International Writers Magazine:1977
Bryan Sutton walked down the steps into the basement club and felt
awkward. If truth be told Bryan Sutton felt awkward pretty much
everyday of his 24 years of life, but tonight especially, he felt
He knew that he
would stand out tonight and not get it and that made him very self conscious.
It didnt matter that he was a respected music journalist; he knew
that he would feel totally out of place at this live venue. Because
Bryan Sutton was a hippy and this was 1977, the long summer month of
The Queens Silver Jubilee and so far Bryan Sutton hated 1977 because
it was fast becoming the year of a new music and cultural shift known
as punk, and it was something he simply could not get to grips with.
Entering the club he parted his lank hair across his forehead and, tugging
onto his RAF greatcoat for the kind of support toddlers get from blankets,
he scanned the room for his friend, Louise Newton.
A shrill whistle erupted across the chattering of the throng and Bryan
found her, whistling and waving to him from the bar. She was a perky
little 19 year old with torn clothing, an oversized mens jacket
that dwarfed her elfin frame and short tufts of platinum dyed hair.
In short Louise had totally captured this new ethos of punk in a way
that left Bryan standing. This made Bryan a little nervous as he still
remembered her as the shy teenage girl who came to the offices of Grooves,
the music magazine he worked on, after school to help out. She started
out making the tea for the staff and she was always hungry for news
of bands and would listen captivated for hours to Bryans tales
of all the famous groups and people hed met like Traffic and Focus
and Beefheart. Because she made herself useful and was incredibly likeable
and vibrant Louise got a job helping the art dept format the magazine
and then eventually she moved up to covering gigs at the age of 17,
just a year older then Bryan was when he entered music journalism and
became so popular. He knew how much it meant to her, that it was a dream
come true, because it was the same dream that he had. They had both
previously had that teenage life of poster festooned walls and constantly
playing LPs and now, as if anything was possible, they were meeting
and writing about the rock greats.
Bryan used to treat her like his kid sister and always looked after
her and helped her out, but lately Bryan was getting the feeling that
their roles were reversing, as the more successful Louise became the
more he felt like a kid brother to her. Nowadays she seemed less and
less interested in tales of Bryans about the Yes tour bus back
in 1969 or Jethro Tull, as indeed did many people, Bryan and his writing
seemed to be getting ignored and instead of being an established staff
member on papers was resorting to freelance and getting less and less
work. He felt out of touch and impotent whereas Louise was now on the
cutting edge having just that week made her TV debut hosting a youth
programme entitled Dont Watch with Mother and with a new name
for herself, Lubie New, an anarchistic nod to Andy Pandys girlfriend,
was how she explained the name change to Bryan as they greeted each
other and picked up their bottled beer.
"I-I dont get it really?" Bryan asked in his stammering
soft Welsh lilt, crouching slightly to make himself heard.
"Come on Bry, get with it, Lubie New yeah, Lubie Lou was Andy Pandys
bird right? And the show is Dont Watch with Mother and its
on just after the kiddies slot, its all very daring," she
"I suppose so," he replied taking a sip from his bottle.
"So, did you like it then?" she asked, craning her neck up
to meet his gaze.
"I thought you were good yknow, g-g-great to see you do so
well on the box, but the music
." He said leaving his sentence
hanging to show his uncertainty in this new sound.
"Oh Bryan you really need to try. I mean when did you last get
a gig to write up about?"
"Grooves wont return my calls lately, I dont know why,"
he admitted. "But they might be interested in some stuff on the
folk festival next month.
"They probably wont return your calls cos no one but
you still calls it Grooves anymore, I told you its G Force now
and I doubt theyll be keen on a folk fest either. Bryan you need
to move with the times if you still wanna work."
"G Force, stupid bloody name for a music mag that," Bryan
mused with disdain.
"Listen Ive got you an appointment tomorrow afternoon round
1pm for Squelch magazine. Its a new thing coming out of Shoreditch,
Terry Hope is running it. You remember Terry he was with the NME a few
"Oh yeah, Terry, a very mellow cat if I r-remember. He was with
me for that Genesis piece; we shared some great Red Leb." Bryan
grinned at the memory.
"Jeez. Ok, but listen be cool yeah, Tez has changed a lot and please
dont say cat, dont call him cat right? No one says that
anymore," Louise pleaded.
"Orite dahlin!" a shout came out and both Bryan and Louise
turned to see a pimply faced skinny man in a ripped tight white tee
shirt and bomber jacket coming towards them. "Its you innit?
