Email 12th June 1998

Subject: Fish 98 - Re-unions, harmony and Paris!

Dear Freaks,
I've just come home from Paris and find the entire list rioting and on fire!!
I've phoned up a friend in the Riot Squad over there and he's sending in the troops with water-cannon to calm you bastards down as he's bored following the Tartan Army and watching us all have a good time, getting drunk and singing our heads of in the Parisien streets. I go away for a few days and see what happens!
First of all I had a great time although the press release on my escapades was a bit early!
I didn't want to say anything at the convention as I was afraid my friend who helped me out would get into trouble! What happened was this - I have a good friend in Paris who is football crazy! He's French and works for the Paris St Germain fan club (which is huge). He's also involved with the promotions company dealing with the events in the stadiums. He tried to get me tickets along with other people who I thought had an 'in' to acquiring some - no chance! I'd given up going and then out of the blue, Gil, my friend, phones me up and offers me tickets with the only consideration being that we had to work in the stadium helping with the set up before the match. I couldn't turn it down, passes for the stadium and the prospect of seeing the game were well worth the sweat of laying out leaflets. Other problem was our day started at 7.30!!
It turned out that Gil had contacted all his Scottish friends (he's mad on Scotland and is a rabid Celtic supporter as well as a Fish fan!!) and wangled work passes. It was the football equivalent of Schindler's List!! :-)
About 100 of us showed up at the stadium and my friend Andy who I'd met at the Marouatte castle sessions was offered 750 Pounds for the pass by one of the tens of thousands who couldn't get a ticket for the biggest game outside the final itself!
I stayed at Andy's house from Monday after I arrived from London and a very successful SAS gig at Battersea Park! We even managed to get some writing together during the stay in between mammoth drinking sessions in the St Paul area where the Scots completely took over the bars and streets! The night before the match we were up till 3am singing our heads off and yours truly - pissed as a newt - got up on a chair outside a bar and conducted around 3000 Scots fans in the "Flower of Scotland" to tumultuous applause. I'd turned down a party invitation to a club where Sean Connery, Ewan Macgegor and other celebs were attending!
I was in the bar only an hour or so after English footballer Stan Collymore beat up his girlfriend, TV celebrity Ulrika Jonsson! Really clever decision by Stan on all counts! A) lets go into the only Scottish bar in Paris where I'll be instantly recognised as an English player! B) I'll take my girlfriend who is instantly recognised as a Male Pin-up and who is known to like a drink with the boys and a good sport! C) I'll have a drink as well and even though I'm known for having a short fuse and the jealous type I'll handle it even though my girlfriend will end up behind the bar pulling pints for a mostly male audience who are Scots / mostly well-oiled and prone to a bit of singing of a risqué nature! :-)
The Scots were well behaved but when he "took her out" - ie beat shit out of the lady in the bar, the boys after trying to restrain him decided that it was sparkle time and promptly did just that! Cue front pages!
All the Scots were amazing, the French who were nervous at first of our partying and loud singing. They kept on shutting the bars the first night when they heard the pipes strike up or the singing got too loud.
The Army just moved to the next bar down the road and started again!
They reckon there were 30,000 Scots in Paris and only about half had tickets!
One wild street party later and I was in bed to awaken at 6.30 for a BBC Scotland interview and a journey to the St Denis Stadium! An awesome building it was truly magical at that time in the morning and to stand in an empty stadium with only the buzz of the lawnmowers on the pristine pitch was an experience I'll never forget.
Our job was to put coloured pieces of paper on about 40,000 of the seats which would be raised later by the occupying fans to create a huge mosaic across the stands. It took us around 4 hours to complete this task before the doors opened and we took up our next position at the entrances to the seated areas where we had to hand out instructions on pieces of paper that told the fans what to do with the coloured bits of paper! I was in the Scottish end and spent more time being photographed with the fans than on the job! The ironic thing was that there were no pieces of coloured paper in the Scots end for them to raise! :-) A totally useless operation which took up most of the afternoon before the game!
The reason I was given was that the "instructions" also contained details of what to do with the streamers that were to be handed out immediately prior to the match! "Please throw" - I didn't need to go to The University of the Bleedin Obvious for that one! :-)
