A's to Q's, Part V
10/16/2006 (updated 10/16/2006)

I love the song ‘Boys of Mutton Street.’ You paint the scene so vividly I’d like to believe it has some basis in true events. Is it so, or just another example of your damned vivid imagination (songwriter jealousy coming through)? Also, could you enlighten your U.S.A. fans and help us with some of the references? Specifically, what are ‘toys for boys?’ Thanks, Mark. 

Between the ages of five and fifteen, I lived on Dartmouth Park Hill, near Archway, in North London. At age ten, we had a little street gang, and used to fight with neighbouring gangs. At that age, it’s hard to inflict any real damage on anyone, and it was more about bravado than anything else. At age eleven, I changed schools, and it all evaporated. Mutton Street is really Chester Road, and I mention a couple of local shops – Taplings was the newsagent’s, and Thomas Tapling junior was in my class; and Scott and Son was the toy shop, with a window full of wondrous products by Messrs. Hornby, Triang, Corgi and Meccano. Scott senior was ancient, and Scott junior must have been sixty-five or so; they gave us free boy’s magazines, full of uplifting and moral stories to turn us into good Christians. Still in the late Fifties there were bombsites, and of course we weren’t allowed to play there, so we did. Looking back they were really dangerous – broken glass everywhere, staircases just hanging, unsupported – but at the time it was a great place for adventure. Our parents would have been utterly horrified at half the stuff we got up to.

To finish the mailbag, a couple of questions from backstage, that I promised to answer here:

Where did you get that ‘guitar’ shirt that you wear on stage? Where do you shop for stage clothes?

The guitar shirt is by Fender Guitars – they now have a line of clothing with hats, shirts, sweatshirts, etc., available at music shops, record shops, surf shops and ‘goth’ shops. My local goth shop is Hot Topic, where Honourable Number Three Son gets his Tool and Lamb Of God T-shirts, and that’s where I got my guitar shirt. They have other good clothes (if you like black, chains and studs). I also like Politix, at the Beverly Center, where T-shirts distressed and ripped cost about $400, ha ha. A little cheaper are Armani Xchange and Versace Jeans. I would love to wear a suit on stage, but it’s too darned hot! If I lose another ten pounds, I can squeeze into one of those leotards that Flea wears…