A true and accurate report of what happened when Bez met Philly Terry

The place: Shangri-La, Glastonbury festival.
The time: Party o’clock (around 3am), Saturday morning
The scene: The Glastonbury gang: me and Philly Terry, Katrin Geilhausen – formerly of The Schla La Las, Will, Nat and various others are dancing in the Acid Lounge. The air is hot, the music is banging and the drinks are flowing, except Nat’s freshly-bought cocktail which goes flying as I am performing a particularly vigorous mashed potato.

Soon, a weary but cheery break-out gang of me, Philly Terry and Katrin, head out, deciding to make our way back to camp Terry before the sun comes up.
We walk past Bez’s Acid House where two years previously, I tell the girls, I had seen Bez ‘performing’ (shouting “808 Staaaaate” and trying to get scantily clad girls onstage). But, alas, no Bez is performing tonight and we continue on our way through Shangri-La.
Suddenly, the crowd parts and, there in front of me, just an arm’s breadth away is Bez!
He is dancing, well, moving up and down, well, swaying on the path.
“Bez! Bez! Alright mate, Bez!” I say, as though Bez is my dear old chum who I haven’t seen for a while.
“Urrrggghh,” says Bez and pulls me in to kiss his dry, leathery, cheek.
“Bez, mate,” I say, “I’m a huge fan of your work. I love what you’ve done with the Acid House.”
“Urrrgggh,” says Bez, and his head nods appreciatively, or possibly spasms.
The conversational ball is back in my court and I’m unsure where to go with it as I don’t know what Bez just said or if Bez can see me any more.
Suddenly, inspiration strikes, “Bez, have you met Philly Terry?”
Philly Terry has met many of my friends this weekend and been a hit with all, how could Bez fail to fall for her charms?
“Urggggh!” says Bez, and pulls Philly Terry in for a kiss of his dry, leathery, cheek.
I’m on a roll and Bez will soon be our best festival pal! He loves us!
“Katrin,” I ask, deciding to go for the same trick twice. “Have you met Bez?”
Katrin wrinkles her nose and shakes her head dismissively. Katrin does not want to meet Bez.
There is a short pause, which I quickly cover with conversational prowess, “Bez mate, we’ll be back tomorrow, see you then.”
And I clap Bez on the shoulder and we stagger off to find our tent.

We never returned to Bez’s Acid House.

Bez could have been our friend.

Bez could have been our friend.

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A (short) Winter’s Tale

I must have written notes for a Terry blog when I was squiffy on Cointreau at Terry Towers because I’d forgotten about them until now.

As it’s past Twelfth Night, and as I can’t remember much more (Cointreau), here they are in their nude form. Enjoy!

• “You know Mike Stevens, who I work with,” says Terry.
“No, Dad,” I reply, honestly.
“No, you wouldn’t know him,” says Terry, and launches into a long story about Mike’s holiday request for 1 January, a national holiday.
Terry winds up by telling me, “He spends all his money in the brass shop anyway.”
“The where, Dad?” I ask, innocently.
“The knocking shop,” says Terry. “You know, Mr Magoos, in Birkenhead”.

• Terry is considering a holiday in New York, so I ask him what he wants to see – what really says “New York” to Terry.
“Macy’s, the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge,” he says, after much prompting.
“Not the Statue of Liberty, Dad?” I ask, surprised.
“No, that’s French, why would I want to see that?” Terry replies.

• I craft a dog nappy from a carrier bag before taking Sammy Sammy No Balls for a festive stroll. Sam doesn’t seem to mind.

• I dress Sam in Philly’s bra and knickers. All Terrys find this hilarious other than Philly who flies into a Christmas rage just because her bra is now muddy (or worse. Sam is a notorious pissy paws).

• Parish carol service. Terry has many talents but music is not one of them. He is, in fact, tone deaf. I have a strident and tuneful voice and Terry is confident I am singing the right notes, so sings along with me, in falsetto.

• I ask Mrs Terry if I can open a bottle of Pouilly-Fume from Terry’s wine cellar (garage) or if she’s saving it for something special.
“Oh no, Sweetheart,’” says Mrs T. “The celebrations start now you’re home.” Mrs Terry then makes me wrap my own gift, in front of her, on Christmas Day.

• “What’s your favourite vegetable, Dad?”
“Garlic.”
“You can’t have garlic, Dad”.
“Alright, onion.”
“You can’t have onion, Dad. It’s cheating.”
“OK, chilli.”

Hold onto your hats for the next exciting installment, when I’ll probably write about Easter* in July!

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Christmas Day in Terry Towers.

*Except I won’t write about Easter as Terry and Mrs Terry are going on a bloody cruise.

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One night with Terry, one night with Terry

A glimpse into life at Terry Towers.

I was home for just a few hours on Friday night. My train got into Chester at 8:15pm, when I was promptly goosed by Sam (“Out of all the people here, he smelled you!” says Mrs Terry proudly as Sam sticks his nose in my crotch) and I hit the sack at 11pm, but Terry Terry and Mrs Terry do not need much time to shine.

These are the top three events from my three hours chez Tez.

1.Terry and I discuss a dog rape story we’d heard about in the news. Terry claims to know all about it, but is surprised when he sees a picture of the dog as he was expecting a smaller mutt.
“He’s quite a big one, you could get all your tackle in him,” says Terry. There’s a silence in the living room, broken by Mrs Terry who says “Well, the Welsh roger sheep”.
This is the last time we speak of the dog rape.

2. Mrs Terry is keen to demonstrate Sam’s new trick: toy recognition. She claims that Sam can identify all the toys in his toy mountain by name, and bring them when asked.
“Good boy, get Duck. Get Duck, Sam. There’s a good boy,” she trills. Sam shakes rabid foam from his lips and runs to his toy pile. “Here he comes” says Mrs Terry confidently, “bringing his duck.”
“Quack quack!” bellows Terry in encouragement, “quack quack!”
Sam enters, carrying a toy gorilla. Terry claims Sam is suffering from performance anxiety brought on by my presence and suggests I leave the room.

3. Rooting in the Terry pantry for gin, I find a Fray Bentos pie. I think it’s for one of the various charities they support but when I’m taking a photo for Philly Terry’s amusement, Terry comes into the kitchen.
“What are you doing with that?” Terry demands. “That’s my treat.”
The next day Terry and I visit a food fair where Terry spends £20 on olives.

Bring on my Christmas visit to El Porto!

Side note: Terry and Mrs Terry now spend more on Sam’s health insurance then on their home insurance. Strongly suspect Sam may have nudged Philly and I out of Terry’s inheritance too…

Terry’s favourite child, right.

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In which Mrs Terry and I go on holiday. Together.

Day One.
Mrs Terry and I arrive at the hotel, an African-themed, five star, affair in Gran Canaria. On the way to reception Mrs Terry gasps, “Oh look Sweetheart. Flamingos!”

As I’m not wearing my glasses it takes a moment or two before I realize that the birds are still. Suspiciously still.  Mrs Terry, at the grand age of 103, or thereabouts, still has 20/20 vision so has no excuse. I suggest we leave the flamingoes and look for our room.

In hindsight, booking into the second biggest hotel in Spain was never going to go well for us, but after going up in the lift, down in the lift, up in another lift and startling some sunbathers by the quiet pool we find our room. It is lovely, and all is going well until Mrs Terry claims the room smells of feet.

As I am the only one of us to have removed their shoes I ignore her.

Mrs Terry considers feeding the birds

Day Two.
Mrs Terry accuses me of producing a smell like drains. I point out to Mrs Terry that the smell is actually drains.

The holiday rep advises us not to drink water from the tap as it will give us the runs, so Mrs Terry and I trot to the shop to stock up on Terry sherry, Evian and Disco Biscuits, although Mrs T can’t quite understand my interest in the latter.

After spending the rest of the day sunbathing (read: cowering under a parasol reading War and Peace) I am grateful when Mrs Terry offers to wash my bikini. She proceeds to wash it in the bath while she is also in the bath, washing herself.

I surprise Mrs Terry drinking a glass of water from the tap and ask what she’s playing at. Mrs Terry tells me she “hasn’t been” for two days and is hoping the water helps. Retire to bed, revolted.

