Friday, January 25, 2008


WARNING -pissing around with the occult can have serious consequences -don't try any of this at home


When I was 5, my mother took me to the Unicorn Theatre at London Bridge, to witness Maureen Lipman partake in a demented Wiccan ritual, entitled 'The Meg and Mog Show'. Lipman was a rather boring, mumsy actress who epitomised the cultural sterility of Thatcherite suburbia, but she looked really hot as a witch - if just one incident fuelled my inexplicable interest in Goth chicks, it was probably this. I can't remember much about Mog, but it was incredible to see a sock puppet undergo demonic possession. This started me on the path to full-blown occultism. In fact, I think I still have a Meg&Mog badge somewhere, as well as "Support the Unicorn Theatre" and "Make Friends With A Deaf Child" badges.


Somebody told me that if you look into a mirror and say the Lord's Prayer backwards, ten times, the Devil appears. So one night when my parents were down the social club, I tried it out. Amazingly, my reflection actually changed into that of the Virgin Mary! So I asked her if the fact she'd appeared to me meant I was blessed, and she said, "Yes, my beautiful child, but do tell me, where does your father keep the Harp lager?" I pestered her for the disclosure of mysteries, the evidence of miracles, for prophecies and visions, but instead she insisted on knowing if I'd ever fancied another boy. Suddenly, she let rip the most foul and violent burp I've ever heard and burst out laughing. It had been the Devil all along! I told him to fuck off upon which he transformed into Marie Helvin (with horns), tore into a medley of blasphemous sea shanties, and disappeared, leaving a faint whiff of turpentine.


Everyone's got a poltergeist yarn, you can't really hit your 30s without having one. I was living with Brian and Andy, as well as Moira and her soppy boyfriend Ben at 38a Camberwell Church Street, above an insurance shop. One night I came home and Moira and Twatface were shivering outside. "We were having sex," she told me, far more information than was strictly necessary, "and we heard laughter - then some white shape ran through the door and kicked Ben's guitar over!" I told them it was probably Brian, he used to smoke so much dope he often spent days trying to free himself from his bedsheets. "No, nobody was in except us!" Ben blubbed, "and the police won't do anything to investigate!" So I went on up and had a mooch around. Suddenly, a dirty plate, encrusted with the remnants of a chips and curry sauce supper, flew from the kitchen sink and nearly took my head off. "OI, POOFTER" a spectral voice snarled, "GET YER BLEEDIN' HAIR CUT!" Great - we were being haunted by a dead skinhead.

Now, without wanting to be cruel, Ben was an insufferable prick who used to spend entire evenings strumming his shitty accoustic six-string while we were trying to watch 999 With Michael Burke - despite the fact he was living with us rent-free. He hated punk and dance music, all he liked was the Beatles and Neil Young. He used to cook pie and chips for himself and Moira, and tap her plate with his knife if he thought she wasn't eating fast enough. We wanted to bushwhack him, put him in a sack and dump him in the Thames, so imagine what the ghost of a 4-Skins fan wanted to do to him. "There's only one answer," I told everyone during a 'flat crisis meeting' (we learnt this strategy off watching repeats of 'Neighbours'). "Ben has to leave and never return! I'll exorcise the flat with a copy of "UNITED SKINS"".

"No!" Ben burst out crying, "Moira's my girlfriend and I can't go back to my old place, I had an argument with one of my flatmates about me playing guitar and taking up too much space with my gear!"
"Look, none of this poltergeist shit happened until you moved in," Andy reasoned, as a biro suddenly flew up from the carpet, hovered by the wall and scribbled "OI! THE DOMESTIC" across the paintwork, before dropping to the floor.
"If I have to go, Moira will come with me, and then you'll be fucked for next month's rent" Ben bluffed - but this Romeo didn't know his girlfriend like we did - and blatant self-interest at the expense of others was the name of this diva's game!
"Actually Ben," she said, "I don't think it's working out between us"
"Go on, get lost you jinx!" me and Andy yelled.
So Ben packed up his guitar (and a pie for the bus ride) and shuffled off into the night, choking on snot and tears. Moira went down the pub with her bitchy mates to compare waist sizes and discuss iced lemon water diets. We threw Ben's copies of Loaded onto the street, slammed on UNITED SKINS and pogoed around to the sounds of The Accused, Sedated and TDA. The poltergeist never returned.

Three months later we had a party and trashed the flat and got evicted. Apparently it HAD been Brian in a bedsheet during the 'coitus interruptus' moment after all.


I once had a deck of tarot cards, my sister bought them for me from Pandit the Bandit. Don't be fooled by retro talk about a clandestine occult network operating within the 80s industrial scene, everyone was doing the tarot back then. Why, I believe the "Mail on Sunday" gave away a free deck to readers once. I knew this girl who claimed to be a tarot expert, so she read my deck. First, I had the Moon reversed, but she didn't know what it meant, so she asked me to start again. My replacement first card was the Seven of Wands. "This means you will...will..." she stuttered.
I was seized with unearthly fear. What could be so awful that she couldn't bring herself to say it?
"You'll...encounter...a..." she mumbled.
"Tell me!" I wept, clutching my crotch.
"Person," she said. "You'll'll meet....someone"
"Where?" I asked.
She took another card and turned it over. It was the Two of Cups - reversed!
She looked at the card. Flipped it over. Then gazed out of the window. "Outdoors," she said. "You'll meet somebody...outside."

She wasn't lying. I think I chucked my deck away 15 years later, I was moving flat and literally didn't have the bag space left to accommodate a box of matches. In retrospect, I should have left the Death card pinned to the wall, to freak out the incoming occupants. Hippie psychics love to warble, "OH NO, THE 'DEATH' CARD DOESN'T ACTUALLY MEAN 'DEATH', IT MEANS A REBIRTH, AN AWAKENING OF IDEAS AND AN OPPORTUNITY FOR NEW SCHEMES AND MODES OF BEING, IT'S VERY POSITIVE", at which point, if there's a meat cleaver within spitting distance of the cards, it definitely does mean DEATH, for them at least.


One of the brilliant things about Tottenham Hotspur trouncing arsenal the other night was the fact we KNEW that if we'd beaten them 2-1, or 3-2, their fans would have spent the next day gracelessly whining, "It's a mickey mouse cup", "we didn't put out a full-strength side anyway," etc etc ad nauseum. But spanking them 5-1 - that really hurt them. Well, the scoreline's on the books now, so fuck 'em all!
Having said that, being a Spurs fan in the 1990s was pretty dismal. We used to be managed by Gerry Francis, who even non-football fans knew, because of his inexcusable mullet. In one Spurs cup game against Southampton in '95, he brought on Ronnie Rosenthal, an ageing Israeli player, who scored a hat-trick in the dying minutes of the game. After this admittedly impressive display, Francis decided that he'd enliven EVERY SINGLE mediocre Spurs performance by bringing on Rosenthal after 80 minutes. Suffice to say, Francis was a crap occultist and Rosenthal just wafted around the pitch, out of breath, never to repeat his three-goal miracle.
However, if you're looking for a hotbed of occultism, ditch music and get into football. The '90s might have been patchy for Spurs, but funnily enough, every time I got a ticket in Block 23 (located on the corner between the Paxton End and the East Stand) during a home game, Spurs always won. I don't know what it was about Block 23, but it was the only place in the ground the stewards never bothered to patrol properly, so you could stand up for the entire game if you wanted. Also, I was there one night, uncannily enough, in seat 23, and Sol Campbell - then wearing the 23 shirt - scored. We won, 3-2, which is 23 in reverse. How mad is that?

Maureen Lipman supports Spurs, incidentally.
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