The One Incident After Another Night
The One Incident After Another Night
Part 1 – The Embassy Club Incident
“And he thinks he knows you, he thinks he’s got you too
Gonna make him cry for sure,
He’s gonna have to make his own way home
I don’t know what he’s smiling for.”
As the last surviving member – it’s important to say that, none of what you are about to read was my fault. It was them… the bigger boys… they forced me into it. I, personally, like all the laws and think they’re jolly good!
When I was approached to share some stories of mine and Lemmy’s time together – I agreed, on one proviso – I wouldn’t be expected to write about rock n’ roll excess.
Lem was so much more than the hellraising, wild man, rock God, as alluded to in almost every single obituary. And, besides, there’s more than enough of those tales doing the rounds already and… some of them are even true!
But, rules were made, to be broken – so, for the first… and last time…
* * *
Long before Health & Safety waged war against smiling – people went out to have fun… and, The Embassy Club, on Old Bond Street – our second home – was the place to have it.
It was where gay, straight, black, white, young, old, rich, poor, writers, fighters, film stars, rock stars, politicians, plumbers, pimps and Janet Street Porter – all mixed and mingled without prejudice – and, we loved it.
It was, also, where Lemmy could pit his wits against the club’s “machine” – a wily old foe, that took every ounce of the guile and cunning in his possession, just to walk away £100 worse off, every night.
Unless he won the £100 jackpot… in which case, he’d be £200 poorer!
Anyway, on this particular night – while he was doing just that – myself, Würzel and Dik Mik – with whom we’d come out – were having so much of that, afore mentioned, fun – that, when closing time came around – we weren’t ready to stop.
This is something that happened, from time to time – and, when it did – Mark Fuller – our (still) close friend, who ran the club – would just hand us the keys and tell us to lock up when we were done!
How’s that for trust?
Well, ‘done’, on this occasion, must have been after 5 am – because, I recall re-emerging back into the real world and morning had broken.
Should we have taken a cab? Of course, we should have…
But, scientific research has proven that, while, individually, men can sometimes be quite bright – in a group, at least 93% of their brain cells just disappear!
Therefore, we piled into the car – without a care in the world…
… a world that would remain carefree for, about, 2 minutes.
* * *
At that time of day, on a one-way street – the slightest movement sticks out like a sore thumb. So, as I pulled away, it was impossible not to spot a front bumper inching its way slowly out into the road, about a hundred-or-so yards behind us.
Being too late to turn back – I needed to break the bad news to everybody else, because, although I was the driving – we did have other issues to consider, as it were.
The key, however, was to remain calm…
“Now, don’t turn around,” I said gently, “but we have trouble on our tail.”
I won’t say who – but, one of us spun round, immediately, to check on my news.
“Shit!” said Wü… I mean, the nameless person – who then had one of those epiphanies you have, at the end of a big night…
“Put your foot down – let’s lose them.”
It was a great idea – well planned and, obviously, well thought out – but, it did come with a couple of tiny issue.
One – the lights at the end of the road – a mere 10 or 15 yards ahead – had just turned red. Which, in itself is not insurmountable, until you add issue number two – the other car was already right up along side us.
Now, I say ‘other car’, but we knew this was, clearly, an unmarked police car – so, its occupants were, clearly, unmarked police. What we also knew, was that they knew, we knew, they were police. And, on top of that, we knew, they knew, we knew, that they were police. So, we all knew where we stood… sort of…
Instead of getting out of the car, however, the one in the passenger seat – who would do all the talking – just leaned over and knocked on my window, motioning for me to wind mine down.
Procedure, was rather more hit and miss than it is today. That said – even by 80s standards, what followed was a tad bizarre.
* * *
“Had a good night, lads?”
It’s a question, that, when asked by a non-policeman, is a perfectly sociable one – so, it was in that spirit we chose to answer it. Except, we did so, all at the same time… four people – talking over each other for what felt like an eternity. The cacophony of noise was horrendous.
