Now grew out of Achilles Heel and the Everyones. One could say that Now lasted from September 1982 to March 1983, and existed again twice or thrice at various later stages. The band considered calling itself ‘Now and Then’ to reflect the state of the universe. Now was an extraordinary journey. They performed one live show at Sidbury Colloseum. No, hang on, it was Sidbury Village Hall.

It began when Mark was considering staging a production of Orwell’s 1984. He had composed a couple of songs and the idea of putting together a band to play them, as well as other songs written by the ensemble, seemed like a great opportunity. Mark would play acoustic guitar and sing with Simon playing lead guitar, Jon on drums and George on rhythm guitar. There was no bassist available.

The first sessions took place in the new music rooms that had just been built at King’s School, Ottery St Mary. Mark had written Room 101 and a song about it being “a long way to Jackson”, and he and Simon had created The Sidewalk Song. Mannish Boy was a jammed version of the blues classic by Muddy Waters, and some jams based around Treasure from the Everyones’ set gave birth to Obsession, which was something of an acoustic rant and burble performed by many. George had written Frog, and when the band were playing it and Simon was creating the lead part, the ubiquitous Pete Rippin handed Mark a hand-rolled cigarette, and perfectly on cue during a three-beat gap, he uttered the immortal words “Mmmmm, thanks!” – which stayed in that gap forever more.

Around this time a new face appeared on the scene. He first appeared at a school disco wearing white trousers, a yellow shirt, burgundy blazer and telling strange tales of fields that turned sideways and purple aardvarks. We first knew him as Grape, although he was actually Marc, and what an amusing and resourceful fellow he was. Also at this time there was a wonderfully entertaining incident concerning a large group of Now members and friends singing a seasonally inappropriate song to the wrong man in a public convenience.

The sands shifted and it seemed things would not perhaps work out as had been originally envisaged. Mark seemed to be more and more busy, as did Jon, and it was the previously curiously-clad Marc who began to make his presence felt more and more as Simon and George continued to drive their music forwards.

The band splintered into two. There was the 1984 side of things with Mark, and the Now side of things which was increasingly becoming a frustrated hardcore of Simon and George and anyone else who made it over to Ottery. One Saturday, Simon George and Marc had arrived. The music rooms were locked, but there were some amps and the drums in a drama room. After enjoying some smeej on a nearby bench and dressing up in strange clothes found in a large trunk, the three proceeded to make a fearful hullabaloo. Marc claimed he was a drummer and when sat behind the kit did a creditable enough job for neither Simon nor George to be any the wiser. In truth, he had never played a drum in his life, he just wanted to play in the band, though he never made this confession until some time later. It seemed that there was a new way forward.

> to be continued… <