SID & NANCY
I’d driven up from Melbourne, straight through, petrol stops only, ten hours by the time I got through the city. Bondi.
“Are you tired?” Addy said. I lied and said I wasn’t.
“That’s great. I’ve organised with Alicia and her new boyfriend to go and see Beatfish at Salinas. Liandra and Spacy are coming too.”
“Martin Plaza from ‘Mental as Anything’ and James Freud, they started a new band called Beatfish.”
“You would have been about ten when the ‘Mentals’ were big. Who or what put you…”
“James Freud babe. That’s why. James Freud.”
“Same deal. You would have been about ten when the Models were big, ‘Teenage Radio Stars’, you would have been in nappies.”
“Don’t get jealous and don’t feed me that, ‘I was there when’ crap. James Freud is hot.”
“He’s fucking gay is what he is.” Suddenly I’m very tired. The last gig I went to at Salinas was ‘Rose Tattoo’. Blew my fucking head off. I was wary all night that I might get glassed. How Rock n’ Roll is that! Not very. I also saw ‘Radio Birdman’ (because they are legend) a couple of weeks before the Tatts gig. Wish I hadn’t. I was trying to pretend to this girl I just met how ‘indie cool’ I was. I might have been for about two minutes 15 years ago but I also remember dancing very badly to Human League, Howard Jones, Flock of Seagulls and of course George ‘Freedom 90’ Michael. Oh yeah, very cool.
Addy had my number, she knew what I was but she did indulge me on occasions, let me tell her about when I saw the ‘Sunny Boys’ at Macys in Melbourne. Great gig by the way. I’m a happy man when I think about that gig.
I’m a little shambolic at the moment. Addy and I had a big blow up. I took off back to Melbourne without telling her. She freaked out for a couple of days, then tracked me down at Gordon’s place.
“Don’t tell me your back into the drugs, you stupid bloody idiot.” That’s what she said. Assumed it because I was at Gordon’s. I did lay down a few lines, well a few; it’s all relative isn’t it. To her credit though, she just told me to come back, all was forgiven. I slept (pathetic euphemism) with her best friend, Toya. Best friend no more. I’m just an old sleazebag. Thirty-five’s not old but it is because Addy’s twenty-one. Sometimes I just think, what the hell, I know it can only last another year, two max, but what else have I got. Addy’s amazing, total babe, a firebrand, all constant energy, social wonder woman, everyone loves her, no-one can understand, with the possible exception of Alicia (my old true friend who has been taking Addy’s side lately), why on earth she stays with me. I am in capital letters, a dropkick.
“Alicia made a bet with me that you wouldn’t come, “Addy says, ‘she reckoned you’d say you were too tired, couldn’t be bothered, you go and have a blast though. That’s what she said you’d say exactly, ‘You go and have a blast.’
“Well she was wrong wasn’t she? Bloody Alicia, she thinks she knows me back-to-front. She doesn’t know shit and if I wasn’t such a loyal friend I’d dish the dirt on her, make no…”
“Oh leave her alone, she loves you for all the right reasons, she’s a great friend to you.”
“Are we going out to eat somewhere first or are they meeting us here or what?”
“Or what! You sound so rude sometimes. They’re coming here, all four of them, then we’re going to the Tratt to eat. Your favourite waitress might serve us,” she says laughing.
“Who…oh, that one in the mornings who always has a hangover. Hey, she’s honest at least and the people who eat there really like her, she plays up the hangovers and gets a few laughs, keeps people happy.”
“Keeps you happy. I’ve seen you checking out her arse.” That’s true, she has a great arse and I have been checking it out. Addy says I have a strange obsession with arse, she thinks I might have been gay in a past life. She told me I’d have to pretty much tie her up to get that.
So now the night’s laid out for me and I feel like I can manage it. Martin Plaza and Freud. Seems like a strange combo at first but you have to remember it was Freud who sold out, turned the Models into a pop group, the Mentals were always pretty commercial other than the fact that the O’Dougherty brothers looked like they should be selling the ‘Big Issue’. What was all that Reg Mombassa shit? He did well though, pretty much made Mambo a household name. Alicia, I wonder if she’s going to lay down the law. Tell me I don’t know how good I’ve got it. What I’ve got is to get my own sorry arse into gear and get some work. I quit the cafe I was working in on Oxford St when I took off back to Melbourne. I had a feeling they were going to sack me anyway, as I made a big fuss about getting paid shift penalties on the weekend. They paid us all cash-in-hand so the other workers got pissed off with me too because they were all on the dole or at uni and getting some sort of Government payment. Will I try the café scene again, maybe here in Bondi; maybe that waitress can get me a job at the Tratt. Better leave that for another day.