Terry sherry (brandy)

Day Three.
Wake up to find Mrs Terry glugging back another glass of tap water. “It’s working’” she tells me cheerily.

During a trip to the spa, I realize that Mrs Terry and I set our watches wrong and have been out of synch with humanity by one – three hours since we arrived. I think this means we’ve had our first Cava of the day at 8am but decide not to dwell on it.

In the evening Mrs Terry and I go on a trip to a casino, hoping to spot Daniel Craig. There’s no sign of him so I take Mrs Terry for a game of air hockey instead. I win 2 – 0 quite easily but they are hollow victories as I’m not sure Mrs Terry understands the rules of the game, or where she is.

Mrs Terry later catches me making notes for the blog. “Sweetheart,” she asks, “Do your friends think I’m an idiot?”

“Oh no, Mum,” I assure her. “Not the ones who’ve met you.”

Mum in the sun

Day Four.
Make an early morning trip to the local market and have to stop Mrs Terry being taken in by fake pearl earrings three times.

Also, people keep talking to me in German. Tell Mrs Terry, who claims, “It’s because you’re tall, Sweetheart.”

In the evening the hotel lays on a tribute band called The Fab Four From Liverpool. This prompts Mrs Terry to tell me about the time she and a friend of hers, allegedly called Quirly, put an Oxo sized lump of hash in a curry and ate it. I fear this explains a lot about latter-day Mrs T.

Frizzly on my tongue

Day Five.
Mrs Terry tells me she has Lyme’s disease. When pressed it becomes clear that she doesn’t know what Lyme’s disease is, or what the symptoms are.

Other ailments Mrs T claims to have this holiday include a tick, a cold and diarrhea. My severe and painful heat rash is unremarked upon.

Later, I discover Mrs Terry’s knickers neatly stacked on top of the mini-bar. “They’re my used knickers, Sweetheart,” she says airily when I question what she’s about. I request that Mrs Terry puts her used underwear in a bag or something and later find a carrier bag, full of used pants, on top of the mini-bar.

Decide not to say anything further.

Terry Terry was there in spirits

Day Six.
Mrs Terry suggests we take a stroll along the beach. The naturist beach. We pass an instructive hour, at the end of which Mrs Terry is able to spy a Prince Albert at twenty paces.

Mrs Terry spies her first Prince Albert

Day Seven.
Fly back to Blighty and put Mrs Terry on a train up North. Spend the whole of the next day mooching about and missing Mrs Terry and our 8am Cavas. She’s a loon but the old bird is good holiday company.  I wonder if she feels the same way about me.

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A weekend at Terry Towers, northern branch

Friday
The best thing about the journey North is Terry Terry’s delighted face when he spies me striding along the platform towards him, then being enveloped in a big Barbour hug.

Mrs Terry proposes a shopping trip as, “You always seem to do much better for shopping when you come home, Sweetheart.” That, I think, is because you always pay, Mum, but decide to keep this to myself.

Shopping with Terry and Mrs Terry is a delight. Far from attempting to curb my tendency towards outlandish numbers, Mrs Terry positively embraces it, telling me at one point, “That’s not jazzy enough for you, sweetheart,” then strongly encouraging the purchase of a playsuit that Floella Benjamin would be proud of.

Terry is also pleased with the suit and goes off to find a matching belt. Terry is a man remarkably at ease in women’s clothes shops and will gamely wander the aisles, look for shoes in a very specific colour, hosiery etc. I suppose he’s had enough years of practice with the three women in his life. Have I mentioned he’s taken to calling the dog, “Son”? Poor Terry.

Saturday
Terry acts up on the train platform to Liverpool and I tell him sternly, “Dad, this is my limit. Don’t push it any more.” Feel a parent/child line has been crossed. Mixed feelings.
Philly Terry has bought tickets for a family trip to The King and I at the Liverpool Empire. Terry fortifies himself with a stiff G and T before we head in, even sucking the lemon to extract every last bit of gin.
Wise Terry.

