A decade of great music
My most vivid memories of the 1980s involve driving all over the North West of England to watch live bands.
A crowd of us from my hometown of Blackpool, Lancashire, would set out (usually on a Friday or Saturday night) to various venues to see some well-known and some more obscure bands.
As soon as I passed my driving test, at the age of 17, I was lucky that my wonderful dad didn't mind lending me his car to go on some great adventures.
I didn't realise how lucky I was, to be honest. As long as I put the petrol in and didn't bring it home on the back of a breakdown truck, dad was very easy-going.
I recall he had a red Morris Marina, his pride and joy, which became our ticket to freedom as we cruised round Lancashire and Yorkshire, music blasting out on the cassette player. (This was before the days of CD players and if there was a track you liked, the laborious job of fast forwarding the cassette to the correct place - very hit and miss - had to be endured).
Packing in as many passengers as possible, we would set off down the M55 motorway to venues as far afield as Sheffield, Manchester, Lancaster, Leeds and Preston.
This was also before the days of sat nav and we were reliant on our own sense of direction - it makes me wonder how we survived sometimes! I would take an old-fashioned road atlas with me if we were going somewhere new and rely on my front-seat passenger to map-read and give me directions.
We must have travelled hundreds of miles in the six years (1983-1988) that we used to hit the road and drive to see bands on a regular basis.
Black clothes and big hair
The '80s to me meant having really big hair and wearing mainly black clothes, with plenty of leather, studs and lace.
I was labelled "Goth" and "punk" (and some more unmentionable names by drunken strangers in the street on a Saturday night) due to my appearance, but I was happy as I was and didn't want to be a "disco dolly".
I remember having each ear pierced eight times and then my nose pierced. This probably seems pretty tame by today's standards, but in those days, it seemed quite outlandish to my long-suffering parents and my elderly grandma, who lived with us.
However, again, I was very lucky, as they took it all in their stride and never once objected to or criticised my appearance - except on one occasion when I first wore a chain linking my nose ring to the gold sleeper at the top of my ear and mum panicked that I would catch it on something and rip my nose open. (I never did).
One of my good friends was Nila Myin, whom I had met in around 1982 through hanging around in the same circles in our home town and sharing a love of punk, post-punk and indie music.
I always admired Nila and her sister, Jenny, who were both stunning and wore the most fabulous outfits.
I remember Nila could wear just about anything and always added her own unique style to it. She had some fabulous, black, stilleto boots, with plenty of buckles, zips and chains, which I loved.
She was very petite and I was envious that she could wear high heels without towering head and shoulders above everyone else.
She wore them with a leather jacket and mini skirt, sometimes wearing a hat too.
I was never a hat person - I recall the only hat I wore was a PVC biker cap that I bought in Manchester on impulse. However, I think I wore it only once after someone joked I resembled one of the Village People - not really the effect I was hoping to achieve.
I did much of my shopping for clothes at Affleck's Palace in Manchester, where there was a huge assortment of unusual, independent designer outfits mixed with retro and vintage clothing.
But I was always careful what I wore - you would never see me in heels, as I was 5ft 7ins tall and they made me almost 6ft!
I rarely wore short skirts in those days, preferring instead PVC trousers that laced up the side with big, chunky boots. I was never what you would call a "girly" girl.
I also wore masses of jewellery that jangled when I walked - mainly necklaces and bracelets, but also some Indian hand-jewellery and snake bangles, which I wore at the top of my arms, sometimes over long PVC or lace fingerless gloves.
It would take me four to five hours to get ready for a night out - and even then sometimes I wasn't ready - to the despair of my friends, as I had a reputation of being late wherever I went!
It was my hair and make-up which took the most time, but even getting dressed was a fine art as I layered on all the various items of clothing, topped off with the jewellery, studded belt, studded wrist bands, boot-straps and anything else I could think of.
I used to buy a lot of my studded boot straps and belts from a country and western shop in my home town and also from Afflecks Palace in Manchester.
Applying my make-up, I remember grandma used to say I "looked like I'd been in a flour bag". I used a very pale, porcelain foundation and on top used talcum powder to "set" the base and give me the palest complexion possible.
Then came the eye make-up - heavy and black with very defined brows and about five coats of very thick mascara. The blusher consisted of a dark shader under my cheekbones, then a brownish blusher on my cheeks, then a silver highlighter above that.
My lipstick took ages - my lips had to be defined with a lip-liner, which sometimes went wrong, so I had to rub it all off and start again. Then the lipstick, then a gloss, then the lipstick sealant! Applying my make-up was a fine art.
I recall on one occasion, my friends had come to pick me up to go to a club in Manchester, one Saturday night, but I wasn't ready. I signalled out of my bedroom window I'd be five minutes, but was actually half an hour.