Lubie New? I saw you on tele, you was great"
Louise beamed "Yes I am, ooh thank you! Youre my first fans!"
"Yeah I liked it, I was just saying to my mate, Craig, oi Craig!
Over here, mate!" he motioned to the back room and a skin headed
man with a pool cue came over "I was saying thats her off
the tele, but he wasnt havin any of it. Craig it is her,
see I told ya, Id know that cute little bum anywhere eh haha"
"So it is, Rob," Craig said, and then eyeing Bryan, he icily
added, "Whos this? The Pink Floyd?" causing Rob to laugh
loudly and ask, "Yeah whats with the hippy?"
"I-I-Im not in Pink Floyd, but I do know them, well N-Nick
Mason, hes very n-nice," stuttered Bryan innocently.
"Not now Bryan please" Louise hushed.
"Oh yeah?" Craig said then, taking a step closer to Bryan
he placed the pool cue up close to his nose and said "We hate Pink
Floyd, and bloody hippies"
"Yeah!" Rob added his acned face looking even more red and
angry. "What you doin hanging out with some hippy? You just
a big act are you, luv?"
"Bryans a music writer, hes worked on The NME, Grooves,
I mean, G Force, hes here with me to cover tonight and hes
a very good friend, just leave off lads yeah?" Louise defended.
"The NME?" Rob said. "I fucking hate the NME, bunch of
wankers! Come on Craig, this bitch is just play actin like all
them sorts off the tele."
"Oh just piss off!" Louise yelled and slowly Craig moved away
from Bryan and followed Rob back into the pool room.
"L-lovely people you meet here," Bryan stammered.
"Well, thanks a lot Bry!" Louise turned to him, "Ive
not been on TV for five minutes and already youre pissing all
over my credibility"
"What?" Bryan asked dumbfounded.
"You need to try and get in with these people, punk is here to
stay, Bryan, it isnt a craze, its the way forward and you,
youre getting left behind. No one wants peace and love anymore,
they want anarchy and noise, you need to be part of it or youre
never gonna work again Bry! I mean it"
"I-Im seeing Rick Wakeman next week, hell probably
let me write up some stuff and Ill get some interest there,"
"Jesus Bryan listen to yourself! Rick Wakemans a wanker,
no one cares about all that prog rock wank now." Louise spat, her
little upturned nose screwed up in bitterness, angered at Bryans
inability to get it.
"You used to like Wakeman, you used to love my stories about touring
with Yes, covering their gigs and albums" Bryan moaned
"Long ago in another time warp, Bryan" she said flatly "The
sixties are over. All that Oz stuff, its dead. You need to realise
that, admit it and move on. This is where its at now for fucks
sake!" she shouted and then a look of sympathy came over her face
at Bryans confused and hurt features; "Oh look Im sorry,
but thats the way it is" she said softly placing a hand on
his arm. "Ill see you around" she said thickly and with
some embarrassment, quickly walked into the crowd as the stage began
to fill with the nights act, a band called The Tragics.
A loud snarling "One Two Three Four!" came from the lead singer
Sean Flair, and the band raced into their first song which sounded to
Bryan like a badly played loud and fast version of some old swinging
50's number: Which in fact it was. The crowd were going mental, jumping
up and down, forming into one big sweaty pouncing throng as they spat
beer out at the band and jeered and cheered their way through the song.
Bryan felt totally lost and alone. It was like he was behind a big glass
mirror, he could see everyone having fun, but he couldnt understand
it or join in. Slowly he attempted to pogo along, but after a couple
of jumps up and down on the spot he stopped. He felt stupid and foolish
and he decided to leave.
He never saw his best friend Louise again.
He tried to call in the days to follow, which turned to weeks which
turned to months, but always missed her. Louise was riding high and
loving every minute and had no time for a friendship forged some three
years ago when Bryan was at his height. Now Bryan was at his low and
one by one starting with Terry, magazines and former colleagues thought
him past it and snubbed him.
And so 1977 and The Queens Jubilee came and went. Latterly so
too did the Punk way of life, despite Louises firm belief that
it was here to stay, like a bright candle its flame, enjoyed by many
eventually flickered and snuffed out leaving its admirers as lost
as Bryan had been.
Pretty soon even the tremendously with it Lubie New drifted away from
the scene and reverted back to being plain old Louise Newton. In 1981
she married Sean Flair the former singer of punk band The Tragics and
a couple of years later they had a daughter, Kellie. Sadly the marriage
was rocky and Sean found it hard being out of the limelight, he grew
increasingly dependant on street drugs and in the late 80s he committed
suicide, leaving Louise alone to bring up their child. Eventually, to
support themselves, Louise went back to work, as editor of a local newspaper.