Have a weird moment (possibly gin-based) when, for the first time in my life, I say words aloud that I thought were only in my head. The words were, “I wish I’d gone to Poundland,” which fell out when Mrs Terry was telling a story about her time working at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

It’s true, I do wish I’d gone to Poundland, but this isn’t an appropriate time to say. Fortunately, all Terrys find it funny, although Mrs Terry does not resume her story.

Today is quite an auspicious day in Terry history as Will is making his first trip to the family seat. After making sure a squiffy Terry and Mrs Terry have got on the right train back to El Porto, Philly takes Will and I on a tour of Liverpool, including a stop for baked bean tequila.

I don’t think I like baked bean tequila very much.

Sunday
Terry Terry enquires what Will and I plan to do for the day, then proposes something he’s clearly been giving some thought: he wants to take Will on a driving tour of the town.

Obviously, I insist on going too.

Highlights of Terry’s tour include: the vet’s (“Sam spends a lot of time there”), Terry’s old school (demolished in 1978) and “the whore house” three doors down from MacDonald’s.

Terry concludes his tour with a drive past the gypsy camp, then pulls up at the boat museum and makes us get out for a better look at the oil refinery. As we stroll down the Manchester ship canal, Terry points out a South African restaurant he’s been to a few times.

“What do they serve there, Dad?” I ask.
“Oh, you know, just food,” Terry dismisses.
“ But what kind of food?” I persist.
“Nothing special, steak, that kind of thing,” Terry claims.
“I’ve never had South African food, Dad. What have you had?” I’m now wild with curiosity.
“Just ostrich, alligator, that sort of stuff,” Terry shrugs nonchalantly as though alligator is standard fare to a man of his experience, “I prefer the Indian really.”

Monday
Sammy Sammy No Balls, Terry’s pride and joy, has not performed very well this visit. Before Will arrived, I’d asked Terry to run through all Sam’s tricks with me so I can make sure he’s up to scratch.

“He can high-five,” says Terry. I know this as I taught him to high-five within days of Terry and Mrs Terry arriving home with him from the rescue centre, and still have the bite marks to show for it.

“And he’s very sly,” says Terry but refuses to be drawn on how the slyness manifests itself as a trick.

I begin to fear that Sam is just an overweight Labrador and not the wonder dog I’ve always claimed to Will, when suddenly on Monday morning, Sam runs around the sofa, writhes on the floor flapping his empty ball sacks about and nips me on the bottom. His status as probably the best dog in the world is restored.

Tuesday
Return to London. Mrs Terry rings to check we’ve arrived back okay.

“Are you and Will still together, sweetheart?” She asks, nervously.

I reassure her that we are.

“Only there was that boy who broke up with after meeting your dad.”

And that is a story for another time.

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Lucy’s Lump

Have I ever told you about the dog’s cancer scare?

Before the rule of Sam, Terry Terry’s six stone bundle of Labrador fun, there was Lucy.
Lucy was a bit of a legend. She came to us at six weeks old after one of Mrs Terry’s friend’s dog got up the duff. Lucy’s mother was a pure-bred black Labrador called Cilla; this was considered the height of humour in El Porto. Of Lucy’s father, nothing was known other than his ability to jump a six-foot fence.

If there’s a better thing than a six-week-old puppy when you’re eight, tell me what it is so I can sort it out for my future kids. Because she was used to the relative rough and tumble of family life from such an early age Lucy was incredibly tolerant and put up with being dressed up and paraded down the road in a pram, being pushed down slides and jumping endless dog gymkhanas when I was going through a horse phase. To be honest, this phase is ongoing.

Mrs Terry had been a bit apprehensive about letting a black dog into her pristine house but Terry assured her that Lucy wouldn’t grow to be very big as she only had small paws. Lucy grew tall enough to sit with her bottom perched on the settee while her front paws rested on the carpet but maintained her dainty dog paws to the end of her days. By the time she grew so big Mrs Terry loved her too much to object to the Hound of the Baskervilles hogging the radiator.

In retrospect, Lucy did look like quite an intimidating dog: when she was riled by the postman, the paperboy, or just by a car going past she didn’t like the look of, hackles raised all along her spine, including a fine set of hackles on her head, giving her the look of an angry cockerel. The proudest day of Lucy’s life was when she pinned the electricity reading man against the back wall after he surprised her basking in the sun. But for all her fearsome looks she was very much loved by the Terrys, who knew that she was a gentle beast despite her blood-curdling bark.