When I went outside, they had gone without me! I guess they did it to teach me a lesson, because I was for ever late and it was difficult to get into the Manchester clubs the later you arrived. I think I deserved it!
Magazine: The Light Pours Out of Me
Nightclubbing in Manchester
Just before I passed my driving test, I recall going on a few coach trips to Pips in Manchester on a Saturday night.
It was called the "alternative night" and they played a lot of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and other stuff that wasn't mainstream.
The coach was organised by friends of friends in the 007 nightclub on Topping Street in Blackpool, the first indie club I went to.
I can't remember how I started going there, but I recall at that time also going to the Calypso club on Blackpool Pleasure Beach, where the music was a mix of some mainstream disco, but also a lot of David Bowie, Roxy Music and other alternative music.
Iggy Pop: Nightclubbing
When the coach trips weren't on any more, my friends and I decided to go to Manchester on the train, alighting at Victoria Station.
I didn't drink or have a really wild time - I just liked going for the music and to dance all night.
Unfortunately, we could not get a train back at 2am and ended up hanging round Victoria Station all night until the first train back at 6am!
I used to tell my mum I was staying at my schoolfriend's house and she told her parents she was staying at mine. My mum would have worried herself sick had she known the truth. There were several of us, so I never thought I was in any danger.
Instead of being safely tucked up in bed, we were having races on the luggage trolleys at the station, drinking coffee from the machine to try to keep warm, having photos taken in the instant photo booth and trying to catch a bit of sleep in the waiting room.
It was winter and freezing cold. I remember falling asleep under the radiator in the waiting room, my handbag as a pillow and my coat as a blanket, waking up absolutely freezing cold with a stiff neck and longing to go home!
A short time later, I started going to Legends in Manchester at the weekend, sometimes getting a lift off my friends. This too was an alternative night and I loved the atmosphere, the music and the people who went there.
I suppose you would call it the post-punk era and it was so different from the mainstream disco clubs along Blackpool seafront at the time.
We met a few new people there, but I never kept in touch with any of them after we stopped going to Legends and I stuck with our own crowd from my hometown. I got chatting to one girl, called Gaynor, with whom I kept in touch for a while after I stopped going to Legends. I recall she had masses of long, pink, spiked hair, which I thought looked wonderful.
We also used to go to a club called Cloud 9, which was a punk and Goth venue in those days. While looking online, researching this Hub, I saw it had become an X-rated "adult" venue! I just wanted to point out it wasn't when we used to go there!
I haven't kept in touch with anyone whom I met in Manchester in those days, although I adored going out there.
In Blackpool, we were limited as to the number of clubs and bars we could enter, as the bouncers would sometimes turn us away due to the way we were dressed. I went through a phase of going in the resort's main gay club at the time, The Flamingo, because it was one of the few places where I could get in wearing my studs and leather outfits.
In Manchester, we could, quite literally, wear anything and gain access to the clubs.
Also in Blackpool, there was the nuisance of having to walk through a town centre packed with tourists and many of them, the worse for wear after drinking too much, used to mercilessly take the mickey because of the way we dressed.
The Clash: London's Calling
I honestly can't remember all the concerts I went to. There were hundreds.
These ranged from local bands, such as The Fits, The Membranes, One Way System, Switzerland, Vee VV, Section 25, Sign Language, local legend Stan and absolutely loads more to the bands who at the time were packing out national venues.
These included Killing Joke, Echo and the Bunnymen, Spear of Destiny, Bauhaus, Sex Gang Children, Alien Sex Fiend, The Armoury Show, Southern Death Cult, New Model Army, Simple Minds, Hanoi Rocks, The Birthday Party, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA, Danse Society, Sisters of Mercy, Dead or Alive, New Order, Play Dead, Big Audio Dynamite, Psychedelic Furs, Public Image Ltd, Skeletal Family, The Smiths, The Stranglers, Teardrop Explodes, X-Mal Deutschland, the Ramones and a lot more too.
I can only think of the main venues I went to on a regular basis, whereas in reality, there were dozens of smaller venues to which we travelled and also we went to one-day festivals at various locations.
Killing Joke live in 1985
The out-of-town venues I recall going to on a regular basis included Manchester Apollo Theatre, Manchester Hacienda, Sheffield Leadmill, Lancaster Sugarhouse, Lancaster University, Preston Guild Hall and Leeds Warehouse.
There were also other venues - smaller ones - that we would drive to if there was a band playing that we particularly wanted to see.
Quite often, we got to meet the bands afterwards. In those days, it appeared to be easier to do so and it was never a case of adoring fans hero-worshipping the artistes and asking for autographs, awestruck.
They were always down-to-earth, genuine, friendly people who were always willing to have a chat to the fans afterwards.
In particular, I recall meeting Richard Jobson and John McGeoch of the Armoury Show and Steve Rawlings of Danse Society.
