Notes From a Fragile Island…29

September 24 2005


Phoned The Ship and Joel E trying to track down my scissors. No joy. Wrote a postcard to Nick B and one to Alaster G. Phoned Scream Studios and booked a rehearsal with Santiago for next week.

Met Magic Sam at The Hogshead for lunch – tomato soup, crusty roll with a great wedge of cheese and some rocket. Heineken. Gin & Tonic. Played pool. Went to The Ship and before I knew it it was evening time. Martin Kettle arrives, Santiago and The Spanish, Joe, Mark Strange and then Joel E who produces my scissors from his jacket pocket. He says that he found them outside his front door – which is weird! Punk Wayne and Hannah arrive. It is Punk Wayne’s birthday, says Hannah. But that was last week, I say. He likes to celebrate for a week, she says. This seems extravagant but we all go back to The Hogshead. There is much laughter and chat. Fashion Andy and Tommy K turn up. They are wide eyed on Ketamine. Fashion Andy hides under the table and refuses to come out. He seems to pass out under there and there is some talk of phoning an ambulance, but everyone forgets about him and soon we are talking about The Kills gig last week.

Outside the Black Sheep Bar there is some commotion. It is Wayne H. He is pretending to phone a drive-by to come and shoot the bouncers with whom he is arguing. He has no phone and speaks into a trainer that he has taken off! The bouncers crowd round him and don’t seem to know whether to take him seriously or not…

September 24 2019


Dan is asking how my day is going as he makes a show of grinding coffee. “It’s a growth industry,” I say, laughing. But he only looks up, slings a tea towel over his shoulder and says to an orange faced man with no neck who has suddenly appeared right beside me at the counter, “Hello, Michael.”

No neck says, “A’ight, mate.” He smells of the kind of cologne a semi professional footballer might wear, sort of lemony. This and cheap laundry powder.

We wait for our coffees and Dan makes a big deal of wiping the chrome pipes, of studying the steam clouds that rise from the coffee machine.

Michael says he runs several gyms. I laugh and say, “several.” He says, yes. Several. Michael says he’s a cage fighter.

“It’s good to have a hobby.”

Michael says, the gyms are his hobby. The cage is his profession. His profession! Somehow Michael’s coffee arrives before mine, even though I was here first.

When I get back to the shop Michael is stood at the door.

“Hello, Michael,” I say. He seems surprised that I know his name and for a moment it is as if we had not met some minutes before. “You’re good with names,” he says.

I cut his hair. He is off to a wedding in the morning.

“Will they last?” I say.

He considers this and says, “some boys can’t keep their dick in their trousers.”

I take this to mean that they won’t last.

At this point Iain knocks on the window and nods to me, but when he sees the cage fighter he turns deathly white and hurries away.

Michael says keep the change.


Within minutes of Michael leaving, Iain returns, bringing Mark with him.

“Do you know who that was?” he says.

“Michael,” I say. “He’s a cage fighter.”

They both seem shaken by his appearance in the shop.

“What did he say?” Iain asks.

“Some boys can’t keep their dick in their trousers.”

This seems to rattle them further.

Mark produces his phone and pulls up an old news article from The Chronicle. Michael and several other men are pictured, CCTV shots. The article tells of a violent home invasion in Walker in which ammonia was sprayed in the victims’ faces and some drugs snatched.

“Perhaps it was just coincidence that he was here,” says Mark. But Iain isn’t so sure. An acquaintance of theirs, a dealer, was also (allegedly) robbed by Michael and his crew late last year.

“Does the shop smell of weed?” says Iain. The two of them begin to wander around sniffing at the air. But I all can smell is lemons and cheap laundry powder.

September 24 2022


A lull in work today. It’s been one of those weeks. They come around every so often. The periods where no one gets a haircut. There’s no point worrying the why, the wherewithal. Whatever. Next week it will be chockablock again and I’ll be moaning the business.

Autumn is imminent and this makes me a little sad, though autumn is my favourite season. Leaves begin to gather in the gutter. However, it is early and every day can hold a multitude of seasons. This morning the flat was freezing, the streets, frosty. And yet, by noon the sun is blinding and I take off my jumper.

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