have a swig, ‘That’s better’ I say as I put it in the trolley. Vicky gives me daggers, I tell her to chill out as I’m going to pay for it.

11:18 AM – Gracie is nattering for a biscuit, so I scoop her up and twirl her around ballroom dancing style. She seems happy so I carry on. I maybe went a bit too far with it as she has done a little bit of throw-up on the floor. ‘Whoops’ I say as Vic cleans it up with a baby wipe.

11:27 AM – At the till the kids sit on a bench as I take charge of the packing. My hangover is really kicking in now so my usual tidy packing turns into chaos as I rush to get the grub into the bags.

11:31 AM – Vicky pays for the shopping, which is nice of her. We make our way out, and its only started to bloody spit. I run off with the trolley towards the back of the car park shouting ‘Don’t forget you’re driving.’ I over-run the path and a car nearly knocks me over. Fuck! I wish I’d’ve parked closer now.

See this shopping trip through Vicky’s eyes here.

Paradise (A Story Of Shambolic Failure) Part 1 by Allen Miles

sp

In many ways, it is dealing with one’s psychological problems in front of people. They say that everyone who gets on stage does so to confront, or suppress, some mental dichotomy. For my own part, I am a natural show-off but I have absolutely no confidence. I hate the way I look yet I spend most of my life posing. I can play the guitar to an adequate level but I don’t like to do it in front of people in case they think I’m shite. When we did our first gig on the 14th of September 2004 at The Haworth Arms in Hull, I told exactly no-one, because I didn’t want anyone to turn up. The line-up that would take the stage that night had been together for seven weeks. It was idiotic to do a reasonably big venue so early. I expected a few stragglers from work that Andy had told, and the crowd that the headlining acts would bring in. I was absolutely terrified even to get on stage in front of those people, even though it’s so much easier to perform in front of strangers. As it turned out Danny had told Jamie, Jamie told Cousin Devvers, and Cousin Devvers told everyone. Eventually about forty people that I knew were in the audience on top of the fifty or sixty already there. Petrifying.

I had been at work that day, washing pots, making lasagne and frying chips. Everyone knew we were doing a show, yet until a week or so earlier, no-one had given a toss. They had made their derogatory remarks and told us that we were deluding ourselves. Until this one new girl who looked like an alien supermodel with her cheekbones and eyes and personality managed to whip everyone into line and demanded that they march down to the Haworth. At about four o’clock that afternoon, they all man-handled me into the corner of the prep area with their questions. Are you nervous? What if you forget your words? What outfit are you wearing? Yeah, that really helped.

What outfit are you wearing? It hadn’t even crossed my mind. I got home from work at about six o’clock. I ran up to my room and pressed play on the video (I didn’t have a DVD player in 2004) in the hope that whatever was in there would distract me. It was the tour video of Suede’s Dog Man Star album. Anderson wore a fitted white shirt and tight black trousers. It looked pretty cool. I had the same in my wardrobe. I put them on. I’d been drinking heavily for the previous three or four months, so my hair was short, as it always is when I’m on a bender, as if on some sub-conscious level the neatness of the appearance would mask the excessive behaviour. I looked okay. It would do. I hadn’t eaten all day in an attempt to prevent any on-stage stomach problems and I’d drank nothing but coffee. I threw my guitar into its bag and wandered out into the drizzle to wait for my cab.

When I arrived at the Haworth the nerves really started to overwhelm me, especially when I saw so many people I knew filing through the doors from my vantage point at the top of the stairs. Shindig were headlining, it was their show and we practiced in their studio. I can’t remember who was on second, then there we were, at the bottom of the poster, no logo yet, just SAL PARADISE in bold capital letters. We did the soundcheck, which when it becomes part of the routine turns into the most boring experience anyone can go through. That night however, it was just something else that caused my heart-rate to fluctuate. We did a verse and chorus of Hate and Regret. It struck me that I could hear my voice coming back at me from the other end of the room. It was a decent P.A. I picked up my pint of Tetley’s, and wandered over to the emergency exit door, which was open. I stood on the fire escape and lit a cigarette. Then another. And another….

The stage fright had now become all-consuming and desperate. Only one experience in my life could equate to it and that was from when I was about eight years old. My father had taken me for my first swimming lesson and I was absolutely petrified of the water. I did not want to go in that swimming pool. I stood there practically wrestling with my dad at the side of the pool while the rest of the class and the instructor looked on, slack-jawed. Eventually he got me changed and took me home. I can’t swim to this day. And that night at the Haworth was the same. I did not want to go on that stage. I was stood on that fire escape shaking as I chain smoked. But why? This was not running across no-mans-land in the First World War. It was not the fire fighters running into the Twin Towers on 9/11. It was a 22 year old kid snarling a few punk songs at a crowd of about eighty people who, in two hours time, would be too pissed to remember whether we’d been any good or not anyway. I’d seen Phil Wilson do it God knows how many times. Matt Edible too. And they did it by themselves. Solo. Without the band to fall back on. My Dickie’s satchel was at my feet. I knelt down and pulled the setlist out that I’d so lovingly typed up the night before.

HATE AND REGRET
FLAMING RAYMOND
I CAN SEE A BOY
SPASTIC ROMANTIC
INTROVERT

And then, at the bottom of the page, I’d handwritten a quote, in that pretentious, wish I was in The Manic Street Preachers-way that I would do on every single setlist we ever had.

“I’m looking to open people’s eyes. I’ll fail, but in the process I’ll get self-satisfaction. And a minority, a strong minority, will listen.” Scott Walker

Your head is full of magic when you’re that age.

As I contemplated ringing the bar from my mobile to tell them in an Irish accent that I’d planted a bomb, Berry stuck his head round the fire door, drumsticks in hand.

“You ready?” he said. I suppose it was now or never.

I tried my best to swagger over to the stage, but it probably looked like I was walking to a bus stop. I looked at Andrew, who had already strapped his bass on. I looked into his eyes. It had been our idea. Just me and him, from the start. Leigh’s guitar was red. Danny’s was blue. Here we were. I closed my eyes, held the mic for dear life and counted 1-2-3-4. A screaming cacophony emanated from behind me and I didn’t open my eyes for the next twenty-five minutes. It seemed like thirty seconds.

We came offstage to good applause. Even some cheers from the work lot. I wasn’t shaking anymore. I bought a pint and a shot while the rhythm section had their first ever traditional after-show hug. We dropped our gear off at Danny’s brother’s house round the corner and walked to Piper to get lashed. We stood there, all five of us, euphoric after putting on our first ever show. It felt good.

Little did we know that it felt as good as it ever would.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 23 month-old daughter whose favourite band are The Ramones. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written by anyone ever. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx