The song, I mean, not the nightclub.
It symbolises the first whiff of freedom I had for years. It's about the first summer party I went to near Cromer, a strange event on Diana's piece of woodland that has a big wooden shack and a little wooden shack, a hill, and loads of trees and roses.
I got into my car, opened the windows, shoved a cassette in the player and sang my heart out all the way up the M11 and across to Cromer, almost missing the turnoff but finding it because Diana was roaring madly in the opposite direction in her car. There, through a gate, was a crowd of whey-faced Londoners, all of us glad to be away from our stresses, and a huge, colourful hippy tent with a carpet on the ground. There was Gina, her partner Mike, and their two Chinese babies; that night I would sleep in a wooden shack on a mattress with them all, listening to My Boy Lollipop
being played at maximum volume at 4 am.
Everyone took turns on the veranda that served as a stage, playing a couple of songs: I was a novice, and shivered in the cool evening air as I clumsily chorded and picked: Heaven Avenue, Moses, The Word is Goodbye.
and other songs that I later abandoned because they rambled too much. Later (or was it earlier?) we climbed a little hill and sat under trees which rained big crisp leggy insects down on us, peering into a brown tent where a clutch of serious and hairy people played electronic instruments they had made from things they'd found in the woods- bits of branch and string and twig, improvising behind a semicircle of footlights made from tealights balanced on sawn logs stoved into the ground, the musicians moving gently in the gloom of their tent. When they'd finished, we explored further and found a man who had made tripods that held suspended prayer bowls, spinning towards each other and bouncing away with a 'ting'.
Half a bottle of wine later, the disco began, and we danced our pain away, judging the best male dancer (yes girls, they all had to show off for us in order to win a prize that was promptly taken away from them and given to someone else in the next competition), all presided over by Diana in her peaked black cap, her dogs at her feet. A poor stuffed cat toppled sideways, its ears chewed in death as in life.
' We have to keep the noise down everybody', bellowed Diana over the P.A. and into the darkness,'The next door neighbour is dying!'. The music from twelve inch singles pounded through the woods, we took off our jumpers, sat exhausted at the side at little rickety tables, slept (the children), listened to sea shanties sung by a sailor friend of Diana's, and we wondered who each other was. A lot of people seemed to be called Ben; everyone got a dirty face from sitting too close to the fire. I had missed Judith dressed as a mermaid: she'd been the talk of the afternoon.
Next morning, Gina's little girl got me up and we went to the portaloo, picking our way through the debris from the night before and washing our faces and hands at the cold tap that sprouted up out of the long tangled grass, an old sink full of orange plastic plates having sprouted up next to it. Some of the Bens had slept on the stage and woke up looking like trees that had come to life. Someone made tea, the genius.
Gina's little girl had been trying to stay awake so we could sing the Three Little Fishes
song, but sleep had overcome her; we compensated by singing it right then, the next morning. I drove home, feeling entranced by the whole experience.
So I wrote the song to celebrate Diana, a human catalyst on a unique trajectory through space and time, and took myself back to that wonderful weekend in Norfolk, singing in the studio as I let my imagination wander and improvised the tree-harmonies. That weekend was the beginning of an equally exciting and scary phase of my life, in which it became time to treasure once again those people that are seen as Outsiders by The Normal Robots.