Thursday 14 February 2013

                                                     Legends of Brocklehurst Chapter 14

The next morning, totally refreshed, I had a full English breakfast, and went to pick up the Scorpio. Having parked the car I was in plenty of time to meet Neil off his flight. I was holding a hand written sign which said "Chauffeur in a Rush", which Neil found amusing. We quickly headed for the short term parking area, and drove away from Heathrow. All Neil could talk about was the ill fated Mercedes. Apparently everyone in Anthem, and connected to the tour were talking about nothing else. When I showed Mr. Peart the news paper article, he laughed out loud, and said he would have to have copies made so they could be faxed to friends. For the first few days copies were faxed by all senior members of the tour to their friends, and relatives all over the world. Once again, unintentionally, I had given a Rush tour some amusement, and this one hadn't started yet.

We headed up the M1 towards Sheffield, talking, and catching up. The trip was uneventful, and we arrived at the Sheffield Moat House Hotel mid afternoon. The next day was production load in day, and the Thursday rehearsal day, so apart from taking Neil to the Sheffield Arena and back, once, I had two days off.

After having a bath, and a change of clothes I went to a nearby restaurant for a steak, and a glass or two of red wine. Again as during the HYF tour I was on a daily wage plus expenses. Breakfast was included, but all other meals I had to pay for, and couldn't afford prices charged by the hotels. On returning to the hotel I headed for the bar. I fancied a few drinks knowing I had the next day off. As I ordered a vodka, and tonic, I could see a few of the crew at the opposite side of the bar. Although I was completely at ease regarding meeting them all again, I decided to stay where I was. Then that familiar blonde head turned round, and spotted me. Alex walked over, gave me a big hug, and invited me to join them. Most of the usual suspects were there but all anyone wanted to talk about was the Mercedes. No sooner had I told my story than someone else joined the company, and I had to start all over again. Alex in particular found it hilarious, and made up various reasons why it had been set on fire. One suggestion was Mark, and I had imported a load of Colombian Marching Powder, and we had torched the car to get rid of forensic evidence. That idea was deemed the most likely, and variations of this were offered throughout the tour. Funnily enough when I returned home this was also the consensus of opinion. The truth was however as I have told it, and I am still not sure exactly what happened.

Later in the evening Pegi Cecconi came into the bar. We had got on very well during the previous tour, and I was delighted to see her again. Pegi has a wonderful sense of humour, and a great deep throated laugh which booms out when ever she is amused. She introduced me to a guy she was with. He was a well known photographer called Fin Costello who had taken pictures of all the well known bands in the 60's and also many of Rush in their early days. Pegi is a massive Coronation Street fan, and during the conversation asked me if I had ever been to the Coronation Street Studio in Manchester. She knew about the tours open to the public there,, and wondered if Neil's car could be commandeered to take her the next day. Now the car was only for us and on the HYF tour no-one, and I mean, no-one, was allowed to use it. Neil's typical reply on the couple of times a tentative request had been made to give some one a lift was.

"Feck off, you have limos, trains, and planes, the car is mine and Peter's." No one inquired further after that answer.

Understandably Pegi was loath to ask Neil direct, so full of alcohol, I said I would sort it. I rang Neil's room, and surprisingly he agreed right away, and told me to enjoy myself. I relayed his answer to Pegi who was delighted. We arranged a time to set off the next day, and then Fin asked if he could join us. It was agreed, and he said he would take some pictures of us on set. I was slightly less impressed than Pegi who was over the moon, however I didn't have to buy another drink all night. Alex kept making comments about drugs in the boot, and told Pegi to make sure she got out of the car before it was set alight. "Peter used to live in Manchester, Pegi, he has many criminal contacts there", he said with a big grin on his face.

After breakfast the next morning the three of us set off for Manchester. I drove via Snakehead Pass to show Pegi, and Fin the beautiful countryside. Arriving at the Granada Studios we bought tickets, and joined the tour. For me it wasn't very impressive, but Pegi was like a kid in a sweet factory. Fin took dozens of snaps, some of Pegi, and me, and some of just her. We had great fun posing in front of various places, and inside The Rovers Return. ( The pub in Coronation Street. ) We came back via the M62 so they could see the desolate, but strangely beautiful moors. On the way Fin asked me if I could get him a forged driving license for a friend. I said if he gave me all the details it would be no problem, and if he sent me a copy of the photos that I was on from our trip to Manchester, I wouldn't charge him. After the tour I posted the license to him, but never received my pictures. I have often wondered if his friend is still driving on that forged license ?

