Email 24th March 1998

Subject: Fish 98 - The Bill and other stories!

Hi freaky friends,

How long has it been since the last plantation of exclamation marks surrounding few items of badly written prose?
I must work harder at making all my list entries literary classics and stop making flippant easy digestible entries.
So there I was lying in post-drama slumber, curled up snug and warm in my new bed of Spanish Moss and I thought I better send out a mission statement.
I had a lot of fun last week and the 7 days in London were quite illuminating. The readthrough on Thursday after a spinal deforming journey in a Chilean Chardonnay cocoon overnight on the Sleeper train south was a disappointment. As is the norm for me the wardrobe department on hearing I was nearly 2 metres tall blew a small gasket so I brought some of my own clothes to help out. The black leathers from Xmas were a boon and the white T and shirt combined with the Black bomber jacket to provide that about town heavy look normally associated with your average bouncer. Smart but casual.
I also had to get my photo taken with my "boyfriend/partner" for the mantelpiece prop. That was fun camping up but I must admit to a Becks before we both loosened up.
Friday was a visit to the ILMC (International Live Music Conference) which I was on the panel for on Saturday. Usual stuff smooching up to promoters. "gies an open air for an old soldier". Lots of handshaking and Vodka with old friends before heading back to my Sister Laura's house in Twickenham where I was staying for the week. Pints with brother in law Chris (also an introduction for him to voddy and lime, the effects are spectacular) and bonding with their two year old daughter Ellie who's convinced my name is "Shut it".

Saturday was ILMC and I was on a panel chaired by Ed Bicknell, Dire Straits manager and old acquaintance. Stories bounced off the walls most of which are unrepeatable in public as we both countered and rallied with the most indecent gossip shocking the other panel members who consisted of Howard Jones, a very old and valued friend also Indy and managed by David Stopps, Marillo mgr. for a moment in 82, Paul Buchanan from the Blue Nile and current resident at Millennium, Karl Chapman from Madness and a member of the Cure who's name I can't remember as he arrived late and left early. It was all good fun as we defended ourselves against the gathered hordes of agents, promoters, managers and other assorted pros all of whom wanted to give us a hard time for being alleged prima donnas and for making their lives difficult.
At the end they thought we were all nice guys and decided that we weren't representative of the artist community as a whole and that it was the fault of all the other artists who didn't attend. It was interesting if you happened to be involved with the business but if you were an outsider then the bar downstairs was the place to be.

I loved it when a German promoter went on about how the promoters put all this work into breaking bands and then the band makes all the money on publishing/record royalties/merchandising etc. How I laughed.
I have known this guy for years and went up to him after and asked if he had any open airs for old times sake reminding him of the Marillo gigs he'd promoted years ago. Sorry, no go. It's interesting how promoters etc love you when you're up there and all guns blazing, demanding loyalty and commitment but when they scent a whiff of decline they're out of there faster than a greased gerbil.
Loyalty is always a topic of the ILMC. All the agents etc want contracts to tie you to them but when the act isn't as hot as it used to be they become like Pontius Pilate with a cleanliness obsession. Generally speaking. The German promoter in question organises thousands of gigs in his career all for different acts most of whom will be "happening" or about to happen. He doesn't throw money away (or tries not to). He shrewdly invests (or is supposed to) in acts that provide returns. Those that make bad investments don't come to the ILMC cos they're broke. Promoters nowadays prefer to sign the act over to a local promoter and sit on the percentage rather than take the risk. Generally speaking. Thus we enter the wonderful world of middlemen. It's all bollocks really. There we were in this hotel all moaning about the live scene and how rock is dead blaming everyone except ourselves for the state of the industry and next year we'll all get together again and discuss the same subjects.
I by the way am not guilty my lord as I'm an artist, the thing that's shit from the lowest element of the food chain :)
I just wanted to know why there are no showers in the gig, where the towels are, where's the rider (a piece of paper sent with the contract that explains what should be in the dressing room ie alcohol, food, Smarties/M+M's with all the red ones taken out:), and other basic comforts - "please make sure it snows in the dressing room, wink, wink" - not one of mine I hasten to add) and where's the percentage break (when the promoter sells more tickets than he first thought and gives extra money to the artist). The problem is at the ILMC that the real World of touring doesn't really get talked about much. They all want to complain about Michael Stipes Sushi demands in Arizona or something equally inconsequential to the normal touring muso.