One day, many years after Lucy’s slide-riding days, Mrs Terry, for reasons known only to herself, was examining Lucy in the area of her doggy breasts when she found a lump. Callous Terry tried to brush the lump off as meaningless but Mrs Terry reasoned, “If I had a lump in my boobs Sweetheart, I’d want it checked out.”

So, Lucy was taken to the vet and knocked out while her lump was removed.
Many hours later, the vet called and asked Mrs Terry if she wanted the good or the bad news.

“Erm ,the good news please,” Mrs Terry said nervously.
“Well,” said the vet, “the good news is, it’s not cancer. The bad news is, your dog’s just had liposuction.”

Lucy’s lump was just fat and everyone was happy except Terry who had to fork out for her slimming op.

Lucy lived to terrorise delivery men for many more years but it was only after her eventual death (of old age) that we found out about her secret other lives. About three days after she went to the great dog playground in the sky, strangers started knocking on the door asking where she was. One lady revealed she’d been feeding Lucy at 11.30am sharp every day for years. A woman and her toddler turned up, the toddler clutching a dog chew which she insisted her mum bought every time they want to the shop so that the little ‘un could feed it to Lucy through the bars of our gate. But the one that really broke my heart was the little boy and his brother who knocked on the door and asked if they could take Lucy out to play on the field.

“I’m afraid Lucy’s gone to heaven,” Mrs Terry told them.

The younger boy didn’t understand but the older one burst into tears on the doorstep. And when Mrs Terry shut the door, she was crying too.

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My Band T-Shirt

This originally appeared on the excellent, award-winning,  My Band T-Shirt site.

Of course, my mother hated it. It was bright, acid-custard, yellow with a 70s style navy blue trim around the neck and arms, a discreet Pulp log on the back and I’M COMMON emblazoned across the chest.

Although we lived in a small industrial town in the armpit of the North-West, my sister and I went to the local comp and our dad was a welder, my mum had worked very hard to make sure I wasn’t common.

To tell the truth, I didn’t think I was common either. Growing up in Ellesmere Port with a name like Georgina and a school shirt from Marks and Spencer, I thought I was quite a cut above the Sharons and Nicolas in Tammy Girl that hung around outside the Wimpy. No, it wasn’t until I went to university that I realised how common I was.

But, that was still a few months away. This was mid 1995 and I was about to embark on the best summer of my young life.

I’d taken an enforced gap year between sixth form and university and in that time made a momentous discovery about life. I, was an indie kid.

From Blur to Oasis, Menswe@r to Elastica, heck, even taking in Northern Uproar, if it had a jangly guitar, a floppy haired singer, and a beat you could shuffle your Gazelles to, I was all over it. And Pulp were the crowned kings and queen of my personal indie disco.
I wore my band t-shirt with black flares, cherry red Dr. Martens, and a fitted army jacket. When I was chased out of a former-school pal’s party for being a ‘bloody hippy’ I was delighted because I knew I was getting it right: I was a Mis-shape, I was Sorted and I knew that one day I would use my mind to get my own back on all the kids who’d called me Orangina and taunted me at school. The form of this revenge was not defined but I was pretty sure it would involve coming back in a blaze of glory and lording it up in the local pub somehow.

But, for that summer, I was content to go berserk in the singles aisle of HMV, devour every word in the NME and dance Friday nights away in the nearest city’s alternative disco because, my God, other people liked this music too and some of them were wearing band t-shirts as well.

Since moving to London, playing in a band and working as a showbiz journalist, I’ve met many people my I’m Common self would have creamed her pants over, and I’ve always managed to keep my cool. But the closest I’ve ever come to Jarvis was accidentally standing next to him at a bar after another band’s gig in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I didn’t say anything to him, although I’m pretty certain I must have discreetly fingered his jacket, but fled to the toilet to screech down the phone about the childhood hero I’d just shared smoky air with. The person I rang? My mum. I knew she’d realise how momentous it was.

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