I awake with a sick feeling in my stomach. No. Got to be more Positive. I feel pretty weird anyway, but look for a reasonable reason not to get to started: No point in doing anything Until the Traffic Has Died Down.
The day has dawned. The talking is over and now Chimmie must
face the Market. Telephone Girl gets the Dove and the Maiden out
of the house.
Some time later we are driving along the elevated section of the A40. Normally this the cue for me to speed up and play the Clash in my head, if not sing out loud joyously. Ah, the Sound of the Westway.......I once heard Billy Bragg on the radio expounding the impossibility of writing songs about the romance of the road in Britain.
The Clash made London glamorous by telling the world how shit it was. To fly along the Westway to the sound of the Clash is to feel that you belong to the future, moving between the bright lights and the sunset country on a magic carpet. There's nothing quite like it in London.The irony of "what a great traffic system -it's so bright" is Double because they feel deeply, passionately about this place. This is Art. Now get cracking and write songs about roads in Britain, you lazy bastards. I will be covering the A82 and the A9.
The West of London is for some reason home to businesses that allegedly distribute records and therefore there I go first. I had other things going on which I'll explain elsewhere, but somehow I knew that the day would dawn when I would have to load up the car and go and stand on someone's doorstep.
You hope that this expedition which begins as an uncertain voyage over stormy seas will take you to harbours of plenty. You hope to ship up at the dock of some loading bay where the magic of commerce, the throb of industry will effect the transformation of Objects into Goods. The hasty conversation where you put it to some debauched old beatnik that if he misses this one.................Then you chuck them out of the boot, get the paperwork and get the fuck out of there before you get sussed out as a bigger joker than he is.
"We're not making good enough time to go to the first
ones on my list, so we need to get off the junction before Hanger
Lane. Where are we?"
I recognise Hanger Lane gyratory and make a snap decision to go round and back. I'm sure we'll be able to get off on the left. Wrong. Someone's had some Bright Traffic System idea. Now we're trying to recover from a mistake on a mistake. It all becomes a blur.
We're totally lost, I think. Park in some void and check the name in the A to Z. Actually we're not too far out. This is the Acton/Park Royal area. Am I overreacting, or is this really grim? Not only is this unrelieved industrial estate real estate but although we should have been able to get there quite simply, it was a no-entry and now we're in the grip of some time-freezing traffic jam in a road we never wanted to be in in the first place and also totally inexplicable until quarter of an hour later when you can see the road works. Then we have to get into Acton Lane and get round the back. At least we can park. Who else would want to?
"I'm not coming with you, I'm too fat."
I approach. No open loading bay. Just an armoured roller
shutter and an entryphone. It says "Press 1 if Making
Deliveries". That'll do.
Well at least I didn't crap out on the first call. Fortunately we can get to the next one by turning off a side road.
"I need a piss," says Telephone Girl. So do I. They don't tell you that you're going to need to go in places where you can't see a toilet when they write articles about how to start a record label in Computer Music, do they?
I go up to the door. It doesn't say what it should.
Back to the car.
Once more, Telephone Girl has saved me. So remember the Piss Bottle.
Two more times around Acton Lane before we move towards
Willesden, getting lost in somewhere called Craven Park and so
the day goes on.
By the end of the day, all I've managed to achieve is to hand
deliver 5 dem copies to places where they wouldn't listen to
things on the spot and been seen in 2 places where I played it
and they said:
What is "this kind of stuff?" That's just it. We're not going for a market. We just want to prat about in a studio til we've got something that sounds good to us and then get it out to the public who can either buy it or not. Somewhere out in the world There Are 400 People who would pay for this. We've done it before and this is just as good. I got into doing Dance Records because I wanted to say "Up Yours" to A&R men who think it's their duty as gatekeepers of the "music industry" to stop people like me from reaching the public. But now there are "Labels Managers". Great.
I am exhausted. I may have to do something different next. For
now, a visit to the off-licence seems rather important.