Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
So on Good Thursday, I nipped out on the byke to B&Q for a bit of black floorpaint for my kitchen floorboards and on Good Friday I set to the serious business, with no visitors around the place, of painting the stairs and floors. I had two visitors. One was Mitch, leader of Wivenhoe's most loveably ramshackle rockband, Scarpenter's News. Their bassist had quit and with an Easter Sunday gig looming at the Rose and Crown, could I help?
This town has a very good little rock music community. I managed to borrow an amp of Tai Chi Dave from Hurricane and Mitch borrowed a solid electric bass from Fiona of Hobo Chang. On Good Saturday, Mitch ( people sometimes think we're brothers, or mistake us for each other, so we look about right in a band together) came round to see what numbers we might manage with less than 24 hours to go. We settled on Nutbush City Limits, Where Have All The Good Times Gone, Waiting For The Man and Sunshine of Your Love. It wasn't looking good, but in timeless style, I started learning them and getting to know the borrowed bass.
Late on Good Saturday afternoon, while we were fiddling with the borrowed equipment, the phone rang. It was Annie, duty reporter at the East Anglian. "Have you seen today's Times?" she asked. I said that no I hadn't. She said that there was a big article by Germaine Greer about the upcoming Poet Laureate's job. Prof. Greer had come up the rather radical suggestion that the whole post needed revising, that all the various counties of Britain should have their own laureate and that "Essex should give Martin Newell the bays." The reported asked me what I thought of this. I was rather stunned and blurted out that I was enormously touched and that I'd probably take it if offered but that I was never going to wear a bow-tie or sit down to dinner with a bunch of stuffed shirts. Oh, and I didn't want to have to write any poems about the Queen." Thank you." she said and rang off, leaving me and Mitch to work on the bass sound..
Good Sunday concerned itself mainly with me trying to memorise my own songs for my solo set and then all the bass parts for Scarpenter's News. We set up at about 7.30 and there were a number of solo performances, most notably from Tim Whitnell, who, though he had tonsilitis played about as well as ever I've seen him, with one or two guitar instrumental tricks, that I've just never witnessed before...not on an acoustic guitar anyway. Against all the odds, Scarpenters News went on at about half-nine and rocked the joint. Yeah, it was shambolic. And yeah, their bandannaed bass-player here missed a couple of cues. But it felt really good and I think the punters really enjoyed it. In American parlance, we rocked. We got out while we were winning and eased the night down with a couple more solo sets. It being the landlady's birthday, there was a bit of an old fashioned lock-in for close family and musicians and I finally crawled home at about 2.00 and into bed by about 3.00.
Good Monday and my throat is shot to pieces, I've got bass-player's shoulder, and both my hands ache but apart from a bit of tiredness, I think I've got away with it. So I go out to buy the papers and there on the front cover of the East Anglian, is a little mugshot of me and Newell For Essex Poet Laureate (p9) On page 9 there's two big pics. One of me and one of Prof Germaine Greer. And there, verbatim, are my quotes: "no bow-ties, stuffed shirts etc etc sod the Queen bla blah, bloody academics blah blah." Well, there goes my bleedin' knighthood, then. "Don't bother arising, Sir Nartin Mule." That's Mr Twat to you, Your Royal Harness.
I don't really feel like painting today.
Newell preparing for Essex Poet