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Thursday 7 February 2013


There is one thing I would like help with if possible. I see from the traffic to this blog there are many countries represented. I need help, and advice with getting a site up the search engines lists. I know some of the basic ones, but there has to be other ways. Often results at the top of any subject are only small companies. It is totally legal, and has nothing to with any sex site. If someone can help, and it succeeds, then there would be a financial agreement we would come too. Anyone who wants to get in touch can get me at
                                                      Legends of Brocklehurst Chapter 13

I sat down on the bed trying clear my sleepy head. I checked the spare bedroom, and Mark wasn't there. How had Mark got home? Had I let him take the car? Surely not? For the life of me I couldn't remember. I rang his number, and his mum told me Mark was in bed. I asked her to look outside to see if there was a Mercedes parked nearby. My sinking heart fell even further when Margaret told me it wasn't, and that Mark said I had dropped him off when he got in early that morning. I also rang a mate who lived near Mark, and asked him. He checked as well with the same result. No car.

I dashed down stairs, and searched for the car keys to no avail. Totally distraught I sat down, and tried to work out what could have happened. I decided to walk to Mark's, about a mile or so, to see if I could find the missing vehicle. Had I driven Mark home, and broken down, or worse had an accident? But where were my keys, and how had I got back in to the cottage ? Nothing about this made any sense.
Taking my spare house keys I traced the route I would have driven. As I reached the main road I turned left to head into Carlisle. For some reason I glanced back, and there about eighty yards away in the ditch on my side was a burnt out shell. Even when I reached it I couldn't tell what make of car it was. Neither could I tell if it was a left hand drive, so total was the fire damage. I opened the boot, and there were the remains of the charred cases of beer.

Without doubt it was the tour car.

As I stood shattered, working out the connotations of this discovery, a police car pulled up, and asked me what I was doing. I explained the situation, and they said a CID officer would visit me to take a statement within an hour.

I walked back home, and searched once more for those keys. Again I failed to find them. Now I had a serious problem re: the insurance. If I said I had left them in the car I wouldn't be covered. As Mark was still at home in bed I didn't know if he had the keys. I went round to the back of the cottage, and booted the locked rear door in. I was going to have to tell the police that someone had broken in, and stolen the Mercedes keys. When the police came I explained I had taken a sleeping tablet after the trip from Frankfurt, and the first I knew of the break in was when I woke up to a phone call telling me there was a wrecked car not far from my house. I had covered my story by ringing the guy who lived near Mark, and asking him to ring me back. I said he was inquiring about how my trip had gone, and laughingly said at least my car wasn't lying burnt out in a ditch. I don't think the police believed a word of what I said, but what could they do ?

By now it was almost midday. I still couldn't ring Pegi at Anthem so I went to the bank, and collected the currency for the tour. But how could there be a tour for me now ?

At 2:00 pm promptly, nine o'clock in Canada, I rang Anthem. I was almost stammering as I told Pegi my news. Whatever response I was expecting, it wasn't the one I received. She just started laughing, and shouted to others in her office what had happened. I could hear all sorts of comments amongst the cheering, and just felt relieved that the reaction was a good one. Once Pegi was able to talk sensibly she told me to travel to London by train that evening, and Anthem would arrange for me to pick up another rental car at Heathrow in plenty of time to meet Neil.

Although I was relieved, I was still no nearer to solving the mystery. Mark was adamant I had driven him home.

To this day I still don't know the truth. After the tour I even went to a hypnotist to see if anything could be revealed, with no success. Over the years Mark has "fessed up" various things he has been guilty of, sometimes long afterwards, but still says he knows nothing about this, and I believe him. ( We were discussing it yesterday when I told him this part of the story was being posted this weekend.) The only possibility I can think of is that I did drive Mark home, and must have left the keys in the cottage door when I returned. The car key was on the same key ring, and if anyone was skulking about later the car would have been easily stolen. If that was the case I can only believe it was some friends of Mark's who had called round to see if we were still up. We had stopped briefly to show some of his mates the car in Carlisle as we passed them. The skid marks by the burnt out Merc suggested it may have over shot my turning on the way back to mine. Possibly panicking at the damage they fired it, and of course nothing was missing from the cottage. If I had crashed the car I couldn't have set fire to it if I had wanted, I didn't smoke anything but joints in those day, and then only at home so never carried a lighter with me.

A good friend happened to work for the salvage company that collected the shell. He told me the sum total before the fire damage was a busted front bumper was estimated at eighty pounds!

