Howie sent out a note, making a comment about different levels of fandom. "Lancaster 10am. So I'm wearing my new HMHB tshirt. So far, the fella serving breakfast in Wetherspoons has bellowed at the tshirt saying he saw HMHB years ago in Newcastle, and a guy getting off the Barrow train also remarked on the tshirt which only confirms the cult following of the band. Maybe there are millions of fans out there who don't realise they are still playing 'secret gigs'!" We also had a tshirt related incident ourselves. Karen and I were in The Tap pub at Sheffield train station with our mate Ashley. Karen was wearing her Stony Ground tshirt. Across at one of the other tables was a guy wearing one of the HMHB motorway shirts. Much nodding and thumbs up. And there was an incident in Leeds when I was wearing the Urge For Offal number. A bloke stopped me and said "Great tshirt." Did he mean great tshirt, or great band? Or both? I'll never know, because he appeared to be in a rush. It's quite a secret society that we have here.
The continued HMHB media assault marched on in the Liz Kershaw 6 Music show when, during a vegetable related feature, she played Asparagus Next Left. I think it's the first time I have ever heard that on the radio. She spoilt it a bit though, by talking over Carl's drum bit at the end of the song. Special mention also to Simon Kaines of Runcorn. When Saturday Comes had a series of correspondence regarding football references in music. It was inevitable that someone would write in with regard to HMHB. Simon's particular focus was on This One's For Now, namechecking Gerry Gow, Standard Liege, the TNS/Blob incident and Josef Venglos's shopping excursion in his letter.
Karen and I have some exemplary behaviour to report, from a bus driver in York. We were on the Number 7 into the city and noticed that he was allowing passengers to sit down before he pulled away from stops. But not only that. He was also warning people who were already on the bus to "Hold on tight" as he set off. Much more of that kind of thing, and there would have been no need for HMHB to record Breaking News.
Going back to the band appearing on New Musical Express's C86 compilation, Karen has been a fan of The Chesterfields. She was dead chuffed to finally be able to see them when we headed to Manchester in the middle of February. They were top of the bill at Gullivers bar. Marvellous time had by all. We came away hoping that they decide to keep it going. There was another t-shirt incident when the guy on the door pointed at Karen's Stony Ground shirt and said "Merseyside legends!"
We broke up the journey to Worthing by staying in Brighton the night before. Sorry to report that we didn't see Attila The Stockbroker (to tell him that Arguments Yard is the best autobiography I've read), Caroline Lucas (to tell her that Green is a great name for a party) or Nick Cave (out cleaning windows?). We didn't spot any of them on our little circuit around the Royal Pavillion. But we did see the price board at the Museum And Art Gallery. I am pleased to note that The Regency restaurant continue to serve a fine plate of fish and chips. After going there we walked past Brighton Centre which was hosting X Factor Live. Tempted? Maybe another time.
Karen did some basic enquiries on Wikipedia. She found out that Peter Bonetti grew up in Worthing. Just as vital was the information about Simon Mayo working for the council as a paddling pool attendant. Just look at him now! Publicity for the show was kept to a minimum. We could see absolutely no posters whatsoever in the vicinity of the venue during our mid-afternoon reconnaissance. The Worthing Herald was also keeping quiet, although there was a plug for Calum Best opening a tanning salon in the town the day after this gig. We didn't bother hanging around for that.
Doors opened at 7 o'clock, and the slightly earlier than usual running order seemed to catch a few people out. But by the time we were let in, a crowd was developing. We got talking to Nick who was at his first ever HMHB show, along with his daughter (Ellie?). And there was the poor guy who had bought tickets, but his wife was ill, so he was picking them up from the box office in the hope of selling them on. Tony was there as well. He had brought along his mate Dick, another one in attendance for the first time. Just where have these people of a certain age been? Well, in Nick's case he had been abroad for ten years, so he has a bit of an excuse. Jordan and Sally were other early arrivals.
