I first met Jon Pallace when he was fifteen years old. He and Carl Rainer had latched onto Mark Hawke, Wolfy and the boys, who were two or three years older, and became regulars at Dominic Bell’s. I was twenty-four or so, and therefore somewhat dubious about being in their company as we got involved with so much illegal madness. They were such nice, innocent boys, and I didn’t want to corrupt them. Neither did I want to be seen as their corrupter by parents and fellow adults. I would not only be blackballed by local society, but also strung up by the legal system. I shuddered when I first saw them in that den of iniquity.
Hawke was the most rational of the boys at that time, and when I voiced my concerns he told me not to worry and assured me that ‘they were years ahead of their peers, wise enough to join in the fun’. It didn’t take me long to know he was right. The boys lacked experience, for sure, but their curiosity did not well over into stupidity. They were willing to be lead, but cocky enough to ask questions if they were unsure of anything. They understood, without my tutorship, that communication is vital. There is no-one I hate more than those who are too afraid to ask when they know they should do, because those people always end up fucking things up when they could have made a task very easy simply by using a small amount of courage. I never had this trouble with Jon and Carl.
The first quality that endeared me to them was their boyish charm. They could be defiant, but in a cheeky rascal type of way. Like me, they were adventurers, seeking to find the answers to all life’s amazing mysteries and still being young enough to have a zest for the journey. It was refreshing to see them, as many of my own age had become cynical and/or afraid. Even Hawke, who was five or six years my junior, came to Dominic’s not to break down the doors of the mind and trip the light fantastic, but to indulge in the excess that is the symptom of surrender; escapism from a cruel world, rather than the voyage into a new and superior one. To him, drug taking was a purely physical experience. His mind was a device he used to further the thrill his body wanted, rather than the other way around. He did not consider all the mysteries such as God, Space, and Time, because he didn’t care. He was also afraid. Breaking down barriers is a dangerous thing.
His best friend, Wolfy, was a kindred spirit in so far as his artistic interests were concerned, as he was fascinated with Mumbo-Jumbo, Black Magic and the like, but he was ultimately selfish in his pursuits. He wanted to impress, rather than learn. He wanted to teach before he actually knew what he was talking about. Dominic, the host, was not so much selfish as ridiculously self-obsessed, and too lost in his own mind to share his visions with anyone else. I found him to be the most intriguing person I ever met, for he could not express himself but it was blatantly obvious in his wild eyes that he was well in tune with the supernatural and spiritual. Such people end up in mental asylums, for their inability to share their secrets drives them to madness. I was lucky in that I could express myself through music. Jon and Carl were blessed in that they could express themselves through paintings and drawings that were of the highest order. Moreover, academic bias or political or historical intention had not tainted their minds. They simply painted what they saw in their fresh, courageous minds. They as people did not intrigue me in the slightest, for I knew them instantly as if I had known them for eternity. Their only mystery was the mystery of the universe, which will never be answered until we become as gods and know all.
It was in striving to solve the mystery, which cannot be solved, that we drew closer. I had known painters before, but they might as well have been decorators for the good they did. For the long, hot Summer of 1989 I saw two children grow into true sailors of the imagination, and as days grew into weeks grew into months of knowing them, I felt honoured to witness their voyage as it coincided with and then became my own. It was like a rudimentary and purist film, in which they supplied the images and I supplied the soundtrack. The story was about all the boys who went to Dominic’s den of iniquity, and if anyone it was Hawke who narrated the tale, as he sat in the big chair by the fire and told us all of what had been going on in our own lives of revelry and debauchery. But it was we who turned the great voyage into an epic feast for the senses. It was we who supplied the sound and vision. The Director was God, or the mystery itself. Or the Old Man of Ingham.
In getting to know the boys, I got to know their histories, which are not unlike my own. I believe the North Western people to be a mongrel breed, that is second only to the American. At one time, barbarians roamed the British Isles, and lack of sea transport meant that no one went out or came in. Then came the Celts, from Europe, whose peoples mixed with those of the Isles. Then came the Romans, who brought slaves from faraway parts of the Earth. Then came the Angles, Saxons, Danes and Vikings, from Northern Europe, who established the monarchy system that is still in use today. Then came the Normans, who inhabited England exclusively and made it the dominating conqueror of the rest of the Isles. Ireland, Scotland and Wales had embraced Catholicism in the first millennium, but were not as keen on the new ‘Protestant’ religion that was forced upon them when England took over in the middle ages. Their struggle to remain independent politically was mirrored by their efforts to retain the faith they had become accustomed to, and that is why Ireland (with the exception of Ulster, of course) remains fiercely Catholic. In the nineteenth century, the Potato Famine forced a mass exodus from Ireland, and the nearest port they could reach was the grand old city of Liverpool. Manchester is not far from that, and so naturally received a large intake of immigrants from the Emerald Isle. Many North-Westerners are the descendants of those immigrants, but we have grown up in England and been raised as English people. If we consider, then, that England is the mongrel state of Europe, then the North West is just that little bit more mongrel. We are a culmination of almost the entire world, or Europe at least.
Jon and Carl were raised as Catholics, as I was. Unlike this lucky pair, however, I went to an all-boys school that was run by priests. My childhood was hard and vigorous, a bona-fide torment, but I would not have it any other way for it made me the person that I became. In not being given the right to question religion and the existence of God, I developed the desire to question - moreso than those who had been given that right, as a man with no legs would quite literally give his right arm to walk the miles a lazy man does not want to. Jon and Carl had that same desire, for they were of the same stock. In Jon, though, I discovered something still more fascinating. He showed me a scroll, giving a brief rundown of the Pallace name. Apparently, the family had begun in Cornwall some thousand years ago, as beach scavengers who survived on the spoils of shipwrecks no less. Some had then moved up the coast, into Wales, and roamed for a while. Eventually, they ended up in Ireland, and remained there until this century. In Jon, I could not only see the beach scavenger (he could whip up enough to score in the shake of a lamb’s tail!), but detected something of the holy rebel in him. I knew, whereas he didn’t, that his name is similar to that of the Welsh rebel hero, Gwyn Palis. When I told him of this matter, he didn’t seem to care. History wasn’t as relevant to him, but no matter. He was still very young, after all.