Later in the day Pegi rang me, and told me a top of the range Ford Scorpio had been rented, and I was to collect it from Budget Car Hire at Heathrow prior to meeting Neil off his flight. I couldn't believe the lack of worry about the Mercedes, but I suppose in the grand scheme of a Rush tour, one burnt out hire car, didn't rate too highly. However there was one little draw back. I would have to fly to Frankfurt from London on a day off to pick up the Mercedes Estate Car for the main land Europe leg of the tour. It was a small price to pay all things considered.

That evening when my taxi picked me up, to take me to the railway station, the driver started laughing, and showed me the local evening paper. There on the front page was my picture along with one of the burnt out wreck, and the full story. There was also a quote from me, which was strange as I hadn't spoken to any journalists. The picture was one taken of me when they did a story about the tour a month or so earlier. It had been a double page feature with pictures of me complete with my Rush albums, and that first Signal's post card. What the article didn't say was I hardly ever listened to them. The taxi driver gave me the paper, still very amused I was his passenger.
I was able to relax for the first time all day on the train to London. A meal, and a few glasses of wine certainly helped. By the time I arrived at my hotel I was very tired, went straight to bed, and fell asleep immediately.

Thursday 31 January 2013

                                            Legends of Brocklehurst Chapter 12

Even though I had a few grand saved, I still needed to earn money as having a sixteen year old son is not cheap. That caused a problem. Most of my "working" contacts were in Manchester which meant travelling there if I was to make money, often with a few over night stays. This was at odds with my intention to spend time with Mark. Neither could I start to "graft" in Carlisle, which is like a village, with everyone knowing other people's business, plus while I knew a few of the local villains, it wasn't enough to trust them. Not a situation I was willing to risk.

Then a solution presented itself. It was the era of copy clothing but when it was still legal to sell copies as long as you told the buyer they weren't originals.

A relation of Stan Bowles , my ex footballer friend, was heavily involved in this business so I approached him, and bought a few hundred pounds worth of clothes. My idea was, through Mark, I would have a ready made outlet to the youngsters of Carlisle. It was a total disaster. My choice was so far out of sync with those I hoped to sell to. Then Mark suggested he came with me on the next trip to pick up clothing, and help me choose the styles, and colours. Luckily my supplier took back my unsold items. The new clothes which I bought were sold quickly. Within a few months, I was hiring a van, going twice a week to Manchester with Mark, and replenishing my stock. Shortly after that I was earning £1000 a week. Almost as good as the average for my usual clandestine operations, ( working for a few weeks, then having plenty of leisure time between graft, ) and no laws were being broken. Mark was also getting a good wage being on a percentage.

I was still gambling, and one day Mark came with me to the bookies when I had a tip. I put on £500 at 3/1. The horse won earning me £1,500 in under two minutes. However I have never been so nervous watching a race. The chance of my son seeing me throw away so much money on a bet made me cut back on my gambling in the future. Shortly after that, I actually went two years without having a bet.

There was one complication to my new business which nearly got out of hand. There was another guy selling copies in Carlisle, and had been doing so before me. With me being in competition, it hit him hard as he wasn't getting his supplies direct. I found out they came from my guy via a third party. I suggested that I could supply him at a cheaper rate than he was paying, and both of us should keep our prices the same. He refused so a price war broke out. Obviously he wasn't happy, and couldn't compete so he asked a local heavy called Paddy to get involved. After receiving a drunken, threatening phone call from this would be villain one Sunday afternoon, I arranged to see him at his home early the next day. In my world if you have an issue with someone you never take the problem to that person's home if they have family living there. I knew the guy, and he was a big drinker, and lived alone. He had broken the code so going there didn't bother me, and it is always a good time to visit people after a they have had a heavy weekend.

Just as I entered Paddy's living room that Monday morning his phone rang. His face drained of colour as he listened without replying. He put the phone down, and said he no longer wanted to get involved in this arguement. I had arranged a known "face" in Manchester to ring him at exactly the time I arrived at his home. He had been told what to expect if he became involved in my business. That was the end of that, and the other guy stopped selling copies so my sales improved even more. Maybe he should have taken me up on my offer. Although I didn't like Paddy at first, I met him by accident soon after in a pub. he apologized, and bought me a drink. We were never best friends, but he was excellent company, and when he told the other locals what had happened I was shown more respect. Sadly he died a few years ago.

Time flew in, my relationship with Mark progressed well, and I was very happy living back in Carlisle. Then in November 1991 there was some exciting news from Neil. Rush were to tour Europe in early 1992, and he wanted me to resume my duties as his driver. There was no hesitation, and I replied, by letter, that I would be delighted.

