Digression: Q & A - Part 2
Updated: Nov 25, 2018
I get a lot of questions about this memoir, by private message, email and in person, and often they're the same question but put in slightly different ways. Here are some, and the answers. I have kept the questioners anonymous as they didn't ask to be written about, and sometimes merged a couple of very similar questions together for clarity.
Q: You say all these negative things happened with the band you worked for - if that's true, why didn't you just leave?
A: I agree that it would seem the sensible thing to have done was just walk out and leave them to it. I did think about it, quite often. However, of course it wasn't all bad, and I absolutely loved touring and going to gigs. I met a lot of fantastic people, many of them fans of the band and got to chat and joke with people every night. It was physically and mentally tiring but also exciting and exhilarating. The problem was, and I'm being honest here, I was brought up to be overly loyal. You can be loyal and supportive which I believe is a very good thing, but you can also be overly loyal, which isn't. Because of the way my family was, I was raised to protect and defend my abusive mother at all costs. As I grew up, various partners, also abusive, demanded the same attitude. I believed it was normal. I was intensely loyal to X and therefore the band. X didn't like any mention of uncomfortable things said or done to me by band or crew, or anyone in the music industry because he prefers an easy life. If I mentioned anything I was told I was being a bit oversensitive, to just ignore it or to make an effort to get on with that person as I'd obviously annoyed them. There was never any suggestion that they might try to get along with me, or that I was having a normal reaction to being hurt or upset like anyone would. I cannot stress enough that band members are considered sacred. Nothing can be allowed to disturb them. They live a life of the utmost privilege in that regard and often come to believe that's a normal way of life. I literally knew no different so believed I had no choice but to bury everything and soldier on. The threat was always present that if I irritated a band member or even a crewman, I'd be sent home and never allowed to work on tour again. That basically, I wasn't wanted, I was just about tolerated. I did work, too. Hard. I didn't just hang around backstage. I sold t-shirts on the merchandise stall. I wasn't a WAG, as they call it now. I always felt X was very politically clever, and he always stressed the politics of keeping the band happy at all costs so any personal problems, and complaints or difficulties should be kept quiet in case the men were annoyed. It was a complex, and impossible to untangle web that meant I felt that I either went along with keeping everything secret, or I'd have to start an entirely new life without X, who I loved terribly as a twin brother, but who, as he didn't want me as a romantic partner, would simply move on without me without a second thought. Also, I was told, or it was implied to me constantly, and I do mean constantly, at a low, but incessant level, that I was unlikable, unattractive, an unpleasant personality, a burden. That non stop drip drip drip of undermining negativity destroyed my self esteem and whilst I was completely confident about my professional and creative abilities, as a person I was lost and without any sense of security or ability to form lasting friendships. I believed therefore, that I had to be useful, supportive, and loyal in order to be tolerated and live the life I loved. Obviously, that's nonsense in actuality, but I didn't know that. And that's the point. I was so isolated, so identified with the band and X's career it was impossible to see the wood for the trees. I have wonderful happy memories of my life with the band and I hang onto those. I only wish the band could have seen, and appreciated, the genuine love I had for their work and the decades of unwavering loyalty and effort on my part. However, they have no interest whatsoever in that or myself. That's not being self pitying, it's just plain fact.
Q: I met you once and I thought you were scary and aggressive. You were quite rude to me when I was helping out at a gig you played. Why?
A: I am aggressive. I never hid that nor pretended otherwise. I don't think I'm scary, but I can see why others do. The thing is, there's 2 types of aggressive people. Those who admit they're aggressive and those who pretend they're not and instead of being honest if upsetting, pretend they're super nice and it's totally your fault they had to get upset because you didn't do as they wanted. Passive Aggressive, in fact. I don't like passive aggression. It annoys the fuck out of me. I may be upsetting, but at least you know where you are. Without my aggression, drive and ambition, not only would there have been no band, there'd have been no X solo or those wonderful songs, because he would never have been in a proper band. He had no intention of that when I met him and no real belief in his talent. He was far too indescive and worried people might not like him to do what had to be done. I'd like, same as everyone, to think everyone thought I was just lovely but I'd had enough life experience to know that's never the case. So I used my drive and aggression to fuel X's career. However, and here's the problem. And much as X and the fledgling band needed my aggression, they were embarrassed by it, for 2 reasons. 1, like many men, they didn't really like 'unfeminine' women who didn't know their place, I made them uncomfortable and 2, they didn't want to think, or have others think, they owed it to a woman, and one who wasn't even in the band. Never underestimate how many men loathe the idea of owing their success to a woman, even if they say in public they don't mind. They do. They believe it reflects on them as men, on their masculinity again, even if say they don't mind. What people say because they know it's considered the correct thing and what they really think are often 2 completely different things. And I was short with you at a gig you were helping out at - I don't deny it's happened. What we have here is the world of difference between a professional doing their job, and an amateur having fun and fancying themselves a bit hip by either organising a gig or working at one. For one night. Not knowing anything about how a pro gig works. For the happy amateur, it's like a cool extension of their social life, with the added kudos of people being impressed with them for mingling with the artistes and being 'a promoter'. For the professional, a gig is like a game of 3 dimensional chess. All the balls in the air simultaneously. It's not social life though it can be immense fun. Stage nerves add a taut bowstring of tension too, because let's say you're lucky enough at this gig to have have a dressing room where you put all your belongings and equipment and can get your head together in private. Not, as people imagine, where you recline on a velveteen chaise longue nibbling grapes whilst having your toenails buffed by adoring minions. Sadly. Anyway, you need something from it immediately prior to going onstage. The helper designated to look after it and stop people thieving your kit - which they do regularly - has locked the door, and gone off with the key to watch the show, because hey, they want to see it. You can't get what you need. You're late onstage. The helper doesn't get blamed. You the artiste does. Or, the amateur promoter doesn't have all the fee money but don't worry, they'll do a bank transfer next week sometime. It's not their living money they're hanging onto, it's the money that feeds you that night and puts petrol in the vehicle to get you to the next gig. Or you get to the venue and the audience is tiny. The amateur promoter blames you, you just don't pull a crowd. Then an audience member tells you they only got there at the last minute because they didn't know the gig was on. You confront the promoter - well, yeah, they put flyers in the lobby and told all their friends, but it's 'so tiring' doing all that promo and they had a lot going on this month .... The music industry is a harsh, difficult place. There is literally, no room for failure or laziness if you want to be successful anymore than there is in the building trade or the legal profession. Also, artistes are highly strung, it's their dreams and personal visions they're putyimgout there onstage, and years and years of unstinting work. I'm not only highly strung but mardy as well. Do the job properly, or don't do it and have someone who can do it step in. There's nothing wrong with being a happy amateur, but don't whinge when you find out the reality of a professional life. That won't mollify your hurt pride, but it's the truth.
Q: Will you be speaking ill of the dead as I find that disgusting and would be very angry. What does X think of all this and why bother calling him X as we all know who you mean.
A: in no particular order: X never, ever wanted me to write my life story so years ago I promised him I'd refer to him as X if I did, which is obviously ridiculous but I find it funny. He is not happy about my doing this but has stated he supports me as a fellow writer and admires the writing. Sometimes people rush to tell him I've written 'something awful' and he gets annoyed, then when he reads it himself agrees it's valid. Often he witnessed these things himself, and was seen by others to do so, so he can't really say anything. He knows I love him, he knows I'm not in the business of making stuff up or gossiping. Speaking ill of the dead - it's a problem for any one writing a memoir. The deceased might have been the nicest, most admirable person you ever met. They might have been a beloved family member. They might have been noted for their charm and good works. They might well have been elevated to saint like status after their death, as sometimes happens. I don't doubt all those things were true in regards to the deceased - for you. Not to disrespect that, or to devalue it, but sometimes the deceased person was quite different to people other than yourself. That's life, and that's human beings. Let's say your dearly loved, apple cheeked old Aunty Betty sadly passes away. You adored those afternoons with her as a child and the fun you had making scones and watching old films in front of the fire together. At the funeral you meet a cousin. They say they can't mourn because Betty Smith was so horrible to their mother, really nasty. You're furious and horrified. Aunty Betty, nasty? It's not possible. But that's the point. We're all different to different people. Some of the deceased in this story genuinely didn't like me and some violently disapproved of me. They made their feelings plain during their lives. *I do not blame them, or judge them*. You can't like everyone, and everyone judges sometimes. No one is a pure saint to everyone. All I can do is report how people behaved towards me. They may well feel 100% justified in their behaviour. At least a couple of the deceased would feel so. Their families may be livid at my reporting how their loved ones behaved towards me. I fully understand that. I sympathise. But I won't lie to save the deceased's image. I've done that all my life. I will always give full, unstinting credit where it is due and try to present a sympathetic portrait as best I can. But if someone was or is negative towards me, that was and is, their choice. Not mine.