In the eighties Brix Smith was ray of golden sunshine in the slate grey firmament of English post-punk (it wasn't "Indie" then and it definately wasn't "alternative" (though the charts were, confusingly). She was, loosely, an ex-Bangle who moved to Manchester and married Mark E. Smith (can you imagine - worse than National Service! Like dodging the draft only to be caught by rising damp). She contributed massively to my favourite Fall era (This Nations Saving Grace, Bend Sinister, The Frenz Experiment) before leaving the band to form The Adult Net where she smiled her Californian Smile and tossed her Californian Hair behind a Rickenbacker as big as she was. And while Adult Net weren't very good they certainly looked nice with handsome Clem Burke from Blondie on drums and handsome Craig Gannon out of The Smiths on second Rickenbacker, so it was just good having them around. They were like a less good version of The Voice of the Beehive.
The other day, in the day, I turned on the television. This is not something I would ordinarily do, even in my depressive state, but the K twins were growing weary of my endless 70s
horror films and wanted to watch something involving makeovers or property.
The programme was a Gok Wan fashion roadshow. I like Gok Wan, even though in saying so I sound like a homosexual with a cold propositioning a Spaniard. I like his severe lesbian look, I like the way he feels he can do and say anything to anyone based solely on the fact that he used to be fat! (It doesnt work the other way: I cant get much leverage out of the fact that I used to be thin. Not even pity or free cakes.) And I like the way that he uses being gay to latch onto big wobbly tits. I see a lot of gay men do this and I wonder why. The only other time I've ever seen that greedy sexless need to press the flesh is a Granny presented with a chubby defenceless infant. Are women giant babies to gay men? Or is it, devoid of its sexual component, just a top laugh juggling the jugs?
So Gok is travelling the country looking to put together a catwalk collection from the high street while is rival designer must do so with posh label togs. The audience then decide, with "ready steady cook" style ping-pong paddles, which one is the winner.
His opponent was a small blonde American woman dressed head to toe in leopard skin print and carrying two of those slobbering sad-eyed dogs that designers in American family comedies about apes that live in hotels and dogs who are just dogs* always have to carry. Usually in a handbag. She was loud and vacuous and at the considerable sympathetic disadvantage of appearing on television enthusiastically buying a £9000 vintage (second hand!) dress. It was Brix E. Smith. Or rather it was somebody called Brix Smith-Start and she was playing a T.V. fashion diva, rather badly, on cable t.v.
It's been twenty years : we've all changed.I've gone from being a thin and handsome man who thought he was clever to a fat, ugly man who still thinks he's clever against all evidence. But at least I've stayed true to myself. I'm still someone that the twenty year old, poverty stricken, smart-arse, under-achiever would recognise. I spent much of the nineties dressed as a sort of mod warehouseman and much of the two thousands dressed as a television comedian. I'm now back in straight legged jeans, doc martens and an overcoat. My makeovers have failed: I'm back where I started. This is no defeat; this is astonishing self justification!
Brix may be on the telly, she may be a successful designer, she may have an unusually affirmative surname, but is she happy?
My advice to her would be ditch it all. Pick up a Rickenbacker, head back to the States and start writing songs with Sussanah Hoffs. By candle-light. In your underwear. Especially you, Sussanah. Which in my mind is where you started. You can have it all and you can have it all back again.
*The Beethoven series of films. Beethoven is just a dog isn't he? He has no powers at all. The film is just Charles Grodin being embarassed by his dog. In fact Beethoven may merely represent Charles Grodin's film career.