Naturally, I grew somewhat protective of my younger friend. I never knew his father, Jim Pallace, but I knew his reputation as an honest, hard worker, and a strong and decent man. Jon was at the worrisome age, and I could sympathise with the torment his parents may have been going through as they heard rumours of him taking drugs and associating with the bad crowds. Dominic’s flat was already well known as a den of iniquity amongst the gossipers, and to be seen entering it was to be labelled as one of the ‘unholy ones’. I didn’t want Jon to be tarred with the same brush I had been. I was big enough to take it, but he wasn’t. Moreover, his mum and dad didn’t deserve it. They had raised him well, but small minds are quick to judge. Drug taking is wrong to them, and that’s all there is to it. They will not see that a kid has many qualities, or is going through a learning experience, if that kid breaks a time-honoured taboo that simpletons are too afraid to break. For this reason, I made sure that Jon and Carl entered the flat under cover of night only. It was best for all concerned.
Jonny had, up until the time I met him, been primarily the ‘nice’ boy that everybody liked; the angelic kid who upset nobody. At some time, which was probably puberty, some sort of penny dropped. A voice inside him told him that, although he was well liked and popular, he wasn’t feared or even respected, and therefore no one saw him as a force to be reckoned with. He had never been seen as a fighter, but deep down he knew he was and it was time to show it.
His charm, which had always been apparent, had endeared him to older, roguish types who looked after him. Jon was quick to realise that gaining a reputation as a hard man was as much to do with mental attitude as physical strength, and his new backup gave him that confidence. When his body grew, rapidly in the space of a year or so, the brains and brawn union was complete and there was no stopping him. He got into fights with those who had taken him for granted as soft because he had been mild mannered, and showed them what he was made of. It was a case of no more Mr. Nice Guy. He never became a bully, but he took no shit either.
His new problem became his new-found reputation as a fighter. Teenage kids like nothing more than to see a fight, and once it became known that Jonny was a pleasure to watch, an audience began to goad him into strife. One thing that hadn’t changed in him was his eagerness to please, and he found a new way of pleasing. It was good that I came along, for I curbed that bad habit of crowd-pleasing in him. One night, a lad called Revs came to Dominic’s, and he was in Jon’s year at school. He was winding Jonny up about comments a boy called Kenny had made about him, and how he should go and ‘waste him’. I could tell what was happening. Revs didn’t like Kenny for whatever reason, and he simply wanted to see him battered but couldn’t do it himself. He was appealing to Jon’s ego to get the job done, and knew that this ego would be fuelled all the more by the praise being given it in front of older chaps like me. Sure enough, Jon’s ego was fuelled, and I could tell that he did think that I was impressed by the way Revs talked about how hard he was, but I wasn’t. I pulled Jonny to one side and put him straight. I told him that, if he were to do anything at all, he should simply pull this Kenny up in front of everybody, and ask him straight out if he wished to say anything, face-to-face. If he chose to insult him, I said, insult him back, as you are well capable of doing so. If he punches you, punch him back, and you will win as you are in the right by defending yourself. If he says or does nothing at all, then it either proves he is a coward or that he did not say anything in the first place and Revs is lying. Either way, you cannot lose. All that is required is a bit of thought and a calm, collected spirit. I think that this was the first time Jonny truly understood that violence really does not have to be the answer. Before then, he had merely been told that it was wrong. I let him know that it is, a great deal of the time, nowhere near as effective as other methods of revenge or justice.
His frustration as a growing young man, however, was trouble enough. He may have curbed his desire to show off, but he was boiling away inside. At home, he became the black sheep of the family, and became prone to tantrums and acts of defiance. As if puberty were not enough alone, he was taking mind-bending drugs and not getting enough sleep, and then getting in trouble at school as a result. His falling grades got him into trouble with his parents, and then he would take solace from the drugs again. The vicious circle was therefore in place, and there was no stopping it. The best art, however, comes from pain, and the artistry that came from his mind at this time was truly and undeniably impeccable. I felt sorry for Jonny the boy, but was fascinated with Jon the visionary, and could not bear to see him go. Some of the paintings that I saw at this time were better than any of my wildest dreams. In fact, I began to see them in my wildest dreams, as no doubt we all did, even Hawke. They were a monster awakening; a forgotten god that had been buried below the Earth for millenniums, now pulling its head out of the sand just in time for the Space Age and the Apocalypse. As Jon Pallace had said ‘No more Mr. Nice guy’, so this forgotten spirit was saying, ‘Don’t forget me. I’m back, and I’m not done yet. Nowhere near.’
The most unique of his paintings was one that could only be described as a ‘war scene’. When I say ‘unique’, I do not mean ‘best’. I mean that it was like no other in that it was both abstract and concrete. It had all the usual swirls and unnameable elements that hypnotise the viewer and drag him in for no particular reason, but was a depiction of a scene that can be recognised and understood in a literal sense. It was the artistic equivalent of an unstoppable dictator: charismatic and attractive, but having something meaningful and reasonable in its content. Very few of Jon’s works had both these elements about them. Like him, they were usually simply ‘good to look at’, not that that is a very bad thing.
The scene centred upon two young men, or boys even, on a battlefield. They were soldiers of course, but it was impossible to tell who they fought for. Battle rages around them: tanks and missiles and bombs going off can be seen in the background, and men can be seen fighting one-on-one with each other. One of the two boys is badly wounded, dying even, and is being nursed by the other. It is a touching moment, the nursing boy being dead-cert in the line of fire, but not moving to safety for his own good. He is willing to die rather than leave his comrade in his dying moments. It is more important to him that his friend be comforted in those final seconds, than any war be won or that he may keep his life. It is a scene of unbounded loyalty, and love, and friendship, and all those things. Or so it seems.
On closer inspection, another possibility is raised. The wounded boy is lying fully horizontally, and the other is sat up, cradling the wounded boy’s head in his arms. However, after looking carefully, I noticed that – and dare I say it – ‘cradling’ may not be the right description. Choking might be a more appropriate word, to the disgust of millions. On first impression, it seems obvious that both soldiers are on the same side. Not because they wear the same uniform, for, as I said before, it is impossible to distinguish whom they are fighting for, or even what they are wearing at all. What is noticed first of all, to the credit of the clever painter, is that both boys are crying. It is the natural human instinct to assume that they are both crying for the same reason: one of them is about to die. But the alternative possibility raises an almost-infinite amount of possibilities. The soldiers may be on opposite sides, the dying boy crying because he is about to die and the other because he feels the guilt of strangling him. Or, perhaps the strangler is wreaking revenge on a soldier who has just killed his best friend, and is crying not through guilt - but through sadness over the recent death of that friend. Or perhaps, and most intriguing of all, it is neither of those possibilities. Perhaps, and this is the theory that I find most tragic, both soldiers are on the same side, and one is killing the other for an unknown, mysterious reason. The reason I find this the most tragic theory is this: the tears of the killer let us know that the murder is something he has to do, rather than wants to. It is the murder of someone he loves very, very dearly.
