Up Against the Wall

Something of a non-sailing related post today but as I’m back on UK soil for a while with no adventures on the ocean to report until next March I might as well waffle about other things.

My preachings today  are that if you really want something (within reason) you WILL make it happen and nothing will divert you  

Many things in my life have given me the ‘need’ to get off my backside and do things. Obviously one of these was to become a skipper and likewise certain other happenings in my life have given me inspiration to pursue other activities.

One such thing was when I was 14 years old and starting to get into Punk Rock. I was listening to the standard bands like The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, The Clash etc but one particular band and song hit me at Christmas 1979. The story, which now seems like a lifetime ago, probably because it is, starts with a combined radio-cassette player that my Dad bought me for Christmas. Believe or not they were all the rage then and by our standards then it was a pretty decent prezzie to receive. In addition to the radio-cassette he also got me a cassette tape to play on it.

He said wasn’t sure what exactly to get and he definitely wasn’t fully aware of the type of bands I was into so he took a punt and guessed which one to buy.

The album was Power in the Darkness by the Tom Robinson Band (TRB). Now being totally honest, at the time I was actually a bit disappointed. I knew about TRB and had heard the odd track but this album was a real eye (or ear) opener and for me and many others, it has become something of a Zeitgeist of life around that time.

I now get to the point of this post……there is a track on this album called Up Against the Wall and this song ignited a fire in me. Actually it was of a burning, in fact just a necessity to play.

The grinding opening riff, the explosion of when the bass and drums join in and then the ‘in your face’/‘I’m gonna tell you how it is’ lyrics of the anthem put a need in me to learn the electric guitar.

This need would not be satisfied until I could grind out that song as loud as possible with as much gusto and feeling as the man himself. It was a need so great that I felt my life would not be complete until the said task was done.

So there it was. I wanted (in fact NEEDED) to do this and nothing and nobody was going to stop me. I ended up becoming a huge fan of Tom Robinson because he had that same feeling that us, the disaffected youth of 70’s Britain had and he was the voice of it. He delivered the message with total commitment and with an anger that said ‘if you don’t listen I’m gonna shout louder so get used to it’.

Since that time I seen him perform possibly more times than I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen and anyone that knows me will realise that that is something REALLY special.

I’ve also had the privilege of meeting him a few times, the pinnacle of which was when I’d written to him in the early 1990’s for the chords to ‘Glad to be Gay’ (bear in mind we didn’t have internet then) and rather than post them back to me he rang our house (no mobiles then either) and invited me to come back stage at the Heineken Music Festival where he would actually show me how to play it.

Imagine that eh??? A childhood hero actually rings you up and invites you to a gig !!!!

Anyway, back to the point I’m making that if you want to do something badly enough you WILL do it. There are many other examples of this in my life but I’ll save those for any future evangelical posts I might do.

Incidentally, next weekend I’m going down to that there a London place to see his ‘2-4-6-8  Motorway’ 40th anniversary gig where he will be performing amongst other songs the full Power in the Darkness album. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement because with being out in Greece doing the yacht charters this year it looked like I was going to miss out seeing him on this landmark tour as every date on the tour clashed with when I was in Greece so imagine my delight when I saw he’d added this extra date (just for me I like to think) on the 8th December.

Initially I was gutted that I might not see him but now I’m going to be reliving the ‘Winter of ‘79’ with the help of a few beers and some good company whilst watching THE ORIGINAL angry young man doing what he does best.

And finally, to TR himself, thank you!

See you all soon.

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