I didn't care, I was there to see a footy match but I must say I enjoyed immensely distributing the streamers or Serpentines as they're called in France! They gave me a huge plastic bag and I just emptied it over people throwing hundreds of these colored paper rolls into the crowd! Brilliant! It got me right into the spirit!
Just before you go "Where's the M/F C?" I met, and was photographed by, not one but three separate fans who coincidentally were Co Scotland members!
After the match there were also some Brazilians who'd been at the shows in St Paulo and Rio on the Yin/Yang tour! (so there! :-)
When the match started the feeling was incredible! I've never felt so Scottish and proud in my life. Seeing the team appear in the kilts (I was also in my "Flower.." tartan one!) made the blood pulse in the veins and the heart race! (no, I wasn't getting turned on :-)
The less said about the match the better. I've already had my Brazilian e-messages!
It should have been a draw! We wus robbed! What about the hand-ball in the wall at the last free-kick etc etc etc etc.! I had a great time and would have gladly put paper on every seat in the stadium itself to see that match! I was there!!!!!
After the game it rained! As if the own goal wasn't enough to prove that someone in Scotland must have upset the Gods somewhere along the line they decided to piss on us as we set off on the long haul back to the party area in St Paul! Make my bloody day! We mingled with the Brazilian fans at the station, shaking hands and singing songs. No-one caused any trouble although the French Riot police stood ominously in the background lying in wait to disperse any trouble that might occur. It never kicked off. Nobody wanted it to.
We were having fun. After all it's just a game. Entertainment just like music.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. Rumours persisted all the time we were there. "Stan Collymore was beaten up by Scots fans", "Scots fans start trouble with African immigrants", "riot imminent in the Square..." etc etc! Too much talk from too little information and analysis of situations that didn't exist. Much the same as the list just now! Too much bullshit being talked by people who have created situations from a long list of Chinese Whispers!
What is it with you? Why do you assume the worst of people? The Scots fans didn't fight with the Brazilians - we partied. The result didn't matter, the event was important and what does the fighting prove - that Ronaldo is a better player than John Collins? That Brazil is a better country than Scotland cos they won a 90-minute football match? Much the same with the H versus Fish situation. Get fucking real guys!! Maybe you should all look at the way football fans interact out there and learn something!
Here is the official lowdown on what occured this year between Marillion and I!
With the EMI Remasters coming out ie "Misplaced..." and "Brave" there would be a flurry of media interest and with a "Fish, Best of...", a possible Fish studio album and a Marillion Studio album all coming out at the same time there was a good reason to look or examine potential to maximise on the radio and press surrounding all these releases. I had an idea to bring it all together under one banner in order to allow everyone to benefit and bathe in some much needed publicity for both our separate but intrinsically linked careers. Mark and I started talking around the issue earlier this year after he phoned me before Christmas 97. We got on well and discussed the Industry, The Freaks list, Independence, Managers etc. It was all business that was of mutual interest. There were no problems in any of these discussions.
I put forward my idea. It was as follows -
That both bands go out under one event-style banner. I would play a one hour or so set of Fish solo material followed by a Marillion set of H-era material, probably based around the Brave album. After that both bands would get together to perform "Misplaced.." as a theatre-style piece with H and I sometimes duetting sections or performing separately in a radically re-arranged work to include a Female Backing Vocal with Sam Brown being my suggestion. Guitar solos and musical sections would be extended to allow players to create and "show off" their talents and the show would close on a jam-type session around something like "Market Square" or another classic!
My idea was to tour for a minimum amount of gigs over perhaps a 4 week period and then analyse the results. Europe was the only practical place to start and if there was a demand and we were comfortable with the situation perhaps a limited World option could be considered.
At no time was there a question of me returning to Marillion. H is the singer and I respect his position at having been there for a longer period than me and accomplishing what he has done over the last 10 years. This "cunning plan" took into account that respect for both our own individual identities and at the same time using the Spiritual link to further both our causes.
More to follow........
(Onkel Fish just starting to turn into the Bear)

Subject: Fish 98 - part 2 of the re-union misconception as seen by a Bear!