Despite having the option of staying at Dominic’s, Jon and Carl were partial to sleeping rough in wild Ingham places, such as the Moss or the wasteland near the canal. Eventually, as the Summer of ’89 drew on, they began to favour the great outdoors to the eerie indoors. Of course, I was too old for such horseplay, but fair play to them. Ingham is a supreme place for tripping in, and the boys discovered great things that summer. I was only sad that I began to see less and less of them, but they would still pop round to show me their paintings and I could still see their graffiti on numerous walls and buses. After all, they were still an inspiration to me, and my music got better and better.
My band was called ‘The Jungle Monsters’, a four piece outfit consisting of myself on the bass and vocals, Dave Murray on lead, Bob Trellis on keyboard and vocals, and Buckie (Mark Buckingham) on the drums. We were a kind of reggae -ska sound, the sound of the streets. Ingham had a number of amateur bands at that time, but the others were old-hat fame seekers really, and played metal or rock and didn’t really have anything to say. We were more voice of the common man – or woman. We did a few gigs in small pubs and the like, but things really took off when Bob bought the van. We went all over the show, and played for peanuts, but we loved it and gathered quite an audience around Ingham and surrounding areas. In June ’89, we did an outside gig underneath Swingrope Bridge, which is an Ingham landmark in Longleaf Park, near the canal. It rained, typically, but we carried on playing and the atmosphere was phenomenal. The area had seen nothing like it, for it was an event that had nothing to do with the council, or any other organisation. It was achieved through the efforts of four young local lads, and the publicity was nought but word of mouth. Only people we wanted to be there showed up, because we didn’t hand out flyers or put up posters. After all, the whole shebang was illegal, and completely free of charge.
The Swingrope Bridge gig was a great success (until the Law arrived), but it was ultimately all done in the name of fun, or experimentation. A month later, a man with a quiff called Billy Reeves came to us with a proposal. He was planning ‘a political stunt’ in Ingham; ‘a musical protest against Thatcher’s new Poll Tax regime’. He said he wished to call the gig “Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebellion”, and he had already asked a number of local bands to play at it. He asked us last of all, but said that this by no means meant that we were the least of them. Naturally, we agreed, as to snub it would be to snub a worthy cause. He let us know gently that we would not be getting paid, but we wouldn’t have expected to anyway. “All for the love of”, I said to him.
Now, all of a sudden, we were doing something serious. The prospect made me quake in my boots, especially as I was the frontman. I had always been the sort of person that had tried to speak my mind; to stand up for what I believe to be right. I had always been a strong supporter of the Working Class that I grew up part of. I had always tried to champion the underdog wherever I could, but now I was being elected as a spokesman, and had no choice. This could be no hobby or ambition anymore. I had no excuse to ignore my calling, even if it was just a humble gig on the park. It was do or die, and I needed courage.
I found that courage, that inspiration, in none other than my young friend Jon Pallace. We were having a discussion one night about a painting he had done. I started rambling on about Art movements, and how they were not just about changing styles but about changing ideas about life and morality and all those things. I said that, at one time, great artists like Da Vinci and Michaelangelo were revered as great political thinkers and leaders, and the people would just as soon elect such men to govern their country as they would any king or pope. They truly believed that men that could have such vision in leadership as they did in art, for they did not make a distinction between science and belief. They believed that the power of God was in visionaries, and saw a king as someone who ruled in God’s name. Nowadays, a king’s place is to be the most rational of us. He is the one that the masses expect to tell them not to do this or that, for the instinct is now seen as the enemy of progress. An artist’s place in this society is to be a lone rebel, as opposed to a rebel that people will follow.
Jon pondered what I had said, and then declared that, in his view, the entertainer is the strongest modern form of rebel leader. Common people do not put their faith in the metaphysical or abstract ideas any more, but entertainment is something everybody will understand. It is not difficult to comprehend because it is fun and relaxing, as a teacher with a good smile and enjoyable personality is far more effective than one who merely spouts out reels of information. The painter, or writer, requires effort to be understood, whereas the comic or musician is like an old friend that has never left. For a fifteen year old, this was an impressive insight. Somewhere in my mind, I had known this all along, but his reminder was invaluable to me. I wasn’t asking him for inspiration, but he gave it to me anyway. The people of the town wanted a voice, and I could be it. His paintings may be for the enlightened, the wandering and the insane. But my music was for everybody as either a call to arms, a reassurance, or a fierce and fiery warning.
The Poll Tax gig went pretty well. It was a good laugh, quite a few turned up, and we got a fine reception that was probably the best out of the lot. Yeah, sure, it was a giggle and a half, but it was in no way and nowhere near the call to arms that I had wanted it to be. It seems that Ingham people are happy enough to be enslaved by the Thatcherist regime. Either that, or they cannot find the effective balance between protest and drunken revelry that is known as peaceful demonstration. They had gathered on Privvy Park to unite in raising their voices against the government’s injustice, but had only succeeded in uniting to get completely f***ed up together again, as usual. Same old story. Work is the curse of the partying classes, indeed.
At one point, even, it seemed that the crowd had moved to the opposite side of rebellion – if I dare say it. It seems that, on a day that was set aside to do something about our position as the downtrodden class, a declaration was subconsciously (or perhaps otherwise) made that we are not the downtrodden class at all, but a decadent and wasteful one. It made my stomach churn at the time, but now it makes my blood boil.
It happened like this: - Jonny’s siblings had come along with him, and they were his big sister, Anna, and his two little brothers, Leo and Theo. Leo, who was a chubby little twat of about twelve, was not interested in the music at all, and had been running around like a spoilt little shit who needed a firm hand all afternoon, tripping over people and spitting and disturbing the songs and generally being an awkward little menace pain in the arse little fat kid, with a disgusting mop of poncey blonde hair. I don’t know why he was there, as he was far too young to be seeing people skinning up and whatever, and none of his friends were there. It suddenly dawned on me that he probably didn’t have any friends anyway, and I could imagine the scene as he sobbed and bawled and begged Jonny to ‘let him go with him’, and his mother who always let him have his own way told Jonny not to be cruel, and he was forced into being chaperone. “While you’re at it,” she said, “Why don’t you bring Theo along aswell?”, and so he did. Good old Anna had offered to help him out, and so there we had it, all four of the Pallace kids watching a Working Class Political Protest on the park. Scrumptious. Better than a picnic anyday.
