The Dublin Castle, Camden.
In pursuit of Dave and Derek Philpott’s “Dear Mr. Popstar” we alight at Camden Town tube station, grab a pint and a burger at The World’s End opposite (handy tip, they don’t do any alcohol-free beers) and make our way through the glittering streets of North London to the legendary Dublin Castle, Madness-centric home of The Rock and Roll Book Club, a regular event, this evening hosting not only The Philpotts but also one Bruce Thomas, late of The Attractions, who is here to talk about his new tome, Rough Notes.
Dave is up first, and after a couple of cursory questions regarding the hows, whys and wherefores he is joined by some game guests who recount their answers in occasionally halting tones, principally because the light isn’t so good and a couple of them haven’t brought their reading glasses.
Of these, Will Birch out of The Kursaal Flyers is a dapper raconteur, and Rupert Hine (it’s a lengthy discography, but I maintain that “A Girl Called Johnny” is his finest moment) has clearly been asked to pronounce Taumatawhakatangihangakoayauo-TamateaturipukakapikimaungahoroNukypokaiwhenuakitanatahu at parties a lot.
Owen Paul manages to knock a glass of wine over our compere, who gamely dries her glasses on the tablecloth and ends the first half by issuing RoRoBookClub bookmarks and badges in the manner of a kids’s TV show hostess who Dads insist on watching on the show with their kids, whether their children want them to or not.
Bruce Thomas’s session is very much more in the Q&A format, and although he’s no Guy Pratt, he does strap on a bass for long enough to demonstrate how to turn a sub-Kinks three chord dirge into “I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea” before our very eyes and run throug a few of his landmark parts with aplomb. He’s an affable enough cove, and is asked some good questions (Julie Hamill’s clearly done her research) but it’s impossible to escape that a majority of the people in the room are interested principally in the work he did with a band he hasn’t been in for over twenty years. Thomas, incidentally, makes no bones whatsoever about who he holds responsible for The Attractions’ demise, and it isn’t Costello.
Events take a distinctly murky turn when he recounts the story of appearing on Jim’ll Fix It – one suspects that some of the theories aired might at one point have been of great interest to m’learned friends – but we’re out of that before too long and back into the sunny uplands of anecdotage. As the evening draws to a close, we made our excuses and left to board a train, that explanation about the purple tint to the cover of the Bruce Thomas book happily explained by the man himself.
The Rock and Roll Book Club is a regular event, and it’s certainly worth checking out if you’re in town.
Gentlemen of a certain age. There were hats, and brogues.
It made me think..
I guess if the standard issue of swords wastwo per thousand men, then a four piece band could theoretically comfortably go over the hill carrying all of them.