As soon as I heard about the tour I phoned Chris Lea in Manchester, and once again we spent hours talking about where Rush would play. Having done one tour, and knowing what my duties would entail, I was really looking forward to this one. There was no nervousness, or trepidation, only a tremendous feeling of anticipation.

Early January 1992 I received a package from Anthem in Toronto containing all the information about The Roll the Bones Tour. Although the itinerary schedule was smaller than the Hold Your Fire one, it was much better produced, and looked so much more professional. I quickly checked the dates, and found out there were to be six shows in Britain, and eight on mainland Europe.

The venues Rush were to play were as follows :

Friday, April 10th Sheffield Arena.

Sunday April 12th NEC Birmingham.

Monday April 13th NEC Birmingham.

Wednesday April 15th SECC Glasgow.

Friday 17th April Wembley Arena London.

Saturday 18th April Wembley Arena London.

Tuesday 21st April Music Hall Hannover.

Thursday 23rd April Sporthalle Koln.

Friday 24th April Festhalle Frankhurt.

Monday 27th April Eissporthalle Berlin.

Tuesday 28th April Frankenhalle Nurenberg.

Wednesday 29th April Scheylerhalle Stuttgart.

Friday 1st May Zenith Paris.

Sunday 3rd May Ahoy Rotterdam.

Monday 4th May Travel Home.

One thing was apparent straight away, as well as many more shows, there were also plenty of days off between venues. Some wonderful European cities I had never visited before. I had always wanted to see Paris, but Berlin was the place which really excited me. The Berlin wall had only been down for a short while, and I knew Berlin was becoming a new vibrant city that people from the West could now see fully for the first time. This wasn't just going to be a tour with a rock band, but hopefully a very educational trip as well. I couldn't wait for it to start.

Later in January I booked a last minute holiday to Thailand. I needed a break before the tour, and had always fancied visiting there. As was the norm I went on my own, but as usual soon found like minded people, and had a wonderful time. One guy I met was called Dave. Although he was originally from Leeds, England, he now lived in Amsterdam so I arranged to meet up with Dave while I was there with Mr. Peart. Like most people, when I mentioned the tour, Dave hadn't heard of Rush, but said he would come to the Ahoy gig in Rotterdam. Also I had been told that Jackie, Neil's partner, and Selena, his daughter, were coming to Paris. I was really looking forward to meeting " The Girls " as he called them. Neil had planned three days off to show them around Paris. This would give me a mini holiday, all expenses paid. A trip to Amsterdam seemed the perfect idea.

I had to go to Manchester, to the same accountants as before, to pick up the expenses for the tour. I used the visit to catch up with my friends in the Barleycorn pub. We had a great night over indulging in alcohol, and Chris, and I enthusing about Rush's latest European tour, even if Chris was more interested in the music side of things than me.

This time I was to fly to Frankfurt to pick up the tour car. Neil had chosen a Mercedes 350 sports Coupe for the first part of the tour, but we were going to change it for a Mercedes Estate Car later on. This was for when Jackie, and Selena came to Paris, as we would need more room in the car to drive the Peart family back to Southampton, England at the end of the tour, from where they would be sailing to New York on the QE 2.

I thought it would be a good idea to take Mark with me to pick up the car, with me. Obviously I paid for his flight. After having cleared it with Neil, on Saturday 4th April, we flew from Manchester to Frankfurt. After an enjoyable evening sampling the delights of Frankfurt, bright and early Sunday morning, we picked up the Mercedes from Budget Hire Car at the airport. Even if it wasn't in the same class as the 750i BMW which we had used on the previous tour, it was still a great car to drive. I drove as fast as was safe, and was possible in the traffic, and made good time to Calais, France, to catch our ferry. On board we had an excellent meal, and bought twelve cases of cheap beer, and of course some cigarettes, all duty free. The trip home to Carlisle was done non stop except for visits to services for petrol, and other necessities. I wanted to get home in good time as I had a few final arrangements to make before I was due to pick up Neil at Heathrow on Tuesday morning.

We arrived at the cottage about 11-00 pm. We had done the trip in less than fourteen hours including the ferry journey. Mind you I did have a break from driving when I let Mark drive for an over an hour on the M6 in England. The fact he was in control at all, never mind touching speeds of around 150mph, wouldn't have gone down well with NEP, or those at Anthem, but I knew Mark was a good driver, and had no worries on that front, although I didn't tell Neil until well into the tour.

I took a case of those imported beers into the cottage, and we both had a couple of bottles. I also took a sleeping tablet as my mind was still in overdrive from the long journey. I can't remember Mark going home, or even me going to bed. The next thing I knew the phone was ringing just after 9-00 am. It was my bank telling me my various foreign currencies were ready for collection.

