“I was a puppet rat’s stooge…” - the memoirs of a Hackett fan by Geoff Davvis. Photograph by Roger Salem. Memorabilia: TWR archive.
Being a Hacketteer has been a pleasure, a challenge (Reading ‘79... Read on later), and an honour… Indeed a noble honour …err but it has also had ‘compromising’ moments and after recent chats with the ‘ultimate Hacketeer’ (Alan Hewitt bless him!) I have decided to offload my sins and scandals….
Being on the front row of the Manchester Apollo (Seat A24) on 8th October 1981 and having a charming lady student companion with me as well, to see the mighty Mr Hackett bash out epics from Cured and other already established classics, a perfect scenario. Suddenly a roadie approached me and said… ‘can you jump on stage and help the support act, mate?’ (as I write this I realise it could have been a blindfolded knife thrower or even Rick Wakeman’s ballet troupe). Anyway, being young and impetuous and wanting to impress the young lady, I agreed. Lights go down, various clapping and shouts of ‘wally’ a weird tradition and oddly misplaced - childish calls for Supper’s Ready … then some bloke came onstage with a puppet rat… Sorry, a chap whom we all seem to have lost touch with …and The Mighty Magritte The Magic Rat…
Despite stage fright I managed to follow my cue and jump onstage and dutifully listened to the simple instruction; ‘write any number between one and ten on a piece of paper secretly and out of sight of Magritte.’ After various bits of stage craft and me thinking ‘PLEASE let this be over, please let me get out of this alive’ Magritte got the number spot on!!! Number seven. In all the intervening years, and all the ponderings over various real ales, I cannot figure out how they did that! Anyway, the crowd were impressed by Magritte. I jumped offstage asap and Mr Hackett played a blinding set.
While I am thinking back on it I must apologise for wearing white jeans at Manchester on October 24th.
1979...Err… and I am saying nothing about the boots etc, just let it lie OK? In 1979 I also attended the Reading Festival and saw Steve play another blinding set despite having spent the previous night camped out in the pouring rain and despite Motorhead blowing The Tourists’ well the (Annie Lennox ballerina band) AND The Police away completely…. The soaking was just too much for my bio systems. I saw the might Mr Hackett and made my sickly way back up North. I even missed Peter Gabriel’s set and the epic Me & My Teddy Bear … curses!
So, I have to confess that in 1981 …with Steve on the bill again … I CHEATED with bed and breakfast! I still have the receipt and the shame of not being a happy camper even giving others the impression I was! Oh woe, and thrice woe… is! I do indeed repent…
To conclude this epistle, I must confess to Mr Hewitt I don’t have any photos from Hammersmith from 30th June 1979 …the legendary Star Of Sirius gig (a famous Hackett bootleg - AH) Despite obtaining an official photo pass for the gig I was as poor as a church mouse and turned up armed with a Kodak instamatic … luckily none of the pro photographers blew my cover and I saw a most magical show from the ’front of front rows’ but the photos were embarrassing!
To balance these heinous sins I hope (especially if Steve sees this) to be redeemed by the ‘leaving the artist alone’. On one occasion at Manchester Piccadilly train station and on the second at Edgeware tube station I resisted the temptation to say ‘hello Steve, how are you…’ etc, etc. If you, dear reader ever read the lyrics to the Rush song ‘Limelight’ there is a line it it which says …’I can’t pretend a stranger is along-awaited friend’ In my defence, I thought it was wrong to disturb Steve in his ‘private time’.
Mind you Mr Hewitt deserves pestering for his devotion, his research, devotion and sheer enthusiasm and LOVE of music!! If not for Steve and Alan my life could have taken other courses. I could be sitting wondering ‘what if?’ and the white jeans incident would have been kept quite. OK, now LET IT LIE …!
Thanks Geoff…so it’s all my fault now , is it? Well, I don’t mind being blamed in this instance I guess. AH