Recommended Read: A Moment Worth Waiting For by Kevin Pearce.

a moment woth waiting forKevin Pearce’s brilliant music memoir A Moment Worth Waiting For opens with the release of Vic Godard’s What’s The Matter Boy? LP in 1980. Pearce tells the story of how Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt and Tracey Thorne first bonded over the record, with Ben later lending her his John Martyn records and Tracey lending Ben her Aztec Camera discs. All of which led to them forming EBTG.

This anecdote is only one of the many, many stories in this exhaustive, exhausting and smartly digressive look at two years in Pearce’s life-in-music. Early Eighties post-punk soon spirals off and out to fifties Soho, Music Hall, bossa nova, Greek neo kyma,  MFP records, Tim Buckley, torch songs and much, much more. Indeed, there is so much here that an accompanying soundtrack album would have to be a box set. And what a belter it would be, too!

A Moment Worth Waiting For is the first in a recently completed trilogy and is essential reading for British men of an uncertain age, such as myself, and anyone with an interest in British pop culture.


Guest Blog: Life and the City by David Siddall

- (3)Liverpool: one of the world’s great cities, second city of the empire, and gateway to America. What is it about Liverpool that gets under the skin and into the blood?

I am not a native. My home town lies twenty miles to the south. A quiet town and a semi-rural existence. So when I moved over two decades ago, it was akin to moving across the world. The humour, the banter, the pace of life was different. Took me a while to find my place. Did I adopt Liverpool or did it adopt me? I don’t know. But I do remember the moment when the Landlady of the local pub called an adopted Scouser. It was a proud moment. That night I stood just that little bit taller at the bar

And that’s it. If they like you you’re in; if they don’t, they’re not afraid to tell you.

To most first time visitors Liverpool is about two things: football and the Beatles. But there is so much more; the docks and buildings lining the waterfront were granted, World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2004. World capital of pop is perhaps, more open to debate. But certainly since becoming European capital of culture in 2008, there has been a steady increase in tourism seeing the city through new eyes.

But it’s the people who make Liverpool what it is. Independent, enterprising, anti-authoritarian, and standing up to be counted is hardwired into a Scousers DNA. A Scouser doesn’t like being ripped off. A Scouser won’t stand idly by and let those in authority pat them on the head. A Scouser knows what’s right and wrong.

And once the call is made, a Scouser is like a dog with a bone. They won’t let go. Ever.

What other city would campaign so long and hard for justice at Hillsborough? And after so much talk by fans throughout England complaining at the increase in football ticket prices, it was the mass walkout at Liverpool FC that resulted in a rethink by the owners.

Liverpool – first again.

Maybe it was this same spirit that saw Liverpool at the epicentre of drug dealing in the 80s. These were desperate days of mass unemployment and poverty, of the Toxteth riots and Yozza Hughes’, “Gizza’ job.” For many the only way out was sport or criminality. With links to South America and the continent, these gangs developed into cartels with huge distribution networks. Men at the top end became extremely rich. Curtis ‘Cocky’ Warren, even managed to make the Sunday Times Rich List!

Independent, enterprising, anti-authoritarian, and waving two fingers at the establishment. That’s Liverpool.

It’s this attitude and mind-set I’ve tried to encapsulate in my collection, Breaking Even.

Breaking Even consists of a novella and six short tales, most of which revolve in and around the city. The novella and title story, Breaking Even, features, ‘Chance’ a typical, happy-go-lucky Liverpudlian, who being, to quote a Scouse phrase, ‘down on the bones of his arse’, agrees to smuggle drugs from the Caribbean. Needless to say things don’t go according to plan.

‘Chance’, through circumstance beyond his control, finds himself in a situation that can end in only one of two ways. Shit or bust. As the story develops he is drawn deeper and deeper into the mire with only his wits and a gun for salvation.

Mixing it with the protagonist are a disparate bunch of characters that fill the criteria of a noir piece: a femme fatale, a psychopathic villain, a bagman who maybe, isn’t quite the villain he seems, and a partner who for good or evil, pushes ‘Chance’ on.

The genesis of this tale was the arrest of a local man, a disabled pensioner, caught with a good deal of cocaine strapped to his body boarding a plane from Antigua. This guy is not your typical villain, not someone to take on criminal enterprise or the role of drug mule lightly. Yet here he was, caught red-handed and looking at a ten stretch in a roach infested West Indian nick.

