So in this snap, circa 1983, there’s a girl with big 80s hair, called Debbie, a Rik Mayall look-a-like, and sat at the end, in an uncharacteristically demure fashion, is the lefty, soul-boy skinhead, lead singer of the latter day, politico-punk, soul boy pop-rockers, The Redskins, Chris Dean: AKA NME journo, X. Moore.
I’d done a gig with The Redskins on the Friday night and ended up crashing at his place for the weekend. And whilst there may have been minimal furniture and Socialist Worker newspapers spread around the floor, amongst bottles of vinegar and tommy sauce, what I saw in the kitchen, ( excuse me whilst I indulge in the kind of hyperbolic teaser currently, irksomely, common across social media, these days) WHAT I SAW IN THE KITCHEN TRULY SHOCKED ME!
I will get to that revelation very shortly, but just to recap, I’d already done a few gigs with The Redskins, including a memorable night at Sheffield Top Rank, where we were the support acts for the mighty Gil-Scot Heron. Quite a feeling, to be treading the boards in such esteemed company, in the same venue where, as a kid, at the under-18s disco nights, I’d shuffled my little legs off to Prince Buster, and grine-danced with a girl for the first time..
In his capacity as NME scribe, I’d always credited X Moore with kick-starting the Ranting Poetry scene as, until his full page article on the skinhead poet, Seething Wells was published the country was largely unaware of the new radical poets emerging. His article served as a rallying point. The word was out.
So anyway, I stayed at Chris’s on the Friday night and on the Saturday afternoon we went into London, drank coffee, and in the evening, Chris, his girlfriend and mate, all came to a gig I was doing in a pub called The Captain’s Cabin, where, topping the bill that night was a fledgling Billy Bragg. I’d gigged with him a couple of times previously, and now this ex-army ‘new Bob Dylan’ was about to release his debut record, Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy. His time was coming. At the start of my set I did some audience warm up, getting everyone to ‘act in unity but also as autonomous individuals’ by shouting out their first names, together. After the gig, Chris gave me a bit of a tug, ”What’s all this autonomous individual bollocks about?” I squirmed a bit. But I would soon have my revenge…
And then it was back to Chris Dean’s with his big-haired girlfriend and the Rik look-alike. Ah yes, revelation, the ‘shock’ I mentioned earlier: In the morning, waking up in Chris’ frugal looking gaff, I came downstairs, a bit hung-over to find Chris in the kitchen, leaning over a box on the counter, something new had arrived, it looked like, and Chris was about to break the seal. He turned around. ”You wanna coffee Mark?”
”Cheers, actually I’ll have a tea, if you’ve got it”.
Some tearing of tape and contents handling, before he turned around again. ‘Sure you don’t want one of these?” And there, in his Dr Martens and half-mast jeans, the tall, thin, skinhead, whose grey matter therein that had come up with the lyrics of such songs as Peasant Army, Unionise and Lev Bronstein, stood proudly holding..
”What is it?”
He looked a little disappointed at my unsophistication. ”Cappuccino Machine, innit?” I gave him a bit of northern banter, taking the piss, as he smiled coyly and took it. No blush of embarrassment, no red skin. Just a grin and a wink. This was in the days before there was a Starbucks/Costa et al, on every corner, but Chris obviously liked his coffee like he liked his politics – Hot and steamy, frothing over, and a bit tasty.
Well, if you’re ever round my way Mr Dean, pop in and I’ll make you a coffee. No Bovver..