Anything that is connected with Bill Drummond are nowadays few and far between so when Angie Sammons of Liverpool Confidential informed me of the event in Liverpool, I promptly got my ticket. For those of you not too sure who Bill is well he once managed both Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, ran the legendary Zoo Records, formed half of KLF and famously burnt one million pounds so there is never a dull moment.
On arriving in rain-soaked Liverpool I met up with Jeff Young, Paul Simpson and Dave Jackson before proceeding to the Mello Mello Bar. Had I not been with them I doubt I would have found the venue situated down one of the city’s many side streets. The venue seemed small but long in dimension and run by some very friendly people. Tonight was to highlight Bill’s new book ‘100‘ and the event only allowed, yes you guessed it, 100 people to be in the audience. So in middle of the far room was the pile books that remained, only 1000 were pressed, and a road dust cart with a broom, more of which I will tell you later about.
At 8pm promptly our Writer appeared without a microphone and stood on a chair to speak to his captive crowd. After being told by people at the far end of the room they could not hear him, he repositioned himself directly in front of me with his back to me, once again standing tall on the chair. Bill then in a round about way told us what the book was about though often stopping when interacting with various people in the room. Essentially the book is one hundred questions asked by twenty-five interviewers from various publications with the stipulation you can not ask a question already asked. The idea born out of him being fed up with him hearing the same old questions from journalists.
Towards the end of this talk, Bill turned his attention to the dust cart, which he paid over £800 for it. The reason for this purchase was simple at a younger age he had wanted to sweep the streets for a living, whether that was metaphorically too, no one actually asked him that tonight. There he was standing by his work cart with broom in hand and sporting an old orange Hi-Vis jacket and wearing a Homburg on his head. He then went on to describe how he had swept the streets in Paris previously and tomorrow would carry out a similar exercise in his adopted city. The evening’s formal proceedings of ‘How He Became A Superhero‘ concluded with the audience being able to purchase one of those limited books and have it personally signed and in return we had to sign his event poster.
On thanking Bill for the evening, I made him aware I was from Corby, a town where he himself had grown up in. To my surprise we had attended the same school, Kingswood. Though there was a ten-year age gap between us being there. I have in my possession a second copy he gave me to give to the school, which I will duly do next week. The rest of evening was spent with the people I arrived with along with Angie and Bill, chatting about various ideas or issues that were put on the table. We all then helped Bill pack away his as yet soon to be sold books and dust cart before I headed off late into the Liverpool night.
Next morning was so different, the sky was blue and the sun shone bright and eventually helped to turn my bare skin red. Having had a nice stroll along the riverside I then headed back into the busy city from around just before 1pm. The ‘Lone Sweeper’ Bill’s alter ego was now on the streets as promised starting from the Mersey Tunnel. I did bump into him on the junction of Renshaw Street and Bold Street where his final destination was News From Nowhere bookshop, which will sell the few remaining copies of the book. With great delight he showed me the fruits of his labour and yes I can vouch his cart was full of real people’s discarded rubbish dropped on the streets.
It was a pleasure to meet and get to know, if only briefly, this highly entertaining and intriguing person, finding our paths had crossed many times all but at different years in our lives. With the sun still bearing down on my now burning skin I left this city of culture, knowing it will again beckon me back sooner rather than later. As for the weekend with forecasts of heavy rain, I have this book to read and take a peek into the mind of this man.