Anyway, some good soul had been handing sandwiches around, and they were being eaten too. Leo got carried away trying to impress his big brother’s friends, and lobbed a moist ham and cheese sandwich right into Carl Rainer’s eye. It was quite funny, and people laughed. Naturally, Carl threw it back. Fate needed not be tempted too far for Leo to throw another, sweatier sandwich back once more, but this time not at Carl’s eye but all over the top of his nice new shirt and neck. He jumped up, ran and caught up with the giggling fleeing Leo, and rubbed something equally as disgusting all over his lovely blonde hair. Whilst he did so, Hawke and all the other wreckheads watching began to pelt him with all sorts of food. In turn, other wreckheads pelted them, and a bona fide foodfight was launched. Hunger and starvation in the third world was forgotten completely, as the revellers mucked in and got messy. I wasn’t on stage at the time, or else I might have said something down the mike, but their ignorance and stupidity pissed me off no end. I simply stood there, shaking my head. Little Leo caught my gaze, and gave me a wicked, self-satisfied little grin. He looked like the Antichrist.
The foodfight created an air of indifference that wasn’t the purpose of the afternoon. The next band was a heavy metal act called ‘Live Wire’ or something, and their lead singer happened to be a woman. Wolfy started the abuse with something like “Show us your crack you dirty lez greaser!”, and that was it. Even Hawke, who saw the immaturity of it all, could not help but throw a few insults. The food fight had now become a food attack, from the audience at a poor unsuspecting genuine group of rockers. I have never been much of a metal fan myself, but the behaviour was completely uncalled for. They were trying to do their bit for a good cause, and their payment was in getting covered in butty paste and chicken leg grease. I was disgusted.
One good thing that came of that afternoon, however, was meeting Jon’s sister, Anna. She was quite a sane, well-rounded girl who had her feet well and truly on the ground. It was hard to imagine that one of her brothers was an outer-space acid freak, whilst another was the spawn of Satan. I wondered how this could be, and asked her, and somewhere in her hazy answer she mentioned that their mother, before she had married their dad, and for ten years at least, had been a nun! I could not believe it. I looked at Jon and Leo, ecstatic in the foodfight, and wondered what life had in store for tiny Theo, the youngest. It could only be disaster, God help him.
I developed a serious interests in the martial arts when I was eighteen. I began to attend a Karate dojo in Salsworth, which I was introduced to by a good friend, Tony Morrison. I got well into it. I worked my way up the belts very quickly, as I was so keen. I adhered strictly to the code of the art, and not only did it dominate my life but it became my life. It is a popular misconception that to learn a martial art is to learn how to fight, but this is far from the whole truth. A martial art is not only a method of survival, but a method of living a life. In order to enrich the soul of one’s self, one’e peers, and one’s universe, one must raise him or her self above the sphere of basic survival, although basic survival must not be forgotten. Martial arts, and in my case Karate, teach the perfect mental and physical attitudes to both survival and human development. They can not teach ‘good’ or ’bad’ness, but they will give strength to whoever wishes to learn.
Naively, I had thought that martial arts teachers were nothing else but machines that passed the skills on; living scripture who were nothing else. I soon discovered that my teachers were men of many talents, and had a wide variety of occupations and careers that were as diverse as, for example, medicine and journalism. My own sensai, Master Schin, was a book publisher. He wasn’t a media mogul or anything, but he had quite a number of authors working for him. As I became known as a regular in the dojo, I would come into more frequent contact with some of these writers as they met with Schin to discuss their different projects. I befriended these people, and was intrigued by them as I had never known true writers before. They were secretive about their work in progress, but not because they were arrogant. On the contrary, they were modest enough to believe that explanation of their work could only be degradation of it, for it (as an art) was bigger than they the artist. They did not find themselves worthy of being explainers of either their own work or anyone else’s, and didn’t want to be. In short, they didn’t want to do others the dishonour of boring them, or the injustice of discouraging them from reading the books for themselves.
Schin did not only have contacts in the literary field, however. Painters, musicians, actors, poets, scriptwriters, and all kinds of miscellaneous artists were part of his circle. As my love for music developed, I was inspired and assisted by some of these people. I have a good guitarman, Georgie Winter, to thank for meeting Bob Trellis and Mark Buckingham, and so ultimately for the formation of our band The Monsters. By the time I was twenty-one, I myself was a regular member of the circle, contributing my musical ideas. Karate eventually became only a very small part of it. We lived parallel lives, each of us. We had the same lifestyles, went to the same nightclubs, and so on. There was no ‘name’ for this circle, but it was in no doubt a circle nonetheless, and no less a circle for it. It wasn’t open to just any old tom dick or harry. It was exclusive, for we were exclusive people, and didn’t want our group to be tainted by narrow minds. This attitude was not snobbery, but self-preservation. We had a lot to offer, and had to grow as a unit first before we had the confidence to share our ideas with the ‘outside’ world. Although I had been introduced to Bob and Mark through Georgie Winter, The Jungle Monsters were not an outfit that were regarded as part of the circle, for I and I only was part of its ranks.
As I spent more time with The Monsters, however, I realised that music – or contemporary, northern music at least - had lost some of its sway with the artistic types of Schin’s circle. Manchester bands such as The Smiths, Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, which had at one time been cultural icons of the underground, of bohemia, became mainstream in the late eighties. As urban, Indie groups became increasingly popular with the ‘pop’ market, they fell out of favour with the underground that had made them what they were. The Monsters, for all our artistic intentions, were one of the unfortunate victims of this fall from ‘grace’. Our music, to members of the circle, was not bohemian enough for it was the sort of thing that could now be heard on Top of the Pops. It was upsetting, but true. In the everyday world though, in Ingham and Elswick and Calford and Sointon, we were as alive and new and rebellious and poetic as any kind of working class hero. I was magnetised by, and in awe of, Schin’s artistic circle, for sure. But I was most at home with the band, for they were my roots and bread and butter, and all that jazz. I may have been looking to the stars as part of the circle, but The Jungle Monsters were what I saw when I closed my eyes; the constant, humble voice of reason that tells me not to get to big for my boots.