Remarkably, three of us finished waffling at exactly the same moment – leaving just one, lone voice – that of Würzel – whose diatribe ended, with the immortal words “but I’d definitely have worn different trousers.”
Now, by anybody’s standard, that is hilarious – so, we collapsed laughing, accordingly. The ‘not-police’, however, didn’t see the funny side of it, at all.
“Had a few drinks, have we?”
This is a police thing… although the question was, obviously, aimed at me – their insistence on using the word “we” can complicate things…
“Several” said Lemmy. (see what I mean?)
“I’m not asking you.” (then, you really need to be more specific…)
“A few but I don’t know exac…” offered Wurzel.
That had done the trick. He was, now, beyond irritated.
“You” he snarled in my direction, “Out!”
“OUT! NOW! Or you’ll be arrested for (I think it was) obstruction.”
(Oh, you’re a policeman – why didn’t you say? OK – have it your way)
I opened my door, the full 12 inches available between our two cars, smacking it into his. Now, who’s obstructing who?
“Right,” he shrieked, “that’s it.”
And, without even the faintest nod to convention, he simply thrust the breathalyzer bag through the window, virtually jabbing it directly into my mouth…
“BLOW!” he barked.
So, I blew…
* * *
All blown out – I went to pass the bag back but he snatched from my hand, without bothering to look at it. He already knew the result…
Then, for the first time in this whole saga, formality was, suddenly, about to play its part – and, out came some paperwork.
Now, I’m not proud of this, but, back then, I knew how to beat the old breathalyzer system – and I’d prepared myself, the moment I spotted them. But, the method did have one small side effect…
See what I mean? Who knows what he wrote down – but, as he was doing so, he began to explain how the change in colour to the contraption’s crystals, would indicate just how far over the limit I was. And, proudly holding up the bag, he declared, “so, this shows that you…”
It’s hard to describe his expression, the moment he realized the crystals hadn’t changed colour – a mixture of fury and disbelief comes closest. Whatever it was, he began, frantically, shaking the bag. And, when that didn’t work, he started hitting it…
“Bag’s faulty – We’ll have to do it again.”
Another nice idea but he hadn’t figured on Lemmy… who must have felt his time had been sufficiently wasted.
“Bag’s fine,” he declared, like an expert – and, just reached across and grabbed it out of the cop’s hand. Who knows just how many laws he broke in that single action?
However many it was, before they could start listing them – Lem had lifted the bag to his mouth and – although the tube had barely touched his lips (due to his having been over the limit since 1964, at a guess) – the crystals changed into a colour that I doubt even existed, let alone appeared on their chart!
“See – works fine,” he said, smugly, passing it back. “Can we go now?”
There was that expression again the police’s faces. Whether it was the shock of what he’d just done – or, that it proved that I hadn’t done what they knew I had, who knows? But, they were so busy being confused, together, that the one in the driver seat just waved us away.
And, when that happens, you don’t wait for a second opinion – you just go – and, we just went… in a hurry.
But, little did we know… this was just the start.
The real madness was about to come…
________________ * _______________
The One Incident After Another Night
Part 2 – The Carnaby Street Incident
“I’m driving like a maniac
Driving way to hell and back”
I should like to repeat that, as the last surviving member – it’s important to say that none of what you are about to read was my fault. It was them… the bigger boys… they forced me into it. I, personally, like all the laws and think they’re jolly good!
When you were stopped by the plain clothes police, in the old days – on the off chance you weren’t guilty of one thing, the chances were, they’d find you guilty of another.
So, because this wasn’t, exactly, our first rodeo (we had plenty of previous experience in this department) – having driven away charge free, we knew it wouldn’t be long before they realized their oversight and, returned to explore other angles for our impending guilt.
I’m not going to over-exaggerate and suggest that we were now involved in a real-life Italian Job – but when Lemmy shouted “Go! Go! Go!” he might as well have added “Hang on a minute, lads – I’ve got an idea.”
Long story short, what followed was a bit of a car chase…
This, I’ll be honest, could have gone either way… until we double-backed into Mayfair and began snaking through the back streets – our pursuers obviously close behind.
