to get you in the frame of mind, thse were the big news stories in 1988
disaster, Salmonella in UK eggs furore, Spycatcher book, Clapham rail crash,.
Hard, Naked Gun, Scrooged, Big, Rain Man, Who framed Roger Rabbit?
George Michael , SWEET CHILD O' MINE, Guns N' Roses ,WISHING WELL, Terence
Trent D'Arby, NEED YOU TONIGHT, INXS,
FLAME, Cheap Trick
sentences Salman Rushdie to death, Feelings running high on Poll
Tax, Irish solicitor Pat Finucane murdered, Hillsborough disaster, Tianemen
square massacre, Marchioness disaster, Guildford four released, Ceausescu
and wife executed, San Francisco earthquake, Brandenburg Gate re-opens
Poeets Society, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Field Of Dreams, Bill & Ted's
I LOVE YOUR WAY/FREEBIRD MEDLEY (Free Baby), Will To Power, MY PREROGATIVE,
Bobby Brown, LIKE A PRAYER, Madonna,
LIVING YEARS, Mike + the Mechanics
die in UK Storms, F W De Klerk ends apartheid, Nelson Mandela freed,Poll
Tax riots in London, Thatcher outed
sources ww.bbc.co.uk/news Amazon.com and various
Alone, Dick Tracy, Ghost, Field Of Dreams, Dances With Wolves
COMPARES TO YOU Sinead O Connor, PUMP UP THE JAM Technotronic featuring
Felly, BLACK VELVET Alannah Myles
KNOW MUCH Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville
Tales - part 1 (by Martin Newell)
The Brotherhood of Lizards was my musical project from spring of 1988,
when the Cleaners broke up, until spring of 1990, six months before I came
out of the closet as a pop poet. I haven't written much about it and Paul
thought the website might benefit from some of the stories attached to
The B.o L.'s recorded output consisted of one eponymous cassette mini-L.P,
one 12-track vinyl LP Lizardland -later re-released as a CD and one single,
What the Lizards are chiefly remembered for was The Bicycle Tour. The
bicycle tour took in some 1200 miles of English road in several stages
between October 1989 and
Late February 1990. Here's what happened.
In mid-summer of 1989, with our first album due out on Deltic Records
that autumn, the record company, whose bosses were Andy McQueen and Captain
Sensible, asked me: " No chance of you touring I suppose?" The thought
filled me with dread. Only 12 months earlier, I'd left The Cleaners from
Venus because I felt I wasbeing railroaded into touring. Then a typical
Newell-type bit of madcappery occurred to me:
" I'd tour if I could do it by bicycle." I put this to them. There
was uneasy laughter at the end of the phone and I thought no more about
In late summer however, while studying a map of all the radio stations
in the UK, a theoretical plan occurred to me. If Nel and I went from radio
station to radio station- mostly distances of 20 to 30 miles apart we could:
1) Do a radio interview and plug the record.
2) Busk in whatever town centre we were in
3) Talk to the local press
4) Do the occasional evening gig.
We would need:
1) Two bikes, spares, panniers and waterproof clothes
2) Guitar, mandolin, tiny practice amps
3) A cheap B&B or crashpad in every town we ended up in.
Costing out the price and logistics of a standard tour: Hotels, petrol,
van, roadies, bigger amplification equipment etc, I worked out it would
be roughly £4000 for a month on the road.
Costing out a bicycle tour, even with two bikes, a month on the road
would be somewhere between £1000 and £1500 pounds. After all,
Neland I had been buskers and knew we could earn some of our daily expenses
by playing on the street.
I put this idea to McQueen, who was initially sceptical. Sensible just
chuckled and said things like. " Go for it." Or: " Ha ha. That's my Alien.
(his pet name for me)
The person who did take us seriously though was a very bright and sparky
young woman at Deltic, called Caron Malcolm. She immediately began phoning
radio stations and testing the water. The Lizards tour was on. By mid-September,
Nel who had returned from touring France and Spain with folk outfit The
Churchfitters, was amazed to find that we were about to embark on the first
truly Green promo tour.
And so it was, that on October 7th 1989, The Voyage Of The Lizards began.
left from Nel's flat in Colchester at about 8.30 a.m. and after many adventures;
breaks for repairs and other commitments, ended in the late 20s of February
During this five-month period, we did half a dozen TV appearances,
Nel was approached to join New Model Army and did so, we met numerous celebrities
of the time including Clare Grogan, Derek Jameson, Andrew Morton, Robyn
Hitchcock, Jenny Éclair and the newly-freed Paul Hill of The Guildford
At one point, we heard that Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, had phoned up
Deltic Records to ask: " Are those two lunatics on their bikes anything
to do with you?"
