Wud: band biography

Wud itself as a band was a bizarre, odd entity. Beginning as it did on New Year’s Day 1985, it was something that was only over going to be a bit weird or strange. Ken moved to Exeter on that day, and it was a very cold day. Being a bit the worse for wear from the previous evening’s festivities we were in no state to be able to meet the poor boy at the station and he had to find his own way round to the flat, which at that time was Wud headquarters. Ken had arrived from London, and was certainly not entirely normal. He had first appeared at the Sidmouth Folk Festival in 1983 during a rather abnormal episode with Westcountry, the local ITV station. They were doing a piece on the Festival and happened upon Simon and George busking on the promenade. A short bit a persuasion from the presenter saw the two boys playing and singing on TV (-: and loads of people were gathered around to watch :-).

After the shoot, this guy with long curly brown hair, mostly brown clothes and a manner reminiscent of Basil Brush crossed with a penguin appeared. His tall lean counterpart, with large blue eyes and a shock of blond hair, had prehensile lips and a long toothy smile. “Are you for real?” the first, foxy-faced man asked.

There then followed general chat and laughing and swapping of tunes, beginning with one certain Pretty Faces by the new arrivals. The taller man played guitar and guerned, while the man in largely brown sang, and bloody well. We were impressed. Later came the usual playing, singing and general quaffing of ale and queebing of smeej that was entirely natural under such circumstances. Agreeing to meet up again and do some more of the same, the inevitable had begun. Ken was the singer, the other man being another Simon, a most entertaining if quieter individual than Ken, most noted for his ‘wrong orifice’ quotation on that fine day.

We had also camped in Calvin’s garden, where much silliness had taken place. After just one night there we moved to our usual spot where we camped for many years. The site was on the hillside overlooking the sea, away from where the tentmaster could clamber. It was a mighty cunning spot, only visible from right next to the tent, and even though close to the edge of the cliff it was perfectly safe and shielded by the bushes. Many strange things took place there, such as jamming and verdrigulation, tea making and fire building, and sometimes uncomfortable sleep. This always involved everyone ending up boiling hot in a heap looking at a totally orange world from the seaward side of the tent, as it was pitched on a slight incline (some years later there was an amusing episode with a seven-legged spider, but that’s another tale altogether).

The following year, the four met up again in Sidmouth. Everything was much the same – even George’s girlfriend being elsewhere on holiday – but no TV coverage took place. More music and jamming on the sea front, drinking and sharing of the odd nantsu or fluj. You know how these things are. As we had such fun, we decided to make more music together. The dictionary had become established by this time, and wuddage abounded, in the way a thing does when it is about to mutate and become a thing within a different sphere of things.

And so it came about, through miraculousness itself, that Ken, Simon and George should all appear on stage together at a party arranged by Tom Bombadil’s folk club in Wiveliscombe, Somerset in the autumn of 1984. How this occurred exactly is unknown, although it was funny fitting the three of them plus Taddy plus three cased acoustic guitars into a tiny little Fiat 126 that was known as The Glot and belonged to Simon. It was funny enough just seeing him get into the thing, he was well over 6 foot. The audience at the forthcoming show, it finally transpired, were to be a group of retired firemen and their wives. This was not quite what was expected, although we were professionals (honest!), we’d just get on with it, that’s rock’n’roll after all – isn’t it? Err, anyway…

A most peculiar incident took place at this event. George was to join Ken and Simon towards the end of their set as they had had virtually no time to do any rehearsals. Wearing his tight, light green jeans, George bought himself a beer and sat nervously alone at a table at the back, waiting for his cue to take the stage. Just as this cue was about to come, an elderly retired fireman bumped into George’s table rather hard, causing his fresh pint to plop neatly with a spray of slosh straight into his groinal area, making it look to all the world as if he had bladder issues. Ooops. Undaunted, he mounted the stage, furtively holding the guitar in front of his dampened trousers in a manner not unlike that of Peter Sellars at the nudist camp in A Shot in the Dark, and hoping, hoping, that no-one would think the worst…

> to be continued… <