I had to go to this psychiatrist every week. Every Monday.
He never really knew what was wrong with me. He said I wasn't
mad or anything. He said there's no such thing as madness. I
told him he should try standing in a queue at Brentford football
ground on a Saturday morning, I thought it might change his mind.
My dad put it another way. He said I changed like the weather.
One minute I'd be a tearaway, next minute all soppy and swoony
over some bird. Schizophrenia, he called it. Nutty, my mum
It used to be alright at home. My dad would get pissed out of
his brain every single night, and when the telly finished he'd
storm out of the house like a lunatic to get to the Eel and Pie
shop before it closed. He'd come home with enough for an army.
I never liked the eels, just the pies and mash, and the liquor.
My friend Dave said that eels live on sewage. My dad must be
full of it, he used to eat five bleeding cartons of eels a day.
I don't think he ever twigged I was doing five cartons of
leapers every day. Each to his own sewage. The rows at home
started when I got back from the trouble at Brighton. I'd slept
on the beach and me suit was ruined. I really cared about my
suit, all my clothes, even though my mother said I didn't care
about anything. My mother's terrible when she's had a few
Guinesses. Not that she'll ever settle for a few. As soon as I
said I was leaving she started rejoicing like the war had just
ended. I was a mountain of paranoia. Coming down off leapers
isn't much fun. You can put it off by having more just as you
start feeling bad, but it only makes it worse in the end. Pills
used to make me see things. They used to make me feel great,
like Tarzan. But I think I saw life the way it was. People
couldn't hide from me when I was leaping. My shrink used to have
a sign on his wall to make you laugh. It said that a paranoiac
is a person who has some idea what is really going on. That was
me on leapers.
I pissed off after I'd slept off the come-down. I got me suit
cleaned at the automat and spent two hours pressing the pissing
thing. It never did look quite right. I took my parka as well,
in case I had to sleep rough. I got a shitty couple of nights
sleep under Hammersmith flyover. There only seems to be about
five minutes in the night when there ain't some flash bastard in
a sportscar going round and round with his tyres screaming and a
police car bell coming up behind. On the second night I saw the
posters going up outside the Odeon for a WHO concert. I'd seen
them down at Brighton. They were a mod group. Well, mods liked
them. They weren't exactly mods but mods did like them. They
had a drummer who used to play with his arms waving about in the
air like a lunatic. The singer was a tough looking bloke with
really good clothes. If I hadn't have seen him near home I would
have said his hair was gold. Real gold I mean, like gold paint.
The guitar player was a skinny geezer with a big nose who twirled
his arm like a windmill. He wrote some good songs about mods,
but he didn't quite look like one. The bass player was a laugh.
He never did anything. Nothing. He used to smile sometimes, but
the smile would only last half a second then it would switch off
again. My friend Dave said he smiled a lot more at his sister,
they were engaged I think. His bass sounded like a bleeding
They played Tamla stuff and R & B. They could have been
perfect if they'd played Blue Beat as well. I used to know
one of them before they got their record in the charts so I went
to see them. They were alright. They smashed up so much gear
that nobody believed it was real. When they played down the
Marquee they used real gear. I used to have a bit of bass drum
to prove it. After the show I hung around outside waiting for
them to come out. When they did they never bloody well
recognised me. I shouted and one of them turned round and said
"How are you doing?", like he remembered me. "Working?" he said.
I hate it when people say that. Course I wasn't working, I was
still at fucking school.
Next day I got a job, as a dustman. Now I know why people
say "Working?" to one another. Nine quid for a full weeks filthy
work. They stuffed it, I left after two days with two quid in me
pocket. Two of the blokes there were talking about striking for
more money, but most of the geezers there bad been working for
the council for years. They looked upon it as some sort of
church. The mayor as the Pope. One bloke has medals for being a
war hero and he didn't have the guts to strike for more pay.
They were all clean though, after hours.
There's a part of me that hates people. Not the actual
people but how useless they are, how stupid. They sit and stew
while the whole world gets worse and worse. Wars and battles.
People dying of starvation. Old people dying because their kids
have got their own kids and they ain't got time. That's what
makes me smash things up. My shrink says I ain't mad. He should
see me when I'm pissed.
I don't know what clicked inside me, but I got fed up with
sleeping under the flyover. The weather was terrible for a
start. Two rainy nights and that was it. I really started to
fancy going back to Brighton. I still had about two hundred
leapers left, kept me company. What was really weird was seeing
this bird that I really liked, I even had her on the beach at
Brighton. Two in a sleeping bag is really cozy until you're
finished. Anyway, she was with my mate Dave. Him! She walked
right past me after a dance at the Goldhawk. The girl of my best
friend and all that. It did me in. It was like the last straw.
