An unusually long two years had passed since my last trip to Newport and don't ask my why but until that visit it never occurred to me to check out who was living at JC's house. I couldn't remember where it was but Hornpipe did, and as we spoke about it in Hornpipe's front room he said that some things are best left as they are. I was adamant though, I wanted to know. I told Hornpipe of the chance meeting in Goa and he answered "I know". I was mystified. As far as I was aware nobody was in touch with Magdalene or anybody else from that era. I thought they'd all gone their separate ways and that was that.
Hornpipe told me that his wife Sandy worked in the Civic Centre which in addition to being the on off home for Boom Boom when he was locked up for the night after too many pints of cider was also the main council administration building that handled affairs such as rent, local taxes, the parks commission, education and the law courts. "So what's that got to do with Magdalene"? I asked. "She worked with Sandy. They spent a few years together there. At first she didn't recognise Sandy because she'd lost a lot of weight to marry me and had since put it back on long before they met again. But when they realised who one another were they talked a lot about the old days. They were both employed to do secretarial duties and whereas one of Sandy's duties was to type up reports for the schools, Magdalene did the same for the law courts. Obviously both were jobs that demanded the utmost of confidence due to the sensitive nature of the content of some of the reports they had to prepare, but when people work in the next office to one another its obvious that they talk".
"So is she still there now"? I asked. "I didn't know whether to tell you or not but now its out in the open here's the full story as I understand it" Hornpipe started. "Because of the drug bust with JC, Magdalene never should have got the job in the first place, but as she wasn't charged it slipped through the net. That was around the time that Toby was going to university and Magdalene, being a single mother was really having a hard time making ends meet, so she got the job at the Civic Centre".
"Just after JC died her father passed on too, and whilst he wasn't rich he wasn't poor either. When her mother had died of leukemia all those years ago he'd let the farm go, selling up in favour of solid bricks and mortar instead of living on government farming subsidies. In the years since that he split with his second wife so that left the house to Magdalene. And on the one hand she'd lost the loves of her life on the other she'd inherited two houses and was shortly to become a mother. She stayed in the house that she'd shared with JC for two decades after his death and rented out the one that her father had left her until Toby took his final exams for university. He was always a bright kid but a little too bright it turned out. His exam results were beyond all expectations and much to Magdalene's surprise he was offered a seat at Oxford University. Of course she had to let him go but the rent off the second house wasn't going to pay the crippling university fees so she was forced into getting a job.
Everything was hunky dory for a while and Sandy and Magdalene continued their daily duties with the utmost of discretion until one day when Magdalene had to type a report on the death of John Christianson. Of course nobody in the office except Sandy knew of the connection between the two or they never would have let her within a million miles of the evidence. The basic gist of the content was that John Christianson had been killed in a hit and run in 1983. The case had never officially been a case as far as the public were concerned but still it had been opened and closed a few times over the following twenty three years due to lack of evidence or new evidence being found. In the year two thousand and seven it was again to be closed on the basis that the evidence given by Brian Cecil Parkinson or Boom Boom Walowsky as we knew him as was unsafe. However, even though he was a proven habitual liar the police were still convinced that the driver of the car was who Boom Boom had said it was! Paul Harold Hodgeson, or Hodge as we knew him as".
"So why would Hodge bump him off"? I asked. "Cast your mind back to Belle Vue Park when you were with JC, I was with Mr Wha and the rest of the crowd were there". "That was the night that I was sliding down the hill on a milk crate because I was convinced that it was snowing and the milk crate was a toboggan, and the reality of it was that a few hours earlier it had been a glorious summers afternoon in the middle of August". "Yeh, you know the time. Well do you remember that Hodge supplied the acid that night and you and JC were tripping your arses off and in tears of laughter you demanded your money back because the acid wasn't working? Hodge was tripping too but you were doing his head in because he was too sensitive and could never work out if you were serious or not". I was again in uncontrollable laughter as we relived the events of the evening, and like so many times before when I thought there was nothing left for us to relive Hornpipe dug to the back of his mind for something he'd kept in reserve.
"That was the reason I didn't want to tell you". "What have I got to do with it"? I retorted. "That night something snapped in Hodge because you two were always ripping the piss out of him and he carried it around on his shoulder all those years and never said a word to either of you. He told others though and when the opportunity arose he ploughed into JC and killed him. Anyway, you were next on his list but with you living in Jersey and not being in the phone book he didn't know how to find you. Of course Magdalene knew it was all true so even though the cops were closing the case she wasn't about to.