“C’mon Micky, let’s have a few drinks before they get here. I bought some Coronas for you and I didn’t even cut up lemons cos I know you think that’s bullshit. Just drink the beer right!” She says doing a fair imitation of me. I’ve been trying to get her to stop calling me Micky. I mean a thirty-five year old male shouldn’t be called Micky. Michael or even Mike would be better but I was Micky two years ago when I met her so I’m Micky now. Dropkick.
You’re probably wondering how I got her in the first place. I had a book published when I was twenty-three, a novel about a burnt out rock singer who makes a comeback at thirty-five and burns himself out for a second time only to be saved by the love of a good woman. The book was called ‘Falling Star’ and I sold about thirty thousand copies and thought I was heading to the freaking top. I was going to…but I didn’t. I couldn’t get anything published after that. I wrote a big seventy-thousand word literary novel about a washed up writer, kind of ‘Falling Star’ for the literary scene and no one would look at it twice and I gave up. Dropkick. But; ‘Falling Star’ was Addy’s favourite book and you’ve worked it all out.
Alicia rocks up about half-an-hour later and introduces us to Steve, who’s about my age I reckon, a couple of years older than Alicia. See that, Steve, not Stevie. He’s Mr.Smooth, Alicia’s usual fare. Tall, a mess of wavy black hair, good looking like one of those brothers from Spandau Ballet is good looking. Handshake’s a little soft for my liking and he kisses Addy on the cheek. They didn’t bring anything to drink and we only have four beers left so Steve offers to go to the bottle shop, Alicia hands him a fifty dollar bill. Keep the change goes through my mind and then she corners me while Addy goes into the bedroom.
“You’re back in one piece, didn’t cut loose in Melbourne; return to those nasty habits of yours.”
“Speaking of which Alicia how are you situated for…”
“Easy tiger, just some grass. I’ll roll shall I?”
“You’re a disappointment to me, Alicia.”
“Oh Jesus, Mickey! When are you going to grow up? You almost blew it here. What do you want from people, from Addy? Grow…up…stupid. And write something, you can’t do anything else, write, just sit down and write.”
“You started in early on that one. Write what? I have no ideas.”
“Write your pathetic life story; no-one could believe how many times you’ve screwed up.” That’s the end of the lecture and she sits down and starts to roll a joint and we’re best buddies again. All forgiving Alicia. God love her. Only Liandra and Spacy to briefly chastise me now and we’re all set to go out. The knock on the door and they’re here. Smiles all around and they don’t mention my trip to Melbourne. They’re Addy’s friends and her age and well, they’re good people but I can’t be alone with just them and Addy and me. Spacy works for Channel Ten, in advertising, and he’s the least spacy person I know. Liandra just is. Works with Addy in publishing, doing whatever they do. Not publishing me. We go to the Tratt, eat, no hangover waitress serves us, jump in a taxi to Salinas. Nothing should go wrong tonight, just go with the flow Mike. In the taxi Alicia leans over and whispers in my ear,
“Don’t be a saboteur tonight, please.” Point taken.
Salinas is a huge beer barn. Sydney has crap venues compared to Melbourne with the exceptions being, ‘The Annandale’ and the’ Kardomah Café’ (Bayswater Rd, in the Cross) or whatever it’s called this week. We still have an hour before Beatfish are due to hit the stage and already it’s packed which I’m having difficuty understanding, these guys heyday was ions ago. I look around and understand, Addy, Liandra and Spacy are amongst the youngest here. What we have is a bunch of over thirties trying to reclaim the night. I offer to buy the first round which shocks them all and make my way to the bar. A skinny guy, dressed all in black with dyed black hair, darts in front of me and places his order. He turns to me and says,
“The Models or the Mentals?”
“Teenage Radio Stars.”
“Are you fucking serious?”
“You wouldn’t believe how serious I am,” I tell him.
“I know this guy who played guitar with the Models, he’s like a session muso.”
“Here tonight is he or did he grow out of it?”
“What is your problem man? “ He says and collects his drinks and moves off. I grab our drinks and turn around and the gang are right behind me. I hand out the drinks and we move as close to the front as possible.
Beatfish kick off with Thin Lizzy’s, ‘The Boys are Back in Town’, but they’ve turned it into a jangly pop song and it is torture. When the song finishes I turn to Alicia and say too loudly,
“What the fuck was that?” She gives me a look and shakes her head. A girl just behind my right shoulder says,
“And who the fuck are you?” I decide against a reply and James Freud does an intro thing about the band. He’s so gay. I know he’s married but he’s got this whole feline thing going on, all loose wrists and cat prowl, but looking around just confirms what I already knew, the girls love him, the straight guys don’t. I’m jealous and I also think back many years ago to seeing The Mentals play in some ballroom in Carlton. Everything was ballroom in those days. Anyway this girl asked me who I’d like to look like, to be cool you know, and I said Martin Plaza and now I’m still jealous but think the music stinks.
