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The following is a true story. As true as my memory will allow.
It was March 1977. Punk was beginning to make its mark. I was 21 years old working as a motorcycle courier in London. Living in a room of a squat in New Cross, shared with several other twenty somethings.
The bike was 7 months old CJ250T Honda in knock your eyes out yellow, bought on the never, never. I loved this machine. It got me places that I wanted to go. I bought it brand new as my 21st birthday present to myself.
The courier company was a mini-cab firm just north of Maida Vale that ran bikes as a side line. This was the gig economy back in the 70's. I was self employed, paid by the job, by the mile. No guarantees, no minimum, no maximum. At this time of year there were jobs aplenty. A long cold, damp winter had reduced the number of couriers so we the hardy and desperate were busy and earning a living. The radio squawked “kilo one seven, kilo one seven” I stopped the bike at the roadside flipped open the top box lid and grabbed the microphone.
“Kilo one seven, over.”
“Kilo one seven pick up at Pink Floyd.”
“OK control, on my way. Out”
Pink Floyd was one of the accounts of the courier company. Their offices were down a back street in Islington opposite a Primary School. As I pulled up outside the front entrance of the office I took the crash helmet off and my ears were assailed with the sound of small children playing, a sound that is universal, whatever the location the kids in a school playground make exactly the same noise. I entered the building and picked up the small package with the name D. Gilmour and an address in the wilds of north Essex and the instruction to wait at the address and return back with the package to the office.
“Nice little earner,” I thought to myself. How right that thought turned out to be!
About 45 minutes later I pull up outside what was once a farm house standing isolated in bleak late winter empty fields. I notice a beautifully restored horse drawn gypsy caravan sheltering in the open barn. I get the package from the top box and knock on the door of the house. The door opens and a man not much older than me says “hello.”
I offer the package and he takes it and says “come in, take a seat. Would you like a coffee?”
“Thanks that would be nice. Black no sugar please.”
I take a seat whilst the man puts the kettle on and then disappears into another room while I look around the kitchen I'm in. Rustic but newish. Quarry tiled floor, exposed beams on the lowish ceiling, pine cupboards, Aga and nice chunky pine kitchen table and chairs.
The young man reappears and makes my coffee, hands it to me and says “they'll only be 10 or 15 minutes with the tape.”
“Thanks. Its nice to be in the warm for a while.”
He smiles and leaves again.
After a minute or so the door opens again and in walks David Gilmour himself, smiles, pours himself a coffee and sits down at the table opposite me.
“A bit nippy out on the bike today?” he says
“Not too bad if you are dressed for it.” I reply.
“Are you going to any of the Wembley shows?”
Not wishing to seem uncool, I lie.
“I want to, but I left it too late and couldn't get tickets.”
“Oh! I'm sure there are some unused complementary tickets in the office. When you go back speak to Jenny on reception and say I said you could buy a couple of tickets.”
“Wow that would be great, thank you, thank you.” I eventually mumble back through a broad grin.
David Gilmour sips his coffee and smiles back.
After some more easy conversation which I have entirely forgotten the envelope reappears is passed to me. I offer further thanks for the coffee as I gather my jacket and crash helmet and head off back to the bike.
Back at the office the charming Jenny looks somewhat surprised when I hand over the package and then say,
“David said that I could buy a pair of the unused complementary tickets for the Wembley gig.”
“Oh did he?”
“Yes he did!”
She leaves the reception desk with the package and heads off into the office. A few moments later she returns with two tickets and I hand over cash to the face value, pocket the tickets, thank her profusely and leave with a grin like the Cheshire Cat.
After finishing my day of traffic dodging I return back to the squat to find Gill sitting in the kitchen drinking tea after her day of office temping. Gill recently moved back to the squat having separated from husband.
I knew she was a big fan of Pink Floyd so felt sure when I asked, “would you like to go and see Pink Floyd at Wembley?”
“Of course!” she answered.
I then showed her the two precious tickets. We smiled and chatted.
A few days later the day of the gig arrived. With about an hour to gig kick off I produced two tabs of acid I had been saving for just such an occasion. We dropped, got dressed for the motorbike. Me in my usual bike gear. Gill in an ill fitting borrowed crash helmet and everyday outdoor clothes. We head of on the bike me thinking we'll be there before the acid kicks in. South-east to north-west London at 6:30pm is still busy. Deciding not to go into full on motorcycle courier cut and thrust with my first time pillion on board, I gently and carefully ride through the traffic. By the time I cross the North Circular Road and head on towards Wembley I am really starting to notice the acid kicking in. No panic, remain concentrated, all will be well. We are heading down Blackbird Hill and the bike starts to go a bit marshmallowy.
My first thought is “whoa this is getting weird now!”
Then my logical brain kicks in. “No you've got a puncture!”
I gently and carefully guide the wobbly bike to the kerbside and we both dismount. One glance at the rear tyre confirms my logical brain's guess. Yes we have a flat tyre.
I explain to Gill about the puncture, “we're not going anywhere on that!”
I look around and notice we are right outside a filling station. I wheel the flat tyred bike into an out of the way corner. Walk into the cashier and explain I'm leaving the motorbike there for the night as I have a puncture. The guy looks at me like I'm speaking a foreign language and shrugs his shoulders. Hey Ho! Lets get going. I walk outside and back to the pavement, Gill is still standing exactly where she dismounted from the bike, helmet and gloves still on.
As I approach her I notice a black cab coming down the hill towards us. I smile at her, she smiles back, I walk past her step off the kerb and hail the black cab. Cab swoops in pick us up. I guide Gill into the back and say to the driver “Wembley Arena please driver.”
In the short ride to the Arena we divest ourselves of the outer clothing. Then we are approaching the Arena. Long queue of people waiting to get in. The taxi drives around them and stops outside a VIP entrance I hadn't seem. I pay the man, we bail out clutching the bike gear and helmets. We are instantly ushered to an entrance, tickets checked, and then into the main auditorium. We end in our seats about 5 rows back, front and centre of the stage. We take our seats and stuff the outer layers and helmets under our seats. As we sit down the house lights dim and the show begins. Quadraphonic sound system, stunning visuals, on acid, you get the picture, not a word was said for the next two hours, much silly grinning!
The show ends and we follow the stream of people leaving and find the Tube station, we sit on the train back towards home opposite each other, silly grinning! I'm thinking “I might have pulled here!”
Back at the squat late that evening we share our first kiss. Next day I rescue the bike, get the puncture sorted, spend a day working, go back to the squat and move into Gill's bed. I've been there ever since.
A while later she informed me I could have pulled without the Pink Floyd tickets and all that, but hey it was great fun.
Now perhaps you understand why I love my dear, brave wife Gill and why I have deep affection for Mr. David Gilmour. Mighty fine musician and a bloody nice bloke.