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My Exciting Life In ROCK (part 3): July 1988 - Deaconís School Hall, Peterborough

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After the triumph of GETTING PAID to do a gig it was all downhill for The Masters Of Nothing.

We had no way of knowing at the time, because the future looked so BRIGHT. We were now an Experienced Gigging Band and had not one, not two, but THREE actual gigs booked up for the summer of 1988. Two of these were, it must be admitted, in our usual stomping ground of our school hall but the third was in a proper venue, a PUB called The Boy's Head. At that time The Boy's Head was not only Peterborough's main (only) indie gig venue (you know the bands you'd read about in the NME? So did the bands who played The Boy's head) but ALSO a frankly TERRIFYING Irish Pub with a county-wide reputation for VIOLENT CROWDS. What could possibly go wrong?

Before we could get to that, however, there was the small matter of a two night residency at our alma mater. We'd all had SUCH a good time doing our Comic Relief Benefit that we'd decided to go one better and do TWO nights, partly as a farewell to our old school (we'd all just done our 'A' Levels), partly in aid of Amnesty International but, mostly, as one last chance to SHOW OFF before we went our seperate ways.

It was a partial success. We did raise SOME money for Amnesty and we did get to say goodbye, but showing off was limited slightly by the fact that almost NOBODY came. As main organiser I'd failed to realise that doing a gig IN school DURING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS meant that our usual audience, of SCHOOLCHILDREN, would have no idea it was happening.

So small was the audience on the first night, and so muted was their reaction, that The Masters Of Nothing threw a ROCK AND ROLL STROP, and REFUSED to play our BIG HIT. It seems ludicrous as I sit and type these words, but it is COMPLETELY TRUE: we really did think that the meagre, quiet crowd did not DESERVE to hear "A Minus Work", and so we played "Decapitated Blues" instead, saving the "hit" for the final night. We'd been PAID to play a GIG now, we were proper rock stars and, surely, only days away from BEING DISCOVERED, so why SHOULD we pander to them? We did relent the next night, which was just as well as it would prove to be our final gig.

Weeks before when I'd rung The Boy's Head I'd told them we were "Alternative Comedy" and could happily play two sets of 45 minutes each. When I told the others about this I was confident we could fill the time, despite the fact that over the past FIVE YEARS we had only managed to come up with 25 minutes of material, at least 15 of which would be completely unusuable in the live environment, and the other 10 GUARANTEED to get us our heads kicked in.

Over the next few weeks the other two got increasingly nervous, despite my reassurances. I only started to worry myself when I realised that BOTH our practices had degenerated - as so many of the MOST rock and roll gatherings do - into lengthy games of SCRABBLE without a single new song being worked out. When Mileage and Robin started to BEG me to ring up and cancel the gig I was having none of it, and it was only when they both declared their intention not to turn up and leave me to IMPROVISE 90 MINUTES worth of material that I relented and, bravely, rang the landlord up to tell him we'd all broken our legs. Not the same leg, obviously. That would be ridiculous.

And so the legend that was The Masters Of Nothing came to an end. The three of us dedicated our time together to going to Beer Festivals and, most Christmas Eves for the next twenty years, THE PUB. It's something we share MUCH more of a natural talent for.
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