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All we had to do was prove he'd made the right decision.
'OK, lads,' said Tony, draining his pint and slamming the glass back down on the table. 'Let's get to work.'
One of the first things Jim Simpson did as our manager was pack us off on a 'European tour'. This meant loading our gear into Tony's van - which by now had been upgraded from a Commer to a Transit - driving it on to a ferry at Harwich, sailing across the North Sea to the Hook of Holland, then hoping the engine would start again when it was time to get off. The temperature in Denmark would be twenty below freezing. From the Hook of Holland, the plan was to drive to Copenhagen, where our first gig had been booked.
I remember taking my entire wardrobe with me on that trip. It consisted of one shirt on a wire hanger, and one pair of underpants in a carrier bag. I was wearing everything else: jeans, second-hand Air Force overcoat, Henry's Blues House T-shirt, lace-up boots.
Day one, the van broke down. It was so cold the accelerator cable froze, so when Tony put his foot down it snapped in half. Which meant we were stranded in the middle of fucking nowhere, halfway to Copenhagen. There was a blizzard outside, but Tony said it was my job - as the band's 'public representative' - to go and find some help. So out I walked into this field, snow blowing into my face, two icicles of snot hanging out of my nose, until finally I saw the lights of a farmhouse up ahead. Then I fell into a trench. After finally pulling myself out of the fucking thing, I waded through the snow until I reached the front door, then knocked loudly.
'Halloj?' said the big, red-faced Eskimo bloke who opened the door.
'Oh, thank fuck,' I said, out of breath and sniffling. 'Our van's knackered. Can you gis a tow?' 'Halloj?'
I didn't know any Danish, so I pointed towards the road, and said, 'Van. El kaputski. Ya?' The guy just looked at me and started to pick wax out of his ear. Then he said, 'Bobby Charlton, ja?' 'Eh?'
'Bobby Charlton, betydningsfuld skuespiller, ja?'
'Sorry mate, speako Englishki?'
'Det forstar jeg ikke,' he said, with a shrug.
We stood there and looked at each other for a second.
Then he went, 'Undskyld, farvel,' and shut the door in my face. I gave it a good old kick and set off
back through the waist-high snow. I was so cold, my hands were turning blue. When I reached the road I saw a car coming and almost threw myself in front of it. Turned out it was the Danish cops - friendly ones, thank God. They gave me a sip from a flask they kept in the glove box. I don't know what was in that thing, but it warmed me up soon enough. Then they organised a tow-truck to take us to a garage in the next village.
Good guys, those Danish cops.
When they waved us off, they told us to send their regards to Bobby Charlton.
'We'll tell him you said hello,' promised Geezer.
Day two, the van broke down.
This time it was due to a dodgy petrol gauge - the tank ran dry without us knowing it. So off I went to get help again. But this time I had a better idea. We'd conked out next to a little white church, and outside was what I guessed was the vicar's car. I thought he wouldn't mind being a good Samaritan, so I disconnected the hose from the van's engine and used it to siphon fuel from his tank to ours. It worked brilliantly, apart from the fact that I got a mouthful of petrol when it came spurting out of the tube. I had toxic, highly flammable burps for the rest of the day.
Every time it happened I'd screw up my face and have to spit petrol and lumps of vomit out of the window.
'Urgh,' I'd say. 'I fucking hate four star.'
Between gigs we started to jam out some ideas for songs. It was Tony who first suggested we do something that sounded evil . There was a cinema called the Orient outside the community centre where we rehearsed in Six Ways, and whenever it showed a horror film the queue would go all the way down the street and around the corner. 'Isn't it strange how people will pay