From above, it must have looked like an exciting game of Pacman – until, we crossed into Soho… then, it was game over.
* * *
When it came to Soho, there wasn’t a nook, or cranny of that place we didn’t know. In fact, we probably knew it better than the bloke who designed it.
So, after some sneaky manoeuvres – we could either fiddle about on one of those – first left, first right, first left, first right – side-street-route-fiascos – with which Soho is filled and must have been inspired by the maze at Hampton Court… or, we could just find something straight.
Sure – the road we settled upon was, technically, a pedestrian precinct – but, I ask you… who walks down Carnaby Street at that time of the morning? It’s just a waste. And, yes… the authorities might have taken a dim view of our choice – but, CCTV (whatever that was) was roughly a decade and a bit away – so, who would know?
Especially, if we were quick…
* * *
You’d be surprised how hard window shopping is, at 90 mph…
I was useless. I may have seen a nice shirt but, it could have been a tea-pot, who could tell? Lemmy, was better – he spotted something…
At first, I thought he was joking. I mean, what kind sick, selfish motherfucker parks on a street that doesn’t allow cars? It makes me so angry. And, slap bang in our path, too… how dangerous is that?
I swear, some people just have no regard for the law…
And, because the road panders to the pedestrian, its surface is anything but ideal for the motor vehicle. As a result, when I slammed down the brake pedal, we went into full-on skid mode – which meant we weren’t slowing down – which meant our only way of stopping would be to plough into the side of this illegally parked car.
In the end, I decided just to go round it – but, that’s not the point, is it?
* * *
Me – I like to limit my near-death experiences to one a day… but, Würzel was different – and, on, what we’ll call the ‘warm-up lap’, some furniture outside a café, had given him an idea.
Unfortunately, ideas-wise, Würz had a, somewhat, chequered history.
* * *
One night, in Berlin, during in his army days, Corporal Michael ‘Würzel’ Burston, of the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, was so drunk, when he arrived back at barracks, that rather than use the front gate – he, and his 2 stripes, had the idea, instead, to climb the wall – only to find himself hanging from some electrified barbed wire, with machine guns pointing at his head, from every angle.
I mean, in the dark, no doubt one wall looks much pretty like another – unless, of course, that wall belongs to Spandau fucking Prison!
I’d say it’s a mistake anyone could make – except, in Spandau’s entire history – only one person ever made it!
So, should I have told him to stick his idea? Probably… instead – I helped him pick out the fucking table!
Table for what – you may ask… good question.
* * *
Picture the scene…
The car is now at the top of the road – primed – ready – and, newly accessorized with an upside down plastic table on its roof – said table having been secured, by – on one side, an ex- member of Hawkwind – and, on the other, by Rudolph Hess’ stalker. The securers, themselves, are secured… in no way whatsoever.
The plan (if you could call it that) – was to drive as fast as possible for about ¾ of the street – when, using the pub as the landmark – I would slam on the anchors – and, on the off chance, anything (or one) was still above us – the table would be released and we’d all watch in amazement as – via the medium of garden furniture – a perfect re-enactment of the Dam Busters mission was achieved. What could possibly go wrong?
Although, just in case something did – Lemmy began, mentally, drawing up a list of replacement guitar players.
* * *
I’ll keep it simple…
We took off very, very quickly and, almost immediately, the shouting (or was it screaming?) started from above. Joy? Regret? Fear? Who could tell, above the noise of the engine?
But, the screams, much like the journey, didn’t last long – because, before we knew it, the drop zone was upon us.
An overture of slamming brakes and screeching tyres – we ground to a halt – and, just as planned (!), soaring gracefully through the air, went the table.
It didn’t soar for long, mind you, (well, physics n’ that) – and, soon came crashing down, to add to the noise. Nevertheless, it did rise again – just about – before giving up and continuing on its way in a surprisingly, speedy slide.
Less surprising, mind you, than what followed it – Dik Mik!