Dear freaks,
I have trouble getting on line just now so I apologise if the huge chunk of message has been duplicated and sent more than once. But then again maybe it'll help drive a point home!!!
The whole idea of the "Gig" was to create an event that those who've sat on the fence since around 89 couldn't resist and, by using the chance of a double-bill, pull them into the halls to find out what we've both been doing for the last 10 years. I still get people who saw the Milton Keynes show coming up and going "so what have you been doing since you left the band and are they still going?" That's what the idea was all about. MC sold nearly 2 million copies. Neither of us can command press attention for our music. A joint venture could. "Yes" have done it and Ozzie is enjoying his Ozzfest at Milton Keynes this year. (Check out the Site Register at POF!!!). It's not out the norm as fans now want "Event" shows rather than just normal gigs. That is a fact. It's harder than ever before and I don't have to tell you about my experiences on the last tour again! There is safety in numbers and the prospect of sharing costs of PA, Lights (a decent show for a change!), transport and crew with the added bonus of a higher ticket price being warranted for a show of around 4 hours made sense not only to me but also to 3 major promoters I tested my theory on. They thought the idea was perfect and just what was needed for not only the Market but also for the 2 separate entities! I was offered a 10,000 capacity gig in Germany / Holland to kick the "Plan" off with TV guaranteed and the announcement of the Autumn Tour to be released during the attendant publicity. It was very real.
Other ideas that were around were to record the shows including a Polish Show where the TV's are excellent and use the video for commercial release. The gigs could also be recorded which would give us both a live album which could be put together with the "Misplaced..." performance to entice people into the re-discovery of our careers. Income from all these sources including sponsorship which could be attracted to the "Event" vibe and from the obvious merchandise situation would allow us both to breathe and support both our new releases and touring plans for our separate careers that would springboard from the Joint-touring scenario into the Spring of 99 with our own individual tours which would be advertised during the Autumn tour! Money and details were never mentioned and I had a number of talks with Mark regarding the ethics of it all. I won't repeat what we discussed but I'll say it was always amicable and open. Marillion as you know have undergone a lot of changes in recent months and they themselves are undergoing a certain degree of restructuring in their own approach to their careers. It was this and this alone that led to their decision to pass on the opportunity.
I respect their decision. It has valid points and their reasoning and deliberations are not my concern.
Neither should they be yours.
I knew that when the question came up at the convention that eventually the list would open the Book again and the same worms would fall out.
The project is not happening at the moment and neither Mark or the others who were all involved in the decision are ruling out something happening in the future. When that future occurs is not even in present thought. We are like the Brazil / Scotland situation! You all expect trouble but you don't see the Big Picture.
We don't hold grudges. There is a healthy and benign competitive relationship where we both wish each other well in this stagnant and often repulsive industry. There are no problems between us.
I wish you could all do the same. It's entertainment, like football!
I hate this polarising that occurs. So what if you don't like my voice or think that I can't handle the old material now! So what if you don't like H's interpretation of the old stuff or don't get off on the "new" Marillion. When it comes down to it you would all be there if the Project came off! And you know it!
I said to Mark that if it happened then ego's are left at the door! He agreed. No one is trying to prove anything or show they're better than anyone else. It hasn't happened. No one is pissed off. Your reaction in recent days is over the top and unnecessary and spouting opinions on subjects that you have little inside knowledge off I find insulting to all parties concerned.
Please stop this slagging match immediately and start appreciating that music is not a subject to become tribal over but a reason to bring people together!
The Scots learned that quite a few years ago!!!
That Ladies and Gentlemen is where I finish!!!!
Come on you Norway!!!!!!
lots of love
Onkel Fish (still a full blooded, rampant and die-hard Scotland supporter!!!) x
Ya bass!!!!

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