Basic, no-frills, bar-room rock ‘n’ roll. Probably because that’s what The Rogues had been peddling (albeit with an Irish twist) for ten years now, I was instantly blown away when I heard the opening guitar riff kick in on Jet’s single, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” There was nothing clever, nothing fancy and nothing particularly new but it was an instant classic: great bass line, crunching guitars and beefed-up, classic ‘Can’t Hurry Love’ drum beat. The rest of the “Get Born” album carries on in pretty much the same, vintage rock vein with girls, booze and music being the main themes.
I kind of hoped that The Rogues showed a bit more intelligence and that there was an element of irony in just how basic we sounded but, having found out later that many people thought we were always drunk and slightly out-of-control, maybe not! We were constantly surprised that after ten years, not only were we still going but still getting really good crowds coming to see us. The High House and Snafu were pretty regular bookings throughout the year, so at first, not wanting to upset either of them, we were a bit unsure of which one to play on St Patrick’s Day. However, they did both have the same owners and during a discussion with Snoopy (one of them) it suddenly became obvious: play both. The management were up for it and left it to us to sort out the logistics. Fortunately, we had access to two PA systems, so we set one up at each pub leaving us just our instruments and a couple of small guitar amps to carry from one to the other. We played the first set at Snafu to a packed pub of people all out for a great, party night. Then, having announced our plans to do the next set up at the High House, whilst Martin sang our last song, “The Fields of Athenry” I packed my guitar and banjo up, dashed up the street, plugged in and started singing “Carrickfergus”. I played it slightly slower than usual such that by the end of the song, the rest of the band, along with most of the audience, had managed to join in. The rest of the night was one of our best ever: loud, raucous, rollicking fun. The fact that there can’t be many bands who can say they were actually playing simultaneously in two different venues was just the icing on the cake.
Tracey and I had decided, for reasons unknown (other than a flight-of-fancy) that it would be a good idea to go ice skating sometime. I’d never actually ever been on the ice (though she had when she was a teenager), but I did think it would be good to take James too so that when he was in his teens, if any of his mates suggested going, he would be confident and competent enough to say yes. Our first time was on a Sunday afternoon at Silver Blades Ice Rink in Sheffield where two things became clear to me: 1. It looked pretty cool, gliding around at great speed, twisting, turning and weaving in and out, forwards or backwards and 2. I couldn’t do it. But I wanted to learn and James was really up for it. We booked in to attend a series of lessons for beginners on Saturday mornings and each bought our own boots so we didn’t have to wear the so-called ‘Blue Wellies of Death’ that everyone could hire.
Over the summer, having been asked by coach Terry Simon, James had signed up to play football for the under 8s at Wombwell Warriors, a team in the local Dearne Valley league. He started training on a field in Wombwell and pretty soon stood out as a talented player. The coach was a bloke called Graham Nicholas who’d just returned from coaching at a soccer school in America. The games started in late August, on Sunday mornings and they played against teams such as Dearne Dragons and Pilley Panthers – we were convinced it was the Dearne Valley Alliterative League!
On one memorable weekend, James had a fall at ice skating on the Saturday, was taken to the Children’s Hospital where he had his head glued back together (well, a sizeable gash not the whole head) then played football on the Sunday and scored three goals and was given the man of the match award. People were certainly starting to notice him, helped undoubtedly by his shock of white-blonde hair.
Tracey and I agreed to take part in the Silver Blades Christmas Ice Show which was a version of Cinderella. We had extra practices on Sunday afternoons and became pretty competent – even being able to do the dance, on ice (Lord knows, I couldn’t previously have done it on solid ground!) to The Ketchup Song, a cheesy pop tune by Las Ketchup which couldn’t have been any more different from ” Get Born” if they’d tried.