Everyone talks about the punters and how badly they're treated. How the ticket isn't good value for money and then all agree the prices are too low. They moan about sound and go on about the sheds they organise gigs in to maximise income, forgetting that with a bit of investment they could provide sound drapes in these caverns to help cut back on room echo, But that, boys and girls, would mean the promoter has to spend money and lose seats to bad siteline problems. You know what I mean?
It all seems so self-defeating and my opinion is from all the hot air that was expelled that weekend is that with more attention to detail and better communication combined with more trust and less greed the industry can work ok.
There were, don't get me wrong here, a number of very interesting points made and I'm glad I went down (on a free ticket I might add as I was a panelist). I was wary having been cuffed on the last tour that I might be too cynical and abusive and my presence may have had a negative effect but I found I was in good company. Boy did we moan.
The thing I enjoyed the most was meeting the French promoter who screwed up the French leg of the tour and cost me around 18,000 pounds in lost revenue. I was calm, cool and collected and delivered my speech in that scary soulless fashion often associated with Hollywood bad guys just before they explode and perform something extremely horrific on a deserving case with an ice pick and a corkscrew wired to the mains. You know what I mean? Anyway it worked, not that I ever expect the guy to crawl around on the floor begging forgiveness and offering to sign reams of blank cheques in the hope of salvaging his already fatally damaged Karma, he was suitably chastened and the reception area which contained quite a few noteworthy individuals recognised my complaint. He saw the bear and I'll leave it at that. Point made.

I won't bore you with the other details of the ILMC but all I'll end with on the topic is that I received some praise for my general comments on the panel, made a few more friends in the industry and have been asked back next year. I couldn't have been that obnoxious. Damn.

Monday was boring and I spent most of the day recovering from a tequila hangover brought on by Chris's birthday party the night before and trying to learn my lines.
I expected the police to call at my sisters as the neighbours must have wondered who the Jock was talking to all afternoon in a suitably dramatic accent.
Tuesday was first real day shooting and the scene was set. I spent most of my time wandering up and down a slope delivering lines neatly on cue while avoiding standing on the dog shit that lay like land mines waiting to explode in stomach-churning odours and remove any possibility of delivering lines with a suitably concerned face. The shoot by the way if you've not already guessed was outdoors. Easy peasy. I was loused by 3.
Home to Laura's and the pub with Chris.

Wednesday was off. I had lunch with an old friend to discuss comedy writing and then went to the movies to see "Boogie Nights".
Having seen all the x spams on the list recently I wondered what it was all about and decided to take a crash course in pornography 70's style.

I admit to being less than impressed by the 2 and a half hour movie that started off as Saturday night fever, turned into a Quentin Tarantino movie then finished up as a Robert Altman picture during which it seemed they got every man and his dog to write their favourite drug stories before fumbling for an ending that went on and on as they tried to wrap up all the loose ends while at the same time going " wow, this is good let's explore this a bit more". All that and only one dick which although a monster which most guys would sell their firstborn for wasn't even stiff.
My ass was so sore at the end of the film I thought I'd just had anal sex.

Thursday was reality and my 2 big scenes. I don't want to spoil the prog (that's programme not progressive) so I won't divulge the storyline.
I had a lot of fun and Mark Wingett (DC Jim Carver, who's first ever acting role was in Quadrophenia, anorak fans) declared at the end of the day that he actually believed I was gay during the scene.
Sean Scott the other actor who plays DC Deakin was also great and both guys made my job easy by being friendly and helpful, as was the entire crew, in making my first acting role for over 2 years an exciting and worthwhile experience. I had kicks and an adrenaline surge like I hadn't had for a while. I cannot say how much I enjoyed working on this.
I have the bug in a big way.

This has gone on a lot longer than expected (Don't you know) so I'll call a halt here and try and post this. It must have been a reaction to the 45 lists and 137 e-mails I picked up when I got back.

BTW did you notice that I refrained from using exclamation marks in this one? I admit to having a problem. The first time I came on the Freaks list there were all these Venezuelan Keyboards around. I thought it was a normal thing to do and then I found I had to have more and more and more E/marks. I couldn't stop. My fingers were drawn to the top left corner as if by instinct. I had to emphasise, I had to be believed, I had to make sure my point was coming across to the masses. Forgive me. This is a deep personality defect and one I have to face day to day. My family have threatened to leave me as I now leave these marks of the devil all over the fridge in shopping memos. Even my daughters schoolbooks are victim to this unquenchable thirst to make a point in a dramatic fashion.
I apologise for wasting bandwidth and eyes on these Satanic marks. I will conquer this with your help. Forgive your Onkel for he is but a mortal PC owner. Thanks for your undivided attention and your understanding
Lots of love
Onkel fish x
PS Has anyone out there seen the Pam Anderson home video? Man I should have joined a Heavy Metal Band, called it The Blowfish !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DAMN
 

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