On both occasions, my friends and I were talking to them after the gig till about 4am about the music scene, clubs, our home towns and life in general. They had no airs and graces and never acted like "the big star", They were just ordinary people like us.
I always had my camera with me and am so pleased now that I captured a record of all those years, my friends and the bands we saw, as the photos are great to look back at.
At all the gigs, there were stalls in the foyer selling merchandise. I bought very little 'official' merchandise at the bigger venues, but tended to buy things at the smaller gigs, where there were always stalls with vendors selling bootleg live tapes, t-shirts, badges, etc.
I bought bootleg tapes wherever I could and had a massive collection at one time. We used to play them in the car on the way home after the gig.
Sadly, much playing often caused the cassette to get "chewed up" - sometimes I was able to save it with a bit of sticky-tape, but others, it was lost for ever.
I recall eventually, I bought myself a tape-to-tape cassette recorder and used to copy all my favourite tapes, so the original was never mangled up.
I always used to sneak in a cassette recorder when we went to see some of the bands. I have no idea how, as this was in the days when a cassette recorder was about 1ft long and the size of a brick! I had a huge handbag and put it in there, under my make-up bag, purse, hair brush and goodness knows what else!
It was never once found and confiscated, even if the bouncers carried out a bag search. I guess they just weren't very thorough!
Once we got into the venue, I would pop into the toilets just before the band came on stage and turn my tape recorder on.
It was a source of great hilarity when we went to see the Sisters of Mercy and I had to nip to the ladies' during the concert. I forgot to pause my tape recorder, so as we drove home, my friends were treated to a recording of me running up a flight of stone steps, opening the toilet door and all the rest. It was too funny to be embarrassing!
Unfortunately, my cassette tapes came to a sorry end, or I would still have them to this day.
At another concert in Manchester in the mid to late 1980s (I can't remember where) we returned to my car to find someone had broken in by smashing the quarterlight window. They had stolen not only the cassette-radio, but also my whole collection of tapes, including the ones I had recorded myself.
I could never amass such a huge collection again, as some were irreplaceable. I hope they enjoyed the one of me taking a toilet break!
Echo and the Bunnymen: The Puppet
I recall Nila used to take her car on some occasions, as there were too many of us to fit in one car. We would go in a mini-convoy down the motorway.
Later on, when dad bought an estate car (I think it was a Ford Cortina) we would have five or six passengers on the seats and then sometimes two more would sit in the back!
We always took blankets for them to hide under, in case we were stopped by the motorway traffic police! I imagined we might have been in trouble for overloading the car and having people in the "boot", so to speak!
One one occasion, I recall hiring a transit van for the princely sum of £11 for the weekend! (Those were the days). I had never driven one before and wasn't supposed to take passengers in the back, according to the hire firm.
But there were about eight or nine of us going to an all-day live music event (I think in Leeds) and we had no way of getting there.
I had the easy job of driving it. I soon got the hang of it, even though I hadn't driven a van before. But my poor passengers (apart from the ones in the front seat) ended up sitting on boxes in the back, occasionally slipping off if I took a corner too fast, or stopped suddenly.
I'm amazed we all got there in one piece.
Bauhaus live in 1983
Spear of Destiny: Grapes of Wrath (Manchester Hacienda, 1983)
Car accident in Manchester
One of my worst experiences while going to see a band was crashing my dad's car.
We decided, unusually, to park in a multi-storey carpark, I had never been in a multi-storey before, but thought it couldn't be too difficult.
However, I was soon proved wrong when, on turning into the first ramp to go to the next storey, it was much steeper than I thought. Not only did I start rolling backwards, but I also misjudged the corner and became totally stuck!
With cars queueing up behind me, beeping their horns in frustration, I panicked and started rolling the car backwards.
I started revving as hard as possible and shot forward and smashed into a concrete pillar, leaving the bonnet and front end wrecked. So instead of going to see a band, we were taken home in a recovery vehicle.
Amazingly, dad didn't stop me from using his car after that. I can't remember if it was repaired, or whether this was when he got the estate car instead.
Despite my foolish accident, it wasn't long before I was back on the road again. I can't believe now how lucky I was to have such a kind dad!
After we'd been to a gig in another town, it was normal to stop at the motorway services - normally Forton or Charnock Richard on the M6, or Anderton on the M61.
We would go in for a coffee and something to eat, but more often than not would sit there talking till it was daylight.
We were always fooling about and could spend as long there as we had spent watching the band.
Many a time, I would be rolling home just minutes before dad was due to leave for work at 6am when he worked at British Aerospace in Warton.
He would be standing there looking out of the lounge window for me, all ready for work, slightly anxious but always trusting that I would be home in time.
As I walked through the door and went up to bed, poor dad was leaving the house for a day at work and our paths crossed only momentarily for the pleasantries of, "Good morning, did you enjoy yourself?" ... and, "I hope you put some petrol in!"