I stayed in close contact with various members of the circle as the years passed, however. I bumped into Luke Garrett, a painter, one sunny afternoon in August, 1989, and we went for a few drinks. I told him about Jonny, and how impressed I was with his work, and I told him about the war scene painting I had seen some months before. He showed more than a casual interest in what I described to him, and asked if I could get hold of it so as that he could see it for himself. The painting was still at Dominic’s, to my surprise, but Jonny was on holiday in France and so I couldn’t get his permission to take it away. I did, nevertheless, and arranged to meet Luke at the same place in town two days later. He was excited to see me carrying the painting as I walked into the pub. He was also dressed in a suit.
“Mallie!” he boomed, “Sit down, my good good friend! I’ll get you a drink!”
I unrolled the painting and lay it out on the table as he went to the bar, tapping the counter and his legs in excitement. When he got back, he placed the beers on the table next to us for fear of knocking them over and ruining the piece. He did not sit down to look at the painting, but hovered around it like a predator for ten seconds. He wasn’t smiling now, but his eyes had the glare of a maniac in love. He paused, and then looked up at the ceiling, clenching a fist triumphantly.
“That’s it!!!!!!! Fuck me fuck me fuck ME!!!!!!! That’s IT!”
“It’s IT!!!! Oh fuck me, oh Mallie, my saviour! Oh Mallie you darlin’, we have to go right now. There’s no time to waste!”
He made a dash for the door, leaving the beers behind.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
He clasped my hand and said, “To Piers Adrian, my little Godsend. It’s about time you met him!”
On the mysterious journey that followed, Luke explained who ‘Piers Adrian’ was. He had begun life as the heir to a massive estate, as his name suggested. He was either a baron or a marquess, but in any case born with aristocratic, blue blood. I was intrigued from the outset.
‘Piers Adrian’ was not his real name. This enigmatic, flamboyant and downright mythical character had given up his birthright at an early age, choosing to take a share of the family fortune and wander the world, as mythical heroes do. Like a Byron or Shelley, he had a poetic and adventurous soul that forced him to do such a thing. He had no interest in business or the workings of the nation’s government, but only in life itself and the fantastic intricacies of the human condition. Coupled with this, he had a strong sense of justice. Like a saint of old, he could see no eternal reward for him in looking after himself and his own. He made a pledge, at a young age, to devote his money, lands, and fancy title to equality and real universal achievement. He cast off his human chains, to become what can only be described as a ‘mercenary of love’.
In the sixties, as a young man, he had changed his name. Shrewdly, the name he gave himself still had the aristocratic sound, and so he could make an instant impression with it if the matter should need one. His aim was to leave the trappings of the aristocracy behind, but retain the perks; the power and influence such a name ensures. It is a sad state of society that the rich man will always find it twice as easy to double his fortune than the poor man, but it’s true. Unlike other rich men, however, Piers had the power not only to double his fortune, but also to do with it as he pleased. In his heroic case, this meant easing the suffering of the world, or at least helping out as best he could. He did not need riches, but rather funds, and was rare in that, with tact, he could have an endless supply.
To begin with, Piers was held back by the madness of the decade. He was primarily a hippy, and the anti-consumerist attitude of he and his kind meant that he had little to do with money at all. The allowance from his parents, which they still gave him despite his departure (they probably thought it would be an immature phase), was enough to see him survive as one of the millions that could pass for middle class. He went to all the festivals and lived in fields and all that sort of palava, but not only because it was the new way of the young and enlightened but because it was the way he had chosen. It wasn’t a trend for him, for he had given up a mountain to do it. As the years passed on, he realised that the hippy thing was a trend to the world as a whole. Like many others, he saw hypocrisy rear its ugly head when the flower children turned into car salesmen. The hippy generation had not only let him down because he saw the dreams for real and they didn’t, but they had blinded his eyes to his true calling. He didn’t realise, for many years, that he didn’t have to ‘drop out’ of society because it was bad. He, more than anyone, had the option of reforming it from within. He didn’t have to be a conscientious objector at all, and suddenly saw how he ridiculous he was for having been one. He had been born with not one supreme gift, but two. He not only had a good soul, but the luck of having a title to go with it. Men would follow him if he could only have a small dose of that third of the supreme gifts, courage.
With what is called ‘sound acumen’, Piers dived into the technical revolution of the seventies. He launched a film company, which was small at first. Unlike someone who has more money than sense, he did not make offers to employees he could not afford to keep for long, expecting their reputations as stars or respected artists to bring him overnight sums. He scouted for talent, using his own creative foresight to find unknowns he could see great things in. These unknowns rewarded his bravery and faith by living up to his expectations, and produced fine works. His company, which Luke couldn’t remember the name of, was responsible for a host of art-house type films that are commercially unknown, but artistically successful. The artists, and technicians, and all under Mr. Adrian’s employment, were given shares in the company and its profits, and became the circle of the leader and company director. They became his family, and the only condition for being so was simply this: that they acknowledge the duty they have to the world, and accept Piers Adrian as their father.
The film company was the foundation of a colossal building that is now almost limitless. Like Andy Warhol before him, Piers built a factory of artistic achievement and a secret society, or even religion, of artists of varied descriptions. This ‘society’ was something that Luke didn’t feel he had the right to speak about to me, as only Piers could decide who was inducted. He did, however, say that in his reckoning I was already part of the group, for one large reason. Piers knew who I was, and was awaiting my arrival to tell the whole intricate shebang himself.
Luke drove me all the way to North Wales, with all its heavenly scenery. Much of the area is green, mountainous and empty, and as such is not only home to poor rural folk, but millionaires and criminals who either want to escape from society or make societies of their own. Of course, Piers Adrian is of the latter category. As the countryside dwellings became sparser and more mysterious on the ancient roads we ambled through at slow, respectful speed, I got a feel for the manner of Lord Adrian’s pilgrimage into a higher world; the world of timid wisdom, true focus, and nature. The gentle wind that strolled down from the untainted hills around was a cavalcade of voices that were the wisdom of the ages; the ghosts of humans, animals and the dreams and memories of both. This was their land, but they needed not to defend it. All those that heard them had been invited; chosen to be guests in the pure, original and real Earth. In hearing the wind the way I did, I had no choice in being their ally.