A few weeks later she coincidentally bumped into Hodge in a restaurant and stabbed him with the knife that she'd been given with her meal. He saw her coming though and managed to fight her off before the police came and carted her away. As to whether the meeting actually was a coincidence or premeditated we'll never know. But the result of it was that she went to court and got off with a suspended sentence on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Of course she lost her job and because of the publicity she sold the house in St Julians. To the best of my knowledge she's living out in the sticks now, somewhere in the Welsh countryside.
So Dave my friend, its no good going to the house because she's not there". "So where's Hodge now"? "Ironically he died a few months after the confrontation of an ailment unrelated to the stabbing or any of his excesses of his past so Magdalene could have saved herself the bother". "What about the guy she was with in Goa? Was she married"? "You got me there mate. Sandy said she didn't have a partner or at least never spoke of one so I have no idea who that was, and as for her booking in the name of Christianson your guess is as good as mine". "OK, one more question. Is Toby JC's kid". "Sandy asked her about that and she said no but, you know Magdalen? Always shitt'n?
The Castle and The Globe pubs along with Cashmores that the latter looked out onto were razed to the ground many years ago in a mass clean up of the old town. The New Found Out has long since closed its doors to cider drinkers. The last time I visited Newport it was an opticians, though most of the other pubs mentioned in these pages are still open to the public. The Knights Arms in Porthcawl where we spent many a lost weekend is boarded up and due for demolition. The Kensington Court Club that was host to so many of my teenage musical memories has been converted into a veterinary surgery. The New Moon and The Revolution that were our Cardiff venues of choice are now warehouses, but the docks area that they bordered on is now a very prestigious part of town after being renovated in a similar way to London's Docklands area. Behan's night club where I saw Led Zeppelin play to a few hundred people was demolished, despite protests from the local community that it was a listed building. A block of luxury apartments now mark the spot. Ku (or Privilege as it's now called) where I whiled the night away with some famous faces post Live Aid is according to The Guinness Book of Records the largest nightclub in the world. The Isle of Wight, after a break of over thirty years started holding annual music festivals again with headliners such as the reformed Sex Pistols and Police, the late David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. All of the latter day festivals on the island have been financial successes. Hyde Park is now a major venue for rock concerts in the summer months. Gone are the free concerts though unless you consider Live 8, but a large portion of that audience, including myself paid well over the going rate had there been an entrance fee.
After several years of nobody knowing what had happened to Jimmy Fairbairn he suddenly resurfaced in the local papers a few years ago. The renewed interest in him had prompted former acquaintances to go out of their way to find out what had happened in the missing years. By all accounts after the whole drug thing had fallen apart for us Jimmy had continued the habit, getting seriously screwed up on heroin, and after a prolonged addiction he finally went into rehab. In true Jimmy Fairbairn style though, when he got out and back on the streets he was given council accommodation and almost immediately turned its bathroom into a still. It was the widespread circulation of the almost pure alcohol that had prompted the police to raid the apartment and find the illegal brewing apparatus, thereby putting Jimmy's name in the papers.
The intellectual thinking Screwball never settled into any traditional form of employment, preferring to exercise his over active brain on fruitless academic ventures instead. For years he studied at home broken only by regular excessive drinking binges that left him with more enemies than friends. He was a person of extremes and in the year two thousand and four he drank himself to death leaving three masters degrees with honours as his only legacy.
Mr Wha still lives with his wife Jess and both are unemployed. In latter years he'd taking to smoking hashish as his primary form of relaxation. Being one of the mildest drugs it's ironic that it is the one that stays in the system for the longest. In his previous job on the railways there were random dope tests to ensure that there were no unnecessary shortcomings where performance was concerned, so when the opportunity of voluntary redundancy arose he took it, ensuring that when he left the company at least he had some compensation. Lazy Shit Anywhere Man has not been seen for nearly forty years. If you see his trade mark let me know. Well, I have no real interest in his trademark but he's gotta be somewhere.
Jimmy's sidekick Mob who we all thought didn't have another friend in the world turned out to be the biggest dark horse of all. When he was gallivanting around the pubs with us in Newport some thirty odd years before he had several girlfriends on the go at the same time and had already fathered three children at the age of twenty. And there were the rest of us thinking that he was an innocent naive virgin. In the subsequent years the child count has risen to eight over five different mothers of whom two he had married.
Hornpipe recently suffered a heart attack but is doing fine. I'm sure there's still a draw full of photos and head full of rediscovered memories waiting for the next time we meet so take care my friend.
Screaming Lord Sutch was the first politician to propose passports for pets. They are now law in the UK should any animal be required to travel to another country. Being a manic depressive Sutch committed suicide by hanging himself in 1999 after standing for election over forty times.
Carla? I don't have to ask or say anything. If you've read this far you know her story and if she's read this she knows what to do.
Magdalene? I'm speechless! And what better way to end than having nothing more to say?