Even before I opened the curtains I felt something was wrong. As I looked out of the window at the empty drive, and lane, I realized the Mercedes wasn't there.

I was due to pick Neil at Heath Row Airport in just over twenty four hours, and the tour car was missing !

Thursday 24 January 2013

                                                  Legends of Brocklehurst - Chapter 11

With the Rush tour over I soon returned to my usual life style of getting a few, quid and spending it as soon as possible. I have only scant memories of contact with Neil over the next couple years as there were some very important personal matters on the horizon. Of course there was still no internet, at least not for me, so all mail relied on our respective postal services.
In late 1988 two very important events occurred, one of which was to change my life for ever. First Jackie who I had been living for over eight years split up after months of drifting apart. The only real decision was who would move out of our small but well appointed flat. In the end I did the gentlemanly, thing and got another place. I let Jackie keep everything she wanted as I could replace them a lot easier than she could. Finding accommodation in Didsbury has always been a nightmare, but I found a small, dingy one bed room place about a hundred yards from my local pub, the Barleycorn.
Then just before Christmas I heard from my son’s mother. I knew about Mark, but had only seen him once. Margaret, his mum, had been engaged when we met, and when she became pregnant back in February 1972, had finished the affair, and married her boy friend. She had always maintained Mark was mine, and after seeing him briefly in 1978, I had no doubts. Mark, now sixteen, had got in trouble with the police, a family trait I guess. His mum wanted me to have a word to try, and help him. I had attempted to find him in Carlisle that Christmas with no luck. I couldn’t go to his home as no one knew I was his dad, and Margaret’s new live in partner had always hated me, plus I had no idea what Mark looked like. The only help I had, from his mum, was where he might be, and what he was wearing. On Friday 6th January 1989, I drove up to Carlisle, determined to finally meet up with him.

That short drive of 120 miles was to be most bizarre. I had a suit bag hanging in the back of the hire car, and as I reached the Lancaster turn off the M6, about half way home, I thought I was being followed. Though I was never a major league villain, over the years, I had worked with some very tasty guys, so the police would, now and again, spend a day tailing me to see what I was up to. This was usually done by one CID officer, who would be up to date with my habits, and my contacts, so I was fairly used to it. I just couldn’t believe that they would waste time doing this, when anyone who knew anything about me, must know where I was going. Friday afternoon, M6 north, suit bag in full view, could only mean I was going home to Carlisle for the weekend, plus the next day Carlisle United were playing Liverpool in the third round of the FA cup.

Where else would I be going ?

To make sure I did the usual anti surveillance moves which were a natural in those days when being followed on motorways. I increased speed to over 100 mph, slowed down again. The offending car kept the same distance behind me. I passed an articulated lorry at speed, then braked, and pulled in front of it, the car stayed behind the lorry Then I did the final check, drove into a service station, and straight out again without stopping. Once more I was followed at a distance of around two hundred yards. I knew the driver should be aware by now I had realized that he was tailing me, and I expected him to stop the surveillance. Basic tactics if the police think they have been spotted, but he stayed right behind me.
Totally bemused, as I was doing nothing illegal, I sped up the M6 to junction 43, the second Carlisle turn off, and without signalling exited at around 110 mph with the result my tail almost missed the exit. At the roundabout I slowed right down leaving the other driver no option but to close up. He had two choices, either sit behind me as I waited to turn left for Carlisle pretending to read a map, or draw level as if he was turning right away from Carlisle. This is what he did, hoping, no doubt, to make a complete circle of the roundabout, and get behind me again. I waited until he was out of sight, and followed him. As we both joined the A69 into Carlisle I was now was behind my pursuer. This is something that should obviously never be allowed to happen. I noted the registration number, over took him, went the wrong way down a one way street, and pulled up on the pavement outside the Crown and Mitre Hotel where I was staying for the weekend. This was the hotel the Beatles had been thrown out of may years earlier for wearing leather jackets. ( He was hardly likely to report me for motoring offences as I wasn’t supposed to know he was there.) Unbelievably the guy had remained right behind me.
I ran to a pay phone in the foyer, and rang the Carlisle police to report the strange happenings of the last hour, saying I was in fear for my life, and quoted the registration number . I was told to ring back in twenty minutes, and they would see if they could discover who the driver was. I went to my vehicle to get my luggage, and saw the other car parked across the road a few yards away, the driver standing on the pavement, talking to a Carlisle CID officer who I recognized. I grinned at them, and waved. When I rang the police station later, they told me they didn’t know who the driver was, but said it was a hire car from Manchester airport. I just laughed, and told them I knew exactly who he was, added he was fecking useless, and hung up.
A few weeks later I was arrested in Manchester over an inquiry about a stolen container load of coffee, I was amazed to get a pull over this as I knew there was no evidence to connect me to it. At the police station, Grey Moor Lane, Manchester, I was taken to an inspector’s office instead of the usual detention area. The inspector, after getting me a cup of tea, asked me about that trip to Carlisle. When he heard the full story, and how I how I had got behind the car that was following me, he said “Fecking idiot, he will never be allowed to do surveillance work again“ shook my hand and told me I was free to go !
The next day, the 7th January, Carlisle United lost their cup tie, but that evening I was hoping to meet Mark properly for the first time. I had been told, by his mum, he would be in Anabels, a rave club. I got there early, around 9-00 pm, looking completely out of place in a suit, and tie. I asked a couple of teenagers if he was about with negative replies, and stood by the bar awaiting developments. After a few minutes a young guy approached me, and said Mark would be in later. Somehow I knew he was already there, and had no doubt this was a move to show Mark just who was asking about him. Moments later a group of six or seven youths ambled over, and stood about ten yards away from me. I realized they were protecting Mark in case there was some trouble attached to him meeting me. It was reassuring to know his friends were willing to do this, and he was street wise enough to take precautions.