I take in a few songs, get bored and go for a wander around. I run into the skinny guy, dressed in black, from the bar earlier, and we just start talking and he gestures for me to come over next to the bar. I don’t apologise, nothing to apologise for, but my demeanour has changed and he can tell I’m in friendly mode, not that I’m scary. I’m a million miles from scary. I ask him about how he knows the guy from the Models.
“I went to school with him,” he says, “he’s a cool guy and I just kind of fell in with that Seaview Ballroom crowd in Melbourne. I just really dug that whole scene.”
“Then surely you wouldn’t have been a Mentals fan?”
“That’s the funny thing isn’t it? People can’t understand how you can like a certain band whose music is totally different from another band you like. Come on, you must have some supposed bad albums in your collection?” I’m really warming to this guy, he’s very chilled out and I say,
“You know what, I would have some ‘so called’ shit albums in my collection but I don’t have a collection. I keep moving house and leaving a trail of my music behind me. Anyway wherever I’ve lived there’s always been music from other people. Hey, what’s your name anyway?”
“Linton, Linton Taylor?”
“That’s an impressive moniker. Who are you here with?”
“I came with the drummer, Mick. But I’m on my own out here in the crowd.”
“Come and join us, my girlfriend and some others, we’re at the front.”
“Nah, no thanks. I like it here fine, close to the bar and I can see the band. Listen, there’s a party later on, with the guys from the band and a heap of other people, come and see me. I’ll wait just here after Beatfish finish their set. Bring your friends and I’ll let you know where it is.”
“That’s very cool, thanks and I’ll let the others know. See ya later, I’ll come and see you afterwards.”
I make my way back to the others and Addy and Liandra are dancing together like lesbians, kissing each other and half laughing and grinding and sexy is the only word for it. Spacy’s not present and Alicia and Steve are talking, faces pushed close together. Beatfish are live muzak, very average, and I push in between the laughing Addy and Liandra, grab Addy around the waist and say,
“What are you doing? That’s for me.”
“Oh sure,” she says, “but you get it all the time and poor Liandra, Spacy took off with a girl he knows and she’s lonely.”
“Let her stay lonely. I just met this guy and he’s asked us to a party, he knows the band, so you may get to say hello to your hero, James Freud.”
“Wow, that’s cool. How come you spoke to this guy? You’re usually such a grumpy bum.”
“I don’t know, he came up to me twice. At the bar and, yeah, he just kind of sidled up to me again. He’s really alright though, you know me, I don’t make friends.”
“That’s what I mean.”
The gig winds up, one encore, more asked for out of politeness (that kind of gig) than uproarious delight that’s for sure. Alicia and Steve are going back to his place. Spacy and Liandra left earlier in the night. Addy and I decide that we’ll give the party a miss and I can’t see Linton Taylor anywhere anyway.
We move with the crowd out to Arden St but decide we’ll be waiting forever to get a taxi at that exit and turn around and walk up Coogee Bay Rd hoping to get a taxi on its way to Salinas. An old red Mercedes pulls up beside us just as we’re almost past the little shopping strip. Linton Taylor opens the drivers’ side door,
“Hey Mike, are you coming, sorry, I lost you in their man.” I don’t remember telling him my name. The passenger side window lowers and a young girl, maybe eighteen, looks out at us. Her hair is lank and dirty. She hangs her arm out the window and it’s pock marked with scabs that she scratches at, leering at us.
“Jump in the back, it’s open.” Linton says. Addy squeezes my hand and I give her a look to say it’s okay. The young girl smiles at us and her face transforms into an angel and we climb into the back seat.
The old Mercedes takes off up Coogee Bay Rd with ‘Massive Attack’ playing gently through the speakers.
“I figured out who you are”, Linton says, “Falling Star, you’re Michael Anderson.”
“I don’t remember telling you my name.”
“Oh yeah, Falling Star.” Says the young girl and they both start laughing. Addy squeezes my hand again but I don’t look at her. I want to know where this ride is taking us.
“Where’s the party?” I ask. The girl answers slowly and softly.
“The party’s later; we’re going to a club first. Kind of like the Hellfire Club, only more, hard core.” The Hellfire Club’s gimmick is B&D. Addy went one night and said it was a bit pathetic. Lots of people dressed in leather with the bum cut out, soft whippings. More hard core she reckons.
“What’s your name? Where’s the club at?” Addy asks.
“I’m Nancy and this is Sid,” she says looking at Linton again and they both laugh. Linton tells us the club is in Erskineville and pops ‘Massive Attack’ out of the cassette deck. He searches for a tape, finds it, puts it in the deck, turns around to both of us and says,
“Let’s get this fucking party started!” And he looks nothing like the guy I met in Salinas. The opening chords to the Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ play out, he turns the volume right up,,,
Where’s this guy going with this?