Monday, 14 June 2010 In the late '70s I was working in an ad agency that was slap bang in the middle of Soho and through the windows of said agency we had a front seat view of the rich pageant of Soho life parading around only a few feet below.
The agency was only a few yards away from the passage next to ‘Raymond’s Review Bar’ and we were able to observe the prostitutes, armed policemen, con men, clip girls, drunks, fighting Irish, junkies, glue sniffers and all manner of street people. These types were very thick on the ground in the Soho of the '70s.
One got very used to seeing some of them. There was one guy I used to see a lot. A dyed-haired, lanky git, normally dressed from head to toe in leather who obviously thought of himself as some sort of covert rock star. He also wore eye-liner. He always looked totally messed up, emaciated and out of it. It was not an appealing sight. I remember being particularly appalled by seeing the lanky git walking through Soho market with his scrotum hanging out of a hole in his trousers. He seemed totally oblivious.
Working right in the middle of Soho did have it's advantages though. My office was a 30 second jog away from the best second hand record shop in the country - ‘Cheapo Cheapo’ - and every Wednesday morning, at about 11.00 o’clock, the new review copies would arrive and be put straight out into the racks.
I was, by this time, a voracious reader of both Sounds and NME and my journalistic heroes were Charles Shaar Murray, Nick Kent and Danny Baker. I pretty much bought every record they gave a decent review to.
So every Wednesday at exactly 10.55, I'd make an excuse at work and jog down to Cheapo Cheapo to buy, at about half price, some of the records that had been favourably reviewed in the previous weeks rock papers. I didn't realise it at the time but there was every likelihood these were exactly the same copies that had been so reviewed.
I'd often see the lanky git hanging about Cheapo Cheapo at the same time as me and I assumed he'd worked out what time the review copies arrived too. I always tried to make sure I got to the best records before he did and, for some strange reason, I always seemed to.
I'd been doing this for quite a few years in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Until eventually I got the sack from the agency, became a photographer and I met the writer Cynthia Rose. Through her, I got a crack at working for the NME myself.
One day, when we were both hanging about Virgin Records in Oxford Street, she introduced me to my hero Nick Kent. And I recognised him as the lanky git. The very same lanky git that I'd seen rather too much of once before.
(And so it eventually dawned on me that he hadn't been hanging about ‘Cheapo Cheapo’ buying the records but rather selling them the ones I'd then been buying).
The above story is just a feeble excuse to recommend, to anyone reading this, Nick Kent's fantastic new book 'Apathy For the Devil' which is a '70s memoir of his time as a rock writer and it has some absolutely fantastic stuff about the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Chrissie Hynde and the Sex Pistols. It's just about my favourite book since his last one 'The Dark Stuff.'
Oh and I apologise for calling him a git.