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Just to get you in the frame of mind, thse were the big news stories in 1988 -1990

1988--Lockerbie disaster, Salmonella in UK eggs furore, Spycatcher book, Clapham rail crash,.
Movies-Die Hard, Naked Gun, Scrooged, Big, Rain Man, Who framed Roger Rabbit?
Music-FAITH, George Michael , SWEET CHILD O' MINE, Guns N' Roses ,WISHING WELL, Terence Trent D'Arby, NEED YOU TONIGHT, INXS, 
THE FLAME, Cheap Trick 

1989--Ayatollah 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
Movies-Batman-Dead Poeets Society, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Field Of Dreams, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
THE LIVING YEARS, Mike + the Mechanics 

1990--39 die in UK Storms, F W De Klerk ends apartheid, Nelson Mandela freed,Poll Tax riots in London, Thatcher outed
Movies-Home Alone, Dick Tracy, Ghost, Field Of Dreams, Dances With Wolves
Music-NOTHING COMPARES TO YOU Sinead O Connor, PUMP UP THE JAM Technotronic featuring Felly,  BLACK VELVET Alannah Myles 
DON'T KNOW MUCH Linda Ronstadt featuring Aaron Neville 

                                    sources and various

Lizard 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 Lizards. 

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, Market Day. 
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 it. 

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. It 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 1990. 
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 Four. 

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 than we 
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. 
They  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 extra weight. 

The first leg of the tour took in Bury St Edmunds, Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, 
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 drinks. 

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. 

Peterborough (Tues) 
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 quote. 
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 t  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 alarm clock. 

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 place. 

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.

Bath: Monday 
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

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A Brotherhood of Lizards mini site.Written by Martin Newell and Paul Wilkinson. All images and text copyright 2003.

Lizardland CD cover. Click to see moreThe Brotherhood Of Lizards. Click for more.