My good nature knew that I could be nothing else, as otherwise I would not have been invited. Nature is bigger than us, and knows who has the good souls. It does not need to do an identity check, because it can hear you better than you can hear yourself. It has been listening to whispers for millions upon millions of years.
In a place called Llanbedr, on a hilltop above forests and the streams of dreams, stood an ancient castle. “This is it”, Luke grinned, “This is the home of Piers Adrian”.
Getting in was as much of an assault course as I had imagined any rich abode to be, with upward winding driveways, electric gates, and a multitude of shrubbery and guard dogs. A footman (I say this rather than ‘butler’ or ‘concierge’ because he really was dolled up as the original 17th century escort) had been awaiting our arrival, and took us to the front door. The garden was majestic yet humble, evergreens and pines and swirling ivies and all that gear. The front door, when we finally got there, was almost hidden under shrubbery that I could imagine was as old as the castle itself. I would say that I couldn’t believe what was happening to me, but that would be a lie as I felt welcome in such a way that I felt like a son coming home. I have never been a wealthy man, and am far from having aristocratic ancestry, but the splendour I saw around me was not decadence for reputation’s sake, but decadence for art, or comfort’s, sake. It was an easing scene; warm, but not too hot. Cool, but not cold. I could smell the fancy freedom of the flora and fauna, but it did not make me sneeze
The huge, creaky, horrorhouse door was opened from the inside, by a butler who said “WELL-corme” in such a way that my mind can explain but my brain can not. He moved aside to reveal a vast hallway, with all its grandeur and tinsel and fizz and relicry. In the midst of it all, letting me see him only when I’d seen the rest, was an extraordinary looking figure; a white, flannel suited, trilby-hatted, cane holding, dancing dapperdan with a pipe in his mouth. He held a Fred Astaire pose for five seconds, with his legs crossed and his hat raised slightly with his finger and thumb in a salute fashion, and then floated towards me. As he got closer, I realised that he was actually quite old. But, as I looked into his magnetic eyes, I saw some sort of eternal youth who refused to lie down and die. His skin may have given his age away with close inspection, but his eyes continued to dance the dance of mischief. He was a character. A real character indeed and praise God.
“Now, my good man and boy, is it Mal, or Mal-a-chy?” was his opening line. He was as posh as I expected him to be, but his voice had a shrill power and brilliance in it; a strength that says more about the character than all the dances in the world. Anthony Hopkins, who also has the Welsh connection, has that same godly voice. Awesome, but not frightening.
“Well”, I said, “It’s Mal, but I don’t mind”
“Good good, then bring it on to me, Malachy H. Bellis! My only regret, at this point in time I may add and I’m sure it’s a regret I’m likely to forget, is that I didn’t meet you sooner, you’re a sunray, I bet!!”
Those words are probably not impressive, written upon this page and all, but Piers’ rhythmic and rhyming introduction was hilarious. What a card, I thought. What a complete and utter glorious loon. He offered me his handshake, but when I returned mine he took it away and did the old thumb-on-nose-wiggly-fingers-ner-ner trick, laughing heartily. He put his arm round my shoulder, and began to walk me. He looked up to the heavens and sighed reflectively.
“Ahh, Malachy H. Bellis. What wonder to see you at last. I wondered when I would at last see you, and now you’re here, at last. Garrett has told me so much about you, isn’t that right good Garrett good god? I have so much to say, and so much time to tell it too which is an almighty first! I didn’t tell you that I did a deal with the devil did I? I ripped him off! Now time is mine and I own time! If I bore you, MalBel, let me tell you now that you can make no age-old excuse about time ‘running low’ for you; appointments and responsibilities and the like. Such constraints of yours are dismissed by my command, for I OWN TIME!!!!!!! You will not have to leave this bizarre castle of mine for at least the next seven lifetimes, and that’s a gifted and special number, because I wrote your schedule in advance of your arrival here good man good god. I own time! Isn’t that as much an orgasm for you as it is for me, Luke Garrett and all God’s creatures including America? Of course it is, and I hope you’ll help me celebrate this once again as I have countless once agains before, and once again I’ll have the perfect excuse for adding to my physical death, once again. Will you join me for a drink? An earnest, luscious sweet drink that will warm our cockles and help us to get to know each other?”
“And I’m glad of it, though I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer. I see that you’re very confused and overwhelmed by this manner of mine, and I don’t blame you for I am too and it is for that very reason that my manner is so. Chicken and egg! But, to eradicate any paranoia you may have, I will assure you now and I’m sure good Garrettgod will back me up in this, that I have brought you here to give you good news. But, in order to earn the right to hear this news, you must experience the madness of Piers Adrian Prince of Nowhere. Tee hee hee! Do you have any objections?”
“Good, then I will not show you to the Calazel De Brunnigan hotmeistel Zarragash, or drinking room, for you are already in it. Now, Malachy H. Bellis, I will level with you and you will see me, good god heaven fire and for the life of it.”
I was taken into a lush area with wood fire, trophies and ornaments and the rest. The butler brought us wine, which I had never been particularly into, but relished on this special occasion. Piers let me look around for a minute or two, and then continued with his introduction:
“I suppose Luke has filled you in on a few of my details, which is good because to be quite frank I can really not be bothered to blow my own trumpet at this time in the afternoon, much as you’d like me to! I suppose you have a certain picture of me already. True?”
“True. I’m quite a hero and that’s the short and long of it and let’s not beat around the bush. I may be mad, and comedic, and all those things, but let me tell you now that my mind is a hobby whereas my heart is my purpose. I have found that, for me, sanity is the enemy of goodness in my case because sanity, no matter what the papers say, will always tell me to be greedy. Not only that, but my brain is waiting to become the mind’s employee and make greed a very, very easy thing. I was born into a very rich family. Rich families do not remain as such by sharing their fortunes with those less fortunate, and so greed has been taught to me in such a way that sanity has, and so both go hand in hand. Never let me be sane Malachy. Will you do that for me?”
“Good. I say that greed has been taught to me as a child Mal, but of course it is in no way inherent. Do you know from where my family descends? Do you know who is an ancient grandfather of yours truly, telling you coolly?”
