Short on time, the brilliantly monikered Esprit de Corpse finish the evening with a frenetic set. Jarvis is a great frontman, rather like a (more) ghoulish John Cooper Clarke; greasy two-piece, bubble hair, scuffed Cubans, yesterday’s eyeliner, candle wax flesh. Bent beneath the polystyrene, he wrings the Telecaster’s neck and spit-kisses the mic, “WHYDONCHAKILLME? DIGMEUPAN’THRILLME!”
I sat on this sticky carpet some hours earlier and played my acoustic set to a mostly bemused Yorkshire crowd.
[Local Lo-fi Scene/ Wet Sleeves/ Receipts/ Piccolo Knives/ Magick Sam/ Map On A Paper Napkin]
Being the guest, the stranger in town, the support act, with nowhere to go post-show, I help the Esprit de Corpse pack down – coil cable, hump amp – and squeeze into the band’s van. I’d been offered a crash at Jarvis’ pad, but the band are high from playing, so, crushed between players and hangers-on, I find myself back at the bass player’s gaff for some after party partying. The bass player drives. He has pink eyes.
A baggie is passed around the kitchen table. Soon, countless joints are being smoked. Scrappy booze.
At the table I am sat next to a woman with five inches of pillar box mohawk. She wears a box-fresh Blondie tee and shiny leather trousers. A walking stick rests against the table between her legs. She has thumbed this path a long time. She calls herself John.
“I love animals,” says John. “They have pure souls, not like people. Cats love me. You wouldn’t believe it looking at me, but I come from a very very very straight family.”
I wouldn’t have thought otherwise. John describes her family and they sound like very very very nice, ordinary folk. I wonder just what sort of person John is.
John talks at me. I find I have to repeat words several times before they penetrate her brain. John is irritating. But I am drawn into her dreadful orbit. Everything is, rightly or wrongly, hilarious to me.
“There was once a comedy called The Young Ones,” she says. Satire attire.
Dan dresses like a cartoon mortician; stovepipe hat, beard of cobweb, kohl. He covets a cd player at the table’s end and treats everyone several times to his band’s demo. He is under the impression that the louder he plays it the better it sounds. Each play is made worse by Dan turning the song off mid way through to explain some nuance of his lyrics. The man with pink eyes, sat at the other end of the table, says suddenly, “There is only one rule in this house. Just one. If you’re playing your own music, you play it in its entirety. You do not stop it midway through.”
“A fair rule,” says Dan. Dan presses play. We begin again.
Simon and his girl, heads in hands, are quiet. I don’t recall seeing them at the gig. Simon looks ill in a Topman Nirvana sweat. His girl, for something to say, asks about the shed in the yard.
“Dovecote,” deadpan, says pink eyes. I find this very funny.
“Do you let them out?” Simon’s girl says.
“Not often. Sparrow hawks are a big problem round here.”
John says, “I was on speed for twenty years.”
“Must’ve been some comedown.” But she doesn’t seem to hear.
6am. A box room, ill stocked: cold, forgotten family stuff. I sleep, z shape, for awhile on a single bed beneath my coat.
9am. Put my boots on, drink tap water, leave a thank you note, pull the front door to. Head to the station. There is a tiny, empty eggshell in the road. Two crows in the graveyard.