performing ferrets

Regular visitors to these pages will have noticed that there's been precious little rock n'roll yet. Indeed, similar comments were often made about halfway through our sets. The Ferrets attracted a variety of reactions, particularly from those (as Steve Grayell once put it) who were not particularly attuned to our brand of humour.

It was not in Manchester but our home town of Maidstone that one of the more notable reactions took place. We were playing at the Queens Head in the High Street, one of our regular venues until we were banned after a stabbing that never was. We had (as was usual for Maidstone) a large contingent of local skinheads in, who had taken exception to one of our songs They Didn't Like Us. The title was actually a reference to the local rag, the Kent Messenger - however our shaven headed chums had decided (and all credit to them for listening to the words) that it was about them.

Rather curiously (and I may be out on a limb here), the Maidstone skinheads did seem to like us. They invariably came to our gigs and spent most of the evening bouncing up and down at the back as well as improvising their own little songs in between numbers. One of their number, Dougie, seemed rather protective of us. On the night in question, I had a big row with Mary Caney (our bass player of the hour) who seemed unhappy that I had banned my ex-girlfriend (Mary's best friend) from the gig. This was in stark contrast to my stalking activities, given that I had not quite convinced myself that our relationship really was all over (and it isn't bitch - d'ya hear me?) - well, I was young and crazy, with the emphasis on the crazy. You know how it is.

If memory serves (and I wish it didn't), Mary decided to make her point clearer by striking me - and I reciprocated in kind. Maguire (Mary's beau) was most upset about this and lashed out at me viciously.

At this point, Dougie interceded.

"Hey!" he said "no fighting at this gig"

"It's my bloody gig" I mouthed back "and I'll fight if I want to"

Dougie had obviously never been spoken to in such a fashion and protested that I couldn't talk to him like that. By now I had come to my senses and really had to agree with him. But I had and waited for the inevitable kicking. When I opened my eyes, Dougie had sloped off to the bar, not quite able to believe his ears.

The other contingent present that evening (I believe they may have been friends of the other act, fronted by Mr. Tracy Emin himself, Billy Childish) were a gaggle of art students. What they had in artistic ability, they clearly lacked in humour - or possibly hearing - as demonstrated when Skillers introduced our first number.

"This one's called Dreary. Like us, eh?"

"Like you, you mean" said one of the art students, fashionably strung with a white tie.

And so the song began without further incident. However, it became apparent later that this girl had really got up Coich's nose (probably because his head had been bent backwards out of the pub window) as he began to improvise his own lyrics over a normally instrumental part of Lung Cancer, a cheery little number we did towards the end of a set.

"Come on you lady with the white tie, get dancing, get dancing" encouraged Coich from the rear.

As he was hidden from white tie woman by a large cymbal, she could only hear a disembodied voice through the PA.

Oh how we all laughed, even as we ran up the High Street pursued by Dougie and the mob. We left Coich at the rear carrying the drums, trouble making bastard that he was.

The actual moment - Coich (centre) encourages dancing at the Queens Head