What made him do it?

Maybe the prospect of an ‘easy’ ten grand appealed? Maybe at seventy plus he liked the idea of excitement? Maybe, (to quote Bob Dylan), he had nothing left to lose?

Shit or bust.

But the idea sowed a kernel. How does an ordinary man reconcile himself to committing such a reckless act and live with the consequences if it all goes wrong? The story that developed followed from the, ‘What if’, principle.

Of the other tales, four are Liverpool related. Gangsters at the end of nefarious careers, good ideas gone bad; characters at the beginning or end of a cycle of events are the essence. And to these men, maybe the only way out is…

You get the picture?

At this point you may get the impression Liverpool is a crime ridden, dangerous city. It’s not. But like any big city, not everything is rosy in the garden. Drugs and crime go hand in hand. Poverty still exists and the policy of austerity by Westminster forces the Council to cut and cut again

In fact Liverpool is a vibrant cosmopolitan city very different to those dark days of the 80s. To experience a Friday or Saturday night is one of life’s great experiences. Don’t believe me? just see Rough Guide’s top 50 ‘Things to do before you die’, bucket list. Liverpool’s nightlife is sandwiched between Petra and The Great Wall of China at number 3. (Still think they should have mentioned a Mad Monday though).

Liverpool will survive. Always has, always will. She’ll be there till the end of time , sniffing out what’s good and bad in society. And if she doesn’t like what she sees, have no hesitation saying, ‘Thanks but no thanks’. Then she’ll turn away, and stick two fingers up at the rest of the world.

David Siddall is the author of A MAN ALONE, BREAKING EVEN and MORE!
This post appeared previously  at OUT OF THE GUTTER ONLINE.

Short, Sharp Interview: Luca Veste

luca bookPDB: Can you pitch DEAD GONE in 25 words or less?

A serial killer in Liverpool is replicating infamous psychology experiments on his victims. DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi must track him down.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I rarely listen to newer music, so I’ve been so listening to a lot of Gary Moore recently. Eva Dolan’s debut novel  LONG WAY HOME, which is out in January,  is ace. As is Sarah Hilary‘s out in Feb. Helen FitzGerald’s The Cry is my favourite of 2013 though. Astounding book. I watched and hated the final series of Dexter. A terrible ending to a fantastic show. I’ve just started watching Breaking Bad, around five or six years after everyone else. Enjoying it so far.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. I think it’s difficult to separate the two from your mind, in that you’re sometimes thinking ‘I wouldn’t have written it that way’, or ‘you’ve just revealed the twist there with foreshadowing’. In contrast, when you read a great book, you know it and realise the work that has gone into making it so. The Shining Girls spoke to me in that vein this year. I could just see the amount of planning and plotting that went into that book that I may not have a few years previous.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

Not really. It’s a much different arena to write within as dialogue is king now. Whereas in a novel you can spend time building a scene up it’s much more difficult I imagine to do the same in a shorter space of time. Although, some of the TV shows I’ve seen normally just use rain as a tool to do this.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

For Dead Gone quite a bit. All the psychological experiment aspects had to be checked and researched, which was difficult as some of them haven’t really been written about all that much. The policing in the book is quite close to reality, with some poetic license (less paperwork). It’s fiction though, so some things will be changed to fit the story. I spent some time visiting places in Liverpool that I hadn’t been to in 20 years, just to make sure my blurred memory matched up. That was fun research though!

lucaPDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I’d say it’s quite important. I’ve met a ton of awesome people via social media, so personally I’m grateful for that. I would have found it much more difficult to write the book in the first place without the support of so many. And anything that puts you in touch with readers is a good thing.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

Finish book two in January. It still has no title, which is a little weird, as I thought I’d have one by now. Then, I finish my degree in psychology and criminology in June. That’s been four years of work, so I’m looking forward to getting that done. A load of book festivals and drunken nights with other writers…sounds good to me!

Bio: Luca Veste is a writer of Italian and Scouse heritage. He also studies psychology and criminology at university in Liverpool. His first novel, Dead Gone, was released by HarperCollins imprint Avon in ebook form in December 2013, with the paperback coming out January 2014.

Dead Gone has been described as “chilling” by Mark Billingham, “Gripping” by Steve Mosby, and “quite dark, Luca…a little worrying” by his Grandma. Married, with two daughters, he hopes to sleep at some point before the year 2042.