Then a youngster walked slowly across the dance floor in my direction. Even in those darkened conditions, I knew who he was, I was about to meet my son at last !

Although we had never met properly, I had on the odd occasion spoken to Mark on the phone when I rang his mum to check how he was doing. Something I did at least once a month. Mark knew I was an old friend of Margaret’s but obviously didn’t know I was his dad.

I explained I was the “ Peter “ who had spoken to him on the phone as we shook hands, and I could see him visibly relax. ( I learned later that he, and a couple of mates had ripped some watches off a guy, and they thought that was what I wanted to see him about ). I bought him a pint, and thought even if he only stayed a few minutes, at least we had finally made contact. However halfway through that first drink Mark suggested we sat down away from the music so we could talk more easily. When the club closed around two thirty am, and some ten rounds later, pints of lager for Mark, vodka, and tonic for me, we were still chatting away. There was a strong bond from the beginning, and as I left him to walk the short distance to my hotel, Mark ran after me to ask if we could meet again the next day. I don’t know if it was the thought of more free drinks, but whatever the reason I was only too happy to agree.

I was adopted, and until I met Mark I had never met a single blood relative. I had spent years feeling alone, even when in the company of friends, but not understanding why. For the first time in my life I really felt I was truly alive, felt like I belonged in this world, just an incredible feeling.

I returned to Manchester on the Monday morning having spent most of Sunday with Mark. He had made a tape of his favourite songs, and given it to me before I left. The first track was Paul Simon’s “ Call Me Al, “ a real favourite of mine The words seemed so appropriate, and I drove with a silly grin on my face all the way home.
The next few weeks I drove to Carlisle several times to see Mark, sometimes for only half an hour or so. One problem was already becoming obvious, we were getting on so well, and Mark was quickly becoming very fond of me. How could I justify a forty four year old man spending so much time with a teenager ? What was going on in Mark’s head ? Why did he think I was going to such lengths to see him, and why was he so keen to meet me ? His Mum told me Mark would stand outside his house waving even after my car was out of sight.
The next weekend I took the bull by the horns and told him exactly who I was even though I had promised his mum I wouldn’t. When I said I was his natural father, Mark just looked me straight in the eyes, and replied. “ You would never tell me a lie about something as important as that, “ then hugged me. It was an extremely emotional moment.

From there it seemed a natural progression to move back to Carlisle to really get to know Mark. I was single, and living in a horrible little flat, so it was no contest. Funny how things turn out, if Jackie, and I had still been together, it would have been very difficult to leave Manchester. I guess some things are just meant to be.

I have generally been lucky when renting a home. The first place I have really wanted, I normally got. This was to be no exception. Mark was still going to live with his mum, but I wanted him to have some say in my choice of home, as I was hoping he would spend a lot of time with me. We had looked at a couple of houses, but the third one we viewed was ideal. It was a semi- detached cottage just off a side road, which was off a main road, a few minutes drive from the edge of Carlisle where Mark’s home was. The road was a cul-de-sac, which led to a farm, where the landlord lived. It was so peaceful, and such beautiful countryside, so different to the hurly burly of a big city. I fell in love with it immediately, and within an hour had done the deal with the farmer. Cash always works as the best references in my experience. Whenever I move into a new property I always feel like I am home in a short time. This was no exception except it felt so right, so familiar, so quickly. I found out months later that the two cottages had been built using stone from the old Carlisle Prison when it was demolished in the mid 1920's. No wonder it felt right from the outset.

