Friday, March 31, 2006

Adam Ant, Derek Jarman, and autographs

It will be 11 years next week (7 April) since I last saw Adam Ant perform live. The venue was Tower Records in London’s Piccadilly Circus, and I had taken the morning off work to be there. Two weeks previously I had been at three consecutive shows at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, too. These dates were the first opportunities I had had to see AA live, having grown up in a small town a billion miles from anywhere. Indeed, I had hoped to see him back in ’85 (?) on the Vive Le Rock tour. I would have been 15 at that time, so the likelihood was slim enough anyway, but then the majority of the tour was cancelled due to an injury sustained when AA fell during rehearsals (if memory serves). Wife, cynic that she is, would probably say it was due to poor ticket sales; she says similar things about the endless postponement of the release of new material, too. Maybe she’s right, but we true fans from way back have to keep the faith.

I remember trying to get a good view at Tower Records in order to take some photos. To do that I had to hold the camera up high, not being the tallest person in the world, so they were not that great. Still, they were better than the ones I’d taken at Shepherd’s Bush. I also snuck a tape recorder in to Tower, just as I had to the three Empire gigs, so it’s a well-documented period in my Ant fandom.

But my hopes of getting an autograph after the three-song set were dashed. The queue for the signing table was immediately enormous, and I was growing ever more aware that I needed to get back to work. I had taken with me to get signed the sleeve of my “Deutscher Girls” 7-inch, which I had previously had signed by Derek Jarman, the director of Jubilee, the film from which the song was taken. So it would have been a great addition to my collection. But I just couldn’t get there...

The Derek Jarman signing was interesting. It was held in March 1993 (I believe) at the now long-gone Dillons Art bookstore on Long Acre in Covent Garden. I was unemployed at the time, so buying a copy of his book and getting it signed was totally not an option. I asked the counter assistant if it was necessary to make a purchase, knowing that some stores insist you do. The guy said he was sure Mr Jarman wouldn’t mind. And sure enough he didn’t.

There were a lot of people present who seemed to be old friends or acquaintances of the director’s – a lot of “how are you? We really must get together some time” kind of conversations. Anyway I approached with my record sleeve, which had a still – a close shot of AA’s face – from Jubilee on the front. I said something dorky like: “I just wanted to shake the hand of the man who gave Adam Ant his first acting role.” And we shook hands. He spent a few minutes chatting with me and asked how Adam was doing and what he was up to these days, kind of as though I might have some real knowledge on the subject. He said he hadn’t seen him in years. I don’t remember what I replied exactly, but I’m sure something along the lines of “working on a new album; doing a bunch more acting”.

He was very friendly and didn’t seem at all fazed by the line of conversation; it was really as though he had time for me and not at all like signing events so often are, when you are rushed through the whole thing as quickly as possible. He signed my record sleeve as well as an article about him that had recently been published in sex magazine Forum. I still have both items in my collection. And that’s the end of this story. Jarman passed away in February of 1994.



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