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I WAS born a zillion (Zellion?) years ago, in a dimension all my own.  As a little kid in little school, I drew Superman a lot.  I also recall, that once a week I’d have my name called by someone at the classroom door, and I had to go off to some other room where there were a few other kids, and look at shapes an’ splodges.  Or somethin’.  HA! I remember casually relatin’ this to Ginger (Wildhearts) as we were walkin’ to the shops once; he stopped dead in his tracks, turned an’ faced me with a comically incredulous expression, and bellowed, “YOU WENT TO SPECIAL SCHOOL!”

But it wasn’t special school.  I was just bein’ treated special... at a school.

Then, I remember in junior school years, openin’ the front door to a smartly dressed man and a lady (all a bit X-Files, in retrospect...) who asked to see my mum an’ dad. Next thing, I was told to play in the kitchen, while they spoke in the front room. After they left, my mum an’ dad, who were pretty cool, asked me in amusement, “What do you DO at school?”  I was baffled.  I didn’t quite know what kind of answer they wanted.  And my mum explained that the man and lady were ‘from the school’, and they were ‘concerned’ about my behaviour....


Also at this time, I used to snip out and collect a comic-strip called ‘Garth’ from the Daily Mirror, about this muscular blonde guy who used to unwittingly get zapped into fantastical situations.  The artwork was unbelievable.  I used to think it must be the coolest thing in the world to have yer own published comic-strip character.  In fact, I still do.

At big boy school, I was a happy loner.  I’d go in, get a mark for registration, leave, swing by the second hand book shop in Kentish Town (no longer there), buy a bumper-sized DC comic stuffed with reprints of old Justice League Of America or Batman stories, then go home and read it while my parents were at work.  But, I would pop back to school for art and English lessons.  Later, I didn’t even bother with registration, just my chosen lessons.  The headmaster investigated one school report - because I had practically zero attendance, yet I had amazing grades in art and English! HA!

Oh, and I failed all my ‘O’ levels. In art, I drew a New York backstreet when I was supposed to draw a still life pic of piled up stuff from a bathroom, and for English Lit I wrote a piece on the Incredible Hulk instead of Huckleberry Finn.  Not big.  Not clever.  Don’t try this at home, kids.

At fifteen, I was technically too young to leave school, but it got overlooked on the technicality that my birthday would happen in the summer holidays.  Next thing I’m workin’ in a warehouse.  Packin’ parcels.  Loadin’ lorries.  Readin’ Marvel comics at breaks.  It was alright, actually.  Then a kid/guy a few years older than me there, John, got me into Alice Cooper, Bowie and music papers.  Sounds, Melody Maker and NME. NME had this druggy strip called ‘The Lone Groover’ .  And this character had T-shirts!! I used to think that must be the coolest thing in the world - to have yer own published comic-strip character and have T-shirts.  In fact, I still do.

The first thing you could call a ‘gig’ that I went to, was punk band The Vibrators at a rock pub called the Lord Nelson in Holloway Road. I was totally into rock, now. I even sent an idea for a comic-strip called ‘Soundwave The Musical Avenger’ to Sounds’; who was, like, this superhero (natch) who talked bad Shakespeare (!?) and zoomed about the music biz.  Sounds actually liked it, and I ended up doin’ it for about a year.  Or somethin’.

At some point later, in-between doin’ who knows what, my local rag, The Islington Gazette, accepted an idea I had for my own column, called ‘Twilight Capers’.  I basically waffled on about anythin’ from how annoyingly far down a pack the perforated line was when you only wanted two biscuits, to reviewing punk gigs in Upper Street!  The editor called me in once, sat me down, and handed me a bunch of mail.  “Read those,” he said, unblinking.  I scanned through them, and the general gist was, that these were from sensible grown up people who considered my stream of consciousness babble and dodgy exploits hardly the stuff of an upstanding local newspaper.  “I take it, I’m out?” said I, in a tiny voice.  “Are you kidding?” he beamed.  “We’re a local paper - we don’t usually get reactions like that!  And, the most important thing,” he enthusiastically pointed out, “is that all of those complaining letters start with, ‘I read Twilight Capers every week and...’ “

Ah.  Riiiiight.  Me, I was learnin’ all the time.

It was round this point, ‘say 81, that I got roped into becomin’ frontman for my brother Kev’s punk band called The Mandies, who would soon become Marionette (see Marionette link) and eventually release one highly praised nutter of an album - ‘Blonde Secrets &Dark Bombshells’.  By the way, that ‘Raise Hell’ racket on the main page - that’s us.

Later, in ‘84, while still in Marionette, and despite ‘friends’ tellin’ me I was wastin’ my time, I sent a comic-strip called ‘Pandora Peroxide’ to Kerrang!  Lesson? Never listen to yer friends.  HA!

Marionette split in ‘85.  But, around ‘87, I slowly, but surely, did bits of writing for Kerrang! Which became more and more, and by about ‘88, I was doin’ gig and album reviews and main features!  It was fuckin’ FANTASTIC!  And I was gettin’ tons of praise

for writin’ like a drunken gonzoid space cadet!  Although, if anyone DARED  call me a ‘journalist’, I would instantly correct ‘em, an’ point out that I was, in fact, a professional rock fan.

The ultimate thing, though, was gettin’ the absolute HONOUR to play tag-team with legendary former K! scribe Mick Wall on Kerrang!’s infamous gossip column View From The Bar. It was just two pages of total piss-take, mayhem and gratuitous namecheckin’! Mick’d write it one week, then me the next.  But then, with Mick’s blessing, they handed me THE WHOLE BLOODY THING!  It was MINE!  I just could not believe it!  And I remember bein’ totally chuffed, when a readers’ poll result (for editorial - not printed in the mag), declared View From The Bar both the BEST and WORST parts of Kerrang!! Classic! Practically my proudest moment!

Come early ‘90s, I somehow ended up sharin’ a flat with Ginger of The Wildhearts. Now THAT was MAD. You know how you buy a pint of milk a day? Well, we bought a bottle of whiskey. Even in the wee hours, when we switched to coffee - we put whiskey in it! How the HELL I ever got Pandora done over that year or so is beyond me.

The mid-to-late Nineties are a complete blur of depression and bitterness. I was diagnosed by a shrink as, “Having a lot of growing up to do”. Although, in there somewhere for a time, upon someone’s recommendation, I managed to become a talent scout for a Japanese record company!? They even signed one of my ‘discoveries’!!  Mad.  Mad, mad, mad.

Come the New Millennium, I was scripting (note: not drawing) a DAILY sitcom style comic strip called Metal-Is, for an online music mag type thing of the same name. It was a great experience; especially workin’ with the illustrator, Jonathan Edwards, who did a sterling job of keepin’ up with the bonkers schedule. But, alas, like a lot of sites in the initial internet boom, it deactivated after a year or so. Zzzzzzt.

And these days?  I do Pandora. Still. And it was my ambition. To have my own published comic strip character.  And T-shirts.  Pandora Peroxide had T-shirts. But, amazingly, there has NEVER been a Pandora T-shirt or any other kind of merchandise.  I’ve had offers, sure. Loads. But ultimately, either I don’t like how they perceive her or plan to promote her, or nothing ever comes from it.  Blah, blah, blah.

But, now there is.  Pandora has her very own T-shirt.

So, am I finally satisfied?