Much laughter. The press we received, for two eco-hippies on bikes
was phenomenal. We got features in NME, Melody Maker, The Guardian, The
Independent (who didn't know me from Adam then) and Time Out. Towards the
end, we got a massive 5-page photo-feature in The Mail On Sunday's You
Magazine. The young journalist they sent out with us, a very personable
and cheery pop fan called Martin Townsend is now the editor of The Sunday
Express. His initiation was a forty-mile bike trip between Bury St Edmunds
and Norwich. Very sore he must have been too, but never complained once.
During the tour months we did more local press interviews and photo-shoots
could keep track of. We did a TV programme in mid December for Granada,
cycling around Saddleworth moor. We were followed by a BBC camera crew
for a day. A BBC2 mini-doc about us and repeated later, after we'd broken
up. It seemed like everybody wanted to know about the Green Tour, or what
later became known as:
The Lead-Free Pencils Tour. Our timing had been accidentally immaculate.
Middle England was on the cusp of the ecological guilt-trip, which it still
wallows in today.
couldn't be green yet. But they were perfectly happy to see a couple of
raggedy musicians doing it on their behalf.
Our own attitude was one of stunned delight. We just thought we were
going to do a bit of cycling around and busking. We had no idea that all
this publicity would result.
To be fair to Caron Malcolm at Deltic, she worked her little buns off
making sure that the various media people caught up with is. There was
some talk of us borrowing a mobile phone for the trip. Mobile phones however,
were like WW11 field radio packs in those days. We just didn't want the
The first leg of the tour took in Bury St Edmunds, Peterborough, Cambridge,
Milton Keynes, Oxford, Swindon, Bath, Bristol, Salisbury, Southampton,
London, Brighton and London again.
I kept a scrawled log of most of this. For website readers, therefore,
and especially for Paul Wilkinson, who asked me for this, here is part
one of the tour diary, which I found this day of January 14th 2004.
Mon (7th October '89)
Up -homesick before I left. Said goodbye to Woolly Wulf. Cycled to
Nel's -stopped at Andy's (Records?) to deliver sleeves and at Camping Shop
for bunjy straps.
First stop on the road to Bury. Service station for sweets and canned
Stopped at Long Melford for x-pensive Ploughman's £4 or £5.
Made cheese rolls out of the surplus - which were later to save our lives.
Last stop just outside Bury. More
sweets and orange juice for our water bottles. Directed round Bury
Ring Road, a right pain in the arse. Into Bury and get to the Tourist Information
Board. Made contact with Caron, who'd got us a B&B. Met guy from Bury
Free Press, who had us posing in tailcoats with two little girls looking
at us. Then off to Saxon Radio…a news quickie apparently. Slightly apprehensive
bespectacled guy. Played a song in their carpark. V. strange! Then did
the interview, invited in for coffee. Met the "very professional" heavy
metal d.j. Dropped me like a hot penny when he realised we were Indie rockers.
Right in the middle of the very black Fens.. Horrified to find that
Caron hasn't managed to get us a place to stay. Did Hereward Radio with
Mickand Sarah Jane, a wholesome-looking couple but very sharp and good
presenters. Blagged some phone time and got a place to stay. Refused service
in empty Indian restaurant.
Stayed in a damp chilly mobile home. £10 each. Mrs. Humpson (Irish)
wore strange Bi-focals glasses. Wanted money up-front. Treated us like
space aliens. Locked the bog and basin room up at ten pm. Had to piss (and
nearly threw up) in garden later.
Ate at Deep Pan. Drank in an empty Fun pub. No one we met had anything
good to say about P'brough. " A town that finks it's a city." was one skinhead's
Very good cycle-lanes however. Next morning up to do an interview with
local press, busk in The Queensgate Centre and a TV appearance. Should
have shown it tonight
Wonder if they will? Bit sad if they don't.
Coton (Near Cambridge)
Young hearty students in the local pub. Harmless enough, but destined
to be the next yuppies. Interesting blend of jeans-as-part-of-uniform.
Names like Ben, Luke, and Nathan.
Locals perceptively avoiding corner that the students occupy.
Nel constantly worries about money running out. He's got a bad knee
-which is rather worrying. Cambridge was great. An 'easy' ride there. Miraculously
quick. Did a busk, an interview and a BBC radio thing. Lovely town! Put
me in a great mood after P'borough. Stayed in a wonderful place. Landlady
absolutely brilliant. A Mrs Young.