Bryan Sutton had found 1977 wanting and his awkwardness grew to the
point that he could no longer operate in society. The fact that no one
seemed to want him or even care about him meant he had little to operate
with and, seeing his dreams of love and peace collapse, he became more
and more despondent and alienated to the point that, by 1979, he was
admitted into a mental hospital, and was in and out of such facilities
frequently throughout the 1980s. By 1992 Bryan had had enough and realising
he was unable to cope in London with a so called normal life there,
he decided to buy a bicycle and pretty much cycled all the way back
to Wales, returning to his sister and the family farm, which he proceeded
to help her run after their parents had died.
Then in 2002, twenty five years after The Queens Silver Jubilee,
the country celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and a reunion of sorts occurred
at fittingly, Glastonbury of all places as Louise Newton with her now
grown up daughter bumped into Bryan Sutton and his girlfriend, a local
girl from his village some twenty years younger then him walking from
the stages. After a huge hug the two old friends, now a little greyer
and a little broader, settled down in a relatively quiet spot of field
and talked of the old times together.
"I am so sorry though Bryan I was such a bitch to you back then,
I mean you looked after me for years and I just dropped you because
you werent considered cool enough to be in my gang, how utterly
childish," Louise apologised.
"Its cool, honestly, you were right, my time was over and
I never saw it, I should have moved back home years ago but I couldnt
see and I ended up in such a state. But its tub-thumping you know,
I had to suffer all that to get to where I am now, which is somewhere
very content," Bryan explained
"Im so pleased for you, and its nice to see you settled
with someone too," Louise said, touching his arm like she had done
all those years ago.
"Well thanks, but me and Sarah, its early days, she helps out on
the farm, thats how we met
I doubt shell
want an old fogey like me forever," Bryan said.
"Stop that! Shes clearly mad about you. You have to realise,
Bry, you have a lot to offer, youre a wonderful warm person, the
people that shunted you back in the 70s, and I include myself here,
were very stupid to not see that I mean, its silly though what
we went through isnt it? All this truck we hold with whats
hot and whats not, it can ruin lives really, and I know it kinda
did for us. Im so happy you are happy now, and youre not
fooling me, youre still an old hippy at heart!"
Bryan laughed aloud; "Yes well some things can never change I fear."
"No good on you, I mean look at us, twenty five years on and the
music and attitude you loved so much that was out of fashion back then
is more in fashion now than that punk lifestyle is," said Louise
swigging from her beer. "And this place proves it" she said
waving her arms to take in the fields as numerous travellers, students,
freaks and music lovers milled around enjoying themselves. "A bastion
of counter culture hippy life if ever there was one, still going strong
for over thirty years, my daughter loves it here and when she graciously
deigned to consider me to be cool enough to come along
"I know what you mean; Sarah, my partner shes the same, she
loves music and this way of life. So I thought yes, sod it, time to
get back to it and enjoy it again, and see it from her perspective.
You know, looking back theres much to admire from the punk stuff
that you nailed your colours too, it got added to the pot and is respected
now and all of it no matter what genre gets celebrated here as one thing;
musical culture. I suppose its all about the music isnt
it, nothing can ever take that away," Bryan ruminated.
"Agreed!" said Louise and they clinked their bottles in unison.
"So speaking of music, come on, what do you listen to now? Is it
still a big part of your life?"
Bryan paused and screwing his eyes up in part mischief and part to shield
the sun said; "Do you know what? My cows absolutely love Jethro
Tull at milking time!" and they both laughed uproariously.
"No, no, but guess whats always on my CD player in the car
these days? Yes first album!" Louise said through the laughter,
"Can you imagine? Reverting back at my age! And Kellie, my daughter
absolutely hates it; shes always swapping it for The Sex Pistols!
Mind you not that I complain!"
Bryan laughed; "Sarahs the same, shes more hippy than
even I ever was and she wasnt even born then! Shes converted
all my old LPs to CDs and turned me on to some bands I didnt
even know about"
And as the day wore on, the laughter continued as the friendship that
died one significant jubilee was reborn in time for another.
"A toast; God save the Queen eh?" Louise laughed heartily.
Bryan smiled and with a clink of their bottles said "God save the
© Mark Cunliffe June 2008
life affirming stories
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