Wednesday 10 April 2024

Remake / Remodel


I would have said architrave but no one seems to know the word, so I’ll just say door trim instead. The point is, when I fit a new door trim or architrave should I take off the difficult-to-completely-remove label with the barcode on it? Or will the future owner of this house be disappointed when they tear off what they thought was a period feature only to find a chain DIY store bar code on the back of a piece of suspiciously new-looking kiln-dried pine? 

How long is this stuff going to last? Will this remodeling outlive me? Will it be discovered by an archeologist, a descendant of the Trumpian Bloodbath survivors: a creature rolling around on castors (five for safety), with a distended scrolling digit sticking out of it’s chest, and one large, myopic eye - a scanner for reading digital information? Will the creature be disappointed? Will it malfunction when it tries to read the barcode. This shit keeps happening - these barcodes they’re fucking dangerous - like the phosphorous we used to find washed up on the beaches, courtesy of the second world war, when I was a kid,. As soon as that stuff dried out it burst into flames. Better not put it in your pocket. Don’t read the barcode, creature! 

A drawer full of rusty drill bits, nuts, bolts and stray screws. What should I do with them? I’m not taking them back to England with me. I swear some of these came over from France thirteen years ago via a rental van, three different storage spaces and a container ship from England. This is some well-travelled junk, its carbon footprint is a disgrace. What should I do? Some of these bits might be useful. 

I’ll give them away…

I’ve got just the thing for you

Fuck it, I’ll dump them. Are they bio-degradable? How long will they take to re-amalgamate with the planet? How much damage will they do? Is hardened steel an element? This is harder than I thought. 

If I close my eyes as I sling them in the skip it’ll all be okay…

Books. What the fuck do I need books for? To show that I’m an intelligent, educated, and well-rounded person. Oh yeah? Where did all the cool books go? An Ann Cleves Vera mystery keeps jumping out at me. Amy sent it into me when I was in hospital during the pandemic recovering from a heart attack. Just the thing for solitary confinement in an intensive care isolation unit. 

Did all that shit really happen? Yes it did. I built a porch on the front of the house, feeling extremely unwell, and completely unaware that Covid had done so much damage to me that I was about to die from a heart attack. Do we ever know what’s around the corner?

What the fuck am I doing all this for? I could be spending my last hours doing something I might be remembered for, like making another record. Instead I’ll be cursed by future generations of home remodellers, just as I curse the former owners of this house who even had the temerity to sign some of the worst of their handiwork. Skirting boards held in place with four inch nails: 

‘Hah right, that ought to hold it…oh it split…ah well, never mind…’ 

Fuck you, you fucking morons.

Our neighbours, who really are delightful, recommended a plumber. To be fair, Len seemed to know what he was doing when it came to plumbing, but I think it was a mistake to get him to strip the upstairs bathroom down to the studs and do a total refit. His re-hanging of the old bathroom door, complete in its splintered and sharded frame was a classic. He stood back and surveyed his handywork, looked pleased with himself:

‘Yeah, it’s got character’ he said.

I had to re-do it when he’d gone.

I liked Len, even in his Go Brandon! sweat shirt. People believe what they believe and all you can do is try to meet their beliefs with kindness and decency. He showed up and got the work done with a minimum of disruption. He took care of everything, got us the cheapest shower, toilet and vanity. I tiled the splashback - lined everything up and did the straightest tiling job I’ve ever done, but of course it looks crooked because Len had installed the sink and vanity on the piss, one side a quarter of an an inch lower than the other.

A work of utter imperfection all the way to the flimsy plastic toilet seat. It boasts no slam, so it won’t clatter down in the middle of the night and wake the entire household. It doesn’t actually go down at all - unless you force it. All it can manage is a thirty degree angle. It would take it an entire day to come to a horizontal rest, so most of the time it looks as though the toilet is about to say something.

In amongst and around all this I’ve been recording. I have to do it to keep my sanity and to stay in practice. It’s amazing how quickly I forget how to do things in the studio that were second nature only months earlier, so I like to be working on something. Even when I’m really pressed for time I like to make sonic doodles with whatever’s lying around. When I was in England getting ready for the release of Leisureland and the subsequent touring I had a Tascam M12 permanently ready to go with a Roland JX8P synthesiser, a Watkins Copicat, a few pedals and an old Conn bossa nova beatbox. I’d spend half an hour as often as I could making some kind of mindless musical doodle or sketch. I like my sonic doodles but they’re a bit random.

I’ve been recording tracks with my friend the neighbourhood drummer, Sam Shepherd. I’ve mixed some tracks for him. Sam plays everything and he’s really good at it. With me he plays the drums. He played on Leisureland, and also on Amy’s new album (due out in August On Tapete Records). Here's an out-of-focus shot of him from the last session in the Catskill studio:

I knew I wouldn’t have time to write anything so we’ve been re-recording an album I had out in 1985, A Roomful Of Monkeys. It started out as me doing new versions of a couple of the songs, just to see if I could. That album bugs me - I wasn’t in a good state at the time - I was drinking myself to death. I’ve always felt that the songs were good but the performance and recording are abysmal. The album is rooted in the Medway Towns and features in the last part of A Dysfunctional Success. It was all a bit of a fuck up, so it’s good to revisit.

After a hard day of cleaning, decorating, repairing and despairing, Sam would drop by and we’d record another backing track and maybe mix one of his tunes. I seem to have a basic tracks for whole album which I can finish up it England. Now I’m packing up the studio ready to make the room look like normal people could live here.

The insanity of getting the house into a saleable condition has to come to an end soon - I have to leave for the UK next week to get ready for the re-publication of my autobiography, A Dysfunctional Success. It’s gently improved from the first edition - I think it’s worth buying again though some people have told me they’re sticking with their original copy. That’s up to them, but at the very least they’ll be missing out on the extensive new introduction. I’m doing some shows playing, appropriately enough, in Hull on the day it comes out - May 17th - and at the Community Centre in Holt up in the wilds of North Norfolk on May 18th, which just happens to be my 70th birthday.

Here's a list of tour dates:



18 HOLT, NORFOLK - Community Centre TICKETS

30 SUTTON, SURREY - the Sound Lounge TICKETS



o6 BIRMINGHAM - Rock n Roll Brewhouse TICKETS

09 COVENTRY - Just Dropped In TICKETS

20 LONDON, WALTHAMSTOW - Rock n Roll Book Club

more to follow


  1. " most of the time it looks as though the toilet is about to say something. " This line gave me the most hearty laugh Ive had all week . Thank you Eric .

  2. I recommend removing all barcodes. Let future remodelers grapple with the conundrum of whether or not it's a "period feature."

    1. Removing the barcodes is very time consuming... x

  3. Didn’t know you were re-recording that- I love the songs from that album xx

    1. The songs are good but the original recording is dismal

  4. Love the word 'architrave' as it reminds me of my Dad. It would be lovely to see you in York again.