MY MUM and dad drove me up the A1 with a carful of vegeburger mix, tinned soup and vegetables, a Crank’s cookbook, my fanzine collection, a few dozen records and a stereo that was already on its last legs. I’d got a room, sight unseen, in a shared house from a list of recommended landlords the college had sent.
My shifty-looking housemate made himself scarce as soon as we pulled up to the two-up, two-down just off the North Road, leaving me and my increasingly horrified parents in this filthy, smelly hovel with a cute little puppy dog which immediately started to behave in a very unpleasant and completely unacceptable manner, all over the place. It was like Animal Hospital meets Trainspotting, in Darlington.
Ludicrously, I just wanted to get on with living away from home and making my own way in the world blah blah blah – so I was happy to stay in this total shit-heap until I could get somewhere better, but they weren’t having any of it.
They found me a B&B, paid a couple of weeks rent upfront, God bless ’em, and moved me in the same night. Luckily for me. Who knows what kind of ridiculous shit I would’ve ended up getting myself into if I’d stayed? My parents clearly had a good idea.
THERE were occasional vague rumours about scary shotgun-punctuated feuds with supposedly officially-affiliated northern MCCs, but the bikers in Scunthorpe always seemed a fairly amiable bunch.
True, there was one unfortunate incident – just after the legendary second freewheeling but typically professional performance by the Shreddies at the Rock Open at The Baths Hall – when my very drunk girlfriend, who was sitting on my knee at the time, tactlessly told one young biker we had a passing acquaintance with that he was “full of shit”.
He actually did a double take. It would have been funny in other circumstances, I’m sure. He was an alright bloke but he was built like brick shit-house, as hard as nails, and had a reputation for being a bit volatile. Plus, he was drunk. And my girlfriend had just told him he was full of shit. He looked properly pissed off.
IT WAS Barry Norman, smug doyen of the comfy press junket and arch purveyor of bitter, misanthropic and slightly rightwing movie reviews, who first brought Babylon to my attention – though I’ve no recollection what drivel the miserable old sod spouted about Franco Rosso’s gritty tale of disaffected Sarf London youth when he reviewed the film on Film 80.
I was more than likely on the lookout for some idiotic new sci-fi movie but in the end it was the clip which accompanied Norman’s no-doubt nonsensical views on Babylon which transported me to another world entirely; a world every bit as strange, exotic and alien as Altair, Vulcan or Tattooine – and it seemed, as a chubby, unfashionable 14-year-old with a bad haircut, sitting in the familial living room in a Dark Ages village miles from anywhere, one I would be as likely to ever visit.