Its been a while since I embarked upon a self-inflicted 3 month sojourn into my personal dark unknowns. This process involved another story, and, as you may (not) have noticed, it hasn't involved any communication on a computer. It's 6am in the UK and haven't slept yet `cos I`ve been rummaging in the skip again and this time come across a particularly fucked up memory from those Claremont Road Years, circa late 1991, and strictly not recalled with pipe, slippers and wearing rose-tinted John Lennon's.
Still living at number 18, at that time with a woman whose nom de plume shall be SW. We had gotten through some scrapes and bruised ego`s, but were still hanging on to love`s slowly fading star. We lived in the house by ourselves at that time and I had woken up one morning with the bright eco-friendly solar powered light bulb of an idea of doing some "interior design" work. A deranged squat make-over.This was strictly undertaken stoned and harshly non-ballroom stylee. Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen would have had some smarmy, celebratory boho-chic shite comment had he witnessed me knocking the shit out of the interior wall between the downstairs front and back room. If the dust I created had been Columbian marching powder and the mis-shapen bricks hunks of top grade Red Leb I wouldn't be writing this, I would probably have spunked most of the proceeds and be sunbathing on a smoking funeral pyre on my dream alcoholic`s treasure island. Somewhere the sun shines out of a rare scottish malt makers hairy ass. Actually, I found the whole demolition process strangely therapeutic, sort of cleaned up the loose, jagged edges to barbed, irregular ones. I rolled a spliff and pulled the ring on a can of Tenants Extra, any excuse for a celebration.
That afternoon, when SW had returned from Romford, there was a knock at the door. I answered it and Flea was standing there, asking if she could come in `cos her step-father was in a mood and she didn't want to go home just yet `cos he was mean and ugly when he lost his red rag and she couldn't face the shouting and rowing with her smack dealer mum, Denny, who ran the local smack house. Flea had grown up the very hard way no one would envy. She was only 10 then as well. Flea had got to know quite a few people in the road, who were, on the whole, friendly, open and chatty with her. Old Mick Roberts said Claremont Road was her bit of sunshine in her dark, skag house life. Anyway I asked her in, and we three chatted, until there was another knock at the door. I went and it was her step monster father asking if I had seen Flea. At this moment she was hiding in the kitchen, shaking literally with fear and foreboding. I replied that I had seen her, but she had left a while ago. He was a skinny, mean looking man, with the blackest smoldering eyes I have ever seen. He left without a word and, I guess, continued his search.
Anyways, it got to about stomach gurgling time so the three of us ate. By 11pm-ish Flea said that perhaps she should go home now, that things should have quietened down and it was getting late, which would only ignite any old embers from earlier on in the day. Flea hadn't said what the earlier cause of the flophouse anger was, and, we didn't ask. SW suggested that we should drive her home, as it was late, and things happened at pub chucking out time to people if you were owed karmic payback or, more usually, just plain unlucky. Flea was, after all her streetwiseness, only 10. I offered to drive, SW said no worries, she would drive, so off they went. Flea lived close by. I was smashed and went to bed, falling asleep almost immediately.
The next thing I knew SW was waking me and was in tears. It was about 3am and I could immediately see she was very very distraught and shaking. Tears filled her eyes and she had her arms wrapped around herself. The sort of comforting self-cuddling arm cocooning you do when you are the victim of something horrific. She went downstairs and I stumbled after her, shouting, "what`s happened?" Mick Roberts was downstairs, looking both angry, philosophical and tired at the same time, smoking a fat, Golden Virginia roll-up. SW, still shaking, began slowly talking then, gained verbal momentum and spewed out what had happened...
Turned out that she had walked Flea to her front door and knocked. Denny opened the door, SW began to explain that Flea had come back around ours and it was late, so she had brought her home. Denny couldn't give a fuck. She grabbed SW by the hair and dragged her into the house, into the front room and began unleashing unloading a torrent of verbal abusive bile at SW, swelling in fury like a fast maturing tidal wave. Then she began to slap and punch and kick and hurt SW. The coal eyed stepfather was watching, getting off on the violence. Yeah, thats right, GETTING AROUSED BY THE VIOLENT SCENE.
"Bastard, bastard, fucking bastards", SW finished her story in a flood of tears, sobbing, quivering and jerkily gesticulating in shock. I too was shocked and angry, fucking angry and wanted to do something. SW said "NO, they are fucking mental that lot, they said they were coming after you next and are going to damage you baaad, as it was you that told Coal Eyes that Flea wasn't in the house"
SW was bruised and shaken, plenty was broken, but not any bones. Mick added that he knew Denny had been inside London`s infamous Wormwood Scrubs Prison and was the Big Daddy of a wing there, meting out prison justice, controlling, leaking a trail of fear, dealing the drugs and the fags and the baccy and the phone cards, special favors and privileges. She was an evil, evil dictator of a woman. She would know how to inflict maximum physical and psychological trauma with minimum evidence to the human eye. Mick hated her and her house full of darkness and intrigue and lies and bullshit and corruption of Flea, a 10 year old girl going on 40, who had seen things that a 10 year old should never see. He offered to take some east-end mates with guns round there right now and take Denny and Coal Eyes out to a secluded wood in Essex... Mick said solemnly and slowly to SW, " its your call."
She spilt her tea, hands trembling, swearing and wrestling with lighting a cigarette that had a flickering life all of its own. I suddenly realised that I felt very very guilty and selfish. Why hadn't I taken Flea home ? Why the fuck did I let SW take her ?
Holy fucking cow, this is a real monster sized fuck up with deadly serious implications. I could see in SW`s eyes that she didn't want to call the bluff on the threats. Neither did I. I was scared, upset, guilty, angry, shocked and feeling like shit. Only God knew what and how SW was feeling right there and then. She shook her head, thanked Mick for his offer and asked me to drive us out of 18, Claremont Road, anywhere but here for a while. She had had enough, I wasn't far behind her, though would return solo to Claremont Road again a few months later.
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.
January-ish or so releases including Loyle Carner, Eno, Gillian Welch and more...