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Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 - a Buzzcocks Odyssey Part 1

In case you didn't know already, I bloody love Buzzcocks. It is a 35-year love affair that has never dimmed. When their May gig in Dublin was confirmed, there was no possibility that I wouldn't be going. I do a bit of work in Buzzcocks-world. I know I'm lucky to have got to know the band over the years. I'm not dropping names when I mention them, it's part of the story - forgive me.

There are some immediate difficulties to consider. Firstly, a 160-mile drive immediately after work to get there. Secondly, some technical difficulties with the car - I can't lock it and there is a paperwork issue that will not withstand intense scrutiny. Thirdly, nowhere to stay. So a quick trip to Asda for clicker batteries and fuel, a prayer and the throwing of a duvet into the back sorts me out and off I go, a little after 4pm.

I haven't done this kind of almost impromptu road trip for a long time. My life is busy and complicated, there isn't much that I can do that is unplanned so even a run down to Dublin and back needs a bit of forethought. I think I know where I can park, I know I am on the guestlist for the gig, I have a few lay-bys in mind for my stopover on the way back ... All of the variables run through my mind as I hit the road. The traffic is light, I'm happy to cruise at an economical speed. The sun is shining. All is good.

I make my first stop just over the invisible border, in a hotel car park. It's good to stretch my legs. I'm making good time and I think I'll be in Dublin well before the 8pm I had set myself. You never know with these city centre venues. Some of them revert to nightclubs after gigs. I don't want to be caught out by an early stage time. More than this, I have a few things I want to speak to Pete Shelley about. My stop doesn't last long and I'm soon back on the road.

Terrifically convenient as it is, the new road to Dublin is dull dull dull. I amuse myself by working out the mile equivalents of the distances in kilometres. And by listening to Placebo. I have, of course, got Singles Going Steady in the car but I don't want to listen to it. I want my Buzzcocks straight from the well today. When the CD finishes, I let the radio autotune itself through a number of dance music stations until I hear something vaguely listenable and stick with it.

The run into Dublin is straightforward until I take what I think is an intuitive left turn, signposted 'city centre'. As I do so, the radio plays Orange Juice - 'Rip It Up'. The song quotes Buzzcocks' first recorded work and I feel the cosmos is reassuring me. I call this Buzzcockicity - references to the band pop up mathematically impossibly coincidentally. It happens a lot. I feel better about being slightly lost in Dublin. Even though this is not the way I would normally go, I feel confident, so I go for it. My confidence is shortlived. I'm soon in only vaguely familiar territory. I know I'm generally travelling in the right direction and, frankly, the city centre is not far, so I start looking for a car park. This is more of a problem than you might imagine. My original research had uncovered that a lot of the city car parks close at night. I don't want to be walking the streets until 7am to recover my car/bed. Eventually I find myself parked onstreet near Custom House Square. I had been following signs for the N1/N2, to go round again. This will have to do.

As soon as I park, I spy the hi vis jackets of two lady Guards patrolling up the street towards me. My car is quite shabby, it's parked onstreet in Dublin with a Northern registration, my load cover is pulled over to conceal my duvet and my manbag (these Mercedes-Benz people think of everything). Frankly, I'd be suspicious. I have to act quickly. I spring out of the car and ask some confusing questions - can I park here? What's the best way to O'Connell Street? My diversion works, they answer helpfully and walk on. Phew. They didn't look at that which I hoped they wouldn't.

It's a ten-minute walk to the venue. Things are back on track. There is the usual kerfuffle at the door. It's cheeky to ask to be on the guestlist and I usually don't. On the odd occasion I am, I never know if I'm down as my Buzzcocks-world self or under my real name. Anyway, I'm found on the list and waved in. I realise, of course, as soon as I get into the venue that I have no Euros at all for a drink. I have to go out and in again. This time I waltz straight in.

Because I help out with a few things in Buzzocks-world, I get to speak to Pete Shelley sometimes. I have missed the soundcheck and hope that he'll come out to watch the support act. He often does. We have an exchange of texts from within the building:

Me: I'm watching the support band.
Pete: I'm in the lobby [I go to the lobby. No-one there]
Me: You must be invisible ;-) [some minutes pass]
Me: Try to catch you after.
Pete: Ok

We don't hook up.

Read Part 2 - the gig ...

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