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Cousin Bloke: Plectrum memories are made of this

Paul H remembers, Bloke (above right), bass player for the UK band Flannel and a million other excellent things besides...

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by Paul Hawkins, for outsideleft.com
originally published: August, 2006
We played fuzzed out swamp rock with the attitude of men with chips the size of Everest on our collective shoulders.

Car fixer, blagger, confidante,
Father, dealer,
Joker, frustrater, fighter,
Smoker, challenger,
No meat eater, talker, driver, sorter
Biker, brother and a bass man...

The plectrum is a personal thing, something as a musician you can get finicky and attached to. You have little routines with plectrums before playing, after playing and when playing. If you use one.

Bloke (above right, with paul h) was a bass player, lastly with a band called Flannel, before his tragic and untimely death last year. He was 41 years old. He slipped from a bridge and fell down a ravine. The reverberations for his immediate family and friends will be echoing around the solar system for a long while.

You see, Bloke (Malc) was such a lovely man; our cousin, musician, scammer, talker and shouter, father and brother to many of his extended family. My partner Sue had been out in France with Blokes partner and children; Sal, Elphie and Herbs. Sal gave me Blokes last plectrum he ever played with and that touched me.

It shot me back through a million memories of him. When we moved out of the famous squatted Claremont Road, Leyton, London E11 home to Brighton, Bloke was the fella we knew in town. He helped us out in many ways. He eased that thorny settling in path you have to go down when you move to an unknown area.

We started a band, Babygroover, and played many gigs in Brighton. We played fuzzed out swamp rock with the attitude of men with chips the size of Everest on our collective shoulders. Babygroover have a future tour booked to play the pleasure domes in the outer frontiers of space, Bloke is still waiting for the rest of us to join him and Gary, our amphetamine addicted singer, (who came across like Mark E. Smith singing for his supper and another breath on the scaffold...) who's been up there since  having jacked up his last velocity speed syringe in the late nineties. We will, we'll be there eventually. Two down, two to go.

This was Bloke pre - Sally and the kids. He also did some other business with me and our friends. He fixed our cars. He played in other bands and played many gigs.

His last band, Flannel scammed their way into many places and stuck a musical V sign up at those who only saw life in me, me, me-isms, accumulation of wealth at the expense of others and the planet. Flannel cared. Bloke cared, working his fingernails down to the bone to get the place in France for his family.

Bloke and Sal, Elphie and Herbie were just settling into life, in their piece of heaven, in beautiful isolated countryside south of Toulouse when he died.

When I heard, it hit me like a jackhammer. Hurts still. Sal and the kids have stayed on in France and they are coping. Just. I love him and Sal, Elphie and Herbie. I miss him like a brother.

Hear Flannel here: Flannel Jukebox
And make a donation to help support Bloke's family here: WeLoveBloke

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Paul Hawkins

Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.

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