Mik, apparently, hadn’t been ready for the emergency stop (to be honest, I don’t think he’d been ready for any of it) and, to use his quote “had launched out of the window like a fucking rocket!”
Now – assisted, presumably, by his head-to-toe leather ensemble – he was sliding along the street, in hot pursuit of the table.
How badly damaged he may, or may not, have been – as he pulled up – it was too early to tell. Lemmy, on the other hand, was easier to diagnose… he was in serious pain from laughing so hard he may well have cracked a rib or two.
The table, meanwhile, was far from done…
Having departed Carnaby Street, it was now making a beeline for the artist entrance of the London Palladium – where, only 2 things were blocking its access to the legendary stage, once graced by Houdini, Sinatra, Garland and Jim Davidson. One – a set of iron gates – and, the other… the man standing in front of them – seemingly rooted to the spot with fear.
Thankfully, he pulled himself together just in time – throwing himself backwards – his body hitting the pavement every bit as hard as the projectile smashing into the gates.
* * *
Before Claims Direct ruined everything with blame apportionment – the man (although clearly in shock) did what everybody used to do. He picked himself up, dusted himself down, looked over at us, smiled and limped off, on his merry way.
Dik Mik, meanwhile, (although clearly in shock) picked himself up, dusted himself down, smiled and limped back to the car.
Würzel, was just smiling, focussed on matters far more serious than crushed bones…
“100 yards? More? 200 yards? What do you reckon?”
And, Lemmy? For him, it was touch and go. Choking on vomit is one thing – but “Rockstar Chokes to Death on Laughter” is a headline no one wants to see – but, it felt like a real possibility, at that moment.
With everyone back in the car, I was just happy to be on the move, again – and, turned onto Great Marlborough Street, to be greeted by the last thing I wanted to see – a policeman, standing in the middle of the road – with his arm raised in the ‘stop now’ position.
This time – there was no escape.
* * *
“Do you know why I’ve pulled you over?”
You always know the answer, when a cop asks that question – whether you’re going to admit to it or not. But, in this case, I genuinely didn’t have a clue. The list was endless…
I was going through it my mind – do I go alphabetical? Chronological? Either way, we were fucked – but he spoke first…
“Are you aware you’ve just made an illegal left turn?”
Hang on (this was my inside voice talking, by the way) illegal left turn? I hate to nit-pick – but, I think you’ll find it’s a bit worse than that…
Ah, you haven’t finished – thought not…
(please understand, these aren’t his exact words – just a basic idea of the few I remember)“… there’s driving on a pedestrian precinct – exceeding the speed limit – theft of property – damage to said property…”
From then on, it all became a bit of a blur – although I do recall the words ‘reckless endangerment’, making several appearances before, finally, we arrived at the “Do you have anything to say?” finale.
I really didn’t. But, more shockingly, neither did any of my friends, who, for the first time ever, were sitting in silence – not one clever comment between them.
“Quite a list, isn’t it?” he said. I’m sure he was right – he’d seen more of them than me.
“But here’s the thing…”
Ooo, there’s a thing? Tell us the thing…
“… I have a story for you.”
“I joined the force in 1978, up in Birmingham – part of the West Midlands Police. In 1981, there was a big open-air concert in the area, that required drafting in extra police – which meant serious overtime. But, instead of taking the money, I took a day’s leave, because, that day, at Vale Park, my favourite band was headlining. And it was the day that changed my life. Not only was it a great gig – but I also got talking to a lovely lady and from the moment she said her favourite Motörhead song was “Love Me Like A Reptile” – which you didn’t play that night, by the way, so I should nick you for that, alone – I knew she was the one for me.”
“Anyway, 3 years later, we got married and, that was the first dance at our wedding. So, here’s what could happen… either I write up all this mess, which, I’m guessing none of us want – or Lemmy can write something to my missus, Sandra – and, we all move on… it’s up to you.”
* * *
As coppers go, you got yourself a good ‘un. But, when it all goes to shit, pop round and I’ll sink my fangs in you!