Short, Sharp Interview: Jayne Casey – Liverpool Punk /Post Punk

Eric’s Club opened In Liverpool on 1 October 1976, in a basement opposite The Cavern Club – where The Beatles played in the 1960’s.BuzzcocksThe ClashJoy DivisionRamonesSex PistolsSiouxsie & the BansheesThe StranglersWireXTCX-Ray Spex,U2New Orderand Mick Hucknall (pre Simply Red) all played at Eric’s before the club closed down in March 1980 when the club was raided by the rozzers for drug offences.Local musicians such as Dead or AliveEcho & the Bunnymen, ,Orchestral Manoeuvres in the DarkThe Teardrop Explodes, and Wah! Heat also played at Eric’s – which was a members only venue that also gave membership for ‘under 18’s’ so that younger music fans could see bands during a ‘matinee’ show.

One regular at Eric’s was Jayne Casey who left home at 14 and joined one of Liverpool’s first punk bands, Big In Japan, in mid 1977. Casey would perform with a lampshade over her shaved head. The band broke up after a gig at Eric’s in August 1978.They recorded the From Y to Z and Never AgainEP – featuring the classic, Suicide A Go Go – and later reunited and recorded a brilliant Peel Session in 1979, with a line-up of Casey, Ian Broudie, Holly Johnson and Budgie.Holly Johnson later formed Frankie Goes To HollywoodBill Drummond, was in The KLFIan Broudie formed The Lightning SeedsBudgie is the drummer in Siouxsie and the Banshees.Jayne later formed the wonderful Pink Military Stand Alone – who I once saw play a cracking gig at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, with Tick Tick giving great support. Jayne then formed Pink Industry.

Can you pitch me the life and times of Jayne Casey in 25 words or less?

I ‘m the cat that’s enjoyed many lives….

Which posters did you have on your wall when you were 16?

I was in a children’s home ‘no posters allowed’ but it would have been Bowie. Bolan and Hendrix

Erics. What was that all about? 

It was a magical portal where a generation of Liverpool musicians discovered the lexicon of life .

Which of your own musical adventures has been the most satisfying?

Mmmm ‘ Maybe I’m just like my mother she’s’ never satisfied’ …

The Beatles : Inspiration or burden? 

Both … Roger Eagle who owned Eric’s told us in 1977 never ever to listen to them….. So although I have obviously heard loads of their music in the background …To this day Me , Ian McCulloch and Pete Wylie have never purposely pressed play.

How did Big In Japan get together? 

In 1976 Ken Campbell (RIP) the theatre director produced a play from a trilogy of cult books by Robert Anton Wilson called ‘The Illuminati’ It took place in a semi derelict warehouse on Matthew Street where I had a vintage clothes shop. Bill Drummond was the set designer, Ian Brodie was the guitarist in the band and I had a bit part in the play. Ken used to beg me to be the singer but I wouldn’t do it cos I really couldn’t sing. After Ken left town Bill continued to hound me and eventually I gave in and we formed Big In Japan.

Did you get pissed off when that Alphaville song was a hit? 

No … I groaned pulled the quilt over my head and turned over …

The brilliant NME PMSA cover- by Kev Cummins- when Paul Morley interviewed you – was part of my 80’s iconography. I even remember seeing a copy of Did You See her? in Woolworths in Hartlepool! What was that period like for you?

It was a weird period before the digital revolution kind off ‘ on the cusp’ you could see the future and it looked very different but it was still way in the distance… it was frustrating musically as it was really hard to find musicians who’ got it’ so although I really like the content of Pink Military I wish I had ditched the drummer for a drum machine and got rid of all the middle eights… but I accept it is very much of its time ….. The NME interview was really interesting with its Post Modernist headline It came out in Jan 1980 so it was the first NME of the 80’s and in many ways it heralded the change that the 80s would bring…

What does Jayne Casey do on a Tuesday afternoon? 

I work in and around culture so my working life is varied and unless i am in the middle of a big project I don’t do Monday’s ….So Tuesday is the start of my working week by Tuesday afternoon i am normally throwing daggers at my 19 year old PA who after a long weekend of partying is trying desperately to hide her obvious lack of serotonin : )

The Pink Military website is HERE They’re on YOU TUBE here BIG IN JAPAN are on You Tube