In Geoff's absence, Zinny was staffing the merch stall. As well as letting me know that Sonnenberg's new album is out imminently, he confirmed HMHB's stage time as 8.30. I also managed to grab a couple of minutes with John from JD Meatyard who was making his way for a 7.40 start. He now has Michael from The Flux Capacitors on guitar, as well as Gary still beating the drums. I think this was the most, shall we say, meaty sound that I've ever heard from the band.
Most of the set appeared to be from a new album that they are working on. I managed to scribble down the titles from Gary's set list which was upside down to me, but I did my best.Green Flags
Medical John came over to say Hello and to point out that one of the Marshall amps was actually now a arshall amp, and other letters looked they were not far away from falling off. Postman Tony and Pete also appeared while JD Meatyard were playing. We exchanged nods, as you do during a gig. I also spotted a cameo appearance from Neil during the set. He sneaked on at the back of the stage, to turn his amp on. I also caught up with Nigel/Charles who told me about the trip to Ireland to see Half Arsed Half Biscuit. It all sounded very interesting, although I got the impression that there was not a fantastic turn out. We'll catch them one day, on one side or other of the Irish Sea.
Thanks to Tony (not for the first time) for identifying the HMHB walk-on music. After much deliberation he said it was from the Karelia Suite by Sibelius. Nigel said "Staying with the Sibelius theme..." before the band started with Bob Wilson Anchor Man. "Dead posh" was Nigel's assessment of the venue. "It's not Little Theatre, Birkenhead. That's for sure." Nigel mentioned that the band had called at the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre at Arundel ("take a flask"). He mentioned Harald Schumacher, a West Germany goalkeeper from way back when. We didn't get the joke until the following morning. Schumacher committed a Wild Foul in the 1982 World Cup semi final on a France player, Patick Battiston.
There was a shout for Vitas Gerulaitis. Nigel replied "We've got a song about that." There was talk about the beach at Worthing. "It frightens me," he said, "it's like Abersoch." This led to talk about Ellesmere Port and how Storm Doris had devastated the place. "It caused twenty-two pounds worth of damage," Nigel added. He said it is the most inappropriately named place in Europe. They don't bury the dead there. They just stand them up in bus shelters."
Daz, Howie and Gomez turned up fashionably late, after five songs. Their loss, not mine. But these real ale fans will just squeeze in one last jar. The line at the end of Lock Up Your Mountain Bikes was "That's when I was saying that Brighton would go up."
The band had already played the song in question when there was a shout of "Do Korfball again!" Nigel replied with "That's an unusual request. A bit like in the music halls." Nigel noticed the stewards at the back of the hall (in their hi vis jackets) were directly in his eye line. He dedicated Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride to them, and later on pointed to them during King Of Hi Vis.
Jordan asked Nigel if the story behind The Light At The End Of The Tunnel was true. He replied that none of the stories are true, unless they are about Ken. "A woman in Daventry writes them all." Nigel sat down for a rest while Ken and Neil swapped instruments. They did so for King Of Hi Vis and Bane Of Constance.
Nigel had picked up the last copy of The Worthing Herald. He noticed an advert for the psychic Stephen Holbrook. He noted that these adverts are always in the local paper on The Wirral. This inspired a line in Paintball's Coming Home... "They booked to see Stephen Holbrook at The Norfolk Arms / But it got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances."
There was a shout for Improv Workshop Mimeshow Gobshite. This was followed by an improv version of the song. "I surprised myself there," said Nigel afterwards. Ken was the first man in Wallasey to own a continental quilt. There was a fine version of the Camper Van Beethoven song in the encore.
After all the excitement I headed to The Goose pub on the seafront, with Karen, Paul, Nigel/Charles, Postman Tony, Andrew, John, Elizabeth and others, to discuss the situation at the top of The National League and many of life's interesting topics.
Here is what the band played:Bob Wilson Anchor Man
And in the encore...We Built This Village On A Trad Arr Tune
One of the shorter gigs. HMHB were on stage at 8.30 and left at 10.05. No matter. We look for quality not quantity. Neil handed me a set list on his way off stage. As well as the addition of "Gobshite", the only other amendment was the exclusion of For What Is Chatteris. That had been scheduled to come between National Shite Day and Vatican Broadside.
Not long to the next gig at Oxford.