Friday, February 8, 2019

Blog Tour: Rock 'N' Roll 'N' That by Steven N. Gill


“Rock ‘n’ roll is a nuclear blast of reality in a mundane world where no-one is allowed to be magnificent.”

The former manager of The Runaways said that. The mad bastard. And Johnny Harrison swore by it. He had to.

Almost forty, fully paid up member of the rat race and bored sh*tless. He had to believe in something.

Then something happened. Something magnificent. A once in a lifetime band dropped out of the sky and right into his lap.

A band unaware of just how great they could be. A band that had no idea what was about to hit them. A band that needed someone to light the fuse.

That someone was Johnny Harrison and the truth was he needed them so much more. They were his ticket out.

That’s how it is with THE ROCK ‘N’ THE ROLL. ‘N’ THAT. Buy your ticket and take the ride.

- - - EXCERPT - - -

He’d insisted on low-key.
Low-key. It’s unambiguous.
Without fuss.
No surprise parties.
Resolutely no fucking surprise party.
No ‘see them once in a blue moon’ friends making up the numbers.
No debauched weekend in Eastern Europe being rinsed by preternaturally attractive girls.
And resolutely no navel-gazing or ‘what if’ recriminations.
At least not outside the confines of his inner narrative…
Male pattern baldness. Erectile dysfunction. Pension shortfalls. Prostate checks. Taking up the saxophone. The fucking saxophone. Earhole, eyebrow & nostril hair sprouting overnight. Middle aged spread. Just for fucking Men hair dye. Fuck me. Buying a bike worth twice your first car and dressing up in lycra like a Poundland Bradley Wiggins. Fucking Lycra. Prozac. Viagra. Vitamin supplements. Antiwrinkle moisturisers at 30 quid a pop. Getting your five-a-day every day. And your once a month bedroom treat. If you’re really lucky. Stop wearing trainers. Christ. Health MOTs. National Trust membership. Three-day hangovers. Dinner parties. Stroking you chin in Real Ales Pubs and Ministry of turn the Sound down please. Going. Fucking. Bald. And so on…
It’d better be fucking low key, Johnny thought to himself as he idly peeled at the dampened label on his bottle of lager.
Johnny Harrison.
Thirty-nine years and 364 days old.
Or young. Whichever way you want to wrap it up. He had begun to warm to the vagaries of thirty-something… But forty.
Fucking forty.
Proper middle aged.
How the fuck had that crept up on him?
4-0. That was a whole new demographic. The 39–45 bracket on applications. And that’s nearly 50.
He had been fifteen when his dad hit the two-score milestone. The half century eluding him as he dropped dead of a stroke at 48. Congenital heart condition. Long odds of it being hereditary. But still…
It was to be a drink or two with his closest friends in Manchester’s burgeoning Northern Quarter.
Dressed for the occasion in his immaculate, but seldom worn, Navy Stripe Boating Blazer, green gingham checked shirt and jeans – the same brand and fit for the past fifteen years. A pair of new brown Desert Boots completed the outfit. A present from his long-term partner, Claire. Complete with a card saying that it should really have been comfy slippers. Drum roll please. “There’s just no place for the balds in rock ’n’ roll,” said Johnny
“Elton John,” Mark replied, with a self-satisfied look on his face.
“He’s not a bald! Proper head of hair on him,” Johnny replied.
“Fuck off. He’s bald as a coot! He wears a wig. I’m sure of it,” said Mark with an exasperated tone.
“AHH!” Johnny said as he held an index finger to his nose and pointed at Mark with his other hand.
“You’re such a sarky twat,” Mark grumbled.
“Look. For every bald you can think of, I can name a dozen that are hirsute in the extreme. Ozzy. All The Beatles. Bowie. Zep. Let’s not start on The Stones. Clapton. Duran Du-fucking-ran. The Gallaghers. Him out of Depeche Mode. The Roses. Pete Doherty. But I wouldn’t encourage his narcotic intake.”
“Yeah, yeah alright,” Mark ceded.
“I’m right. A healthy diet of drugs gives you a great fucking head of hair. For life. So, shut the fuck up and tuck in,” Johnny said as he nodded in the direction of the mound of cocaine that sat centre stage on his finger-marked glass dining room table.
“FLEETWOOD MAC! They took loads. Legendary for it,” he shouted smugly.