“No, please –
“Robert De Bruce”
“Robert De Bruce”
“I know, he was the greatest Scottish leader. But nationalities are bought and sold and sung about. Blood is in the blood, my boy! Robert De Bruce just happened to be Scottish, as I happen to be English. He only made a big deal of it for he saw the cruelty being reaped on the oppressed, and knew he had to help these poor sods who were trampled on merely for being Scottish. Nowadays, colonialism is dead as far as countries are concerned. The world is divided into the good and evil, and the Robin Hoods of the world are not known for the country they hail from. They are known for heroism and heroism only, if they are known at all. I am not well known. I changed my name to escape the chains of patriotism. It is too late on in the day for borders. My family may milk the constant cow of being offspring of De Bruce, but I have his spirit. Don’t ask me about my old name.
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase, or else the fox will get away although I’m not a foxhunter and never have been nor ever will be. I have invited you here, as well you know, in order that you show me a certain work of art and that I confirm its meaning and tell you all about it. Luke, oh my great messenger and from now on I will call you Mercury as Hermes sounds like an evil disease, show me what I have seen and truly, whole-heartedly want to see once holy more!”
He did as told, and Piers clasped it in his hands. He froze for a solid five minutes whilst he inspected it, delved and fell in love with it. I watched his eyes closely, and they began to water. He then began to fidget and look upward, not knowing how to express his joy. He had seen something like a long lost friend, or a prodigal forgotten saviour who held the solution to all misery and pain itself. He took a while to get the words out, but gave them with clarity, sincerity and emotion. As the story went on, his air went from fond recollection,
“Fifteen years ago, I launched my film company, Underwater Visions. Not many know this, but I wasn’t alone in the venture. My partner…my best friend… was a man called Billy Anderson. Billy was the most wonderful person I have ever known. To say that I am honoured to have known him is a criminal understatement. I met him in the sixties. He was a hippy, like I was, and we did all those ‘revolutionary’ things together. When he got married, I was his Best Man. So you must see, Malachy, how close we were. When we started the company, I was the frontman – the face clients would see most – because I was the one with the fancy name and title. But Billy was the true genius; the seer of the visions that would later become realities in the films we made. Without him, I would be nothing. My family would not exist.
‘My family’ is the name I give to the circle of artists that Mercury has no doubt told you about. Not the most original of fancy names I know, but it’ll do. Billy Anderson was the inspiration behind this group. He was a painter, Malachy, and without bias the greatest painter I have ever seen; a walking work of art visionary who knew time and had shares in eternity. Have you ever felt completely safe with anyone, Mal? By this, I mean feeling safe to the extent that a nuclear bomb could explode in your ear and you would not expect to die because your honest protector will stop even supernatural occurrences affecting you. I have, and Billy Anderson was my hero. He was protected, if you know what I mean and I’m sure that you do.
But the fox is getting away again. Billy may have been protected, but he died a tragic death. He was only thirty-five years young, Mal, and he died of a heart attack. Who are we mere mortals to say whether it was ‘his time’ or not, for whatever that means? I will say it anyway. It was his time, Mal.
Like all great men, he left a legacy, or in this case an image.
He wrote a note, written for whom he did not state. In it, he claimed that this note was his ‘last will and testament’. He expressed his beliefs and hopes; his theories and dreams. He spoke of many things and all the things that he believed said everything about him. But his legacy was the weirdest of it all. His legacy was a description of a painting. This painting, he said, represented all we needed to know about human nature and the human condition. I have never been able to see how, for he never explained why.
He described a painting in which two soldiers are stationary in the middle of a battlefield. One is dying, and the other is nursing him. Behind, a war is raging. People are dying everywhere. Tanks and guns and hellfire, and all those daunting things. But the soldiers do not move, or should I say: the able soldier does not move his friend. He is happy to die with him. They are comrades; brothers-in-arms. They will not leave each other. They would rather go to Hell together than Heaven alone. For some bizarre reason, he believed that someone would one day paint that scene which was in his mind. He had a flash of inspiration; a freak gaze into the future. His legacy was the painting you have seen yourself. Jon Pallace’s painting. Good, isn’t it?
We built our original headquarters at 228 Victory Street, London W12. The site is an historical one, with much significance on another level, but I will explain that to you another time as it is another story. Billy knew a building contractor, Geoff Edwards, who offered to get the job done at a small price and accurately to the structural idea we had.
During the building process, Billy made frequent visits to the site to see how things were going. Of course, he was a likeable and popular chap, and could get involved with the banter and lowly wit of the working lads. He had none of the white-collar inspectors’ air about him, and for an overlord of any project this is a great and welcome rarity for those he employs. Good old Billy would waltz around the site, whistling and singing and having the crack with all the muckers, and they loved him. I could never reach out to them in this way, for my accent was an instant put-off. But he could. He could have been one of them.
On one fateful day, a tremendous thing happened. Billy was doing the usual tour, laughing and chaffing and generally enjoying himself. A nearby digger truck was moving rubble from one place to the next. Whilst he was chatting to a group of bricklayers, the digger (which was a substantial distance away and so not far enough to call for wariness in the men) jacknifed. The scoop device-thing, which was carrying mainly concrete and hard stone, jerked as the machine jerked. The rubble was launched into the air with ferocity.
The rubble was headed straight for Bill. It happened so fast, and was behind his head, so he had no option to escape the flying rubble. The brickies saw it, but they froze in terror. Fortunately, Billy had a hero. This hero, and I don’t care if this is a cliché, gave no thought for his own safety whatsoever. As a true hero would, he stormed toward Billy as soon as the rubble began to fly. Like a true hero, he threw big Bill to the ground just in the nick of and in pinpoint time.
Of course, Billy became good friends with that man. His name was Jim. Jim Pallace. Does that name ring a bell to you, Mal?”
I nodded with astonishment. Jon’s Dad; big Jim.
How was he involved?
“And I know how baffled you must be my dear boy. But it’s all swings and roundabouts in this tiny incestual world, my brother Malachy. In Jim Pallace, Billy found a rare breed of human; an honest, genuine, hard-working man who can be fierce when needed to be. Strong, yet gentle. Cool, but concerned. Selfless, but not gullible. All of those things, but above all good. Good men alone are hard to find nowadays, don’t you know. How well do you know Jim Pallace, Mal?”
“Not much”, I said, “I’m more familiar with his son.”
