I saw the guys out of my door of 25 Boden St into that freezing February night.
We stood there a while, talking non stop at each other in a flurry of enthusiasm.
My usual evening of stoned self indulgence, had been knocked sideways,
I watched them make their way up the road. The steam from their breaths illuminated by the street lamps. The importance of the moment seemed scarily and beautifully tangible.
I made my way back up the stairs to my warm bedroom, completely forgetting I had a girlfriend perched patiently on the edge of my bed, waiting for the next nightly instalment of the ‘Jules show’….., endless guitar riffs and repeated gushings of my latest favourite songs.
I entered my room.
I re-entered my world.
It looked different now.
Everything looked different.
My little nest of cushions on that vile patterned carpet now looked like cretins, losers, beckoning me back to the comfort of being nobody.
The plate with crumbs from my daily cheese on toast supper, were remnants of a different me.
Everything looked small.
I knew my world had changed.
I saw Anya’s eyes rolling as she said something along the lines of ‘what’re you getting yourself into now Julian’?
I tried to deny it, I tried to belittle it.
Fuck it! ‘yeh those young shits have morphed me from Keith Richards to Bill fucking Wyman in one short visit’!!
But I knew in that moment, this long suffering and supportive girl was already history.
I knew my world had changed
I smoked the rest of the joint that Jaime and Murad had politely declined, then nervously waited the arrival of the posse of mates that filled my room each night after the pub.
The social dynamic was about to change.
Back in 1994, mobile phones were mostly toys for power brokers and people, who had a certain and sometimes questionable angle on ‘cool’…,
Anyway, I didn’t have one, nor did any of Marion.
The instruction I was left with was:-
We’ll pick you up at half ten Monday. . . .
I was running a little club in Macclesfield in 1992.
The club had 4 bands a week playing.
I’d become almost immune to impression, the odd band made me look up from the bar.
One night a little punk band replaced the booked hardcore dance DJ at short notice…., no sound check, they set up as the club was filling up.
Two ramshackle half songs into the set, I was beginning to notice this beautiful powerful and sensitive voice coming from the singer, it was soaring through the room and truly perplexing the Ee’d up crowd who’d turned up expecting to hear nosebleed techno.
I however sensed something special and told the bar staff they’re gonna be one down on the bar tonight.
I watched this kid singing, his back mostly turned to the crowd, he looked about 15, and definitely far too young to be stood on that beer soaked floor called a stage.
For the final song of their 20 minute set, I saw the guitarist privately roll up every knob on his amp to full. Fuck sonic correctness and fuck this crowd.
The singer was Jaime Harding.
The guitarist was Phil Cunningham.
The band was The Shags.
The worst and best band to have come through those doors in my time at that club.
Two months later I joined The Shags…… But Jaime had already left.
I left the club to go on a dream holiday to America (I wanted to go to Hollywood to become famous). However, I got mugged at knife point in Toronto and had all my money taken away. I had no return ticket.
I spent the beginning of 1993 riding a bicycle from Toronto to New York City (dressed in a dinner jacket, polka dot shorts and brogues). I lived off food from bins and slept wherever I could find. I nearly and genuinely lost my life 3 times.
I ended up as a chimney sweep in Marysville PA. I looked so bad it was the only job I could get. I was broken.
I finally returned to England at Christmas 1993, went into my favourite pub (The Millstone) and saw Jaime sat at a table with some friends… I was still fucked up from the trauma I’d just come out of, but I needed to tell him how knocked out I was a year ago at that gig.
It was the first time I’d spoken to him and was surprised just how friendly he was, especially when all I knew of him was that nonchalant fuck you performance I’d seen.
I said something corny like “stay with it kid coz you’ve got what it takes”. I also told him I’d joined The Shags specially to be in a band with him. Corny or not, I fucking meant it!
A week later I was sat in my room listening to The Fall and smoking pot when I heard a knock at the door downstairs, I opened my window to look out (too caned to go downstairs).
I saw in the street below Jaime with another guy.
I invited them in and played The Fall, The Chameleons and Joy Division at them really loud. After about half an hour, Jaime and Murad (the other guy) said they’ve started a band called Marion and want me to be bass player.
I said “I don’t play bass…….”
They said “we want you in our band.”
Jaime also told me they’d knocked on every door on my street until they got to mine, as they didn’t know which was my house.
I said “get me a bass and I’ll learn.”
4 days later I was part of Marion.
16 unbelievably crazy dangerous years later, I’m part of Marion again.