Monday 21 January 2013

There are a couple of more chapters about to do with the start of the European leg of the 1992 tour. I didn't have a copy of them, and to be truthful had forgotten all about it. Thanks to Eric Hansen, who has his own excellent Rush site powerwindows, for reminding me. He is kindly sending me a copy so I will post them here as soon as I receive them. One story I think you will find very amusing so please be patient. 

I have received those from Eric. Hopefully I will post the first extra chapter by this Friday 25th January.

Thursday 17 January 2013

                                   Legends of Brocklehurst - Chapter 10


I said earlier that Neil had chosen all the music after that first Paul Simon tape I played when I picked him up at Heathrow. For those of you who have read Neil’s book, “ Traveling Music, “ you will be aware of his musical tastes. They are very varied from Sinatra to modern day recordings, jazz, many other types of music, and artists. Neil had recorded numerous tapes ( no CD’s then ) with all his current, and old favourites. As the car was started until the engine switched off, a tape was always playing. I knew some of the tracks, but there were plenty that were new to me. Of those, the ones I got to like best were the small unknown Toronto bands that had been recorded live in various local clubs. In some cases Neil had jammed with the band. Although mainly they were groups who hadn’t achieved a recording contract, they all sounded pretty good. I think Mr. Peart got tired of me continually asking, “ and who is that ? “ There were so many different ones I just couldn’t remember them. One band that was never heard was Rush. Neil said, apart from while they were recording, final mixing, and choosing songs for touring, he never listens to his own trio. I told him I could understand that . It was a standing joke that Rush aren't  my favourite band.
The last venue of the HYF tour was in the Hans Martin Schleyer Hall, Stuttgart. As usual we arrived early, in plenty of time for the sound check. When we got to the hall we were stopped entering the back stage area by a barrier, and an attendant. The barrier was partially up. I explained who we were, and we both showed our passes. However, we needed another pass to get the car beyond this rather officious gentleman, and that pass had to be obtained from inside the building. I tried to tell him that I couldn’t leave the car, and Neil while I went for the pass, nor could I expect my boss to collect it.
While I discussed this dilemma with our very own “little Hitler“, Neil became aware of two coach loads of Italian fans who had disembarked a couple of hundred yards away to our left. As they walked closer to the check point, a few saw who was sitting in the BMW. Excitedly they started pointing at Rush’s trapped drummer, and ran towards us. Neil immediately asked me if I could drive through the barrier without hurting the guard. “Don’t worry about the car or the barrier “, he said in an agitated state, “ I will pay for any damage, just miss that guy, but get me out of here “. I put my foot down, and at speed manoeuvered through the very narrow gap, succeeding some how without touching anything. Once again I was acutely aware how the thought of being cornered by fans made Neil feel very uncomfortable.

As I later walked around the back stage area I saw Neil with his bow, and arrow. At all of the venues prior to sound check I had seen this familiar sight. I watched as the quiet, lonely figure took aim, and fired at a target a few yards away. In the States Neil would tell me he took his bicycle, and went for long rides on days off, and before shows, but in Europe he spent some of his time practicing his archery skills. On reflection Neil spent a lot of time on his own during the tour. I could spend two, or three days in the same hotel, and never see NEP once. This wasn’t him being unsociable, just the way he likes it. I think, as I am, Mr. Peart is very comfortable with his own company. While Alex, and Geddy may have a game of tennis, or in years to come, a round of golf for Alex, Neil spent his spare moments pursuing his own interests.
Even before a gig Neil would often be in “ solitary confinement. “ He would be honing his archery skills, reading, getting his journal up to date, or just warming up on his practice kit. I think he preferred this way to prepare for the show to mixing with others. It may sound like he is very anti social, but nothing could be further from the truth. When he is working, he is ultra professional, but when he is socializing, then he is the very warm, funny, friendly, generous guy that I first met all those years ago in London
Throughout the tour during the last number of every show dozens of red balloons were released from their netting to fall down on the audience. One of the crew told me to watch the final song but wouldn’t tell me why. I did find out that something was always arranged as a surprise for the band on the last night of a tour. As all those balloons were released they fell onto the stage rather than the audience, much to the huge amusement of Alex, Geddy, and Neil. Apparently the riggers had spent hours moving the netting back to achieve this goal. In no time the stage was covered in balloons with the guys all laughing. Alex threw himself on top of a load of them. It was almost a bouncy castle situation. Insanely grinning, he continued playing as he bounced horizontally across the stage. An amazing and hilarious sight