An almost classic country yeo-woman. This morning (Thurs) Nel's pannier
rack was broken and I had a puncture. She got Nel some tools and opened
up her absent husband's workshop and helped me with my puncture. Even gave
Nel an elastic bandage for his bad knee. A great pub -good cheap food and
a nice ride, three miles from C'bridge to Coton. Panniers beginning to
wear out in places…v.shoddy.
Nel reckons between his pessimism and my optimism, we just about get
the right answer to things. Think we've done about 170 miles by now. Best
ime on the road is the first 10 or 15 miles. We're always laughing and
joking then. Lunch in Chatteris,
Home of Dave 'Boy' Green, the famous boxer. Found a wholefood shop.
Tough being a veggie on the road.
Cost Of B&Bs so far.
After lunch, on the road is a bit more of a strain…followed by a panic.
Nel's knee plays up. My back hurts. We bicker about the mileage and the
maps. I got us lost on Tuesday. My God, Tuesday was bleak. Quite a good
day (Thursday) except we cycle the whole 30 miles into the fucking wind.
Did some busking and blagged a gig at a beer festival. Bedford's not a
bad place. Quite a luxurious B&B; Colour TV. Tea and coffee. Radio
Milton Bastard Keynes (Fri)
Makes Colchester look like Florence. Busked for a while. Dreadful ride
into the wind from Bedford. After a local paper interview and a production-line
interview at Chiltern Radio. Caron's got us a place to stay in a farmhouse.
Bedford was alright.
Milton Keynes is horrible. Probably even worse than Peterborough. The
shopping centre is full of androids. While we were busking, opposite The
Point( and what Is the Point?) saw some bloke being busted by 5 security
guards and two coppers -probably for shoplifting . The tour is definitely
underway now. We've become veterans. Wish Nel would hurry up in the phone
box. I want to use it. Waiting for some bloke from the local paper but
he hasn't turned up yet.
Stayed in a farmhouse just outside Winslow. Woken by geese. Brilliant
place. Good breakfast. Went for a highly reasonable vegetarian at a lovely
old pub called The Shoulder of Mutton. Talked to some androids and found
that one was in the Green Party. Landlady of B&B very nice, but a Sun
reader. Nice end to a horrible day.
Oxford…Saturday. The Big One.
Arduous ride to Oxford followed by a bit of filming. Started raining
and I got a flattie. Met up with Andy McQueen and Tom the film-maker (
who's doing the documentary about the tour) and Shu (Captain's mate) who
was helping out. Good gig at the Co-op hall but not very well attended.
Stayed with Richard, who organised the gig. Nice chap…slightly frail. Managed
to use their washing machine for a clean shirt. Inner-tube fell apart and
had to buy a spare. Mudguard nut flew off on the road. Had to tie it with
string. People are very friendly and hospitable to you when you're on a
bike. I suppose because bicycles are such innocent and blameless conveyances.
I'm feeling very fit and well and my morale is high, even though we
don't know where we're staying in Swindon yet. Oxford was a really good
Very cold but quite pleasant ride to a place called Fernham where we
had a ploughman's in a lovely old pub. Met McQueen and Tom about six miles
out of Swindon and did some filming in a field. I was a bit anxious about
not treading down the winter wheat. Took us a while to get into Swindon.
Did a radio interview and quite a lot more documentary footage. The interview
was filmed too. Went into a tiny museum near the BBC and snuck a picture
of me on a Penny Farthing bike. Was filmed doing a spiel by the mural wall
of Swindon's most famous people. The entourage adjourned to a dodgy hotel
whose clientele were generally a bit rough and having some kind of a private
party. I drank too much strong lager on an empty stomach. More filming
upstairs in our rather dingy room. An amazing rap with Shu. Nel went
out to get curries. Streets full of boneheads in noisy cars and the music
in the sleazy bar was way too loud. Retired to room to eat. Absolutely
whacked out and a bit drunk. Ate and crashed out.
Nel's knee still very bad, so after a greasy breakfast went to Swindon
shopping centre to busk. Made a few quid and very reluctantly took bikes
to train station. Decided that a day off will help Nel's knee to recover…otherwise,
end of tour. Saw some young bike thieves eyeing up the bikes while we were
in the buffet. Went out and got talking to them. Both rough-looking kids,
bunking off school. Gave one of them a cigarette and talked to them. Said
they'd already nicked a couple of bikes that morning. One of them had a
skinhead haircut and his head was bruised and scratched. Felt a bit sorry
for them really. Probably both headed for DC (Detention Centre)
Got to Bath about lunchtime. Lol had prepared a spread. V. good to see
him! Did another photo session and another busk. Spent the money on wine
and beer for the evening meal. A good evening. Two pubs, a good meal and
then home to listen to each other's tapes. Don't remember how I got to
bed last night.
Coming next: Bristol!
End Of Part 1