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My Exciting Life In ROCK (part 3): My Exciting Life In ROCK: 1982 - The Masters Of Nothing


Most rock biographies only get to the drunken antics with teenage girls on tour buses after a couple of boring chapters about growing up and band practices. MINE has them RIGHT at the VERY START!

All right, so the tour bus was more of a SCHOOL BUS and the teenage girls were thirteen, just like I was, but the drunken antics were very real indeed. The fact that neither me, my friends nor the girls were doing any of the drinking is neither here nor there, it is enough to know that this single event kicked off DECADES of ROCK EXCESS.

The bus was taking my class down to London to see an exhibition at the Tate. It seems like a MILLION YEARS ago - I very clearly remember that London seemed to be FULL of middle-aged/elderly gentlemen with HUGE moustaches, bowler hats and pin-stripe suits carrying briefcases and umbrellas. Surely that was a FILM though? We shouted "HOMME D'AFFAIRE!" every time we saw one of them, I'm still not quite sure why.

For the most part it was a standard issue school trip - packed lunches were eaten by the time we left the school gates, no educational merit was taken away by ANYONE, and on the way back we stopped off for CHIPS. I don't know if school parties still do this, but back in those days you HAD to, because science had not yet managed to create a passenger vehicle that could travel for more than 90 minutes without needing a bit of a rest. THUS we alighted at BALDOCK, a town whose sole purpose was to provide a stop off on the A1, and piled into the chippy.

"I always say 'Go to Baldock'", said our Art Teacher, Mr Ward, "Because The Lads like their chips!" It turned out, however, that there were other, more ADULT reasons for the stop. As well as having a very good chip shop Baldock also had a very good PUB, which all our teachers fell upon like WOLVES discovering Kerry Katona's shopping bags. We ate our chips, dutifully filed back onto the bus, and waited. And waited. No teachers appeared.

After what seemed like HOURS a couple of the LADY teachers emerged from the pub, looked around to see if anyone else was back on board, and then went back inside. Quite some time after that the DRIVER wobbled back to his seat (as I say, this was all a LONG time ago when people DID things like that - see also SMOKING EVERYWHERE) and after ANOTHER apparent DECADE Mr Ward was DRAGGED onto the bus by his colleagues. As soon as he was in the doors SWOOSHED shut, there was an almighty HOORAH, and away we went.

Very quickly we noticed something was wrong - Mr Ward was usually somewhat ALOOF but this time he was VERY friendly, leading us all in an enthusiastic Three Cheers For The Driver which went on SIGNIFICANTLY longer than the traditionally traditional THREE. His heart was open and he shared his innermost woes - for instance, it was always HIS idea to stop off for chips, but was anybody grateful? Did the children OFFER him any of theirs? THEY DID NOT.

We sat AGOG as this figure of AUTHORITY disintegrated before our eyes. He always stood firm on MARKING, giving an A MINUS as his top mark and only ever awarding an actual A once in his entire career, he claimed, but suddenly EVERYBODY was getting an A for any old crap they drew on the back of their Trip Worksheets - it was an EERIE prediction, in fact, of GCSE MARKING SCHEMA.

The next day the entire SCHOOL was ALIVE with talk of what had occurred, and EVERYBODY was hanging around The Art Block (I went to a comprehensive which, ten years before, had been a Grammar School and so CLUNG DESPERATELY to titles like this - we called the area where the mobile classrooms gathered a "quad") to see what he'd look like. We were but innocent BABES, untutored in the ways of DRINK, and so expected him to appear in RAGS with a massive cartoon HAMMER beating on the outside of his head. When he eventually turned up looking A Little Bit Tired we were VERY disappointed.

This didn't stop the GOSSIPING however and myself and two friends, Mr Robin Hare and Mr Paul Myland, spent our lunch hour turning the whole thing into a SONG. This song was called "A Minus Work", and the chorus went like THIS:

A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)
A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)
A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)
A Minus Work (chip pan, chip pan)

You can see the POTENTIAL already can't you? The rest of the song told the sorry tale I have already told you, ending in a dramatic tribute to Frank Sinatra's MY WAY. "And so, the art trip's done", that sort of thing. We spent that lunchtime and all of the NEXT lunchtime PREMIERING the PIECE by walking around the football field SINGING it to our peers - we daren't venture amongst the actual school buildings, for fear of being TOLD OFF. We were AMAZED and EXCITED to find other people liking it so much that they JOINED IN.

Yes, I know it's hardly the most COMPLEX of songs, but still. We had tasted FAME and ACCLAIM, and wanted MORE, so we decided to form a band. We decided to call ourselves The Masters Of Nothing because all of us could play ANY instrument EXACTLY as well as any other - NOT AT ALL - and set to writing some more songs. My Exciting Life In ROCK had BEGUN!

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