After the show we left straight away and headed back to our hotel in Frankfurt.
If I was expecting an end of tour party, then I was to be disappointed. This tour really hadn’t been the “rock and roll” experience I had hoped for. I did have a few drinks in the hotel bar with Alex, Pegi, and a couple of others. All they could talk about was going home the next day. Of course I had only been involved in the last small part of a very long tour. These people had been on the road for months, and it showed in their desire just to be allowed to return to their respective cities, and towns. I just wished I could have relaxed early on, and enjoyed the experience so much more. I did, however, enjoy every minute traveling in that great car with my friend.

Throughout the tour, another of my duties had been to organize any interviews Neil did. It was quite bizarre the way it was handled. Even Pegi seemed a little unsure of whether Neil would want to do an interview, so she would approach me, asking how Neil was feeling, and did I think he may want to do one that, or the next day ? I then approached Neil to check if this was OK. I never understood the trepidation over Neil’s participation in these interviews as he always agreed when I asked him. The powers that be from Anthem were equally amazed that he never refused, to the extent that Pegi actually said it was a great idea having me travel with Neil, as it made him much more amenable.
This cemented a trust between Pegi, and that is still there to this day. The format was always the same. I would book a room, have reception ring me when the interviewer arrived. I then took them to the room, rang Neil, waited for him outside, entered with him, and introduced the two, then left. After half an hour I had to ring Neil. He would answer the phone, and if the things were going well, he would say, “ I will see you when I am finished here “. That meant he was comfortable, and would continue the interview. However if he thought the person was incompetent, badly prepared, or just a jerk, then his answer would be, “ OK, I will be there right away. “ This method of being able to escape from an awkward situation amused me, as when I worked company frauds, I had used a similar ruse, but in reverse. When I had a sales person in my office, I would have my secretary ring every five minutes or so, to make it appear that we were a very busy company !
Out of the five or six interviews Neil did on the HYF tour, only one was terminated prematurely. Again I was aware Neil always expected a high level of professionalism from everyone, even journalists.

All too soon my tour with Rush was over. That was my last night as the next day I had to return the car to Munich, and fly home to Manchester. The British part of my job had passed so quickly, with me not really able to enjoy it. The three gigs in Europe had been much more enjoyable but had just flown in. And I had only been away for nineteen days.
After arriving in Manchester, where Jackie met me at the airport, we went to the Barleycorn for a meal. Chris Lea came in after work, and I told him all I could remember about the tour, and gave him a couple of presents. A tour book signed by all three of his Rush heroes, and a couple of Neil’s drum sticks. Not new ones but some Larry had given me that Neil had used during that final Stuttgart show. Neil had organized this without any prompting from me. Chris was totally made up, and amazed by his gifts.
Of course I kept several mementos from the tour, stuff from various hotels, my triple A pass etc. As I had emptied the car in Munich I found a letter from my probation officer saying that although I was on probation, I had her permission to leave the country to work for Neil. All those borders crossed, and not once had I been asked for this document. In fact I could have smuggled anything I wanted into England as the customs never even stopped me, though I don’t suppose Neil would have been amused if I had used his tour car to bring in some contraband !
This is the final chapter in this tale. I did drive Neil in 1992 during the European leg of their tour. 
I didn't write this until years later, and just after I  finished narrating the '88 tour, Neil, and I had a fall out. I went to  Houston during the Snakes and Arrows tour with the sole intention of sorting our disagreement out. We had a great meeting in his changing room for over an hour, and half before the gig. Just as it started Michael called me over, and got me to sit on stage next to Alex's technician, just out of sight of the audience. Neil wanted to see me during the interval, something that had never happened even during the tours I worked on. We had a short time to catch up some more, I couldn't see Neil after the show as he was leaving straight away. We said our goodbyes, hugged each other, and that was to be the last time I saw Mr. Peart.
We emailed each other the next day, and the original reason for our fallout reared it's ugly head again. Heated words were exchanged, and shortly after that my emails were unanswered. That remains until this day. Very sad, a friendship of over thirty five years gone. I will not go into any reasons because they are personal. I guess most of the blame must fall on me. I will only say I still miss my former friend, and though I know in my heart Neil will never accept any overtures of comradeship from me, as long I live I won't give up. In truth he was never anyone but that shy, naive, young Canadian I met in 1971 in London, and not one of the best rock drummers in the world to me. I still won't have a word said against him.
There now seems no point in writing about the 1992 European tour.