The real last straw was yet to come, I was so brought down, I
smashed me G.S. up in the pissing rain. I can't bear to think
about it. I walked to the station down the railway tracks,
across the river. I felt like throwing myself in front of a
train, but I didn't. I took about twenty leapers at once, got a
first class ticket to Brighton and set off to my land of dreams.
I did some thinking on the train. At one point I could
swear I was floating about in the carriage, looking down at these
two city gents. What was weirdest about it was that I could see
myself as well. Must have been the pills again.
Brighton is a fantastic place. The sea is so gorgeous you
want to jump into it and sink. When I was there last time there
were about two thousand mods driving up and down the promenade on
scooters. My scooter's seen the last of Brighton bloody
promenade now, I know that. I felt really anonymous then, sort
of like I was in an army. But everyone was a mod. Wherever you
looked there were mods. Some of them were so well dressed it was
sickening. Levi's had only come into fashion about a month
before and some people had jeans on that looked like they'd been
born wearing them. There was this bloke there that seemed to be
the ace face. He was dancing one night in the Aquarium ballroom
and everyone was copying him. He kept doing different dances,
but everyone would copy it and the whole place would be dancing a
dance that held only just made up. That's power for you. He was
really heavy too, though. When the mods collected in Brighton,
the Rockers would turn up too. There were never as many of them,
but this geezer once took on two of them at once and beat them.
That didn't usually happen I can tell you.
I was in a crowd of kids once chasing three Rockers down
Brighton Pier. As it seemed they were going to get caught anyway
they stopped and turned to meet their fate. All hundred of these
kids I was with stopped dead. I was the first to stop, but the
rest ran, so I had to follow. There's nothing uglier than a
Rocker. This ace face geezer wouldn't have run. He smashed the
glass doors of this hotel too. He was terrific. He had a sawn-
off shotgun under his jacket and he'd be kicking at plate glass
and he still looked like he was Fred Astaire reborn. Quite
funny, I met him earlier today. He ended up working at the same
hotel. But he wasn't the manager.
I never ever felt like I blasphemed. You know, in an old
fashioned sense. But I was in a pretty blasphemous mood when I
left for Brighton. Brighton cheered me up. But then it let me
down. Me folks had let me down, Rock had let me down, women had
let me down, work wasn't worth the effort, school isn't even
worth mentioning. But I never ever thought I'd feel let down by
being a mod. I pinched this boat, first time I'd ever been on a
boat at sea. I had another few leapers to keep from coming down
and I felt a bit bravado. So I headed for this Rock out off the
coast. It was sticking up very jagged, but very peaceful. I
didn't know then what I was up to, but I know now.
Schizophrenic! What a laugh. It must be alright to be
plain ordinary mad. About halfway over I took a swallow of this
Gilbeys gin I'd bought. Booze never did help me much though. On
the boat it did me right in, specially on top of the pills and
the come-down. Anyway, the sound of the engine turned into this
drone, then the drone turned into a sound like pianos or
something. Like heavenly choirs or orchestras tuning up. It was
really an incredible sound. Like the sort of noise you'd expect
to hear in heaven, if there is such a place. I pinched myself
and I wasn't really drunk anymore. I was floating. I felt
really happy. I must have looked bloody stupid as it happens. I
was waving me Gilbeys around in the air and singing in tune with
the engine. The sound got better and better, I was nearly
delirious when I got to the Rock. I switched off the engine and
jumped onto it. When the engine stopped, so did the music. And
when that beautiful music stopped, I remembered the come-down I
had, I felt sick from the booze, the sea was splashing all over
the place and there was thunder in the distance. I remembered
why I'd come to this bastard Rock.
So that's why I'm here, the bleeding boat drifted off and
I'm stuck here in the pissing rain with my life flashing before
me. Only it ain't flashing, it's crawling. Slowly. Now it's
just the bare bones of what I am.
A tough guy, a helpless dancer.
A romantic, is it me for a moment?
A bloody lunatic, I'll even carry your bags.
A beggar, a hypocrite, love reign over me.
Schizophrenic? I'm bleeding Quadrophrenic.
(No one in this story is meant to represent anyone either living
or dead, particularly not the Mum and Dad. Our Mums and Dads are
all very nice and live in bungalows we bought for them in the