A Bit of a Blur

Spring 2010 and experimental band Gorillaz were trundling down the motorway promoting their
newly-released album Plastic Beach. Pop-star tummies began rumbling when the junctions hit
the twenties. The Sat Nav was consulted, some tour-bus googling was conducted and the
perfect place was found. A short drive from the motorway, good nosh, good drinks and a
genuine, family-run free house with the type of reviews most bands would eat a drum kit for.

They pulled off the M1, and headed for the legendary Victoria, in some suburb called ‘Beeston’.
“I’m a chicken, and I’m having a ball” I was singing as I walked down the corridor of the Vic, at
exactly the same time the band walked in. Not the most sophisticated of songs, admittedly, but I
was only five, and was pretty proud of my effort. It was Easter, after all. As I serenaded anyone
passing in the pub, I saw some interesting men get repeatedly asked to sign things -2010 still
pretty much the pre-selfie era – and was intrigued.

One man with shaggy sandy blonde hair noticed me singing, smiled, and approached. And
that’s how I ended up duetting with a man who had Brit, Ivor Novello, Mercury and numerous
other awards under his belt. Damon Albarn and I performed, for the patrons of the Vic, my
freshly composed song.

My grandad, Neil Kelso, is well known and much missed by many Beestonians. He transformed
the Vic into Beeston’s standard-setting pub, with much work put in to give our town a pub that is
never short of quality and atmosphere. And, that day, rock stars.

The five year old me probably didn’t much know a great deal about Gorillaz, Blur or the Clash, so when I saw one of the members of the band – probably Mick Jones, founder member of The Clash – at a table I told Damon he looked like Blakey off On The Buses.

This tickled Damon immensely – not just the fact I’d made that comparison to a punk god, but that I even knew who Blakey was ‘I watch it when I have tea with my step-dad’. The whole band thought this hilarious, and a smiling Damon crouched down, scooped me onto his shoulders, and posed for a photo.

If Damon ever gets to read this, then I’m more than happy for you to use ‘I’m a chicken, I’m
having a ball’ in your next live set.

JM

Beeston Pubs, Blur, Damon Albarn, The Victoria

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