“Behave. Stevie Nicks has got a lovely head of hair. She wouldn’t thank you for that,” Johnny retorted.
“Always the smartarse,” Mark said.
“Always. But you still love me. Now get that polished off. Taxi will be here soon. Give Chris a shout. Chain-smoking like a lab monkey out there.”
“Anyway. Don’t change the subject. That’s it. All downhill from here,” Mark said pithily.
“Fuck off. I’ve still got my hair. Bit greyer. Well, a lot greyer,” he said shrugging, “and my eyesight’s only just giving up the ghost. And I won’t be shopping for Blue Harbour’s finest elasticated jeans like you. That bay window above your belt,” Johnny said as he reached across to pat Mark roughly on his receding pate.
Mark recoiled, slapping Johnny’s hand away.
“Look at the fucking state of you man. You’ve given up. Five years ago, you’d have never been seen dead in them shoe trainers or whatever the fuck they are. They look like someone dropped two pies and you’ve stepped in them”
“Given up? You’ve not got a fucking clue mate. Given up. Fuck me,” Mark said with a weary shake of his head. “I’d love to drop a week’s wages on clobber. But the last time I looked at something smart, it didn’t come in a wipe down from baby puke range.”
“Come on mate, I’m only messing. I’m 40. What changes? It’s only a number. I’ll be right. Something’ll happen for me…”
“Do you mean you’re actually going to grow up and face up to your responsibilities?” Mark asked. “It’s not too late for you to become a dad or make an honest woman of Claire. Decide what you want from your career!” His tone becoming serious as he attempted to add gravitas to his advice “Haha! I’d love to take you seriously mate! I’m hanging on your every word. But I cannot take life coaching from a man with a lump of coke hanging from his nose.”
Rubbing his nostrils furiously, “You could at least start with a proper haircut,” Mark said.
Chris returned from the backyard, having just extinguished his fifth cigarette of the afternoon. “But it’s not ‘just a number’ is it. You’ll look at what you’ve achieved or in your case…”
“Balls,” Johnny said, a little too defensively.
An angular chin away from being classed as classically good looking. Just under six foot, with an athletic build he had somehow retained despite a lack of any meaningful exercise over the last decade. A thick head of hair that had seen teenage attempts at a Morrissey quiff – lamentably limp – ’90s rave ‘curtains’ which morphed into an indie bowl cut and was now worn in an unkempt fringe that he felt was an act of rebellion towards his corporate paymasters. And in his vainer moments, made him look like Richard Ashcroft.
Decent enough house. Money wasn’t that much of an issue. His job as an HR manager at a large IT company paid well, but it wasn’t exactly what he had planned. Claire was a good partner. Although she was not behind the door at reminding him what a catch she was. He missed her more free-spirited days. Sort of. She was seemingly now far happier planning interior design makeovers, with hours spent slavishly pouring over aspirational magazines.
This can’t be it.
There must be more to the conundrum of life. There’s got to be more than sitting on a sofa and asking each other what you want to eat before you die.

Steven J. Gill is from  Manchester, living just south of the city centre.

This is his first book. Previously, his writing work was limited to music and football fanzines.

He has had quite the varied career, ranging from finance, delivering enterprise days to schools, undertaker and. driver.

A self-confessed cats, coats and Beatles obsessive.

Very much in right time and right place in the early 80’s and 90’s and duly devoured all that the Manchester music scene had to offer. Talked a lot of nonsense and managed  a couple of bands that never unite made it big. Sings like a donkey braying into a bucket but a very good musical ear would be a fitting epitaph...

Having had somewhat of a literary epiphany at the inaugural Festival No.6 in North Wales, Steven decided it was time to set to and get writing. ‘The Rock ‘n’ The Roll. ‘ N” That...’  is the fruit of these labours.”

As some Scouse pop genius once opined, “it took me years to write, so won’t you take a look...”

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