12.01.2006 05:32 - Musical Nutters
I've spoken at length about nutters on here before, including the legendary "Mad Ramsey", who apparently inspired Jasper Carrot's original rant. The truth of the fact is, that the arts attract nutters. They attract them in great numbers. Sometimes, as in the case of Van Gogh, the artists themselves are nutters. Yes, he was a nutter. Do you think that cutting off your ear is the mark of a sane man? And don't give me that old "he was under the influence of Absinthe" excuse. Lots of people drank absinthe, and they didn't cut their ears off.
My brush with the arts, and hence, nutters, began with the band I was in during the nineties. To start off, one of the original members had had a very unhappy life, and had attempted in the past to compensate for it via the use of extremely hallucinogenic chemicals indeed. This had not helped. The person in question ended up with a restraining order against them from attempting to contact a certain band, famous for having a founding member who attempted similar self-medication, and ended off sailing away to the wonderful land of Wibble for a couple of decades.
However, our real brush with the finger-wobble in mouth brigade began with our first gig. Kevin, our bass-player, managed to get us our first gig.
At a mental hospital.
That's right, folks. We started off our performing careers by giving a gig at a mental hospital. I wouldn't complain, as the quality of venues, not to mention the audiences, would get worse from thereon in.
It didn't help that the P.A. system we'd been promised turned out to be a domestic karaoke machine from recreation room, which had an output of about 15 watts. Peak, that is. In the long run it didn't matter, as most of the patients were so heavily-sedated they would have had trouble enough working out the end of a song was where you clapped.
Some of them, however, weren't sedated enough.
Including Big Megan.
Big Megan was a mountainous woman, who dwarfed even Kevin, who, being a psychiatric nurse himself, wasn't exactly on the small side. Megan had previously been employed at Birmingham Airport to kick-start the jets. Before that she was employed at a slaughterhouse, killing the cows. She did this by punching them with her bare hands.
Megan had a strange light in her eyes and a strange expression on her face, that over the years, I would come to dread. Megan liked music. I know because she told me so. Megan said she could also play guitar, and wanted a go on mine, but I wasn't going to let her anywhere near it. Fortunately I was fleeter of foot than she was. Megan also liked the Beatles, and demanded that we play Beatles songs. I pointed out that three of the songs we'd just played were Beatles songs. "Play more Beatles songs" she demanded. Again. Forcefully.
At that moment several of the staff noticed and came over to lead her away and calm her down.
We finished the gig and scarpered quick.
I would later find out that Big Megan was the rule rather than the exception. I've played in front of some bloody strange audiences in my time, including a gang of skinheads who insisted on sitting at a table directly in front of a huge PA speaker and yelling "Turn it Fookin Dahn!", but the ones that really, really scare me are the people who come up to you after the gig, with that strange light in their eyes.
So, if you come up to me after a gig, don't be surprised if I don't exactly rip your hand off in an attempt to greet you. Don't be upset, either. If you'd met some of the people I've met after gigs, you wouldn't be too keen either.