“His son, yes. So you know that Jim Pallace is a family man. What endeared Billy to him most of all was this fact, because he could see that all that strength and goodness would be passed on to a new generation; a generation coming into an increasingly hostile and unloving world. This age needs heroes, Malachy, and these heroes will come from the most inobvious of places and people. Jim Pallace may seem, to those who know him, to be a small hero; an average Joe who plods on and lives his life as best he can. But in the whole scheme of things, he is a bona fide knight in shining armour. To be a saint is to keep your head when all around are losing theirs, and Jim Pallace grafted grafted and grafted in the hot sun and it was enough to drive him mad. Imagine him then coming home to whining wife and pack of terrorising, chaotic ankle-biters. A true saint. A true saint indeed.
Billy confided in me that he was, for want of a less humiliating word, impotent. The greatest of all ironies in this…situation…was that, of any man I have ever known, he had a supreme gift to offer to one that would be his heir; a legacy that was not only created for him, from somewhere, but a legacy he understood and worked at for many years. I will not attempt to explain what this legacy is, for man-made language could only dishonour it, but I will say this: within this genius legacy is the solution to all our problems. Billy Anderson was a humble man, but he knew the greatness of the gift he had. This all may sound flowery goddammit, but the truth hurts most when it is wrapped in cotton wool with that disgusting, airy-fairy fragrance. In Jim Pallace, Billy saw a kindred spirit. For God’s sake, the man had waited ten years for his future wife Mary to come out of a convent and marry him! It’s true! They had been boyfriend girlfriend in their late teens, and then she had got the crazy calling to go and be a nun. Ten years later, on a visit home, she had bumped into an older, wiser, bearded and somewhat chubbier Jim. She asked why he had not married, and he said “I was waiting for you.” Imagine the consequences of that meeting not taking place! I’ll tell you: the painter of this painting would not have been born. Jim Pallace would be a jack the lad pisshead with no stability, and poor old Mary would be hiding from the light in a twenty-four hour prayer room. I must now ask you this: how well do you know that teenage chit of a kid, Jon Pallace?”
“As much as I need to” I said, after some thought.
“Well let me tell you this: that teenage chit of a kid holds Billy Anderson’s legacy in his gifted little fingers. If you were to ask him what his paintings mean, he wouldn’t have a clue. He has fucked up ideas induced by acid and puberty-age hormones, but his mind and soul are bigger than his influences and he sees what would make humanity stop fighting. He is a genius, Malachy, and he needs to be protected. Now that we know who he is, we will do our best to see that that happens.”
With that promise, Piers took a scruffy, dog-eared slip of paper from his back pocket. He opened it out. Upon it, sketched in pencil that was almost invisible from wear and tear, was a drawing of some kind. Once I had given it enough attention, and like the biggest kick in the balls ever, I realised exactly what it was: it was a pencilled, colourless version of Jon’s masterpiece. It was the original. Lord Piers Adrian had been waiting fifteen years to see if his friend Billy had been telling the truth, and now he knew he had.
“Billy told me that he wanted his spirit to live on in the next child that Jim Pallace produced. I paid no attention whatsoever at the time, thinking him delirious or preposterous or whatever else. But he died not long after, and his words ran clearly in my ears. I believe him now, Mal, for I have seen the proof in young Jon’s piece. I hope you can see it, too, and realise the weight of your mission at this time.”
“Why, to protect the artist, of course. No prodigy can ever be safe, or productive, if left alone to his own devices and the hostility of corrupt forces. Very many people, even at this early stage, will be battling for a piece of him. You are strong and mature enough to be his guiding light, through his adolescence at least. Are you willing to help?”
“Yes, but, I’m just a-“
“-Local boy, I know. You’re not exactly the Godfather, but you have enough contacts within your world to take care of him for the time being. He isn’t likely to come into contact with anyone you can’t handle, or anyone that is above your sphere. So please, don’t worry about that. All I ask of you, Mal Bellis, is that you continue to be the friend to him that you are as of now.”
I nodded. I agreed. What else could I do?
Piers Adrian may have asked a favour of me, but the task I had been assigned to was, in all honesty, not all that daunting. In fact, it wasn’t daunting in the slightest. Jonny didn’t get much trouble anyway, and so to wrap him in cotton wool would be to make him paranoid of why he was getting such attention. The main problem, and in essence the only problem, was in not knowing exactly who I was protecting him from.
The answer to this question came some three months after the meeting with Piers. Hawke told me that some lads from Elswick were on the lookout for Jon. Apparently, Pete Rainer had shagged some bird from his school, and this bird happened to be the bird of some hardnut whose bird she was. One night, Pete was on a bus that was going through Elswick, with Jon and a few others, and guess who was on it? Naturally, it kicked off, and Jon sorted out whoever he was in very good style. This same hardnut happened to be good mates with someone called Eddie Marsh, who too was a ‘hardnut’. Eddie Marsh was therefore out for Jon’s blood.
’Eddie Marsh’?, I pondered. The name was familiar, and I pondered some more, and then remembered. ‘Eddie Marsh’ was the bizarre baghead who had wanted to buy Jon’s painting that time; the one who wouldn’t take no for an answer. He was an absolute nobody as far as I could see, but my gut told me there was some sort of further connection. He had taken a fancy to the painting, and that very same painting had, by sheer coincidence or otherwise, been the whole basis of my introduction to Piers Adrian. Beforehand, it had been like any other of Jon’s pieces. They were all special to me, and to most who looked at them, but not as divinely valuable as this particular painting had been made out to be. In our circle, it wasn’t even close to being the most popular, but to Piers and all that Piers stands for it was aeons beyond pricelessness. The only other character that expressed anything remotely close to such admiration was this ‘Eddie Marsh’, and it seemed somewhat fishy that he was now connecting himself to Jon Pallace.
I would have been ready and willing to protect my young friend anyway, whether assigned by Piers Adrian or not. Now the task carried a certain weight, and so I had a deeper passion for it. I have never been a rash boy, however, and so I sought out the advice of the overlord himself. I had to know if this Eddie Marsh was the lowly scal that he had been made out to be, or whether there was more to him. After all, I did suspect that there was.
In a complete personality reversal, Lord Adrian had very little to say on my second visit. He was less like the flamboyant eccentric this time around, and more like the wise, gentle sage. I told him all about Eddie and the painting, and all he had to say was this:
“Mal, I have every confidence in you. The only struggle you will have will be in remembering that you have every confidence in yourself. Simply protect as you know best, and that is all I expect of you.”
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that what he actually meant was: “Eddie Marsh is a pissant, who knows nobody bigger than you. There’s nothing fishy going on at all, so kick his f***ing head in.”